Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Real Birder

Ecuador "The Magic Birding Circuit" - 4th to 23rd March 2007

     

    With Dr George Cruz at San Jorge de Cosanga ReserveINTRODUCTION

    My husband and I travelled to Ecuador in March 2007. We hiked and bird watched the reserves belonging to Dr George Cruz known as the San Jorge Ecuador Eco Lodges and "The Magic Birding Circuit" which consists of 4 nature and bird watching reserves covering almost all of the altitudes in Ecuador from the Paramo to the Sub tropical Rainforests, where there is the possibility of seeing over 800 species of birds. Staying here offers more than just bird watching; there are Inca historical trails and shaman healers and you can enjoy wild life watching as birds, orchids and flowers abound. During our 3-week visit we transversed almost all of Ecuador's eco-systems and habitats.

    DIARY

    March 4th 2007    

    View of Quito from Hosteria San JorgeArrive Quito Airport; Dr. George Cruz was waiting for us with very warm and friendly greetings. George transferred us to his Hosteria San Jorge Eco Lodge and Botanical Reserve. Friendly staff and a big beautiful room with a cozy fireplace awaited us. It was such a joy to stay here and be so close to the city of Quito at the same time. San Jorge offers extreme pampering, horseback riding or rugged hiking and nature walking; there is something for everyone there.

    The Hosteria San Jorge was built as a traditional 18th Century Spanish Hosteria. It consists of 200 acres in the Pichincha Foothills and is the only reserve within minutes of the capital, Quito.

    March 5th 2007

    San Jorge Botanical and Eco Lodge QuitoWe had a day of rest to get acclimatized to the high altitude. After an excellent breakfast, which starts with a fruit plate and then a main dish of your choice, we then birded around the beautiful San Jorge Hosteria and Botanical Reserve. We had a 4-course lunch and dinner; all of the meals at both San Jorge Quito and San Jorge de Milpe Eco Lodges were hand made, varied and delicious. The grounds surrounding the main Hosteria San Jorge Quito are full of birds flitting around the tropical trees in the many courtyards and gardens with wild flowers that are very exotic, native and beautiful. The High Barren Plains and Highland Rain Forest surrounds the Hosteria and as you transverse and go up in elevation it changes into Paramo, absolutely breathtaking.

    March 6th 2007

    Area around Yanacocha Hummingbird ReserveToday we hiked the High Barren Plains and almost made it up to the Paramo area of the Hosteria with George who has a wealth of knowledge on the flora and fauna of Ecuador. George also knows a lot about the Ecuador and Inca history and will recite some ancient lore at request. We saw lots of birds as we hiked the beautiful trails and there was even a waterfall.

    March 7th 2007

    Went to Yanacocha Hummingbird Reserve which is in the Cloud Forest. Four volunteer Biologists who devote their time and experience at all 5 of the San Jorge Eco-Lodges and Reserves were our guides today, they were very informative and identified a lot of the birds we saw. Very beautiful scenery, easy walking on the road and a gallery of hummingbird feeders as a reward at the end of the walk.

    March 8th 2007

    View near Tandayapa and Nono-Mindo RoadGeorge and his wife Irina took us to the famous Nono-Mindo Road in the Tandayapa Valley, this Cloud Forest is part of the Choco Endemic Bird Area of Northwest Ecuador. Between admiring the panoramic views we did see lots of birds, including the infamous Andean-Cock-of-the-Rock.

    March 9th 2007

    Irina drove us back to the Nono-Mindo Road where we did more bird watching and sight seeing.

    March 10th 2007

    We went to San Jorge de Tandayapa today; this Reserve is located in the Cloud Forest of the Tandayapa Valley. We bird watched along the main road and up to the Hummingbird Reserve, we saw among other birds a total of 19 species of hummingbirds. What a beautiful Reserve; the views are magnificent from the bungalow deck, sitting there I felt like we were in a beehive with all of the hummers buzzing around us for hours and cooperating when we took their pictures. We had a lovely picnic lunch and relaxed while admiring all the exotic plants, butterflies (including a Rusty-tipped Page - Siproeta epaphus (Nymphalidae)) and birds in this gorgeous area.

    San Jorge de Milpe Orchid and Botanical Reserve LodgeTransferred to the San Jorge de Milpe Reserve in the late afternoon.

    March 11th 2007

    San Jorge de Milpe Reserve has a spectacular hand made wooden 2-story Eco Lodge with a huge observation deck on both levels, offering us a view of the river gorge and surrounding Sub-Tropical Rainforest. We saw a lot of mixed flocks just from this deck. The trails are extensive and well groomed; the rainforest is full of birds, orchids and bromeliads hanging from the moss-covered trees. There are hummingbird feeders all around the open-air dining room so you can enjoy your meal and watch the hummers at the same time. An absolutely gorgeous Eco Lodge. A must for your itinerary to stay here for at least 4-6 days, a birdwatchers paradise for sure.

    March 12th 2007

    Bird watching on the many trails of San Jorge de Milpe is absolutely fantastic, we even indulged in swimming at 4 out of 5 spectacular cascading waterfalls San Jorge de Milpe offers. Very soothing, refreshing and lots of fun.

    View near Cuyuja Orchid and Hummingbird ReserveMarch 13th 2007

    First thing this morning we went to the Observation site, from here you have a panoramic view for miles. This was a great spot to start every morning, parrots, toucans, swallows and tanagers abound. We then bird watched along some trails at San Jorge de Milpe and along the main road in from the highway, there were a lot of mixed flocks all around the fields. In the evenings moths (including a Silkmoth species - Automeris banus (Saturniidae)) are very numerous around any lights left on for the purpose of seeing these incredible creatures, some the size of my hand and some small and extremely colourful.

    March 14th 2007

    Went into the town of Mindo today, bird watched while driving along and at Nambillo Waterfalls, the highlight of the day was the Swallow-tailed nightjar at some cliffs on the way back to San Jorge de Milpe.

    March 15th 2007

    George and Irina drove us to Pedro Vicente Maldonado, which is a Sub-Tropical area; this lower altitude is very warm and humid. We bird watched walking along the road. We saw a lot of different species of birds here.

    March 16th 2007

    Otavalo Indian MarketTransferred back to San Jorge Hosteria Botanical Eco Lodge.

    March 17th 2007

    Day of well deserved rest and enjoying the hospitality.

    March 18th 2007

    George and his family drove us to the famous Otavalo Market and surrounding shops. We had to make some big decisions when choosing some souvenirs for our friends and family, the variety of lovely handmade crafts, wall hangings and silver is quite extensive, with a lot of translation and help from Irina and Gabriella we had great fun making our purchases.

    March 19th 2007

    View near Papallacta PassGeorge took us up to the Eastern Slope of the Andes into the High Barren Plains of the Papallacta Pass; this area is famous for its Volcanic Thermal Hot Springs. Very unique scenery in the Paramo, bird watched here for the morning then we went for a few hours at Cuyuja Gardens. There were lots of hummingbird feeders at the gardens and a Crested Quetzal watching over us. We then drove off to Baeza where we spent the next couple nights.

    March 20th 2007

    George drove us today to the Andes Cloud Forest of San Jorge de Cosanga/Yanayacu Bird & Wildlife Reserve; these 2 Reserves are beside the San Isidro Valley and are surrounded by 120,000 hectares of the Antisana National Park Reserve. This area is so untouched and exquisite I expected to see a spectacled bear at any time. There were so many birds on the trail up to San Jorge Cosanga that we went up and down the trail twice.

    Forested hillside on road to CocaThere was one tree that had an amazing number of 10 Crested Quetzals, both males and females. One highlight of the day was on the way home we stopped at a cliff and saw Lyre-tailed Nightjar. Definitely well worth your while to spend at least 2 to 3 days here bird watching.

    March 21st 2007

    An excursion not planned on our itinerary but it goes to show you just what a special person George is, we spent the day bird watching the road to Coca in the Sub-Tropical Rainforest of the Amazon Basin; we saw an unbelievable amount of birds, particularly the paradise tanagers. Orchids and other flowers were growing everywhere along the road.

    March 22nd 2007

    Another well deserved day of rest and pampering at San Jorge Hosteria.

    Scenery near San Jorge de Tandayapy Hummingbird ReserveMarch 23rd 2007

    A morning of sad departure.  

     

    SUMMARY

    Special thanks to George and Irina Cruz who made this for us the best bird watching trip we have ever taken. Their undivided attention to us and their desire to grant all of our wishes and needs was incredible.

    Through their guidance and expertise we saw and heard a total of 405 different species of birds. I would highly recommend Hosteria San Jorge and Botanical Reserve Quito, San Jorge de Milpe Orchid and Bird Lodge, San Jorge de Tandayapa Hummingbird Reserve, and San Jorge de Cosanga-Yanayacu Wildlife View from San Jorge de Tandayapa Hummingbird Reserve LodgeReserve to everyone who wants to experience the incredible, beautiful Country of mainland Ecuador and all of its exquisite birds along a very Magic Birding Circuit.

    If you would like more information on "The Magic Birding Circuit" and birding lists just go online.    

    Should you decide to go to Ecuador, contact Cheryl Korowotny who is Director of Marketing & Sales for all of San Jorge's Eco-lodges and the Magic Birding Tour and have her customize a trip for you; that is what I did and she came up with a terrific price for us.  It was an absolutely awesome trip.

     

    LIST OF SITES AND BIRDS SEEN

    I have listed only the new birds we saw and heard during our Magic Birding Circuit. George Cruz (owner and our guide) saw a lot more birds than we did; I did not list those birds.

    Hosteria San Jorge Quito - Highland Barren Plains, Highland Rainforest & Paramo

    Andean EmeraldTawny Antpitta, Cinereous Conebill, Red Crested Cotinga, Eared Dove, White-tipped Dove, White Crested Elaenia, Rufous-naped Brush-Finch, Black Flower-piercer, Masked Flower-piercer, Southern-Yellow Grosbeak, Variable Hawk, Tyrian Metaltail, Band-tailed Nightjar, Band-winged Nightjar, Barred Parakeet, Band-tailed Pigeon, Rock Dove, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Great Sapphirewing, Paramo Seedeater, Plain-coloured Seedeater, Hooded Siskin, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Azara's Spinetail, Shining Sunbeam, Brown-bellied Swallow, White-collared Swift, Blue and Yellow Tanager, (H) Buff-breasted Mountain Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, (H) Ash-coloured Tapaculo, (H) Unicoloured Tapaculo, Purple-backed Thornbill, Great Thrush, Curve-billed Tinamou, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Pearled Treerunner, Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, White-throated Tyrannulet, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Mountain Velvetbreast, Green Violet-ear, Sparkling Violet-ear, Black-crested warbler, Slate-throated Whitestart, Spectacled Whitestart, White-bellied Woodstar.

    San Jorge de Milpe - Subtropical Rainforest

    Smooth-billed Ani, Bicoloured Antbird, Esmeraldas Antbird, Immaculate Antbird, Long-tailed Antbird, (H) Ochre-breasted Antpitta, (H) Scaled Antpitta, Russet Antshrike, Pale-mandible Aracari, Bananaquit, Toucan Barbet, Cinnamon Becard, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Velvet-purple Coronet, Shiny Cowbird, Cattle Egret, Greenish Elaenia, Grey Elaenia, Lesser Elaenia, Bat Falcon, Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Tricoloured Brush-Finch, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Boat-billed Flycatcher,Andean Emerald and Western Emerald Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Ornate Flycatcher, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, White-ringed Flycatcher, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Scaled Fruiteater, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, (H) Wattled Guan, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Pacific Hornero, Green Honeycreeper, Brown Inca, Golden-winged Manakin, White-bearded Manakin, Lanceolated Monklet, (H) Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, Maroon-tailed Parakeet, Red-masked Parakeet, Bronze-winged Parrot, Tropical Parula, Ruddy Pigeon, Common Potoo, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, (H) Brown-billed Scythebill, Western Sirystes, (H) Andean Solitaire, White-throated Spadebill, Orange-billed Sparrow, Blue and White Swallow, White-thighed Swallow, Grey-rumped Swift, Bay-headed Tanager, Blue-grey Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Dusky Bush-Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Grey and Gold Tanager, Guira Tanager, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Palm Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Swallow Tanager, White-lined Tanager, White-winged Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush Tanager, Green Thorntail, Swainson's Thrush, Black-crowned Tityra, Masked Tityra, Choco Toucan, Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan, Streak-capped Treehunter, Collared Trogon, Choco Trogon, Yellow Tyrannulet, Masked Water-Tyrant, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Black Vulture, Buff-rumped Warbler, Choco Warbler, Montane Woodcreeper, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, (H) Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Grey-breasted Wood Wren, House Wren, Sepia-brown Wren.

    San Jorge de Tandayapa & Nono-Mindo Road - Cloud Forest and Highland Rainforest

    Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, (H) Giant Antpitta, (H) Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Red-headed Barbet, Barred Becard, Scrub Blackbird, Empress Brilliant, Green-crowned Brilliant, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Buff-tailed Coronet, Squirrel Cuckoo, White-capped Dipper, White-tipped Dove, Sierran Elaenia, Andean Emerald, Western Emerald, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Thick-billed Euphonia, Slaty Finch, White-sided Flower-piercer, Bran-coloured Flycatcher,Booted Racquet-tail Cinnamon Flycatcher, Flavescent Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Blue-black Grassquit, Dull-coloured Grassquit, Sickle-winged Guan, Broad-winged Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Tawny-bellied Hermit, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Speckled Hummingbird, Collard Inca, White-necked Jacobin, Beautiful Jay, Turquoise Jay, Snowy-throated Kingbird, Tropical Kingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Hook-billed Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-billed Parrot, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Black Phoebe, Plumbeous Pigeon, Golden-headed Quetzal, Booted Racket-tail, Black-winged Salatator, Variable Seedeater, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Azara's Spinetail, (H) Slaty Spinetail, Gorgeted Sunangel, Barn Swallow, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Violet-tailed Sylph, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Black-capped Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Blue-grey Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Golden Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, Rufous-chested Tanager, (H) Narino Tapaculo, Ecuadorian Thrush, Glossy-back Thrush, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Masked Trogon, Southern-beardless Tyrannulet, White-tailed Tyrannulet, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Brown Violet-ear, Green Violet-ear, Sparkling Violet-ear, Brown-capped Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Turkey Vulture, Blackburnian Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Russet-crowned Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Three-striped Warbler, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Montane Woodcreeper, Green-crowned Woodnymph, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Powerful Woodpecker, Purple-throated Woodstar, White-bellied Woodstar, (H) Plain-tailed Wren.

    Orange-bellied Euphonia FemaleSan Jorge de Cosanga - Andean Cloud Forest

    (H) White-throated Quail Dove, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Sickle-winged Guan, Black-eared Hemispingus, Bronzy Inca, (H) Club-winged Manakin, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Russett-backed Oropendola, Foothill-Screech Owl, Eastern Wood Pewee, Andean Potoo, Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail, Olivaceous Siskin, Common Bush Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Yellow-whiskered Bush Tanager, (H) Cusquea Tapaculo, (H) Equatorial Rufous-vented Tapaculo, Flammulated Treehunter, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Canada Warbler, Russet-crowned Warbler, Ocellated Woodcreeper, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Tyrannine Woodcreeper.

    Mindo/Nambillo Falls - Cloud Forest

    Dot-winged Antwren, Broad-billed Motmot, Rufous Motmot, Swallow-tailed Nightjar, Black-and-white Owl, Torrent Tyrannulet, Bay Wren, Whiskered Wren.

    Yanacocha - Cloud Forest

    (H) Undulated Antpitta, Blue-backed Conebill, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Glossy Flower-piercer, Barred Fruiteater, Andean Guan, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Sword-billed Hummingbird, American Kestrel, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Black-chested Mountain Tanager, Blue and Black Tanager, Hooded Mountain Tanager, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Pearled Treerunner, Brown-backed Chat Tyrant, Crowned Chat-Tyrant.

    Violet-tail SylphPedro Vicente Maldonado - Subtropical Rainforest

    Slaty Becard, Red-rumped Cacique, White-throated Crake, Little Cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Lesser Seed-Finch, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Sooty-crowned Flycatcher, Tawny-breasted Flycatcher, Northern Tufted Flycatcher, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Double-banded Greytail, Purple Honeycreeper, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Purple-chested Hummingbird, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Plumbeous Kite, Pacific Parrotlet, Western Wood-Pewee, Olivaceous Piculet, Dusky Pigeon, Black-winged Saltator, Buff-throated Saltator, Yellow-bellied Siskin, House Sparrow, Band-rumped Swift, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Dusky-faced Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Pale-vented Thrush, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Black-chinned Woodpecker, Plain Xenops, Streaked Xenops.

    Papallacta Pass & Cuyuga Gardens - Highland Rain Forest and Andean Cloud Forest

    Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Northern Mountain Cacique, Many-striped Canastero, Bar-winged Cinclodes, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Giant Conebill, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Torrent Duck, Pale-naped Brush Finch, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Ecuadorian Hillstar, Speckled Hummingbird, Inca Jay, White-capped Parrot, Dusky Piha, Yellow-billed Pintail, Crested Quetzal, Spotted Sandpiper, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Tourmaline Sunangel, Long-tailed Sylph, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Emerald Toucanet, Black-capped Tyrannulet, Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet, White-banded Tyrannulet, White-throated Tyrannulet, Paramo Ground-Tyrant, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, Amethyst Woodstar, White-bellied Woodstar, Mountain Wren, Rufous Wren, Sedge Wren, Greater Yellowlegs.

    Ecuadorian Hillstar MaleRoad to Coca - Amazon Basin Tropical Rainforest

    Lettered Aracari, Many-banded Aracari, Black-faced Dacnis, Blue Dacnis, White-bellied Dacnis, Glittering-throated Emerald, Olive Finch, Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Great-tailed Grackle, Equatorial Greytail, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, White-throated Kingbird, Mealy Amazon, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Greyish Saltator, Streaked Saltator, Black and White Seedeater, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Ash-browed Spinetail, White-banded Swallow, White-winged Swallow, Short-tailed Swift, Magpie Tanager, Masked Crimson Tanager, Orange-eared Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Spotted Tanager, Summer Tanager, Turquoise Tanager, Yellow-bellied Tanager, Black-billed Thrush, Long-tailed Tyrant, Blackpoll warbler, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Thrush-like Wren.

    Systematic Bird Species Trip List (Excel)

    Ecuador Checklist (Excel)
    
    
    
    Gerry and Denise Doekes
    P.O. Box 226
    Norval, ON, Canada
    L0P 1K0 
     
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