Birding Ecuador

Spent most of November 2007 on a birding trip to Ecuador. After a fairly rocky start, overall another fabulous trip. Let's see, first Delta Airlines informed me at 4:30 pm Thursday my flight to Atlanta (scheduled months before) was still good to go, but the Atlanta-Quito flight's going the day before...not good. Called 'em up to rearrange the flight to Atlanta for the same day, scurried to take an extra day off, find a hotel for Friday, etc. So, it was off to Atlanta at dawn the next day and on to Quito. But, oops, Iberia's plane slipped off the runway, closing the Quito airport for a few days, so let's go to Guayaquil instead. Delta was nice enough to put us up in a hotel that night, but that's the last we heard from them. Can't really complain, since it was a free frequent flier ticket, but I do wonder how it turned out for everybody else and am still a bit miffed about the last-minute schedule change. Next morning, I met Sybil and Andrea, two delightful German ladies who knew enough spanish to get us on an express bus to Quito - 8 hours for $7, sweet!

Back on track, I spent the first week at Sacha Lodge, a first class lodge out in the eastern jungle, with arrangements made by Andean Treks. I'd emailed Sacha that birding was my thing, and they lined me up with Andres Vasquez, a terrific guide. Along with a local guide, Pancho, and Myriam from France, the four of us saw or heard 180 bird species, 7 monkey species, and lots more as we explored the waterways, forests, parrot licks, the 38m canopy walk and 40m kapok tree tower.

Returning to Quito, next up was the Northwest Andes birding tour with Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. Before it started, I connected with two of the folks that were on that trip, and we wandered around the Quito Botanical Gardens and the fabulously historic and beautiful Old Town. (If you're wondering why there's no pictures of Old Town, the bus ride, Andres, or all these women I was running into, well, they were on the little camera that somehow 'disappeared' in Old Town - those stories you hear about pickpockets down there apparently are true, although I'm still mystified how it happened despite my being fully aware of the potential.)

VENT trip headed out the next morning, and was led by Paul Greenfield (co-author of the Birds of Ecuador) and my old buddy and guide from my Panama trip with VENT two years ago, Tony Nunnery (can't say enough about that guy!). Trip rambled down the Old Chiriboga Road to Tinalandia, a visit to Rio Palenque Scientific Station, then on to the Arasha resort and Rio Silanche, and on to Septimo Paraiso in the Mindo Area. Septimo Paraiso is fabulous and well worth a return visit. We also spent some time visiting Tony's house, getting to meet his wife, Barbara, and checking out all the hummingbirds that Tony's famous for having find his feeders. Unfortunately, one of our guys took a header off the stairs and got a seriously broken arm and banged up in a few other places - not much in the way of medical services there (painkillers, anyone?), so Peter had a couple of really tough days but hung in there. On our return to Quito, x-rays told the real story and hopefully his surgery and recovery will go well. Click here to see Peter's exceptional photos of the trip. One last day at higher altitude at Yanacocha, and the trip was over. Saw or heard 351 bird species on that trip, bringing the total to 495 unique bird species (including 183 I'd never encountered before!). Another day goofing around Quito and then it was time to head home.

So here's some of the pictures from the trip. Some got away from me, such as that Guayaquil woodpecker before he flew off across the field and the red-headed barbet who wouldn't sit still. And some the camera just didn't want to really focus on (hmm...might be time for a new one), but here's what I got.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger view of any of the pictures in a new window.


Sacha Paddle

Sacha Lodge

Sacha Dock

Sacha Room

Oropendola Tree

Oropendola Nest

Canopy Walk

The Walk

Canopy View


(Siproeta stelenes)

Rayed Longwing
(Laparus doris)

Red Rim
(Biblis hyperia)

Helenor Morpho
(Morpho helenor)

Helenor Morpho(Morpho helenor)

Red Cracker
(Hamadryas amphinome)

Illioneus Giant Owl
(Caligo illioneus)

Helenor Morpho(Morpho helenor)


Spider Monkey

Pygmy Marmoset

The Canopy

View from
Canopy Tower

Yasuni Parrot Lick

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(Return to My Travel Page.)
For more bird pix, check out my Trinidad, Peru, Panama, or Birds of New Mexico pages.