TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT
Galapagos and Ecuador
8 18 July 2004
Mainland Ecuador extension to 25 July 2004
Silvia (on the Beluga)
Captain Wilson, barman George + remainder of the crew of the Beluga
Roberto Cedeño (mainland)
Alex + Ivan Tarapuez (driver) in Quito
Thursday 8th July transfer to Quito
We all met at the departure gate in Madrid airport. Just! I had been held up considerably at check-in, and (thankfully, I suppose) was given the last seat on the flight... Fortunately for me it was also in business class!
The flight left just over an hour late, but we made excellent time, and despite taking a detour over the northern tip of the Andes to avoid a huge storm-head, which gave us a few up and down moments, we arrived shortly before 5 p.m. Quito time.
It was cool, but very pleasant outside once we'd got through the airport 'scrum', with a couple of Eared Doves in the car park being our first bird species. After a pause necessary to recover the vehicle keys, which had mysteriously taken a walk to the other side of the car park, a Great Thrush and a few singing Rufous-collared Sparrows were about en route to the hotel.
It being late by our personal clocks, we checked into the hotel and either went to bed, in preparation for an early start the following day or a few of us had a drink and / or a light dinner before turning in.
Friday 9th July transfer to Galápagos via Guayaquil and start of cruise
An early start (actually it was fine by our body clocks as wed all already woken well before hand) saw us leaving the hotel at 6 a.m., then going through formalities in Quito airport (ably assisted by Alex and the Enchanted Expeditions rep.) before taking the short hop to Guayaquil. A beautifully clear morning meant we could appreciate the scale of the mountains around us, though those on the l-h side had prolonged views of the Andean chain and snow-capped peaks of a few of the volcanoes along its length.
We discussed what might be present in the huge flooded area N of Guayaquil, with a couple of Cattle Egrets, several American Great White Egrets and a 'stoat' being seen by Liz on the left of the plane. Those on the right of the plane that evening discovered that it was her delightful Scottish accent that had tricked us and so Black-necked STILT was added to our combined lists!
We finally got away, and after our third 'meal' that morning the tension mounted as we began the descent to Baltra airport...
It was sunny with this broken cloud and very mild outside. Perfect! We were met by Silvia, our Galápagos guide and then given about 20 minutes to wander round the little stalls for souvenirs or last-minute necessities before taking the short drive down to the bay to pick up the pangas (inflatables) to take us to our vessel.
Two Magnificent Frigatebirds and an all-too-brief Lava Gull were rapidly seen, though plenty of attention was fixed on the three sorts of Darwin's finches present which were coming down to feed at a rubbish container! The trouble is, we couldn't positively ID any of them, though we did suspect the largest was Cactus Finch which was later confirmed as the most likely by Silvia.
The bay where we picked up the boat after just 5 minutes in a bus was magic! Common Noddies patrolled the edges, Blue-footed Boobies pierced the water at enormous speed just inches from boats and rocks, Elliot's Storm-petrels flicked over the water in numbers, sometimes just yards away and Brown Pelicans sat looking bored on bobbing boats and buoys! As if this were not enough, a couple of Sea Lions fed close to the shore, their incredible swimming ability being readily visible in the crystalline water.
We boarded the M/V Beluga and after an introductory talk, including meeting our fellow passengers Tony, Ush and Armin, plus Andy and Leida, we went to our rooms to unpack. There was little time before lunch, but views out as we cruised towards the Canal de Itabaca revealed Audubon's Shearwaters and more boobies and pelicans. We had lunch with long-distance views of a few Sea Lions hauled out on some rocks where a couple of Blue-footed Boobies and a Brown Pelican were also contemplating the scenery, or maybe just digesting fish...
We cruised back up to N Seymour for the afternoon and had our first real excursion, mooring first off a little cliff where Swallow-tailed Gulls and a flock of presumably breeding Audubon's Shearwaters swept back and forth in front. Taking the pangas we headed for some rock steps up a small cliff. Swallow-tailed Gulls flew past but landed out of sight, while Blue-footed Boobies raced past at eye-level and frigatebirds cruised past just over our heads.
We wound our way through the rather leafless and arid scrub, picking our way past nesting boobies and trying to get views of the calling scrub finches. A pair of Galápagos Doves strutted past, seed-finding as they went, just feet away.
Our keen eyes also picked out several Land Iguanas, scarce on the island, while a nesting small ground finch gave good views, its nest perched somewhat openly in a small Opuntia (Prickly Pear) cactus.
The far side of the island was rather bushier and this seemed to be ideal for breeding frigatebirds. Dozens and dozens formed small colonies, scattered about, some down at just thigh height and completely ignoring our presence. We were also able to pick out a number of female and one or two male Great Frigatebirds among them.
Marine Iguanas were also a little commoner here, just adding to the amazing spectacle unfolding before us. Our return to the boat was preceded by excellent views of the smart Swallow-tailed Gulls on the low cliffs. What a finale!
We boarded the pangas and headed back to the boat before our evening meal and call-over.
Saturday 10th July Española
An early rise for many, and before breakfast from the deck a number of species were seen over this rather greener and scrub-rich island: Galápagos Doves were common, while even a Galápagos Hawk or two were seen soaring! A small group of Golden Rays cruising past were an exciting start. A number of Wedge-rumped Storm-petrels also sped past, being commoner here than Elliot's.
After breakfast we took a panga ride to the beach opposite in Gardner Bay, where numbers of Galápagos Sea Lions were sun-bathing or surfing in on the small waves. Several beach-masters cared for their harems, though apart from the odd shouting match and head-rearing, little serious antagonism was seen, and despite us walking past just feet away on occasions, they hardly stirred.
The scrub bordering the back of the beach was literally alive with birds though, and we soon saw the three species of finch present: the impressively large-beaked Large Cactus, the seemingly ubiquitous Small Ground and the stub-tailed and small Warbler Finch. The occasional Mangrove Warbler brightened up proceedings and a pair of Galápagos Hawks soared up and over on a number of occasions. The local form of Lava Lizards was common, with a couple of Marine Iguanas looking like theyd changed little in tens of thousands of years with their archaic features. This was not to mention the Common Noddies and Blue-footed Boobies patrolling the shoreline or passing over before plummeting into the sea respectively!
Smaller denizens included another Galápagos Carpenter Bee and a good number of the large, blackish, Large-tailed Skipper butterfly, supposedly a highland species... One or two Galápagos Blues were also present, being rather small and inconspicuous, but with an intricate underwing pattern.
Some of us finished up with views of a number of Pacific Green Turtles feeding in the rocky areas at the far end and just beyond the surf, occasionally sticking their heads out of the water.
Back on the boat we rapidly changed into our snorkelling gear and headed off to Turtle Rock just a short panga ride away. After the initial immersion shock of having the cold Humboldt Current water entering the wetsuits, we rapidly forgot everything as the sea-lions leapt into the water and came to swim around and below us, one lively youngster even porpoising out and crashing back in just beside one or two of us. The fish were also good, with the visibility being superb and allowing views down to 10 or 15m. King Angelfish were scattered about, being the most spectacular of those present. The water was cold though, and we returned to shower and warm up, the soup for starters at lunch being a fine way to shake off any potential after-effects.
Our cruise along the coast later provided views of plenty of Audubon's Shearwaters and a few storm-petrels, while later on a couple of huge distant seabirds were a sign of things to come...
Our panga dry landing in the afternoon was at Punta Suarez. A number of Galápagos Sea Lions had to be shooed off the rock steps as we landed, while these and lots of Marine Iguanas meant the cameras were out even before the second boat had reached the shore! A Yellow-crowned Night-heron stood stock-still on the breakwater boulders at close range, the first of four on the walk.
The rich scrub housed large numbers of Galápagos Doves and the two smaller Ground Finches, with a few of the Large Cactus Finches. We soon reached an area along the coast with nesting boobies. Blue-footed were common, here often with tiny chicks or eggs still, while good numbers of smart and often noisy Nazca Boobies were scattered by the path and along the cliff edge. Several Waved Albatrosses wheeled over the path ahead and after climbing up past a cove with a couple of American Oystercatchers and various Swallow-tailed Gulls, we suddenly reached a flatter open area with a few pairs of the albatrosses. We watched amazed as several pairs went through their amazing courtship rituals, with calling, head shaking and waving, sky-pointing, bill clattering and touching and open-mouthed postures a simply stunning experience, especially given their extraordinary 'bushy eyebrows' and peculiar gaze.
The albatross numbers increased as we progressed, mixed with both boobies and the ever-present mockingbirds, with a couple of chicks with their parents and even a few abandoned eggs. A group of albatrosses glided continuously up and down the cliff-top, providing a stunning spectacle, while a distant Lava Heron by a blow-hole viewpoint was briefly seen at distance.
The walk back across the island through scrub was very warm and humid, given the thick cloud and very light drizzle we briefly experienced, though more Marine Iguanas and on the last bit of shore another fine American Oystercatcher and a superb Lava Heron.
We rounded off with a walk across the last beach with its attendant sea-lions, including one rather too boisterous and / or protective male which we had to carefully negotiate! A fine end to another superb day.
Sunday 11th July Floreana
We woke up to find ourselves a little way off Punta Cormorant. The morning excursion was over to the beach, where a relatively rich flora was growing on the dunes between the beach and a hyper-saline lagoon behind. Various plants included Black and White Mangrove, Leatherleaf and two species of endemic composite Lecocarpus pinnatifidus and Scalesia villosa- on the lava sand. Single Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone and Wandering Tattler enlivened the beach, while in the pool behind, outrageously pink Greater (now Caribbean) Flamingos were spotted around the tranquil waters. Small brown ducks paddled around, occasionally raising their heads to reveal their white cheeks and pinkish bills - White-cheeked Pintails.
The scrub beside the pool was also home to good numbers of Galápagos Flycatchers, several pairs of which got into a dispute over territory limits and sat in bushes just feet away, sometimes calling loudly. The local Lava Lizards were also abundant, especially by a little raised knoll from where we contemplated the whole of the pool and its inhabitants.
The innumerable introduced paper wasps had left their mark on two of us on the beach, but fortunately left us alone thereafter, but other insects included a couple of Large Painted Locusts, Galápagos Blues and another butterfly, which though looking like a small Monarch, was somehow not...
We emerged from the scrub to look over a lovely white sand beach. Paddling was strictly restricted to the extreme edge, and the reason soon became apparent when dozens of Sting Rays were seen drifting along in the wash zone just feet from the water's edge! A couple of Green Turtles had hauled themselves up the previous day to lay their eggs, leaving behind their distinctive tracks. The outrageously coloured Sally Lightfoot Crabs kept us occupied on the rocky outcrop halfway along the beach.
Given our 'weak' snorkelling abilities, Silvia decided to take us to Champion instead of our planned stop, but it was an inspired choice. We leapt in to find slightly warmer water than the day before, but were in slightly unnerving deep blue... However, just a minute or so later we were over the edge of an impressive drop-off, with masses of fish just visible, way, way down. A splash of colour on the rock face was a gorgeous pair of Moorish Idols next to a King Angelfish, but two grey shapes passing smoothly below were two White-tipped Reef Sharks - a simply stunning sight. We tried to take in all that was below us, with large numbers of both colourful and fairly plain fish in every look, and colourful blue sea-stars adorning the rock every now and again. Everyone had their highlights, but a couple more of the sharks and a boisterous group of sea-lions, including a male letting us know that this was HIS harem were the cream of the crop for many.
Lunch was taken in Post Office Bay, which we visited later, including on a short panga ride towards the mangrove patches, a couple of Green Turtles, Great Blue Herons and two Lava Herons in flight being of most note, though a huge male Sea Lion commanded the most respect as he reared up to bellow at a young male intruder on his patch.
Most of the afternoon was taken up with the cruise to Santa Cruz and we finally moored in the evening at Puerto Ayora. The cruise was fascinating though, with a constant entourage of Wedge-rumped Storm-petrels and a few Elliot's also appearing from time to time, plus two 'pairs' of Dark-rumped (Galápagos) Petrels passing, and about half a dozen Waved Albatrosses cruising around. Pride of place though clearly went to a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins. These were first seen behind us so the captain did a smart about turn, and as we neared them, so they came to us! At least 100 (a very large group) then jumped and breached and played around the boat for several minutes before we and they turned in our respective directions - a magic few minutes.
Monday 12th July Santa Cruz - the highlands and tortoises
Breakfast at 7 and off at 8 as usual. After arrival though, we jumped into a bus for a drive up to the 'highlands' and endemic Scalesia forest. This took us through the urban part of Puerto Ayora, then up through a series of zones including farming and transition zones until we reached the lichen-draped trees in the Scalesia stands. Several Smooth-billed Anis were seen en route.
Silvias 'finchies' were abundant, with both Large- and Small Tree-finches added to our lists (not without quite some debate!), with Small Ground and who knows what else present!!! A Galápagos Flycatcher and several Galápagos Mockingbirds put in an appearance, being noticeably short-billed and 'cleanly' marked here. We emerged suddenly on the edge of one of 'Los Gemelos' (The Twins) sinkholes, where an ancient empty magma chamber has collapsed down, revealing multiple layers of lava flows from volcanic explosions around its walls. Large numbers of also bright Galápagos Doves were present. A couple of moths were the Crimson Speckled Moth, with pink and black spots on the forewings and blackish-marked hindwings.
We crossed the road to admire the other twin, and then given the lack of Woodpecker Finch took a wander down a trail into the forest here. This was excellent, with lichens literally dripping from the trees, and after a little while, the first of three Woodpecker Finches performed proudly, searching though the pads of lichens and mosses surrounding the thicker trunks. A very distinctive bird, and almost as characteristic as the rather small and pale chiffchaff-like Warbler Finches here which were very different-looking to those wed seen on Española, considerably more so than the differences between some of the other finch species together on this island!
We came down to visit La Primicia, a farm turned over to looking after part of the island's population of Giant Tortoises, and we weren't disappointed. Several of these enormous beasts were foraging in the fields and wooded areas, and while looking in thick scrub near a pool, Richard made the brilliant find of a Paint-billed Crake. This disappeared before anyone else could see it, but was refound and seen by a few others as it scurried through the undergrowth.
A little retail therapy was indulged in before we left, from a little stall beside which we'd seen a fine female Large Ground Finch earlier, as well as a refreshing bite of orange (from those who'd not tried the delicious wild passion fruits in the woodland earlier).
We got back for a late lunch, only to find two new guests on board, Uncle Greg and his niece Laura, but were off again at 2 p.m. to visit the giant tortoise captive rearing program at the Charles Darwin Research Institute on the edge of the town. As we arrived a fine young Lava Heron clung to a mooring rope just feet away while it's cannier parent fed someway off on the rocks. Various fish were also noted in the shallow waters.
We toured the station in the heat, especially noticeable now that there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and apart from the numerous tortoises, watched a good number of fine-plumaged male finchies - Cactus and a Medium Tree being of most note, and it was clear that the dense scrub and also water put out for the tortoises produced ideal habitat for adult males of the various species present, with many more black or black-headed birds present than normal. One Cactus Finch male was amusingly described by Silvia as exposing himself nicely, while poor old Lonesome George apparently turns his nose up at the female tortoises put into his pen, though given his morose looks, more than one comment about another (in)famous George and their relative attributes was banded about! A mouse in the Land Iguana pen was an interesting addition to the list, though it was hard to accept that a large-eared, brown mouse could be just a House Mouse...
We finished off with more retail therapy in the town, emails and post-cards being sent to various corners of the globe (if that's possible!), but not before several fine Lava Gulls had been photographed at great length along the sea front. We returned just in time for dinner having already witnessed the fly-by of abundant Cattle Egrets going to roost in a nearby mangrove.
After an early dinner and call-over we set sail a little after nine for our longest night crossing. This was a little rolling, but those who had slept before (nearly all of us) were able to sleep again.
Tuesday 13th July Isabela W coast
We were still cruising for our destination when we awoke, and took our breakfast on the move and 30 minutes early given the sunny conditions. We were then off through the mangroves growing on the black lava flow. A wonderfully contrasting mix of green, rufous and black. We were unable to land before noting our first Pacific Green Turtles peering from the surface (the first of many) and to stop just beside a magnificent Galápagos Flightless Cormorant opening its wings to dry them in the sun just feet away! A couple of Striated Herons flew by, the black cap and pale neck-front of one being quite clear as it perched briefly in the open.
We climbed out onto the end of a remarkable black lava flow at Punta Moreno. The strangely contorted shapes of this pa-hoe-hoe lava were simply fascinating, and the way it was fracturing and breaking up, and down (!) were discussed and explained. The endemic cactus formed little clumps like a hand of gherkins, and a handful of small plants were scattered widely across the lava, eking out an existence from the minimal amount of rain that falls and tiny amount of ground water present here. Little however was to prepare us for the sudden appearance of a muddy-bottomed pool, surrounded by a lush narrow belt of tall rushes and Cyperus sedge, with Poison Apple and thorny Scutia spicata bushes flanking the nearly shear walls all around. Bizarrely it seemed, a number of Common Moorhens have successfully colonised and at least two ages of chicks were present, while dozens of dragonflies were also a sign of being highly successful. The sight of a large pool with an intermittently bathing Magnificent Frigatebird, several Common Moorhens, Black-necked Stilts and half a dozen Caribbean Flamingos was simply extraordinary though! We sat here and contemplated the scene for some time, and thankfully we did, since just after leaving, a shout of two martins went up and we were treated to the sight of a pair of the very scarce Galápagos Martins swooping in to feed and drink. A real bonus.
The remainder of the walk brought us back round to another little cove where a Galápagos Cormorant sat on her nest shielding two young chicks, and we saw a few more 'Lava Finches'...
A short panga ride took us to some rocks where a mass of extremely large Marine Iguanas were hauled out soaking up the sun, but the stars were two young Galápagos Penguins which had tagged themselves on to the end of the group and allowed close approach - simply superb and a great relief considering others a few of us had seen at sea very briefly during the ride ashore.
We cruised for lunch noting an almost complete absence of birds for over an hour, despite massed Frigatebirds at the limit of our vision at a huge feeding frenzy. A few blows from a, or several, whales were also noted by Armin, but a few of us were luckier seeing a small group of Bottle-nosed Dolphins at moderate range, which we couldn't re-find, but revealed noddies, boobies and pelicans diving in to catch small fish being driven to the surface by schools of tuna below them.
Most again went for a snorkel early afternoon, most seeing a Pacific Green Turtle or two close up, as well as Galápagos Penguins and a Nazca Booby on the rocks above.
The rest of the afternoon was taken up with a panga ride into the extensive Elizabeth Bay mangroves. The water was pouring out into the bay through a narrow channel, making the ride in and out rather interesting, but the tranquil waters inside were full of the turtles, especially in the shallowest muddy-bottomed areas. Birds were scarce, but included the odd finch, plenty of stunning Mangrove Warblers and calling Galápagos Mockingbirds and Smooth-billed Anis.
We came out again to a few more Galápagos Martins from the first panga and a Galápagos Penguin in font of the second and headed towards the islets called Las Marielas, where the divers had been earlier.
Galápagos Penguins were relatively common, a few Galápagos Cormorants and lots of Blue-footed Boobies and a single Nazca Booby were the highlights, not forgetting the Marine Iguanas and Sea Lions... A single Lava Lizard was remarkable to see running up a vertical cliff of one of these isolated rocks.
Wednesday 14th July Isabela and Fernandina
We upped anchor early, at about 4 a.m. in order to reach Urbina Bay for just after breakfast. Thick cloud meant it was cooler but humid, but this was fine. After a wet landing on a steep beach, fortunately without anyone taking an unwanted swim, we scampered up to the high water mark where a number of amusing Semi-terrestrial Hermit Crabs trundled around on the sand.
The rich scrub housed a good number of finches including Small and Medium Ground Finches in large quantity and one or two Small Tree Finches. Galápagos Mockingbirds kept up an almost continuous chorus and Mangrove Warblers were common too. Large-tailed Skippers, one or two Galápagos Blues and a couple of Queen Butterflies (this was our Monarch look-alike from earlier in the trip) provided diversion, as did two fine Ground Iguanas which had hauled themselves out of their burrows to try and sun themselves. The flowers here were good too, with Yellow Cordia Cordia lutea and Galápagos Cotton Gossypium darwinii sporting their fine yellow flowers, the endemic white Ipomoea alongside an introduced pink Convolvulus and some huge examples of Poison Apple among the Incense Tree -dominated scrub.
The cruise before lunch took us through the narrow channel between Fernandina and Isabela, where we diverted successfully towards a couple of 'small' rorqual whales, though we'd no chance of identifying them based on the brief views as they surfaced. Dark-rumped Petrels put in another appearance, with a scattering of all the by now 'expected' species: noddies, boobies, both storm-petrels and Audubon's Shearwaters, while an unexpected passenger was a superb Lava Gull which hitched a ride almost the entire way on one of the pangas! A few Bottle-nosed Dolphins were briefly seen off to one side by a few.
We moored just off Punta Espinosa, Fernandina and immediately left for a snorkel. This was stunning. Not only did we almost immediately see the first of about 20 Pacific Green Turtles swimming and grazing from the bottom, but a few Marine Iguanas were also found doing the same! Incredible! The fish were also magnificent, with several new species seen including a couple of Port Jackson Sharks, and Harlequin Wrasse, Large Banded Blenny and Hieroglyphic Hawkfish. Lunch was consequently an hour 'late' at 1 p.m., but we were elated.
We were back at the point again later, though this time via the pangas and passed through some shallow pools before landing in a patch of mangrove. A Striated Heron showed for the first, then a Whimbrel for the second, while all saw the group of six Wandering Tattlers on the rocks as we cleared the mangrove trees.
Snaking our way across the back of the beach we suddenly came face to face with serried ranks of Marine Iguanas hauled out sunning themselves. This was a fantastic photo opportunity, taken by all, but was only the first of several like it! It was remarkable to see a mixture of ages, some small ones simply lying, standing or walking on top of other much larger ones!
Shortly ahead was a small colony of Galápagos Flightless Cormorants, some small and large chicks being present, while an adult returning a little later spent considerable time in the breaking waves of a little inlet trying to find a little resent to take back to its mate, but never quite seemed happy with whatever it picked up.
The same inlet was regularly patrolled by a big and noisy male Sea Lion, which chased a large female (or was it a young male?) right in at one point, and which then came up across the sand 'through' us before dropping down into the inlet just opposite. The male followed, barking loudly, assuring clear passage between us, but all his power and might was laughed away as he suddenly slumped to the ground to pull in his flippers and roll sideways over and over to go down the slope onto the opposite beach! Once back in the water the chase was back on though and they powered off out of sight round the point. He was in complete contrast to a couple of tiny pups, one wet, dark and very unhealthy-looking, the other dry, active and with a golden tint and looking in good form just yards away.
Further massed Marine Iguanas kept us occupied for ages, with numerous opportunities for using up those rolls of film or filling those digital chips!
Despite the low tide we managed to negotiate our way through the rocks back to the Beluga and set sail north. It was a peculiar feeling to suddenly realise that the sun was arching round to our north, as we headed towards it... We were just in the southern hemisphere, of course!
There were relatively few birds on the trip, but Dark-rumped Petrels and towards the end, Wedge-rumped and the odd Elliot's Storm-petrels appeared in good number, with a few groups of Nazca Boobies and a total of seven Swallow-tailed Gulls coming past. The stars though were at least two single Madeiran (= Band-rumped) Storm-petrels which came over to briefly to investigate the boat, then just after sunset, two huge Sunfish, the fins of which occasionally poked out above the surface.
At almost exactly 18:30 we raised a toast to crossing the equator, since the return crossing would be in the middle of the night.
Thursday 15th July Santiago + Bartolomé
Having moored at just after 1 a.m. we awoke to yet another new setting, this time in Puerto Egas, Santiago. This was a double snorkel day for the keen, the first being directly after our morning excursion onto the island, which was across the dry dusty and rather flat coastal area.
A flock of Large Ground Finches, a couple of Galápagos Flycatchers and a small Galápagos Scorpion hiding under a flat rock were the main highlights. Some deep-water inlets cutting into a lava field were home to Marine Iguanas, Yellow-crowned Night Herons and masses of bright orange Cardinal Fish which swarmed along the vertical rocks near the surface, and this was also the habitat for a new species- the Southern (Galápagos) Fur Seal. Several of these animals were hauled out in cracks and crevices, largely out of the sun, their small size, large eyes and thick necks being noticeably different from the abundant Sea Lions.
The snorkelling was great too, with the drop-offs by a rocky outcrop playing host to huge shoals of fish, including the small pink/orange one we'd seen before, plus the massed Black-striped Salema and a few more Yellow-bellied Triggerfish and cryptically-coloured Hieroglyphic Hawkfish amongst others. A sea-lion or two showed up again, just for variety!
Lunch was taken on the move, this time towards Isla Bartolomé, allowing us time afterwards to watch some large flocks of Audubon's Shearwaters and Brown Noddies at feeding frenzies en route, plus a few Nazca Boobies and both Elliot's and Wedge-rumped Storm-petrels again.
The afternoon was reversed, with a snorkel and / or lounge on the beach for the more active, then at 16:30 we took the short panga ride to Bartolomé to take the board walk up to the peak. This was far from straightforward though, given a remarkable fish feeding frenzy a little off shore which resulting in us finding some very distant dolphins, then several much closer whales! We watched at length as 3 or 4 whales repeatedly surfaced, though given that the closest two (apparently a mother and calf) were feeding, their heads rearing up out of the water repeatedly, we could clearly appreciate their large size and white stripe along the right lower jaw - Fin Whales! A superb sighting and our first in the islands.
We eventually climbed to the peak, enjoying the marvellous views from and near the top, including a series of small cones and vents from the recently (1980s) active volcano.
The walk down seemed short until we neared the steps. Suddenly, as the sun dipped towards the horizon, hundreds of mosquitoes sailed out from their daytime hiding places to assault us. Given that the island appeared absolutely bone dry, the mystery was revealed when Silvia told us that they breed in brackish water pools deep in the rocks!
We gladly got back on board over salt water, where very few were present and had a celebratory cocktail at 7 p.m. to bid our farewells to the crew. A fine end to the tour, or almost so...
Friday 16th July transfer to mainland + Quito city tour
Our last few hours on the Galápagos were started with a bang when we were off at 6 a.m. for a mangrove panga ride in Black Turtle Cove. This was a treat in the flat calm conditions and rising sun with broken cloud.
Scores of Blue-footed Boobies wheeled over the shallow pools before diving in unison in spectacular fashion. The huge but remarkably graceful Brown Pelicans also plunging in, one right by a panga then having the attendant Brown Noddy perching on its head waiting for any titbits to escape the massive pouch! A Great White Egret kept a low profile off to one side but was the first for many.
Some of the best was kept until last and as we killed the engines and paddled into shallower waters, so we found a few Pacific Green Turtles, then several White-tipped Sharks drifting past, then a superb group of Golden Rays, while as we exited, first one, then two, superb Spotted Eagle Rays flew past just below the surface, a glorious sight.
We took our last breakfast then headed for the airport, just a few minutes away, again watching the amusing antics of noddies perching on pelicans' heads after they'd plunged in, this time while sat on the bus at the quay!
A couple of us went through another rather cursory baggage check to see that we weren't taking anything off the islands, then pottered about the stands buying last-minute bargains, getting our Galápagos stamps in our passports and posting those so well travelled postcards!
We bade our final farewells to Silvia and were eventually off, carefully noting a male Cactus Finch before we left. The flights were fine and uneventful.
Arrival at Quito early afternoon meant we were straight off on the Quito City tour with Ivan our driver and Raul. This was fascinating and ended in the main square of old Quito, though we were physically exhausted by the end, the altitude being of note!
As Liz was leaving us, we also had a farewell dinner in the fine old restaurant of La Ronda, before eventually turning in to another night in the Hotel Mercure Alameda.
Mainland Ecuador Extension
Saturday 17th July transfer via Yanacocha reserve to Mindo
We bade our farewells to Liz early on then, then made a leisurely exit at just after 8 a.m. Roberto had joined Ivan as our team, and we set off through the busy city traffic.
Climbing up an old cobbled road we headed out through hillsides of grassland and the normally dreaded Eucalyptus plantations, though the first roadside stop was for some terrific views of the peaks of the Antisana and several other snow-capped volcanoes. A Band-tailed Seedeater was one of the first small birds and already we had an addition to the cumulative TN / Limosa list!
We climbed and climbed, noting plenty of Great Thrushes on the way, stopping for a gorgeous pale adult Variable Hawk, repeatedly riding the updraft over a grassy slope, and also latched onto a pair of Black-tailed Trainbearers and a Tyrian Metaltail, to get the hummingbirds off to a start, with a small family group of Black Flowerpiercers for variety.
We drove to the Yanacocha reserve, a beautiful area of cloud forest clinging to the steep mountainsides at a mere 3,500m... Stepping out to get the entry permits we immediately saw the first of many impressively large Great Sapphirewings on the feeder by the public loos!
The winding walk along an almost flat trail across a mountainside was fantastic. Small flocks of birds had to be teased out of the incredibly species-rich thick cover and trees coated with epiphytes, and the identification fun began. Glossy, Black and Masked Flowerpiercers were all common, a Brown-backed Chat-tyrant was a little beauty, though when we reached the first set of hummingbird feeders we were left bemused. Great Sapphirewings held court on size, but gangs of Shining Sunbeams and scores of Buff-winged Starfrontlets overpowered for much of the time. The flashing white in the tails of Mountain Velvetbreasts gave them away, while the little white boots of the Sapphire-vented Pufflegs were fun to see. Tyrian Metaltails kept popping up continuously. What an extraordinary sight!
While this in itself would have been enough, the sudden appearance overhead of no less than six Andean Condors was a staggering sight! These even them came down to land for a while, an adult male and female being the stars of the show.
Moving gently along we also found some brightly coloured jobs, including our first Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager and later, Spectacled Whitestarts. The flycatchers (thankfully?!) largely gave us the slip, though a White-banded Tyrannulet did give us good scope views.
Some long distance views down the deep valleys revealed Red-crested Cotingas in good number, and a black-and-white raptor sailing out was a superb adult Carunculated Caracara. This seemed to upset a group of 14 parrots, apparently Red-billed, which noisily flew off high!
Our troop back was less exciting, since we stopped less, but yet another surprise was in store, this time in the shape of a stunning male Rainbow-bearded Thornbill which sat quietly on a little stick for long periods of time and providing an excellent photo opportunity.
Lunch was an excellent and large box lunch which we ate by the car. Paul also achieved one of his goals when a Sword-billed Hummingbird sped past at height, seen only by him and me, a truly incredible sight.
Our luck was really in. A roadside stop for a female Southern Yellow Grosbeak 'in the middle of nowhere' turned up a feeding Sparkling Violetear, then to our amazement, a Short-eared Owl suddenly appeared and floated past in front at height before disappearing over a nearby ridge!
Another stop, this time in fine secondary cloud forest produced a couple of gorgeous Blue-capped and Rufous-chested Tanagers.
We continued down the old Nono-Mindo road, noting the extraordinary-looking Silver-leaved Cecropia trees, and made a couple of short stops on the roadside. The second of these was a joy, with a group of displaying male Cock-of-the-Rocks in the trees opposite for at least 30 minutes... What more could one ask?! Better views of the Black-and-chestnut Eagle which Richard and I saw later would have been the icing on the cake, though to see and then hear a pair of Strong-billed Woodcreepers which were working the trees alongside the road which led down to our lodge near Mindo at dusk was a great end to the birds.
While this would normally have been 'it', the insect life was astonishing, capped by a stunning click beetle shown to us by Roberto which had a brilliant pair of permanently lit green lights on either side of its thorax!!
Sunday 18th July Septimo Paraiso, Mindo + Tony's Garden
Trip reports to the tropics become a little more difficult when the superlatives run out...
Our pre-breakfast jaunt saw us convening at 5.45 at the front door, here at c. 1500m in altitude. After 5 minutes of marvelling at the assorted moths and other sundry creatures on the walls we started our short walk.
The light was just starting when we heard our first birds, several pairs of Rufous Motmots calling in the forest, with Golden-headed Quetzals and an Andean Solitaire joining in. Our first sightings included a tiny but very noisy Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant, a pair of Golden-crowned Flycatchers, Blue-and-white and Southern Rough-winged Swallows, Slate-throated Whitestarts, brief Toucan Barbet and three Sickle-winged Guans high in some trees, plus numerous other small birds including the striking Lemon-rumped and dowdier Palm Tanagers, a couple of Masked Tityras, and single Red-headed Barbet, Golden-winged Manikin and Scaled Fruiteater of most note. A Western Red Squirrel also put in a brief appearance. It was an amazing experience!
After a rather later than expected breakfast we started the same walk again, though noted a White-necked Jacobin, a female White-bellied Woodstar and several Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds at the feeders before we'd really started! Pausing along the entrance track we found several Yellow-bellied and a smart male Variable Seed-eater, then more tanagers including Metallic-green Tanager and Blue-winged Mountain-tanager, a Squirrel Cuckoo and Southern Beardless-tyrannulets, all before reaching the gate!
As the cloud broke a little, the warmth pulled out a few butterflies, particularly relished by David, while gaps in the canopy revealed an American Black Vulture then a Roadside Hawk passing over, shortly followed by the first of many Turkey Vultures.
Out on the metalled road we turned towards Mindo, with a few flocks keeping us very busy at broken intervals. A Blue-necked Tanager, a few Red-faced Spinetails, Black-winged and Buff-throated Saltators and Cinnamon Becards, plus a superb Rufous-winged Tyrannulet were most notable in one of them, but Swallow-tailed Kites kept our eyes also to the sky, and odd highlights included single Wedge-billed Hummingbird and Purple-throated Woodstar, while three Pale-mandibled Araçaris were simply fabulous in a large Cecropia tree, but disappeared all too fast.
We finished the morning with a trip to Los Colibries bar, where we 'twitched' White-whiskered Hermit, a simply superb large hummer, which even came inside the covered bar to take a look after taking a few drinks from the feeders! We also had our introductions to both Green-crowned Woodnymph and Green-crowned Brilliant among dozens of Rufous-tailed Hummers.
We met again after lunch at 14:30 to go for more hummingbirds at the descriptively named Tony's Garden! This sounds odd deep in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, but after a stop which revealed both Black- and Blue-capped Tanagers, Pearled Treerunner and Streaked Tuftedcheek, we finally reached the site. A short walk down a little path brought us to a house with huge veranda overlooking a garden stuffed with feeders. But where to look! Dozens upon dozens of hummers whizzed around and chased and displayed and of course fed in front. Before we left we'd seen no less than 16 species! Rufous-tailed Hummers, Green and Sparkling Violetears and Fawn-breasted Brilliants were the commonest, but we also noted a few gems such as Booted Racket-tail, Brown and Collared Incas, Violet-tailed Sylph, Purple-bibbed Whitetip and a Gorgeted Sunangel. Just the names invoke emotion and this was a superb experience simply enhanced by other birds such as Barred Becard, Golden and Metallic-green Tanagers, and White-sided Flowerpiercers amongst a few others.
We got back late, in the dark and rain and cloud, but who cared!
Monday 19th July Pedro Vicente Maldonado track, Septimo Paraiso + Río Nambillo, Mindo until after dark...
An early breakfast saw us out at 6 a.m. and heading down and west towards Pedro Vicente Maldonado. A few birds were seen on wires on the way, though thick mist / cloud reduced visibility until we were close to our goal.
Turning off the main road we stopped just a few yards ahead and jumped out to survey the scene. Thick scrub and trees to our left, a mixed banana plantation on the right in a broad little valley, the far side of which was good secondary growth forest with some old trees. Not seemingly ideal...
A White-lined and the first of numerous Palm and Blue-grey Tanagers rapidly allayed our fears, with Social Flycatchers and Tropical Kingbirds common. Calling Plumbeous Pigeons, Pallid Doves, Little Tinamou and Rufous-fronted Wood-quail made an interesting background sound, though we only finally saw the first. Lemon-rumped Tanagers were very noticeable and common, though two Yellow-tailed Orioles were a treat once they finally came out on show. A couple of Yellow-bellied Elaenias were a case of a quick look and happily accept Roberto's ID!
Some parrots started squawking in flight and we watched as a little group of Maroon-tailed Parakeets sped past. More squawking later revealed a flock of Blue-headed Parrots in flight which dived down onto some palms before soon disappearing into trees. While trying to refind these, two darker birds on another palm were found, which were two Bronze-winged Parrots! Paul then even had a Mealy Parrot fly silently past in front while watching these in the scope!!
Walking down we added Western Emerald to our lists, then Lesser Goldfinch and Yellow-bellied Siskin in quick succession. Various tanagers and a Streaked Flycatcher signalled the presence of a large army ant swarm, which had also attracted a fine little selection of other birds including Wedge-billed and Plain-brown Woodcreepers, Orange-billed Sparrow and Bicoloured Antbird, which we only saw deep in the secondary undergrowth. The wing-snapping White-bearded Manikins refused to show however. Even when we came out, to de-ant ourselves where necessary, a Pacific Hornero finally came into view.
We continued down to a river where a Snowy Egret fed quietly and an unseen Grey-breasted Crake made a din! The first of two Masked Water-tyrants were a treat, though Roberto soon had us moving down to a little clump of trees where a Common Tody-flycatcher and then a superb Rufous-tailed Jacamar were prized finds. Even better were distant calling toucans, which were three Chestnut-mandibled Toucans which we gleefully picked up in the distance. We rounded off by taping and then using playback to lure into view a couple of superb and noisy Bay Wrens which until then had simply refused to show. While this would have been more than enough, a Little Cuckoo leapt around in the crown of a small tree for us to admire.
Our last look here was after a few hundred metres ahead where we took a short walk through rather more disturbed habitats. A Pacific Parrotlet peered at us from its perch high on a palm leaf, a couple of Slaty Spinetails showed briefly despite churring at us almost constantly. The now very warm and humid conditions were not conducive to good birding, though fantastic for hordes of brightly coloured butterflies, but a great find saw us watching a diminutive female Olivaceous Piculet hammering away at length on a thick twig, then as we tried to board the bus, three Golden-faced Tyrannulets kept us out, then a Black-striped Sparrow put in a surprise appearance!
We were back for lunch after exactly an hour, with 90 minutes rest before a wander along the Neblina trail.
This was rather quiet, despite being a wonderful way to experience the cloud forest. However, as we returned towards the lodge, a small flock passed though, including Long-tailed Antbird.
After a quick bit of reorganisation, we were out again, this time via Mindo onto the Río Nambillo road, but not before we'd picked out another Pale-mandibled Araçari and Ornate Flycatcher at the same stop.
Dusk fell as we waited to try and see a nightjar or two, but this was unsuccessful. A waking Opossum flashed its green eyes at us, a Mottled Owl called off to one side, and various fireflies kept us amused. A powerful electrical storm in the background was silent, but the flashes impressive, leading to Daves quip about atmospheric discharges...
The drive back was smiled on by fate, and a large bird flying in to land in the scrub overlooking the edge of the road was an amazing Common Potoo! This sat on a bare twig just a couple of yards from us, its incredible eyes and bizarre shape and size being very evident at such close range. A perfect end to the day.
Tuesday 20th July Septimo Paraiso, transfer via Mitad del Mundo, Puembo, Papallacta Pass, Guango Lodge
Another pre-breakfast walk was as fascinating as normal. Despite using playback, calling Mottled Owl and Rufous Motmot refused to show, but Toucan Barbet finally appeared for most as did a Grey-breasted Wood-wren, and both Three-striped Warbler and Lineated Foliage-gleaner were well seen for the first time. High-flying White-capped Parrots and a distant Beryl-spangled Tanager were poor additions for many, but a stunning male Swallow Tanager was a treat for most.
We left after a late breakfast, pausing various times en route for a couple of raptors, these being the confusingly variable Variable Hawk... A few Turkey and Black Vultures and Swallow-tailed Kites were also seen.
We soon reached the edge of Quito and dropped into the monument marking where the world was discovered / proven to be round. This lies on the equatorial line measured in 1736, which recent GPS readings has shown to be just a mere 60m or so off the true line. It was also amusing to see Roberto being filmed as he photographed us all with numerous cameras hanging off both his arms and round his neck... The birds weren't bad either, with Vermilion Flycatcher, Rusty Flowerpiercer and some stunning Black-tailed Trainbearer males of most note.
Lunch was in an area of arid scrub at Puembo. It was hot in the sun, but the clouds later rolled over and it cooled off. A walk around revealed a surprising diversity of birds. A Croaking Ground-dove, a real scarcity in the area appeared, then Ashy-breasted Sierra Finches gave us the run around before finally showing themselves well. A Streak-throated Bush-tyrant sat out on the edge of a row of Eucalyptus trees and gave us an excellent views, being infinitely better than the fly-by one on the first day. Our hummer hunt continued, this time for Purple-collared Woodstar, which we duly achieved when a delightful female perched a couple of times in the same area of scrub.
Our final little excursion nearby for Giant Hummingbird was unsuccessful for that species, but a pair of Harris's Hawks passing over as we stepped out were an excellent surprise.
We then headed east, climbing all the time towards the Papallacta Pass. A pair of Carunculated Caracaras at first on the ground and then in flight were superb, followed by a pair of smart Andean Gulls, a few Paramo Ground-tyrants, a difficult to see Brown-backed Bush-tyrant, then Plain-coloured Seedeaters and a Hooded Siskin.
Just before the pass we turned onto the old road, stopping when a Bar-winged Cinclodes put in an appearance, only to then find a stunning little Andean Tit-spinetail and a Tawny Antpitta out on open ground, but which rapidly ran and flew into cover before most could see it... We got out to fine views of the former two, then a pair of Variable Hawks, one of which was on the ground eating a mammal. The cold finally got to us though, and we got back in and headed on towards the lodge.
Another detour however took us onto the old road again, this time passing behind the Papallacta Lake, where a small flock of Paramo Seedeaters were a good find, but rain set in, and we could only distantly contemplate two more Andean Gulls, plenty of Yellow-billed Pintail and a few Speckled Teal through the rain-spattered windows.
We soon reached the lodge at dusk in pouring rain and chilly conditions. Astonishingly, the feeders were busy with hummers, mostly being the delightful and very confiding Tourmaline Sunangels, but with a Glowing Puffleg and a Collared Inca or two for variety! Richard came down later, only to find a Sword-billed Hummingbird feeding there too, whetting our appetites for the early morning walk...
Wednesday 21st July Guango Lodge, Baeza track + San Isidro
Our usual 6 a.m. start found us watching hummers from the porch, though two stunning Turquoise Jays taking the moths from around the lights almost as we walked out shone like beacons in the half-light!
The feeders were very busy with dozens of Tourmaline Sunangels and Tyrian Metaltails, plenty of Buff-tailed and Chestnut-breasted Coronets and the bee-like White-bellied Woodstars, a couple of Mountain Velvetbreasts, several of the extraordinary Sword-billed Hummingbirds and Long-tailed Sylphs, various smart (and aggressive) Collared Incas, and a couple of Buff-winged Starfrontlets, while single female Gorgeted Woodstar, Glowing Puffleg, Speckled Hummingbird and Great Sapphirewing also put in brief appearances. This was amazing and almost the entire lodge list! Just as most had gone into breakfast, an odd small hummer sat discretely in a bush was a Mountain Avocetbill, though sadly just Roberto, Richard and I were able to see it before it was chased off never to be seen again... This was a lifer for Roberto though.
At breakfast the heavens opened, and as this continued for over an hour afterwards, we simply reassembled on the patio to continue watching the hummers. Given the incredible and continuous activity of 20 or 30 of these amazing birds we stood and watched in amazement at their continual comings and goings, with numerous aerial face-offs being a repeated sight. As we'd also seen earlier, a couple of Masked Flowerpiercers were also at the feeders, Mountain Wrens sneaked through the undergrowth and a Great Thrush on the lawn provided some variety, plus the first of several White-banded Tyrannulets.
Eventually the rain eased so we decided to risk it by walking along the main road. This was a good move. A short way uphill first revealed a reasonable stretch of river, where a stunning male Torrent Duck perched nonchalantly on a rock in full view, barely even raising its head to survey proceedings.
Light rain decided to return, so we headed downhill, trying to tease out a few small birds from the bushes as we went, including smart Northern Mountain-caciques, a superb female Barred Fruiteater, an exquisite male Purple-backed Thornbill feeding on some yellow flowers in low canopy, though shortly afterwards we also disturbed a couple of superb Andean Guans almost from the roadside which then flew up and landed, and stayed, in full view until we left!
A couple of singing Black-capped Warblers moved along the roadside scrub giving fine views, while a little detour down to a bouncy bridge over the river produced a Slaty-backed Chat-tyrant along the scrubby banks.
The rain strengthened, but we continued on, seeing a couple of perched Roadside Hawks at close range, but it was difficult viewing as the optics steamed up...
We returned to the lodge a little earlier than planned only to find a large feeding flock passing through the trees in front of the car park: Lacrimose and Fawn-breasted Mountain-tanagers, Grey-hooded Bush-tanager, Blue-backed and Capped Conebills, Pearled Treerunners, Cinnamon Flycatchers, a male Barred Becard, Montane Woodcreeper and a few other bits and pieces! This very rapidly moved on, but we luckily had a second bite at nearly all of these when the flock returned about 20 minutes later when we were again ogling the hummers!
The sky was brightening and rain almost stopped when we left after an early lunch. We took the winding road east, carefully negotiating numerous potholes and even areas under work which had been swept away in large mudslides from the often viciously steep slopes. The rain had also fed the local streams and torrents and numerous waterfalls cascaded down the often sheer valley sides. The rivers were raging torrents.
Our main stop was a track leading down a valley side, where enormous trees dripping with epiphytes dominated the vegetation, despite having often been cleared underneath. Rain started again, but we stuck it out and were amply rewarded with a delightful male Gold-rumped Euphonia and several Blue-headed and Golden-naped Tanagers which were simply exquisite. A flock of parrots in flight eventually landed and revealed their identity as Speckle-faced Parrots, and had landed beside our first Russet-backed Oropendolas, some old nests of which we later saw dangling from the lower branches of a huge tree. A few Yellow-browed Sparrows were also new to us, while two Golden-faced Tyrannulets were scarce birds for the E slope. A couple of superb Inca Jays were distant, but stunningly attractive birds. The sun had now come out and as the cloud lifted from hills opposite we were treated to spectacular views of distant forest-clothed slopes with several waterfalls plunging down hundreds of metres.
We moved on towards our final destination, though stopped for more Inca Jays, only to find a small group of Subtropical Caciques on the roadside, then as we watched these, an astonishingly coloured Crimson-mantled Woodpecker flew over and fortunately landed where we could see it, despite being in quite dense foliage. Another stop was made for a female Olivaceous Siskin on a roadside wire, though we made San Isidro in good time.
In fact, the earlier members of the group to head to the bar were greeted with the sight of 4 or 5 impressively large and short-tailed Rufous-bellied Nighthawks powering their way around the various lights as they hawked for insects. These were taking some of the impressive variety of moths, stick insects and beetles which had accumulated around the lights and which we were also able to contemplate, a huge rhinoceros beetle being the clear highlight as we made it back to our cabins for the call-over.
Thursday 22nd July San Isidro + Sierra de Guacamayos
A 6 a.m. start again to make the most of the day. A couple of Rufous-bellied Nighthawks were again noted hawking overhead by those arriving a fraction early.
We walked out under high thick cloud in cool conditions, both before and after breakfast. Birds were rather sparing to start, with more song than feathers, including Unicoloured Tapaculo and White-bellied and Chestnut-crowned Antpittas, none of which of course showed themselves. Long-tailed Antbirds were however common, and nearly all finally saw one which responded well to playback.
Other birds were more obliging however, especially Bluish and Masked Flowerpiercers (the latter were abundant), Beryl-spangled and Flame-faced Tanagers, while other odd new birds included three delightful Barred Parakeets, which were almost impossible to see in the canopy, a spotted Olive-backed Woodcreeper, a few Fawn-breasted, Blue-and-black and Black-capped Tanagers, and a couple of Russet-crowned Warblers and Brown-capped Vireos.
Breakfast and lunch were enlivened as we entered and left by the feeders outside, which were busy with plenty of Bronzy and Collared Incas, Speckled Hummingbirds, Long-tailed Sylphs, Chestnut-breasted Coronets and Fawn-breasted Brilliants.
Our afternoon excursion was to the nearby Guacamayos ridge. A mystery brown raptor for those assembled first unfortunately remains as such, but a juvenile White-throated hawk passing over just minutes later was seen better. We scrutinised the Cosanga River and a few streams en route, turning up three Black Phoebes and a couple of Torrent Tyrannulets as a result.
The ridge was cool, with thick cloud and spitting rain as we arrived, but generally remained dry with variable amounts of cloud. Birds were very scarce, despite a few fly-over Speckle-faced Parrots, Great Thrushes, a singing Andean Solitaire and distant Hooded Mountain-tanager. The plants really impressed tough, with enormous numbers of ferns and even extravagantly large club-mosses in the almost permanently damp conditions.
We got back just in time for Martin to see a fly-by nightjar species and later a Rufous-breasted Nighthawk zooming around. A calling Collared Forest-falcon and later unknown owl were our parting shots for the day.
Friday 23rd July San Isidro + Papallacta Lake & Pass
Another overcast but mild and still start. We changed our routine slightly and had a 6 a.m. breakfast. As we started our walk down past the cabins just a few minutes before 7, so a falcon pitched into the top of a tree behind us. It was a gorgeous Orange-breasted Falcon (well-named for once, according to Pat ;-) ) and a real rarity. It was soon off, but not before we'd had great looks in the scopes. What a start!
The trail led us rapidly into the oldest and tallest cloud forest we'd been in to date. This was remarkably open, but also rather short on birds, despite unseen singing tapaculos, Grey-breasted Wood-wrens and White-bellied Antpittas. We simply looked in awe at the towering trees which were dripping with mosses, lichens, orchids and bromeliads, with a low ground cover primarily of small tree ferns! It was fun to see how fallen clumps of material and branches each supported three or more species of epiphytic orchid!
A good flock was finally found, not before some of us had achieved good views of an elusive Chestnut-capped Brush-finch, which kept us looking for several minutes and included a Smoky-brown Woodpecker which was new for all and several Beryl-spangled and Black-capped tanagers of note.
We took the loop round, marvelling at the habitat, though light rain brought proceedings to a truncated end. We adjourned to pack our bags and get ready for the off, with plans to walk again at 10 a.m. This time several of us were ready earlier, and some watching from the viewpoint near the dining room produced a somewhat mixed bag of Barred Parakeets, Speckle-faced Parrots, Chestnut-collared and a single White-chested Swift in flight, plus a fine Red-billed Parrot perched in the open and giving us our best large parrot views of the trip.
Inca Jays, Russet-backed Oropendolas, Pale-edged Flycatchers, and a Smoky Bush-tyrant were all seen in the scrub between the car park and dining room, most attracted by the hordes of moths attracted to the lights at night and which gave them a daily early morning feed.
We set out again after a little watch at the ever-busy hummingbird feeders and took the main rack again, but were lured in the opposite direction to that intended by a mixed flock. Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant and Black-capped tanager were rapidly seen in the low scrub, while a Black-billed Peppershrike sang persistently from an unseen location. A Crimson-mantled Woodpecker threw even more colour into the proceedings, despite Blue-black, Blue-necked, Beryl-spangled and Saffron-crowned Tanagers! Once this group had gone, complete with yet another Montane Woodcreeper, things went very quiet, but two smallish flycatchers in the low canopy adjacent to the road finally performed well, and gave themselves away as Flavescent Flycatchers.
The sun now came out, the temperature soared and the birds dried up instantly. Butterflies and moths came out in droves and even a small, rather Grass Snake-like colubrid snake made the mistake of crossing our path and was duly scrutinised and photographed at length.
We were sad to leave, especially given yet more excellent food developed by Doña Carmen Bustamante, our host, though we'd had a terrific time and still had another opportunity at the Papallacta Pass if conditions were good. Several stops to scan the streams and rivers failed to produce any dippers or ducks, though several Torrent Tyrannulets and Black Phoebes were seen. A shout for a distant raptor saw Roberto finding two superb adult Black-and-chestnut Eagles flying almost parallel to us and quite close, and after a quick chase in the bus, they turned towards us and then circled up in different directions, a simply wonderful sight of these large and very impressive birds.
The sun had obviously teased out more raptors, with a few Roadside Hawks, including a fine spiralling and calling pair, well seen.
Climbing steeply towards the Papallacta Pass the weather began to cloud up considerably, but was still encouragingly high. We again detoured onto the old road and went round the back of the Papallacta Lake. This turned out to be an inspired choice, with a superb adult Black-chested Buzzard-eagle flying around for some time before then suddenly dropping in to a nest complete with fluffy white chick! The Speckled Teal and Yellow-billed Pintails on the lake below opposite seemed very drab in comparison!
We started off again, only to jump back out when a small flock crossed our path, this containing several Agile Tit-tyrants and a fine Brown-backed Bush-tyrant.
The thick cloud above did not bode well, but as time was starting to run short we 'went for it' and headed to the top. As we rounded a bend, the cloud suddenly lifted and sunlight flooded down onto pristine páramo surrounded by numerous little peaks - a truly inspiring sight. To cap this, the cloud even lifted a little further, revealing the full glory of the snow-capped Antisana volcano to the east.
New birds were present here too, with a couple of Plumbeous Sierra-finches kicking things off, then a female Ecuadorian Hillstar or two, then our 43rd (!!!) and last hummingbird in the form of a Blue-mantled Thornbill. Two delightful Streak-backed Canasteros added to the bonanza, with calling Tawny Antpittas for variety. The Bar-winged Cinclodes put in a little show, though a superb Red-rumped Bush-tyrant somewhat stole the show at the end.
We called it a day at 17:15 and headed for Quito, hoping (incorrectly) to avoid the rush-hour traffic, and marvelled at Ivan's ability to negotiate surprisingly small gaps in the melee to get us safely and quite quickly back to the hotel for our last night. The drive back also produced a memorable quote of, "Oh it's OK, I'm just having one of those tropical moments"!
We bade our farewells to Roberto, then had our final call-over after a notably late dinner.
The final (non leader-only) number of birds on the extension was a staggering 263, plus 20 species which had only been heard. A reflection of the amazing biodiversity of the Ecuadorian Andes and especially the extraordinary cloud forests we visited mainly around Séptimo Paraíso, Mindo and Cabañas San Isidro, Cosanga.
Galápagos species lists July 2004:
Sites: B = Bartolomé; BA = Baltra airport; BTC = Black Turtle Cove; CDF = Charles Darwin Foundation; EB = Elizabeth Bay; GA = Guayaquil airport; GB = Gardner Bay; LG = Los Gemelos; LM = Las Marielas (islets); LP = La Primicia (AKA Tortoise Farm); NS = North Seymour (island); PA = Puerto Ayora; PE = Punta Espinosa; PC = Punta Cormorant; PM = Punta Moreno; POB = Post Office Bay; PS = Punta Suarez; Pto.E = Puerto Egas; Q = Quito; SC = Santa Cruz (island); UB = Urbina Bay
Galápagos Penguin Spheniscus mendiculus 2-3 at sea in POB on 11th, then 20+ between PM + EB on 13th, 2-3 PE on 14th and 2 B on 15th.
Waved Albatross Diomedea irrorata 300+ on and just off Española on 10th, 6-7 at sea on 11th and 1 at sea on 13th.
PETRELS & SHEARWATERS Procellariidae
Dark-rumped (Galápagos) Petrel Pterodroma phaeopygia Good numbers: 12+ at sea on 9th, 1 from Beluga on 10th (Tim), 4 at sea on 11th, 6+ EB on 13th and 15+ at sea on 14th.
Audubon's Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri Seen daily in moderate to variable number, including hundreds / thousands passing Española on 10th and 100s / 1000s at sea on 15th.
Elliott's Storm-Petrel Oceanites gracilis Common: noted at sea and from the coast in variable number daily, including 30+ on 10th and 50+ on 15th.
Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma tethys Also common but in more variable number than Elliot's; seen daily except on 12th, with 40+ on 10th and 100+ on 11th.
Madeiran Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma castro 2-3 singles at sea on 14th briefly very close to the boat were excellent.
Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus Relatively scarce: 5+ NS on 9th, 15-20 at various sites on 10th, 1 at sea on 11th and singles PE and at sea on 14th.
BOOBIES & GANNETS Sulidae
Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii Common and seen daily in moderate to large number, especially in colonies but also BTC on the last morning.
Nazca Booby Sula granti Much less common and apart from good numbers breeding on Española on 10th, c. 10 at sea on 9th, a few small colonies seen while cruising on 14th and 15th, and singles at sea on 11th and at LM on 13th.
Galápagos Flightless Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi Excellent views of 20+ at PM and EB on 13th and 20+ PE and along the coast on 14th.
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis Common, widespread and seen daily at numerous sites.
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens Abundant on and around NS on 9th, then daily in very variable number thereafter.
Great Frigatebird Fregata minor Only positively identified on NS where breeding: 7+ seen, mainly ff on nests.
HERONS & BITTERNS Ardeidae
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias Singles PC and PA and 3 POB on 11th, several PA and other sites on 12th and singles PE on 14th and B on 15th.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 2 GA on 9th, 200+ PA and 8+ PC on 11th, lots again PA on 12th and 2+ PM on 13th.
American Great White Egret Casmerodius albus 5+ GA on 9th and singles over PA on 12th and at BTC on 16th.
Striated Heron Butorides striatus Just 2 EB on 13th and 1 PE on 14th.
Lava (Galápagos) Heron Butorides sundevalli 2 on 10th, " POB on 11th, 5-5 PA on 12th, 1 EB on 13th, 1 EB on 14th and 3 Pto.E on 15th.
Yellow-crowned Night-heron Nyctanassa violacea 1 fly-by at lunch on 9th, 5 on 10th, 1 PA on 11th, 3+ PA on 12th and 3 Pto.E on 15th.
Caribbean Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber 30-35 PC on 11th and 6 PM on 13th. Now split from Greater Flamingo.
White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis 20 PC on 11th and 2 LP on 12th.
Galápagos Hawk Buteo galapagoensis 3 GB and 1 PS on 10th, 2 UB and 2 PE on 14th and 3 Pto.E and 1 B on 15th.
RAILS & COOTS Rallidae
Paint-billed Crake Neocrex erythrops One excellently found by Richard at LP on 12th was seen by most.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Just 11+ at PM on 13th.
American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus 3 PS on 10th, 2 POB on 11th, 1 PA on 12th, 2h PE on 14th and a few on 15th.
AVOCETS & STILTS Recurvirostridae
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus One Guayaquil airport on 9th, 7+ PC on 11th and 3 PM on 13th.
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus One PA on 12th, 2 PE and 1 other on 15th.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Singles PC on 11th, PE on 14th and Pto.E on 15th.
Wandering Tattler Heteroscelus incanus Notably frequent: singles PC and POB on 11th, 1-2 PA on 12th, 6+ PE on 14th and 2 Pto.E on 15th.
(Ruddy) Turnstone Arenaria interpres 4 PC on 11th and 1 PE on 14th.
Lava Gull Larus fuliginosus One briefly Baltra airport on 9th and 16th, 4+ PA on 12th, 2 UB and 1 at sea on 14th and 2 Pto.E on 15th.
Swallow-tailed Gull Larus furcatus Seen daily in small to moderate number either along cliffs or occasionally at sea except on 12th, 15th and 16th. Max. 15+ NS on 9th, 12 PS on 10th and 20 Champion on 11th.
Brown (Common) Noddy Anous stolidus Common and widespread, seen in small - moderate number daily, including sitting on pelican's heads on 16th.
PIGEONS & DOVES Columbidae
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata 2 in Quito shortly before flight on 9th.
Galápagos Dove Zenaida galapagoensis Seen on 5 days, with very large numbers on Española and a few on NS, SC, UB and PE.
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani Various from the bus and at LP on 12th, heard on 13th and one at UB on 14th.
TYRANT FLYCATCHERS Tyrannidae
Galápagos Flycatcher Myiarchus magnirostris c.10 PC on 11th, 1+ LG on 11th, 2 UB on 14th and 2+ Pto.E on 15th.
SWALLOWS & MARTINS Hirundinidae
Southern (Galápagos) Martin Progne modesta A pair PM and 3 EB on 13th.
MOCKINGBIRDS & THRASHERS Mimidae
Galápagos Mockingbird Nesomimus parvulus Lots SC on 12th, a few PM on 13th, and several on both 14th and 15th.
Hood Mockingbird Nesomimus macdonaldi Lots on Española on 10th.
NEW WORLD SPARROWS & BUNTINGS Emberizidae - Emberizinae
Large Ground-Finch Geospiza magnirostris One female LP on 12th and a flock of c. 7 Pto.E on 15th.
Medium Ground-Finch Geospiza fortis Quite widespread in small number and seen daily except on 10th and 16th. Max. plenty in UB on 14th.
Small Ground-Finch Geospiza fuliginosa Common and widespread, and seen daily.
(Small) Cactus-Finch Geospiza scandens A few BA on 9th and 16th and a few CDC on 12th.
Large Cactus-Finch Geospiza conirostris A few on Española on 10th.
Large Tree-Finch Camarhynchus psittacula Two at LG on 12th.
Small Tree-Finch Camarhynchus parvulus Plenty at LG on 12th, 2 UB on 14th and 1 Pto.E on 15th.
Woodpecker Finch Camarhynchus pallidus 3 in the highlands at LG on 12th.
Warbler Finch Certhidea olivacea A few on both Española on 10th and SC on 12th.
NEW WORLD WARBLERS Parulidae
Mangrove / Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia / aestivalis Common and widespread and seen on all days. Some call this Mangrove Warbler, a species in its own right, while others call it a subspecies of Yellow Warbler.
CARNIVORES - Sea Lions Carnivora - Otariidae
Galápagos Fur Seal Arctocephalus galapagoensis One of the best, kept until last: 4+ at Pto.E on 15th. Recent studies have indicated that this is in fact 'just' a subspecies of the Southern Fur Seal.
Galápagos (Californian) Sea Lion Zalophus californianus Very common and widespread, including on landings and close encounters while snorkelling. Also best considered just a subspecies of Californian Sea Lion now.
CETACEANS - Marine Dolphins Cetacea - Delphinidae
Bottle-nosed Dolphin Tursiops truncatus An amazingly large group of 100+ between Floreana and SC on 11th, 5+ at sea on 13th, 4+ at sea on 14th and various, mostly at extreme range at sea or from Bartolomé on 15th.
CETACEANS - Rorquals Cetacea - Balaenopteridae
Minke / Bryde's Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata / edeni 2 at sea between Isabela and Fernandina on 14th were not possible to identify to species.
Fin Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata A mother + calf watched fishing, and 1-2 other whales apparently of the same species off Bartolomé on 15th.
RODENTS - Mice & Voles Rodentia - Muridae
House Mouse Mus musculus 1 CDC on 12th.
Galápagos Lava Lizard Microlophus albemarlensis 1 BA and 5+ NS on 9th, several daily from 12th - 15th at various sites.
Española Lava Lizard Microlophus delanonis Good numbers seen on Española on 10th.
Floreana Lava Lizard Microlophus greyi Several seen on Floreana on 11th.
Marine Iguana Amblyrhynchus cristatus Seen daily from 9th - 15th in very variable number. Commonest and biggest on W Isabela and Fernandina.
Galápagos Land Iguana Conolophus subcristatus 5 NS on 9th and 2 UB on 14th were good finds.
Galápagos Giant Tortoise Geochelone elephantopus Several wild individuals of the ssp. porteri at LP on 12th.
Pacific Green Turtle Chelonia mydas Remarkably common at sea and seen daily from 10th, except on 12th,including large numbers during panga rides and especially when snorkelling at PE on 14th.
Whitetip Shark Triaenodon obesus 4 while snorkelling off Champion on 11th, 2 PM on 13th and 6+ in BTC on 16th were terrific.
Spotted Eagle Ray Aetobatus narinari 6+ UB on 14th, then 2 well seen BTC on 16th.
Diamond Sting Ray Dasyatis brevis Abundant in the breaking waves at PC on 11th and one from the panga PE on 14th.
Golden Cow-nosed Ray Rhinoptera steindachneri 6 from the Beluga GB on 10th and 20+ BTC on 16th.
Silver Mullet Mugil galapagensis Seen on 12th and 14th.
Yellow-tailed Mullet Mugil cephalus rammelsbergi Seen on 14th and 15th.
Moorish Idol Zanclus cornutus Just a pair off Champion on 11th.
Panamic Sergeant Major Abudefduf troschelii Common and seen daily from 11th - 15th.
Yellow-tailed Damsel Stagastes arcifrons Common and seen daily from 12th - 15th.
White-tailed Damsel Stagastes laucorus beebii Noted on 14th and 15th.
Rainbow Wrasse Thalassoma lucasanum Common and seen daily from 11th - 15th.
Streamer Hogfish Bodianus diplotaenia Common and seen on 11th, 14th and 15th.
Bluechin Parrotfish Scarus ghobdan Uncommon but seen 11th and 13th - 15th.
Bicolored Parrotfish Scarus rubroviolaceus Seen 11th and 13th.
Yellow-bellied Triggerfish Sufflamen verres Noted on 11th and especially 15th.
Yellow-tailed Grunt Anisotremus interruptus Noted on 15th.
Galápagos Blue Porcupinefish Chilomycterus affinis galapagoensis Seen on 13th.
Bullseye Pufferfish Sphoeroides annulatus Common and seen daily 12th, 14th and 15th.
Four-eyed Blenny Dialommus fuscus Common though only noted on 11th and 14th.
King Angelfish Holacanthus passer Common and seen 10th - 11th and 14th - 15th, even from shore on Bartolomé.
Pacific Beakfish Oplegnathus insignis Seen from 13th - 15th.
Yellow-tailed Surgeon Prionurus laticlavius Common and seen 11th and 13th - 15th.
Creolefish Paranthias colonus Only seen on 11th and 15th.
?Banded Trumpetfish 1 on 15th.
Black-tipped Cardinal Fish Thousands from shore and while snorkelling on 15th.
Pink Cardinal Fish Also abundant on 15th.
Port Jackson Shark 2-3 PE on 14th.
Sunset Wrasse Seen on 15th.
Black-striped Salema Seen on 15th.
Flag Cabrilla Seen on 15th.
Azure Parrotfish Scarus compressus Seen on 11th, 14th and 15th.
Dusky Chub Girella freinvillei Seen on 14th and 15th.
Harlequin Wrasse Bodianus eclacheri Seen on 14th.
Large Banded Blenny Ophioblennius steindachneri Seen on 14th and 15th.
Pacific Boxfish Ostracion meleagris Seen on 14th.
Flying fish sp. ?Exocetus sp. 2 on 9th, 1 on 11th, good numbers on 13th.
Sunfish Mola mola 2 seen en route on 14th.
Hieroglyphic Hawkfish Cirrhitus rivulatus Seen on 14th and 15th.
Monarch Danaus plexippus 3+ LP on 12th.
Queen butterfly Danaus gilippus 6+ Floreana on 11th and 2 UB on 14th.
Galápagos blue Leptodes parrhasioides A few GB on 10th, 2 PL on 11th, several on 12th and 2 UB on 14th.
Galápagos sulphur Phoebis sennae marcellina 1 lunchtime on 9th and a few SC on 12th.
Large-tailed Skipper Urbanus doranthus Quite common on Española on 10th, SC on 12th and UB on 14th.
Spot-winged glider Pantava hymenaea Quite common and noted daily from 11th - 15th.
large green dragonfly A large green dragonfly, not unlike Green Darner was seen in the pools at PM on 13th.
Large Painted Locust Schistocerca melanocera Quite widespread in small number: 1 BA on 9th, 2 PC on 11th, 2 on 12th, 3+ PM on 13th and several on 15th.
Yellow Paper Wasp Polistes versicolor An all-too-common introduced pest. 3+ at lunch on 9th, lots Floreana on 11th, a few on 12th and 14th. Stings to two party members on Floreana were testament to their abundance there.
Galápagos Carpenter Bee Xylocopa darwini Quite common and very widespread, small numbers seen daily from 9th - 14th, including several of the rather scarce tawny coloured males
Bush-cricket sp. A superb cryptically-coloured Bush-cricket female in the highland forest on SC on 12th.
Ladybird sp. 1 Plenty of small completely red ladybirds on SC on 12th.
Ladybird sp. 2 A tiny, gorgeous black and yellow one on Martin on SC on 12th.
Crimson Speckled Utetheisa ornatrix A few each at LG on 12th, PM on 13th, UB on 14th and Pto.E on 15th were apparently all the same, despite there being four species on the islands.
Mosquito sp. An abundant small and blood-thirsty species which breeds in subterranean brackish water pools on Bartolomé made its presence felt towards dusk on 15th!
Galápagos Scorpion Hadruroides maculatus galapagoensis Just one small one lacking one of its pincers at Pto.E on 15th.
Sally Lightfoot Crab Grapsus grapsus Abundant and widespread, seen daily and at all coastal sites.
Semi-terrestrial Hermit Crab Coenobita compressus Only seen on the beach at UB on 14th, where it was quite common.
Ghost Crab Ocypode gaudichaudii Only noted at POB on 11th, UB on 14th and Pto.E on 15th.
Centipede sp. An extremely thin, small one was watched for a minute or two before a Hood Mockingbird decided it was too good to pass up as a snack!
Pencil-spined Urchin Eucidaris thouarsii Seen during a couple of snorkels on 11th and 14th, the spines were also sometimes visible in huge numbers on a few beaches.
Green Sea-urchin Lytechinus semituberculatus Seen during a couple of snorkels on 11th, 14th and 15th, the empty 'shells were also sometimes visible on a few beaches.
Blue Sea Star A few were seen during the snorkel on 11th.
Ant-lion sp. Pits were seen at various sites, especially in areas with finer volcanic dust along the edges of tracks. A larva was extracted from one on 11th and an adult was seen on board on 14th.
'Star' Spider Gasteracantha sp. A few were seen in their webs under a large black mangrove on the beach at PC on 11th.
tiny Fiddler Crab sp. A tiny species was abundant in mud in mangrove at PA on 12th.
Spider sp. Argiope sp. Just 1 was seen at the CDF on 12th.
Chocolate-chip Sea-star A few were seen during snorkels on 13th and 15th.
Hermit Crab More typical hermit crabs were seen in rock pools at Pto.E on 15th.
Black Long-spined Urchin sp. A few were seen during snorkels on 14th and 15th.
Sites: B = Baeza; GL = Guango Lodge; GR = Guacamayos ridge; M = Mindo; MM = Mitad del Mundo; P = Puembo; PL = Papallacta Lake; PP = Papallacta Pass; PVM = Pedro Vicente Maldonado; Q = Quito; SI = San Isidro lodge; SP = Septimo Paraiso Lodge; T = Tandayapa; TG = Tonys Garden; Y = Yanacocha reserve
Codes: sev. = several; m/m = m/s; f/f = female/s; juv./juvs. = juvenile/s
BIRDS seen, or seen & heard
HERONS & BITTERNS Ardeidae
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis c. 10 en route p.m. on 18th.
Snowy Egret Egretta thula 1 feeding in a river PVM on 19th.
Torrent Duck Merganetta armata A stunning m roosting on a rock by GL on 21st.
Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris 5+ PL on 20th and 20+ there on 23rd.
Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica spinicauda 35+ PL on 20th and just 4 there on 23rd.
AMERICAN VULTURES Catharidae
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura c. 12 a.m. on 18th, plenty PVM on 19th and a few en route on 20th.
American Black Vulture Coragyps atratus 1 SP on 18th, a few PVM on 19th and several en route on 20th.
Andean Condor Vultur gryphus An adult 'pair', sub-adult and 3 juvs. at Y on 17th were a real surprise and treat.
American Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus 7-8 near SP on 18th, 3 PVM and 1 SP on 19th and a few en route on 20th.
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus An adult near PP on 23rd dropped in to a nest to reveal a fluffy white chick!
Harris's Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus A lovely pair circling over P on 20th.
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris 2 + others heard a.m. near SP on 18th, 1 PVM on 19th, 4+ GL and B on 21st, heard SI on 22nd and 5 en route on 23rd.
White-throated Hawk Buteo albigula 1 B (Paul) on 21st and 1 juv. over SI on 22nd.
Puna (Variable) Hawk Buteo poecilochrous 4 Y area on 17th and 6+ at various sites on 20th.
Black-and-chestnut Eagle Oroaetus isidori 1 adult near T (Richard) on 17th and a superb pair en route on 23rd.
FALCONS & CARACARAS Falconidae
Carunculated Caracara Phalcoboenus carunculatus 1 at Y on 17th and a pair by the road en route to PP on 20th.
American Kestrel Falco sparverius A few in flight Q on 17th, 6+ en route on 20th and 1 en route on 23rd.
Orange-breasted Falcon Falco deiroleucus 1 of this rare species seen very well at SI on 23rd.
GUANS & CHACHALACAS Cracidae
Andean Guan Penelope montagnii 2 watched at leisure perched in roadside scrub GL on 21st.
Sickle-winged Guan Chamaepetes goudotii 3 SP briefly on 18th.
Andean Gull Larus serranus A pair en route to PP and another pair at PL on 20th, and a pair PL (Tim) on 23rd.
PIGEONS & DOVES Columbidae
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia Seen daily in small - moderate number except on 22nd.
Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata Plenty at various places on 17th, a few SP area on 18th, plenty on 21st, several SI and 2 SG on 22nd and 6 SI on 23rd.
Plumbeous Pigeon Columba plumbea 1 briefly over TG on 18th and lots PVM on 19th.
Ruddy Pigeon Columba subvinacea 3+ SP on 18th, various at both PVM and SP on 19th and again SP on 20th.
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata Common in Q and surroundings (inc. P) where seen on 17th, 20th, 23rd and 24th.
Croaking Ground-dove Columbina cruziana A pair at P on 20th were very unusual and way out of range according to the field guide. The yellow bill-base and chestnut shoulder bar were very distinctive.
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi 1 SP on 18th and heard PVM and 1 SP on 19th.
Maroon-tailed Parakeet Pyrrhura melanura 7 flew past close at PVM on 19th.
Barred Parakeet Bolborhynchus lineola 3 perched and another 11 in flight SI on 22nd and 11 in flight there on 23rd.
Pacific Parrotlet Forpus coelestis A few en route in flight and 2 + 1 PVM on 19th.
Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus 12+ in flight PVM on 19th.
Red-billed Parrot Pionus sordidus 14 in flight Y and 1 in flight T on 17th, then 5, inc. 1 well seen perched SI on 23rd.
Speckle-faced (White-capped) Parrot Pionus tumultuosus 7 SP on 20th, 22 B on 221st, 12+ SI and 14 GR on 22nd and 7 SI on 23rd. Only a few at B seen perched!
Bronze-winged Parrot Pionus chalcopterus 2 at PVM perched and seen reasonably well on 19th.
Mealy Amazon Amazona farinosa 1 briefly in flight (Paul) PVM on 19th.
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani 2 M on 18th and 4+ PVM on 19th.
NEW WORLD CUCKOOS Coccyzidae
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana Singles SP and TG on 18th and singles PVM and SP on 19th.
Little Cuckoo Piaya minuta 1 PVM on 19th.
TYPICAL OWLS Strigidae
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus A single seen very well if rather briefly in flight en route from Y on 17th was a big surprise.
Common Potoo Nyctibius griseus 1 watched perched above the road at M at night on 19th.
Rufous-bellied Nighthawk Lurocalis rufiventris 4-5 SI on 21st, 1 there on 22nd and 1 (Tim) there on 23rd.
Nightjar sp. Two singles (one Martin only, the other only a reflecting eye!) briefly near M on 19th and another over SI (Martin and Dave) late on 22nd.
White-chested Swift Cypseloides lemosi 1 (Tim) briefly over SI on 23rd.
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutila 6+ (Tim) briefly over SI on 23rd.
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris Quite common: 7+ Y on 17th, 50+ a.m. SP area on 18th, 100s SP and M areas evening of 19th, dozens SP on 20th and plenty at various sites on 21st.
Grey-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris 10+ T on 17th, several PVM on 19th and plenty SP on 20th.
White-whiskered Hermit Phaethornis yaruqui 1 (possibly 2) M on 18th.
White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora 1 SP and 3+ TG on 18th, 1 m SP on 19th and 1 SP on 20th.
Brown Violet-ear Colibri delphinae 1 M and 1+ TG on 18th, 3+ SP on 19th and 20th.
Green Violet-ear Colibri thalassinus Lots at TG on 18th.
Sparkling Violet-ear Colibri coruscans 1 Y and 1 en route near there on 17th, various between SP,M and TG on 18th, several SP on 19th, various SP and MM on 20th, 2 SI on 22nd and 1 there on 23rd.
Western Emerald Chlorostilbon melanorhynchus 5+ PVM on 19th and 3+ P on 20th.
Green-crowned Woodnymph Thalurania fannyi 1 SP and plenty TG on 18th and 2+ SP on 19th.
Andean Emerald Agyrtria franciae Various M and TG on 18th, 3+ SP on 19th and 2+ there on 20th.
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl Lots at various sites on 18th, various PVM and SP on 19th and several SP on 20th.
Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys A few TG on 18th, 1 GL and 2 B on 21st, plenty SI on 22nd and 23rd.
Purple-bibbed Whitetip Urosticte benjamini A f SP and several TG on 18th.
Fawn-breasted Brilliant Heliodoxa rubinoides Plenty TG on 18th and a few SI on 22nd and 23rd.
Green-crowned Brilliant Heliodoxa jacula Several both M and TG on 18th and a m SP on 19th.
Ecuadorian Hillstar Oreotrochilus chimborazo 2 PP on 23rd was our penultimate hummingbird species.
Shining Sunbeam Aglaeactis cupripennis Lots at Y on 17th and 1 PP on 23rd.
Mountain Velvetbreast Lafresnaya lafresnayi Several Y on 17th and 2+ GL on 21st.
Great Sapphirewing Pterophanes cyanopterus Several at Y on 17th and 1 GL on 21st.
Bronzy Inca Coeligena coeligena 6+ SI on 22nd and several there on 23rd.
Brown Inca Coeligena wilsoni 3+ TG on 18th.
Collared Inca Coeligena torquata 2+ mm TG on 18th, 2 GL on 20th, + there on 21st and plenty SI on 22nd and 23rd.
Buff-winged Starfrontlet Coeligena lutetiae Lots at Y on 17th, 2+ GL on 21st and 1 SI and 1 heard PL on 23rd.
Sword-billed Hummingbird Ensifera ensifera 1 Y (Paul) on 17th, 1 GL (Richard) on 20th, 3+ GL on 21st and 1 PL (Paul) on 23rd.
Buff-tailed Coronet Boissonneaua flavescens Plenty TG on 18th and several GL on 21st.
Chestnut-breasted Coronet Boissonneaua matthewsii 6+ GL on 21st, several SI on 22nd and plenty there on 23rd.
Gorgeted Sunangel Heliangelus strophianus A fine m TG on 18th.
Tourmaline Sunangel Heliangelus exortis Common GL on 20th and 21st.
Glowing Puffleg Eriocnemis vestitus 1 GL on 20th and 21st.
Sapphire-vented Puffleg Eriocnemis luciani A few Y on 17th.
Booted Racket-tail Ocreatus underwoodii Plenty at TG on 18th, 3+ SP on 19th and a few there on 20th.
Black-tailed Trainbearer Lesbia victoriae 2 mm (Martin + Dave) and a pair en route from Q on 17th and 4 MM on 20th.
Green-tailed Trainbearer Lesbia nuna 1 m TG on 18th.
Purple-backed Thornbill Ramphomicron microrhynchum A superb m near GL on 21st.
Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina Plenty Y on 17th and GL on 21st.
Blue-mantled Thornbill Chalcostigma stanleyi 2-3 PP on 23rd were our last hummingbird species.
Rainbow-bearded Thornbill Chalcostigma herrani A stunning little m Y on 17th.
Mountain Avocetbill Opisthoprora euryptera Just one very briefly GL on 21st (Richard).
Long-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus kingi 6+ GL on 21st, plenty SI on 22nd and 23rd.
Violet-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus coelestis A f SP and 2 mm + 1 f TG on 18th.
Wedge-billed Hummingbird Augastes geoffroyi A single m SP area on 18th.
Purple-throated Woodstar Calliphlox mitchellii A single m SP area and plenty TG on 18th.
Purple-collared Woodstar Myrtis fanny 2+ ff in arid scrub P on 20th.
White-bellied Woodstar Chaetocercus mulsant A f SP and a few TG on 18th and 5+ GL on 21st.
Gorgeted Woodstar Chaetocercus heliodor A f GL on 21st.
Golden-headed Quetzal Pharomachrus auriceps 6+ SP on 18th, 2+ there on 19th and 20th and heard SI on 22nd.
Masked Trogon Trogon personatus Single mm at T on 17th and GL area on 21st.
Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda One beauty by the river at PVM on 19th.
NEW WORLD BARBETS Capitonidae
Red-headed Barbet Eubucco bourcierii 1 m SP on 18th, a f there (John) on 19th.
Toucan Barbet Semnornis ramphastinus 2 plus others heard SP on 18th, heard there on 19th and 3 + others heard there on 20th.
Pale-mandibled Araçari Pteroglossus erythropygius 3 SP area on 18th and 1 en route, 3 PVM and 1 SP area on 19th.
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Ramphastos swainsonii 3 distant but well-seen birds at PVM on 19th.
Olivaceous Piculet Picumnus olivaceus A delightful f PVM on 19th.
Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani A fine m PVM on 19th.
Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus 1 SI on 23rd.
Golden-olive Woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus 4+ PVM on 19th, 2 B on 21st, and 1 SI on 22nd.
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Piculus rivolii 1 f en route B area on 21st and 1 m SI on 23rd.
Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa 1 SP on 18th, 6+ at an ant swarm PVM on 19th and 1 SI on 22nd.
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorynchus spirurus 4+ PVM on 19th and one SI on 23rd.
Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus In SP area, 2 on 17th, and singles on 18th and 19th.
Montane Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger By far the commonest woodcreeper: 1 SP area on 18th, 4 at various sites on 19th, 2+ SP on 20th, 1 GL on 21st, and several SI on both 22nd and 23rd.
Olive-backed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus triangularis 1 at SI on 22nd.
Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus 3+ PP on 20th and several there on 23rd.
Pacific Hornero Furnarius cinnamommeus 4+ PVM on 19th.
Andean Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura andicola 1 PP on 20th and 2 there on 23rd.
Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae Heard B on 21st, heard SI on 22nd and a pair + a single there on 23rd.
Slaty Spinetail Synallaxis brachyura Heard SP area on 18th, 2+ PVM on 19th and 1+ SP on 20th.
Rufous Spinetail Synallaxis unirufa 1 SI on 22nd.
Red-faced Spinetail Cranioleuca erythrops 4+ SP area on 18th and 2+ SP on 20th.
Many-striped Canastero Asthenes flammulata 2 PP on 23rd.
Pearled Treerunner Margarornis squamiger 2 near TG on 18th, 2+ GL on 21st and 2 SI on 22nd.
Streaked Tuftedcheek Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii 1 near TG on 18th and 1 SI on 2nd.
Lineated Foliage-gleaner Syndactyla subalaris 2+ SP on 20th were an interesting ID challenge
Scaly-throated (Spectacled) Foliage-gleaner Anabacerthia variegaticeps 1 shouting its head off at SP on 18th was finally seen by most.
TYPICAL ANTBIRDS Thamnophilidae
Long-tailed Antbird Drymophila caudata 2 SP on 19th and 2 + heard SI on 22nd.
Bicoloured Antbird Gymnopithys leucaspis bicolor 2 at an ant swarm PVM on 19th.
ANTTHRUSHES & ANTPITTAS Formicariidae
Tawny Antpitta Grallaria quitensis 1 seen and 1+ other heard PP on 20th and 2+ heard PP on 23rd.
TYRANT FLYCATCHERS Tyrannidae
Sooty-headed Tyrannulet Phyllomyias griseiceps 1 (Paul only?) PVM on 19th.
Golden-faced Tyrannulet Zimmerius chrysops 4+ PVM on 19th, 1+ SP on 20th, 2+ B on 21st and 1 SP on 22nd.
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum 2 SP on 18th, 2 PVM on 19th and 6+ P on 20th.
Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster A pair PVM on 19th.
White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps 1 (Tim) Y on 17th, and singles (John) P on 20th and SI on 22nd.
White-throated Tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys 1 Y on 17th.
White-tailed Tyrannulet Mecocerculus poecilocercus 1 TG on 19th and 2 SI on 22nd.
Rufous-winged Tyrannulet Mecocerculus calopterus A little cracker! 2+3 SP area on 18th.
White-banded Tyrannulet Mecocerculus stictopterus 1 Y on 17th and 3+ GL on 21st.
Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea 1 M on 18th, 1 en route B on 21st, 2 Río Cosanga on 22nd and 4-5 en route on 23rd.
Agile Tit-tyrant Uromyias agilis 4 PL on 23rd.
Streak-necked Flycatcher Mionectes striaticollis 1 TG on 18th.
Rufous-breasted Flycatcher Leptopogon rufipectus 1 SI on 23rd was omitted off my list.
Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant Phylloscartes ophthalmicus Singles PVM on 19th, SP on 20th and SI on 23rd.
Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus 1 PVM on 18th and the same heard there on 20th, and 1 PVM on 19th.
Common Tody-flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum 2 PVM on 19th.
Fulvous-breasted Flatbill Rhynchocyclus fulvipectus 1 (Paul) B on 20th.
Ornate Flycatcher Myiotriccus ornatus Singles SP and SP area on 19th and 2 SP on 20th.
Flavescent Flycatcher Myiophobus flavicans One feeding another (ad. + juv.?) SI on 23rd.
Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea Two GL on 21st, 2+ SI on 22nd and 1+ there on 23rd.
Smoke-colored Pewee Contopus fumigatus 3-4 a.m. SP area and 1 there p.m. on 18th, 2 P on 20th, 1+ GL on 21st, several SI on 22nd and 23rd.
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans 1 M on 19th, 1 GL on 21st, 3 Río Cosanga on 22nd and 2 en route on 23rd.
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus 8+ in total between MM and P on 20th.
Slaty-backed Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris 1 GL on 21st.
Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis 1 GL on 21st.
Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant Octhoeca fumicolor 1 Y on 17th, 2 PP on 20th and 1 PL and PP on 23rd.
Red-rumped Bush-tyrant Cnemarchus erythropygius 1 PP on 23rd.
Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant Myiotheretes striaticollis 1 fly-by Y on 17th and 1 cracker P on 20th.
Smoky Bush-tyrant Myiotheretes fumigatus 1+ GL on 21st and 2 (Richard) SI on 23rd.
Paramo Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola alpina 4+ en route to PP on 20th.
Masked Water Tyrant Fluvicola nengeta 2 PVM on 19th.
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer 2 SP area a.m. on 18th and 1 SP on 20th.
Pale-edged Flycatcher Myiarchus cephalotes Few SI on 22nd and 2+ there on 23rd.
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis Common PVM on 19th.
Golden-crowned Flycatcher Myiodynastes chrysocephalus 2+ SP on 18th and 20th, 1 SI on 22nd and 2 there on 23rd.
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus 1 over the ant swarm PVM on 19th.
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus Seen daily in variable number from 18th 23rd and the commonest widespread flycatcher.
Barred Becard Pachyramphus versicolor A pair TG on 19th and 1 m GL on 21st.
Cinnamon Becard Pachyramphus cinnamomeus 2+ SP area a.m. on 18th, 2 SP on 19th and 2+ there on 20th.
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata 2 mm and 2 ff SP on 18th and 2+ SP on 20th.
Golden-winged Manakin Masius chrysopterus Single m/s seen twice at SP on 18th and 20th.
Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rubrocristata Good numbers at Y on 17th.
Barred Fruiteater Pipreola arcuata A fine f at GL on 21st.
Scaled Fruiteater Ampelioides tschudii A stonking m at SP on 18th.
Andean Cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruviana 6+ mm near T on 17th.
SWALLOWS & MARTINS Hirundinidae
Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina Lots Y on 17th, a few PP on 20th and 23rd and several SI on 22nd.
Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca Common, widespread and seen daily from 19th 23rd.
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis A few SP on 18th, several at various sites on 19th, a few SP and 2 P on 20th and a few on 21st.
White-capped Dipper Cinclus leucocephalus Just 1 (Dave) seen en route from M on 20th.
Sepia-brown Wren Cinnycerthia olivascens 2+ SI on 22nd.
Bay Wren Thryothorus nigricapillus 2 seen + others heard PVM on 19th.
House Wren Troglodytes aedon Common SP 18th 20th and 1+ PVM on 19th.
Mountain Wren Troglodytes solstitialis Several GL area on 21st and 2+ SI on 22nd.
Grey-breasted Wood-wren Henicorhina leucophrys Heard daily and widely from 17th 21st and on 23rd, the very loud song was highly characteristic of the cloud forest. 2 seen SP on 20th and one SI on 23rd.
Andean Solitaire Myadestes ralloides Heard near T on 17th, SP on 18th 20th and GR on 22nd, and one seen SI on 23rd.
Great Thrush Turdus fuscater Common and widespread in montane areas, seen daily in variable number on 17th, 18th and 20th 23rd.
Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus 1 (Martin) SI on 22nd.
Black-billed Thrush Turdus ignobilis 1 (Paul) SI on 22nd.
Ecuadorian Thrush Turdus maculirostris 3+ PVM on 19th and 1 SP on 20th.
JAYS & CROWS Corvidae
Turquoise Jay Cyanolyca turcosa 2 GL on 21st and 3+ SI on 22nd.
Inca Jay Cyanocorax yncas 10+ en route B on 21st, plenty SI on 22nd and 23rd.
NEW WORLD SPARROWS and BUNTINGS Emberizidae - Emberizinae
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis Very common and widespread, and seen daily. Only absent from PP, but we probably just didnt look hard enough!
Yellow-browed Sparrow Ammodramus aurifrons 3+ B on 21st.
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Phrygilus unicolor 3-4 PP on 23rd.
Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus 12+ P on 20th.
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina A few ff PVM on 19th.
Variable Seedeater Sporophila aurita 2 mm and several ff SP area a.m. on 18th, plenty PVM on 19th.
Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis Plenty SP on 18th and several PVM on 19th.
Lesser Seed-Finch Oryzoborus angolensis 1 m PVM on 19th.
Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis 1 en route from Q on 17th.
Plain-coloured Seedeater Catamenia inornata 2 ff Y on 17th and 5+ PP on 20th.
Paramo Seedeater Catamenia homochroa 7+ PP on 20th.
Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris A beauty following the ant swarm at PVM on 19th.
Black-striped Sparrow Arremonops conirostris 1 PVM on 19th.
Rufous-naped Brush-Finch Atlapetes rufinucha 7+ Y on 17th and 1 PP on 20th.
Tricolored Brush-finch Atlapetes tricolor Plenty SP on 18th and 1 there on 20th.
Slaty Brush-finch Atlapetes schistaceus 1-2 GL on 21st.
Chestnut-capped Brush-finch Buarremon brunneinucha 1 SI on 23rd.
CARDINALS & GROSBEAKS Emberizidae - Cardinalinae
Southern Yellow Grosbeak Pheucticus chrysogaster 2+ ff en route from Y on 17th.
Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus 2 SP on 18th and 1 PVM on 19th.
Black-winged Saltator Saltator atripennis Quite common SP and TG on 18th, PVM on 19th and SP again on 20th.
TANAGERS Emberizidae - Thraupinae
Dusky Bush-tanager Chlorospingus semifuscus 1 en route p.m. on 18th, singles PVM and SP on 19th and 2 SP on 20th.
Yellow-throated Bush-tanager Chlorospingus flavigularis 2 SP on 20th.
Grey-hooded Bush-tanager Cnemoscopus rubrirostris Several GL on 21st.
Black-eared Hemispingus Hemispingus melanotis 6+ SI on 21st and several SI on 22nd.
Rufous-chested Tanager Thlypopsis ornata 2 Sta. Rosa en route on 17th.
White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus 1 PVM on 19th.
Lemon-(Flame-)rumped Tanager Ramphocelus flammigerus Common SP 18th 20th, TG on 18th and PVM on 19th.
Blue-grey Tanager Thraupis episcopus Common and widespread. Seen daily 18th 23rd.
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum Frequent and quite widespread. Seen daily 18th 22nd.
Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala 2 Sta. Rosa on 17th, 1 near and 2+ at TG on 18th and 1+ PVM on 19th.
Blue-and-yellow Tanager Thraupis bonariensis 2 at P on 20th.
Hooded Mountain-tanager Buthraupis montana 1 (Richard) Y on 17th and 3 GR on 22nd.
Lacrimose Mountain-tanager Anisognathus lacrymosus 1 GL on 21st.
Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager Anisognathus igniventris Plenty Y on 17th and 1 (Richard) PP on 20th.
Blue-winged Mountain-tanager Anisognathus somptuosus 2 SP and 2+ TG on 18th and 3+ SI on 22nd.
Buff-breasted Mountain-tanager Dubusia taeniata 1-2 GL on 21st.
Fawn-breasted Tanager Pipraeidea melanonota 2 SI on 22nd and 2+ SI on 23rd.
Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris 3+ PVM on 19th and 2+ SP on 20th.
Golden-rumped Euphonia Euphonia cyanocephala 1 m B on 21st.
Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster 1 f SP on 19th, 1 m SP on 20th and 1 m SI on 22nd.
Golden Tanager Tangara arthus 1 SP and 2+ TG on 18th, 1 SP on 19th and 3+ SP on 20th.
Saffron-crowned Tanager Tangara xanthocephala Several at B on 20th, and SI on 21st and 22nd.
Flame-faced Tanager Tangara parzudakii 1 SP on 18th, 2+ SP on 20th, several SI on 22nd and 1 SP on 23rd.
Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola 1 (Marie) PVM on 19th.
Golden-naped Tanager Tangara ruficervix 3+ SP on 18th and several there on 20th.
Metallic-green Tanager Tangara labradorides 3+ SP and 2+ TG on 18th and 1 SP on 20th.
Blue-necked Tanager Tangara cyanicollis 1 SP area a.m. on 18th, plenty PVM on 19th, several SP on 20th, several B on 21st and several SI on 23rd.
Beryl-spangled Tanager Tangara nigroviridis 1 SP on 20th, several SI on 22nd and 2 SI on 23rd.
Blue-and-black Tanager Tangara vassorii 1 Y on 17th, a few SI on 22nd and plenty SI on 23rd.
Black-capped Tanager Tangara heinei 1 near TG on 18th, 1 SP on 20th, several SI on 22nd and 2+ SI on 23rd.
Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza Several ff and a few juvs PVM on 19th.
Rusty Flowerpiercer Diglossa sittoides 1 m MM and 1 m P on 20th.
White-sided Flowerpiercer Diglossa albilatera A pair+ TG on 18th and 2 GL on 21st.
Glossy Flowerpiercer Diglossa lafresnayii Plenty Y on 17th.
Black Flowerpiercer Diglossa humeralis Plenty Y on 17th and 2 PP on 20th.
Bluish Flowerpiercer Diglossopis caerulescens A few SI on 22nd and 1 SI on 23rd.
Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossopis cyanea Plenty Y on 17th, sev. GL on 21st and plenty SI on 22nd and also seen 23rd.
Black-chested Mountain-tanager Buthraupis eximia 2 Y on 17th.
SWALLOW-TANAGER Emberizidae - Tersininae
Swallow-Tanager Tersina viridis Single mm PVM on 19th and SP on 20th.
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola Sev. PVM on 19th and 2+ B on 21st.
NEW WORLD WARBLERS Parulidae
Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi 1-2 seen daily at numerous sites from 18th 23rd.
Olive-crowned Yellowthroat Geothlypis semiflava 2 SP on 18th, 1 PVM on 19th and heard SP on 20th.
Slate-throated Whitestart (Redstart) Myioborus miniatus Common, widespread and seen daily from 18th 23rd.
Spectacled Whitestart (Redstart) Myioborus melanocephalus Plenty Y on 17th, sev. GL and B on 21st, a few SI on 22nd and plenty there on 23rd.
Black-crested Warbler Basileuterus nigrocristatus 2 Y on 17th and 2 GL on 21st.
Buff-rumped Warbler Basileuterus fulvicauda 4 PVM on 19th.
Russet-crowned Warbler Basileuterus coronatus 2 SI on 22nd.
Three-striped Warbler Basileuterus tristriatus 2 Sp on 20th.
Cinereous Conebill Conirostrum cinereum 2 P on 20th and 1 GL on 21st.
Blue-backed Conebill Conirostrum sitticolor 3 Y on 17th, 1 m GL on 21st and 1 m PL on 23rd.
Capped Conebill Conirostrum albifrons A pair near TG on 18th, sev. GL on 21st and 1+ SI on 22nd.
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus 2-4 daily Sp 18th 20th, sev. PVM on 19th and 1 GL on 21st.
Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys 3-4 SI on 22nd.
Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanicus Common at P+ on 20th.
Olivaceous Siskin Carduelis olivacea 6+ near B on 21st and 3+ SI on 22nd.
Yellow-bellied Siskin Carduelis xanthogastra 2 mm PVM on 19th.
Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria 1 f PVM on 19th.
NEW WORLD ORIOLES Icteridae
Russet-backed Oropendola Psarocolius angustifrons Common en route near B on 21st, at SI on 22nd and 1+ SI and 3 en route on 23rd.
Scarlet-rumped (Subtropical) Cacique Cacicus uropygialis 5 near B on 21st and a few SI on 22nd.
(Northern) Mountain Cacique Cacicus chrysonotus 2 GL area on 21st
Yellow-tailed Oriole Icterus mesomelas A presumed pair PVM on 19th.
Little Tinamou Cryturellus soui One heard calling PVM on 19th.
Collared Forest-falcon Micrastur semitorquatus 1 calling briefly the evening of 22nd SI.
NEW WORLD QUAILS Odontophoridae
Rufous-fronted Wood-quail Odontophorus erythropus A few heard calling PVM on 19th.
CRAKES & RAILS Rallidae
Grey-breasted Crake Laterallus exilis One heard calling by the river PVM on 19th.
White-breasted Crake Laterallus albigularis Two heard calling SP on 19th.
PIGEONS & DOVES Columbidae
Pallid Dove Leptotila pallida Lots heard PVM on 19th.
TYPICAL OWLS Strigidae
Mottled Owl Strix virgata One heard calling SP on 19th and 20th.
Rufous Motmot Baryphthengus martii Several heard SP on 18th 20th.
Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhynchum Heard M on evening of 19th.
Highland Motmot Momotus aequatorialis Heard SI on 22nd.
Plate-billed Mountain-toucan Andigena laminirostris 1 heard T on 17th.
ANTTHRUSHES & ANTPITTAS Formicariidae
Rufous-breasted Antthrush Formicarius rufipectus 1 calling SP early on 20th.
Chestnut-crowned Antpitta Grallaria ruficapilla Heard SI on 22nd.
White-bellied Antpitta Grallaria hypoleuca Heard SI on 22nd and 23rd.
Rufous Antpitta Grallaria rufula Heard Y on 19th.
Unicolored Tapaculo Scytalopus unicolor Heard Y on 17th and SI on 22nd and 23rd.
Rufous-vented Tapaculo Scytalopus femoralis Heard at SI on 22nd. Sometimes treated as a separate species, Equatorial Rufous-vented Tapaculo S. micropterus.
Nariño Tapaculo Scytalopus vicinior Following up on Robertos assurance that the species we heard several times along the Neblina Trail at SP on the afternoon of 19th was a tapaculo, listening to the tapes he was right and it was this species.
White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus Males heard wing-snapping in three different spots PVM on 19th.
Black-billed Peppershrike Cyclarhis nigrirostris 1 singing SI on 23rd.
MARSUPIALS - American Opossums Marsupiala - Didelphidae
(Common) Opossum Didelphis marsupialis 1 or perhaps 2 at night on slopes near M on 19th.
EVEN-TOED UNGULATES - Camels Artiodactyla - Camelidae
Llama Lama glama A couple of farmed herds seen en route on 20th and 21st.
Alpaca Lama pacos A couple of Alpaca herds were seen on farms en route to / from PP on 20th and 23rd. Not wild, of course!
RODENTS - Squirrels Rodentia - Sciuridae
Western Red Squirrel Sciurus (granatensis) 1 SP on 18th and 2 there on 20th. The only sp. found W of the Andes.
Subtropical Red Squirrel Sciurus (granatensis) 2+ SI on 22nd and 10+ there on 23rd. The mountain-dwelling red squirrel of the east.
RODENTS - Agoutis Rodentia - Dasyproctidae
(Black) Agouti 1 crossing the road seen by Tim at GR on 22nd.
LAGOMORPHS - Rabbits & Hares Lagomorpha - Leporidae
Brazilian Rabbit Sylvilagus brasiliensis 3 Y on 17th, 1 PP on 20th and 3+ PP on 23rd.
There was an enormous range of creepy, crawly and fluttery things (especially moths at SP and both moths and butterflies at SI) just about everywhere except in the páramo, especially moths, beetles and ant-lions at the two main lodges in cloud-forest. It is impossible to do justice to them here, though Dave has tried using photography! Of particular note, the incredible click-beetle with glowing landing lights shown to us by Roberto at SP on 17th was stunning, the long-legged Tarantula Wasp at a few sites gave more than one person a start as it passed, the two Cane Toads (Bufo marinus) near M late on 19th were almost endearing, the huge-jawed ant-lion at SP was rather less attractive, but nonetheless impressive, and the large Rhinoceros Beetle male at GL on 21st was a beauty! The baby, grass snake-like colubrid snake at SI on 21st will probably remain unnamed, but was still nice to see!
I would like to express my sincere thanks to you all for making this such a fun and exciting trip. It was very much a trip of two halves, though very complementary, with the relatively sedate pace of seeing lots of the same at wonderfully close range on Galápagos only really repeated by the hummingbirds at feeders on the mainland, though sedate they were not! The almost everythings different in a flock in woodland on the mainland factor certainly kept us on our toes there and thanks to the help of all in the field most of us saw a surprisingly high proportion of all the species seen.
Highlights were really too many to express here, but ranged from just being here to as few as 20 species as highlights for one or two! Seeing feeding Fin Whales, the huge group of Bottle-nosed Dolphins playing round the Beluga, snorkelling with sea lions, turtles, iguanas and sharks (!), the last early morning mangrove panga ride and the hordes of seabirds including displaying Waved Albatrosses on Española were probably the main highlights on Galápagos, with the Andean Condors, incredible displays of hummingbirds at Tonys Garden and Guango Lodge and even the extraordinary headlamps click-beetle one night featured highly for the mainland. The stunning light, views and conditions on top of the Papallacta Pass on the return to Quito will also stay long in the memory.
Liz is also doing what she can to get her website up and running and her results from Galápagos can be seen at http://www.liz13.uklinux.net. I also hope to add a photopage to my website for both Galápagos and the extension sometime this autumn, which will be viewable on www.iberianwildlife.com.
I look forward to seeing you again soon. Very best wishes to all,
© The Travelling Naturalist 2004