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February 1997

by Trevor Quested

I accompanied Gerry Richards on the trip.  It took 41 hours to go from Sydney to Quito.  Whilst in Los Angeles John and Irma LeVine took us out for 4 hours and then to an excellent dinner afterwards.  Thank you Birdchat!  Gerry planned the trip meticuously, studied Spanish for a year but as I'm on the internet and he isn't, I'll give you the report.

We hired a Chevrolet (Suzuki) Vitara for US$78 per day from Budget in Quito.  We took with us a tape recorder each with a directional microphone, and one 100 watt spotlight which we were able to clip onto the car battery terminals.  I took an angled 613 Kowa telescope and a camera with 400mm AF lens.  In addition, Gerry took an altimeter watch which was extremely helpful.  He also took night bird tapes and some other tapes which friends had given to him.

Often our method of birding was to be at the site at dawn, have breakfast there, walk the trails if possible, return to the vehicle for a bite of lunch around 1-2pm then bird somwhere nearby until dusk.  Return to a town and eat at a restaurant.  Wherever possible we spotlighted.  When it came time to move we always did it in the afternoon and tried to do a reconnaisance of the area first.  We had good luck with the weather with only one day in six weeks being a washout.

We only camped twice.  Once in Cerro Blanco so we could see Scrub Nightjar and Peruvian Pygmy Owl, and once we slept in the car as it was snowing in Cotapaxi National Park to see Noble Snipe.  We stayed overnight at Cajanuma, Podacarpus National Park to see Rufous-banded Owl and Band-winged Nightjar.

We stayed in Quito at the Hotel Majestic (US$19 per night) and left the next morning heading east.  We stopped at a large supermarket at Tumbaco.  Here we bought powdered milk and breakfast cereals.  We used information in "A Birders Guide to Ecuador" by Keith Taylor, and an excellent trip report by Alan Lewis of a 3 month trip he and Richard Rollins did in 1995.  (Unfortunately only 10 copies were made of this report)

The areas which are mentioned in "A Birders Guide to Ecuador" by Keith Taylor which we visited and the time we spent in each area are as follows:

Papallacta Pass                          1 afternoon
Cuyuja beside Maspa Chico River          1 morning
Baeza radio mast trail                   1 morning
Guacamayos Ridge                         4 days
San Rafael Falls                         1 day
Loreto Road around quarry at 2.8 km and along trails at 4.6km and 11.2km     4 days
Tena, around Auca lodge & beside river   2 days
Jatun Sacha on the Napo River            4 days
Las Cayas Recreation area                1 day
Cajanuma, Podocarpus National Park       3 days
Bombuscara, Podocarpus National Park     2 days
Sabiango, Sozoranga & Utana              3 days
Buenaventura                             1 day
Cerro Blanco Nature Reserve              2 days
Santa Elana Peninsula & around Zabotal   2 days
Rio Palenque Scientific Research Stn.    2 days
Tinilandia                               3 days
Mindo area                               5 days
Yanacocha                                1 afternoon and evening
Cotopaxi area                            2 days

Combined we saw 695 species.  We saw 4 species of Tinamou, 31 species of raptor, Sunbittern, Noble snipe, 23 waders, 12 pigeons and doves, 15 parrots, 9 owls, 2 potoos, 7 nightjars and nighthawks, 5 swifts, 63 hummingbirds, 5 quetzels and trogons, 3 motmots, 2 jacamars, 4 puffbirds, 1 monklet, 1 nunbird, 5 barbets, 4 toucans, 3 toucanets, 3 mountain-toucans, 2 aracari, 4 piculets, 13 woodpeckers, 10 woodcreepers, 3 scythebills, 2 cinclodes, 1 hornero, 1 tit-spinetail, 2 thistletails, 9 spinetails, 2 canastero, 1 prickletail, 2 greytails, 2 barbtails, 1 treerunner, 2 tuftedcheek, 1 woodhaunter, 8 foliage-gleaners, 3 treehunters, 2 xenops, 9 antshrikes, 2 antvireos, 11 antwren, 12 antbirds, 1 antthrush, 8 antpittas, 7 tapaculos, 2 cotingas, 3 fruiteaters, 1 fruitcrow, 1 umbrellabird, 1 cock-of-the-rock, 8 manakins, 85 tyrant-flycatchers, 1 schiffornis, 5 becards, 2 tityra, 6 jays, 1 peppershrike, 1 shrike-vireo, 2 greenlets, 1 dipper, 2 solataire, 2 nightingale-thrush, 10 thrush, 1 mockingbird, 1 donacobius, 18 wrens, 1 gnatwren, 2 gnatcatchers, 7 swallows, 3 siskins, 15 warblers, 6 sparrows, 9 brush-finches, olive finch, 4 conebill, 85 tanagers and allies, crimson finch tanager, 17 finches and seedeaters, 7 flower-piercers, 4 grosbeaks, 5 saltators, 2 oropendolas, 5 caciques, 2 orioles, peruvian meadowlark, plus other common birds.

Ecuador is a well birded country so I won't put a full day by day list on the internet but should anybody want more information I can provide it.  I found the birding very hard simply because I had so much to take in everyday for six weeks.  I also saw some of the best birds on this earth.

Trevor Quested
Sydney Australia

Phone.  +61 2 9955 6266
Fax.  +61 2 9959 4005

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