Guango Lodge: August 7, 2009

With my novice father in country for an upcoming visit with me to Sani Lodge, located in the eastern lowlands, it made sense to take him on an introductory birding excursion. The upper eastern slope offers a wonderful and diverse package for beginning birders in Ecuador: extreme highlands birding at Papallacta Pass, spectacular hummingbirds and temperate forest birds at Guango Lodge, subtropical forest birding at its best at Cabañas San Isidro, and a little mystery to be had along the Guacamayos ridge. If he didn't fall in love with the activity during these two days, then we would have to take a slightly less rigorous approach in the eastern lowlands than I had hoped.

Happily, he took to birding right away as he marveled at the amazing species on display at the lodge's hummingbird feeders. Sword-Billed Hummingbirds, Long-Tailed Sylphs, and White-Bellied Woodstars darted about, as Tourmaline Sunangels, Chestnut-Breasted Coronets, and Collared Incas held court. On a short walk down to the Rio Papallacta, he impressed me as he spotted our target bird, the Torrent Duck, standing sentry way upstream. After some instruction about how to sift through a mixed flock, we were ready to head down slope, but not before checking in with Mitch Lysinger about his recent trip to endemic-rich northern Peru. Of all the birding guides I've met in Ecuador, Mitch strikes me as the best for his perfect mix of knowledge, enthusiasm, professionalism, and humor. Despite having seen, and heard, all the birds in the region, he always takes the time to engage birders about what they've seen recently.

Notable birds seen: Torrent Duck, Sword-Billed Hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, White-Bellied Woodstar, Turquoise Jay, Mountain Wren, Black-Crested Warbler, Black-Capped Hemispingus, Slaty Brush-Finch, Stripe-Headed Brush-Finch.

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