Thursday, 3 September 2015

Ecuador part 1 - Quito's birdlife

This is the first of a few posts on the summer holiday just gone. Karen and I spent just shy of a month in Ecuador and the Galapagos, and while moving around, the central hub for a lot of our travels was Quito. At the start of the holiday, we spent three nights in central Quito - not everyone's birding ideal, but I quite liked it for a bit of South American culture too.

Easing yourself in with a few common species, the best introduction to Quito's birdlife is the botanical gardens in Carolina Park. I made a couple of visits - Great Thrushes and Eared Doves everywhere, and the stars being the first couple of hummingbirds, Sparkling Violetear and Black-tailed Trainbearer, as well as both Black and Masked Flowerpiercers. Standard stuff in the scheme of things, but nice to see first off.
Sparkling Violetear Quito Botanical Gardens July 2015
Great Thrush Quito Botanical Gardens July 2015
Quito's the second highest capital city in the world (after La Paz, Bolivia), so going up on the cable car above it means you're going pretty high up. And to the paramo grassland habitat where, as well as realising that altitude affects my body, a couple of species such as Plumbeous Sierra Finch and Plain-coloured Seedeater seemed common.
Plumbeous Sierra-finch Quito Teleferico July 2015
Between trips to the Amazon, the Galapagos and Cuenca, we kept returning to the Hacienda La Jimenita in Pifo (just 15 minutes from the airport). As well as being one of the most pleasant hotels we've stayed in, the grounds weren't bad for birding either. Hummingbird feeders and extensive trails gave me good opportunities to watch dry forest/lower slope species including Southern Yellow Grosbeak, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Western Emerald, Blue-and-yellow Tanager and Streak-throated Bush-tyrant. And it was a good place to unwind too.
Southern Yellow Grosbeak Hacienda Jimenita August 2015

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