Guacamayos Ridge Trail: April 19, 2008

The weather in the highlands had turned fair late in the week, and I was feeling inspired to visit the eastern slope in search of unseen tanagers and antpittas. Unfortunately, I jumped off the early morning bus from Quito in a downpour, and the rain never let up for the entire eight hours I walked the trail. The birds were still out, of course, and I had decent views of tanagers, flycatchers, wrens, woodpeckers, and guans. That's about as far as I was able to get in terms of identifying them, though, for my binoculars and other equipment were overwhelmed by the humid conditions. Almost needless to say, I didn't have the chance to learn many new birds.

The trail itself is well maintained and quite level, and while it's paved in moss-covered stones, it would be in knee-deep mud otherwise. Although I imagine the vegetation is quite dynamic, there are also ample lookouts for clear canopy viewing. In good weather, the trail would no doubt provide unparalleled access to temperate and subtropical birds on the eastern slope. Having passed the access point several times in considerably better weather while enroute to Tena, I can't wait to go back.

Notable birds seen: Green-and-Black Fruiteater, Andean Guan, Highland Motmot, Sepia-Brown Wren, Northern Mountain Cacique, Powerful Woodpecker, Beryl-Spangled Tanager, Cinnamon Flycatcher.

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