01 July 2014

13 February 2013

Our first full day at Wild Sumaco and we were up and ready to go at dawn. We spent the first bit of dawn light around the lodge and main entrance, quickly adding a dozen-or-so common (seen before) species, including Wire-crested Thorntail, Speckled Hummingbird, Gorgetted Woodstar, Brown Violetear, Golden-tailed Sapphire, and Black-billed Thrush. From the lodge we headed toward the F.A.C.E trail, where we spent the better part of the day acquiring great birds, and not-so-great chiggers.

My first lifer of the day was Plain-backed Antpitta, an individual that had habituated to a feeding station. This was shortly followed by a White-crowned Manakin (lifer), and an Ochre-breasted Antpitta (lifer) which also was attracted to a feeding station. In relatively quick succession, several other new species were added to the life list, including Olive Finch, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Black-billed Treehunter (call playback), Golden-faced Tyrannulet, and Dark-breasted Spinetail (call playback). Further along the trail we added Olive-striped Flycatcher (lifer), Foothill Antwren (lifer), Rufous-naped Greenlet (lifer), and Plain-winged Antwren (lifer).

The morning was off to a great start, and it just kept getting better. Our next new bird, which proved very difficult to see, was Spotted Nightingale-Thrush. This was shortly followed by Gray-mantled Wren, Rufous-rumped Antwren, Fulvous Shrike-Tanager, and Rufous-winged Antwren; all of these were new for the life list. By now it was nearing lunch time, so we proceeded back to the lodge for a break. Along the way we picked up several good birds, including Montane Foliage-Gleaner, Black-crowned Tityra, White-shouldered Antshrike (lifer), and Crimson-crested Woodpecker.

After lunch we returned to the F.A.C.E. trail and targetted another group of birds...and it turned out to be a great afternoon of new species. In the what would normally be the afternoon doldrums, I added seven lifers, including: Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant, White-backed Fire-eye, Scaled Antpitta, Scale-backed Antbird, Lineated Foliage-Gleaner, White-crowned Tapaculo, and Chestnut-crowned Gnateater. A Chestnut-tipped Toucanet rounded out the day as the sunset behind the lodge and we all enjoyed a great dinner.

Total species today: 71
Total cumulative species for the trip:  388
Total lifers today:  23
Total cumulative lifers for the trip: 128

12 February 2013

Today we had an early rise and were on the road before sunrise. The weather was once again foggy with a bit of drizzle, but this soon dissipated as we headed east. Our first stop of the day was Cotundo, which essentially was a small stop on the side of the road. Our first bird of the day was Ringed Kingfisher, followed by two consecutive lifers: Golden-winged Tody-Flycatcher and Gray-capped Flycatcher. The remainder of the species we saw here were all species I had seen before, but some of the highlights included Yellow-rumped Cacique, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Yellow-browed Sparrow, and Blue-black Grassquit.

Our next stop was Lareto Road, where we added Cliff Flycatcher, Canada Warbler, Spotted Tanager, White-tailed Hillstar, and Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager to the day list. My only lifer at this site was Deep-blue Flowerpiercer. From Lareto Road we headed to the Jocotoco Foundation's Narupa Reserve, which for the average birding tourist would be very difficult to locate given its obscurity on the side of the highway with no signs and nowhere to park. Our bus hugged the soft should as best as possible, where it would wait for us to return. We scrambled out of the bus being careful not to fall down the roadside bank, then crossed the road to a well-hidden trail. The trail followed a nice creek uphill to a small shanty building. Along the way the birding was fairly quite, except for one spot where we located a good mixed flock that included Orange-eared Tanager (lifer), LaFresnaye's Piculet, Streaked Xenops, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Black-throated Brilliant (lifer), and Fork-tailed Wood-Nymph. Overhead, a Black Hawk-Eagle flew by.

Once at the shanty, the trail began to climb rather steeply. It was now quite warm, and the trail was narrow, muddy, and riddled with stairs. This is where birding starts to take its toll, but the rewards were many. Along the trail we added Maroon-tailed Parakeet, Russet Antshrike (lifer), Ash-browed Spinetail (lifer), Yellow-breasted Antwren (lifer), Spectacled Bristle-Tyrant (lifer) and Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. By now the blood was pumping fairly well, and the strain on the thighs was mounting...but we pressed on to see more birds. My next lifer was Golden-olive Woodpecker, followed by five more lifers in a row: White-breasted Tyrannulet, Andean Umbrellabird (a personal favourite and a bird I spotted), Gray-chinned Hermit, White-banded Wren (reluctant to show itself, but eventually did with extensive call playback), and Ash-throated Bush-Tanager. Now exhausted, we all headed down the trail...I was frustratingly too hot, and my temperament was best managed in isolation, so I went ahead of the group and waited in the bus. I did pick up a Montane Foliage-Gleaner and Russet-backed Oropendola on the walk back.

From the Narupa Reserve we had the long drive to Wild Sumaco. Along the way we saw only a few common roadside birds, including Smooth-billed Ani, Roadside Hawk, White-collared Swift, Crested Oropendola, and Black Vulture. We arrived at Wild Sumaco with plenty of time to go birding, and so we spent much of our time working the gravel road from the base of the mountain to the lodge. Along the way we saw Squirrel Cuckoo, Magpie Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, White-lined Tanager, Thrush-like Wren, Paradise Tanager, and Silver-beaked Tanager. My first lifer at this site was Little Woodpecker, followed shortly after by Yellow Tyrannulet, Black-and-White Tody-Tyrant (responded to call playback), and Large-billed Flatbill. The birding continued to be very good, and call playback was used to lure Wing-banded Wren (lifer), Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant (lifer), Plain Antvireo (lifer), Black-faced Antbird (lifer), and Stripe-chested Antwren (lifer) into good views. Wrapping up our late afternoon of birding we added Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Gould`s Jewelfront, Booted Racket-tail, Napo Sabrewing, Blue-fronted Lancebill (lifer), and Ecuadorian Piedtail (lifer).

Although tiring, today was an excellent day of birding, with a collective total of 100 species and a whopping 26 lifers!

Total species today: 100
Total cumulative species for the trip:  350
Total lifers today:  21
Total cumulative lifers for the trip: 105

11 February 2013

Slow and steady wins the race...if there is an award to be won for having the longest delay between blog posts, I want to enter the competition.

Our second day at San Isidro Lodge, we woke at 5:00am and arrived at Guacamayous Ridge at 6:30am where there was a light drizzle and some fog. At the parking area we had Rufus-collared Sparrow, Great Thrush, and Gray-breasted Wood-Wren. Once on the trail it wasn't long until I got my first lifer for the day, an Ash-colored Tapaculo that Andrew enticed into sight using call playback. That bird was quickly followed by my second lifer for the day, a Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, which also responded to call playback, followed by my third lifer, a Spillman's Tapaculo. The next suite of birds were all species we had seen previously, but nonetheless exciting to see: Grass-green Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Black-capped Hemispingus, and Blue-and-Black Tanager.

Now about a third of the way along the trail, Andrew used the call playback to coax out an Ocellated Tapaculo (lifer), and it worked. This bird is spectacular-looking, and the individual that responded put on an amazing display and was very cooperative. Shortly after, Andrew then enticed a Barred Anthrush (lifer) to show itself. This was followed by Green-and-Black Fruiteater, a Sepia-brown Wren (lifer), and Rusty-winged Barbtail (lifer). To round-out our time at Guacamayous, we ended the walk with several more great species, including four additional lifers for me: Moustached Antpitta, Green-fronted Lancebill, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, and Variegated Bristle-Tyrant.

Now back at the bus, the rain and fog had improved little, so we decided to make our way toward Narupa to see if things improved weather-wise; they did. At Narupa it was mostly sunny, and considerably warmer. We parked at a small pullout overlooking a little wetland and garden area, and then walked up the road getting glimpses into a mixture of fields dotted with trees and scrub. At the wetland I added one lifer, a Yellow-bellied Dacnis. But it was along the road where things got really interesting. Here I added Chestnut-bellied Seedeater, Swallow Tanager, Black-billed Seed-Finch, Glittering-throated Emerald, Olive-chested Flycatcher, Crested Oropendola, and Violaceous Jay to my life list.

After a pretty good day of birding, we now began to make our way back to San Isidro. Once back at the lodge we walked the road a bit during sunset and I added three more lifers to my list: Long-billed Starthroat, White-eyed Parakeet, and Rufous-bellied Nighthawk.

Total species today: 74
Total cumulative species for the trip: 280
Total lifers today:  21
Total cumulative lifers for the trip: 84