This tour is a specialised itinerary designed to concentrate our efforts in finding as many of the endemic and specialty bird species of north-west Ecuador as possible and in particular the Chocó region. Our 2-week itinerary begins in Quito and we start birding amidst the birdrich cloud forests of Yanacocha Reserve, home of the rare Black-breasted Puffleg, as well as many other hummingbirds and typical Andean species. We will be based for the next 4 nights at the wonderful Septimo Paraiso from where we make daily excursions to Mashpi, Angel Paz Reserve, Alambi and other current 'hot spots'. Expect a multitude of great birds from these days including Indigo-crowned (or Purple) Quail-Dove, Pallid Dove, Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, Chocó Toucan, Chocó Trogon, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Barred Puffbird, Uniform Antshrike, Esmeraldas Antbird, Rufous-rumped Antwren, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Uniform Treehunter, Club-winged Manakin, Black Solitaire, Chocó Vireo, Chocó Warbler, Chocó Brushfinch and Moss-backed Tanager. A visit to the famous Angel Paz Reserve is always a must and we can see Moustached, Chestnut-crowned, Giant, Yellow-breasted and Ochre-breasted Antpittas at feeding stations, as well as other species such as Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Rufous-breasted Antthrush and even Ocellated Tapaculo. There’s also a lek of Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks to view as well, whilst pre-dawn and post-sunset visits could give us Lyre-tailed Nightjar and Colombian Screech-Owl.
Moving on to Kapari Lodge in the tropical foothills along the Rio Blanco we will search for Brown Wood Rail, Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail, Purple Quail-Dove and Chocó Screech-Owl. We will visit the 23 de Junio Community and have the whole day to look for Long-wattled Umbrellabird before heading to Rio Silanche Reserve before setting out on the 90-minute boat ride to Playa de Oro Lodge. What a place this is, with many incredibly rare and range-restricted species! Amongst numerous possibilities we hope to see Berlepsch’s Tinamou, Baudo Guan, Tawny-faced Quail, Uniform Crake, Rose-faced Parrot, Chocó Poorwill, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Stripe-billed Aracari, Five-coloured Barbet, Chocó and Lita Woodpeckers, Blue Cotinga, Black-tipped Cotinga, Black-breasted Puffbird, Black-headed Antthrush, the Chocó endemic Stub-tailed Antbird, Streak-chested Antpitta, Sapayoa, the Chocó race of Green Manakin, Dagua Thrush (split from White-throated Thrush), Blue-whiskered, Scarlet-browed, Lemon-spectacled, Rufous-winged, Golden-chested, and Grey-and-Gold Tanagers, as well as the delightful Scarlet-breasted Dacnis. Phew!
Tearing ourselves away from here we will visit Alto Tambo with its Rufous-headed Chachalacas, Five-coloured Barbet, Black-tipped Cotinga and others, before spending a couple of days on the brilliant Chical Road. No doubt we will bump into yet more exciting, mixed feeding flocks as we search for the impressive Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Hoary Puffleg, Blue-headed Sapphire, White-tailed Hillstar, Chocó and Yellow-vented Woodpeckers, Toucan Barbet, White-ringed and Tufted Flycatchers, Star-chested Treerunner, Stub-tailed Antbird, Chocó Tapaculo, Beautiful Jay, Yellow-green Bush-Tanager, Rufous-winged, Bluish-mantled, Golden-chested, Saffron-crowned, Glistening-green, Emerald, Rufous-crested, Scarlet-and-white, Purplish-mantled and Scrub Tanagers amongst others. It’s going to be a memorable couple of days here! And we will finish up looking for Ecuadorian Rail at Otavalo before heading to Quito airport and the end of an amazingly bird-filled tour.