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Tumbesian Endemics and Highland Rarities

Esmeraldas Woodstar, Ayampe/Sam Woods

5 - 22 February 2009

Leader: Sam Woods

This fantastic tour of the south began in Guayas province, starting in Cerro Blanco, just outside Ecuador's largest city Guayaquil, before heading into the foothills in El Oro province. The home of Long-wattled Umrellabirds and El Oro Parakeets. From there we headed south to close to the border with Peru and the dry deciduous woodlands of Jorupe and El Empalme. From our base near Peru we also explored the southwestern highlands of Utuana and Sozoranga for a discreet set of localized species, before we ascended into the temperate zone around Tapichalaca, (the home of the fabled Jocotoco Anpitta), and Cerro Toledo. From there we headed to the east side of Zamora-chinchipe and the tanager-rich foothills of the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus. After a few days scanning through numerous foothill flocks we climbed up to the highest point of the tour, and explored the high Andean paramo in El Cajas park for the end of the main tour. The extension began in the hot lowland coastal scrub on the Santa Elena Peninsula, where localized passerines combined with masses of waterbirds for a fun morning on the peninsula. Our final time of the tour was again spent in the lowlands of the west seeking rare hummingbirds and our last Tumbesian specialties.

At the end of it all we had seen well over 500 species, that included some real rarities including El Oro Parakeets in Buenaventura, and the fantastic little Esmeraldas Woodstar in Ayampe. A couple of other hummers were also worthy of note, also having tiny ranges - the endemic Violet-throated Metaltail that we saw close to the edge of the paramo in El Cajas, and the scarce burgundy-throated Neblina Metaltail up in the mist on the Cerro Toledo Road. Of course no tour to the south would be complete without Ecuador's most famous bird, the Jocotoco Antpitta. This recently discovered species thrilled us in Tapichalaca, when up to four birds hopped around within just a few feet of us. This impressive antpitta battled with the monstrous male Long-wattled Umbrellabird (that had his substantial wattle extended to full capacity in Buenaventura), for the title of top trip bird. Taking of antpittas, we enjoyed a good run on these, seeing 7 species by the trip end, in addition to a superb Barred Antthrush at Tapichalaca too. Other highlights included an absurdly confiding Andean Potoo at Tapichalaca, and both White-capped Tanager and Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan at the same temperate site. Other impressive trip birds included a fantastic male Andean Cock-of-the-rock in Bombuscaro, in addition to a whole host of colorful tanagers in the eastern foothills, including the rare, shocking-red Vermillion Tanager. The specialties of the Tumbesian region fell well for us and we enjoyed some great birds including Elegant Crescentchest, Pale-browed Tinamou, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner and Watkins's Antpitta. The southwestern highlands produced the bamboo-dwelling Gray-headed Antbird, in addition to a Rusty-breasted Antpitta, and the ridiculously cute Black-crested Tit-Tyrant. As you can see from this list we had many and varied highlights from a thorough scout around the south, where we enjoyed the varied habitats and scenery as much as the many special birds found therein.

Day 1 (6 February)
Lowland deciduous woodland 61m/203ft
Lowland wetlands 13m/43ft
Foothill forest, west slope of the Andes, 525m+/1723ft
We began this comprehensive tour of the south with a short trip out to the reserve of CERRO BLANCO, just 15km from the center of Ecuador's largest city, Guayaquil. The murals on the wall depicted parrots as we drove into this lowland reserve, an not long after arrival we picked up our first ones, when a couple of Red-lored Amazons were found feeding by the car park. The trees in the park were all swathed in green, testament to the heavy rains that had ben in the region of late, which made it a little difficult to find a close calling Pale-browed Tinamou, so we decided to leave that one for later on the tour, and pick up some of the easier Tumbesian endemics while we were here. On of our first was one of the noisiest residents in this habitat, when a passing troop of White-tailed Jays betrayed their presence with their loud, unmusical calls. Other easy picks during our first session in the Tumbesian realm included Speckle-breasted Wren, (that by comparison has one of the sweetest, melodic songs of the Tumbesian birds), an agitated Sooty-crowned Flycatcher that came into to mob my owl tape with a Greenish Elaenia, a pair of Collared Antshrikes creeping through a vine tangle, a couple of Ecuadorian Ground-doves, and a Snowy-throated Kingbird teed up by the car park. Aside from that a Red-billed Scythebill was popular, and we found our first Crimson-breasted Finches of the tour (that were extremely common during our time on the Santa Elena Peninsula on the extension at the end), and our first of a trio of tiny piculet species proved to be the diminutive Ecuadorian Piculet found beavering away by the car on our return from our trail walk. We then made ourselves comfortable for our journey southwards from Guayas province into the next province to the south, El Oro, and the Jocotoco Foundation reserve of Buenaventura. However, before our minds turned to forest birds we made a short stop along the main highway south to scan across the MANGLARES-CHARUTE wetland for a monstrous waterbird. Our focus was the scattered bushes and tall trees that are dotted around this marsh. We sweated a little and nothing seemed to be using them as a visible perch until we changed our angle and then found two giant Horned Screamers sat right out on top of a large bush a fair way off on the marsh. This immense waterbird has a tiny fragmented range Ecuador, with this small reserve just south of Guayaquil being its main stronghold. Other birds around the marshy fields and swamps south of Guayaquil included our first Wattled Jacanas, a hole bunch of Snail Kites enjoying the extensive wetland areas available at this time, and a couple of Crested Caracaras.We then pointed our car southwards and headed for El Oro province (El Oro is spanish for gold, that was mined in this area historically), and the BUENAVENTURA reserve on the Pinas road. The reserve was a little quiet in our late afternoon arrival, although we did pick up our first of four Fasciated Tiger-herons for the tour, fishing alongside a rushing mountain stream, in addition to a few specialty hummers at the reserve's crowded feeders. These included the extremely localized Emerald-bellied Woodnymph, White-whiskred Hermit, sublime Violet-tailed Sylph and a host of Violet-bellied Hummers too. We then checked into Umbrellabird Lodge, in the heart of this foothill reserve on the western slope of the Andes.

Gray-backed Hawk, Buenaventura/Sam Woods

Day 2 (7 February)
Foothill forest, west slope of the Andes, 525m+/1723ft+
The morning's activities were all about the BUENAVENTURA'S fantastic star bird, a cartoon cotinga that calls most in the dim light of dawn and dusk, when they are much easier to locate at their lek site. We headed down the trail with flashlights, as we just could not risk getting there late and missing the show. A little way down towards the river we waited as the first birds of dawn began calling in the twilight, and listened intently for the low mooing sound of this monstrous cotinga. They often call at this time, their distinctly cow-like calls having given them their Ecuadorian name 'El Toro', the bull. A nervous wait ensued as the day brightened with no calls being heard, until there it was the low sound of a Long-wattled Umbrellabird singing for attention in the valley below. This was our cue and so we headed with our local guide Arten and combed the river for this comical cotinga. It did not take him long before he was pointing to a large black shape in the trees, sporting a ridiculous feathered wattle, a magnificent male Long-wattled Umbrellabird, complete with its strange punk hairstyle too. It was definitely a dramatic moment to kick start our first full day of the tour, and one that was rated as one of the best sightings of the trip at the end of the tour by both Stuart and Chuck. I for one could not disagree with them, its such a dramatic bird it is pretty hard to top. Our main quarry for the morning having performed in exemplary fashion we went about getting some other forest birds. One of the undoubted attractions of this reserve is the interesting mix of birds from the endemic rich regions of the northern Choco region, and the southern Tumbesian region. Our birding in Buenaventura was punctuated with some endemic species from both these rich biogeographical regions. The melodic sound of the Song Wren drew us to another local specialty, as did the beeping sounds of many lekking male Club-winged Manakins, here right at the southern extremity of its limited range in the Choco region of northern Ecuador and southern Colombia. These strange noises being made entirely mechanically by the rapid movement of their wings. Other good finds for the morning included a another Choco specialty, also at the southern end of its limited range - a showy male Esmeraldas Antbird, in addition to a female Chestnut-backed Antbird too. Brownish Twistwing and Thrush-like Schiffornis gave us some good looks, as did a number of Gray-backed Hawks (a restricted range raptor species that is easy to see around this foothill reserve).Other morning highlights included a male Western Slaty-antshrike, a pair of calling Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, a couple of Slaty Antwrens working their way through the understorey, and the often-skulking Whiskered and Bay Wrens both being seen. At lunchtime the frenetic feeders by the reserve restaurant brought us a host of hummers including the localized Baron's Hermit, although better still was a confiding Rufous-headed Chachalaca that came and fed in a fruiting tree right beside the restaurant. The afternoon was decidedly quieter by comparison, although did bring us another localized, endangered species, that is one of the focus species for the foundation's conservation efforts. The walk into a wet, muddy cow pasture to access a breeding site for this rare parrot was a little taxing, as it was a struggle just to keep our rubber boots on our feet! However, the reward at the end was perfect views of a couple of El Oro Parakeets teed up in a palm on the edge of the forest a respectable distance from their nearby nest, allowing us to see well the slim bridge of red across the forehead. Our owling plans though were thwarted by the deluge of rain that set in during the early evening.

Day 3 (8 February)
BUENAVENTURA (El Oro) Foothill forest, west slope of the Andes, 525m+/1723ft+
EL EMPALME (Loja) Dry desert scrub 875m/2707ft.The morning was spent again in BUENAVENTURA reserve, before we departed south entering Loja province, where we stopped briefly to bird some deciduous woodland and scrub close to El Empalme, before we arrived in the border town of Macara, just a couple of clicks away from Peru, where we checked in for a three night stay. Our final time in Buenaventura was a little quiet - the hoped-for El Oro Tapaculo refused to call or us at all, although we did pick up a fine pair of rusty Pacific Tuftedcheeks, Uniform and Russet Antshrikes, a confiding male Immaculate Antbird, a furtive Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant, and even managed a brief look at a Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail. A hulking Guayaquil Woodpecker was a good 'exit bird' as we alighted to leave the reserve for the final time. Some hours later we passed through into Loja province and reached the 'dry' deciduous woodland and scrub of EL EMPALME, a far cry from the habitat we had been birding in that morning and therefore home to some very different birds for the tour. The spiky forms of cacti protruding from the bushes betrayed the near desert-like climate that is typical of this area. However, as with Cerro Blanco, the vast swathes of greenery indicated the region had experienced some substantial rains recently, making finding some of the specialties a little more challenging than when the area has been tinder dry with not a leaf in sight! As we had arrived not long after the hottest period of the day the birding was a little slow to begin with everything seeming to be taking a long afternoon rest. A little strategic playing of a pygmy-owl tape did bring in one of our main targets though - the decidedly dowdy Tumbes Hummingbird, in addition to a brief male Black-and-white Tanager that unfortunately eluded everyone else and remained in deep cover. Other Tumbesian specialties found there included our first White-edged Orioles flashing their white wing panels at us that allowed us to ID from the sympatric Yellow-tailed Oriole that we were to encounter over the coming days too, a Plumbeous-backed Thrush of two, and a Baird's Flycatcher. Our main Tumbesian quarry though made us wait it out, before a small party of White-headed Brush-finches were found as they crossed the road, and finally revealed themselves when they emerged out of the scrub to investigate an owl tape. Not long after the relief at finding that key species, another relented and began responding to my tape. I searched the distant hillside where the quiet song had come from only for Chuck and Stuart to point out that the Tumbes Sparrow had flown in behind me a short while earlier an was now fully exposed on a close branch. With the sparrow and brush-finch 'in the bag' and no sight nor sound of an Elegant Crescentchest, I opted to leave that beauty for later on the tour, and get to Macara for an early evening arrival.

Day 4 (9 February)
JORUPE RESERVE (Loja) Deciduous woodland 556m/1824ft.
The small 'party' town of Macara, almost on the frontier with Peru provides a great base for exploring several important avifaunal regions. Close to the town the Jorupe Reserve provides easy access to lowland deciduous woodland, and a whole host of Tumbesian birds in the process, while a relatively short drive upslope towards the town of Utuana allows access to a completely different set of birds, and most importantly some very special southwestern highland endemics. On this day though we stuck close to our temporary home, birding the lowland deciduous woodlands of JORUPE reserve for a suite of Tumbesian birds. Both the morning and afternoon were spent in this great reserve, with a break for some superb seafood in a legendary restaurant in town during the heat of the day. A Gray-and-gold Warbler greeted us as we entered the reserve, and it was not long before one of our main targets - the attractive Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner was also heard calling from the wooded understorey. The first one played with us for a while before allowing us all great looks at its rich henna hood. There are more than a few 'indistinctive' flycatchers in the Ecuador field guide, although one of the Tumbesian specialties, Pacific Elaenia is thankfully not one of them, and also is extremely vocal drawing attention to itself readily. A few of these were found dotted about the reserve. Some parakeets that had eluded us in Buenaventura - Red-masked Parakeet - on this occasion proved cooperative allowing themselves to be teed up in the scope, a group of four Scarlet-backed Woodpeckers came into the check out our tape, and a male Ecuadorian Trogon was found calling in the canopy of a huge ceiba tree. Walking a trail in pursuit of a calling Watkins's Antpitta, did not lead us anywhere close to the sneaky antpitta that would have to wait for another day, although did see us run into another localized scarce foliage-gleaner - Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, while the same trail also held the local 'Loja' Hummingbird that seemed to be guarding a patch of yellow blooms. Other Tumbesian birds we ran into during this enjoyable day in the reserve included a singing Black-capped Sparrow, our first Croaking Ground-doves, and more White-edged Orioles in addition to its more widespread cousin, the Yellow-tailed Oriole. Unfortunately late afternoon rain once again put paid to our plans for a nighttime 'owl safari', so we had to be content with seafood and cerveza instead!

Day 5 (10 February)
Bamboo-dominated highland scrub and woodland 2550m/8366ft
Dry scrub and deciduous woodland 1559m/5115ft.
A little earlier departure was required as we drove our way up into the southwestern highlands, just south of the town of Utuana to begin with, then beyond the town to he Jocotoco Foundation's Utuana reserve, and finally dropped into a patch of forest near to the town of Sozoranga on the return journey to Macara. Before reaching the UTUANA reserve itself we did some roadside birding south of the foundation property, focusing our efforts on some hillsides swathed in bamboo, for many of the local specialties favor these stands. As we drove up from Macara the rise in altitude saw us confronted with heavy mists hanging over the mountains, that made our birding a little challenging during this fog-bound day, when some of the specialties were tricky to find in these difficult conditions. There were still enough new birds to keep us busy though, including our first Line-cheeked Spinetails, Three-banded Warblers, Black-cowled Saltator and our only Chapman's Antshrike and Rufous-throated Tanagers of the tour along there. The dapper pair of Piura Hemispinguses though were the real showstopper in that particular bamboo stand. With Jelski's Chat-Tyrants seemingly not at home, we set off into another thick patch of roadside bamboo where I had previously had some success with the rare Gray-headed Antbird. A few plays of the tape brought little response from this endangered species, although our time was far from wasted in this stand, as tried playing for a bird that is not even in the Ecuador field guide (although has ben known about from this area over recent years), and quickly received a reply from a Rusty-breasted Antpitta upslope. We waited and slowly but surely the sound came closer, and we finally spotted this plump antpitta perched in the bamboo, when after much head-craning and adjusting of our positions we all got crackerjack looks at this scarce Ecuadorian bird. A Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush also obliged us by circling us while we were positioned in this same stand of bamboo. We then had a break by some buzzing hummer feeders hidden away in the heart of the reserve, where spectacularly-adorned Rainbow Starfrontlets vied with Purple-throated Sunangels for our attention. We then went back down slope and dropped in on SOZORANGA in the late afternoon. Our main target there was Bay-crowned Brush-finch, although was nowhere to be found. In spite of this our visit was very, very worthwhile as we coaxed in a confiding Watkins's Antpitta, that had eluded us the day before in Jorupe, and also got some better 'de-fogged' looks at a Black-cowled Saltator, along with more White-tailed Jays and our first Highland Hepatic Tanagers. The birding had been tough due to the foggy conditions in the highlands, although we walked away with great looks at two different species of antpittas, so we were pretty happy al told by the end, and vowed to return the following day to 'fill some gaps'.

Day 6 (11 February)
Bamboo-dominated highland scrub and woodland 2,550m/8,366ft
Dry scrub and deciduous woodland 1,559m/5,115ft.
CATAMAYO (Loja) Grassland and scrub 1249m/4098ft.

As scheduled we opted to return to the southwestern highlands and target the small group of localized species we were missing, and had been frustrated by in foggy conditions the day before. We began at SOZORANGA again targeting Bay-crowned Brush-finch, but only finding our first White-winged Brush-finches instead. Our time was good there though. Although the Bay-crowned had gone AWOL, we did find a calling Gray-breasted Flycatcher - another globally endangered species, and had fantastic looks at an awesome Elegant Crescentchest. This 'former tapaculo' has recently been moved out of that dowdy family and aligned in their own exquisite family, the crescentchests, and rightly so! Tumbes Pewees in this area also (a little belatedly) joined our trip list. We then headed back upslope to UTUANA, again making some short stops along the road on the way to the Jocotoco Foundation's reserve. The first stop produced another Three-banded Warbler and little else, although the second brought us a seasonal migrant to the area, Andean (Eastern)Slaty Thrush. A later stop proved very fortuitous indeed as we heard a Gray-headed Antbird calling way upslope from a dense patch of bamboo and trying (seemingly in vain), to tape the bird downslope were amazed to see a female bird pop out on top of the bamboo right in front of us, most unexpected from our 'poor' position down on the road. We then decided to go direct to the reserve for a special and obscenely cute target bird, although were waylaid as a couple of brush-finches flashed across in front of the car and dived into cover on the other side of the road. A patient wait was rewarded when they turned out to be a pair of Bay-crowned Brush-finches that we had been searching in vain for several times before. Up in the reserve we found our final two southwestern highland endemics - with first a pair of immaculate Black-crested Tt-tyrants, a seriously cool flycatcher, and a much more subtle pair of Jelski's Chat-Tyrants as we were leaving the reserve. A pair of Red-crested Cotingas in a fruiting tree were also the only ones found on the tour. Job done we lunched and hot the road again to another part of Loja province, where we stopped during our journey in some scrubland on the edge of CATAMAYO to search for finches, finding Chestnut-throated Finches and a well-dressed Band-tailed Sierra-finch, but not the Drab one we were also searching for. Our final stop of the day was a damp pasture on the edge of the town we stayed in, Vilcabamba, where a Plumbeous Rail did not need much coaxing before he ventured out into the open for us. We then spent the night in stone cabins in the so called 'Valley of Longevity', due to the alleged high numbers of local people who are over the age of hundred in the area.

Barred Becard/Sam Woods

Day 7 (12 February)
Temperate cloudforest and paramo, east slope of the Andes 3045m/9990 ft.
TAPICHALACA (Zamora-chinchipe)
Temperate cloudforest, east slope of the Andes 2486m/8156ft.
On this day we drove up into the temperate zone of the Andes once again changing altitude to get a shot at a whole bunch of different Andean birds. During this tour we had just two participants and therefore were able to hire a smaller vehicle specifically to get up the rough road to CERRO TOLEDO, which would then give us a chance of a couple of normally tricky species on this tour. So we drove out of the dry valley and scrubland of Vilcabamba up into the moist, misty cloudforest of Cerro Toledo where we initially spent some time on the treeline.Our main reason for our 'pilgrimage' was for a rare and extremely localized highland hummer, the Neblina Metaltail. Foggy conditions greeted us as we arrived at the upper edge of the temperate forest, although we quickly heard our quarry and caught just snatches of the bird as three or four birds chased each other around aggressively in misty conditions. We waited patiently though and finally a bird responded to a little tape playing by repeatedly coming back and perching up on the roadside, eventually giving us all good looks at his deep red throat gorget. The cool foggy conditions were not ideal or pleasant so we got a couple of other high altitude targets and then crept a little lower down to try and avoid the chilly conditions higher up. The first of these other targets was a chunky mountain-tanager, so we listened carefully for any signs of a flock and before long a couple of Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers dropped into view, as did a gorgeous Golden-crowned Tanager, although neither of these smart tanagers was our prime target. The high-pitched calls of several Masked Mountain-Tanagers soon though revealed their presence in the flock and we quickly pursued this mixed tanager party up the road as they continually moved on, when we then found at least three of these beastly mountain-tanagers lurking in the low brush, just above the treeline. Another southern highland target species, Mouse-colored Thistletail was also found in the same area, although the distinctive calls of a flying party of Red-faced Parrots were all we could get on that bird in the heavy mist. A little lower down the road the temperate forest brought us our first Citrine Warblers, a small inquisitive party of Orange-banded Flycatchers, in addition to a chattering troop of Black-headed Hemispinguses, a mob of Pale-naped Brush-finches, and both Crowned and Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrants.We then made our way south out of Loja province, crossing into Zamora-chinchipe to the 'flagship' reserve of the Jocotoco Foundation, TAPICHLACA, the home of the fabled Jocotoco Antpitta. Some forced stops due to a series of extensive road-building and maintenance going on during our stay was not too taxing when we found a few Lacrimose Mountain-Tanagers and a gliding White-rumped Hawk to look at. Once we reached the reserve in the late afternoon we had just enough time to sneak in a Chestnut-naped Antpitta that appeared on the trail, a White-browed Spinetail and a Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher that were found lurking in the chusquea bamboo, and best of all a pair of cool Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucans by the entrance to our lodge, Casa Simpson.

Adult Jocotoco Antpitta, Tapichalaca/Sam Woods
JOCOTOCO ANTPITTA awaiting our arrival, Tapichalaca - this picture was taken hand-held!

Day 8 (13 February)
TAPICHALACA (Zamora-chinchipe)
Temperate cloudforest, east slope of the Andes 2486m/8156ft.
VALLADOLID (Zamora-chinchipe) Lower subtropics/foothills 1600m/5282 ft.
Our first morning in TAPICHALACA was spent with one massive target species in mind - the legendary Jocotoco Antpitta. This bird has come to be a symbol for many things in Ecuador and has a very special history. Before late 1997 this huge and extremely distinctive antpitta was completely unknown to birders and scientists, until an esteemed group of neotropical birders walked a well-known birding trail on the edge of what is now the Tapichalaca Biological Reserve. This experienced team of birders, that included the principal author of the excellent Ecuador field guide, Robert Ridgely, heard a call completely unfamiliar to all of them and so went about taping in this strange sounding bird, whereupon one of the most remarkable discoveries of modern birding times was made, when a massive antpitta appeared that was new to science. The finding prompted the forming of an Ecuadorian NGO - the Jocotoco Foundation that immediately went about purchasing land where the bird had been discovered, and has subsequently expanded their coverage and purchased a number of important bird reserves throughout the country. Thus the logo - the antpitta has come to be an important symbol of much-needed ongoing conservation issues within this small Andean country.

Immature Jocotoco Antpitta, Tapichalaca/Sam Woods
Immature JOCOTOCO ANTPITTA Tapichalaca

Anyway on to the bird, that in recent times has become 'easy', as one of the local rangers Franco has worked tirelessly to habituate a family of these birds and so relive the pressure of taping these and other individuals within their small range. Despite much subsequent searches for the bird, the species' range remains small, and the population numbers remain small too. It remains a rare and little known species with a limited range, and thus us always one of the main motivations for joining our southern Ecuador trip. Stuart and Chuck were no exception to this, and were keen to clamp their eyes on one. However, before we got to the 'Jocotoco Knoll' we had other species to search for on the way up, as we made our way through bromeliad-laden, rich temperate forest. Before we walked the now aptly-named 'Jocotoco Trail' we found a perched flock of Golden-plumed Parakeets, a local specialty, in addition to the hulking form of a Strong-billed Woodcreeper trashing a bromeliad, and a singing Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager in the treetops. Not far up the trail we were in pursuit of a calling Chusquea Tapaculo, a localized Scytalopus that obliged us by hoping across the trail fully in the open (a rare thing for one of these sneaky tapaculos), and just a short distance on the distinctive sounds of a Slate-crowned Antpitta were heard emanating from the bamboo. It proved a tricky customer, although it did show up a couple of times, and later in the morning a second bird was also seen. We also found another Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan as we made our way to the famed 'knoll', and a Long-tailed Antbird was coaxed out into the open. The Jocotoco Antpittas themselves did not disappoint putting on quite a show. On arrival an immature and an adult were hanging around the feeding area, knowing they would soon get what they wanted, and over the next thirty minutes or so we watched amazed as these huge antpittas hopped around within just a few meters, if not feet of us. A truly remarkable experience, that both participants agreed was one of the tours undeniable 'standout' moments. With the main target 'under the belt' we then set about trying to find some other specialties of the east slope temperate zone. Not too much further down the trail a pair of Black-throated Tody-Tyrants jumped around in the canopy excitedly, a Bar-bellied Woodpecker hugged a close trunk (with a little persuasion), and a few smartly-dressed Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrants appeared trailside. If it was not for the looming presence of the Jocotoco we also picked up a quality trip bird in the thick of the forest. The beautiful and haunting cooing of a Barred Antthrush was heard close to the trail although the dense nature of that section made it a tough prospect to see. We had a couple of far from satisfactory glimpses before this handsome antbird made its way to a much more open patch of forest where we all got great looks as it strutted through the undergrowth at close range, a really top bird. As we made our way back down the trail for lunch we disturbed a White-throated Quail-Dove off the trail a couple of times, and we also hit a few late morning flocks, that brought us some cool montane species - one flock holding a dapper Golden-crowned Tanager, further Orange-banded Flycatchers, Barred Becard, a single Black-capped Tyrannulet, a number of Blue-backed Conebills and chattering Black-capped Hemispingus, and a pristine Plush-capped Finch. After a brief stop for a delicious lunch back at Casa Simpson we headed down in altitude to the foothills around the town of VALLADOLID, on the road that leads down south into Peru. Our main reason for the drop was to go after a specialty of the Maranon drainage basin, the Maranon Thrush, that we duly found a little way to the south of the town. This short trip down slope also produced a gorgeous Yellow-cheeked (Green-backed) Becard, Lined Antshrike, Olive-chested Flycatcher, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Silvery (Silver-backed) Tanager, Emerald Toucanet, and both Band-tailed and Drab Seedeaters. For Stuart and I though the day had still not ended when we returned to the lodge in the late afternoon, as Franco the local ranger was keen for us to go after a special 'creature of the night'. Being a sucker for nightbirds (and having been frustrated in our attempts up until now by heavy, poorly-timed rain) we jumped at this with both hands. The walk up to the area was a little steep but not without a significant reward before we were even after our main quarry, as some harsh jay-like cries led us to a wonderful White-capped Tanager perched up on a moss-laden branch. A little further up a pair of Rufous-bellied Nighthawks glowed rufous in the spotlight. We then climbed up onto a ridge top, where Franco gestured towards a barbed wire fence on which an Andean Potoo was quietly sitting, occasionally sallying for insects, while we crept to within a few feet of this strange and rarely encountered nightbird. The morning held an unforgettable encounter with the Jocotoco, and the evening had included this equally bizarre and memorable experience. All in all one of the best days of the tour for everyone concerned.

Andean Potoo, Tapichalaca/Sam Woods
ANDEAN POTOO Tapichalaca
Stuart and a friendly Andean Potoo, Tapichalaca/Sam Woods
Stuart with a very obliging ANDEAN POTOO on a rainy night at Tapichalaca

Day 9 (February 14)
TAPICHALACA (Zamora-chinchipe)
Temperate cloudforest, east slope of the Andes 2486m/8156ft.
After a few final hours in the temperate forests of Tapichalaca we made our way to the eastern side of the province to a scenic lodge close to the provincial capital, Zamora. The lodge, Copalinga, comprises of a set of attractive wooden cabins located within rich foothill forest on the eastern side of the Andes, a whole new area for us.Our final few hours in TAPICHALACA brought us a surprisingly showy Ash-colored Tapaculo that uncharacteristically remained in full view, singing on an open branch for some time, a pair of Barred Fruiteaters, and a better look at a Chestnut-naped Antpitta on virtually the same stretch of trail as a few days before. Perhaps our best 'exit bird' though was a stunning Rufous-capped Thornbill that flashed its Technicolor 'beard' at us while it probed a roadside inflorescence. Some of the other regular Tapichalaca hummers also buzzed around the same concentrations of flowers, including both Flame-throated and Amethyst-throated Sunangels, and the odd Chestnut-breasted Coronet. After a four hour journey we arrived in the eastern foothills and quickly set about birding the COPALINGA LODGE garden in the last hour of daylight, when we picked up some really special birds that this well-planned out lodge can be a haven for. Some purple blooms on a garden hedge attracted a buffy-capped female Spangled Coquette, while a male Wire-crested Thorntail sneaked in and out of a cecropia in between bouts of being chased away by some territorial local Glittering-throated Emeralds. The feeders by the restaurant held more of the emeralds, a Greenish Hermit popped in for a visit, as did a few Violet-fronted Brilliants, and the shrubbery alongside there held a spanking Golden-winged Tody-Flycatcher, while White-banded Swallows circled overhead. As dusk took over we had not yet finished our days birding as a little way down the road from the lodge we watched the banks as a Blackish Nightjar hopped up and down on a ledge, and made occasional forays out for a passing insect.

Day 10 (February 15)
RIO BOMBUSCARO, Podocarpus National Park (Zamora-chinchipe)
Foothill forest on the eastern slope of the Andes, 1005m/3297ft.
On this day we spent most of the day wandering a wide open forest trail within the huge Podocarpus NP. As this was our first real venture into the foothills of the east slope masses of new birds awaited us and we stacked up many new species for the trip on this busy days birding. Most notably these elevations on the east side are known for the diversity of colorful tanagers, and we experienced this firsthand both within the park during the day, and around Katherine and Baldwins lodge in the late afternoon, racking up almost 20 species of tanager on this day alone! These included Paradise, Golden-eared, Orange-eared, Masked, Green-and-gold, Flame-rumped, Spotted, Yellow-bellied, Swallow and Magpie Tanagers. Our time was mixed between searching for forest floor skulkers, and scouring through canopy flocks that seem to abound in this superb park. Although before we left for the park a Sickle-winged Guan appeared in a cecropia just out from the lodge restaurant. In RIO BOMBUSCARO buried within the colorful flock fare of the tanagers were some inconspicuous flycatchers, several of which have localized distributions and were therefore special target birds for the day. The first one of these was Foothill Elaenia, two of which were found hiding within two different flocks along the trail, although their distinct vocalizations gave them away and led us to them. This bird is high on the want list for visiting birders as it is so recently described that it never appeared in the field guide, only being discovered within this park a short time after publication. Another vocal flycatcher, the Ecuadorian Tyrannulet was also found hiding out in the flocks, as were a couple of Marble-faced Bristle-tyrants. Also participating in the canopy 'madness' were several Ash-crowned Spinetails, and one flock also held one or two Ecuatorial Graytails. Outside of the flocks the Coppery-chested Jacamar located in the forest understorey was a pleasing find, another eastern foothill specialist, as was a male Foothill Antwren working the forest understorey. An Ecuadorian Piedtail came in and checked out the tape although remained well-back out of sight from then on. Stuart also located a Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater that unfortunately did not linger for all. One particular area was rich for manakins holding several male Blue-rumped Manakins, and also a Striped Manakin. For Chuck anyway probably the best bird of the morning was an audacious male Andean Cock-of-the-rock that dropped in just before lunch and fed on some fruits above us, here being a much paler shade of orange, than the deeper more reddish birds found in the Andes to the west of Quito. Lunch was spent in the field eating tasty sandwiches while overlooking a snag in the rainforest that held a Bat Falcon for company. On the way out of the park in the afternoon we picked up a scarce flycatcher - Orange-crested Flycatcher. Back at COPALINGA LODGE in the afternoon we added another hummer when a couple of female Violet-headed Hummingbirds were found working the purple blooms. Other garden birds for the afternoon included a pair of Little Woodpeckers, a nesting pair of Mottle-backed Elaenias sporting distinctive 'horns', an Olive-chested Flycatcher in the open treearound the cabins, a Long-tailed Tyrant was a permanent fixture on the dead snag out from the restaurant, and a female Lined Antshrike also put in an appearance. However, from a local perspective the boreal Black-billed Cuckoo (an all-time nemesis bird for Stuart) was the rarest of the bunch, comprising a first for the lodge property, that the owner had found there that morning.

Day 11 (February 16)
RIO BOMBUSCARO, Podocarpus National Park (Zamora-chinchipe)
Foothill forest on the eastern slope of the Andes, 1005m/3297ft.

OLD ZAMORA ROAD (Zamora-chinchipe) Foothill forest on the eastern slope of the Andes, 1200m/3937ft. On this day we opted to return to the park in the morning and then head to Old Zamora Road outside the park in the afternoon. The same RIO BOMBUSCARO park trail brought us some notable additions from the day before including both male White-crowned Manakin and Striped Manakin, a noisy party of Lemon-browed Flycatchers, a Bronze-green Euphonia, a single Yellow-breasted Antwren hiding out in a canopy flock, a Spectacled Bristle-tyrant that appeared close to the similar Marble-faced for good comparison, and a Ruddy Quail-Dove that walked out in front of our car in the morning. However, the star performers of the morning were a brace of puffbirds, with a Black-streaked Puffbird along the main trail, and a dinky Lanceolated Monklet along a side trail. Other additions included an Amazonian Umbrellabird that flew low past us from a well-placed viewpoint, a White-breasted Wood-wren, White-necked Thrush and several Ashy-throated Bush-tanagers. After a brief stop at an old airfield where Chestnut-bellied Seedeaters, Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers and a couple of Great Kiskadees were trip exclusives we headed back through Zamora to the OLD ZAMORA ROAD. The open foothill forest there is sometimes easier to bird for certain birds than the more closed forest environment within the park. Along the river we found a pair of Fasciated Tiger-herons and a Cliff Flycatcher, and a pair of Blackish Antbirds performed well in some roadside scrub.

Day 12 (February 17)
OLD ZAMORA ROAD (Zamora-chinchipe) Foothill forest on the eastern slope of the Andes, 1200m/3937ft.
Most of our final morning in the eastern foothills was spent scouring the roadside forest for tanagers and the like along the Old Zamora Road, before we headed northwards to Ecuador's third largest city, Cuenca, for the night, in preparation for our venture into the high Andean paramo the following day. Along the OLD ZAMORA ROAD the flocks were much more in evidence than the afternoon before and we trawled through these to try and find one of the few scarcer tanagers. This paid off handsomely when in the late morning I got out of the car to check out some tanager calls and was immediately faced with a bright scarlet red bird feeding on berries in the tree, one of three spiffing Vermillion Tanagers found within the same tree, a magic moment that Stuart later picked as one of the other standout sightings of the tour. The same tree also produced our only Montane Woodcreepers of the trip and great eye-level looks at a pair of Equatorial Graytails. Other notable new additions that morning included a pair of Olivaceous Greenlets, a Slaty-capped Shrike-vireo within a passing flock, and a cracking White-browed Antbird drew us into the undergrowth where it eventually perched up in an open spot for us all to enjoy to the max. The beauty of the Old Zamora Road is that sometimes the flocks pass through at eye-level allowing you to get great looks at canopy birds without the neck strain. This morning we saw many of the tanagers we'd seen before although this time up close and personal, in addition to winning looks at some other canopy fare, including close-up views of both Ash-browed Spinetail and Yellow-breasted Antwren, and more prolonged looks at a Spectacled Bristle-tyrant. Unfortunately though the rare Rufous-breasted Flycatcher did not give us the long looks we got of these other species. Aside from the obvious bright-red tanagers seen a little later on though one of the undoubted highlights of our morning was finally nailing some crippling views of White-breasted (necked) Parakeets perched in some close roadside trees.

We then hit the road north stopping at a scenic cascade to pick up a pair of obliging White-capped Dippers and a streamside Torrent Tyrannulet. A few hours south of Cuenca we made a short stop in some temperate forest where all was pretty quiet between the bouts of cloud descending on us, except for a roving party of Paramo Seedeaters. We ended up in the colonial city of Cuenca, just a short ride away from the high Andean park of El Cajas, our final destination for the last leg of the main tour.

Violet-throated Metaltail, El Cajas/Sam Woods

Day 13 (February 18)
EL CAJAS (Azuay)
Paramo grasslands (3974m/13,038ft) interspersed with polylepis woodland, and upper subtropical forest.
This day was very different from all others on the trip as we climbed right up into the high Andes and the wet paramos of EL CAJAS. The lofty heights of 4150m/ 13,615 ft. When we reached the main area of the park we found ourselves in a different world, few trees and wide open windswept paramo grasslands, with patches of highland scrub and flaky red-barked polylepis woodland dotted here and there. These distinctive woods hold some specialist species that we focused on for some of the day, although first we spent a little time lower down in some upper temperate forest to try and fill some gaps in our list from the temperate zone that we had visited in Tapichalaca and Cerro Toledo previously on tour. Around the car park we found a few small flocks that held some Superciliaried Hemispingus, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers, and a Streaked Tuftedcheek. On a muddy trail through some high stunted forest we found a pair of Masked Trogon and a superb Rufous Antpitta gorging a huge worm on the side of the trail. On the scenic lagoon beside the forest an Andean Gull flew by and some Andean (Ruddy) Ducks were sitting on the clear waters, while a Grass Wren emerged to sing from the top of the reeds alongside. We then hit the high points, stopping on the way up in some roadside highland scrub that held a confiding Violet-throated Metaltail, an Ecuadorian endemic with a tiny world range. The same area held our first Tufted Tit-Tyrants and our seventh and final antpitta of the trip, Tawny Antpitta, that was perched up in a bush in the rain belting out its call. Once we emerged on to the paramo proper we struggled to find some birds in the wet and foggy conditions that so often affect these high altitude days in the Andes. We bided our time though and opted to go for lunch by a specific patch of polylepis. We had not even began tucking into our sandwiches when we saw the first of our targets - a roaming party of Tit-like Dacnis, and a short time later the hoped for Blue-mantled Thornbill appeared right on cue. With these birds in the bag we birded around a high Andean lake, picking up a party of three Andean Lapwings and a single Carunculated Caracara, although not a sniff of the hoped for Giant Conebill in an enticing looking patch of polylepis. When the cloud cleared a little the day warmed significantly and with this brought some birds to life, not least an Andean Tit-Spinetail that emerged close to a Many-striped Canastero. Stuart also picked up a Chimborazo Hillstar along the way. We then began a slow journey back towards Guayaquil, checking patch after patch of polylepis around the pass at El Cajas for Giant Conebills. At the very last patch I wandered out of the car to check on my own, and instantly saw a Giant Conebill fly right over my head to the tape, that had me waving frantically for Chuck and Stuart. A pair of this smart nuhatch-like polylepis specialists were then watched probing away at the distinctive red flaky bark of their favored, and much threatened trees for a fantastic finale to our time in the highlands. Other late pick ups just before the Conebill show, included a pair of Stout-billed Cinclodes, and a lone Andean Teal. As we made our way back to Guayaquil we dropped swiftly in altitude, rapidly shedding clothing as we went, just making a short stop for another pair of hulking Horned Screamers by the roadside that this time were close enough to see their wafer-thin white 'horn', and we also saw several Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and a White-throated Crake in the same area.

Day 14 (February 19)
Lowland coastal scrub and salt lagoons, 32m/105ft.

AYAMPE (Manabi) Lowland semi-humid deciduous woodland, 19m/62ft.In stark contrast to the day before we were decked out in short sleeves as we birded near to sea-level, in the dry arid terrain of the SANTA ELENA PENINSULA in the newly recognized province of Santa Elena, just a stones throw from the Pacific Ocean. What can often be a barren and tinder dry landscape was once again covered in greenery due to some recent extensive rains in the area, making it look far from arid. The birds were in full song, and many of the species seemed to be present in good numbers and were easy to find. As we turned off the main highway onto the peninsula we stopped and immediately picked up our first Necklaced Spinetails, a locally common restricted range species. The same roadside scrub held numerous seedeaters and finches, that included our first odd-looking Parrot-billed Seedeaters with their swollen parrot-like bills, a few striking Collared Warbling-finches, and many Crimson-breasted Finches, including some fine red-and-black males. An unusual find was a male Merlin perched up in the coastal scrub, a rare boreal visitor to the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. A quick burst of the Pacific Pygmy-Owl tape brought some dramatic responses from the local passerines, many of them target species for the morning, including an agitated Gray-and-white Tyrannulet flaring his coronal patch in angry reaction, and a couple of Short-tailed Woodstars came in to join the mobbing horde of Parrot-billed Seedeaters, and the odd Superciliated Wren. This technique also produced good views of a Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant that rose out of the scrub in anger. One particular road leading to a noisy, 'scenic' dump was good for field-tyrants, with at least four Short-tailed Field-Tyrants found along there, in addition to a pair of Tumbesian (Mouse-colored) Tyrannulets. We changed the area and birded where there were a little more trees and soon found a Pacific (West Peruvian) Dove perched up in view, and the same stretch also brought us further views of both White-edged Orioles and Scarlet-backed Woodpeckers, and finally, face-to-face with a Pacific Pygmy-Owl. With our passerine options having run out and all our targets in place we decided to while away the remainder of the morning searching the vast ECUASAL salt lagoons along the coast, that are a rich feeding ground for migrant boreal shorebirds and waterbirds. The trip list leapt up as we scanned through the flocks of gulls shorebirds, terns, pelicans, and ducks. Huge Peruvian Pelicans rested on the banks next to their visibly smaller relative, the Brown Pelican. Flocks of roosting terns held Royal, Elegant, and Sandwich Terns, and several Gull-billed Terns hawked for insects on the wing above the lagoons. Packs of shorebirds included Stilt Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, and both species of Yellowlegs. Although the most impressive gathering was well over 600 Wilson's Phalaropes spinning around on the surface of the lagoons. Single American Golden Plovers and Wilsons Plovers were also found. Gray-hooded Gulls dominated the larid presence along with Laughing and Franklin's Gulls too. At one point the shorebirds and terns all visibly fidgeted nervously and took flight as a Peregrine Falcon swooped overhead. However, the major drawcard for these lagoons are the Chilean Flamingos, that preciously few of were present at this time. On the duck front we picked up White-cheeked Pintails, and a few Blue-winged Teals. Roadside wires in the area held a smart Pearl Kite feasting on a lizard, and some rocks along the shore played host to a small group of three Surfbirds. Offshore several Blue-footed Boobies were seen plunging into the Pacific. We then hit the coastal resort of Salinas where we ate a hearty shrimp soup before making our way towards the Puerto Lopez area. Before checking into our scenic lodge however, perched on a hillside overlooking the ocean, we opted to get a head start on the next days birds and check out the humid woodland around the RIO AYAMPE for the first time. This turned out splendidly when we picked up the top target bird for the area and arguably the rarest bird of the trip - a spanking male Esmeraldas Woodstar standing sentry on his favored snag. We ended the day just outside our lodge where a Rufous-headed Chachalaca fed on berries by the drive just before dusk when we managed to tape in an Anthony's (Scrub) Nightjar to a near perch for a fantastic finale to the superb days birding we had enjoyed.

Short-tailed Field-tyrant, Santa Elena/Sam Woods
Santa Elena Peninsula

Day 15 (February 20)
AYAMPE (Manabi)
Lowland semi-humid deciduous woodland, 19m/62ft.
Machalilla NP (Manabi) At this end of the trip things were getting tight and we were not looking for a huge quantity of birds, although top quality birds were still out there for us, and we decided to bird the AYAMPE area again for a couple of particularly special ones. Things went well, when not long after we arrived a Slaty Becard was heard singing closeby, and a pair of them were taped into a near tree, the rusty-red female coming in very close on a couple of occasions. This was a particularly pleasing find as it had eluded us in Jorupe earlier on the trip despite much effort put into seeing it at the time. Further along the road we found the 'regular' male Esmeraldas standing sentry once more and a short time later we were standing in the same area and a large rusty bird flew over our heads and landed in front of us, when the anvil-shaped head of the bird left us in no doubt that it was our other top target - a Pacific Royal Flycatcher. The bird swept away before Chuck could get his bins on it though and we had a short but nervy wait to see if we could get it to come back. We opted to climb up onto the ridge and play back to it, when it obliged us with fantastic views as it gave its low jacamar-like call back to us in response. A bit further up the road another woodstar was found on a snag, this time a rusty-breasted Little Woodstar, another rare hummer. Other new additions included a Plain Antvireo and a pair of fleeting Checker-throated Antwrens, and we finally all got a decent look at a White-backed Fire-eye that had been so elusive and difficult the day before. Both Speckle-breasted and Superciliated Wrens also put in 'sterling' performances, bringing us our best views yet. On the way out of Ayampe we found a trip exclusive Gray Hawk perched up in a roadside cecropia, and our second Ecuadorian Piculet of the trip also made an appearance. After a much needed long break in the middle of the day at the lodge, sleeping off a squid lunch, we ventured into Machalilla NP just north of Puerto Lopez, with one difficult target in mind - to finally get a look at a Pale-browed Tinamou, no easy task with the vast swathes of greenery present during this particular tour. However, with little else to play for we spent several frustrating hours not even getting within range of one, as they all seemed to be calling way off in the distant hills. We waited it out though and in the late afternoon one piped up close to our car that had us scrambling out of the car and peering into the scrubbery. We tried a little playback and soon realized the bird was on the move in response, and Chuck soon picked up this male bird as it sat motionless in the understorey. Unfortunately it slinked back though before Stuart had got a look. A little further playback and the bird moved in towards us, this time giving us all good close up looks, just before the rain began and we retreated back to our attractive lodge for the night.

Female Slaty Becard, Ayampe/Sam Woods
Female SLATY BECARD Ayampe

Esmeraldas Woodstar, Ayampe/Sam Woods

Day 16 (February 21)
AYAMPE (Manabi)
Lowland semi-humid deciduous woodland, 19m/62ft.
For our final day we spent much of it working the forest for just a few birds on the way out from AYAMPE. This paid off handsomely when we heard our top target bird calling mid way through the morning. First Stuart found the Ochraceous Attila calling back at us through a narrow window and some stressful minutes followed as we struggled to get the angle. Thankfully though, as is the Attila habit, it remained rooted to the same spot, and I finally found the window and managed to line it up in the scope for all. Another endangered species in the bag. This same area also brought us our final few trip additions with a couple of species right at the southern end of their western ranges - Olivaceous Piculet and Red-faced Spinetail. A little further on we found another male Esmeraldas Woodstar for the trip too. Another quick stop on the SANTA ELENA Peninsula on the return journey brought nothing new but a few more Short-tailed Woodstars, Parrot-billed Seedeaters, Necklaced Spinetail, Crimson-breasted Finch, and the odd Pearl Kite. It was then back to Guayaquil for a final farewell dinner before our morning flights out, with talk of the top trip birds. Always hard to narrow it down, although Stuart opted for Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Jocotoco Antpitta, Andean Potoo, Vermillion Tanager and Esmeraldas Woodstar, with Chuck keeping it simple with just the first two also at the top of his pile. However, Stuart made the choices on the proviso that it could be a whole new top five by the following morning! I for one thought the Ochraceous Attila deserved a worthy mention, and was surprised no one picked the Elegant Crescentchest or impossibly cute Black-crested Tit-Tyrant. At the end of the trip around 510 species were seen and a further 30 or so further species were heard in addition to that.

Day 17 (February 22) DEPARTURE DAY


The taxonomy of this list follows: Clements, James F, Anthony W. White, and John W. Fitzpatrick. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. Cornell, 2007. This list is up to date with the major changes published by Cornell on 15 Dec 2008. Different names used in The Birds of Ecuador are given in ()'s.

I have written selective notes on some species, especially the highly-desired endemics.

Species marked with an 'H' were heard only
Species marked with 'GO' were seen by the guide only

TINAMOUS Tinamidae
Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui H
Heard distantly in Ayampe.
Pale-browed Tinamou Crypturellus transfasciatus

Having been frustrated by them at both Cerro Blanco and Jorupe, we finally saw this one at Machalilla NP on the extension, when a male bird came in twice to playback, affording unusually good views for a tinamou as it did so. SCREAMERS Anhimidae
Horned Screamer Anhima cornuta

Two were seen distantly at Manglares-charute on the way out to Buenaventura on our first day, although were seen much better as we returned along the same road from El Cajas later on the tour. On this second occasion the birds were much closer and in the better light conditions we could make out the thin white ribbon on the top of its head, that gives the bird its name. DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS Anatidae
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
On our second stop by Manglares-charute we saw a number of small groups flying around the marsh.
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
Several were seen hanging out with the White-cheeked Pintails on the 'flamingo' lagoons at Ecuasal.
White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis
Some rafts were seen on some large saline lagoons on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Speckled (Andean) Teal Anas flavirostris andium
Just a single bird was seen in the high Andes of El Cajas park.
(Andean) Ruddy-Duck Oxyura jamaicensis andina

NB. This Andean 'species' has recently been lumped with the North American Ruddy Duck. GUANS, CHACHALACAS, CURASSOWS Cracidae
Rufous-headed Chachalaca Ortalis erythroptera
We enjoyed a very good run on this species on the tour. First we saw one right beside the restaurant at Buenaventura, and Stuart and Chuck also saw one there by their cabins. Later on the tour we saw another bird at Sozoranga, and heard others calling in Jorupe. Finally, on the extension, we saw a few near the Ayampe river, and alongside the road on the way back from Ayampe to Guayaquil.
Andean Guan
Penelope montagnii GO
A short stop in Saraguro produced a brief look at one of these for the guide and driver only unfortunately.
Sickle-winged Guan Chamaepetes goudotii
A bird appeared right outside the restaurant early one morning at Copalinga in the eastern foothills. NEW WORLD QUAILS Odontophoridae
Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail Odontophorus erythrops
One shuffled away from a trail at Buenaventura.

GREBES Podicipedidae
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps

One was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula. FLAMINGOS Phoenicopteridae
Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

Just three birds were seen on a couple of lagoons on the Santa Elena Peninsula. BOOBIES & GANNETS Sulidae
Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii

A few were seen plunging into the Pacific Ocean offshore from the Santa Elena Peninsula, and others were seen loafing around on buoys in the same area. PELICANS Pelecanidae
Peruvian Pelican Pelecanus thagus
This hulking pelican was seen on the Santa Elena.

Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis

Commonly encountered on the Santa Elena Peninsula.CORMORANTS AND SHAGS Phalacrocoracidae
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Recorded in Guayas and on the Santa Elena Peninsula.

ANHINGAS Anhingidae
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga

A couple of birds were seen on the journey south from Guayaquil on our first morning. FRIGATEBIRDS Fregatidae
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens

Seen in good numbers along the Pacific Coast.

Great Egret Ardea alba
A few sightings around Guayaquil and on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
One was seen at Ayampe.
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Scattered sightings were made on the extension.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Scattered sightings were made in the lowlands.
Striated Heron Butorides striatus
A couple of sightings were made at Manglares-charute while searching for screamers, and another was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
One was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea
Just one bird was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Fasciated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma fasciatum

A single adult bird was seen fishing the same stretch of river on two days at Buenaventura, and two birds (an adult and a juvenile) were observed along the Old Loja-Zamora Road).

IBISES & SPOONBILLS Threskiornithidae
White Ibis Eudocimus albus GO
One flew over the car south of Guayaquil as we traveled back there from El Cajas via Manglares-charute on our final afternoon.

Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Recorded commonly at a number of sites.
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Regularly recorded throughout the tour away from the highlands.

Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus
Several of these elegant raptors were seen around Buenaventura in El Oro.
Pearl Kite Gampsonyx swainsonii
A couple of these smart kites were seen hunting from roadside wires on the Santa Elena Peninsula at both the beginning and end of the extension.
White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus

One was seen at Manglares-churute, on our drive back to Guayaquil from El Cajas.
Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis
Many of these were seen perched low over wet areas by the roadside on the journey south from Guayaquil to Buenaventura.
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea
Just the one soaring bird was seen near Ayampe.
Sharp-shinned (Plain-breasted) Hawk Accipiter striatus ventralis
A few were seen in the southwestern highlands at Utuana.
NB. Plain-breasted Hawk has recently been lumped with Sharp-shinned Hawk on the recently updated Clement
s list.
Gray-backed Hawk Leucopternis occidentalis
Five birds were seen during one morning in the Buenaventura reserve.
Savanna Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis
A few scattered sightings were made in Guayas.
Harris's Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus
One was seen in Jorupe, and another in Machalilla NP.
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris
Recorded a few times around Buenaventura in the west, and in Rio Bombuscaro in the east.
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
Just one of these boreal migrants was seen shortly after we left Tapichalaca.
Gray Hawk Buteo nitidus
A single bird was seen near the Rio Ayampe.
Variable Hawk Buteo polyosoma
One was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula, with another single picked up on the journey to Macara from El Oro province.
Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus
One was seen at Cerro Blanco on our first morning.
Black-and-chestnut Eagle Oroaetus isidori

A single soaring bird passed over our car shortly after we left Tapichalaca.

Carunculated Caracara Phalcoboenus carunculatus
One was seen close to the town of San Lucas as we made our way to Cuenca, with another bird being seen perched up by a scenic paramo lake in El Cajas the following day.
Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway
A few scattered sightings, including on the Santa Elena Peninsula, and also on the edge of Buenaventura Reserve.
Collared Forest-Falcon Micrastur semitorquatus H

One was heard calling late one afternoon from Mantaraya Lodge, while we waited for the appearance of an Anthony's (Scrub) Nightjar.

American Kestrel Falco sparverius
A few scattered sightings at a number of locations on the tour.
Merlin Falco columbarius
We were lucky to find this rare boreal migrant to Ecuador on the Santa Elena Peninsula, where we found a male perched in the coastal scrub.
Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis

One kept watch over us as we ate our boxed lunch, on a trail in the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP.

White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis

One was taped out to the edge of the reeds at Manglares-Charute as we returned from El Cajas to Guayaquil.

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus
The reliable stakeout in Vilcabamba paid off again, as a single bird was lured into an open pasture on the edge of town.
Slate-colored (Andean) Coot Fulica ardesiaca

A few were dotted about on the high Andean lakes of El Cajas. PLOVERS AND LAPWINGS Charadriidae
Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens
Three were seen beside a large lake in El Cajas.
American Golden-Plover Pluvialis dominica
One was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Black-bellied (Gray) Plover Pluvialis squatarola
A few small groups were found on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus

One bird was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia

One was found on a sand bar on the Santa Elena Peninsula. OYSTERCATCHERS Haematopodidae
American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus

A few scattered sightings on the Santa Elena. STILTS AND AVOCETS Recurvirostridae
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

Good numbers were found in lowland wetland areas.

JACANAS Jacanidae
Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana
Commonly encountered at roadside wetlands just south of Guayaquil.

SANDPIPERS Scolopacidae
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus
A small group was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Whimbrel Numeneus phaeopus
Regularly recorded along the shoreline on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
A few birds were seen on the extension.
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
Just the one bird was found on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
Good numbers were present along the Pacific Coast.
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
A few birds were seen on the coastal lagoons on the extension.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
One small group were found on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Surfbird Aphriza virgata
Three birds were seen roosting on some rocks along the shore of the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Sanderling Calidris alba
A few scattered sightings were made on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
The few peeps that were close enough were identified as this species, on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Stilt Sandpiper Micropalama himantopus
A group of 30 or so birds was seen on the coastal lagoons of the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor

A huge flock in excess of 500 birds was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.

GULLS Laridae
Andean Gull Larus serranus
A few were seen in the high paramo in El Cajas park.
Gray-hooded (-headed) Gull Larus cirrocephalus
Very common on the Santa Elena peninsula, being by far the commonest gull there.

Laughing Gull Larus atricilla

Seen in small numbers along the Pacific Coast.
Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan
A few individuals were seen with the much commoner Laughing Gull on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus

Just a couple were seen offshore from the Santa Elena Peninsula.

TERNS Sternidae
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
A few were seen hawking insects over the coastal lagoons on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Royal Tern Sterna maxima
A small flock of Elegants and Royals was seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Two birds were seen along the Pacific Coast.
Elegant Tern Sterna elegans

A few birds were found within a larger flock of Royal Terns on the Santa Elena Peninsula.

Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Recorded at a number of towns throughout.
Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata
Regularly seen around Utuana and Sozoranga.
Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis
Seen around Ayampe on the extension and also alongside the road south from Guayas to El Oro.
Plumbeous Pigeon Columba plumbea
A few were seen perched up in Buenaventura reserve.
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata
A few were seen around Catamayo, and also on the extension.
Pacific (West Peruvian) Dove Zenaida meloda

Our first sighting came on the Santa Elena Peninsula, with many others seen in Machalilla NP close to Puerto Lopez.
Ecuadorian Ground-Dove Columbina buckleyi
First seen in Cerro Blanco on or first morning, with others around Jorupe, and at Ayampe on the extension.
Croaking Ground-Dove Columbina cruziana
First seen in the town of Macara, others were seen around Jorupe and on the Santa Elena, (where they were especially common).
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
Recorded at a number of sites on tour.
Ochre-bellied Dove Leptotila ochraceiventris H

One was heard calling at Ayampe on the extension, but could not be made to move out of cover for us to see it. Possibly one of the hardest of the Tumbesian specialties to see.
White-throated Quail-Dove Geotrygon frenata
One was seen walking ahead of us a couple of times on the 'Jocotoco Trail', at Tapichalaca.
Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana

One was flushed off the road into Podocarpus NP, when we drove towards the Rio Bombuscaro entrance one morning from Copalinga.

PARROTS Psittacidae
Golden-plumed Parakeet Leptosittaca branickii
Good numbers of these local parrots were seen in Tapichalaca, including several views of birds perched up.
El Oro Parakeet Pyrrhura orcesi
Our local guide at Buenaventura, Arten, took us to a private area where a pair were nesting at the time. A short walk through an extremely muddy cow pasture later, and we enjoyed 'scope views of several birds perched up in the palms on the edge of the forest, where we could see the red bridge across the forehead well. A very localized species.
White-necked (-breasted) Parakeet Pyrrhura albipectus
This near endemic gave us the run around in the eastern foothills, just giving us poor distant views on a number of occasions, until our final morning along the Old Loja-Zamora Road, when a small group landed in a tree next to the road and allowed us to tee them up in the 'scope. Just in the nick of time.
Red-masked Parakeet Aratinga erythrogenys
Good 'scope views were obtained in the Jorupe Reserve close to Macara.
Pacific Parrotlet Forpus coelestis
Regularly seen in lowland areas.
Gray-cheeked Parakeet Brotogeris pyrrhoptera GO

Just a couple of flybys for the guides eyes only from the car, and some distant calling birds at Jorupe were all we could muster. A strange one to have missed, as they are usually fairly easy in the Jorupe Reserve. Although I guess there is always one that misbehaves!
Red-faced Parrot Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops H
On three separate occasions we heard this scarce parrot calling in the fog at Cerro Toledo, but could not find them in the low cloud up there.
Red-billed Parrot Pionus sordidus
Recorded a number of times around Tapichalaca and also along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Bronze-winged Parrot Pionus chalcopterus

Good numbers were seen around Buenaventura and Ayampe.
Red-lored Parrot (Amazon) Amazona autumnalis
A few were seen perched in a tree just after we arrived in Cerro Blanco on our first morning.

CUCKOOS Cuculidae
Little Cuckoo Piaya minuta
A couple were seen in the eastern foothills around Zamora.
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana
Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus

This rare boreal migrant was seen in the Copalinga Lodge grounds, where it had been found earlier that day by the lodge owner, Katherine. She was justifiably excited as this represented the first record for the property.
Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia H
Heard calling distantly on a number of occasions around Ayampe and Machalilla NP.
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani
Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris

OWLS Strigidae
Band-bellied Owl Pulsatrix melanota H
Heard several times from the Copalinga Lodge restaurant at dawn, when it was calling distantly from upslope.
Peruvian (Pacific) Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium peruanum
One was seen well on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Burrowing Owl Speotyto cunicularia

A couple of sightings were made on the Santa Elena Peninsula.

NIGHTJARS Caprimulgidae
Rufous-bellied Nighthawk Lurocalis rufiventris
A couple were spotlighted as Stuart and I made our way to the Andean Potoo site at Tapichalaca.
Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis

One flew up in front of our car headlights in the Jorupe area, as we made our way towards Utuana.
Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis
A couple were seen along the Buenaventura entrance track.
Scrub (Anthony's) Nightjar Caprimulgus anthonyi
A bird was taped in on two consecutive nights close to our lodge near Puerto Lopez on the extension.
Blackish Nightjar Caprimulgus nigrescens

One bird was seen perched up on a rocky bank along the entrance road to the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP, a short way from Copalinga Lodge.

POTOOS Nyctibiidae
Andean Potoo Nyctibius maculosus
The star night performer of the tour. Thanks to our local guide, Franco, we stopped in on an area deep within the temperate forest at Tapichalaca, where we found this bird hawking insects from a fence shortly after dusk, that allowed us to approach to within just a few meters. The ridiculously confiding nature of the bird made this one of the top birds on the tour.

SWIFTS Apodidae
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutilus
Recorded at a number of sites, including Utuana, the Old Loja-Zamora Road and near to Valladolid, south of Tapichalaca.
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
Short-tailed (Tumbes) Swift Chaetura brachyura ocypetes

Several birds were seen low over a forest patch along the road south of Ayampe during our final morning.
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis
At least one bird was seen gliding above some roadside forest south of Ayampe on our return journey to Guayaquil.

White-whiskered Hermit Phaethornis yaruqui
Several were seen at the busy Buenaventura hummer feeders.
Green Hermit Phaethornis guy
A single bird came into the Copalinga feeders on our very first afternoon there.
Long-billed (Baron's) Hermit Phaethornis longirostris baroni
Seen at the Buenaventura feeders on a number of occasions, and also seen once in Ayampe on the extension.
Great-billed Hermit Phaethornis malaris GO
One came past us briefly in the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP, (in the eastern foothills).
Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis striigularis
One was seen in Ayampe.
White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora
Commonly recorded at Buenaventura's crowded hummer feeders.
Brown Violet-ear Colibri delphinae
A few came into the feeders at Buenaventura.
Sparkling Violet-ear Colibri coruscans
A few were seen in our Cuencan hotel car park in the southern highlands.
Green-breasted (Black-throated) Mango Anthracothorax prevostii iridescens
Seen regularly during our visits to Ayampe.
Violet-headed Hummingbird Klais guimeti
A couple of females were seen working the purple flowers in the Copalinga Lodge garden, and a male was also seen by Stuart on the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Spangled Coquette Lophornis stictolophus
A female was seen in the Copalinga garden on two consecutive days.
Wire-crested Thorntail Popelairia popelairii
Two birds were seen in the Copalinga garden shortly after arrival, including a punk-haired male. Another was also seen along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Green Thorntail Popelairia conversii
A cute common hummer at the Buenaventura feeders.
Green-crowned (Emerald-bellied) Woodnymph Thalurania fannyi hypochlora
A few of this localized form were seen at the packed Buenaventura hummer feeders.
Fork-tailed Woodnymph Thalurania furcata
A few were seen in the eastern foothills.
Violet-bellied Hummingbird Damophila julie
This stunning hummer was regularly recorded at the Buenaventura feeders.
Golden-tailed Sapphire Chrysuronia oenone GO
One was in the garden of Copalinga.
Tumbes Hummingbird Leucippus baeri
Several individuals were seen at El Empalme, north of Macara.

Amazilia Hummingbird Amazilia amazilia

This bright hummer was first seen around Jorupe and later seen around Ayampe on the extension.
Andean Emerald Amazilia franciae
Glittering-throated Emerald Amazilia fimbriata
Commonly recorded at Copalinga.
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl
Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys
Ecuadorian Piedtail Phlogophilus hemileucurus
The same bird was seen briefly on two consecutive days within the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP.
Fawn-breasted Brilliant Heliodoxa rubinoides
Green-crowned Brilliant Heliodoxa jacula
Fairly common at Buenaventura's feeders.
Violet-fronted Brilliant Heliodoxa leadbeateri
A regular visitor to the Copalinga feeders.
Chestnut-breasted Coronet Boissonneaua matthewsii
A regular visitor to the Casa Simpson feeders at Tapichalaca.
Chimborazo (Ecuadorian) Hillstar Oreotrochilus chimborazo
Stuart saw one up in the paramo at El Cajas.
Mountain Velvetbreast Lafresnaya lafresnayi
Collared Inca Coeligena torquata
Commonly recorded in the temperate zone around Tapichalaca.
Buff-winged Starfrontlet Coeligena lutetiae
One visited the Casa Simpson feeders at Tapichalaca a couple of times.
Rainbow Starfrontlet Coeligena iris
The commonest (and most dazzling), visitor to the hummer feeders in the Utuana reserve in the southwestern highlands.
Amethyst-throated Sunangel Heliangelus amethysticollis
A regular visitor to Tapichalaca's feeders during our time there.
Little (Flame-throated) Sunangel Heliangelus micrastur
Along with the above species, a regular visitor to Casa Simpson's feeders at Tapichalaca.
Purple-throated Sunangel Heliangelus viola
A few individuals came to the feeders in Utuana reserve, although were vastly outnumbered by the Rainbow Starfrontlets there.
Glowing Puffleg Eriocnemis vestitus
Recorded a number of times along the Cerro Toledo Road, and also en-route to Tapichalaca from there.
Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina
Violet-throated Metaltail Metallura baroni
This endangered and highly localized hummer is an Ecuadorian endemic, so was our number one target up in the highlands of El Cajas. We managed to find one with not too much trouble as we made our way up to the park, that even posed for photos.
Neblina Metaltail Metallura odomae
Another extremely localized hummer, that was found up on the Cerro Toledo Road. Three or four birds were seen shortly after arrival chasing each other around and calling in the mist, when the views were not great. With a little playback though we drew one of the birds away from the tussle, that came in and perched on a near snag a couple of times, revealing its rich red throat in the process.
Rufous-capped Thornbill Chalcostigma ruficeps
Another localized highland hummer, seen visiting some flowers close to Casa Simpson in the Tapichalaca reserve. The great lighting at the time on the bird afforded us great looks at its metallic, multicolored beard.
Blue-mantled Thornbill Chalcostigma stanleyi
A few of this high Andean hummers were seen in the paramo in El Cajas.
Long-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus kingi
A regular visitor in small numbers to the Casa Simpson feeders at Tapichalaca in our time there.
Violet-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus coelestis
Several were seen in Buenaventura reserve, that is located at the very southern end of the
Chóco region.
Long-billed Starthroat Heliomaster longirostris
Short-tailed Woodstar Myrmia micrura
A few were seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula, some coming in close to mob my pygmy-owl recording.
White-bellied Woodstar Acestrura mulsant
A few were coming to the feeders at Tapichalaca.
Little Woodstar Acestrura bombus
A single bird was seen perched in the Ayampe Valley.
Esmeraldas Woodstar Acestrura berlepschi

This is another Ecuadorian endemic, with a tiny world population. In fact the bird's range is only known for part of the year, and where it goes for the other parts of the year remains a mystery despite a number of recent surveys in the region. Fortunately the timing of the extension is perfect for this bird, and we recorded three separate males on the trip. First off we found a male in his usual spot at Ayampe, where he seemed to be religiously guarding his chosen dead snag (at one point seen chasing away another male). He seemed conveniently rooted to this small snag, spending prolonged periods there, and allowing us to snap away while he posed. Another male was seen on our final morning as we headed south along the road from Ayampe toward Guayaquil. Definitely one of the rarest birds and best performers of the trip, that was mentioned as a trip highlight at the end of the tour.

TROGONS Trogonidae
(Northern) Violaceous Trogon Trogon violaceus concinnus
Masked Trogon Trogon personatus
A pair were seen in a section of temperate forest in the lower reaches of El Cajas.
Black-tailed (Ecuadorian) Trogon Trogon malanurus mesurus

A male was seen in the deciduous woodland in Jorupe reserve.

MOTMOTS Momotidae
Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus momota
Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhynchum
One showed up in Buenaventura.


Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquatus
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana

PUFFBIRDS Bucconidae
Black-streaked Puffbird Malacoptila fulvogularis
A bird was scoped up along the entrance track into the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus on our second visit there.
Lanceolated Monklet Micromonacha lanceolata

Stuart and I found one of these tiny puffbirds along a small trail in Podocarpus NP. JACAMARS Galbulidae
Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae
One was seen as we made our way along the entrance track into Podocarpus NP in the eastern foothills.

Red-headed Barbet Eubucco bourcierii

TOUCANS Ramphastidae
Emerald Toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus
One was seen downslope from Tapichalaca.
Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan Andigena hypoglauca
A brilliant pair were found on our first afternoon right by the lodge at Tapichalaca, with others being seen along the 'Jocotoco Trail' the following day also.
Collared (Pale-mandibled) Araçari Pteroglossus torquatus erythropygius
One was seen near to Buenaventura and another was found along the road south of Ayampe.
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Ramphastos swainsonii
A pair were seen in Buenaventura, where they were very vocal during our time there.
Choco Toucan Ramphostos brevis H

Lafresnaye's Piculet Picumnus lafresnayi
A bird was seen in a mixed flock just south of Valladolid, with other birds being found in the Copalinga garden, and along the Old Loja-Zamora Road later on the tour.
Ecuadorian Piculet Picumnus sclateri
A pair were found feeding by the Cerro Blanco car park on our first morning, with another single bird seen in Ayampe on the extension.
Olivaceous Piculet Picumnus olivaceus
A pair were seen alongside the road south of Ayampe, at the southern end of their range there.
Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani
Seen in Buenaventura and Ayampe.
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker Melanerpes cruentatus
A trio of birds was seen in a dead tree by an old runway close to town of Zamora in the eastern foothills.
Scarlet-backed Woodpecker Veniliornis callonotus
A small group was seen in Jorupe reserve, and later another group of these handsome woodpeckers was seen in the coastal scrub of the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Bar-bellied Woodpecker Veniliornis nigriceps
A pair were seen in the temperate forest within the Tapichalaca reserve.
Little Woodpecker Veniliornis passerinus
A pair were seen in the Copalinga Lodge grounds.
Golden-olive Woodpecker Colaptes rubiginosus
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Colaptes rivolii
Just one was seen briefly in the Saraguro area.
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
Guayaquil Woodpecker Campephilus gayaquilensis

Two were seen on our final morning in Buenaventura.

OVENBIRDS Furnariidae
Stout-billed Cinclodes Cinclodes excelsior
Just a lone pair were found in El Cajas.
Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus
More common than the previous species in El Cajas park.
Pale-legged (Pacific) Hornero Furnarius leucopus cinnamomeus
A common and widespread Tumbesian endemic, that was frequently encountered at many sites and along roads throughout the south.
Andean Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura andicola
One sighting in the high paramo of El Cajas.
Mouse-colored Thistletail Schizoeaca griseomurina
A pair were taped in close, high up on the Cerro Toledo Road.
Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae
Dark-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis albigularis
Rufous Spinetail Synallaxis unirufa
Slaty Spinetail Synallaxis brachyura
Black-faced (Blackish-headed) Spinetail Synallaxis tithys H
Necklaced Spinetail Synallaxis stictothorax
This localized bird is fairly common within its small range. We saw them a number of times on the Santa Elena peninsula and at Machalilla NP.
White-browed Spinetail Hellmayrea gularis
Just one sighting at Tapichalaca.
Ash-browed Spinetail Cranioleuca curtata
A few of these foothill specialists were found in canopy flocks along the Bombuscaro trail, but was seen best up on the Old Zamora Road.
Line-cheeked Spinetail Cranioleuca antisiensis
Regularly recorded alongside the road just south of the town of Utuana in the southwestern highlands.
Red-faced Spinetail Cranioleuca erythrops
A single bird was seen along the road south of Ayampe during our final mornings birding.
Many-striped Canastero Asthenes flammulata
A few were seen up in the paramo in El Cajas.
Equatorial Graytail Xenerpestes singularis
Seen on both of our visits to the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP, and another pair was found in the 'Vermillion Tanager tree' along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Pearled Treerunner Margarornis squamiger
Buffy (Pacific) Tuftedcheek Pseudocolaptes lawrencii johnsoni

A pair were seen in a higher section of Buenaventura reserve.
Streaked Tuftedcheek Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii
One was seen in El Cajas.
Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner Anabacerthia variegaticeps
Montane Foliage-gleaner Anabacerthia striaticollis
A couple were seen passing through with mixed flocks in the eastern foothills.
Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner Syndactyla ruficollis
A pair of these localized foliage-gleaners was found in Jorupe reserve.
Black-billed Treehunter Thripadectes melanorhynchus H
Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner Hylocryptus erythrocephalus
Two of these smart ovenbirds were found in Jorupe.
Plain Xenops Xenops minutus
Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans

WOODCREEPERS Dendrocolaptidae

Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa
A single bird at Ayampe on the extension was the only sighting.
Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus

A western race bird was seen in Jorupe, and an eastern race bird was in the Copalinga grounds.
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorynchus spirurus
Two were seen in the west at Buenaventura, and in the east at Bombuscaro.
Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus
One was found by the 'Jocotoco Man', Franco, in Tapichalaca reserve.
Spotted Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus erythropygius
Seen a few times in the reserve at Buenaventura.
Olive-backed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus triangularis GO
Just the one brief look in Rio Bombuscaro.
Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souleyetii
Recorded at Jorupe, Buenaventura and Ayampe.
Montane Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger
A couple were seen along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Red-billed Scythebill Campylorhamphus trochilirostris

This is one of my favorites, that was seen during our first morning in Cerro Blanco, just west of Guayaquil.

Great Antshrike Taraba major H
Heard in the Ayampe area, and also at Buenaventura.
Chapman's Antshrike Thamnophilus zarumae

A specialty in the Utuana area, where we found a male along the roadside south of the reserve.
Lined Antshrike Thamnophilus tenuepunctatus
A pair were found just south of Valladolid, with a female seen later on the tour from the veranda at Copalinga.
Collared Antshrike Thamnophilus bernardi
Recorded in Cerro Blanco, Jorupe, and also in Machalilla NP.
Western Slaty-Antshrike Thamnophilus atrinucha
A male was seen at Buenaventura.
Uniform Antshrike Thamnophilus unicolor

A male was seen in Buenaventura.
Russet Antshrike Thamnistes anabatinus
A small group were found within a feeding flock in Buenaventura.
Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis
A calling male was seen on the extension at Ayampe, and another elusive bird was heard in Rio Bombuscaro.

Checker-throated Antwren Epinecrophylla fulviventris
A pair showed very briefly on the extension.
Foothill Antwren Epinecrophylla spodionota
A pair were found along the track into Rio Bombuscaro.
Slaty Antwren Myrmotherula schisticolor
Yellow-breasted Antwren Herpsilochmus axillaris
Two sightings in the eastern foothills, once in Podocarpus, and much better views along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Long-tailed Antbird Drymophila caudata
A bird was found in the vast swathes of chusquea bamboo within the Tapichalaca reserve.
Blackish Antbird Cercomacra nigrescens
A pair were lured in along the trail at Bombuscaro, although much better seen along the Old Zamora Road later on.
White-backed Fire-eye Pyriglena leuconota
A loudly calling male bird was seen at Ayampe.
White-browed Antbird Myrmoborus leucophrys
A male came in eventually, after we had climbed into the undergrowth, along the old Zamora road.
Chestnut-backed Antbird Myrmeciza exsul
A very responsive bird came in real close and checked us out in Buenaventura.
Esmeraldas Antbird Myrmeciza nigricauda
A male of this localized species gave cracking views in Buenaventura.
Immaculate Antbird Myrmeciza immaculata
As with the previous species a male gave us good looks in Buenaventura.
Gray-headed Antbird Myrmeciza griseiceps

One of Utuana's specialty highland birds, and arguably the trickiest to see as it often requires scrambling into the bamboo to find it. On this occasion though it was a little easier as a female responded surprisingly well by appearing right by the roadside.

ANTTHRUSHES Formicariidae
Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima
The low bubbling song of this antthrush is one of the most atmospheric calls of the temperate forest, and not long after we had enjoyed the 'Jocotoco Show' at Tapichalaca we heard this beautiful song and began chasing the bird. Initially the bird proved very hard to see, as it sung repeatedly from within a dense impenetrable stand of chusquea bamboo. However, eventually the bird moved out of there into a nice open area where we all got great looks at this smart denizen of the forest floor.

ANTPITTAS Grallaridae
Undulated Antpitta Grallaria squamigera H
Scaled Antpitta Grallaria guatimalensis H
Plain-backed Antpitta Grallaria haplonota H
Chestnut-crowned Antpitta Grallaria ruficapilla H
Watkins's Antpitta Grallaria watkinsi
Two birds were seen close up at Sozoranga, after having been frustrated by them in Jorupe earlier.
Jocotoco Antpitta Grallaria ridgelyi
This species was only discovered in 1997, and still remains rare and poorly known. However, one of the local rangers in Tapichalaca, Franco, has now managed to habituate a group of these formerly very difficult birds, making them currently straightforward to see. As we arrived at the area in the reserve where the birds are fed each day we were greeted with the site of an adult and an immature waiting on the path on arrival, the immature bird regularly giving low hooting notes. We then sat down and watched over the next 30 minutes or so as one after the other up to four different antpittas hopped around us and picked up the worms tossed out for them, with the birds often feeding within mere feet of us. A brilliant performance from a brilliant bird, the so-called 'Grand-daddy' of all the antpittas. One of the top trip highlights.
Chestnut-naped Antpitta Grallaria nuchalis
Sometimes an individual pops into the Jocotoco antpitta feeding area at Tapichalaca, although unfortunately this did not happen while we were there. However, we did manage two separate sightings along a trail close to the lodge.
Rufous Antpitta Grallaria rufula
An excellent performance from a bird that responded well to tape in the lower reaches of El Cajas, the bird pausing out in the open to feast on a big fat worm while we were watching.
Tawny Antpitta Grallaria quitensis
Two birds were seen up in the high paramo of El Cajas.
Rusty-breasted Antpitta Grallaricula farrugineipectus
Seen well in a bamboo stand just off the road below Utuana.
Slate-crowned Antpitta Grallaricula nana

Two different birds were taped in close along the Tapichalaca trails.

TAPACULOS Rhinocryptidae
Ash-colored Tapaculo Myornis senilis
Common by voice in Tapichalaca, we were treated to a sterling performance by one bird that remained singing completely in the open for a few minutes. A rare thing for a tapaculo.
Blackish (Unicolored) Tapaculo Scytalopus unicolor latrans
One was seen on the road up to Utuana.
Chusquea Tapaculo Scytalopus parkeri

One was seen along the 'Jocotoco Trail' at Tapichalaca.

CRESCENTCHESTS Melanopareiidae
Elegant Crescentchest Melanopareia elegans

A showstopping performance by a bird at Sozoranga was one of our highlights in the southwestern highlands, as one of these smart-dressed birds responded excellently to playback. Also heard at a number of sites including Jorupe, on the Santa Elena Peninsula, and also from our lodge near Puerto Lopez.
NB. This a newly recognized family, the crescentchests formerly being inexplicably grouped in with the tapaculos.

Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum

White-banded Tyrannulet Mecocerculus stictopterus
Seen along the Cerro Toledo Road, and also in the lower reaches of El Cajas park.
White-throated Tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys
A few were seen in El Cajas.
Black-crested Tit-Tyrant Anairetes nigrocristatus
The cutest bird on the tour. Normally straightforward to find in Utuana reserve, we struggled on a day of frequent rain and heavy mist. Although when we returned on the sunnier following day we managed to find a pair of these charming tit-tyrants feeding on a scrubby hillside. One of the key birds around Utuana, and another highly localized species.
Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus
A pair were found on the way up to El Cajas.
Mouse-colored (Tumbesian) Tyrannulet Phaeomyias murina tumbezana
A pair of these vocal tyrannulets were seen on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Yellow Tyrannulet Capsiempis flaveola
A pair were seen in Buenaventura.
Foothill Elaenia Myiopagis olallai
This foothill species was only described after the publication of the field guide. Two separate birds were found in mixed flocks within the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP.
Pacific Elaenia Myiopagis subplacens
See around Ayampe and Jorupe.
Greenish Elaenia Myiopagis viridicata
Just the one was seen close to the car park in Cerro Blanco, on our first morning.
Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster
White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps
Mottle-backed Elaenia Elaenia gigas
A pair were nesting in the Copalinga garden while we were there, with another couple seen close to Zamora.
Sierran Elaenia Elaenia pallatangae
Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea
One was seen by Stuart in Buenaventura, and another seen by all shortly after leaving Zamora.
Streak-necked Flycatcher Mionectes striaticollis
Olive-striped Flycatcher Mionectes olivaceus

Slaty-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon superciliaris
Rufous-breasted Flycatcher Leptopogon rufipectus
This scarce flycatcher was seen along the Old Loja-Zamora Road, although unfortunately moved off pretty quickly.
Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant Pogonotriccus ophthalmicus
Seen a number of times within mixed flocks in Rio Bombuscaro.
Spectacled Bristle-Tyrant Pogonotriccus orbitalis
Two birds were identified in the eastern foothills, one in Podocarpus, and another along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Ecuadorian Tyrannulet Phylloscartes gualaquizae
This noisy little foothill tyrannulet was seen within the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus, and later along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Sooty-headed Tyrannulet Phyllomyias griseiceps
Black-capped Tyrannulet Phyllomyias nigrocapillus
A couple were found within mixed feeding flocks in Tapichalaca, including right around Casa Simpson.
Golden-faced Tyrannulet Zimerius chrysops chrysops
Golden-faced (Loja) Tyrannulet Zimmerius chrysops flavidifrons
The Loja form of Golden-faced was seen around Buenaventura reserve and Sozoranga.
Ornate Flycatcher Myiotriccus ornatus
Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant Pseudotriccus pelzelni
One was seen on our final morning in Buenaventura.
Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant Pseudotriccus ruficeps
One was seen along the Cerro Toledo Road.

Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant Euscarthmus meloryphus
Common by voice around El Empalme and Jorupe, we had superb looks at a bird that came in to mob my pygmy-owl tape on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Gray-and-white Tyrannulet Pseudelaenia leucospodia
This distinctive 'horny' tyrannulet was found on the Santa Elena Peninsula, where a couple of different birds came into mob an owl recording. This is a key bird for this area, as it is a localized species.
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus
Black-throated Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus granadensis
One of Tapichalaca's key birds, we found a pair along the trail there, and also found one moving through with a mixed flock along the road close to the lodge.
Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher Poecilotriccus ruficeps
One was seen along a trail close to the lodge at Tapichalaca.
Golden-winged Tody-Flycatcher Poecilotriccus calopterus
This gorgeous flycatcher was seen by the lodge at Copalinga.
Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum
Brownish Twistwing (Flycatcher) Cnipodectes subbrunneus
Several birds showed well at Buenaventura, where they were very vocal during our visit.
Yellow-olive Flatbill (Flycatcher) Tolmomyias sulphurescens
Seen at Jorupe.
(Pacific) Royal-Flycatcher Onychorhynchus corona occidentalis
This fantastic, powerful flycatcher was seen superbly well at Ayampe on the extension. While hanging about where an Esmeraldas Woodstar was perched above us, this large, rich rufous bird flew in and perched up in front of us, giving us all awesome looks a short time after when we scrambled up a slope to get better looks.
Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea
Cliff Flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea
A bird was seen perched on a bridge along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher Myiobius sulphureipygius
One was seen perched by a small stream in Buenaventura.

Black-tailed Flycatcher Myiobius atricaudus

A bird was found as we arrived at Ayampe for the first time on the Pacific Coast Extension.
Orange-crested Flycatcher Myiophobus phoenicomitra
A vocal bird was found within the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP.
Olive-chested Flycatcher Myiophobus cryptoxanthus

Several were seen close to Valladolid, south of Valladolid, and another was seen in the Copalinga garden.
Bran-colored Flycatcher Myiophobus fasciatus
Gray-breasted Flycatcher Lathrotriccus griseipectus
This globally vulnerable species, has a small range within southern Ecuador and Peru. We found a vocal bird at Sozoranga in a great hours birding there that also saw us run into a smart Elegant Crescentchest there too.
Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi
Smoke-colored Pewee Contopus fumigatus

Tropical (Tumbes) Pewee Contopus cinereus punensis
Recorded around Sozoranga, and especially common at Ayampe.
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
Regularly recorded on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Smoky Bush-Tyrant Myiotheretes fumigatus
One was seen up on the Cerro Toledo Road.
Masked Water-Tyrant Fluvicola nengeta
A pair were found nesting along the Rio Ayampe.
Crowned Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca frontalis
A couple were seen along the Cerro Toledo Road, with others in the Tapichalaca reserve.

Jelski's Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca jelskii

After putting much effort into seeing this on our first day in the southwestern highlands along the road up to Utuana, we eventually heard a bird calling within the Utuana reserve during our final hour of birding, and soon after tempted out a pair of these localized chat-tyrants.
Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca diadema
One was seen on the Cerro Toledo Road.
Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis
A few were seen around Tapichalaca.
Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca fumicolor
Long-tailed Tyrant Colonia colonus
One bird was seen regularly perching up on dead snags around the lodge at Copalinga, with others seen near the town of Valladolid and also near an old airfield close to Zamora.
Short-tailed Field-Tyrant Muscigralla brevicauda
Along one scrubby road on the Santa Elena Peninsula we found at least four birds.
Ochraceuous Attila Attila torridus
A belated lifer for the guide involved a very vocal bird alongside the road running south from Ayampe on the extension. This is a localized and scarce species.
Sooty-crowned Flycatcher Myiarchus phaeocephalus
A little less conspicuous than on other tours, with just a few seen in the deciduous woodlands of Cerro Blanco and Jorupe.

Great Kiskadee
Pitangus sulphuratus
A couple were seen on the outskirts of Zamora.
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua
Rusty-margined Flycatcher Myiozetetes cayanensis
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis
Lemon-browed Flycatcher Conopias cinchoneti
A noisy group were found within Rio Bombuscaro.
Golden-crowned Flycatcher Myiodynastes chrysocephalus
Baird's Flycatcher Myiodynastes bairdii
This bold, conspicuous flycatcher was seen in El Empalme, on the Santa Elena Peninsula, and also in Machalilla NP.
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus
Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucophaius
A few were seen in the Ayampe area.
Snowy-throated Kingbird Tyrannus niveigularis
Recorded at Cerro Blanco, and a few times on the Pacific Coast Extension.
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus

COTINGAS Cotingidae
Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rubrocristata
A pair were found in the Utuana reserve.
Green-and-black Fruiteater Pipreola riefferii H
A few were heard in Tapichalaca, although not pursued as both Chuck and Stuart had seen them previously, and were keener to chase after other target birds.
Barred Fruiteater Pipreola arcuata
A superb pair of these bold fruiteaters was seen on our final morning in Tapichalaca.
Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater Pipreola frontalis
Stuart picked one out feeding high in the trees within eastern foothills of Podocarpus NP.
Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruviana
A spanking male bird was seen feeding in a fruiting tree within the Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP. Chuck had stated this was one of his big target birds, so was especially pleased with this superb sighting.
Amazonian Umbrellabird Cephalopterus ornatus
One bird flew low past us at a viewpoint in Podocarpus NP.
Long-wattled Umbrellabird Cephalopterus penduliger

One of the top trip birds, was a male of this ridiculous cotinga at Buenaventura, a key site for this difficult and localized bird. The bird was sporting a stupendously long wattle (it must have been near the 30cm limit?!), and gave us all excellent 'scoped up' views.

Club-winged Manakin Machaeropterus deliciosus

A couple of lekking males were seen in Buenaventura, at the very southern end of their limited range.
White-crowned Manakin Dixiphia pipra
One male was seen in the eastern foothills.
Striped Manakin Machaeropterus regulus
A female, and later a superb male, were found in an area of fruiting trees in the Rio Bombuscaro area of Podocarpus NP.
Blue-rumped Manakin Lepidothrix isidorei
Several males were seen on consecutive days within Podocarpus NP.
White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus

A few were seen at Buenaventura, and another male was glimpsed at Ayampe on the extension.

Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata

Thrush-like Schiffornis Schiffornis turdina

Two different individuals were seen in Buenaventura.
Green-backed Beard (Yellow-cheeked) Becard Pachyramphus viridis xanthogenys
A brilliant male bird was seen just south of the town of Valladolid.
Barred Becard Pachyramphus versicolor
A couple were seen in mixed feeding flocks in Tapichalaca reserve.
Slaty Becard Pachyramphus spodiurus
A pair of this Tumbesian endemic was seen in the Ayampe Valley on the extension.
Black-and-white Becard Pachyramphus albogriseus
Three were seen in Jorupe reserve.
One-colored Becard Pachyramphus homochrous

Recorded in Jorupe and Cerro Blanco.

Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus
Olivaceous Greenlet Hylophilus olivaceus
An east slope foothill specialist, whose monotonous song helps to locate from within a flock. We found a couple of calling birds along the old Zamora road.
Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo Vireolanius leucotis
At least one bird was seen along the Old Loja-Zamora Road in the eastern foothills.
Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis
Regularly seen around Sozoranga and Jorupe.

Green (Inca) Jay Cyanocorax yncas yncas
A few of these smart jays were seen in the eastern foothills.
White-tailed Jay Cyanocorax mystacalis
This handsome Tumbesian specialty was seen first around Cerro Blanco, and later again around Sozoranga and Jorupe on a number of occasions.
Turquoise Jay Cyanolyca turcosa
A few were seen in Tapichalaca.

SWALLOWS Hirundinidae
Blue-and-white Swallow Pygochelidon cyanoleuca
White-banded Swallow Atticora fasciata

Seen several times in the foothills of Bombuscaro.
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis
Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
Brown-chested Martin Progne tapera
One was seen on the extension.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

A few scattered sightings.
Chestnut-collared Swallow Petrochelidon rufocollaris
This restricted range bird was seen in the town of Macara, and also over the town of Sozoranga.
WRENS Troglodytidae
Fasciated Wren Campylorhynchus fasciatus
A very noisy and conspicuous Tumbesian specialty that seen at a number of locations both on the main tour and extension.
Rufous Wren Cinnycerthia unirufa
A few were seen up on the Cerro Toledo Road, with another in Tapichalaca.
Plain-tailed Wren Thryothorus euophrys
Although heard frequently in the temperate zone, only seen once by Stuart on the Cerro Toledo road.

Whiskered Wren Thryothorus mystacalis
A pair was seen at Buenaventura one morning.

Bay Wren Thryothorus nigricapillus
Several views were obtained in Buenaventura.

Speckle-breasted Wren Thryothorus sclateri
Reasonable views were had on our opening day in Cerro Blanco, although seen much better on the extension in Ayampe. A sweet and beautiful song, characteristic of the deciduous woodlands of the Tumbesian region.
Superciliated Wren Thryothorus superciliaris
Brief views were had by the guide in Cerro Blanco on our first morning, although everyone got great looks first on the Santa Elena Peninsula, and later at Ayampe on the extension.
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Sedge (Grass) Wren Cistothorus platensis aequatorialis
Seen during our day in the high Andes of El Cajas park.
White-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucosticta
A single bird showed up alongside the main trail at Rio Bombuscaro.
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys
Song Wren Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus
Buenaventura remains the only reliable place for this localized species in Ecuador. So it proved again on this tour, when a bird came in really close there, just a short time after we had left the Long-wattled Umbrellabird.
DIPPERS Cinclidae
White-capped Dipper Cinclus leucocephalus
A pair were watched feeding alongside a scenic waterfall when we were leaving the Podocarpus area for Cuenca, and another very distant pair were seen from the Old Loja-Zamora Road.

Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea
A common bird in the dry Tumbesian lowlands.


Andean Solitaire Myadestes ralloides H
Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush Catharus fuscater
One circled around us in song while we were nailing views of the Rusty-breasted Antpitta near the town of Utuana, luckily remaining in the area until after we had got our fill of the antpitta.
Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus
Plumbeous-backed Thrush Turdus reevei
First picked up in El Empalme, with further sightings around Jorupe, and in Machalilla NP on the extension.
Spectacled (Ecuadorian) Thrush Turdus nudigens maculirostris?
Commonly recorded around Buenaventura and Cerro Blanco, and also seen in Ayampe.
Black-billed Thrush Turdus ignobilis

A few were seen near to Zamora, in the eastern foothills.
Marañón Thrush Turdus maranonicus

A trip downslope from Tapichalaca was necessary to pick up three of these thrushes, just south of the town of Valladolid.
(Eastern) Slaty Thrush Turdus nigriceps nigriceps

One was seen as we made our way up the road to Utuana in the southwestern highlands.
Great Thrush Turdus fuscater
Chiguanco Thrush Turdus chiguanco

One was seen alongside the road leading up to Utuana.

Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus
Seen around Tapichalaca, and also in Utuana.
White-necked Thrush Turdus albicollis

A single bird was seen feeding by the main trail at Rio Bombuscaro.

Long-tailed Mockingbird Mimus longicaudatus

Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi

Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca
Masked (Black-lored) Yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis auricularis
One was found on our final morning of the extension, in the Ayampe area.

Canada Warbler Wilsonia canadensis
One was seen in the eastern foothills of Bombuscaro.
Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus
Spectacled Redstart Myioborus melanocephalus

Gray-and-gold Warbler Basileuterus fraseri

Our first one was working the entrance track in Jorupe, with another couple found in Ayampe on the extension.
Citrine Warbler Basileuterus luteoviridis
A few were seen in some of the east slope temperate forest feeding flocks, at both Cerro Toledo and in the Tapichalaca area.
Black-crested Warbler Basileuterus nigrocristatus
Russet-crowned Warbler Basileuterus coronatus

Three-banded Warbler Basileuterus trifasciatus
A couple of singles were seen alongside the road just to the south of Utuana.
Buff-rumped Warbler Phaethlypis fulvicauda
A single bird was seen by a river leading into the Buenaventura reserve.


Bananaquit Coereba flaveola

Magpie Tanager Cissopis leverianus
Black-and-white Tanager Conothraupis speculigera GO

White-capped Tanager Sericossypha albocristata

This huge tanager with the jay-like calls (indeed some would say "why is it not a jay?!"), was seen by Stuart and I as we made our way up to the Andean Potoo stakeout at Tapichalaca late one afternoon.
Black-capped Hemispingus Hemispingus atropileus
Several were in a mixed understorey flock at Tapichalaca.

Superciliaried Hemispingus Hemispingus superciliaris
Several were seen in one of the lower sections of El Cajas.

Black-eared (Piura) Hemispingus Hemispingus melanotis piurae
This seriously smart 'tanager' was found along a bamboo-choked roadside just south of Utuana.
Black-headed Hemispingus Hemispingus verticalis
A group of these scarce highland hempispinguses was found up on the Cerro Toledo Road.
Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager Cnemoscopus rubrirostris
A few were seen in Tapichalaca.

Rufous-chested Tanager Thlypopsis ornata
A few of these smart tanagers were seen on a bamboo-covered hillside below Utuana.

Blue-backed Conebill Conirostrum sitticolor
Giant Conebill Oreomanes fraseri
A pair of these smart polylepis-loving conebills was found 'right at the death', in the final patch of polylepis we checked on our way out of El Cajas.
Tit-like Dacnis Xenodacnis parina
Another polylepis 'fan', we found a number of these smart dacnises in a patch by a small Andean lake in El Cajas.
Plush-capped Finch (Plushcap) Catamblyrhynchus diadema
One came through with a mixed flock of Black-capped Hemispiguses, and others, along a bamboo-cloaked section of trail at Tapichalaca.

Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus
Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus flavigularis
Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus canigularis

Guira Tanager Hemithraupis guira

A few were seen along the Old Loja-Zamora Road in the eastern foothills.
Ochre-breasted Tanager Chlorothraupis stolzmanni GO
Just a single sighting in Buenaventura.
White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus
White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus
(Highland) Hepatic-Tanager Piranga flava lutea

A few were seen around Sozoranga.
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
Silver-beaked Tanager Ramphocelus carbo
Flame-rumped (Lemon-rumped) Tanager Ramphocelus flammigerus icteronotus

Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum
Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala
Vermilion Tanager Calochaetes coccineus
The star tanager find of the trip, involved a group of three to four birds feasting on fruits along the Old Loja-Zamora Road. Another lifer for the guide too!
Hooded Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis montana
Recorded in the temperate zone around Tapichalaca and Cerro Toledo.
Black-chested Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis eximia
A few of these chunky tanagers moved through with a mixed flock up near the treeline in Cerro Toledo. Also present in the same flock were some Masked Mountain-Tanagers, and a few Golden-crowned Tanagers too. A smart collection of birds.
Masked Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis wetmorei
At least three birds were seen in a mixed flock on the treeline in Cerro Toledo.
Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus lacrymosus
A number of these distinctive tanagers were seen in the temperate zone around Tapichalaca.
Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus igniventris
A few of these were seen in one of the lower areas of the park in El Cajas.
Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager Dubusia taeniata
One was seen in Tapichalaca.
Golden-crowned Tanager Iridosornis rufivertex
We first found a couple in a mixed feeding flock with Masked and Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers at Cerro Toledo, and two more were seen later in Tapichalaca.
Fawn-breasted Tanager Pipraeidea melanonota
Two singles were seen in Buenaventura.
Orange-eared Tanager Chlorochrysa calliparaea
Seen daily in small numbers in the eastern foothills.
Paradise Tanager Tangara chilensis

Arguably the most breathtaking of all the
tangaras, that was seen a number of times around Bombuscaro and the Old Loja-Zamora Road in the eastern foothills.
Green-and-gold Tanager Tangara schrankii
Seen daily in small numbers in the eastern foothills.
Golden Tanager Tangara arthus
Regularly recoded in the eastern foothills, and also on the west slope around Buenaventura.
Silver-throated Tanager Tangara icterocephala
Just a single sighting was made in Buenaventura on the western slope.
Golden-eared Tanager Tangara chrysotis
Recorded along the old Loja-Zamora Road, and also in Podocarpus.
Yellow-bellied Tanager Tangara xanthogastra
Singles were seen in Rio Bombuscaro on two days.
Spotted Tanager Tangara punctata
Seen on both of our days in the park at Rio Bombuscaro, and also along the Old Loja-Zamora Road.
Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola
A few were seen on the west slope at Buenaventura, and later in the eastern foothills at Bombuscaro, and on the old road to Loja.
Golden-naped Tanager Tangara ruficervix
Just one was seen in Buenaventura.
Blue-necked Tanager Tangara cyanicollis
Recorded daily in the foothills on the east slope.
Masked Tanager Tangara nigrocincta
Two were seen in the Copalinga Lodge grounds on one afternoon.
Beryl-spangled Tanager Tangara nigroviridis
Just a single small flock was found a little downslope from Tapichalaca one afternoon.
Blue-and-black Tanager Tangara vassorii
A single bird was found in the park at El Cajas.
Silvery (Silver-backed) Tanager Tangara viridicollis
A few were seen close to the town of Valladolid.
Black-faced Dacnis Dacnis lineata lineata
A couple of sightings were made in the eastern foothills, including around the lodge at Copalinga.
Black-faced (Yellow-tufted) Dacnis Dacnis lineata aequatorialis
This western form' of Black-faced was seen once near to Ayampe.
Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana
Seen on the Old Loja-Zamora Road, and also around the lodge at Copalinga.
Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza
Recorded in the eastern foothills and also at Buenaventura in the west.
Swallow-Tanager Tersina viridis

A pair were seen in Buenaventura in the west, and later on we found another pair on the Copalinga property on the east slope. SPARROWS AND SEEDEATERS Emberizidae
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Phrygilus unicolor
Seen a few times in the high paramo of El Cajas, including hopping about in the main road through the park.

Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus
A few were seen at El Empalme.
Band-tailed Sierra-Finch Phrygilus alaudinus
A male was seen in the Catamayo area, en-route to Vilcabamba.
Collared Warbling-Finch Poospiza hispaniolensis
This striking sparrow was seen well a number of times in the coastal scrub on the Santa Elena peninsula.
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
Variable Seedeater Sporophila corvina
Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis
Parrot-billed Seedeater Sporophila peruviana
Good numbers of this swollen-billed finch were found on the Santa Elena Peninsula on the extension
Drab Seedeater Sporophila simplex
One was seen near the town of Valladolid.
Chestnut-bellied Seedeater Sporophila castaneiventris
A few were seen near a deserted runway just outside Zamora.
Chestnut-throated Seedeater Sporophila telasco
A few of these finches were found by the airfield at Catamayo.
Thick-billed (Lesser) Seed-Finch Oryzoborus (angolensis) funereus
Three were seen at Buenaventura.
Chestnut-bellied (Lesser) Seed-Finch Oryzoborus (a.) angolensis
A single bird was seen close to the town of Zamora.
Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis
A male was seen in the middle of the road, just south of Valladolid.
Plain-colored Seedeater Catamenia inornata
A few were seen up in El Cajas.
Paramo Seedeater Catamenia homochroa
A small group of these finches was seen near Saraguro as we made our way to Cuenca.
Glossy Flowerpiercer Diglossa lafresnayii
Black Flowerpiercer Diglossa humeralis

White-sided Flowerpiercer Diglossa albilatera
Deep-blue (Golden-eyed) Flowerpiercer Diglossa glaucus
One was seen in the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP.
Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossa cyaneus
Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola
Commonly encountered in the lowlands of the west.
Pale-naped Brush-Finch Atlapetes pallidinucha
A few were seen up on the Cerro Toledo Road.
Yellow-breasted (Rufous-naped) Brush-Finch Atlapetes latinuchus
A few were seen in mixed flocks around Tapichalaca.
White-winged Brush-Finch Atlapetes leucopterus
While on the hunt for Bay-crowned we found a few of these around Sozoranga and Utuana.
White-headed Brush-Finch Atlapetes albiceps
An El Empalme specialty. We stopped there on the way down to Macara, and were made to sweat on this one, that was especially hard to find due to the heavy foliage present at the time due to recent, heavy rains in the region. Finally, a pair were seen crossing the road, and in the end one of these came up to mob my pygmy-owl tape, affording us all clinching views in the process.
Bay-crowned Brush-Finch Atlapetes seebohmi
Another brush-finch that played hard to get. We drew a blank at normally reliable Sozoranga, but picked up a pair later that flew across the road in front of our car on the way up to Utuana. With a little coaxing with the use of playback we managed to get views of them later perched up by the roadside.
Crimson-breasted Finch Rhodospingus cruentus
A pair was first seen at Cerro Blanco on our first morning in the field, and later many birds were seen perched on tops of bushes singing in the coastal scrub of the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris
Heard at a number of sites, although only seen at the Copalinga feeders, and also around Ayampe on the extension.
Black-capped Sparrow Arremon abeillei
A singing bird was seen in the Jorupe reserve, and later another bird was seen hopping around in the undergrowth at Ayampe on the extension.
Stripe-headed Brush-Finch Arremon torquatus
Heard at a number of spots (Utuana, Sozoranga and El Cajas), and seen in the Buenaventura reserve.
Black-striped Sparrow Arremonops conirostris
A single bird was seen in Buenaventura, and also in El Empalme en-route to Macara.
Tumbes Sparrow Aimophila stolzmanni
One very responsive bird came screaming into the tape at El Empalme, en-route to Macara.
Yellow-browed Sparrow Ammodramus aurifrons
A number of these birds were seen on the drive south of Tapichalaca to around the town of Valladolid, with others seen in the eastern foothills around Copalinga and Zamora.
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
Streaked Saltator Saltator striatipectus
Some unstreaked western birds were seen in Jorupe, Ayampe and Cerro Blanco, with the streaked eastern birds being seen around Valladolid.
Grayish Saltator Saltator coerulescens
Seen around the grounds at Copalinga, and also around Rio Bombuscaro.
Black-cowled Saltator Saltator nigriceps
A bird in thick fog down the road from Utuana represented our first sighting, although thankfully we had much better views later that day in Sozoranga.
Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus
Black-winged Saltator Saltator atripennis
Several sightings were made in Buenaventura.
Golden-bellied (Southern Yellow) Grosbeak Pheucticus chrysogaster
Recorded in Cerro Blanco, El Empalme, Jorupe, near Utuana, and also on the extension around Machalilla NP.

Peruvian Meadowlark Sturnella bellicosa
A few were seen as we drove south from Guayaquil on our first day, although the biggest numbers were on the Santa Elena Peninsula on the extension, where they were commonly encountered.
Scrub Blackbird Dives warszewiczi
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
One was seen as we headed south out of Guayaquil on the first morning of the tour.
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis
White-edged Oriole Icterus graceannae
A couple were seen at El Empalme, with others following at Jorupe, Sozoranga, and on the Santa Elena Peninsula.
Yellow-tailed Oriole Icterus mesomelas
Recorded at Jorupe, Sozoranga, and around Ayampe on the extension.
Scarlet-rumped (Subtropical) Cacique Cacicus uropygialis uropygialis
One was seen in Rio Bombuscaro.
Yellow-rumped Cacique Cacicus cela
Commonly encountered at Cerro Blanco, with others being seen in Ayampe.
Russet-backed Oropendola Psarocolius angustifrons
A few were seen in the eastern foothills.
Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus

A few scattered sightings in the eastern foothills around Bombuscaro.

Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris
Bronze-green Euphonia Euphonia mesochrysa

One was seen in the Rio Bombuscaro sector of Podocarpus NP.

Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster
Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanica

House Sparrow Passer domesticus