Our South Ecuador endemics birding tour takes us to one of the most diverse range of habitats in the world to look for a whole host of special and endemic birds. Within 200 miles of the Pacific Coast, one can travel from the arid xerophytic habitat, through semideciduous tropical forest, over the continental divide’s treeless paramos and down to lush, wet, foothill forests of the eastern Andes and Amazon basin. Within these varied, pristine habitats, the evolution of many fine endemic species has occurred; and on our new South Ecuador Endemics tour, we will sample seven distinct habitats in search of these endemics and other Ecuador bird specialties. Targets include El Oro and White-breasted Parakeet, El Oro (Ecuadorian) Tapaculo, Watkins’s and the fantastic Jocotoco Antpitta, White-headed Brush Finch, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, the fabulous Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Rainbow Starfrontlet and the vociferous, colorful and extremely localized Orange-throated Tanager.
Blue-throated Hillstar, Grey Tinamou, Horned Screamer, Bearded Guan, El Oro, White-breasted (White-necked) & Grey-cheeked Parakeet, Watkins’s, Chestnut-naped & Jocotoco Antpitta, Pale-headed, White-headed & Bay-crowned Brushfinches, Bamboo, Henna-hooded & Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Elegant Crescentchest, Long-wattled & Amazonian Umbrellabird, Ochraceous Attila, Orange-throated Tanager, Band-bellied Owl, Pacific (Peruvian) Pygmy Owl, Blackish & Anthony’s (Scrub) Nightjar, Ecuadorian Trogon, Golden-headed Quetzal, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Yellow-cheeked Becard, Coppery-chested & Purplish Jacamar, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Blue-rumped & Club-winged Manakin, El Oro (Ecuadorian), Chusquea & Northern White-crowned Tapaculo, Barred & Black-streaked Puffbird, Equatorial Greytail, Great & Chapman’s Antshrike, Esmeraldas, Jet & Grey-headed Antbird, Foothill Antwren, Grey-mantled Wren, Foothill Elaenia, Fiery-throated, Scarlet-breasted & Scaled Fruiteater, Golden-winged Tody-Flycatcher, Necklaced & Line-cheeked Spinetail, Jelski’s Chat-Tyrant, Short-tailed Field Tyrant, Black-crested Tit-Tyrant, Red-billed Scythebill, Orange-banded & Pacific Royal Flycatcher, Grey-and-gold & Three-banded Warbler, Wiolet-throated & Neblina Metaltail, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Black-cowled Saltator, Chestnut-collared Swallow
Coatimundi, Kinkajou, Spectacled Bear (rare)
xerophytic scrub, deciduous, dry scrub, semideciduous tropical forest, pacific deciduous forest, moist foothill forest, treeless paramo, lagoons, estuaries, freshwater wetlands
chilly at higher elevations to hot and humid at lower elevations
8 with 1 Rockjumper leader
fairly brisk pace, mostly undemanding walks
moderate birding with some tricky species
excellent, especially at feeders
In the Rockjumper tradition, Dušan Brinkhuizen went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the serious birders in our group found our birds. This included several later night expeditions into the forest for owls and other nocturnal critters. Dušan managed to handle everyone with great patience and skill. A very kind man, dedicated advocate for the environment, a master birder.
One reason I did sign up was because of the excellent reputation of Dušan Brinkhuizen. A number of people told me what an excellent guide he was and, If I was ever to go to Ecuador, I should do so on one of his tours. They were not wrong. Dušan is exceptional for knowing the vast numbers of Ecuadorian birds and their calls. He can recognize a small chip or the legs and tail or even a partial description. Dušan is also a wonderful individual, helpful and entertaining. He is obviously very fond of his adopted country and cares much about the inhabitants and their lives.
Overall the three consecutive tours were very very good. Tuomas was a superb, highly experienced/knowledgeable leader. It is amazing all the songs and calls he has mastered. He was most congenial, patient and always helpful to everyone. Highly recommend him as a leader. Local leaders and staff were all very good and most kind. Accommodations were comfortable and food was very tasty and well prepared.
[To Dušan Brinkhuizen] Truly, it was the very best birding trip I have ever been on, including several other Rockjumper trips which have all been great. As I think back on it, I can only marvel at your amazing ability to hear and identify the "chips" and "tsits" of birds calling or singing from deep in the understorey or high in the canopy of mature cloud forest while walking with a noisy group of folks or, even more unbelievable, from a moving vehicle. And if this wasn't amazing enough, you would then expertly call the desired individual bird into view and, with incredible calm and patience, succeed in making sure that everyone of us on the tour got a crippling look (and maybe even a spectacular photo) of the target bird -- that as often as not -- was not only beautiful but also both rare and furtive. And to further blow our minds, you often would pull out your vegetation clippers and create a setting and stage on which the bird would perform for us -- even sometimes, like some magician, telling us on which perch it would sit!! As a measure of your expertise as a trip leader, let me tell you that on the two back-to-back trips with you I "got" 110 life birds (101 seen and 9 heard) and only missed 1 species that would have been a life bird for me (Blue-mantled Thornbill). Never on any trip before in my life had I experienced such a high rate of success!! But above and beyond all of the uncanny skill and expertise that you exhibited, was the kindness, friendship, and humanity that you showed to each us. For this I am so very grateful. Thank you!!! Moreover, I'm sure everyone on the trip felt this way and I'm sure it created a safe and happy feeling among all of us that made the trip even more enjoyable. I truly hope that I can go with you on another trip sometime. And finally thank you also for the wonderfully detailed and beautifully illustrated trip report you sent. I remain amazed at how you could remember so clearly all the details of the trip.
Before our trip Daniel Danckwerts, with Rockjumper, was so attentive with our question and concerns. This was a wonderful experience. My favorite was the week at Sani Lodge - fascinating and fun. The Galapagos was such a learning experience and Darwin (the Galapagos guide) was so knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions. Tuomas (our Rockjumper guide) was Very knowledgeable of birds and bird vocalizations. Very impressive and so helpful.
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