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Ten weeks in Ecuador, 2010 (1 Viewer)

ovenbird43

Well-known member
I'm currently at Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Amazonian Ecuador, working on a dissertation project on Wedge-billed Woodcreepers and mixed-species understory flocks. I've been here 5 weeks, with 3 more to go. What an amazing place! But there is more to it- I got married in late December, and since I was going to be flying down to Ecuador for field work anyway, we decided to spend our honeymoon in this beautiful country. So, for the two weeks prior to my arrival in the Amazon we traveled around the country visiting a number of different places in the Andes. It was a blast- although I have to say that it was rather heart-wrenching to say good bye to my husband for two months so soon after our marriage and after such a great trip together- the day he left, not even the Sword-billed Hummingbirds at Guango Lodge could console me for long.

Since there's so much to tell, I don't know yet how I'm going to do this- I may just give current updates on Tiputini as time, energy, and internet connection allows, and when I return home go back and tell all about the honeymoon.... we'll see. For now, here's a little bit about Tiputini and some of the birds I've seen here:

This station is located on the Tiputini River, a small tributary of the Napo, itself a major tributary of the Amazon. The rainforest here has received minimal impact from humans and is for the most part as pristine as can be, and in the absence of hunting a lot of the larger birds and mammals are relatively common and unwary. The banks of the Tiputini are steep, and so most of the area is terra firme forest unaffected by flooding, although there are a few narrow strips of varzea (and associated birds). There is a canopy tower and a lagoon, providing more good birding opportunities- a number of Hoatzin reside at the lagoon.

A few of the common birds here, often seen or heard right from the station grounds:

Salvin's Curassow
White-throated Toucan
Mealy Parrot
Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper - and other typical mixed-flock species
Warbling Antbird
Gray Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Thrush-like Antpitta
Blue-crowned Manakin
Orange-bellied Euphonia

well that's just a smattering of them... here are a few of the rarer species that I've been fortunate enough to see, that I've seen no more than once or twice so far:

Lined Forest-Falcon
Mottled Owl (supposedly rare in these parts, but I've flushed 3 different ones)
Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo
Ruddy Spinetail
Reddish-winged Bare-eye
Black Bushbird
Lunulated Antbird
Black-necked Red Cotinga

More later!B :) (<--- no beer here though, bummer.)
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
I got a much-wanted life bird yesterday: Banded Antbird. I heard one calling not far from where I stood, so I decided to try to track it down (not the first time I've tried, but this was the first time I was successful). Its ventriloquial voice led me around in circles, and when I finally found the bird I realized its voice wasn't as loud as I had imagined- what was right in front of me still sounded like it could be 20 meters or more away. But there it was on the forest floor! It sang a few more times, flicked its wings once, allowing me to see its white rump band, and then started foraging, walking slowly through the leaves. Beautiful!
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Congrats on getting married! Yes, such a great place to be for an extended period of time- way to go with the ground cuckoo among other good birds.
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
I took today off to get some data entry done, but I went for a short hike in the late afternoon. The prize today was a Collared Puffbird. Stunning! It flushed up to a perch just above eye level and sat there, allowing me a good long look. It didn't even move as I slowly walked by afterward.
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
Big Day

Every now and then I do a "big day", where I bird from dawn to dusk and try to get as many species as possible. I've done three now since I've been here, and each time the totals jump by quite a bit, mostly as a result of improved identification skills and familiarity with the local birds (especially as I learn more voices). I did one yesterday, combined with my field work- I just kept track of everything while I was working, and in late morning just continued on with plain old birding. I spent the morning working/birding in terra firme, then made my way down to the lagoon, came back along the river trail, and wrapped up the day at the canopy tower, for a total of 170 species. Two weeks ago my big day total was 144 (the day was interepted by a storm for 3 hours). I counted heard-only birds as long as they were already on my life list: thus, for instance, although I heard and identified Cinereous and Variegated Tinamous, since I have yet to see either species they didn't make it onto my day list. Here is the list, with lifers in bold:

Great Tinamou
Undulated Tinamou
Black Vulture
Black-faced Hawk
Lined Forest-Falcon
Black Caracara
Red-throated Caracara
Speckled Chachalaca
Spix's Guan
Salvin's Curassow
Plumbeous Pigeon
Ruddy Pigeon
Gray-fronted Dove
Ruddy Quail-Dove
Cobalt-winged Parakeet
Dusky-headed Parakeet
Black-headed Parrot
Orange-cheeked Parrot
Mealy Amazon
Yellow-crowned Amazon
Orange-winged Amazon
Scarlet Macaw
Blue-and-yellow Macaw
Squirrel Cuckoo
Greater Ani
Hoatzin
Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl
Crested Owl
Black-banded Owl
Ocellated Poorwill
Great Potoo
Short-tailed Swift
Gray-rumped Swift
Neotropical Palm-Swift
Great-billed Hermit
Straight-billed Hermit
Gray-breasted Sabrewing
White-necked Jacobin
Gould's Jewelfront
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
Black-throated Trogon
Collared Trogon
Green Kingfisher
Black-fronted Nunbird
White-fronted Nunbird
Swallow-winged Puffbird
Blue-crowned Motmot
Rufous Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Brown Jacamar
Purplish Jacamar
Gilded Barbet
Lemon-throated Barbet
Golden-collared Toucanet
Many-banded Aracari
White-throated Toucan
Channel-billed Toucan
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker
Chestnut Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Plain-brown Woodcreeper
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper
Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper
Ocellated Woodcreeper
Striped Woodcreeper
Long-billed Woodcreeper
Plain Xenops
Eastern Woodhaunter
Rufous-rumped Foliage-Gleaner
Cinnamon-rumped Foliage-Gleaner
Olive-backed Foliage-Gleaner
Brown-rumped Foliage-Gleaner
Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner
Black-tailed Leaftosser
Fasciated Antshrike
Plain-winged Antshrike
Spot-winged Antshrike
Mouse-colored Antshrike
Cinereous Antshrike
Dusky-throated Antshrike
Warbling Antbird
Gray Antbird
Black Antbird
Chestnut-shouldered Antwren
Dugand's Antwren
White-flanked Antwren
Long-winged Antwren
Gray Antwren
Plain-throated Antwren
Rufous-tailed Antwren
Yasuni Antwren
Pygmy Antwren
Amazonian Streaked-Antwren
Black-faced Antbird
Spot-backed Antbird
Scale-backed Antbird
Sooty Antbird
Spot-winged Antbird
White-plumed Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
Rufous-capped Antthrush
Striated Antthrush
Thrush-like Antpitta
Ochre-striped Antpitta
Rusty-belted Tapaculo
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
Golden-crowned Spadebill
Ringed Antpipit
Brownish Twistwing
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Tropical Kingbird
Piratic Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Gray-capped Flycatcher
Lesser Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Bright-rumped Attila
Screaming Piha
Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Golden-headed Manakin
Wire-tailed Manakin
Blue-crowned Manakin
White-crowned Manakin
Blue-backed Manakin
Striped Manakin
Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin
Violaceous Jay
Gray-breasted Martin
White-banded Swallow
Tawny-faced Gnatwren
Thrush-like Wren
Coraya Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Southern Nightingale-Wren
Dusky-capped Greenlet
Yellow-green Vireo
White-necked Thrush
Lawrence's Thrush
Blackpoll Warbler
Buff-rumped Warbler
Black-faced Dacnis
Green Honeycreeper
Purple Honeycreeper
Swallow Tanager
Paradise Tanager
Green-and-gold Tanager
Opal-crowned Tanager
Opal-rumped Tanager
Turquoise Tanager
Yellow-backed Tanager
Yellow-bellied Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Masked Crimson Tanager
Silver-beaked Tanager
Gray-headed Tanager
Fulvous Shrike-Tanager
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager
Flame-crested Tanager
White-lined Tanager
Slate-colored Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
Red-capped Cardinal
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Crested Oropendola
Russet-backed Oropendola
Green Oropendola
Orange-bellied Euphonia
Rufous-bellied Euphonia
White-lored Euphonia
 

Birdingcraft

Well-known member
Pretty awesome! Isn't Amazonian Ecuador just fantastic? I got the chance to bird around the Yasuni Research Station for less than a week some years ago. How I would love to go back there! Thanks for these posts about birding Tiputini.
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
I was quite excited the other day as I was watching an understory flock and found a Rufous-breasted Piculet. I just love piculets, they are so cute, and this guy was doubly handsome with reddish all over and flecks of shining ruby red in his crown. Wow!

The next day (yesterday) got me another woodpecker lifer, this one a Yellow-throated Woodpecker excavating a nest hole, surprisingly low: just above eye level, allowing excellent views. Too bad I didn't have my camera with me!
 

stephennj

Well-known member
Congratulations on your marriage ! This will be (..alllready is) quite an exciting trip report !! thanks for the updates !
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
Seconded! Could you give us some details on this? Was it with an antswarm? Peccaries? Just hanging out in the woods?

Just hanging out, apparently. It was quite a surprise (of course), it crossed the trail right in front of me, and while I didn't get to study it in detail I was able to note the crest and long tail, overall color and general roadrunner-like aspect. I couldn't believe it- rather literally, but it crossed the trail again in the other direction, and yep, it sure was a ground-cuckoo, and with something in its bill. I took off after it, trying to crash through the forest quietly, but I didn't get any more views.

Strangely I haven't been coming across many antswarms, not since the first couple weeks, and the few I do find have been rather small, apparently attended only by Bicolored and White-plumed Antbirds... not to complain about "only" seeing those guys, mind!
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
Things have been rather quiet lately. Few birds are singing at all, and even fewer sing past about 8 o clock. Mixed-species flocks are still active, but my wedge-billed woodcreepers aren't singing anymore, making it more difficult to get resights of banded individuals.

However, yesterday evening things sure were hopping at the canopy tower! There is usually a canopy flock near the tower, and after a good afternoon rain many of the tanagers were taking turns bathing in a bromeliad: absolutely stunning Paradise Tanagers, Green-and-gold Tanager, Yellow-bellied Tanager, Opal-rumped Tanager, and Opal-crowned Tanager. Foraging nearby were other species I frequently encounter up there, such as Lineated Woodcreeper, White-lored Tyrannulet, Purple Honeycreeper, and a visitor from North America (or a South American that visits NA to breed, depending on how you view it), a Blackpoll Warbler. Some sort of woody vine is in bloom on the ceiba tree holding the platform, which has attracted all sorts of hummingbirds, including some rather rare and/or sporadic species: a male and female Fiery Topaz (wow!!), several Black-bellied Thorntails (also wow!!), Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Gould's Jewelfront, White-necked Jacobin, Black-throated Mango. There are reputed to be 10-12 species visiting these flowers, so undoubtedly in the poor light yesterday I missed some. But this afternoon is sunny, so I'm going to return, this time with my camera!
 

stephennj

Well-known member
The wiring in my brain is going into overload just thinking about some of these species !
You must be having the time of you life ...

Firey Topaz !
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
My two months here is almost at an end, tomorrow morning I begin the long journey back to Quito, and then the next day off to the states- and at long last back to the arms of my new husband! As exciting as that is, I feel more than a little sadness about leaving this place- but I will be back next year for more research.

Yesterday I attempted one last big day. Despite the fact that many birds are calling much less frequently, I was on track to beat my last total, until the weather turned fowl in mid-afternoon. I waited out the storm, and climbed up the canopy tower when it was still thundering and drizzling. I had been expecting to get up to 20 additional species for the day here, but activity was dead- absolutely NO tanagers, no flycatchers, only one little Purple Honeycreeper and a few hummingbirds (but no topaz). Oh well... it had still been a good day, with 164 species. I'll post the species list soon.

Below are a few pictures I took earlier in the week at the canopy tower: male Fiery Topaz and White-necked Jacobin.
 

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ovenbird43

Well-known member
Wait, that's 165 species... I had forgotten Yellow-green Vireo. Strangely I managed to miss both Rufous-capped and Black-faced Antthrushes... and of course I've heard no fewer than 3 of the latter already today! I had a decent collection of woodcreeper species and the full set of Myrmotherula antwrens (not counting Rio Suno, which is exceedingly rare here). And for the first time ever I found more than 4 ramphastids (toucans, etc.) in a single day. One of the real highlights of the day though was at the very beginning- when an Ocellated Poorwill came and snatched an insect that was fluttering around in the light of my headlamp. Neat! Three lifers, in bold:

Great Tinamou
Undulated Tinamou
Plumbeous Kite
Double-toothed Kite
Black Caracara
Spix's Guan
Common Piping-Guan
Salvin's Curassow
Gray-necked Wood-Rail
Gray-winged Trumpeter
Plumbeous Pigeon
Ruddy Pigeon
Gray-fronted Dove
Cobalt-winged Parakeet
Maroon-tailed Parakeet
Blue-headed Parrot
Black-headed Parrot
Orange-cheeked Parrot
Mealy Amazon
Yellow-crowned Amazon
Red-and-green Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Squirrel Cuckoo
Greater Ani
Hoatzin
Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl
Crested Owl
Ocellated Poorwill
Paraque
Short-tailed Nighthawk
Short-tailed Swift
Gray-rumped Swift
Neotropical Palm-Swift
Great-billed Hermit
Straight-billed Hermit
Black-bellied Thorntail
White-necked Jacobin
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
Amazonian White-tailed Trogon
Black-throated Trogon
Collared Trogon
White-chested Puffbird
Black-fronted Nunbird
White-fronted Nunbird
Rufous Motmot
Broad-billed Motmot
Yellow-billed Jacamar
Purplish Jacamar
Gilded Barbet
Lemon-throated Barbet
Golden-collared Toucanet
Many-banded Aracari
Ivory-billed Aracari
White-throated Toucan
Channel-billed Toucan
Yellow-throated Woodpecker
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker
Scale-breasted Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Red-necked Woodpecker
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper
Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper
Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Buff-throated Woodcreeper
Ocellated Woodcreeper
Striped Woodcreeper
Long-billed Woodcreeper
Red-billed Scythebill
Eastern Woodhaunter
Chestnut-winged Hookbill
Rufous-rumped Foliage-Gleaner
Olive-backed Foliage-Gleaner
Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner
Black-tailed Leaftosser
Tawny-throated Leaftosser
Fasciated Antshrike
Undulated Antshrike
Plain-winged Antshrike
Spot-winged Antshrike
Mouse-colored Antshrike
Pearly Antshrike
Cinereous Antshrike
Dusky-throated Antshrike
Warbling Antbird
Yellow-browed Antbird
Gray Antbird
Black Antbird
Dugand's Antwren
White-flanked Antwren
Long-winged Antwren
Gray Antwren
Plain-throated Antwren
Rufous-tailed Antwren
Yasuni Antwren
Ornate Antwren
Pygmy Antwren
Short-billed Antwren
Amazonian Streaked-Antwren
Black-faced Antbird
Spot-backed Antbird
Scale-backed Antbird
White-shouldered Antbird
White-plumed Antbird
Striated Antthrush
Thrush-like Antpitta
Rusty-belted Tapaculo
White-lored Tyrannulet
Gray Elaenia
Zimmer's Flatbill
Gray-crowned Flatbill
Orange-eyed Flatbill
Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher
Black-and-white Tody-Flycatcher
Double-banded Pygmy-Tyrant
White-eyed Tody-Tyrant
Golden-crowned Spadebill
Drab Water-Tyrant
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Tropical Kingbird
Piratic Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Gray-capped Flycatcher
Lesser Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Bright-rumped Attila
Grayish Mourner
Screaming Piha
Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Golden-headed Manakin
Wire-tailed Manakin
Blue-crowned Manakin
White-crowned Manakin
Blue-backed Manakin
Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin
Violaceous Jay
Gray-breasted Martin
White-winged Swallow
White-banded Swallow
Tawny-faced Gnatwren
Thrush-like Wren
Coraya Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Southern Nightingale-Wren
Dusky-capped Greenlet
Red-eyed Vireo
Yellow-green Vireo
White-necked Thrush
Lawrence's Thrush
Purple Honeycreeper
Green-and-gold Tanager
Yellow-bellied Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Masked Crimson Tanager
Silver-beaked Tanager
Fulvous Shrike-Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Slate-colored Grosbeak
Red-capped Cardinal
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Russet-backed Oropendola
Green Oropendola
Orange-bellied Euphonia
White-vented Euphonia
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
Ecuador Part II (well, actually Part I?)

Now that I've returned home, it's a good time to backtrack a bit and write about the honeymoon travels. Tom and I flew out of the US and into Quito on Christmas day. Turns out we had a white Christmas in NW Arkansas, rather unusual, so the taxi ride to the airport was rather harrowing on snowy, hilly roads, and our flight departed an hour late. We took off on a frozen runway. We missed our connection in Houston, but after about 7 hours of suspense we boarded an afternoon flight to Quito. Whew! We landed in Quito, made it through customs, and took a taxi to our hostel without event.

Dec 26
We spent this day in Quito, so there isn't much to report in the way of birds. We stayed in a hostel named Casona de Mario, which had a small garden that attracted the typical downtown Quito species: Eared Dove, Great Thrush, Sparkling Violetear, and Rufous-collared Sparrow. We spent much of the day wandering around, getting supplies and food for the coming weeks, exploring, and meeting other people staying in our hostel. That evening some folks invited us out to a bar away from the main tourist area- unfortunately I didn't write down the name of the bar or the delicious drinks we had there. I also ought to have written down the name of the absolutely awful macaroni and cheese mix that we bought from the supermarket and cooked in our hostel- the better to avoid it in the future! Perhaps that's why the kids bagging our groceries laughed when they saw it among our purchases.

Dec 27
Two lifers greeted me this morning in the tree just outside our window- a couple of Cinereous Conebills and a Blue-and-yellow Tanager. Today we were to travel to Hosteria Papagayo, a hostel on a farm about an hour south of Quito, just south of the town of Machachi and in sight of Volcan Cotopaxi. Our intention was to take a bus south of Quito and hop off when we came to the hostel (right on the Panamerican highway), but the taxi driver taking us to the bus station talked us into letting him take us all the way to the hostel- apparently the south Quito terminal (Quitumbe I believe is the name) is quite far south, and Machachi not that much farther, so it didn't cost much extra for the convenience.

The hostel/farm is located along a dirt road 3 kilometers off the highway, winding through pastures and eucalyptus groves. The main building of the hostel had a nice porch on the back with a garden and hummingbird feeder. Tom and I settled into our rooms and then wandered around the grounds. At the hummingbird feeder were Sparking Violetears and a stunning Shining Sunbeam, along with several Black Flowerpiercers. We walked down the dirt road a bit, finding Southern Yellow-Grosbeaks, plenty Great Thrushes, Spectacled Redstart, Plain-colored Seedeater, and a Tufted Tit-Tyrant. I followed a skulking brown bird in the brush, getting separate glimpses of various body parts that I eventually managed to piece together- Azara's Spinetail. Back at the hostel, as Tom and I sat on the porch enjoying some drinks, I noticed a strange bird sitting on the top of a tree- a Red-crested Cotinga, wow!
 

power2thepeaceful17

Well-known member
Hi Ovenbird43,
Your report left me positively drooling! I spent 5 weeks birding in Ecuador,including an al-too-short trip to Sani Lodge, this past winter. I will be back in Ecuador sometim ein the coming years and was wondering if you know how one would go about, as a tourist that is, organizing a visit to Tiputini Bio Station? Any idea of the costs involved? Also, how do you get there...I presume the final leg at least is by boat?
thanks for the fantastic reports!
 

ovenbird43

Well-known member
Hi Ovenbird43,
Your report left me positively drooling! I spent 5 weeks birding in Ecuador,including an al-too-short trip to Sani Lodge, this past winter. I will be back in Ecuador sometim ein the coming years and was wondering if you know how one would go about, as a tourist that is, organizing a visit to Tiputini Bio Station? Any idea of the costs involved? Also, how do you get there...I presume the final leg at least is by boat?
thanks for the fantastic reports!

Hello power2thepeaceful17,

I made my initial visit to Tiputini in Jan 2009 essentially as a tourist, and although it is remote and difficult to reach- two legs of the trip are by boat- the station coordinates all the transportation and someone is there to meet you at each step. The transportation is as such: fly from Quito to Coca (a bus is also an option), then a 2-hour boat ride down the Napo River, then about a 1 to 1.5 hour drive south to the Tiputini River, and finally a 2-hour ride down the Tiputini (this is the nicest leg of the trip). Transportation costs are $120 round trip for the plane ticket, and $90 round trip for all the rest. The station fees differ for visitors and researchers - for visitors I think it is $65 a day (at least, that's what they are going to charge for my husband to visit me during my next field season). The station fees include three meals a day and laundry twice a week. It is a fantastic place and I am looking forward to going back this winter. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask here or send me a pm. Also for additional information and contact info for the station, the website is http://tiputini.usfq.edu.ec/.
 
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