We had left some flexibility in our schedule so that we might be able to backtrack a little to pick up some of the birds we had missed. With this in mind we returned to Milpe Bird Sanctuary before our journey to Quito. The Yellow-collared Chlorophonia had been spotted there 2 weeks earlier and we were hoping we would have a second chance at seeing it.
While making the return trip to the capital city we discussed our tactics for the last day. There were a few high-altitude birds left on the list so we thought that Cotopaxi might be a good bet for their discovery.
Early Friday morning we headed for the park with high hopes of finding a couple more targets. It was an overcast morning but at the time there was no rain so we hoped for the best. Upon approaching Lake Limpiopungo we encounter several Carunculated Caracara foraging for food along the paramo tundra. Recent rains had caused the lake to flood and the parking area was inundated with water. We were able to secure a dry location to park with access to the trail.
Andean Gulls, Coots and Lapwing were in abundance as usual but other than that the bird activity was lower than expected. Not even the Tawny Antpitta could be heard amongst the paramo grasses. This may have been due to the excessive rains that the sierra had been experiences. Undaunted we walked the lake trail in search of our quarry. We had glimpses of the Ecuadorian Hillstar as it fed on some of the high-altitude flora. Brown-backed Chat-tyrant, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch and Plain-colored Seedeaters all showed their presence. We were able to see the Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet for a brief moment, which added to Pearl’s target list. Around 11:00 AM a light misty rain began and we returned to the car to call it a day.
In summary we had a good ten days of birding. Of the 46 species on Pearl’s list we were able to encounter 22 birds. Since we were concentrating on her targets rather than on bird count we did not spend time at feeders in the various reserves. We were also rather lax at recording species other than those that were our quarry. However, at the end of each day we would write down the birds that we recalled encountering. That list included over 175 species in all, some of them rare or uncommon. Pearl was happy with our accomplishments for the trip and we are in the process of planning her next excursion to the Amazon basin in search of other difficult birds. Meanwhile she will be taking her next trip on a Russian ship to Spitzbergen. We wish her luck in her adventures and know that we will see her again soon.