22 July 2015

July 16, 2015

The appropriately named ‘night-owl’ alarm rings from my iphone at 5:00am; it’s time to get up and begin day two. At the elevator I meet up with Simon, and in the lobby is Howard. Both had just had 1-2 hours of sleep following the red-eye they took from Miami to Guayaquil. Stepping out of the lobby the warmth and humidity slapped us in the face as if we’d insulted the climate…this was going to be an interesting day.

We departed Hotel Continental at 6:00am, with our driver Bennicio and our guide Andreas. Within just 20 minutes we were tallying our day list, frantically identifying and ticking birds as we whipped down the freeway and wondering if we were going to stop in case we missed something new. The fare was typical for the humid coastal lowlands that had been heavily disturbed: Saffron Finch, Gray-breasted Martin, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Wattled Jacana, and Smooth-billed Ani. At 6:35 we stopped at a small bridge where I tallied two lifers, Chestnut-collared Swallow and Short-tailed Woodstar. Five minutes later we were back on the road, adding Savanna Hawk, Crested Caracara, Striated Heron, Black-necked Stilt, and Scrub Blackbird to the list.

Our first main birding area was about an hour south of Guayaquil, off the main road and along a small dirt track, in an area known as the Manglares Churute Ecological Reserve. Before entering however, we were required by law to have a local ranger accompany us, and so we met our “extra” passenger just before proceeding. We arrived at the reserve at 6:20am, and spent the next two hours birding the road and nearby trails. Along the road we tallied Jet Antbird, Collared Aracari, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Olivaceous Piculet, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Superciliated Wren,  and three new lifers for me: Gray-and-Gold Warbler, Red-billed Scythebill, and Ecuadorian Trogon. Off the road, and along the trails, we added Whiskered Wren and Long-tailed Hermit, but dipped on our target species, Royal Flycatcher. We also added a male Blue-black Grosbeak, which we observed hover-attacking a huge spider in a web and eventually succeeding in taking from the web and consuming it….disgusting! As we left that part of the reserve we added Pacific Hornero and Green Kingfisher to the day-list. We then moved to Laguna del Canclon, which essentially was a series of flooded rice fields with presumably some ‘natural’ wetlands nearby. Immediately we saw several Snail Kites, followed by Masked Water-Tyrant, numerous Cattle Egret and Black-necked Stilt, and our primary target bird for this area, Horned Screamer (of which we saw four). This was soon followed by Peruvian Meadowlark, Vermilion Flycatcher, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, and two more lifers: Gray-cheeked Parakeet and Ecuadorian Ground Dove. As we left this area, having spent just over an hour there, we added another Savanna Hawk and Yellow-rumped Cacique.

Snail Kite

Horned Screamer

Savanna Hawk

We now had a long drive to Buenaventura Lodge, which would take several hours. We made just a few minor stops along the way, the key one being to get ice cream. We tallied a few noteworthy birds along the way, including: Boat-billed Flycatcher, Killdeer, Cocoi Heron, Ringed Kingfisher, Long-tailed Mockingbird (lifer), and White Ibis. Once off the paved road and driving a short (~6 km) gravel road to the lodge we made three short stops when we saw or heard bird activity. Highlights at these three stops included Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Flame-rumped Tanager, Orange-crowned Euphonia, Bay-headed Tanager, Squirrel Cuckoo, Purple-crowned Fairy, and Black-mandibled Toucan.

We arrived at Buenaventura Lodge, part of the Jocotoco Reserve network, we had about two hours of light to target some key species. At the hummingbird feeders located around the lodge we added White-necked Jacobin, Velvet-purple Coronet (lifer), Green Thorntail, Green-crowned Brilliant, Andean Emerald, and Brown Violetear. We then drove a short distance to the ‘umbrellabird’ trail, with the hope of seeing the Long-wattled Umbrellabird this evening and freeing up time the next day to target other species. The walk down the drain was about 300-400m, and reasonably steep and a bit slippery. It was quite dark, as the sun was setting and there was heavy cloud. We arrive at the site where the birds were supposed to be, and without disappointment two birds presented very well. In fact, they showed so well that even the guide commented on how cooperative they were. After watching the birds for about 30 minutes, and commenting on the obscenely long wattle (hence the name), we began to walk back to the vehicle. On the way we added Brown-winged Schiffornis, Orange-billed Sparrow, Bearded Manakin, and Club-winged Manakin to the trip list.

Scoping the Long-wattled Umbrellabird

A digiscoped photo of the Long-wattled Umbrellabird

Continuing to get good looks at the umbrellabird...this is how 'birders neck' develops

Back at the car there was still enough light to do a bit of birding, and so we decided to walk part of the road back to the lodge. Along the road we saw Spotted Woodcreeper, Ornate Flycatcher, Gray-backed Hawk (lifer), and Ecuadorian Thrush. Back at the lodge we compiled our notes, had a beer, enjoyed a great meal, and ended the day at 7:00pm with a Black-and-White Owl (lifer).