A birdwatching trip to Ecuador in October 2001 - Andes to Amazon! The humming bird here is the Andean Emerald. On the left is a view of  Volcanes Illiniza (5,266m) and on the right is Gorzacocha, an oxbow lake off the Rio Napo, in the Amazon basin. All photos (C) Ruth Traynor.

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Home -> Diary -> Amazon basin -> Coca

Coca River Quay. Photo: Ruth TraynorAmazon Basin Diary
13 - 16 October 2001
2. Puerto Francisco de Orellana (a.k.a. Coca)

Coca, as everyone calls it, is a rough-looking oil town that is starting to try to put on a good front! This is where Francisco de Orellana (hence the proper name for the town) in 1541 parted from his El Dorado-hunting buddy, Gonzalo Pizzaro, to set off downstream to try to find food for the starving expedition. Orellano never made back up the Rio Napo, but ended up, some 8 months and 2,000 km later, he arrived at the mouth of the Amazon, having accidentally made the first recorded descent of the Amazon. A bust on a plinth near the municipal dock marks his achievement.

We spent little time on the way out, driving straight to the municipal dock on the Rio Napo. At the dock, we saw a Blue-grey Tanager of the eastern race, distinguished by white patches on its wing coverts. We were familiar with the western race (which we had encountered in Trinidad on another trip), so it was a surprise to see this colour variation.

We had a poor view of a large blue-and-white swallow, which might have been White-winged Swallow, but we couldn't be certain. We were also not certain of a kingfisher, perched on a marker pole in the middle of the river; it was possibly Amazon Kingfisher, which we were to see at La Selva. The usual American Black Vultures were flying around, as were the first Feral Pigeons we had seen in Ecuador - plenty of those later when we returned to Quito.

On our return through Coca, we had an hour or so to spare, so we were led around the streets by two non-English-speaking staff from La Selva, on their way back to Quito. Knowing that we were birders, they led us to the tiny, concreted municipal park. It was virtually birdless! And that was all there was to Coca birding!

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