Ecuador 2009
Birding Northern Ecuador
Guacamayos Ridge Trail

N 00°02.582'
W 78°51.839'
Altitude 3,350 feet
10 Feb 09 - Hotel Sebastian, Quito, EC
Up at 5:30 AM for breakfast at 5:45 AM.
Ron, Wendy, José and I headed to the trailhead we visited last night. Nancy and José both told me the ridge beside a shrine to the Virgin offers spectacular views across the Amazon basin, that this is the last high ridge. Couldn't prove it by me. Visibility was 100 meters at best.

But we walked down the Guacamayos Trail about 2.5 miles (and down 600 vertical feet). Despite the near-absence of light we found some good birds in what appeared to be virgin forest. In particular, decent views of a Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Dusky Piha and Black & Green Fruiteater. But the light was horrible, so there aren't many pictures.

The walk out was pretty strenuous, and made more challenging by the heavy tropical rainstorm that started the moment we turned back. Happily, all of my rain gear worked well and the rain cover for the E-3 and 300mm was perfect. Portions of the trail were extremely slippery; other portions were turned into stream courses. Not the best birding experience of the trip, but a good test of gear. I'd love to walk the trail in decent weather.

We stopped at Cabañas San Isidro to pick up the ladies, lunch and luggage. Then back to Quito. Papallacta Pass was crystal clear and calm, but we had no time to stop and blew straight through. The traffic was bad to horrible beginning 20km from the hotel. But we did eventually make it back. I spent time consolidating gear for the flight to Coca, where there are tight weight limits. Nancy made another run at the Quito Market with Mary and Wendy. Two heavy thunderstorms caught them during the shopping trip.

Amazon Basin tomorrow.

Black-mandibled Mountain Toucan

Quito, looking south

Quito, looking west

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