Old Loja-Zamora Road: August 2, 2008

The old Loja-Zamora road strikes me as an old folk's birding locale. The new road is the one you drive if you want to get from Loja to Zamora; the old road is the one you drive if you want to see some birds. Road birding, that is, driving around in decent habitat until you hear a mixed flock, is a rather adventure-less form of voyerism, much like watching real-world programs on the television. Personally, I'd rather lurk around a suburban neighborhood and peer into windows if I wanted to witness some action.

Despite my love of forest birding, I decided that this was too traditional of a birding destination to pass up, and it actually turned out to be pretty productive for a rainy afternoon. Aimee and I followed a mixed flock for an hour that contained a couple of nice birds such as the Orange-Eared Tanager and Lafresnaye's Picculet. We also had an exhilarating time on the bridge at the beginning of the road, rejoicing in a pair of exuberant White-Capped Dippers darting among the rapids below and digging the Cliff Flycatchers perched on the railings. A male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock also did a spectacular fly-by, affording Aimee her first view of this bizarre cotinga.

Anyway, if you're old or suffering from tanager neck, this is a good place to bird as the mixed flocks occur at eye level; otherwise, I'd suggest spending the afternoon walking the trails again at Bombuscaro. The decision reduces to the question: would you rather have the chance to see a Spotted Tanager or a Gray Tinamous?

Notable birds seen: White-Capped Dipper, Green Hermit, Cliff Flycatcher, Slaty-Capped Flycatcher, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Orange-Eared Tanager, Lafresnaye's Picculet, Magpie Tanager, Bronze-Green Euphonia, White-Banded Swallow, Squirrel Cuckoo.

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