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ULTIMATE ECUADOR

Friday 8th September - Wednesday 4th October 2017

DANI LOPEZ-VELASCO

Rufous-crowned Pittasoma (Dani Lopez- Velasco)

Rufous-crowned Pittasoma (Dani Lopez- Velasco)

Undoubtedly Ecuador is one of the top birding destinations in South America. Nowadays Colombia is safe to travel in and a lot of birders go there for all the endemics, however, for relative size, travelling distances and habitat access nothing matches Ecuador! Our itinerary is continuously changing and for the first time, we had a new extension visiting the remote Shiripuno Lodge and Sani Lodge. The nowadays world famous antpitta farm, 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! Another new location was the Mashpi Chocolate Farm, on the west slope, where the enigmatic Rufous-crowned Antpitta or Pittasoma has been fed for almost 2 years now. We managed to see it extremely well, but it was not as ‘easy’ as most people would expect with a ‘habituated’ bird as it took some time before we found it. In the Andes and especially in western and eastern lowlands we found a great diversity of antpittas, antthrushes, antshrikes, antwrens and antbirds and recorded a staggering total of 83 species of them. Hummingbirds were a main feature too and certainly Birdquest records the biggest numbers of these tiny jewels on this particular tour from all our destinations around the New World. Visiting various elevations and many different habitats and a multitude of hummingbird feeders resulted a total of 82 species of hummingbirds! This list included species like scarce Hoary Puffleg, the localised Blue-headed Sapphire, the diminutive Wire-crested Thorntail, the amazing Sword-billed Hummingbird, the difficult-to-find Tooth-billed Hummingbird, the shiny Velvet-purple Coronet, the lovely Violet-tailed Sylph, the huge Giant Hummingbird, the heliconia specialist White-tipped Sicklebill and the stunning Fiery Topaz. Other ‘family’ totals to highlight this year’s tour were 5 species of kingfishers; 13 species of trogons and quetzals, 20 species of woodpeckers including the very rare Choco; 14 species of toucans, a total of 94 flycatchers excluding becards nowadays. The most amazing group this year, however, was the tanagers and allies as we recorded over 100 species and seen such sough-after ones like Golden-chested, Blue-whiskered, Blue-browed Tanagers and Scarlet-breasted Dacnis. We also managed to see 22 species of nightbirds, which included Oilbird, 3 potoos, and ten owls.

Moss-backed Tanager from Mashpi road (Dani Lopez- Velasco)

Moss-backed Tanager from Mashpi road (Dani Lopez- Velasco)