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Extraordinary Ecuador

Tuesday, April 30, 2024 6:24 PM | Cynthia Woodard (Administrator)

The birding group poses with their guide Freddy Perez (on left), and driver Victor (sitting, center), and several guides from the Refugio Paz de las aves, who led us to four species of antpittas.

On March 13th, 13 birders embarked on the second Venice Area Audubon Society hosted trip to beautiful, birdy Ecuador. The trip, facilitated by Holbrook Travel, originated in Quito and included birding in Mindo, Puembo and Cosanga. Two hundred and eighty-nine species of birds were observed or heard under the expert eye of our guide Freddy Perez. As Gary Forbes put it so aptly, “Freddy was a fabulous guide who engaged everyone on the trip at their own level of skill and interest.”

We birded at Yanacocha Biological Reserve, (at 10,000’ elevation), Alambi Cloud Forest Reserve, Milipe Bird Sancuary, Mashpi-Amagusa Reserve, Refugio Paz de las Aves, Antisana Ecological Reserve (11,500’), Guango Lodge, and the cloud forest reserve at San Isidro Lodge. In addition to the many beautiful and colorful birds, the people, food and weather were all wonderful.

Marj Watson especially loved all the colorful tanagers and hummingbirds at the feeders, and said that although it was strenuous hiking up and down hill in the mud to see the different antpittas, that was a memory she will not soon forget. Due to their plump shape and short tail, antpittas are described as potatoes on stilts.

Debbie Blackwell thought the hummingbirds of all kinds were amazing! Did you know that Ecuador holds the world record for the highest number of hummingbirds species?  Over 132 different hummingbirds are found there.

Tom Clarkson commented that he especially enjoyed seeing the Andean Condor soaring along the cliff face; “It's one beautiful bird!” he said. Marcia P. also loved seeing the far away condors as well as the Carunculated Caracara.

Margaret Viens’ favorite thing about the trip was getting over 200 life birds – she especially loved the colorful tanagers.

I really enjoyed the spectacular, lush scenery, and one of my favorite birds was the Paradise Tanager, which rivals our Painted Buntings. They wear a feather coat of vibrant scarlet, lime green, black, and sky and baby blue. But I was most thrilled to see a Common Potoo, a relative of the night jars. With their upright posture and cryptic plumage of black, gray, white, and red, they are nearly indistinguishable from the snags that they perch upon during the day.  

I believe the group would agree that it was an extraordinary trip! The VAAS board is looking into more full-service birding trips in the coming year.

- Eileen Gerle



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