Guango Lodge: September 5, 2009

Before returning to Quito from Papallacta, where we stayed the night at the incomparable Termas de Papallacta, I decided to take everyone, including my four-year-old niece, down to Guango Lodge for a quick look at their spectacular hummingbird feeders. Just ten minutes away from Papallacta by car, the site is an outstanding place to pick up a few eastern slope temperate and subtropical forest birds, including the Gray-Breasted Mountain-Toucan, Tourmaline Sunangel, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, and Mountain Avocetbill, although I've never seen the latter. Best of all, the site has Sword-Billed Hummingbirds galore, and they're much more regular at the feeders here than at Yanacocha Reserve, another excellent site for hummingbirds on the northwestern slope.

Immediately upon arrival, we encountered a colorful group of Turquoise Jays and Northern Mountain-Caciques, moving boldly around the feeders within a few meters of some other visitors. As I fired away on my Nikon, Aimee's sister and her daughter walked around awestruck as approximately one hundred hummingbirds were zipping around the grounds of the lodge, compromising over ten species at least. Long-Tailed Sylphs and Sword-Billed Hummingbirds were the most startling, but our guests were just as drawn to the Chesnut-Breasted Coronet, Collared Inca, White-Bellied Woodstar, and Tourmaline Sunangel. Lucia was particularly funny as she wanted to watch the birds through my binoculars instead of simply approaching with a meter's distance. Seriously, the hummingbirds at Guango are so confiding that you could literally touch them, if you wanted; they might even land on you temporarily if you stand too cose to the feeders!

Also worthy of note, Masked Flowerpiercers bombard the trays of nectar left out, and sometimes you'll spot White-Sided Flowerpiercer as well. Although we didn't make it down the trail to the Papallacta River, visitors should definitely take the five minute walk down there, where the Gray-Breasted Mountain-Toucan, Andean Guan, and Torrent Duck are occasionally seen. Finally, they're feeding the resident Chestnut-Crowned Antpitta at approximately 7am and 4pm everyday; while you can usually see the same species at Cabanas San Isidro, where it's also been habituated, you'd be foolish to pass up the opportunity should you find yourself in the area. The last time I visited neither the Chestnut-Crowned nor the White-Bellied Antpitta came to partake of the free food.

Notable birds seen: Sword-Billed Hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, White-Bellied Woodstar, Turquoise Jay, White-Sided Flowerpiercer, Northern Mountain-Cacique.

1 comment:

Sonny and Mitch said...

Wow! What beautiful birds. I have been researching the sites you recommended on the eastern slope and was thrilled to get some of your observations. Do you have any birding recommendations for the Tena - Puyo - Macas - Riobamba road? Or is it better to cross over the Andes and travel south along the Panamerican Hwy?

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