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 -> Highlands -> Pasochoa Reserve

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager. Source - sorry, don't remember. If you think you own this image, please contact me.Andean Highlands Diary
10 - 12 October 2001
4. The Pasochoa Reserve

We visited this montane cloud forest reserve on our way back to Quito, and spent about 5 hours there. There are good facilities at the reserve entrance (fee $7 for foreign visitors), and I was pleased to see educational facilities for local school children. We encountered Southern Yellow Grosbeak on our way up the rough track to the entrance.

Around the reserve buildings, we found Tyrian Metaltail, Sparkling Violet-ear, Plain-tailed Wren (heard loud and clear), Plain-coloured Seedeater, Tricoloured Brush-finch and, of course, Rufous-collared Sparrow! On our return to the buildings, we also found Black-crested Warbler, and had a very good view of a Red-crested Cotinga, perched on a dead tree. We could see its very silvery bill and, when it turned its head, its red crest on the nape. We later wondered if the Cotinga family have a preference for dead trees, because later in the Amazon basin, we also saw both Plum-throated and Spangled Cotingas also using the tops of dead trees to perch.

Out on the trails, we soon came to a group of about four Chiguanco Thrushes, and had our first good views of these paler, smaller thrushes. Great Thrushes were also around, allowing comparisons to be made.

The birding was fairly steady, with no significant flocks encountered, apart from a noisy group of both Spectacled and Slate-throated Whitestarts. We had better views of Brown-backed Chat-tyrant than we had on the previous day, and a poor view of Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant. Other flycatchers that we (think we) identified were Lesser Elaenia (a very difficult ID - crest raised, yellowish belly, single 'chirp' call), White-crested Elaenia (noted the white eye ring), White-banded Tyrannulet and 2 Tufted Tit-tyrants.

We also worked hard to identify 2 Grass Wrens, another difficult ID, since we could not see the characteristic streaking on the back. But the call seemed right, as did the habitat - in a grassy clearing in the forest.

For me, the two most striking birds were seen on the way back down. First, we had really excellent (if a little distant) views of a pair of Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanagers. They were flying around a clearing in the forest, and perching out in the open. Their red and black colours showed up well against the trees and, when they flew, their blue wing patches and rump seemed electric in colour (photo above).

We then saw close up a Streaked Tuftedcheek, a woodcreeper-like funariid. We had good views of its pure white cheeks, and the clear russet-coloured back, as it worked its way along a large branch.

It would have been nice to have spent another hour or two in the reserve, but the excellent meal that we had at the newish La Matilde Restaurant was some compensation - as were the views of White-bellied Woodstar, on the hummer feeders outside the restaurant window!

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