Buenaventura: July 17-19, 2008

Our first of many visits to Jocotoco Foundation reserves in Southern Ecuador, Buenaventura was impressive in many senses but frustrating in several as well. There are excellent roads and trails for birding at a variety of elevations, but the two endemic species for which the reserve was ostensibly created are elusive; I badly missed the El Oro Parakeet and Tapaculo. An additional hardship was that the famous Long-Wattled Umbrella Bird lek was also inactive during our visit.

The reserve encompasses cloud forest habitat on the western slopes of the Andes, ranging from around 500 to over 1000m. Much of the reserve is surprisingly patchy forest, where the cleared areas are only just beginning to regenerate, but there are many steep and impressive stands of primary forest. The Umbrella Lodge and accommodations in the lower part of the reserve are quite nice, although we stayed in nearby Zaruma instead, and the two hummingbird gardens are simply buzzing with activity, and not just of the avian kind.

Aimee and I birded the lower part of the reserve casually on two afternoons, and I spent one rather lackadaisical morning in the upper part. Despite seeing and identifying many birds for the first time, including the Immaculate Antbird, the Red-Masked Parakeet, and the Song Wren, I never felt that I was in the middle of the action. I did encounter several mixed flocks and witnessed some lovely tanagers, including the Beryl-Spangled and Golden-Naped Tanagers, but I imagine encountering three species of mammals, including another sloth, will prove more memorable.

Notable birds seen: Ruddy Pigeon, Red-Masked Parakeet, Sickle-Winged Guan, White-Necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear, Violet-Tailed Sylph, Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan, Lineated Woodpecker, Western-Slaty Antshrike, Immaculate Antbird, Tawny-Crowned Pygmy Tyrant, Black Phoebe, Song Wren, Beryl-Spangled Tanager, Yellow-Rumped Cacique.

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