ECUADOR December 2006
South of Loja City:
After a morning at the underbirded and excellent road to Cerro Toledo, just south of Yangana, we went to the Fundación Jocotoco's Tapichalaca Reserve for a two-night visit. The cozy Casa Simpson, at c. 8,000 feet, offers great food, and fine birding from the porch, with flocks moving around the small garden, while at the hummingbird feeders half-a-dozen or more species entertain, including:
Amethyst-throated Sunangel - fairly common at the feeders.
Flame-throated Sunangel - fairly common at the feeders.
Rufous-capped Thornbill - scarce at the feeders, during our visit one bird would come in to feed every ten minutes or so.
The bird that started it all here: Jocotoco Antpitta can be frustratingly hard to see; we were lucky - plus we had the help of one of the guards to entice this bird to show itself so well.
Another rare and limited-range species protected by the Tapichalaca Reserve is Golden-plumed Parakeet; we saw a nesting pair, plus a flock of eleven fly by at close range.
One of my most-wanted birds was Black-throated Tody-Tyrant - and I found one in the parking lot!.
Driving downslope below Valladolid for an afternoon, we found a number of eastern foothill/lowland species, including an unexpected Ecuadorian Piedtail and a female Blue-tailed Emerald at an elevation of c. 3,500 feet. The only Marañon specialty we found was the striking Marañon Thrush.
On the road to Cerro Toledo, at the transition from the treeline to the paramo, we found a pair of Neblina Metaltails - and a Viridian Metaltail at precisely the same spot. A bit lower down in the bamboo-dominated upper temperate forest we found a distant but nicely-perched Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan and a pair of cooperative Mouse-colored Thistletails.