Tripping Back to the Andes

Andean Tit-Spinetail 11-19-17-8004

Andean Tit-Spinetail

I suppose it’s only fitting I started writing this post today while the outside temperature in Chicago (55 deg. F.) was just two degrees cooler than Quito. We won’t stay here long, though. By tomorrow morning we will have dropped back into the 20’s F.

Birders 11-20-2017-0966We weren’t all that warm up in the higher elevations as the above picture indicates. In any event there was a lot to look at and these pictures are from our first day trek through the mountains from Quito to Guango Lodge.

Masked Mountain-Tanager 11-20-2017-8681

Masked Mountain-Tanager

Tanagers proved to be challenging subjects, often too far away to even try for. I think I’ve been spoiled by other trips where invariably some species came to feeders. But I am happy for the pictures I did get, which were without human enticement of any kind.

Summer Tanager 11-19-17-7701

Summer Tanager, a species that migrates to North America

Scrub Tanager 11-19-17-7712

Scrub Tanager

There will be more tanager species to come in future posts. Below, flowers and a fungus that appeared to branch out with its own petals.

Rufous-Bellied Seedsnipe 11-19-17-8050

We were fortunate to find these Rufous-Bellied Seedsnipe not far from the guard station. A somewhat elusive species, they blend in perfectly with the ground.

Below on the left is a Pale-naped Brushfinch, a bird we saw only in this habitat. The Orange-bellied Euphonia on the right was at various other elevations but I continually struggled to get a halfway decent photo of the male.

The Giant Conebill below seems like it’s worthy of a better name, it’s really quite striking.

Tufted Tit-Tyrant 11-19-17-7913

Tufted Tit-Tyrant

Below are two species of Flowerpiercers. We did eventually see all six species on the list. The one on the left, the Masked Flowerpiercer, was common and quite a willing subject at Guango Lodge. The Black Flowerpiercer on the right was a little harder to capture.

Whenever we found a river we were looking for the White-capped Dipper below and we got lucky the first day.

White-capped Dipper 11-20-2017-9227Also hanging out by the river was the Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant below.

Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant 11-20-2017-9271

Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant

Eared Doves were most common but they rarely posed in good light. This one struck a fortunate pose.

Eared Dove 11-19-17-7691

Eared Dove

A sign and a vista that caught my eye…

When we got down to Guango, we went for a little walk around the property and found one of the Mountain Tapirs that have been seen lately. Our guide Mitch declared her a youngster. We found her adorable.

I’ll be back soon with more magic from Ecuador.

Side Trip on the Way to the Amazon

Collared Inca 7-2-2016-3622

Collared Inca

I got back from my trip later than planned Tuesday night and went back to work Wednesday, so I find myself catching up with my home birds, having to postpone cleaning up the predictable big mess until yesterday and today. But in between I managed to clear off my hard drive and upload all the pictures from 17 days of picture-taking in Ecuador.

Guango Lodge's Hummers and Flowerpiercers 7-2-2016-3750

These images are a few taken at the feeders at Guango Lodge in San Isidro, Ecuador. The stop at San Isidro was not a planned part of the trip, but after my flight to Miami was canceled and I spent the night in the O’Hare Airport, by the time I managed to get a flight to Quito I met with two other participants for the Amazon trip whose flights had also been delayed. We were given the option of either staying in a hotel and then taking the internal flights and boats that would get us to the rest of our group, or we could drive to Coca, staying in San Isidro one night, birding along the way so to speak, and take the boat to Sacha Lodge. We opted for the car trip and the night in San Isidro as the better option, and so we got to see some birds along the way. The lodge at San Isidro was beautiful and I hope to return someday.

White-Bellied Woodstar 7-2-2016-3675

White-Bellied Woodstar (female)

I have not managed to begin going through the rest of the photos yet. I apologize if this is in any way confusing. Basically I had combined two trips, the first to Sacha Lodge in the Amazon, and the second to the Galapagos Islands. If I had to miss a flight it’s just as well it was for the first part of the trip because it would have been impossible to catch up with the Galapagos tour. In addition, to streamline packing for two trips, the second with a lot of connections, I decided not to take my laptop with me, so I have a lot of work to do after the futility of editing through photos on the camera!

Above, Tourmaline Sunangel. Light and focus are so important when trying to capture hummingbirds in particular as their gorgets change rapidly. I wish I could have gotten better shots of this bird.

Below, a Chestnut-Breasted Coronet.

I hope to be back soon with many more photos and even a couple videos. Although I plan to do the posts chronologically I may get distracted and go back and forth between the two trips. Please bear with me.

Below, a female Glowing Puffleg and a Sword-Billed Hummingbird. I had much better pictures of the Sword-Billed last year in Colombia but it’s always worth mentioning this incredible species.

There were a couple Flowerpiercers at the Guango Lodge feeders but I only managed to capture the Masked Flowerpiercer halfway decently.

Below, Buff-Winged Starfrontlet.

Buff-Winged Starfrontlet (female) 7-2-2016-3685

Buff-Winged Starfrontlet (female)

It was wonderful to go away. I hope I can go back to Ecuador, there is so much more to see. It was also blissful to be away from the entire political mania and I find myself reluctant to dip back into that fray. I may have to access the desert island in my head for a while yet.

Collared Inca (female) 7-2-2016-3621

Tourmaline Sunangel (Female)

I hope you are staying cool somewhere this summer!