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Wednesday 29th July - Saturday 22nd August 2015

János Oláh

The amazing Oilbird... our bird of the trip (János Oláh)

The amazing Oilbird... our bird of the trip (János Oláh)

It is hard to describe Ecuador in a nutshell as a birding destination as it has so much to offer that I could only use superlatives like amazing, unbelievable, superb, fascinating etc and it would still not truly mirror your actual experience when you do a comprehensive tour covering most available habitats in the north! Our Ultimate Ecuador tour undeniably offers a big list – usually over 800 recorded species, which can only be achived in a handful of countries in the world. On our recent tour yet again we had a wide range of special birds amongst a total of 810 species. Out of this amazing total, 765 bird species were seen and 55 birds were heard only. It would be rather long to name all the special birds we managed to see but this year we had a particularly big number of the Birdquest three-star birds. These are rare species and not usually seen on most tours. We were missing out on the boreal migrants which certainly decreased our grand total but we did get some austral migrants from the south. Highlights included goodies like Wattled Guan, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Agami Heron, Zigzag Heron, Grey-breasted Crake, Ecuadorian Rail, Black-banded and Crested Owls, Cloud-forest Pygmy Owl, Oilbird, Rufous and Long-tailed Potoos, Blackish and Lyre-tailed Nightjars, Ocellated Poorwill, Buff-tailed and White-tipped Sicklebills, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, Fiery Topaz, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Rainbow-bearded and Blue-mantled Thornbills, Pavonine Quetzal, Great and Coppery-chested Jacamars, Lanceolated Monklet, Brown Nunlet, Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Cinnamon and Ringed Woodpeckers, Rose-faced Parrot, Flammulated Treehunter, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Brown-billed Scythebill, Cocha and Castelnau’s Antshrikes, Yasuni-, Foothill and Yellow-breasted Antwrens, Banded-, Yellow-browed-, Esmeraldas-, White-plumed-, Hairy-crested- and Dot-backed Antbirds, Black-spotted and Reddish-winged Bare-Eyes, Giant, Moustached and Plain-backed Antpittas, Chestnut-belted-, Ash-throated and Chestnut-crowned Gnateaters, Ocellated Tapaculo, Foothill Elaenia, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Golden-winged Tody-Flycatcher, Olive-chested and Grey-breasted Flycatchers, White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Dusky-chested Flycatcher, Citron-bellied Attila, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Olivaceous Piha, Black-tipped Cotinga, Amazonian and Long-wattled Umbrellabirds, Blue-rumped and Orange-crested Manakins, White-browed Purpletuft, Rufous-naped and Olivaceous Greenlets, Musician-, Grey-mantled and Buff-breasted Wrens, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Black Solitaire, Lawrence’sand Hauxwell’s Thrushes, White-capped, Rufous-chested, Fulvous-crested, Moss-backed, Black-chested Mountain-, Glistening-green, Yellow-bellied-, Masked and Scarlet-browed Tanagers, Scarlet-breasted and Scarlet-thighed Dacnises, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia and Caqueta Seedeater.

Ecuador is one of the top birding destinations in South America. Our itinerary is continuously changing as the growing birding circuit has seen a lot of changes in the last 15 years. Yet again the tour will be different again next year as we will be going deeper into the Chocó! Many new birding lodges have opened recently allowing relatively easy access to previously off-the-beaten-track places and also many difficult-to-find birds have been staked-out or even habituated. The nowadays world famous antpitta feeding scheme – which is now much more than just antpitta feeding - was started by the legendary Angel Paz and as usual our visit to his reserve was a tour highlight! This time the tour ran in August when we had almost no boreal migrants – though some waders were coming through in the last few days of the tour and we did get some austral migrants, which we don’t usually see! By the end of the tour we also had some action from the active Cotopaxi volcano and volcanic ash made our access to Amazonia a little bit adventurous.

The delightful Toucan Barbet is always a favourite  (János Oláh)

The delightful Toucan Barbet is always a favourite (János Oláh)