Thursday, 20 August 2015

Just for starters - Ecuador and the Galapagos

It's pretty hard to get writing when you've been away for so long. I've been in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for pretty much the last four weeks - the ageing laptop stayed at home in London, what with the humidity of the Amazon likely to have taken its toll. Karen and I had a fantastic time, enjoying the scenery, culture and wildlife.
Sparkling Violetear - first afternoon of the holiday birding in Quito's Botanic Gardens
It was a fantastic trip. We started off in Quito for a few days to acclimatise, before heading into the Amazon at Sacha Lodge. It was rainy, sticky and a hard slog but there were a few jewels to be seen.
Paradise Tanager - one of the real gems of the Amazon
It was then straight over to Darwin's islands, the Galapagos where the wildlife is how you see it on television; everything shows well and comes towards you. Marine Iguana and Galapagos Sea Lions everywhere, along with some quality birds and copious amounts of them too. Perhaps the most impressive location for wildlife I've been to and perhaps ever likely to go. It was one of those places that actually lived up to the expectation, and they're managing the tourists relatively well too.
Waved Albatross - critically endangered, breeding on the island of Espanola
Galapagos Petrel - another critically endangered species
adult Swallow-tailed Gull - one of the main attractions of the trip for me
Once finished in the mid-Pacific, it was back to Quito and up into the cloud forests around Mindo. Hummingbirds, Antpittas and Tanagers galore.
Rufous-breasted Antthrush - showed well along a track in the cloud forest near Mindo
Giant Antpitta - 'Manuel', the boldest of the antpittas at Paz de las Aves
Ochre-breasted Antpitta - 'Shakira', the smallest of Angel Paz's antpitta brigade
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock - gaudy in plumage, and enjoyable (though rather raucous) while lekking
At times it was birding overload for somebody who hasn't been to South America for over a decade, but with over 420 species recorded at a pretty leisurely pace, I was mightily impressed with the whole holiday. I'll break things down a little bit more over the next few weeks...
Swallow-tailed Gull - juvenile in the warm evening light

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