WINGSWEST BIRDING TOURS SOUTHERN ECUADOR JANUARY 14-24, 2014
Price of $3,400 (double occupancy) includes 10 nights in Ecuador, local guide every day, and a round trip in country flight. The small size of the group (no more than 6 clients) will give us the flexibility to see the maximum cross section of birds.Day 1: International flight arrivals to Quito and transfer to Hotel Sebastian Day 2: We will take an in country flight southeast to Santa Rosa (one hour). On our way to Buenaventura Reserve we will stop at the Santa Rosa shrimp ponds, where we have a chance to see lowland species such as Snail Kite, Wattled Jacana, and Savannah Hawk. Night in the foothills at Umbrellabird Lodge (1,700’ elevation). Day 3: Buenaventura, one of several key Jocotoco Foundation reserves, is situated at the transition from the southernmost part of the Choco Region (starting in sw Colombia) to the northern end of the Tumbesian region of nw Peru and sw Ecuador. We will spend all day in and around Buenaventura at various elevations. Not surprisingly, the bird mix is diverse ranging from Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Club-winged Manakin, and Buffy Tuftedcheek (all Choco specialties) to southwest Ecuador restricted species such as Rufous-headed Chachalaca, Gray-backed Hawk and Gray and Gold Warbler. The hummingbird show here is top notch with likely viewings of Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Green Thorntail, Emerald-bellied Woodnymph, White-necked Jacobin, and Baron’s Hermit. One highly localized specialty of Buenaventura is the El Oro Parakeet which has benifitted from the refuge-provided nest boxes which reduce nestling predation by the ever opportunistic Crimson-rumped Toucanets. Our night birding venues here include chances for Black-and-White and Mottled Owls. Night at Umbrellabird Lodge Days 4&5: After some morning birding around the lodge, we will head south to the Peruvian border and our base for the next 2 nights-Urraca Lodge in the Jorupe Reserve. Though at a similar elevation to the Umbrellabird Lodge, Urraca is located in a decidedly drier tropical forest dominated by the impressive ceiba tree. Our visit is timed, in part, to the brief rainy season which stimulates the local bird vocalizations. This segment of the tour will be our only chance to see such species as White-tailed Jay, Watkin’s Antpitta, and the endangered Henna-hooded Foliage Gleaner. Other locals on our radar include Collared Antshrike, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Black and white Becard, Plumbeous-backed Thrush, Baird's Flycatcher, Red-masked Parakeet, and Black-capped Sparrow. Night birding around Jorupe will include attempts for W. Peruvian Screech Owl and Spectacled Owl. Nights at Urraca Lodge. Day 6: We depart Jorupe and start our ascent into the Andean highlands. A quick stop in the town of Sozoranga allows us a chance to see the local colony of Chestnut-collared Swallows. Heading higher to yet another Jocotoco sanctuary, Utuana, we find ourselves in the mossy cloud forest world of 8,500’. Until the clouds and fog roll in, we will search for hummingbirds such as Shining Sunbeam, Rainbow Starfrontlet, and Purple-throated Sunangel. Other possible high elevation specialists include Jelski’s Chat-tyrant, Bay-crowned Brushfinch, the highly localized Black-crested Tit Tyrant, Black-cowled Saltator, and Rufous-chested Tanager. After lunch, we will transit through Loja and descend the east side of the Andes to our base for the next two nights-Copalinga Lodge. Enroute we will stop at the San Francisco entrance to Podocarpus where the transition from temperate to subtropical begins. Possibilities here include Plain-tailed Wren, Strong-billed Woodcreeper and a nice mix of tanagers including Blue-and-black, Flame-faced, Saffron-crowned, and Beryl-spangled. Our steepening descent carries us into lower subtropical territory where we begin to encounter species such as Orange-eared Tanager, Olive-chested Flycatcher and Lemon-browed Flycatcher. We will arrive at Copalinga Lodge south of Zamora in time to enjoy some of the hummingbird action including Violet-fronted Brilliant, Spangled Coquette, Wire-crested Thorntail, and Glittering-throated Emerald. Night Copalinga. Day 7: On the grounds and trails of Copalinga there are plenty of great birds to look for including Speckled Chachalaca, Gray-fronted Dove, Inca Jay, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Golden-winged Tody Flycatcher, Olivaceous Greenlet, Orange-billed Sparrow, and our first oropendolas-Crested and Russet-backed. In the afternoon, we will drive the short distance to the Bombuscaro entrance to Podocarpus National Park. the lush foothill habitat here is home to hundreds of species. Foremost in our sights will be Amazonian Umbrellabird, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Black-streaked Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, and White-breasted Parakeet. The newly described Foothill Elaenia is possible as well. Renowned for its tanager flocks, the park hosts the likes of Spotted, Green-and-gold, Yellow-bellied, Golden-eared, and the jaw-dropping Paradise. Night back at Copalinga Lodge. Day 8: Today we retrace our steps up the east side enroute to the higher, southwest side of Podocarpus. Before leaving the lowlands, we will bird around the airport in Zamora for upper Amazon species such as Striated Heron, Violaceous Jay, Black-capped Donacobius, Yellow-rumped Cacique, and Black Caracara.Once past Loja, we head south to Tapichalaca Reserve visiting the Cajanuma entrance (zona alta or high zone) to Podocarpus National Park along the way. We may encounter some higher altitude species such as Hooded and Lacrimose Mountain Tanagers, Supercilliated Hemispingus, and Red-hooded Tanager. Arriving at Casa Simpson Lodge mid afternoon, we can view the hummingbird feeders with our best chance to see Mountain Velvetbreast, Glowing Puffleg, Amethyst-throated and Flame-throated Sunangels. At night we have a chance for Andean Potoo. Night Casa Simpson Lodge. Day 9: The Tapichalaca Reserve, at almost 8,000’, was originally set up to protect the Jocotoco Antpitta, only recently discovered in the late 1990’s. Now acclimated to the “worm-chumming” ritual used at lodges in northern Ecuador, the antpitta, one of the rarest birds in the world, can be viewed at close range. Birding highlights here include Bearded Guan, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, Orange-banded Flycatcher, Gray-hooded Bush Tanager, and Golden-crowned Tanager. Other southern Ecuador specialties include Black-throated Tody Tyrant, Chusquea Tapaculo, Rufous-crested Tanager, and Loja Tyrannulet Night at Casa Simpson Lodge. Day 10: Today we descend further south past the nearby town of Valladolid on the road to Zumba to access a different set of birds including Mottle-backed Elaenia, Black-billed Thrush, Maranon Thrush, Silver-backed Tanager, and possibly Black-faced Tanager. After lunch at Tapichalaca, we must head back north to Loja and our evening flight to Quito. Night Hotel Sebastain. Day 11: International flights home.