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ECUADOR 2002

This trip surpassed all our expectations. We had a wonderful mix of spectacular birds and birds of real quality, which, combined with the amazing phenomenon of mixed flocks and a potential first for Ecuador, produced a birding experience never to be forgotten.

In just 14 days of birding the group (2 leaders and 4 "Birdfinders") achieved an excellent total of 519 birds, including 48 species of hummingbird, 29 raptors, 20 parrots and 13 toucans, underscoring the diversity of birdlife in this remarkable little country. The spectacular was represented by three Andean Condors (two of which were soaring against the snow-capped peak of Antisani Volcano – a sight that will live forever in our minds-eye), a magnificent Sunbittern, an outrageous Sword-billed Hummingbird and all the species of mountain-toucan (difficult to get on the one trip).

As for quality, well, when your leader jumps for joy, you know that you have witnessed something special e.g. Barred Antthrush, Little Woodstar, Black-and-white Hawk-eagle (a stunning bird seen by our Amazonian leader Oscar only four times in six years!). The mixed flocks, usually heralded by the ubiquitous whitestarts, were often fast and furious – a real adrenaline rush – where doing your homework in advance really pays dividends, as not all birds are seen by everyone.

A male Black-throated Blue Warbler at San Ysidro on the eastern slope will, if accepted, be a first for Ecuador – a great bonus for the trip, courtesy of Birdfinders.

Not to forget, of course, the many and varied habitats. Breathing was hard enough at 13,000 feet in the Paramo grasslands, without four Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe flying over our heads at 20 feet! The cloud forests around Tony Nunnery's spectacular home were beautiful and birding in primary Amazonian rain forest was atmospheric to say the least, especially when we had to machete our way through some of the trails. Birding from a dugout canoe is a technique that also has to be mastered!

When all of this is underpinned by superb leaders, good accommodation and food and friendly people, one cannot ask for more from a birding trip – a trip of a lifetime with memories to cherish forever.

White-necked Jacobin

White-necked Jacobin