Birding Northern Ecuador
|Cabañas San Isidro
Altitude 6,807 feet
|08 Feb 09 - Cabañas San Isidro, Cosanga, EC
Up at 5:30 AM and on the road to Thermes Papallacta, a modest hot springs upstream from Guango Lodge. We drove through the hot springs development to a private ecological reserve, and then steeply up a stream valley to about 12,000 feet. We then walked down with occasional bus rides through the slow bits.
The highlight was easily the Andean Pymy-Owl, called in by José. But there were lots of other eastern slope specialties, as well as fabulous views across the Papallacta Gorge to Vulcan Antisana. Gorgeous weather, too.
We went back to Guango Lodge for another excellent lunch, and then birded down the river valley to the village of Baeza, where we turned south towards Cosanga and Cabañas San Isidro. We did a lot of side roads, most notably Barja Road. Near the start of Barja, we walked down a cowpath to excellent birding alongside a pasture. Probably the highest concentration of larger birds so far on the trip. The mosquitoes were more of a nuisance than usual, perhaps a sign of things to come.
Birding along the rest of Barja Road was also good, although we lost most of our light towards the end. Arrived at the lodge in deep twilight, but it seems very nice; certainly the rooms are excellent. The main lodge is about 100 meters away, but there is an exceptionally nice common room with a viewing deck here with the cabins.
After supper, while doing our bird lists, we went outside and got the "San Isidro Owl," a mystery species not yet identified. It may be a new species.
Another excellent day!
09 Feb 09 -Cabañas San Isidro, Cosanga, EC
Pre-breakfast birding in crepuscular light for insect-eating birds foraging on moths and caterpillars attracted overnight by the lights along the trails. Pretty good birding, but very low light for photography. After breakfast, we tried for food-conditioned Antpittas (called in by apprentices to Angel Paz). We struck out at the first place but got nice views of White-breasted Antpitta.
Then walked down the road, past the turn-off for San Isidro. We did manage to spot two of the Tapaculos - Rufous-vented and Oscellated - but I was starting to feel a little under the weather so left early and lazed around the rest of the day. While the others did a loop down to a small stream, I napped and spent some time on the roof of the common room, in the shade and breeze, trying to heal my guts.
By evening I was feeling well enough to chase Nightjars. We drove to the end of the pavement - seriously, the last ridge overlooking the Amazon basin - and after some work, got Swallow-tailed Nightjar. And as a bonus picked up another Torrent Duck, a male this time, and a Torrent Tyrannulet.
My first seriously down day. Still good birds.
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