Monday 23 February 2015

Ecuador east slope trip report

Erica and I recently got back from our first trip to South America, specifically, Ecuador's east slope of the Andes (here's a map I made showing the places we stayed in yellow). It was an amazing ten day trip that was just a little overwhelming when it came to all of the birds, most of which were new. The birds weren't all that was exciting as we had spectacular scenery, habitats, culture, food, and lots of awesome insects, herps and a few mammals thrown in too! Below is our account of our ten days (it's a long report!!). If you are lazy and just want to see some photos, check out the compilation video.

Ecuador is a great country to visit if you like birds or wildlife because it is arguably the most bio-diverse place on earth - even though the country is relatively small (it's only about 1/4 the size of Ontario) it has one of the biggest bird lists, at over 1600, of any country only behind a few countries with much bigger areas. We took a relatively laid back pace, only getting about 200 km by road away from the airport outside of Quito. Ecuador has a very developed ecotourism (especially for birds) industry and there are lots of lodges to choose from. The most popular areas for birding seems to be in the NW part of the country (near Mindo) where there are dozens of lodges, but we decided to save that area for another trip. Instead, we traveled east over Papallacta Pass, spent 3 nights at Cabanas San Isidro, then 2 nights at Itamandi Lodge, 3 nights at Wildsumaco Lodge, and a final night at Termas Papallacta Hot Springs.

Because we were only travelling every few days it was actually easier and cheaper to arrange a private driver with the lodges we stayed at rather than renting a car and driving on our own. That probably took away from a few places we might have stopped but it was quite relaxing to get to stare out the window each time we were driving through the mountains from one place to the next and not have to worry about getting lost or any other road issues.

A major reason why the bird species richness is so high in Ecuador is the Andes - a small change in elevation results in almost a complete turnover in birds and many species are only found on one side of the Andes. The Andes also result in a huge variation in climate from place to place. We packed everything from shorts and sandals to winter hats and fleeces, but all of the places we stayed were quite comfortable. The one constant with the weather was the humidity and rain - it rained every day except for our last day and drying clothes is almost impossible. If you're going to go birding in Ecuador you will definitely come to appreciate birding with an umbrella!

Anyways, on to the details of the trip. Species list is at the bottom if that's what you're here for.

Day 1 - Toronto to Quito - February 7
Our flight was a bit late leaving Toronto because of some snow and the resulting de-icing process, but it wasn't long before we were in the air aboard a Copa Airlines 737. I was a bit disappointed to not see any Snowy Owls at Pearson this year, but I got over it. We made up the time in the air and landed at Panama's Tocumen International Airport right on time. On our way down we had a 7 hour layover and by the time we were out of the plane we thought about leaving the airport for a few hours but decided we didn't want the stress of going through customs twice and potentially missing our connection to Quito, so we spent the afternoon racking up a whopping 13 species from within the airport - 9 of which we wouldn't see in Ecuador. The most exciting bird was probably the Bat Falcon hunting the exact same place (behind a United gate) as we saw one a year ago.

Without any problems we were on our way to Quito and touched down right on schedule just after 11pm. We had booked a room for that night at Quito Airport Suites and they arranged a driver to pick us up and take us the 10 minutes once we cleared customs. The international airport is relatively new in Quito (actually outside of the city proper now) and there still aren't many options for hotels close by - I'd highly recommend the airport suites, it was exactly what we needed.

Day 2 - Quito to Cabanas San Isidro - February 8
I was up and outside by 6 but it was still too dark to see any birds. I could hear my first Great Thrushes and Rufous-collared Sparrows and got nice looks at both species and lots of Eared Doves as it got light.
Great Thrush was common in the central valley
While enjoying breakfast at Quito Airport Suites Erica spotted a stunning male Vermilion Flycatcher but it flew off before I could get a photo. For our first day we splurged and hired a bilingual guide to take us over the Andes and to our first lodge of the trip. This turned out to be a great move as we ended up having a great day exploring our way up the mountains. So just as we finished breakfast our guide, Norby Lopez, arrived and we were heading up the mountains!

It wasn't long before we left the city behind and bits of remnant natural forest began appearing that we made our first stop - an old road running through some of this natural shrubby forest. The elevation was already affecting our breathing (we were at 3225 m) and even walking a short distance up a small incline was resulting in a bit of shortness of breath. That was OK because we only walked a couple of hundred metres but enjoyed some nice birds including our only Mountain Velvetbreast, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Blue-and-yellow Tanagers, Band-tailed Seedeater, Gray-browed Brush-finch, and Yellow-breasted Brush-finches of the trip. Because we were still on the inside of the central valley we'd lose many of those species as we climbed over the pass.
Norby and I on high alert
The only shot I got at the beautiful Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager
Red-crested Cotingas
My favourite bird at this spot had to be the Black-tailed Trainbearers which were pretty common and noisy. They have a really cool display where the males fly out and make some noises with their amazing tails.
Black-tailed Trainbearer
After enjoying the birds of this elevation we headed further up the road and quickly turned off the highway to take the Old Papallacta Road the rest of the way to Papallacta Pass. Even though the road was only about 5 km, we took about 3 hours to drive it, stopping frequently to search for birds and to enjoy the amazing scenery. The habitat gradually changed from small farms interspersed with native shrubby forest, to larger patches of Polylepis woodland (ancient, gnarled trees in the rose family that are found only in the Andes) and eventually giving way to Paramo.

A Polylepis tree
As we continued ascending we picked up a few high elevation specialties, including a Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, a flyby Yellow-billed Pintail, several Carunculated Caracaras, an elusive Tufted Tit-Tyrant, and a couple quick glimpses of Tawny Antpitta whose calls were our constant background music. By noon we were in Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve enjoying stunning vistas of the high elevation Paramo. This habitat really reminded Erica and I of kind of a combination between a grassland and the tundra or giant bogs back in Canada. The ground was very wet and was covered in a lush carpet of grasses, mosses and all sorts of small flowering plants. The asters were especially diverse being represented by specimens ranging from small plants to larger shrubs.

After registering at a guard house to continue further up into the reserve, we made a quick roadside stop to eat lunch and then continued up to the top of the road that services an array of antennas. We spotted a couple of Stout-billed Cinclodes along the road and our only Blue-mantled Thornbill of the trip (a tiny, specialized hummingbird of high elevation). A little further on we had brief looks at a female Ecuadorian Hillstar - another prize of the high elevation. We kept ascending (now over 4000 m) and had our first Ecuadorian mammals....White-tailed Deer!
Stout-billed Cinclodes
White-tailed Deer (yes the same species!)
It wasn't long until we reached the end of the road, at almost 4500 metres above sea level. By this point we couldn't walk more than a few steps without feeling winded and our hearts pounding but we had a hundred more meters or so to go to look for the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes that call this amazing high elevation habitat home:
The view from the top
Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe habitat
Close-up of the amazing vegetation
Erica and I struggled to keep up with Norby at this point but we were all smiles in the end as we turned up FIVE Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes minding their business in the low vegetation. These birds are shorebirds that, through convergent evolution, have filled a similar niche as grouse and ptarmigan in more northern locales. The feather pattern on these birds was incredibly intricate and they really did look more like ptarmigan than shorebirds walking around!
Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe
seedsnipe number two
After seedsnipe-success we started the descent but stopped to check out some relatively fresh Puma scat on the road and then a couple of minutes later we had amazing looks at an Andean Fox (missed the photo op unfortunately).
Getting a close-up look at Puma scat
Papallacta is the pass over the eastern chain of the Andes, so it was literally down-hill from here. It didn't take long to leave the paramo behind and start encountering the lush, Alder-dominated forest of the upper cloud forest. We stopped at Guango Lodge to check out the hummingbird feeders (Sword-billed is supposed to be regular)....we didn't get Sword-billed but we did have ten other species, plus a short walk along the river here produced our only Torrent Tyrannulet, Mountain Caciques and Turqoise Jays of the trip.
The "white-winged" Black Phoebe of South America
After Guango, we continued down the mountain, stopping at a couple spots to try (unsuccessfully) for Torrent Duck, before arriving about an hour later at Cabanas San Isidro and saying goodbye to Norby who made the day amazing, despite the poor weather. By the end of the day we had driven just about 100 km but had crossed the eastern chain of the Andes and were in completely different habitat with a whole new set of birds to look forward to seeing....
Our vertical trip profile from day 1
Day 3 - Cabanas San Isidro - February 9
We settled in the previous night to a delicious dinner and met the other guests staying at the lodge. Turned out we already knew two of them - Jock and Sam McKay, who I grew up with as members of the KWFN!

I was very excited and so didn't sleep very deeply and was rewarded with a Rufous-banded Owl calling outside my room just after 3 am. I fell back to sleep and was up and ready to go at first light where I knew a special treat was awaiting me. The short access road to the lodge has about 5 street lights that are left on all night - these attract all sorts of insects which in turn attract lots of birds to come dine on the breakfast buffet each morning. The first birds to arrive were Russet-backed Oropendolas, Scarlet-rumped Caciques, and Green (Inca) Jays, but these were quickly replaced by a whole host of flycatchers, tanagers, and lots of Blackburnian and Canada Warblers and a few Swainson's Thrushes (always nice to see some familiar faces!).
Green Jay
After enjoying the bird buffet we headed on to another bird feeding show - antpittas! The lodge's staff have "trained" a White-bellied Antpitta to come in for worms once a day. Sure enough, at least one adult came right in and collected a beakful of fresh worms. Nearby in the underbrush we had a quick look at a young bird that looked like it was fairly freshly out of the nest. It was too wary to come in, but I'm sure it got some of those worms!

Finally, it was our turn so Erica and I enjoyed our breakfast while keeping an eye on the hummingbird feeders. We spent the day just exploring around the lodge, enjoying nice looks at a couple of Black Agoutis and several Red-tailed Squirrels before walking along the main road in each direction.
Beryl-spangled Tanager
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker
Long-tailed Sylph
The road gives good access to the canopy, allowing you to see birds that would be tough to see when walking some of the excellent trails at the lodge, and we picked up a couple nice birds including a Sickle-winged Guan and a pair of Emerald Toucanets.
Sickle-winged Guan
Emerald Toucanet
Erica on the road
The scenery at the lodge was much different from the higher elevation vistas of the day before but still spectacular. The main dining area and the cabins are surrounded by lush cloud forest.
View from our cabin's deck
Heading in to the dining area
The meals were all excellent at the lodge and after our first full day there we had already seen lots of interesting things. Before dinner, we waited on the deck of the dining area and just before dark a couple of Rufous-bellied Nighthawks started hunting right on queue.
One of many excellent meals at Cabanas San Isidro
Chocolate birthday cake in Ecuador...sweet!
After another delicious meal and my very own birthday cake (!!), it was time to check the street light buffet for the night shift, and sure enough two of the famous "San Isidro Owls" were enjoying the offerings.
"San Isidro" Owl
The San Isidro Owl is an interesting bird - it is intermediate in plumage between the Black-and-white Owl of the western lowlands and the Black-banded Owl of the Amazon. However, neither of those species occurs at such high elevation. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere before the trip that there had been a genetic sample obtained and the results placed it closer to Black-banded Owl (which, based on range would be expected) but it is still not clear whether the San Isidro Owl is "just" a hybrid, a new subspecies or even a whole new species awaiting description. Regardless, this was a beautiful bird and very confiding!
Night hike
With our owl luck we headed out for a walk on the road, hoping for Andean Potoo, but were happy to "settle" for great looks at a couple of Night-monkeys feeding on cecropia fruits.

Day 4 - Cabanas San Isidro - February 10
Our second full day at San Isidro had us checking the lights for birds first thing again. This turned up a few new species, including the rare for the area Tennessee Warbler that had been found a month or two earlier. One of my favourite birds during our stay here were the incredibly tiny Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatchers:
The amazingly small Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher
Canada Warblers were also enjoying their southern vacation
After getting our fill of road birding the day before, we hit the trails today, getting nicely into thick, lush, cloud forest and finding new birds including some canopy flocks which had Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Saffron-crowned, Beryl-spangled, Fawn-breasted, and best of all, Flame-faced Tanagers mixed in. We also lucked out and found a male Golden-headed Quetzal sitting perfectly still in the canopy.
Great use of old tires!

Golden-headed Quetzal
What's better than trail cake!!?
After lunch the sun came out for a bit and several butterflies responded, including a couple species with mostly clear wings.

That night we had great looks again at San Isidro Owl and even better looks at a night-monkey, this time very close to the dining area. We also took some time at the lights of the lodge to photograph some of the nocturnal insects

a Rove beetle?

Day 5 - Cabanas San Isidro to Itamandi Lodge - February 11
Our last morning at San Isidro, so after the morning bird buffet at the lights we walked the Waterfall and Quetzal trails. We picked up a few new species (a pair of Masked Trogons and a few singing Streak-headed Antbirds) and then packed up and waited for our 11 am pick-up by our driver from Itamandi Lodge.
The Waterfall Trail's namesake
From San Isidro we continued our descent, leaving the ~2000 m cloud forest behind and getting into thicker jungles and hotter temperatures. By about 1 pm we had reached the city of Tena, at about 500 m, where it was hot and sticky. It wasn't much further until we got to Puerto Napo on the upper reaches of the Napo River, a major tributary of the Amazon. From here we paralleled the river to the a bridge at Misahualli where we crossed over and eventually reached a smaller bridge over the Rio Arajuno, a tributary of the Napo.  Here we loaded our things into a long canoe for the ~20 minutes ride upstream to Itamandi Lodge, our home for the next two nights.

Itamandi Lodge from the boat
We arrived just after 2 pm and got settled into our room. With the greatly increased heat and humidity we took full advantage of the lodge's swimming pool and enjoyed a few birds flitting around in the clearing created by the lodge. White-banded Swallows were very common and a pair of Great Kiskadees had a nest on the bank of the river, which offered a chance to watch the male displaying and exposing his brightly-coloured crown patch. I also had great looks at a Yellow-billed Nunbird that flew out and perched in the open beside the pool and was thrilled to see a small group of Masked Crimson Tanagers nearby too. I also had my only Blackpoll Warbler of the trip while lounging this afternoon.
The pool at Itamandi
Itamandi included a bunch of small excursions with the booking, so the first thing up was a night hike before dinner. Just as it got dark we joined a large group of other people that had just arrived (all part of two organized tour groups) for a short walk through the woods. We didn't see any birds or mammals, which wasn't surprising given the large group, but we saw lots of spiders and insects, including a few Whip Scorpions and Bullet Ants. We also heard a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl calling close-by, which I would track down the next night. Dinner here was delicious so we were off to a great start!

Day 6 - Itamandi Lodge - February 12
We were up a little after 5 am to get ready for the next outing of our stay - a morning boat trip to a parrot clay lick. As we got ready, the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl started calling close by but stopped by about 6 am as we headed for the dock to catch the boat. It was the same big group as the night before and some people weren't ready on time so we didn't depart until almost 6:40. The boat trip was fun as we flushed Spotted Sandpipers and Amazon, Green, and Ringed Kingfishers from the banks. We arrived at the clay lick at about 7 and hiked the short trail up to a set of small blinds. Unfortunately, the birds never got closer than a hundred metres or so, so we settled for distant looks at Blue-headed Parrot, White-eyed Parakeet, and Dusky-headed Parakeets. While waiting we also heard our first Thrush-like Antpitta calling. On the way back, we had a quick look at a Speckled Chachalacha from the boat and a pair of Black Caracaras on a small island:
Black Caracaras
That was it for my camera in the humidity of the wouldn't turn on until we moved back up in elevation a couple days later so that was it for my bird photos...We got back and enjoyed breakfast and then lounged for a bit before it was time for our next outing. This time we were doing a longer hike on a trail behind the lodge with one of the lodge staff. The bigger groups had different activities planned so it was just Erica and I and our guide, Franklin. Franklin explained a lot about the different trees and plants of the forest and some of the traditional uses that the local Kichua community has for them. Birding was tough (mostly be ear) but we picked up a bunch of species including a Black-throated Hermit.

Brocket deer tracks
That's Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve behind us
We had another delicious meal at lunch, complete with a corn and heart of palm salad that I was quite interested in.

After lunch it was time for another outing - this time to Santa Barbara, the local community up the river. We hopped back in the boat (picking up Greater Ani and Magpie Tanagers) for another private tour where the local kids practiced their dance routine and we tried a few local foods, including some fresh Cocoa beans, tea, boiled peanuts and more.
Fresh cocoa beans
Boiled peanuts
Smoked cocoa beans
Catch of the day
GIANT tree
As you can tell, it was a very full day but we saw lots of the local area using the river as our highway. Just as dinner was being served the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl started calling near our room and after some effort I was able to locate it calling in my spot light. We had a short view of it before it flew off. A little later on, while we were getting ready for bed, a Tropical Screech-Owl started calling - I tried unsuccessfully to find it but despite my best effort it went unseen.

Day 7 - Itamandi to Wildsumaco - February 13
We decided to get up early again to give the clay lick another try, so we were up just after five again. Once again, the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl was calling away but this time something else was also calling. Erica asked what it was and I soon realized it was a Great Potoo! I got up and from our balcony was able to get it in my spotlight (across the river) just before it flew off! To top it off, a Tropical Screech-Owl started calling shortly after...three night birds from the room wasn't too bad!

Our trip to the clay lick left on schedule this morning and it was just us, two other birders (who we had met at San Isidro already!) and the guides so things were looking good. We got in place at the blinds and just as the sound of chainsaw announced the start of the work day the birds started to descend

It was pretty much all Dusky-headed Parakeets that came in, but a few Blue-headed Parrots also partook of the sweet, sweet clay. As has been explained to me, the parrots gain some essential nutrition from the clay but the clay also works as an anti-toxin to counter the effects of all of the toxins that the fruits and nuts which the birds eat contain.

After a successful clay lick trip and the sun coming out, we spent the rest of the morning around the pool (plus I did a small hike on the trail). We added a few more species including a small flock of brilliantly-coloured Turquoise Tanagers that were pretty sweet and I managed to get a sun burn in the short period of sun we had. After lunch we headed back down the river and met Carlos, our driver from Wildsumaco Lodge.

From the Arujuno bridge we retraced our route back up out of the Amazon lowlands and into the foothills above Tena, before turning onto the Loreto Road and heading east. We were winding our way through the mountain when Carlos pulled over and said something in Spanish that I didn't understand. I did understand "Blackish Nightjar" though so got out and sure enough there was a roosting Blackish Nightjar sitting on a small rock in a clearing! Unfortunately, my camera still wasn't working so I didn't get a photo. We arrived at Wildsumaco Lodge (elevation 1400 m) just after 4:30 pm and were greeted by Christina, our host, and very active hummingbird feeders. Within a couple of minutes I was happy to have seen Booted Racket-tail, Wire-crested Thorntail, and Gould's Jewelfront, three species of hummingbirds I was hoping to see here! We got settled in our room, enjoyed the awesome deck for a bit, then walked out to to main road.

The glorious deck at Wildsumaco
Sumaco Volcano from the deck
The birds here were completely different again, being a mix of lowland and cloud forest species and of course all sorts of foothill specialties. Besides the hummingbirds, we encountered our first Macaws (Chestnut-fronted), the common but beautiful Blue-necked Tanager, and a rare for the area Green-backed Trogon among many other species. As dark fell and we sat down for dinner a Sickle-winged Guan flew up into one of the trees off the deck offering great looks in the spot light. Perhaps the best news was that after ascending to a more comfortable humidity level, my camera once again turned on!

Day 8 - Wildsumaco Lodge - February 14
We were up for first light and walked some of the road before having breakfast. It was exciting sorting through a whole new set of birds including four species of toucans, and our only Crimson-crested Woodpecker and Masked Tityras of the trip and my first good look at Scaled Pigeon.  We also found a freshly road-killed Giant Earthworm (although this individual was far from maximum size).
a small Giant Earthworm
Scaled Pigeon
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
After breakfast we headed for the FACE trail, and it didn't disappoint - we got great looks at a Plain-winged Antwren and after some searching we found a pair of roosting Band-bellied Owls that the lodge staff told us to look for, plus we got a good (but short) look at an Ochre-breasted Antpitta and all sorts of other stuff.
Entrance to the FACE trail
The trails at Wildsumaco were excellent
Yellow-browed Sparrow
Clear-winged butterfly sp.
Black-mantled (Napo) Tamarin
Band-bellied Owl at day roost
Magpie Tanager carrying nesting material
Pair of Ornate Flycatchers
After lunch (another delicious meal!) we took a break with some heavy rain coming down and then spent some time watching twelve species of hummingbirds at the feeders. Without a doubt, my favourite was the Wire-crested Thorntails (although Booted Racket-tailed was a close second), which were surprisingly common. These guys were super small and didn't fly like regular hummingbirds but more like a large insect.

Booted Racket-tail
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
Wire-crested Thorntail, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Sparkling Violetear
Black-throated Brilliant
Rufous-vented Whitetip
After lunch we hiked the Coopman's and Antpitta trails. It was pretty quiet but we had one canopy flock move through. It was frustratingly hard to get a glimpse at them in the tops of the huge trees but I did pick up my first Orange-eared, Golden, and Golden-eared Tanagers along with Golden-collared Honeycreepers. Further along we were excited to find a pair of Crested Quetzals, not far from the Wildsumaco Biological Station. All in all, it was an exciting day, with 80 species without going more than a kilometre or so from the lodge!

Day 9 - Wildsumaco Lodge - February 15
For our last full day we arranged through the lodge to visit an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek. This meant we had to get up early again so we could be in place at dawn. We were joined by three American Expats. The drive to the nearby Pacto Sumaco was only a few minutes where we met our local guide whose property we were visiting. We were dropped off and fumbling our way along the wooden path in the dark short after 5:15. In the dark we heard a pygmy-owl, which I assume was Ferruginous based on our location, and I had a brief look at a Common Pauraque. It was soon light enough to walk without a headlamp lighting the way and we made our way off the main trail onto a smaller path. Soon enough, we could hear the noisy calls of the lek up ahead!
The main trail into the lek
A male cock-of-the-rock
Amazingly bizarre-looking birds!

As you can see, we weren't disappointed! The walk in was pretty tough (even the drive was as Christina got the van stuck twice!), but definitely worth the prize. On top of the Cock-of-the-Rocks, we had a few other birds in the area including a couple of calling White-throated Quail-Doves.

After the walk back to the lodge, we had a late breakfast so decided to lounge on the deck. This was a good move as not long after a Swallow-tailed Kite came right in and grabbed something (a lizard?) out of the top of a tree not 50 feet in front of us! The action continued as a small canopy flock moved through at eye level that included great looks at a Black-faced Dacnis and a few Paradise Tanagers, one of my most wanted species of the trip! After the birds cleared we were delighted to see a Dwarf Squirrel up in the trees.
Swallow-tailed Kite
Paradise Tanager
Golden-tailed Sapphire
Dwarf Squirrel
Black-faced Dacnis
We had lunch then hiked a kilometre and a half down the road to the lower hummingbird feeders to see if we could find something different; no luck with new hummingbirds but we were perfectly positioned as another tanager flock came through the canopy crossing the road. Amongst the 7+ species were a few Golden, Green-and-Gold, Golden-eared and the only Blue-browed Tanager of the trip. This flock was great because many stopped and fed on the fruit of a cecropia tree right beside the road allowing good, extended views of them as they paused. After the flock passed we walked the Piha Trail and then came up the Waterfall trail, which was quite a work-out. We were rewarded though with excellent looks at a Chestnut-crowned Gnateater and a Golden-collared Toucanet that landed long enough for a photo.
Birding the main road
Golden-collared Toucanet
Erica catching her breath on the (long) way up the Waterfall Trail
Even though we spent the morning hiking in to see the Cock-of-the-Rocks we still had a very good day back at the lodge. After dinner we were out again, this time for a night outing to look for all sorts of critters. We were successful in finding a few frogs and lots of interesting insects. The real highlight though was hearing Rufescent and Tropical Screech-Owls at the same time, then getting interrupted by 2-3 Olingos in the canopy of the FACE trail - a very successful night hike!

This Swainson's Thrush was a surprise night-time find!
Day 10 - Wildsumaco to Papallacta - February 16
Our last morning at Wildsumaco, so I got up early to catch the antpitta feeding. Erica was feeling a little under the weather, so she slept in and missed out. Byron, the guide who did the antpitta feeding was an excellent birder and he pointed out a bunch of calls I had missed so I added a bunch of birds on the short walk down the Coopman's Trail including Common Scale-backed Antbird, White-necked Thrush, and Olivaceous Greenlet. The antpitta feeding was successful, with a White-crowned Tapaculo coming in almost instantly. We had to wait a bit longer for the Plain-backed Antpitta to come in, and it never fully emerged from the shadows, but an Ochre-breasted Antpitta was more cooperative:
Ochre-breasted Antpitta
After getting back and having breakfast, Erica and I walked the road for an hour or so, adding a couple new species including great looks at a female Cerulean Warbler. Back at the lodge a small troop of Black-mantled Tamarins came in to eat some bananas set out by the staff, allowing great views, including a short bout of grooming that was very cool to witness.

And with that, we packed up, spent a few last minutes savoring the deck and headed out after lunch, but not before a few more hummingbird photos.
Violet-headed Hummingbird
Wire-crested Thorntail
Sparkling Violetear
From there, it was back up the mountain to Papallacta but Carlos had one more trick up his sleeve - a roadside stop for Cliff Flycatcher that perched obediently on a telephone wire. We arrived at our last hotel, Termas Papallacta, just before 5 pm and quickly changed into our bathing suites to enjoy the hotsprings. As if to prepare us for heading back to Canada, Antisana peaked out of the clouds to show off its snow-capped peak.
Enjoying the hotspring with Antisana in the background
Antisana's snowy peak
While enjoying the water, hummingbird species #34 for the trip, a Shining Sunbeam, showed up on queue.
Shining Sunbeam
Day 11 - Papallacta to Quito airport - February 17
Our last day in Ecuador, I was up early and hiked up the valley for a couple of kilometres until it was light enough to bird my way down. It was cool but clear and there were lots of birds singing. I didn't come up with any mountain tanagers, as I had hoped, but I added three more hummingbirds (Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing, and Viridian Metaltail) and a few more other species, including great looks at a White-browed Spinetail, before I met Erica back at the hotel for breakfast.
Brown-backed Chat-tyrant
Looking down the valley towards Antisana
After breakfast we packed up, jumped in a taxi and headed back over the pass and the hour or so drive to the airport. I managed one last species, a Variable Hawk, just as we went through the highest part of the pass but that was it for our first trip to Ecuador and South America!

Bird species list
The following lists the bird species found on the trip, along with the frequency of checklists (from eBird) that we reported them:
Taxonomic order, species name, frequency
1 Little Tinamou 1.96%
2 Yellow-billed Pintail 1.96%
3 Speckled Chachalaca 7.84%
4 Sickle-winged Guan 3.92%
5 Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail 3.92%
6 Snowy Egret 1.96%
7 Cattle Egret 1.96%
8 Black Vulture 23.53%
9 Turkey Vulture 21.57%
10 Greater Yellow-headed Vulture 7.84%
11 Swallow-tailed Kite 11.76%
12 Plumbeous Kite 1.96%
13 Roadside Hawk 19.61%
14 Variable Hawk 1.96%
15 Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle 1.96%
16 White Hawk 1.96%
17 Broad-winged Hawk 5.88%
18 Short-tailed Hawk 1.96%
19 Southern Lapwing 1.96%
20 Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe 1.96%
21 Spotted Sandpiper 11.76%
22 Andean Gull 1.96%
23 Rock Pigeon 5.88%
24 Pale-vented Pigeon 1.96%
25 Scaled Pigeon 7.84%
26 Band-tailed Pigeon 3.92%
27 Plumbeous Pigeon 5.88%
28 Ruddy Pigeon 3.92%
29 Ruddy Ground-Dove 1.96%
30 White-throated Quail-Dove 1.96%
31 Eared Dove 3.92%
32 Squirrel Cuckoo 7.84%
33 Greater Ani 1.96%
34 Smooth-billed Ani 9.80%
35 Tropical Screech-Owl 5.88%
36 Rufescent Screech-Owl 1.96%
37 Band-bellied Owl 1.96%
38 Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl 11.76%
39 San Isidro Owl 3.92%
40 Rufous-banded Owl 3.92%
41 Rufous-bellied Nighthawk 1.96%
42 Blackish Nightjar 1.96%
43 Common Pauraque 1.96%
44 Great Potoo 1.96%
45 White-collared Swift 19.61%
46 Short-tailed Swift 1.96%
47 Gray-rumped Swift 7.84%
48 Fork-tailed Palm-Swift 9.80%
49 White-necked Jacobin 1.96%
50 Green Hermit 5.88%
51 Black-throated Hermit 1.96%
52 Green-fronted Lancebill 1.96%
53 Green Violetear 1.96%
54 Sparkling Violetear 15.69%
55 Tourmaline Sunangel 5.88%
56 Wire-crested Thorntail 7.84%
57 Speckled Hummingbird 7.84%
58 Long-tailed Sylph 7.84%
59 Ecuadorian Hillstar 1.96%
60 Black-tailed Trainbearer 5.88%
61 Blue-mantled Thornbill 1.96%
62 Tyrian Metaltail 3.92%
63 Viridian Metaltail 1.96%
64 Glowing Puffleg 1.96%
65 Shining Sunbeam 3.92%
66 Bronzy Inca 1.96%
67 Collared Inca 5.88%
68 Buff-winged Starfrontlet 3.92%
69 Mountain Velvetbreast 1.96%
70 Sword-billed Hummingbird 1.96%
71 Great Sapphirewing 1.96%
72 Buff-tailed Coronet 1.96%
73 Chestnut-breasted Coronet 7.84%
74 Booted Racket-tail 7.84%
75 Rufous-vented Whitetip 3.92%
76 Black-throated Brilliant 5.88%
77 Gould's Jewelfront 1.96%
78 Fawn-breasted Brilliant 5.88%
79 Violet-fronted Brilliant 5.88%
80 White-bellied Woodstar 1.96%
81 Violet-headed Hummingbird 7.84%
82 Napo Sabrewing 3.92%
83 Fork-tailed Woodnymph 7.84%
84 Many-spotted Hummingbird 7.84%
85 Golden-tailed Sapphire 7.84%
86 Golden-headed Quetzal 1.96%
87 Crested Quetzal 5.88%
88 Green-backed Trogon 5.88%
89 Collared Trogon 1.96%
90 Masked Trogon 1.96%
91 Amazonian Motmot 1.96%
92 Andean Motmot 1.96%
93 Rufous Motmot 1.96%
94 Ringed Kingfisher 1.96%
95 Amazon Kingfisher 7.84%
96 Green Kingfisher 3.92%
97 Yellow-billed Nunbird 3.92%
98 Gilded Barbet 9.80%
99 Red-headed Barbet 5.88%
100 Emerald Toucanet 1.96%
101 Chestnut-eared Aracari 1.96%
102 Many-banded Aracari 7.84%
103 Golden-collared Toucanet 1.96%
104 Black-mandibled Toucan 7.84%
105 White-throated Toucan 3.92%
106 Channel-billed Toucan 9.80%
107 Lafresnaye's Piculet 3.92%
108 Yellow-tufted Woodpecker 3.92%
109 Little Woodpecker 1.96%
110 Golden-olive Woodpecker 1.96%
111 Crimson-mantled Woodpecker 1.96%
112 Crimson-crested Woodpecker 1.96%
113 Black Caracara 5.88%
114 Carunculated Caracara 1.96%
115 American Kestrel 5.88%
116 Bat Falcon 3.92%
117 Cobalt-winged Parakeet 3.92%
118 Red-billed Parrot 1.96%
119 Speckle-faced Parrot 5.88%
120 Blue-headed Parrot 3.92%
121 Black-headed Parrot 1.96%
122 Maroon-tailed Parakeet 1.96%
123 Dusky-headed Parakeet 7.84%
124 Military Macaw 3.92%
125 Chestnut-fronted Macaw 11.76%
126 White-eyed Parakeet 1.96%
127 Fasciated Antshrike 1.96%
128 Lined Antshrike 7.84%
129 Plain Antvireo 1.96%
130 Plain-winged Antwren 1.96%
131 Streak-headed Antbird 1.96%
132 Blackish Antbird 1.96%
133 Common Scale-backed Antbird 1.96%
134 Chestnut-crowned Gnateater 1.96%
135 Plain-backed Antpitta 1.96%
136 White-bellied Antpitta 5.88%
137 Tawny Antpitta 9.80%
138 Thrush-like Antpitta 5.88%
139 Ochre-breasted Antpitta 3.92%
140 Blackish Tapaculo 1.96%
141 Long-tailed Tapaculo 1.96%
142 White-crowned Tapaculo 1.96%
143 Short-tailed Antthrush 3.92%
144 Olivaceous Woodcreeper 5.88%
145 Wedge-billed Woodcreeper 1.96%
146 Strong-billed Woodcreeper 3.92%
147 Olive-backed Woodcreeper 3.92%
148 Montane Woodcreeper 5.88%
149 Stout-billed Cinclodes 3.92%
150 Montane Foliage-gleaner 1.96%
151 Lineated Foliage-gleaner 1.96%
152 Black-billed Treehunter 1.96%
153 Pearled Treerunner 5.88%
154 White-browed Spinetail 1.96%
155 White-chinned Thistletail 1.96%
156 Azara's Spinetail 5.88%
157 Dark-breasted Spinetail 5.88%
158 White-tailed Tyrannulet 3.92%
159 White-throated Tyrannulet 1.96%
160 Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet 1.96%
161 Tufted Tit-Tyrant 1.96%
162 Agile Tit-Tyrant 1.96%
163 Mouse-colored Tyrannulet 1.96%
164 Yellow Tyrannulet 1.96%
165 Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet 1.96%
166 Foothill Elaenia 1.96%
167 White-crested Elaenia 5.88%
168 Sierran Elaenia 1.96%
169 Torrent Tyrannulet 1.96%
170 Streak-necked Flycatcher 3.92%
171 Rufous-breasted Flycatcher 3.92%
172 Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant 1.96%
173 Spectacled Bristle-Tyrant 1.96%
174 Ecuadorian Tyrannulet 1.96%
175 Ashy-headed Tyrannulet 1.96%
176 Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet 1.96%
177 Golden-faced Tyrannulet 3.92%
178 Ornate Flycatcher 3.92%
179 Double-banded Pygmy-Tyrant 1.96%
180 Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher 3.92%
181 Common Tody-Flycatcher 5.88%
182 Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher 1.96%
183 Cinnamon Flycatcher 5.88%
184 Cliff Flycatcher 1.96%
185 Handsome Flycatcher 1.96%
186 Flavescent Flycatcher 1.96%
187 Olive-sided Flycatcher 3.92%
188 Smoke-colored Pewee 3.92%
189 Western Wood-Pewee 11.76%
190 Black Phoebe 5.88%
191 Vermilion Flycatcher 1.96%
192 Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant 1.96%
193 Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant 1.96%
194 Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant 3.92%
195 Bright-rumped Attila 1.96%
196 Pale-edged Flycatcher 5.88%
197 Great Kiskadee 15.69%
198 Boat-billed Flycatcher 9.80%
199 Social Flycatcher 11.76%
200 Gray-capped Flycatcher 1.96%
201 Golden-crowned Flycatcher 3.92%
202 Tropical Kingbird 37.25%
203 Red-crested Cotinga 3.92%
204 Andean Cock-of-the-rock 1.96%
205 Golden-winged Manakin 1.96%
206 Blue-rumped Manakin 1.96%
207 White-bearded Manakin 1.96%
208 White-crowned Manakin 1.96%
209 Masked Tityra 1.96%
210 White-winged Becard 1.96%
211 Brown-capped Vireo 5.88%
212 Yellow-green Vireo 5.88%
213 Olivaceous Greenlet 1.96%
214 Black-billed Peppershrike 5.88%
215 Turquoise Jay 1.96%
216 Green Jay 9.80%
217 Violaceous Jay 13.73%
218 Blue-and-white Swallow 21.57%
219 Brown-bellied Swallow 3.92%
220 White-thighed Swallow 1.96%
221 White-banded Swallow 15.69%
222 Southern Rough-winged Swallow 3.92%
223 White-winged Swallow 1.96%
224 House Wren 15.69%
225 Mountain Wren 7.84%
226 Sedge Wren 1.96%
227 Plain-tailed Wren 1.96%
228 White-breasted Wood-Wren 1.96%
229 Gray-breasted Wood-Wren 5.88%
230 Andean Solitaire 3.92%
231 Spotted Nightingale-Thrush 3.92%
232 Swainson's Thrush 15.69%
233 Black-billed Thrush 7.84%
234 Great Thrush 13.73%
235 Glossy-black Thrush 5.88%
236 White-necked Thrush 1.96%
237 Black-and-white Warbler 1.96%
238 Tennessee Warbler 1.96%
239 American Redstart 3.92%
240 Cerulean Warbler 1.96%
241 Tropical Parula 7.84%
242 Blackburnian Warbler 13.73%
243 Blackpoll Warbler 1.96%
244 Three-striped Warbler 1.96%
245 Black-crested Warbler 1.96%
246 Russet-crowned Warbler 3.92%
247 Canada Warbler 9.80%
248 Slate-throated Redstart 3.92%
249 Spectacled Redstart 9.80%
250 Magpie Tanager 15.69%
251 Black-eared Hemispingus 5.88%
252 White-lined Tanager 1.96%
253 Masked Crimson Tanager 5.88%
254 Silver-beaked Tanager 7.84%
255 Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager 1.96%
256 Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager 3.92%
257 Fawn-breasted Tanager 3.92%
258 Blue-and-yellow Tanager 1.96%
259 Orange-eared Tanager 1.96%
260 Blue-gray Tanager 23.53%
261 Palm Tanager 7.84%
262 Golden-naped Tanager 3.92%
263 Blue-necked Tanager 9.80%
264 Spotted Tanager 1.96%
265 Beryl-spangled Tanager 3.92%
266 Blue-browed Tanager 1.96%
267 Turquoise Tanager 1.96%
268 Paradise Tanager 3.92%
269 Bay-headed Tanager 1.96%
270 Golden-eared Tanager 1.96%
271 Saffron-crowned Tanager 5.88%
272 Flame-faced Tanager 3.92%
273 Green-and-gold Tanager 1.96%
274 Golden Tanager 3.92%
275 Black-faced Dacnis 1.96%
276 Golden-collared Honeycreeper 3.92%
277 Cinereous Conebill 11.76%
278 Capped Conebill 1.96%
279 Black Flowerpiercer 3.92%
280 White-sided Flowerpiercer 5.88%
281 Bluish Flowerpiercer 3.92%
282 Masked Flowerpiercer 5.88%
283 Plumbeous Sierra-Finch 1.96%
284 Blue-black Grassquit 1.96%
285 Chestnut-bellied Seedeater 7.84%
286 Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch 1.96%
287 Band-tailed Seedeater 1.96%
288 Plain-colored Seedeater 1.96%
289 Bananaquit 7.84%
290 Buff-throated Saltator 1.96%
291 Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch 3.92%
292 Gray-browed Brush-Finch 1.96%
293 Pale-naped Brush-Finch 1.96%
294 Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch 1.96%
295 Yellow-browed Sparrow 5.88%
296 Rufous-collared Sparrow 21.57%
297 Common Chlorospingus 3.92%
298 Yellow-throated Chlorospingus 3.92%
299 Ashy-throated Chlorospingus 1.96%
300 Summer Tanager 11.76%
301 Scarlet Tanager 5.88%
302 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1.96%
303 Scarlet-rumped Cacique 5.88%
304 Yellow-rumped Cacique 1.96%
305 Mountain Cacique 1.96%
306 Russet-backed Oropendola 21.57%
307 Crested Oropendola 5.88%
308 Golden-bellied Euphonia 1.96%
309 Bronze-green Euphonia 3.92%
310 White-vented Euphonia 1.96%
311 Orange-bellied Euphonia 3.92%
312 Blue-naped Chlorophonia 3.92%
313 Olivaceous Siskin 7.84%

Plus our Panama trip additions:
314 Wood Stork
315 Neotropic Cormorant
316 Great Egret
317 Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
318 Crested Caracara
319 Yellow-headed Caracara
320 Peregrine Falcon
321 Tropical Mockingbird
322 Great-tailed Grackle

Mammal list:
1. Black Agouti
2. White-tailed Deer
3. Andean Fox
4. Red-tailed Squirrel
5. Gray-bellied Night-monkey (I think this is the species)
6. Black-mantled Tamarin (Napo Tamarin)
7. Dwarf Squirrel
8. Eastern Lowland Olingo
9. Forest Rabbit
10. Amazonian Brocket Deer (tracks only)
11. Puma (scat only)
12. Armadillo sp. (burrows)