Southern Ecuador - NOVEMBER 1993   


I arrived in Quito on 16th November and after establishing, through BirdLife International,  that there were no currently active projects in which I could assist,  decided to bird southern Ecuador until my Flemish friends arrived on 29th November. After flying to Loja, I spent a week in Podocarpus National Park,  made a two day trip to Pinas to visit Buenaventura , before taking the bus to Cuenca to explore the paramo at Las Cajas National Park.

I saw 277 species (and heard a further 13), of which 83 were not seen subsequently by me (52  "lifers"). Highlights were Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, four species  Tapaculo, Tit-like Dacnis and seven species of  Mountain -Tanager including the rare Masked. The weather was surpringly good, with no rain - November is a relatively dry month in the south most years, apparently. This allowed continuous 12 hour birding but restricted bird-activity for up to half the daylight hours. I saw no other birders at all!


November         17         Quito - Loja - Cajanuma, Podocarpus NP

                        18-19    Cajanuma

                        20         Cajanuma a.m., to Loja p.m.

                        21         Loja - Zamora - Bombuscaro, Podocarpus NP

                        22         Bombuscaro

                        23         Bombuscaro - Zamora a.m., electricity station trail, to Loja p.m., bus to Pinas

                        24         Buenaventura

                        25         Buenaventura a.m., Pinas - Loja p.m.

                        26         Loja - Valladolid - Loja - Cuenca

                        27         Las Cajas NP

                        28         Las Cajas a.m., bus to Quito p.m.                     

            DAILY LOG

November 17                06.00 flight to Loja, via Guayaquil, arrving on time at 07.30 - cost $36. Taxi to Cajanuma, Podocarpus National Park ($15), buying food en route in Loja and passing remains of Vilcabamba bus that crashed 2 weeks earlier, killing all 42 occupants. The ''guard''/warden arrived at the visitor centre on bicycle, charged me $10 and gave me keys to the centre (with gas cooker, utensils and running water) and to a new cabana with 2 beds and 1 mattress.

                                   Walked Antejos (Antpitta) and Mirador Trails but almost birdless apart from Barred Fruiteater, Red-crested Cotinga, Smoky Bush Tyrant and Pale-footed Swallows. Afternoon spent along  entrance road, finding birds after 2-3 km, including Bearded Guan, Powerful Woodpecker, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant and Grass-green & Rufous-chested Tanagers. Returned to HQ at dusk to cook food; all nocturnal sounds drowned by noise of generator till turned off  at 9.30.

November 18                Started  up Lagunas Trail at 05.00 in dark, hoping for owls, Imperial Snipe and quail-doves at dawn but nothing seen or heard. Long climb eventually rewarded by mountain-tanagers, including 2 Masked, plus Golden-crowned Tanager and Plushcap - a stunning sight in the scattered elfin forest near the tree-line. The paramo only held Many-streaked Canastero and Glossy Flower-piercer. Best bird on the way down was Orange-banded Flycatcher. Afternoon on Bosque Nublado Trail was dead, except for crippling view of Ocellated Tapaculo behind the look-out point. Entrance road was quieter today but White-throated Hawk, Bar-bellied Woodpecker and Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant were seen and hummers very much in evidence, including  starfrontlets and pufflegs.

                                    According to Pedro, the friendly young guard, birds much more numerous in rainy weather. Walking boots would have been ideal as tracks were stoney, not too muddy.

November 19                Another fine day, with a good dawn chorus below the HQ but no Masked Saltator. The Antejos Trail gave Rufous Antpitta and Golden-plumed Parakeet, but the upper part of the Mirador Trail was again quiet except for a pair of Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant and the undescribed Chusquea Tapaculo (Molgaard et al 1992). Lower down, a mixed flock included Turqoise Jays and Russet-crowned Warblers. Afternoon on the other trails was rewarded by Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucans, Brush-Finches and Hemispinguses, and at dusk, a Chestnut-naped Antpitta was taped in.

                                    No Pedro tonight, so no generator - had to cook by torch-light, hearing an invisible Rufous-banded Owl.

November 20                No antpittas on Antejos Trail at dawn but excellent view of  Chestnut-naped pair on Bosque Nublado Trail. Lagunas Trail gave Red-crested Cotinga, Barred Fruit-eater and chat-tyrants in the elfin forest, but only a few mountain-tanagers, while Ash-coloured Tapaculo was seen lower down. As it was Saturday, 3 parties of locals arrived, enabling me to hitch a lift to Loja in the back of a pick-up, departing around 15.00. At Hotel Acapulco, arranged to leave some of my stuff, but abandoned plan of busing it to Zamora when could not find wallet. A total unpack revealed its hiding place, but decided to stay in Loja and leave on first bus in the morning. Dined with Norwegian couple.

November 21                Bus left at 05.05 and reached Zamora at 06.55, much quicker than expected. Hired a "taxi" (a pick-up) for 7 km, then walked remaining 2km to Bombuscaro, during which White-necked Parakeet party flew past. Greeted by unfriendly pair of  guards at the HQ where notice stated entrance fee to be $20. They had difficulty in believing I had already paid, at Cajanuma, and had arrived without a pemit from Loja. Found new cabana being built 200m away, so decided to doss there. Walked further 2 km to the cliff and back: Foothill Antwren, Scale-backed Antbird, Coppery-chested Jacamar, flatbills and a good tanager flock. Afternoon walk back to the road, followed by return to the cliff was unrewarding. Troubled by large biting flies.

                                    Cooked rice and soup by candle-light at the HQ (gas but no generator). Remaining guard declined my offer to share in the sumptuous repast.

November 22                Dawn walk to road was birdless and 6 km walk to clearing beyond the cliff  was also surprisingly quiet - heard but failed to see Chestnut-tipped Toucanet there.Return leg was much better, with Highland Motmot, Black-billed Treehunter, Black-billed Peppershrike, Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo and tanager flock which included a single male Vermilion.

                                    Given lunch of cold rice and diced carrot by the guard, who questioned me again about lack of permit. Hermits, Blue-rumped Manakin and Ornate Flycatchers were active around the cabana but afternoon river watch failed to turn up umbrellabird or guans. Tanagers were plentiful at the HQ before dusk, when a few drops of rain accompanied the occasional thunderclap.

November 23                Decided to leave early, to spend some time on the Loja - Zamora road, after a quick but fruitless walk to the cliff at dawn. Lots of birds on the walk to Zamora but only notables were Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Pale-eyed Blackbird and Red-rumped Cacique. Arrived 09.15 but no bus till 10.00. Too hot by arrival time at the electricity station, at 11.00. Prevented by local employee from climbing the steps (''prohibidado''), so had to struggle up steep scrubby hillside to the flat trail along a watercourse. Only notable birds were Highland Motmot, Black-capped  Tyrannulet and Slaty Brush-Finch, but looked promising for cooler time of day.

                                    On the road again at 13.00 but 45 min wait for a lift - in a Landcruiser. Left even more gear, including wellies, at the "Acapulco", before catching 17.00 bus to Pinas - 5 hour journey, costing less than $3, winding up and down mountains all the way. Residencial Dumari - ''the best place in Pinas'' (Lonely Planet) was a bit of a dump but does it matter when you're so tired?      

November 24                Out at 05.30 for an early bus but wasn't one till 06.00. Stopped at Santa Maria shrine, Buenaventura at 06.15. Lots of birds along the lower cobble-stone track, including  Guayaquil Woodpecker, Scaly-throated and Ruddy Foliage-gleaners, Uniform Treehunter and Antshrike, Golden-winged Manakin, Bronze-Olive Pygmy-Tyrant, One-coloured Becard, Whiskered and Bay Wrens, Yellow-bellied Siskin, Grey-and-Gold and Three-banded Warblers and Black-winged Saltator. Eventually ran into ankle-deep, sticky mud - oh for my wellies! Gave up at the old electricity plant site, where a Scrub Nightjar flushed (split from Little), and soon abandoned the ''good'' side trail due to added ingredient of copious liquid cow dung. Loggers and farmers were doing their best to remove the last few remnant patches of forest. Intermittent low cloud in the morning was not too troublesome.

                                    Returned to the shrine, watched displaying Grey-backed Hawks, then attempted trail across main road, for Club-winged Manakin lek: quiet and impossibly muddy. Took upper road (above cobble-stone track) - a small flock of tanagers held Silver-throated Tanager and Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager. After watching static Pygmy Kingfisher on river, washed feet and trainers. Good view of 2 El Oro Parakeets and 3 Crested Caracaras but little else. Returned to lower track - quiet until late afternoon, apart from spectacular hummers - Collared Inca, Violet-tailed Sylph and Purple-crowned Fairy.. A large dark bird flew across with Pale-mandibled Aracaris (Long-wattled Umbrellabird?) but was invisible in the few epiphytic large trees. Rose-faced Parrot, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Tawny-breasted Flycatcher and a rare male Slaty Becard were identified. Bus at dusk back to Pinas - for chicken and chips to celebrate an excellent day.

November 25                Caught the 05.00 bus to Buenaventura. A pair of owls called across the main road  opposite the shrine - located one, a Black-and-White! Walked lower track in poor visibility but failed to find any guan, quail-doves or antpittas. Took upper road to get above cloud but only notable birds were Brown Scythebill and Buffy (Pacific) Tuftedcheek. Returned to lower trail, now clear of  mist: quieter than yesterday but a few new birds such as Tawny-bellied Hermit, Emerald-bellied Woodnymph, Esmeraldas Antbird  and the gripping Dull-coloured Grassquit; best of all was fine view of Ochraceous Attila. Late morning was good for raptors, with soaring Grey-backed and Great Black Hawks, a distant hawk-eagle and hundreds of vultures.

                                    Waited 30 mins for a lift back to Pinas, booked seat on 15.00 bus and had a snack. Travelled through largely deforested mountains, reaching Loja at 19.40. Sleep at "Acapulco" disrupted by noisy wedding party.

November 26                Day of exploration, which proved abortive: travelled south to Valladolid as a butterfly-collector had given directions to forest there holding a good selection of scarce butterflies. Further south, Zumba is known to be ornithologically interesting but could not be done in a day. Up at 04.30 to catch the 05.00 bus, only to find it did not leave till 05.30. At Vilcabamba by 06.50 but then waited 15 mins, a process repeated at the next village, so 09.20 by time bus reached Valladolid. Had skirted the western boundary of  Podocarpus for most of the up and down journey, through some good upland forest, flushing Horneros, a few Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers and yellow finches and one Coccyzus cuckoo from roadside verges. Now at lower altitude the forest was very patchy and still being felled.

                                     By the time I had walked to a decent patch it was apparently too hot and sunny for anything but butterflies to be active - and there weren't so many of them. Forded the fast-flowing river, losing  water-bottle in the torrent, then experienced considerable difficulty climbing the opposite bank. Only reward was a Torrent Tyrannulet. Returned to the road to catch 13.00 bus which failed to arrive till 14.10. By then I had finally walked up to some primary forest and found a few birds - 14 Swallow-tailed Kites, interacting together for a few minutes, White-whiskered Hermit, White-capped Parrot, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Black-faced Dacnis, Hooded Siskin and what I thought was a Mountain Elaenia before finding  the sp. to be restricted to Colombia and so concluded it was Sierran.

                                    Had given up hope of catching the 18.00 bus to Cuenca but as my bus speeded up from Vilcabamba, there was time to retrieve my bag (and wash) at "Acapulco" before taking the last seat to Cuenca and enjoying  ''Home Alone II'' (dubbed in Spanish) on the video. Expected the journey to take at least 6 hours but with 2 drivers we arrived at 22.30. Checked in at nearby Hostal Los Alamos - basic but clean - $3.5 a single.

November 27                A beautiful day in the highlands of Las Cajas N.P. Took a taxi to Bolivar monument at 06.00, as recommended by Kirwan and Marlow. Few vehicles and no bus by 06.30, so chartered a pick-up for $7.5. Drove straight through unmanned National Park entrance gate and overtook the bus near the summit - it must have left around 05.30, much earlier than stated in ''Lonely Planet''. Rather cool at the Refugio at 07.30 but quite tolerable as there was no wind. Soon had the gorgeous Tit-like Dacnis and a few Tawny Antpittas in Polylepis by the lake, but no Giant Conebill, despite trying several woods. Stout-billed and Bar-winged Cinclodes and Plumbeous Sierra-Finches  were numerous on the paramo, while the few hummers included Chimborazo Hillstar and Blue-mantled Thornbill. Spent rest of morning walking back along the road and exploring adjacent habitat. Best birds were Unicoloured Tapaculo, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Mouse-coloured Thistletail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant and Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, while Carunculated Caracara and Red-backed and Puna Hawks appeared when the air had warmed up.

                                    In mid-afternoon hitched a lift further down to the turn-off to Laguna Llavinco. Bushes along the track held several hummers including both Trainbearer sp. and Mountain Velvetbreast. At the end of  the c.4 km track, located the Datura flowers where after 10 mins a spectacular Sword-billed Hummingbird appeared and fed for a minute or so. Returned to main road and walked to Park entrance before getting a lift back to Cuenca in a Landcruiser.   

November 28                Decided to return to delightful Las Cajas to look for Giant Conebill and the endemic Violet-throated Metaltail, rather than go to the Gualaceo - Macas road which warranted more time. Up at 05.00; taxi to bus terminus where bus left at 05.30. Many locals were picked up en route - appeared to be market day at a town beyond Las Cajas - so that by the time we reached manned Park gate, I was invisible in the crowd, thus avoiding the $10 fee again. Spent first hour of another fine day inside the lovely Polylepis wood opposite the Refugio, which eventually yielded a Metaltail along with Tit-like Dacnis and a noisy Great Horned Owl with fledgling. Walked back on the paramo for a few km, seeing Yellow-billed Pintail and Andean Lapwing, but no snipe or seed-snipe. Continued along the road, but as traffic towards Cuenca was negligible, despite it being a Sunday, decided to try hitching when a vehicle approached at 10.30. It stopped and took me to suburbs where I caught a bus then taxi back to "Los Alamos".                                   

                                    After soup lunch, caught 12.50 bus to Quito ($6). The 9 hour journey passed through dramatic mountain scenery, with scattered hillside villages, deep gorges and finally, just before nightfall, a snow-clad volcano and a wetland holding Andean Gull and many egrets. There was depressingly little forest other than Eucalyptus plantations. Then watched 2 videos: a Chinese Kung-fu movie in English (with Spanish sub-titles) and a gory Mexican cops and robbers tale, complete with naked women. Taxi to "La Casa de Eliza" where I first stayed - a friendly, conveniently positioned hostel with communal hot showers, fridge, cooking facilities and phone (226 602), all for $5 or $6 a night.                                        


The best trip report for this area is Guy Kirwan and Tim Marlow's from 1992. The Danish 1992 report (Molgaard et al) is also very useful, particularly for systematics, eg the tapaculos.                                                

Species recorded on 17th - 28th November 1993                              

Buenaventura (Pinas)     LC  Las Cajas (Cuenca)             PB  Podocarpus Bombuscaro                PC  Podocarpus Cajanuma   

     * indicates new sp. for JH;  capitals that sp. was not seen by JH elsewhere on the trip, followed by the Latin name if not recorded in Jan's report;  square brackets that the sp. was heard but not seen.

*YELLOW-BILLED PINTAIL Anas georgica           4 at LC

Black Vulture                                         Common except at LC, abundant at B

Turkey Vulture                                       Fairly common except at LC

Swallow-tailed Kite                                4 at PB and B, 14 together at Valladolid

Plumbeous Kite                                     3 at PB

*Grey-backed Hawk                               At least 2 at B with territorial behaviour

GREAT BLACK HAWK Buteogallus urubitinga      2 at B

Roadside Hawk                                     3 at B

Short-tailed Hawk                                  1 at B

WHITE-THROATED HAWK  Buteo albigula          1 at PC

Red-backed Hawk                                 1 at LC

Puna Hawk                                            1 at LC

*Carunculated Caracara                          2 at LC

Crested Caracara                                   5 at B

American Kestrel                                   1 near Valladolid

*BEARDED GUAN  Penelope barbata     1 or 2 daily at PC         

Andean Lapwing                                    2 at LC

Andean Gull                                          1 between Cuenca and Quito

Band-tailed Pigeon                                Abundant at PC

Plumbeous Pigeon                                A few at PB and B

Grey-fronted Dove                                A few at PC

*GOLDEN-PLUMED PARAKEET  Leptosittaca branickii   Small parties in flight at PC at least twice

*El Oro Parakeet                                   At least 2 at B

*WHITE-NECKED PARAKEET  Pyrrhura albipectus          At least one party in flight at PB

*Rose-faced Parrot                                1 at B; other parrots in flight may have included this sp.

*Bronze-winged Parrot                           Several in flight at B

*White-capped Parrot                            2 at Valladolid

*Scaly-naped Parrot                              15+ at PC

Squirrel Cuckoo                                                A few daily at PC, 2 at B and 1 Loja - Zamora Rd

Smooth-billed Ani                                  Common at B and from buses

[Striped Cuckoo                                                Taped at B]

GREAT HORNED OWL  Bubo virginianus            Adult with fledgling at LC

BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL  Ciccaba nigrolineata   1 seen and another heard at B

[Rufous-banded Owl                              1 heard at PC]

*SCRUB NIGHTJAR  Caprimulgus anthonyi          A small nightjar, thought to be this sp., flushed from scrub at B

Chestnut-collared Swift                          A few at PC and PB

White-collared Swift                               A few at PB and common at B

Grey-rumped Swift                                Fairly common at PC, PB and B

WHITE-TIPPED SWIFT  Aeronautes montivagus              3 at LC

*White-whiskered Hermit                        1 at Valladolid

GREEN HERMIT  Phaethornis guy          Hermits commonly heard calling at PB and seen in flight were thought to                                                             be this 1 was trapped; strangely, others have not recorded it here

*Tawny-bellied Hermit                            2 at B

*Grey-chinned Hermit                             2 at PB


Rufous-tailed Hummingbird                    A few at B

*ECUADORIAN PIEDTAIL  Phlogophuilus hemileucurus    1 at PB

*Chimborazo Hillstar                              2 at LC

Shining Sunbeam                                  1 at PC

*Mountain Velvetbreast                          Singles at PC and LC

GREAT SAPPHIREWING                       2 at PC

Collared Inca                                         2 at PC and 1 at B


*RAINBOW STARFRONTLET                  1 at PC

*Sword-billed Hummingbird                    1 at Laguna Llaviuco, LC

*TOURMALINE SUNANGEL                   A few at PC


GLOWING PUFFLEG                             A few at PC

*Sapphire-vented Puffleg                       2 at PC

Black-tailed Trainbearer              At least 3 near Laguna Llaviuco, LC       

GREEN-TAILED TRAINBEARER 2 at PC and 1 at Laguna Llaviuco

*PURPLE-BACKED THORNBILL  Ramphomicron microrhynchum  1 at PC


*Viridian Metaltail                                   A few at PC

Tyrian Metaltail                          Commonest hummer at PC and a few at LC

Blue-mantled Thornbill                           2 at LC


*Violet-tailed Sylph                                2 males at B

Purple-crowned Fairy                             A few at B

AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER  Chloroceryle aenea    1 on the river at B

*HIGHLAND MOTMOT  Momotus aequatorialis                 2 at PB and 1 Loja-Zamora

*Coppery-chested Jacamar                    Only 2 singles, one nesting, at PB

Red-headed Barbet                               A male at PB

Emerald Toucanet                                 At least 2 at PC

[*CHESTNUT-TIPPED TOUCANET  Aulacorhynchus derbianus      Taped at PB]

*Crimson-rumped Toucanet                    2 at B

*Pale-mandibled Aracari             2 at B

[Chestnut-mandibled Toucan                  Heard at B]

*GREY-BREASTED MOUNTAIN-TOUCAN  Andigena hypoglauca At least 6 on 19.11 and 2 on 20.11 at PC

*BAR-BELLIED WOODPECKER  Veniliornis nigriceps      1 at PC

Golden-Olive Woodpecker                     2 at B

*Crimson-mantled Woodpecker              Pair nesting at PC

Lineated Woodpecker                            2 at PB

*Powerful Woodpecker                          1 at PC

*Guayaquil Woodpecker                                    1 at B

Olivaceous Woodcreeper                                   A few at PB

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper                    1 at B

Strong-billed Woodcreeper                    1 at PC

Spotted Woodcreeper                           2 at B

*BROWN-BILLED SCYTHEBILL  Campylorhamphus pusillus         1 or 2 at B

Bar-winged Cinclodes                            Common at LC

*Stout-billed Cinclodes                          Fairly common at LC

*Cinnamon Hornero                               Fairly common Loja - Vallalodid

*Andean Tit-Spinetail                             At least 2 at LC


Azara's Spinetail                                    Common at PC; fairly common at B and LC

Slaty Spinetail                                       A few at B

*Rufous Spinetail                                  1 at PC

*Many-striped Canastero                        A few at PC and fairly common at LC

Pearled Treerunner                                 A few at PC

BUFFY TUFTEDCHEEK  Pseudocolaptes lawrencii (may well become Pacific Tuftedcheek P.johnsoni)  2 at B

STREAKED TUFTEDCHEEK  Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii       2 at PC

*Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner              2 at B

*Montane Foliage-gleaner                      2 at PB

RUDDY FOLIAGE-GLEANER  Automolus rubiginosus      1 at B

*UNIFORM TREEHUNTER  Thripadectes ignobilis            1 at B

*Black-billed Treehunter             1 at PB

Plain Xenops                                        3 at B

Streaked Xenops                                  A few at PC

[Great Antshrike                                    Heard at B]

*Uniform Antshrike                                A few at B

Russet Antshrike                                   2 at PB

*FOOTHILL ANTWREN  Myrmotherula spodionota            A pair at PB


*Esmeraldas Antbird                              1 at B

Chestnut-backed Antbird                       1 at B

*SCALE-BACKED ANTBIRD  Hypophylax poecilonata      A pair at PB

[*SHORT-TAILED ANTTHRUSH  Chamaeza campanisona   Taped at PB]

[*UNDULATED ANTPITTA  Grallaria squamigera  Taped at PC]

[*PLAIN-BACKED ANTPITTA      Grallaria haplonota         Taped at B]

[*Chestnut-crowned Antpitta                   Taped at PC]

*CHESTNUT-NAPED ANTPITTA  Grallaria nuchalis          3 or 4 at PC

*RUFOUS ANTPITTA  Grallaria rufula      3 at PC

*Tawny Antpitta                         8 at LC

*ASH-COLOURED TAPACULO Myornis senilis    2 at PC

*UNICOLOURED TAPACULO                 2 at LC

*CHUSQUEA TAPACULO  Scytalpus sp. nov.(a new  sp. soon to be described by N Krabbe et al)        2 at PC

[*Northern White-crowned Tapaculo        Taped at PB]

[*Andean Tapaculo                                Taped at PC]

*OCELLATED TAPACULO  Acropternis orthonyx 1 seen at PC and 2 heard

RED-CRESTED COTINGA  Ampelion rubrocristatus         4 at PC

*BARRED FRUITEATER  Pipreola arcuata           Up to 6 daily at PC

*Amazonian Umbrellabird                       1 in flight across the river at PB

*BLUE-RUMPED MANAKIN  Pipra isidorei           Several at PB

*Golden-winged Manakin                       A pair at B

*CLUB-WINGED MANAKIN  Allocotopterusdeliciosus                   1 at B

STREAK-NECKED FLYCATCHER  Mionectes striaticollis A few at PC

Olive-striped Flycatcher                         1 at B

OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER  Mionectes oleaginea                1 at B  

Slaty-capped Flycatcher                                    Singles at PB and B

*BRONZE-OLIVE PYGMY-TYRANT  Pseudotriccus pelzelni          1 at B

*Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant               1 at PC

*Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant                2 at PC

*BLACK-CAPPED TYRANNULET  Phyllomyias nigrocapillus         2  Loja - Zamora Rd

White-crested Elaenia                            1 at PC

Sierran Elaenia                                      1 at Valladolid

White-throated Tyrannulet                       2 at LC

White-banded Tyrannulet                        A few at PC

*Tufted Tit-Tyrant                                   1 at LC

Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant                  1 at B

OLIVACEOUS FLATBILL  Rhynchocyclus olivaceus                     1 at PB

*FULVOUS-BREASTED FLATBILL  Rhynchocyclus fulvipectus     1 at PB

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER  Tolmomyias sulphurescens        2 at PB

White-throated Spadebill                        Singles at PB and B

Ornate Flycatcher                                  Fairly common at PB and a few at B

*ORANGE-BANDED FLYCATCHER  Myiophobus lintoni   1 or 2 at PC on 18.11

*Tawny-breasted Flycatcher                   1 at B  

Cinnamon Flycatcher                             Fairly common at PC and a few at PB

Smoke-coloured Pewee                         A few at PB and 2 at B

Western Wood-Pewee                           A few at PB

Black Phoebe                                       Singles on river at PB and B

*CROWNED CHAT-TYRANT  Ochthoeca frontalis 1 at PC

*Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant                      2 at PC

RUFOUS-BREASTED CHAT-TYRANT  Ochthoeca rufipectoralis    2 at PC

Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant                     4 at PC and fairly common at LC

*Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant                      2 at LC

*SMOKY BUSH-TYRANT                       1 at PC

Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant                       1 at LC

Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant                   3 at LC

*Ochraceous Attila                                 1 or 2 at B

Dusky-capped Flycatcher                      1 at B

Tropical Kingbird                                   Fairly common away from Podocarpus and LC

EASTERN KINGBIRD  Tyrannus tyrannus           1 at B

Lemon-browed Flycatcher                      1 between PB and Zamora

*SLATY BECARD                                  A male at B

*One-coloured Becard                           A pair at B

Masked Tityra                                       2 at PB

*Turquoise Jay                                      Fairly common at PC

Green Jay                                             A few at PB and 1 Loja - Zamora Rd

*Black-billed Peppershrike                     1 at PB

*Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo                    1 at PB

Brown-capped Vireo                              Fairly common at PC

*Olivaceous Greenlet                             A few at PB

Lesser Greenlet                                     A few at B

[Andean Solitaire                                   Several heard at B]

Swainson's Thrush                                 Fairly common at PB and 2 at B

*PALE-EYED THRUSH  Platycichla leucops        2 at PB

Great Thrush                                         Common at PC and LC

*Glossy-black Thrush                             2 at PC

Black-billed Thrush                                A few at PB

*Ecuadorian Thrush                               2 at B

Long-tailed Mockingbird                        1 peering into the shrine at B

*RUFOUS WREN  Cinnycerthia unirufa                Fairly common at PC

Grass Wren                                           3 at LC

*Plain-tailed Wren                                  A few at PC

*Whiskered Wren                                   2 at B

Bay Wren                                              A few at B

House Wren                                          Common at PB and 2 at Valladolid

Mountain Wren                                      Fairly common at PC

White-breasted Wood-Wren                   1 seen and several heard at PB

[Grey-breasted Wood-Wren                    Commonly heard at PC]

SONG WREN  Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus         1 taped in at B

Tawny-faced Gnatwren                           1 at PC

Tropical Gnatcatcher                              A few at PB

Brown-bellied Swallow                           Fairly common at PC and LC

Blue-and-White Swallow                         Common at PC, PB and B

White-banded Swallow                           A few at PB

White-thighed Swallow                           A few at B

*PALE-FOOTED SWALLOW  Notiochelidon flavipes         A few at PC

Hooded Siskin                                      Several at LC, 2+ at Valladolid

YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN                     Fairly common at B

LESSER GOLDFINCH  Spinus psaltria                At least 2 at B

Tropical Parula                                      A few at PB, Loja - Zamora Rd and B

Blackburnian Warbler                             A few at PB

OLIVE-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT       Fairly common at B; some may have been Masked

Canada Warbler                         2 at PB

Slate-throated Redstart                          Common at PB and B

Spectacled Redstart                              Common at PC and fairly common at LC

*Grey-and-Gold Warbler             A few at B

*Black-crested Warbler                          Common at PC

*Russet-crowned Warbler                       A few at PC

*THREE-BANDED WARBLER                Fairly common at B

Rufous-collared Sparrow                       Common in the highlands

Yellow-browed Sparrow                         A few at PB

Pale-naped Brush-Finch                         Fairly common at PC

Rufous-naped Brush-Finch                     Common at PC and several at LC

*Tricoloured Brush-Finch                        A few at B

*SLATY BRUSH-FINCH  Atlapates schistaceus    At least 1 Loja - Zamora Rd

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch                Common at PC and 1+ at Valladolid

*STRIPE-HEADED BRUSH-FINCH          At least 1 at PC

BLUE-BACKED CONEBILL                    2 at PC

Capped Conebill                                   2 at PC

*Grass-green Tanager                            3 at PC on 17.11

Common Bush-Tanager                         A few at B

Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager                Common at PB and B

*Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager                 A few at PB

GREY-HOODED BUSH-TANAGER  Cnemoscopus rubirostris       A few at PC

BLACK-CAPPED HEMISPINGUS  Hemispingus atropileus           Common at PC

*BLACK-HEADED HEMISPINGUS  Hemispingus verticalis    3 at PC

RUFOUS-CHESTED TANAGER  Thlypopsis ornata          A few at PC

*Ochre-breasted Tanager                       2 at B

White-shouldered Tanager                      2 at B

Summer Tanager                                   2 at PB

White-winged Tanager                            A male at PB

VERMILION TANAGER  Calochaetes coccineus              A male at PB

Silver-beaked Tanager                           Fairly common at PB

Lemon-rumped Tanager                         Fairly common at B

Blue-grey Tanager                                 Fairly common at PB and lower altitudes

Palm Tanager                                        A few at PB

Blue-capped Tanager                             A few at PC

Hooded Mountain-Tanager                     A few at PC     

*MASKED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER  Buthraupis wetmorei    2 at PC on 18 & 20.11

*Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager                Fairly common at PC

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager            Fairly common at PC    

*Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager              A few at PB and Loja - Valladolid


*GOLDEN-CROWNED TANAGER  Iridosornis rufivertex   A few at PC

BUFF-BREASTED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER  Dubusia taeniata        2 at PC

Fawn-breasted Tanager                          2 at B

*Orange-crowned Euphonia                    A few at B

Orange-bellied Euphonia                        Fairly common at PB and a few at B

Orange-eared Tanager                           Fairly common at PB

Paradise Tanager                                  Fairly common at PB

Green-and-Gold Tanager                        A few at PB

Golden Tanager                                     Common at PB

Silver-throated Tanager                          1 at B

Saffron-crowned Tanager                       1 at Valladolid

Golden-eared Tanager                           Fairly common at PB

Spotted Tanager                                   2 at PB

Bay-headed Tanager                              Fairly common at PB and a few at B

Blue-and-Black Tanager                         Common at PC

Black-faced Dacnis                               1 at Valladolid

Blue Dacnis                                          Fairly common at PB

Green Honeycreeper                              1 at B

*TIT-LIKE DACNIS                                 At least 10 at LC

Swallow-Tanager                                   A pair at B

*PLUSH-CAPPED FINCH  Catamblyrhynchus diadema     Fairly common at PC

Plumbeous Sierra-Finch                         Common at LC

Variable Seedeater                                Common at B

Band-tailed Seedeater                           Fairly common at LC

Plain-coloured Seedeater                                   Common at PC


White-sided Flower-piercer                     A few at PC

Glossy Flower-piercer                            A few at PC

*Black Flower-piercer                             2 at LC

Southern Yellow Grosbeak                     Several Loja - Vallalodid

Buff-throated Saltator                            A few at PB

*Black-winged Saltator                           A few at B

Russet-backed Oropendola                   A few at PB

*Subtropical Cacique (split from Scarlet-rumped)   A few at PB

YELLOW-BILLED CACIQUE  Amblycercus holosericeus     1 at PC


Tayra  Eira barbara                                             1 at PC

Forest Rabbit  Sylvilagus brasiliensis                  A few at PC and LC

Tropical Red Squirrel Sciurus granatensis           A few at both PC and PB

Squirrel sp. Sciurus igniventris                           1 at PC


My last full day in Ecuador was mainly spent along the dusty road between Papallacta and the Alder Forest. There was low cloud on the pass but it was dry lower down. I reached Papallacta on the first bus from the main terminal; it left at 06.15 and passed the traffic island at Colon / Coruna close to where I was staying (at the highly recommended Casa Eliza, new tel. no. 233602) at 06.30. Buses run about once an hour but I had to hitch a lift back as the bus I wanted to catch did not stop.

I failed to find my four target species - Rufous-breasted Seed-Snipe (found below the microwave above the pass, according to Niels Krabbe), White-browed Spinetail (in the bushes above Papallacta, and Dusky Piha and Red-hooded Tanager (members of the Alder Forest feeding flock, which I couldn't find) - but did see the following birds of interest:-

BLACK-CHESTED BUZZARD-EAGLE                1 at Papallacta (P) 

Carunculated Caracara                                       1 at Papallacta Pass (PP)

Giant Hummingbird                                            1 at PP

Mountain Velvetbreast                                       10 at P

Sword-billed Hummingbird                                 1 at P

Viridian Metaltail                                                1+ at the Alder Forest (AF)

[Masked Trogon                                                            Heard at AF]

Andean Tit-Spinetail                                           1 at PP

Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet                                   1 at P

Turquoise Jay                                                   1 at AF

Pale-naped Brush-Finch                                     Several at P and lower down

*OLEAGINOUS HEMISPINGUS  Hemispingus frontalis     1 in bushes above the AF

*BLACK-EARED HEMISPINGUS  Hemispingus melanotis      1 in bushes above the AF

Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager                              2 at AF

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager                        A few at P

Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager                           5 at P  

Saffron-crowned Tanager                                   2 at AF

Beryl-spangled Tanager                                     1 at AF

Blue-and-Black Tanager                                     5 at AF

GRASSLAND YELLOW-FINCH  Sicalis luteola     1 near PP

Bluish Flowerpiercer                                          1 at AF

Mountain Cacique                                              A few at AF


This is not a full list but concluded a memorable trip. I saw a total of  721 species, 274 of which were new, and heard an additional 34, of which 28 were new.

Many thanks to Paul Coopmans, Guy Kirwan, Niels Krabbe, Mark Pearman, Mark Welfare and Nigel Wheatley for all their help, Graeme Green for a copy of his report, and my friends Jan, Eric and Vital for their excellent companionship and assistance.


The Systematic List was produced by Jan on the basis of his personal observations. There were occasions when I birded separately and consequently had different records. The most significant of these are listed as follows, along with a few suggested modifications.

52.  HARRIS' HAWK                              6 at Punta Camero.

66.  CARUNCULATED CARACARA        2 at Yanacocha.

80.  GRAY-BREASTED CRAKE More likely to be WHITE-THROATED CRAKE L albigularis (per NK)

137. PALLID DOVE       2 singles at Manta Real.

        PARAKEET spp.   100+ flying around the salt-lick on the river Napo were probably WHITE-EYED     A.leucophthalmus and DUSKY-HEADED A.weddellii.

145. EL ORO PARAKEET                      3 at Manta Real.

174. PERUVIAN PYGMY-OWL   2 perched on telegraph wires by the main road east of Guayaquil late p.m.

        LESSER NIGHTHAWK  Chordeiles acutipennis   1 at La Selva.        

193. WHITE-WHISKERED HERMIT         2 at Manta Real.

195. LONG-TAILED HERMIT                   1 at La Selva.

202. GREEN THORNTAIL                       1 at Manta Real.

207. VIOLET-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD     1 at the Cordillera de Chongon.

214. GREEN-CROWNED BRILLIANT       1 at Manta Real.

        HOARY PUFFLEG  Haplophaedia lugens     1 at the Nono-Mindo Road.       

235. TYRIAN METALTAIL                       2 at Yanacocha.

276. CRIMSON-RUMPED TOUCANET    2 at Tinalandia.

303. PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER   2 at Tinalandia, not at La Selva.

         LESSER HORNERO  Furnarius minor        Heard on a river island at La Selva.

324. DARK-BREASTED SPINETAIL        1 at La Selva.

344. STREAK-CAPPED TREEHUNTER   1 at Tinalandia.

348. PLAIN XENOPS                             1 at Tinalandia.

        WESTERN SLATY ANTSHRIKE  Thamnophilus atrinucha   1 at Tinalandia.

367. SLATY ANTWREN                          1 at Tinalandia and 2 at Manta Real.

        DUSKY ANTBIRD  Cercomacra tyrannina    2 at Tinalandia.

        BLACK-THROATED ANTBIRD  Myrmeciza atrothorax   1 at La Selva.

        DOT-BACKED ANTBIRD  Hylophylax punctulata      1 heard at La Selva.

418. WHITE-BEARDED MANAKIN          1 seen and others heard at Tinalandia.

        DWARF-TYRANT-MANAKIN  Tyranneutes stolzmanni    1 heard at La Selva.

436. MOUSE-COLOURED TYRANNULET            Heard at Engunga Hills, Progresso.

453.TUFTED TIT-TYRANT                       1 at Cotopaxi.

456. MARBLE-FACED BRISTLE-TYRANT           2 at Tinalandia and 1 at Manta Real.

462. WHITE-THROATED SPADEBILL     2 at Tinalandia.

463. ROYAL FLYCATCHER        The form we saw was O.occidentalis - PACIFIC ROYAL FLYCATCHER - a split                 from O.coronatus.

 467. BRAN-COLOURED FLYCATCHER     1 at Tinalandia and a few at Engunga Hills.

474. WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE                        1 at Manta Real.

498. BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER          2 at Manta Real.

503. STREAKED FLYCATCHER 1 at Manta Real.

        WHITE-NECKED THRUSH  Turdus albicollis            1 heard at La Selva.

542. PALE-VENTED THRUSH                Not recorded. [Misidentified as Ecuadorian Thrush by JH.]

564. SOUTHERN NIGHTINGALE-WREN     Several heard at Tinalandia and 1 heard at Manta Real.

566. TAWNY-FACED GNATWREN          1 at Tinalandia.

603. ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW         A few at Tinalandia.

610. CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSH-FINCH          2 at Yanacocha.

621. DUSKY BUSH-TANAGER               1 at Mindo.

623. ASHY-THROATED BUSH-TANAGER  A few at Manta Real.

637. BLUE-CAPPED TANAGER 1 at Nono-Mindo Road and 2 at Cordillera de Guacamayos.

        BLACK-CHESTED MOUNTAINTANAGER  Buthraupis eximia   2 at Yanacocha.

        YELLOW-TUFTED DACNIS  Dacnis egregia - a split from Black-faced Dacnis: 2 at manta Real.

672. BLUE DACNIS                               1 at La Selva.

676. CRIMSON FINCH-TANAGER           [typing error]

679. BAND-TAILED SIERRA-FINCH        3 at Punta Carnero

680. COLLARED WARBLING-FINCH       1 at Punta Carnero and 2 at Cerro Alto.

696. WHITE-SIDED FLOWER-PIERCER      3 at Yanacocha.       

698. BLACK FLOWER-PIERCER            2 at Cotopaxi.

713. SLATE-COLOURED GROSBEAK    Heard at Tinalandia, La Selva and Manta Real.

718. CRESTED OROPENDOLA             Not recorded at Manta Real.



Spot-flanked Gallinule               1+

Bogota Rail                               1

Yellow-hooded Blackbird           50+

Eastern Meadowlark                  10

Apolinar's Marsh-Wren               2 heard

Andean Siskin                           20+

Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch           c.10

This site is adjacent to Bogota Airport.




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