I have just returned from a wonderful month leading two photo workshops in the incredibly bird-rich nation of Ecuador. This was my fourth visit to Ecuador and despite the fact that I have now spent more than 9 months in the beautiful Andean nation the bird life continues to amaze me.I keep expecting that at some point I will stop seeing new and exciting birds and yet each year is a new adventure and brings new photo opportunities. 2013 was no exception! The following is a combined summary of the two tours that I led this year…
After meeting in Quito, each tour started in the northwest part of the country where we focused our efforts on the amazing diversity of hummingbirds. Our first stop was a high elevation cloud forest reserve where we found some beautiful hummingbirds to start the trip including the Great Sapphirewing and Sapphire-vented Puffleg. The reserve was even feeding Tawny and Rufous Antpittas.
This tour focuses a lot of effort on photographing hummingbirds. We were well rewarded this year (as always) and by the time the trip was over most of the participants had photographed over 30 species of the tiny flying jewels (including Booted Rackettail’s, Buff-tailed Coronet’s and Violet-tailed Sylph’s as seen below).
From our base in theTandayapaValleywe made a few day trips to visit nearby photography hot-spots for a variety of tanagers, manakins and other goodies. Everyone also got fantastic shots of the gorgeous Masked Trogon. But above all else we focused on photographing hummingbirds using my patented multi-flash techniques (including the beautiful Andean Emerald and Purple-bibbed White-Tip seen below).
After a brief stopover in the inter-Andean valley for the night our next stop took us up to the Antisana reserve and in to a totally different environment.Highlight birds up in this unique reserve included Carunculated Caracara and Black-faced Ibis.
After our visit to the highlands we traveled up and over thePapallactaPassand eventually we arrived at our third lodge of the trip. From Sword-billed Hummingbirds to Torrent Ducks and from Mountain Tanagers to Turquoise Jays it was hard to know where to point our lenses. I have to say though that, for me anyways, the highlight was seeing and photographing the spectacularGray-breastedMountainToucan (a bird I had never seen before).
Other highlight birds during our time on the East slope Pearled Treerunners, Blue-backed Conebills and loads of other birds in the mixed species flocks that were traveling around the area. We also had a lot more time to focus on multi-flash hummingbird photography and nailed a few more great species like the Tourmaline Sunangel.
Our final stop on the regular portion of the tour was a little bit further down the eastern slope. Here we were in for a real treat of photographing the Black-banded Owl (see below). One night there was also a Rufous-banded Owl that made a brief but excellent appearance. We also got great photo opportunities for Inca Jays, Golden-headed Quetzals and the cute little White-bellied Antpitta.
After 5 spectacular days on the East Slope we traveled further east into theEcuadorianlowlands and prepared to travel into the Amazon Rainforest. We had an enjoyable boat ride that took us nearly 100km down river deep into the jungle. After a few hours we arrived at our wonderful jungle lodge where we would spend the next 4 days.
During our stay in the Amazon we had incredible opportunities to photograph 4 species of Kingfishers as well as crazy birds like Hoatzin’s, Donocobius, Macaws, Woodpeckers, Toucans and Aracaris, and even Parrots that were coming to a local site to eat clay. It really was an amazing experience for us all.
Eventually all good things must come to an end and we had to return to Quito to catch our flights home. It truly was a fantastic trip. But don’t take my word for it. Here are some of the things that a few of the participants had to say:
I will definitely be running this trip again in Jan/Feb of 2014.I will have dates available and will be taking deposits in the upcoming few weeks. If you are interested in reserving a space on the trip make sure to get in touch soon as I am certain that the 12 spaces available (2 tours) will sell out fast. Send me an email if you want to be put on the trips wish list.
To Join the Wish List for Ecuador 2014 – Click Here