ECUADOR: Andes Introtour - Tropical Tropical Birding Trip Report ECUADOR: Andes Introtour January 2018

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  • Tropical Birding Trip Report ECUADOR: Andes Introtour January 2018 +1-409-515-9110

    A Tropical Birding set departure tour

    ECUADOR: Andes Introtour Main tour: 14th – 21st January 2018

    High Andes Extension: 21st – 23rd January 2018

    Tour Leader: José Illanes

    Co-leader and & Report Author: Emma Juxon

    Chestnut-crowned Antpitta at Paz de las Aves by Nina Hale


    With this being my first trip to Ecuador and in fact the South American continent, I could instantly see why the

    Andes Introtour is always so popular. What a fantastic gateway to such a biodiverse region, one of which boasts

  • Tropical Birding Trip Report ECUADOR: Andes Introtour January 2018 +1-409-515-9110

    some of the most spectacular avian life on Earth. During the main tour we accumulated an incredible 324 species;

    highlights being Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Club-winged Manakin, and Dark-backed Wood-quail to name but a

    few. The two-day High Andes Extension delivered a further 46 species; highlights of the extension included Andean

    Condor, Giant Hummingbird and Andean Lapwing. This gave us a total of 370 species overall, 28 of which were

    heard only and 5 that were only seen by the guides. We also encountered some mammals on the tour, the two

    favourites being the Three-toed Sloth and Culpeo (Andean Fox).

    Visiting reserves from Yanacocha to Rio Silanche we were entirely immersed in the region’s diverse habitats and

    breathtaking landscapes. All this based out of the world renowned Tandayapa Bird Lodge, made for a fantastic easy-

    going tour with a homely base, great food, friendly attentive staff and a constant supply of hummingbirds to boot!

    What more could you wish for?

    January 15 – Yanacocha and the Old Nono-Mindo

    Road: Leaving Quito behind, we made our way to the

    renowned temperate forest reserve of Yanacocha. Driving

    along the winding rural road, passing potato crops and

    cattle, the mist strewn countryside looked beautiful. Along

    the road we had some great birds such as Scarlet-bellied

    Mountain-Tanager, Yellow-breasted Brushfinch, Tyrian

    Metaltail, Ash-coloured Tapaculo and two soaring Black-

    chested Buzzard-Eagle. As we continued on our hour-

    long journey, another stop brought us Streak-throated

    Bush-tyrant and Cinereous Conebill.

    When we arrived at the reserve we headed straight to the

    feeders to see what species were making the most of the

    early morning sunshine. They didn’t disappoint, we were

    surrounded by Masked Flowerpiercer, Buff-winged

    Starfrontlet, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Shining Sunbeam

    and the jeweled wings of the Great Sapphirewing. A gasp

    of excitement from everyone met the arrival of the

    spectacular Swordbilled Hummingbird (Photo above by

    Emma Juxon); this species may not possess the colour

    spectrum of some other hummingbirds but it more than

    makes up for it in the bill department!

    After having our fill at the feeders, we started off along

    the Inca trail through the reserve, highlights included

    Blue-backed Conebill, Rufous Wren, Spectacled

  • Tropical Birding Trip Report ECUADOR: Andes Introtour January 2018 +1-409-515-9110

    Whitestart, Tufted Tit-tyrant, Crowned Chat-Tyrant, Superciliaried Hemispingus and Andean Guan. As we

    reached the end of the trail the mist had closed in and the rain had started. The weather did not hold us back

    however, as we added Golden Breasted Puffleg to our hummingbird list. More stunning views of Sword-billed

    Hummingbird and Great Sapphirewing made for some fantastic photo opportunities whilst sheltering from the rain.

    As we walked a short way down one of the trails beyond the feeders, two White-throated Screech-Owl (Photo on

    previous page by Emma Juxon) appeared, allowing great views of this uncommon temperate forest specialty. After a

    brilliant first morning, lunch was on our minds’ and we took the trail back to the reserve entrance where a much-

    welcomed home cooked meal awaited us. After a little more time spent at the feeders it was time for us to head

    downhill to the Tandayapa Bird Lodge via the old Nono-Mindo Road.

    As we passed through the farmlands we encountered

    Plain-coloured Seedeater and Hooded Siskin.

    Leaving the agricultural terrain behind us the

    presence of the silvery leaves of Cecropia trees

    indicated that we had now entered the cloud forest.

    A couple of stops along the road delivered Blue and

    White Swallow, Russet Crowned Warbler, Collared

    Inca, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Rufous-chested

    Tanager and White-capped Dipper searching for

    unsuspecting invertebrates along the Alambi River.

    We arrived at Tandayapa Bird Lodge, our base for

    the next 5 nights, and immediately headed out to

    the infamous hummingbird feeders. We enjoyed the

    chattering spectacle of Booted Racket-tail, Violet-

    tailed Sylph (Photo left by Emma Juxon), Purple-

    bibbed Whitetip and Green-crowned Brilliant, with

    a further 8 species of hummingbird.

    January 16 – Tandayapa Valley: Refreshed from a

    great night’s sleep, we headed off into the darkness,

    making our way to a hide just a short walk from the

    lodge. Arriving under the cover of darkness meant

    that we could sit and wait for the birds to start

    foraging at the moth trap and compost as daybreak

    came without them being disturbed. First to arrive

    was the striking Rufous Motmot who perched on a

  • Tropical Birding Trip Report ECUADOR: Andes Introtour January 2018 +1-409-515-9110

    branch directly in front of us displaying its long tail in a pendulum-like motion. Then, more species started to appear,

    Streak-capped Treehunter, Chestnut-capped Brush-finch and Scaled Antpitta. A pair of Zeledon’s Antbird stole

    the show next foraging directly in front of us, allowing for close-up views of that diagnostic pale blue periocular skin.

    As the light levels rose, White-throated Quail-dove also made an appearance. As the birds had had their fill we

    headed back to the lodge to have our breakfast. By the time we got back to the lodge though it was agreed that

    breakfast could wait, as Toucan Barbet, Red-headed Barbet, Golden Grosbeak, Golden-napped and Golden

    Tanager amongst others could be seen just feet away.

    After breakfast we took

    a thirty-minute drive

    from the lodge to the

    Upper Tandayapa

    Valley; once there we

    set out along the dirt

    road in search of some

    exciting species. Within

    minutes we had seen

    Azara’s Spinetail,

    Dusky Chlorospingus,

    Gorgeted Sunangel,


    Hummingbird and the

    songful Grey-breasted

    Wood-Wren. As we

    walked further along

    the road we could hear

    the unmistakable call of

    Andean Pygmy-Owl, it

    was close, really close.

    We all stood silently

    whilst José called to

    attract its attention; it came out of trees above us and headed out over to a large tree about 200 m away. Whilst

    José called, I scanned the tree, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of this stunning little beast so that the whole

    group could appreciate it. After a few moments, ‘THERE!’, I had it! Sat perfectly in a tiny window framed by leaves,

    was a rufous morph Andean Pygmy-owl (Photo above by Nina Hale). We had it in the scope, but as if it knew we

    wanted more, it flew back across the road and perched just above us giving us all great views.

  • Tropical Birding Trip Report ECUADOR: Andes Introtour January 2018 +1-409-515-9110

    As we continued along the road we came across a small flock consisting of Spectacled Whitestart, Slate-Throated

    Whitestart, Three-striped Warbler and the stunning Pearled Treerunner. Hearing a feeding flock further down the

    track, we approached to find foraging Beryl-spangled Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Western

    Hemispingus, Black-crested Warbler and Brown-capped Vireo. The flock soon moved on and so did we, only to

    discover another larger flock. Six Grey-breasted Wood-wren could be heard and seen flicking about in the shrub

    layer, whilst Hooded Mountain-Tanager skirted the branches overhead. Glimpses of the charming Rufous-headed

    Pygmy-tyrant could be made as it made its way through the branches and Yellow-bellied Chat-tyrant showed well

    for a few moments whilst Turquoise Jay called from their perches in the canopy. As the mist and rain set in we

    continued, dete