Ecuador 2011
February 16 - El Cajas National Park to Guayaquil
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February 16
Bird List
We were up early, aboard the bus and climbing steeply uphill out of Cuena towards El Cajas National Park. The Park is an Important Bird Area and offers a wide variety of habitats. The only real drawback to birding there is that it is all at 11,000 feet or higher.

The alpine lakes - cirque lakes, really, from the last glacial period - host a nice variety of species. At 11,000 feet in Alaska, any water would be stone-like ice or bare rock. Baceteria don't even live there. In Southern Ecaudor, it's open water, reasonably warm and there are ducks that never leave. The vegetation, flowers and birds are all strange and wonderful. After 8:30 AM, the light is harsh and difficult. But the birding was marvellous.

Each stop was higher. Lunch, at the top of the pass, just before the road starts to drop down into the west side of the Andes and the long drive back to Guayaquil, was a bit of a trial. Basically, you had to chew with your mouth open to get anough air...

As is usually the case in Ecuadorean Andes, the species were distinctly different on the west slopes than in the central valley. But because of the distances involved, we were only able to make a couple of stops on the long drive to Guayaquil after leaving El Cajas. Still, a day that has all three Metaltail Hummingbirds and both Kingfishers is pretty amazing.

The traffic going into Guayaquil was unbelievably bad. Four lanes of expressway funneled into a single lane to cross the river. We never saw fenders scrape, but any bugs on those fenders would have been smashed.

We start the long trip back to Fairbanks tomorrow morning. An excellent trip, with 451 species of birds in just 14 days.

Click on a photo to see a larger version

Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant

Shining Sunbeam

Andean Tit-Spinetail

Blue-Mantled Thornbill

Bay-breasted Warbler

Great Thrush

Tawny Antpitta

Stout-billed Cinclodes

Bar-winged Cinclodes

Andean Gull

Very Nearly Wild Llama

Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager

All photos and text © 2011 Jim & Nancy DeWitt / Frozen Feather Images