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Birding opportunities during tour in August? (1 Viewer)

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member
Hi all –

My wife and I have booked a general tourist tour to Ecuador and now I’m trying to determine how to accomplish as much birding during it as possible.

I suspect we won’t have a lot of free time as we whip around the country in a bus, so I’m trolling through the internet to find out as much as I can about the birding at the places we’re staying – the best trails nearby, hummingbird feeders, etc. It looks like it gets light around 6am and dark just after 6pm, so that doesn’t leave a lot of time.

We go in August and hit these locations:

Quito – a full day tour of Quito at the start, and almost a full day on our own at the end. So far a recommendation for the Botanical Gardens and the Metropolitan Park.

Cabanas del Lego, Otavalo – arrive late afternoon, so there may be some time. In morning head to market in Otavalo, then Cotacachi, then Paguche waterfall. In afternoon head to Papallacta.

Termas de Papallacta – arrive afternoon. I’m hopeful to have a bit of time to walk around here. Would they have feeders here? After breakfast head to La Punta Ahuano.

Casa del Suizo on the Napo river – should have the first afternoon and the whole next day and next morning here – depending on what planned ‘activities’ I’m likely to skip.

Leave in morning and hit Puyo, Banos, El Pailon del Diablo.

Hacienda Manteles near Banos – arrive late afternoon.

Leave in the morning and hit Hacienda La Cienega, and then a rose plantation on the way back to Quito.

It’s our first trip to South America – so it’s likely all the birds will be lifers – I’ll go for quantity rather than rarity. Showy birds (Toucans, parrots, etc.) are always more fun to photograph.

Any tips from people that have been to these places is appreciated!

Thanks,
Robin
 

Peter C.

...just zis guy, you know?
Robin:

First off, I should say mention that I've only visited two of the places on the list, Quito and Termas de Papallacta.

However, since you are new to Ecuador, and therefore (almost) all the birds will be new to you, you probably don't have to go to a lot of trouble to see a lot of lifers - you'll run into lots of birds incidentally, I would imagine, everywhere you stay. In the brief amounts of time that I've been there, I found lots of really top-notch birds just in the gardens of the lodges we were staying in.

Re: Quito. We didn't spend more than a couple of days there, but found that the urban parks were not bad for birding; we visited one called La Carolina, out on Avenida Amazonas, and saw Sparkling Violetear and a few other species easily. But it is, after all, just another busy city - you'll mostly want to get the heck out of there, tour constraints permitting.

Re: Las Termas de Papallacta. Heaven. One of the top three birding destinations I have ever visited.

As far as I know, there are no feeders (weren't in 2007 anyway [ye gods, has it been that long?!]), but it doesn't matter, there are lots of flowers to attract the colibris. Not around the rooms and the spa buildings so much, but out on the Sendero de la Isla, tons of them.

I see that you are to leave Papallacta after breakfast (!?) Hope for a late breakfast (by birder's standards) and get out for a couple of hours' walk beforehand. Make the rest of the party wait, if necessary. The Sendero is only a short distance from the hotel, and I seem to recall that there were numerous opportunities to "loop back" along there (your progress will be slow).

I had too many lifers to list along there, but Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Great Sapphirewing, Shining Sunbeam, and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager were some of the more spectacular ones.

Peter
 

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member

Thanks for the link Niels. Lots of good information on a lot of places - this would be perfect when planning a birding trip in the future. I had found the segment previously on the Termas de Papallacta directly with Google, but didn't realize it was a part of such a large body of information.
Searches for the other locations came up empty though.

Thanks,
Robin
 

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member
Peter -

Thanks for the first hand info on Termas de Papallacta. I had not seen anything about the Sendero. I assume it's a trail that goes up the valley along the river. I'll keep digging for a map or something - sounds like just the thing I'm looking for.
Maybe I can skip breakfast to gain more time - I don't want them to leave without me.;)

I love hearing that lifers will fall in my lap everywhere I go! It's probably not smart to get this excited with this many months to go.

In Quito, I think La Carolina is where the Botanical Garden is.

Thanks,
Robin
 

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member
Peter -

Thanks for the first hand info on Termas de Papallacta. I had not seen anything about the Sendero...

Found the info on Sendero now - maintained trail you can take self-guided walks on. They say it takes about an hour - they must not count birding.
 

Peter C.

...just zis guy, you know?
Found the info on Sendero now - maintained trail you can take self-guided walks on. They say it takes about an hour - they must not count birding.
Yes, that's the one. It's quite flat, and so very easy (unlike the trails further up the river - we never tried those, we had too much else to do). And you're right, they absolutely do not count birding!

But even doing a little part of it should be good - it's just the river and some bushy trees alongside the river, but at that altitude, that is very attractive habitat for birds.
 

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member
Starting to realize that we're going to be in Quito pretty much an entire day waiting for our flight. We get in the night before, then catch shuttle in the "late evening" to the airport.
This probably gives us enough time for a nice day trip to the Mindo area?
I'd love to get to the Ecoroute and the Tandayapa Bird Lodge feeders. Their service could cost us $400, so I'm looking for a method to get there that's considerably cheaper but a bit less adventurous than the "pickup truck" method I just read about.

Still looking, but anyone familar with doing a single day trip to Mindo?
 

Nick French

Well-known member
Starting to realize that we're going to be in Quito pretty much an entire day waiting for our flight. We get in the night before, then catch shuttle in the "late evening" to the airport.
This probably gives us enough time for a nice day trip to the Mindo area?
I'd love to get to the Ecoroute and the Tandayapa Bird Lodge feeders. Their service could cost us $400, so I'm looking for a method to get there that's considerably cheaper but a bit less adventurous than the "pickup truck" method I just read about.

Still looking, but anyone familar with doing a single day trip to Mindo?

I have done some day and half trips from Quito using Renato as a bird guide. He is not too expensive and I got to see plenty of birds. He will pick you up in Quito and take you to excellent sites nearby. f I return I will certainly be using him again.

He can be contacted through the following website.
http://www.pululahuahostal.com/html/bird_watching_ecuador_-_pulula.html
 

Peter C.

...just zis guy, you know?
...
Still looking, but anyone familar with doing a single day trip to Mindo?

Mindo may be a bit far, for a single day excursion; I mean, sure you could go, but how long would you have at the destination? On the other hand, I think the Yanacocha Reserve, on the North-west side of Volcan Pinchincha, is somewhere that you can visit straight out of Quito (although I've never done it myself).

PC.
 

ptickner

Well-known member
Yanacocha is an easy day trip from Quito, and can have some fantastic birds. It is one of the easiest places to get good looks at Sword-billed Hummingbirds, and is one of the very few places there is a chance of seeing the mega-rare Black-breasted Puffleg, although they are primarily there from April to July.

I was there last February and had great looks at both Golden-breasted and Sapphire-vented Pufflegs, as well as quite an assortment of various Mountain-Tanagers and Brush-Finches.

I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for day trips from Quito!
 

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Peter C.

...just zis guy, you know?
Yanacocha is an easy day trip from Quito, and can have some fantastic birds. It is one of the easiest places to get good looks at Sword-billed Hummingbirds, and is one of the very few places there is a chance of seeing the mega-rare Black-breasted Puffleg, although they are primarily there from April to July.

Ooooh! That looks good, I still need a Sword-bill, despite a couple of trips up into the highlands ... thanks for the info.

Gotta wonder where the Black-breasted goes the rest of the year ... I've never heard of them being seen anywhere else! (Perhaps nobody knows.)
 

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member
Thought I'd check in once more. Our tour to Ecuador is coming up and I'm getting pretty excited. While it's a tourist-centric bus trip, I've found references to hummingbird feeders and gardens at most of the spots we'll be staying.
I've got a full day at Casa del Suizo a little ways into the Amazon on the Napo River (assuming I skip some of the touristy group activities that are planned). Hoping I'll be able to get some good advice locally on where to go when there - get into the jungle vs. stay near the river vs. bird the forest edges near the cleared out areas. I want to get pictures and know it will be difficult if the jungle is too thick.

We've also booked a day trip to Yanacocha Reserve and the Tandayapa Valley on our last day with a very reasonable bird guide that will pick us up in Quito. That should really scratch the itch - hoping for good weather at least on my "free" days.

Thanks for all the information. I'll do a trip report when I get back and figure out what I've seen.

Robin
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Good Luck and have fun Robin....this time of the year will be hot in the NAPA but it is always hot....not as many birds but when you bird Yanacocha you have to worry more about the FOG!...Tandayapa is good but bird the road, it is the best bang for your buck.... jim
 

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member
Thanks Imans.
Hopefully the fog will lift while we're there. Thanks for the tip on the road - I take it there's not much traffic to worry about if everyone birds it?
Can't wait!
 

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member
Just got back from our grand bus tour of Ecuador and working through pictures and bird IDs which I'll start sending out to the ID forum for confirmation soon. Photo conditions were pretty terrible the whole trip - not that many good photos, but hopefully good enough to ID.

Had a good time as a tourist, and our last day in the Mindo area salvaged the trip as a birder.
A few things conspired against us getting as much birding in as I had hoped. A big earthquake occurred just before we got there that closed a major highway for the first part of the week. This made us take a much longer alternate route several of the days - which really reduced the time I had at some very nice spots before darkness set in.

Our time at Termas de Papallacta was cut down because of this, and the next morning turned out very foggy and wet - didn't get to really see many birds there like I had hoped. Same with our stay at Hacienda Manteles in Patate - it was just starting to lighten up and get interesting when it was time to leave. We did get a great look at the active volcano, complete with lava flows that night - pretty neat.

On the other hand, our short lunch break at Hacienda La Cienega near Cotopaxi turned up lots of birds in their courtyard gardens which I did not expect. Would have liked to stay there all day.

Our free day which we had booked earlier with Jairo Sachez from Alambi went south. With no internet access all week, it wasn't until 5pm Saturday night that we found out he bailed on us for our Sunday 6am birding trek.
Seemed we'd be stuck in Quito, but we got a hold of people at Bellavista who signed us up for the day trip there. Not the concentrated birding we expected, but it gave us 3 good hours with a knowledgeable guide ("Nelson") in their forest and time watching their feeders. We then got another 30 minutes at Alambi watching hummingbirds on our way home.

We certainly have a lot of birds to go back to see.

Thanks to all for the info prior to the trip. If you get a chance to check out the ID page, I could use some expertise on some of these.

Robin
 

temmie

Well-known member
Next time, book a birding trip with some culture ;-)
It's much harder to avoid culture and civilization these days, than to avoid pure nature and good birds.
So aim for the birds and the culture will be there inevitably, too... Convince your wife ;-)
 

Frozen-in-MN

Well-known member
temmie -

I like your thinking. ;)

Although, I can't complain - the Gate 1 tour was a very good value overall, and we saw a lot of the country as an introduction.
Even with all that culture, I still captured about 52 new life birds - better than I hoped!

Robin
 

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