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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Guango Lodge and Reserve

Guango Lodge and Reserve

We have come into rainy season with several days of all-day rain and every afternoon having heavy downpours. This makes it a little more difficult for birding, and especially photography. But we try to get out as much as we can and take advantage of the few dry times.

I made a quick trip up to Guango Lodge to see what was happening in the area. Agusto, a friend from Quito, accompanied me. This was his first time birding and he was excited about what we were going to do. As most Ecuadorians, he knew very little about the abundance of avifauna in the country and he was eager to learn.

Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera)
To get to Guango Lodge you go east on the Pifo-Papallacta road and cross the apex of the mountain near the Papallacta Pass antennas. From this point you travel down the eastern slope for about another 20 km. (12.5 miles), 10 km (6 miles) past the village of Papallacta. When you cross the Guango River slow down because the lodge is on the right about another 50 m. The gate is normally closed but a quick inquiry will bring someone to open it to allow you to park. It is very easy to travel here by bus since there is a lot of local transportation between Quito and the Oriente (Amazon Basin). The driver will let you out at the gate and there is plenty of bus traffic going to Quito so you can easily flag down a bus for your return trip.

Entrance to the grounds is $5, which includes coffee. The rates at the lodge are very reasonable compared to many of the other lodges in Ecuador so you might consider staying a night or two. There are many hummingbird feeders around the grounds and the activity is furious.

When we arrived at the lodge there was a slight misty rain. We sat down for a cup of coffee and talked about where we would start our birding. There are seven trails on the reserve, traversing various altitudes. We decided to take the trail along the river since we feared that the steeper trails might cause some problems due to the rain.

As we set out on our walk we spotted several Slaty Brush-finch foraging in the trees along the path. We could here a clamor of Turquoise Jay beyond the tree line and closer to the river, so we made our way down to get a closer look. The owners of the lodge constructed steps down the steeper slopes to avoid visitor accidents. On our decent a Masked Trogon alighted on a branch about ten feet above us. He remained there for several minutes while watching us cautiously.

Chestnut-breasted Coronet (Boissonneaua metthewsii)
Further down the path we came across the Turquoise Jays that we had heard in the distance. There was a flock of about 10, squawking and chattering as they noised about, scavenging for the abundant berries in the trees. Along the river we encountered several Black Phoebe darting along the bank in search of insects and other prey.

The rain intensified so we decided to head back to the lodge and see what was happening around the hummingbird feeders. As we sat on the porch of the lodge we had a great vantage point to observe the numerous hummers vying for position at the feeding stations. The more prominent visitors were the Collared Inca, the Chestnut-breasted Coronet and the Sword-billed Hummingbird, each one trying to protect a segment of the territory for their very own. There were a few Masked Flower-piercers joining the fray, hoping their size would ward off the other contenders.

After a while we saw that the rain was not going to let up so we had another cup of coffee and talked about Agusto’s first experience bird watching. He was very excited about what he had seen that day and expressed an overwhelming desire to continue his new interest. He was hooked. It may have been a short day due to the weather but it was a very rewarding adventure for all concerned.

Birds encountered on this day: Black Phoebe, Buff-tailed Coronet, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Collared Inca, Masked Flowerpiercer, Masked Trogon, Pearled Treerunner, Slaty Brush-Finch, Speckled Hummingbird, Spectacled Whitestart, Swordbilled Hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, Turquoise Jay

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