Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cerro Blanco - 10 to 11 Aug

The last site on my trip was Cerro Blanco, just south of Guayaquil. A reasonable taxi ride from the centre of the city, I was on site at about 7:00 am each day. A lot of the same birds from other sites, with some very nice additions. Best new birds were Crane Hawk, White-tailed Jay, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, Grey-cheeked Parakeet, Plain Antvireo, Yellow-olive Flatbill, Crimson-breasted Finch, Olivaceous Woodcreeper.

A further kilometre down the road was the mangroves at Puerto Hondo. An hour spent here was quite productive. The highlight of the site are the Rufous-necked Wood-Rails in the mangroves, one of which showed well. Also present were Roseate Spoonbill, Little Blue Heron, Green Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher.

Crane Hawk
Yellow-olive Flatbill
Crimson-breasted Finch
White-tailed Jay
Grey-cheeked Parakeet
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner. Brilliant name, brilliant bird!
Plain Antvireo
Grey-and-Gold Warbler

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ayampe - 5 to 7 Aug

Ayampe is an excellent village to go birding from, situated at the mouth of a river, the Rio Ayampe. The river mouth is beset by sand flies, but with perseverance and a lot of bug spray then the birding is good. One of the mysteries I'd been pondering was my inability to find the small charadrius plovers that ought to be here, I'd targeted the river mouth as a possible site to rectify this omission. Hey presto, as soon as I got to the mud I had both Collared Plover and Wilson's Plover vying for attention, with Semipalmated Plover for comparison.

Other birds on and around the river itself included Cocoi Heron, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Green Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, Masked Water-Tyrant.

Upriver the habitat became wetter with some nice patches of forest. I didn't really spend enough time here, but the best birds were; Grey-lined Hawk, Baron's Hermit, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Ecuadorian Piculet, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Snowy-throated Kingbird, One-coloured Becard, Ecuadorian Thrush, Masked Yellowthroat, Grey-and-Gold Warbler, Guira Tanager, Saffron Siskin.

At two locations, on the beach and on a rocky stream in the forest, I encountered a sandpiper species that really has to be Baird's Sandpiper. The habitat was 'wrong' at both locations, but from a size basis alone the only options are Baird's and White-rumped, and they didn't have white rumps.

Collared Plover
Wilson's Plover
Possible Baird's Sandpiper
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Masked Water-Tyrant
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Cocoi Heron
Variable Seedeater
Guayaquil Woodpecker
Yellow-tailed Oriole
White-edged Oriole

Ecuadorian Piculet
Ecuadorian Ground-Dove

Friday, August 5, 2016

Puerto Lopez, Rio Blanco - 5 Aug

Going inland from Puerto Lopez is a road that takes you to Rio Blanco. From here several radiate, with guides to show people around. Unfortunately, due mainly to my poor Spanish, arrangements were confused. I therefore walked the road from Rion Blanco back to Puerto Lopez twice, about 10km. The birding was excellent and varied however!

Best birds: Rufous-headed Chachlaca, White-tipped Dove, Whooping Motmot, Ecuadorian Piculet, Collared Antshrike, Red-billed Scythebill, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Necklaced Spinetail, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Common Tody Flycatcher, Baird's Flycatcher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Fasciated Wren, Superciliated Wren, Speckle-breasted Wren, Plumbeous-backed Thrush, Tropical Parula, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Streaked Saltator, Black-capped Sparrow, Hepatic Mountain-Tanager, Golden Grosbeak, White-edged Oriole, Thick-billed Euphonia.

Black-capped Sparrow
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Streaked Woodcreeper
Thick-billed Euphonia
Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant
Plumbeous-backed Thrush
Collared Antshrike
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Superciliated Wren 
Fasciated Wren
Necklaced Spinetail

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Hump-back Whales on the way to Isla de la Plata - 4 Aug

The trip out to Isla de la Plata took about an hour and a half because we kept stopping to look at the whales! Unbelievable views, too close to photograph properly.

Isla de la Plata - 4 Aug

A day trip to an island about 40km off-shore from Puerto Lopez. It has substantial seabird colonies, including some of the key species from Galapagos, but is obviously much cheaper, hence the unofficial title "Poor-man's Galapagos".

The most obvious species are Magnificent Frigatebirds, of which there are about 8,000. Blue-footed Booby are in similar numbers, often building nests on the footpaths around the island. Nazca Booby come in at about 2,000, with Red-billed Tropicbird in the high hundreds. Rarer breeding birds include about 8 pairs of Red-footed Booby (we saw 2 nests) and 4 pairs of Waved Albatross. The Albatross nests were in a part of the island that has been closed to tourists for a couple of years, so no sightings for us sadly. One seabird I didn't expect was a Galapagos Shearwater which flew past the boat on the way out.

Landbirds were few and mostly Long-tailed Mockingbird and Southern Beardless Tyrannulet. Collared Warbling-Finch was very nice and quite common, and a single Baird's Flycatcher was close to the start of the trails.

Red-billed Tropicbird. Just about my favourite seabird, absolutely fabulous.
Galapagos Shearwater. Split from Audubon's. It has a darker cheek than Audubon's, and more extensive dark patches on the axillaries. It is also the only small black and white shearwater seen regularly in Ecuadorian waters. A potential complicating factor is that there is a suggestion that a small population of Manx Shearwater could be resident on the northern coast of South America.

Blue-footed Booby. Brilliant birds, and quite as daft as the name suggests. In our group were people from Germany and Quebec, and the names of this species in German, French and English all translate to "Blue-footed Idiot"
They are quite fascinated with their own feet, and will gaze at them in astonishment before waggling them at everyone else so they can appreciate the wonderful blueness.

Nazca Booby. Males and females of both Nazca and Blue-foots are seperable by size (females are bigger) and call. In both cases the call of the male is a wheezy whistle, while the female has a raucous honk.
Red-footed Booby. A tiny population hangs on in one tiny corner of the island. We could only see 2 of the 8 known nests, the rest were out of sight, further down in the same gully. No adults were visible at all.

Magnificent Frigatebird.

Collared Warbling-Finch. The race on the island has a pale bill, elsewhere this species has a black bill.
Baird's Flycatcher