Monday, November 16, 2015

Birding in Ecuador: Part 6 - Cabañas San Isidro

After Guango Lodge (read about my time there by clicking here), we moved on to another well-known lodge on the eastern slope, Cabañas San Isidro. We arrived late in the day but still had time to check out the hummingbird feeders before it got dark.

Two Chestnut-breasted Coronets deciding whether to keep chasing each other off or to rest for a bit.
The next morning we rose early and spent nine hours birding around the property. During that time, we found 79 species including great looks at special species like Barred Antthrush, Azara's Spinetail, Rusty-winged Barbtail, and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia. The full eBird list can be found here.

Ince Jays (Same species as Green Jay now as they have been lumped)
were a common sight about Cabañas San Isidro
In the late afternoon, Edison and I decided to see if we could find one of our big targets for the trip, Torrent Duck. The small town below Cabañas San Isidro sits on a beautiful rushing river and is a great spot to look for this amazing duck. It didn't take us long to find a pair once we arrived!

Since we knew Brian would really want to see this species, we ran back up to where he was photographing hummingbirds and took him back down to the river to see the birds. Although they never got very close, Brian managed a pretty good photo of the male.

A male Torrent Duck ready to jump in the rushing water.
The next morning, after some brief birding and breakfast, we continued on farther down the eastern slope, birding our way to the next lodge, WildSumaco.

This Collared Trogon posed quite nicely for Brian.
Southern Lapwings can be found just a few minutes down the road form Cabañas San Isidro.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Enjoying my Time at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

I've just returned back home in Indiana after spending a wonderful 6 days guiding field trips for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival (RGVBF) in south Texas. There are many events that I look forward to attending year after year and the RGVBF is certainly one of them. The birding is always fantastic and like all of the big festivals, it brings together many of my birding friends from all over the world that I only get to see a few times a year.

I enjoyed watching as many as eight Anhingas at a small fish hatchery.
During my five days of birding, I saw 160 species including some of the awesome RGV specialties such as Green Jay, Altamira Oriole, Plain Chachalaca, and Olive Sparrow as well as the very rare for Texas "Western" Flycatcher (either a Pacific-slope or Cordilleran).

Many people have identified this as a Pacific-slope Flycatcher based on its call but it didn't vocalize while I was watching it so I'll just leave it as "western" flycatcher.
If you've never attended the RGVBF, I highly recommend that you consider coming in 2016. Keep an eye on the festival's website for more information.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Birding in Ecuador: Part 5 - Guango Lodge

Once we crossed over Papallacta Pass, it was just a short drive to get to Guano Lodge. Although this is just a small lodge, the birding on their property is incredible. There are numerous hummingbird feeders that you can see immediately as you get out of the car which makes it really hard to do anything other than start birding right away.

Buff-tailed Coronet - Photo by Brian Zwiebel
Long-tailed Sylph - Photo by Brian Zwiebel

Sword-billed Hummingbird - Photo by Brian Zwiebel
Tourmaline Sunangel - Photo by Brian Zwiebel
Once you get past the incredible hummingbirds, the birding along the trails is great as well! Some of the highlights included Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Citrine, Black-crested, and Russet-crowned Warblers, Hooded, Lacrimose, Scarlet-bellied, and Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanagers, and Mountain Cacique.

Masked Flowerpiercers are common at the hummingbird feeders at Guango Lodge  - Photo by Brian Zwiebel
After birding at Guango for a few hours the next morning, we noticed that it looked clean up at Papallacta Pass so Edison and I jumped in the car and headed that way. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful days in the pass. The skies were clear and we could see all the way to Quito! Since it was clear, the birding was much easier than when the area is covered in fog. Our major highlight was incredible views of Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe!

Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe - Photo by Edison Buenaño
We spent the rest of the day and the next morning birding at Guango before packing up and making our way towards Cabañas San Isidro. Along the way, Edison had a special bird for us to see, Black-and-chestnut Eagle. Although we only saw them from a distance, this was one of the highlight species of my entire trip!