|PO Box 9021,
Wilmington, DE 19809, USA
Phone: Toll-free in USA 1-888-721-3555
A Focus On Nature Tour
WESTERN and NORTHERN
For Birds mostly, but also
Butterflies and other Nature
July 23- August 4, 2016
with Armas Hill,
to be led by expert local Ecuadorian guides
Itinerary follows below
A Red-capped Manakin
Among the birds during this tour,
many that are regional endemics & specialties.
among groups including hummingbirds,
tanagers, antpittas, other antbirds,
cotingas, parakeets and potoos.
And many of these at special places:
in reserves that have been established
to preserve habitat and protect species.
You'll get to know these places:
the Canande Reserve, Playa de Oro,
Mindo and Milpe.
The birds and their status
at each of these reserves are notated
in the 3-part "List & Photo Gallery of Ecuador Birds",
reached from the link below.
A List & Photo Gallery of
Ecuador Birds, in 4 Parts:
Part #1: Tinamous to Swifts Part #2: Hummingbirds to Flycatchers
Part#3: Antshrikes to Grosbeaks Part #4: Vireos to Grosbeaks
A List & Photo Gallery of South America Mammals
A List & Photo Gallery of South America Butterflies & Moths, in 6 parts
Tour Registration Form
Sat, Jul 23:
Arrival in Quito, Ecuador. Overnight in Quito.
Sun, Jul 24:
This day we'll visit a new and exciting site in the western foothills of the Andes, where such scarce birds as the Esmeraldas Antbird, Choco Vireo, Indigo Flowerpierer, and both Rufous-brown and Black Solitaires have recently been found. There is also a good opportunity to see the endemic and gorgeous Orange-breasted Fruiteater, that is surprisingly numerous, along with Glistening-green and Moss-backed Tanagers, and Pacific Tuftedcheek.
We'll be at the lodge before dark to view the incredible hummingbird feeders, where as many as 20 different species can be seen, including the Violet-tailed Sylph, Brown Inca, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, and Purple-throated Woodstar.
The now-famous antpitta reserve near Mindo will undoubtedly be a highlight of the tour. Here, a local farmer has started hand-feeding Giant, Moustached, and Yellow-breasted Antpittas with amazing success.
We also will have a chance to see other Choco bird specialties, including the Velvet-purple Coronet and Empress Brilliant.
In the afternoon, we'll bird in the upper Tandayapa Valley to see the colorful Toucan Barbet, Tanager Finch, and Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan.
Tue, Jul 26:
The Mindo Cloudforest Foundation (MCF) Reserve is one of the best birding sites in Ecuador. Over a dozen Choco endemic birds have been found at Milpe, though the highlight for many visitors is the lek of Club-winged Manakins. The males use their wings to make buzzing sounds to impress the females.
Other avian targets are the Choco Trogon and the Ochre-breasted and Rufous-throated Tanagers.
Afterwards, we go to the Canande Reserve. Some birds along the way can include the Ecuadorian Ground-Dove, Snowy-throated Kingbird, Swallow Tanager, and Pacific Hornero.
We'll arrive at the Canande Lodge in the mid-afternoon. Once there, we can see Red-capped Manakin, Rufous Piha, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, and at the end of the day, the Choco Poorwill.
But before going further, let's take a moment for a few words about what is in the Canande Reserve, and about that word "Choco" as in the name of the Poorwill.
The "Choco" tropical rainforest, a mixture of primary and secondary forest, is a biome that extends from the Pacific coastal lowland of northwestern Ecuador north through Colombia to the Darien of Panama.
The region is characterized by high rainfall, high species diversity, and a high proportion of endemic species.
Less than about 25 per cent of the Choco remains intact overall, with about 10 per cent remaining in Ecuador.
Birdlife International has listed 62 bird species as endemic to the Choco bioregion.
In the Canande Reserve, there are 37 species of Choco endemics that are threatened.
In addition, the Great Curassow is present - a species not threatened or endemic to the Choco, but close to extirpation within Ecuador.
Other notable threatened birds in the reserve include: Great Green Macaw, Baudo Guan, Plumbeous Forest-Falcon, Banded Ground Cuckoo, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, and Yellow-green Bush-Tanager.
In all, over 300 species of birds have been found in the Canande Reserve.
Four cat species occur at Canande: Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, and Margay. Other mammals include Collared Peccary and Red Brocket Deer.
Three species of monkeys are regularly seen close to the lodge: the Mantled Howler, Brown-headed Spider Monkey, and White-headed Capuchin.
A survey of the reptiles and amphibians in the reserve found 71 species, 35 of which are Ecuadorian endemics and 3 are globally threatened.
Colorful Dendrobates frogs are conspicuous around the lodge.
Data from the survey has been included in a recent book about the reptiles and amphibians of the Ecuadorian Choco.
A survey of the butterflies in the reserve has also been published in another recent book, and a new species of butterfly has been named Eustelasia jocotoco (after the Jocotoco Foundation that was involved in the creation and the continuance of the reserve.
Botanical studies have not surprisingly shown that there are many unusual and threatened plant species in the Canande Reserve. These include a thriving colony of a critically endangered lily and a rare palm.
A new species of Liparis orchid has been found at Canande.
3 nights at the Canande Lodge.
And now back to more about the birding:
Wed, Jul 27:
Some of the best birding at Rio Canande is by foot up to the "mirador" . There have been recent sightings of extremely rare Banded Ground-Cuckoos. Sightings of this enigmatic species have become more regular at Rio Canande. Local guides have determined that there are at least 3 territories in that area.
There is also a good chance to see the rare & local Golden-chested Tanager on its territory.
Some other birds in the area include: Broad-billed Sapayoa, Blue-crowned Manakin, Black-tipped Cotinga, Great Jacamar, and for those who want a bigger bird, the Ornate Hawk-Eagle.
Thu, Jul 28:
Less than an hour from the lodge, and past the tiny village of Hoja Blanca, we'll be birding along a road where canopy flocks can more easily be seen than they can inside the forest. A mix of colorful tanagers will be in those flocks.
Other birds that we can see include: King Vulture, Black Hawk-eagle, Barred Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet (yes, it's true!), Pacific Flatbill, and Slaty Spinetail.
After a few hours of morning birding, we'll go to Tundaloma Lodge for one night. In the afternoon, around the lodge, we may see the rare Brown Wood-Rail and the Blue Cotinga, in addition to birds more common such as the White-necked Puffbird and Red-legged Honeycreeper.
We'll start the morning birding in secondary forest that can be quite good for the Five-colored Barbet, both the Black-tipped and the Blue Cotingas, the Black-breasted Puffbird, and sometimes even the extremely rare Yellow-eared Toucanet.
Later we'll drive to the village of Selva Alegre, and take a motorized canoe for about 2 hours to the Playa de Oro Lodge. The lodge is somewhat basic, but its location near pristine Choco lowland rainforest makes staying there for 3 nights very worthwhile!
Playa de Oro is a remote village along the Rio Santiago in the province of Esmeraldas. The lodge named "Campamento Tigrillo" is located about 20 minutes upstream from the village. It is as remote as one can get into the Ecuadorian Choco, and sadly it is one of the last parts of truly pristine Choco rainforest that remains in Ecuador. The area has many superb trails. Some are moderately strenuous, but others around the lodge are easy and flat.
Sun, Jul 31 & Mon, Aug 1:
Most of the best birding at Playa de Oro is along the forest trails. And that birding can be rewarding with rare Choco endemics and shy birds such as the Baudo Guan, Tawny-faced Quail, and Berlepsch's Tinamou. These species are seen here more easily than anywhere else on earth.
The Streak-chested Antpitta is quite common, and even the rare and beautiful Rufous-crowned Antpitta can be seen.
This is said to be the best place in Ecuador to see the Broad-billed Sapayoa. Recent research has shown that bird to be in a monotypic family - one related to the broadbills of the Old World.
And again there will be tanagers worth seeing such as the Scarlet-and-white and the Lemon-spectacled.
A flock of birds near the lodge can have within it the forementioned Sapayoa, but regular members of the flock are apt to include the Western Slaty Antshrike, White-flanked Antwren, Dot-winged Antwren, Checker-throated Antwren, Griscom's Antwren, the Tawny-crowned Greenlet, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, and the Tawny-crested Tanager, as well as the Ducky-faced Tanager, Stripe-throated Wren, Western Woodhaunter, and the Sulphur-rumped Myiobious - what's that? It used to be called the Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher.
Along various trails, we'll have chances to see birds such as the Lita Woodpecker, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Ocellated Antbird, and Black-headed Antthrush, in addition to a couple "good ones" already mentioned, the Great Jacamar and the Lanceolated Monklet.
The first morning birding will be around Playa de Oro and the road to Lita in an effort to either see something better or something missed until now.
Then, we go higher to a new site, the road to Chical, a recently discovered birding road that provides a good chance to see a species very rare in Ecuador, the gorgeous Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, which actually can be rather common along this road.
Also the Purplish-mantled Tanager, Hoary Puffleg, and again an opportunity for the Black Solitaire.
We'll spend a night at the Hacienda Primavera, a nice new hotel about 30 minutes from our main birding area.
Wed, Aug 3:
Early One more time, we'll go a few kilometers from the hacienda for birding in the prime area of the rare Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, before starting our travel back to Quito.
There will be plenty to see along the way (the birding, and the new birds during the tour will not end until our plane lifts from the ground the next day).
A hummingbird in the scrub of the dry region through which we'll pass is the Blue-headed Sapphire.
During a stop at the Laguna San Pablo, we'll look for the Ecuadorian Rail and a small flycatcher known as the Subtropical Doradito. Our last overnight in Quito.
Thu, Aug 4:
We depart Ecuador this day for home.
Price, in US dollars, based on double occupancy:
Single supplement: $345
All overnight accommodations
in comfortable hotels/lodges
Meals, except those on July 23 & August 4
Expert bilingual birding guide in addition to FONT leader
Price does not include:
Airport departure tax (if required)
Meals on July 23 & August 4
Items of a personal nature, such as extra drinks, alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, phone calls
A deposit of $500 will assure a place on the tour.