I woke at 4:45am and downstairs in the hotel restaurant at 5:00am for a quick breakfast. At 5:30am sharp Tropical Birding guide Andreas, and the driver for the day, picked me up. It was a chilly morning, around 14 degrees Celsius, with a slight breeze. Our first stop, just at sunrise, was near Calacali where we scanned some arid scrub habitat littered with garbage and marked by a few buildings, an old horse track, and a small mine. Here we tried for White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, but it was a dip. I did however get my first lifer for the trip: Purple-collared Woodstar. We also saw at this site, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Streak-backed Canestero, and Common Ground-Dove.
From our first stop we followed the main road toward the junction leading to Tandayapa Lodge. Along the way we made one short stop on a side road, where I added my second and third life birds for the trip, Green-tailed Trainbearer and Andean Siskin, respectively. I also got great looks at Gray-browed Brush-Finch and Plain-tailed Wren.
Once at the Tandayapa Lodge turnoff, we followed the bumpy track for about 2 kms where we jumped out to try for Whiskered Wren. We got it within seconds, and that was my fourth lifer so far. This site also yielded a good variety of other species, including Masked Tityra, Swallow Tanager, Black-capped Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, and Golden-crowned Flycatcher.
A bit further along the road we made another brief stop and added my fifth lifer for the day, Yellow-bellied Siskin. Things were going very well (except for the White-tailed Bush-Tyrant).
Before visiting Tanadaya Lodge for lunch we proceeded first to Bellavista lodge and the forest that lay at the head of the Tandayapa valley. Our first stop was rather unproductive, but we did add some good birds: Black-eared Hemispingus, Striped Treehunter, Dusky Chlorospingus, and Russet-crowned Warbler. Our next stop however was much better, where we added Lineated Foliage-Gleaner, Sharpe's Wren, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Tawny-bellied Hermit, and Spotted Barbtail. Followed by those was my next lifer, Spot-crowned Swift, and shortly after that, Andean Pygmy-Owl. The latter cooperated very well after a touch of enticement from our friend iPod, and the bird sat just above eye-level giving excellent views from about 30-40 feet.
On our walk drive back to Tandayapa Lodge we picked up Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet, and at the lodge we had a hummingbird fiesta. The guests included Sparkling Violetear, Andean Emerald, Booted Racket-tail, Buff-tailed Coronet, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Green Violetear, Green-fronted Brilliant, Brown Violetear, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, White-necked Jacobin, and Fawn-breasted Brilliant. As we ate lunch, a Crimson-rumped Toucanet paid a visit to a feeder located just outside the window.
From Tandayapa Lodge we began the long journey back to Quito airport for our trip to Guayaquil. Exhaustion caught up with my and I grabbed a 30-minute cat-nap. We tried again for White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, but the bird was determined not to show itself. We searched some ponds near the airport for Rusty Flowerpiercer, but no luck; just a few Yellow-billed Pintail and two Andean Gulls. Once at the airport we checked in, had a bite to eat, departed on time at 7:00pm, and arrived at Hotel Continental in Guayaquil at 8:45pm. Tomorrow we start our 7-day blitz of the south of Ecuador; hopefully Simon and Howard arrive safely (at the ungodly hour of 12:50am) and are able to squeeze in a few hours of sleep on the plane. We depart tomorrow at 6:00am, following a 5:30am breakfast.
Total lifers today: 7
Total cumulative lifers for the trip: 7