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TOUR SUMMARIES

Recent Updates From the Field

Northwest Ecuador July 2010 Guided by Jose Illanes and Andrew Spencer

When most people hear “Choco” what comes to

the word

mind?

I

would bet that for the vast, vast majority of the word it is confusion. But when birders who know the neotropics hear that word it is lush forest, high species lists, and ENDEMICS that they think of. The July 2010 Northwestern Ecua- dor tour was the rst time that TB has run a retooled Choco endemics tour designed to target the maxi- mum number of these range- restricted birds. And I must say it was a smashing success! The tour started at the high, eln- forest clad slope of Yanacocha, where a combination of high eleva-

tion the

species not seen elsewhere on trip combined with excellent

hummingbird

feeders

made

for

a

good introduction Ecuador. The next

to northwest couple of days

covered the gorgeous Valley and nearby sites;

Tandayapa avian high-

lights include the aptly named Beautiful Jay, tiny-but-erce Cloud- forest Pygmy-Owl, skulking Flam- mulated Treehunter, and a myriad of cloudforest specialties. Continuing down in elevation, we covered sites as varied as the Tandayapa Valley, Milpe, Silanche, and the Paz de Aves “Antpitta Farm”. The pièce de résistance of the trip, though, was the remote Playa de Oro. That site in particular deserves special mention, since this tour had been reworked especially to include this awesome site. The forests here are among the best in northwest Ecuador, with primary forest stretching as far as the eye can see and many rare, almost mythical species present. The birding there was spectacular, with species such as the glowing Scarlet-and-white Tanager, rare Choco Woodpecker, skulking Tawny-faced Quail, and rasping Lita Woodpecker all showing them-

selves well. perhaps what

Rare skulkers are Playa de Oro is best

known for, and perhaps summed this up better Berlepsch’s Tinamou that

nothing than a walked

right

across

the

trail

at

close

range

much to the delight of all. The last couple of days of the trip continued the streak of rare and local species, the cream of the crop perhaps being a trio of Yellow-eared Toucanets at Yalare, a very rare species indeed in Ecuador. After circling back through the northern highlands (and stopping to tick the local Blue-headed Sapphire and reed-bound Subtropical Doradito) we ended back in Quito, many Choco endemics the richer.

Our next Northwest Ecuador tours are running in 2011: January 16-29 and November 4-17

www.tropicalbirding.com

info@tropicalbirding.com

1-800-348-5941

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