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4 - 13 August 1996

by Mark Welford

The following is an extended summary of an Ecuadorian birding trip that I just completed (I apologize for any typos). I saw a total of 348 species of which 320 were life birds for me.


  August 4:   Statesboro, GA to Quito via Miami
  August 5:   Quito to Santo Domingo on Highway 30
  August 6:   Rio Palenque Research Station
  August 7:   Private Property adjacent to Rio Palenque
  August 8:   Santo Domingo to Finca Bellavista via Pedro Vicente Maldonado, S. Miguel de los Bancos and old Nono Road
  August 9:   Finca Bellavista to Bancos and Mindo
  August 10:   Finca Bellavista and TRail #3
  August 11:   Finca Bellavista to Quito via old Mindo-Nono Road
  August 12:   Quito to Papallacta Pass
  August 13:   Quito to San Jose, CA via Guayaquil and Miami

This was my first trip Ecuador and the first to South America.

In the report below:

H = heard,
M = male,
F = female,
I = immature.

August 5:

Birding around the grounds of the Mansion Samzara Hosteleria, in Sangolqui south of Quito early in the morning yielded my first life birds for the trip:
Eared Dove 2 Blue & White Swallows 
Great Thrush Hooded Siskin
4 Sparkling Violet-ear 1 Black-tailed Trainbearer 
6 Rufous-collared Sparrow -

We then departed first south on Highway 35 then west on highway 30 for Santo Domingo at about 7:30am and birded en-route. Birds seen along the route before our first stop included:
White-collared Swift H Chestnut-crowned Antpitta 
Southern Yellow Grosbeak -

At the western most end of the town Manuel Cornejo Astorga (Tandapi) we turned acutely left onto a dirt logging road. We birded the first mile or so of this dirt track for 2-3 hours until lunch finding the following within the first 100 yards:
Southern-beardless Tyrannulet 2 Blue-tailed Emerald
2 Swallow-Tanager H Masked Trogon
Ornate Flycatcher 1 Barred Hawk 
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Green Violet-ear 
Golden-headed Quetzal Crimson-rumped Toucanet

My first tropical flock yielded:
1 Smoke-colored Pewee Rusty-margined Flycatcher 
1 Tricolored Brush-Finch Yellow-bellied Seedeater
Olive-striped Flycatcher Buff-throated Saltator 
Lemon-rumped Tanager H Tropical Parula 
Montane Woodcreeper 2 Golden-rumped Euphonia 
Golden-naped Tanager -

Other smaller flocks and birding yielded:
2 Golden Tanager 3 Slate-throated Redstart
Purple-throated Woodstar Squirrel Cuckoo 
Dull-colored Grassquit Blue-gray Tanager 
Metallic Green Tanager Red-headed Barbet 
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager H Slaty Spinetail 
Rufous-winged Hummingbird Andean Emerald 
Short-tailed Hawk Black Vulture 
Turkey Vulture 2 Red-faced Spinetail

Following lunch we continued on toward Santo Domingo but turned on to a bridge over the Toachi River where we found:
2 White-capped Dipper 2 Torrent Duck
Torrent Tyrannulet -

Just before reaching Hotel Tinalandia we turned acutely left onto a dirt road adjacent to the lodge's grounds and birded this road for 2 hours. Birds seen included:
Boat-billed Flycatcher Roadside Hawk 
Bay Wren Palm Tanager
Marble Faced Bristle-Tyrant Orange-bellied Euphonia 
Cinnamon Becard 2 Orange-billed Sparrow 
Tropical Gnatcatcher 1 Ochraceous Attila 
Slaty-capped Flycatcher White-shouldered Tanager 
White-winged Becard Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager
H Little Tinamou H Southern Nightingale-Thrush 
H Pacific Fire-eye 4 Bronze-winged Parrot
Pale-mandibled Aracari Cattle Egret
2 Buff-rumped Warbler 2 Crimson-rumped Toucanet 
2 Yellow-tufted Dacnis -

We then returned to Highway 30 and continued to Santo Domingo where we stayed at the Hotel Zaracay. On the grounds of the hotel we saw:
Scrub Blackbird Pacific Hornero 
Gray-breasted Martin -

August 6:

Early on Tuesday we drove the 48 km to Rio Palenque Research Centre on Highway 25. The centre is now run by Richard Dotson and a small fee is requested. Once on the property we drove through quite disturbed farm habitat that yielded many more lifers:
H Rufous-browed Peppershrike Shiny Cowbird
H Thick-billed Seed-Finch Gray-lined Hawk
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Golden-olive Woodpecker 
Gray-capped Flycatcher 2 Masked Yellowthroat 
Streaked AntWren Crimson Finch-Tanager 
Yellow-bellied Elaenia H Pervian Pygmy-Owl 
Streak-headed Woodcreeper Black-winged Saltator 
Variable Seedeater Great Antshrike 
Blue-black Grassquit Smooth-billed Ani 
Ecuadorian Ground-Dove -

On reaching the native, uncut lowland forest we took the right-hand road and walked along the forest edge. This yielded:
Violet-bellied Hmmingbird Common Tody-flycatcher 
Whiskered Wren White-thighed Swallow
F Guayaquil Woodpecker Bananaquit
2 Laughing Falcon F Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Harris Hawk H Yellow Tyrannulet 
Pale-vented Dove 1 Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift 
Gray-rumped Swift H Pacific Parrotlet
Barred Puffbird Snowy-throated Kingbird 
White-tailed Trogon One-colored Becard

Following the forest edge we arrived at the entrance to Dotson's house. This is a dirt road cut through the forest. We birded and ate lunch at this spot. Birds seen included:
H Black-headed AntThrush Red-rumped Woodpecker 
2 Chestnut-mandibled Toucan White-bearded Manakin 
H Pallid Dove 5 Dusk-faced Tanager
Olivaceous Piculet Golden-faced Tyrannulet

After lunch we birded (with permission) around Dotson's house finding:
Rufous Motmot Black-cheeked Woodpecker 
Band-backed Wren Blue-necked Tanager
2 Orange-fronted Barbet 2 Masked Water-Tyrant (Seen Across Valley)
Striated Heron (Seen on River) Pied-billed Grebe (Seen on River)
F Blue-chested Hummingbird Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet 
M Green Honeycreeper Linneated Woodpecker
H Chestnut-backed Antbird Pacific Cacique
M Dot-winged AntWren Blue-headed Parrot
Black-tailed Trogon F Plain Ant-Vireo
Plain-brown Woodcreeper Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaner
2 Purple-throated Friutcrow I Hook-billed Kite
Checker-throated AntWren 2 (Violet) Crowned Woodnymph

At the house a series of trails radiate across the property, all are worth exploring, due to a lack of time we only birded trail #3 which yielded:
3 Choco Toucan F Blue-black Grosbeak
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant Pallid Dove 
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher H Brown Wood-Rail
5 Little Hermit (At Lek) Southern Nightingale-Wren
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher H Dusky Antbird
Lesser Greenlet Wedge-billed Woodcreeper 
White-whiskered Puffbird Pied Puffbird
Little Cuckoo H Western Slaty Antshrike 
White-necked Jacobin 2 Bay-headed Tanager

August 7:

We drove back to the vicinity of Rio Palenque and birded private farm property on either side of Highway 25. Much of what we explored was grazed to second growth forest, some palm-oil plantation and some riparian areas.

West side of highway yielded:
Chestnut-throated Seedeater Olive-crowned Yellowthroat 
Scaled Pigeon Wattled Jacana
Ringed Kingfisher Pacific Parrotlet 
Streak-headed Woodcreeper Yellow-tailed Oriole 
Laughing Falcon 10+ Smooth-billed Ani 
Peruvian MeadOwlark 2 Elegent Cresent-chest 
Purple Gallinule 3h Whtie-throated Crake 
Sooty-headed Tyrannulet Tumbes Tyrannulet 
Peruvian Pygmy-Owl Blue-necked Tanager
2 White-whiskered Hermit Band-backed Wren
Ruddy Pigeon Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner
M Green Honeycreeper F Violaceous Trogon
Sooty-crowned Flycatcher M Great Antshrike
H Rufous-headed Chachalaca Streaked AntWren 
4 Striped Cuckoo Green Kingfisher
Gray-rumped Swift Black-cheeked Woodpecker

East side of highway in addition yielded:
Red-billed Scythebill 2 One-colored Becard
M Ecuadorian Mango Neotropic Cormorant 
2 Yellow-tufted Dacnis 2 Guira Tanager
Scarlet-backed Woodpecker Pacific Elaenia
M Thick-billed Euphonia -

August 8:

Left Santo Domingo and drove to Finca Bellavista via Pedro Vicente Maldonado, S. Miguel de los Bancos and the old Nono Road. Our first stop was along a dirt road just west of Vicente, turning left off the main highway that runs toward Mindo. We drove to a "T" junction and took the right-hand road and began birding where the road stopped at a barb-wire fence. This is highly disturbed Choco forest habitat.

Birds observed within 200yds of the end of the dirt road included:
3 Black-tipped Cotinga M Long-tailed Tyrant
5+ Maroon-tailed Parakeet Rufous Motmot
2 Golden-hooded Tanager 1 Emerald Tanager
Bay-headed Tanager Palm Tanager 
Blue-gray Tanager Social Flycatcher
Thick-billed Euphonia Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant 
Streak Flycatcher Masked Tityra
M Purple Honeycreeper Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo

Birds seen on drive back towards highway:
M Green Thorntail Black and White Becard
Violet-bellied Hummingbird White-necked Jacobin 
Black-striped Sparrow Purple-crowned Fairy 
Gray-backed Hawk 2 Swallow-tailed Kite

One small flock in the same tree yielded:
Blue-whiskered Tanager Scarlet-browed Tanager 
Yellow-bellied Siskin Orange-crowned Euphonia
M White-bearded Manakin Slate-throated Gnatcatcher

We rejoined the Old Nono-Mindo road and drove up to Bellavista birding en-route:
Violet-tailed Sylph Masked Trogon 
Spotted Nightingale-Thrush White-rumped Hawk
2 Plate-billed Mountain Toucan H Tanager-Finch

At Bellavista before a splendid vegetarian dinner we had the following birds:
Blue-capped Tanager Collared Inca 
Speckled Hummingbird Buff-tailed Coronet
H Narino Tapaculo Cinnamon Flycatcher
H Andean Solitaire Southern Yellow Grosbeak
Fawn-breasted Brilliant Brown-capped Vireo 
Band-tailed Pigeon 2 Russett-backed Oropendula

August 9:

In the early morning with rain threatening at Bellavista we drove back to Las Bancos and after finding a local property owner birded some disturbed forest to the north of Las Bancos. We found the following:
Black-billed Peppershrike 3 Golden-bellied Warbler
5+ Club-winged Manakin (Displaying, Calling at Lek)
Tawny-breasted Flycatcher Golden-naped Tanager
H Spotted Nightingale-Thrush Moss-backed Tanager
Spotted Woodcreeper Uniform Treehunter 
White-eyed Trogon Thrush-like Manakin 
Silver-throated Tanager Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
2 Glistening-green Tanager Russet Antshrike
Rufous-rumped AntWren Plain Xenops
2 Crimson-bellied Woodpecker Groove-billed Ani
White-whiskered Hermit -

Returning to the Mindo-Nono road we found:
Violet-tailed Sylph 2 Black-crowned Tityra 
Golden-headed Quetzal Gray-headed Kite 
Smoky-brown Woodpecker Mountain Wren
H White-tipped Dove 2 Plate-billed Mountain Toucan 
2 Scaly-naped Parrot Speckled-faced Parrot
Chestnut-crowned Antpitta -

August 10:

Staying close to Bellavista we birded trail# 3 in the morning -- Richard Parsons maintains a number of trails on his property and all are worth exploring (todate 154 species of birds have been observed from the lodeg or on the trails on his property):
Striped Treehunter Strong-billed Woodcreeper 
Black-crested Warbler 2 White-sided Flower-piercer 
Rufous-naped Brush-Finch 3+ Blue-fronted Parrotlet 
White-faced (Nunbird) Puffbird H White-throated Quail-Dove 
Beryl-spangled Tanager Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant 
Blue-black Tanager Long-tailed Antbird 
Smoke-colored Pewee Rufous Spinetail
Masked Flowerpiercer White-tailed Tyrannulet 
Glossy-black Thrush H Powerful Woodpecker 
Russet-crowned Warbler White-banded Tyrannulet 
Grass-green Tanager Streak-necked Flycatcher 
Spectacled Redstart Streaked Tuftedcheek 
Tawny-breasted Hermit Black Flowerpiercer 
Plush-capped Finch Flammulated Treehunter

This same trail has yielded GIANT ANTPITTA, roosting MOTTLED OWL and COMMON POTOO. In addition, in the very early morning LYRE-TAILED NIGHTJAR has been observed in and around Bellavista.

In the afternoon we birded down the Mindo Rd. which is still being widened. We saw the following:
Gorgeted Sunangel 4 Turquoise Jay 
Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager H Crested Quetzal 
White-rumped Hawk Flavescent Flycatcher 
Rufous Wren Bluish Flowerpiercer 
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker 3 Hooded Mountain-Tanager 
Grass-green Tanager Pearled Treerunner

August 11:

We had a terrible day -- the sun shone mercilessly down. Not a cloud in sight as we drove and birded up the Mindo-Nono Rd. back to Quito.
Three-striped Warbler Golden-crowned Flycatcher 
Yellow-faced Grassquit Chestnut-collared Swift 
Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant 2 Rusty-winged Barbtail 
Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager Red-backed Hawk
Great Thrush H Toucan Barbet 
Hooded Siskin Peregrine Falcon

August 12:

We birded up and over the Papallacta Pass. On the first drive up to the summit we found:
Shining Sunbeam 2 Puna Hawk
Many-striped Canastero 10's Plumbeous Sierra-Finch 
Brown-bellied Swallow Sedge Wren
Tawny Antpitta -

Over the pass and just before the reservior we stopped for a flock:
Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager 7+ Black-backed Bush-Tanager 
White-throated Tyrannulet White-banded Tyrannulet
2 Cinereous Conebill Blue-backed Conebill
3 Black-headed Hemispingus Superciliaried Hemispingus
Pale-naped Brush-Finch Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager 
Agile Tit-Tyrant -

Driving back to the summit we found:
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Glossy Flowerpiercer

Descending back toward Quito on our left is the beginning of the ravine that proceeds down off the mountain. At the first dirt track (the old pass road) we found (we had lunch here in a windy, driving rainsquall):
2 Carunculated Caracara Red-crested Cotinga
Shining Sunbeam -

Descending further you proceed pass a small village, Cuchauco. We drove through this village using the old highway - now a dirt road, this road parallels the now deep ravine and had the following:
2 Andean Gull Band-tailed Seedeater
Tufted Tit-Tyrant Rusty Flowerpiercer
H Giant Hummingbird -

In the late afternoon we drove back to the summit and up to the mirco-wave tower, this yielded my last lifers for the trip:
Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant M Ecuadorian Hillstar 
Andean Tit-spinetail Stout-billed Cinclodes

Sadly all good things must end. I will return to Ecuador, and I recommend to all of you visit Bellavista -- cloud forest is something that needs to be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

Mark R. Welford, Ph.D                              "Life is short: enjoy it,
Assistant Professor                                       travel widely, and you
Dept. of Geol. & Geog.                                will have no regrets".
Georgia Southern University PHONE: (912) 871-1154
Stateboro, GA 30460-8149 FAX: (912) 681-0668

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