Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hummingbird Heaven at Guango Lodge

My time in Ecuador this fall was closing in, and I managed to squeeze in one more day of birding before my flight back to Canada.  There are some great places to visit within a couple hours of Quito, but some present a challenge in how to get there if you are using public transportation.  I also wanted to visit somewhere I hadn't been to yet.  So I decided to visit Guango Lodge for a day.  This beautiful little lodge is located approximately 2 hours east of Quito, along the main eastern route that heads towards Baeza & Tena, just beyond the town of Papallacta.  On November 16, I grabbed a bus from central Quito and arrived at the lodge in good time.  

Sword-billed Hummingbird
Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera)
Guango Lodge is nestled high in the eastern slope of the Andes at about 2700 metres.  The property has some trails and has a nice riverfront location (great place for Torrent Ducks and White-capped Dippers).  However the main attraction at Guango Lodge is the hummingbirds.  It is one of the best places for the magnificent Sword-billed Hummingbird, which is a regular visitor at the feeders.  As soon as I stepped off the bus, I was greeted by a flurry of activity at the feeders in front of the lodge.  This is the best place to see Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Long-tailed Sylph & Tourmaline Sunangel, which were all plentiful among other high-elevation species.  I was met by the friendly staff, who gave me a bird list and a trail map, and I was set for the day.  

Long-tailed Sylph
Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingi)
 After acquainting myself with the hummers, I headed out along the Torrent Duck Trail that follows the river beside the lodge, in hopes to find the ducks, but with no luck (always a good reason to go back!).  However, I got a great view of a White-capped Dipper along the rocks, among other birds along the trail, including Andean Guan, Black-headed Hemispingus, Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager, Northern Mountain-Cacique and Mountain Wren.  I spent my day birding the trails near the lodge and enjoying the hummingbird feeders.  

While spending time at the lodge with the hummers, I met a lovely group of birders/photographers from Spain and after some nice conversation, we realized that our travel paths have been quite similar - through northwestern and eastern Ecuador, Panama, and even in Canada.  I enjoyed a delicious lunch with them at the lodge and swapped stories.  They also got some fantastic photos that day, quite impressive.

Turquoise Jay
Turquoise Jay (Cyanolyca turcosa)
Before catching the bus back to Quito in the afternoon, I found a group of Turquoise Jays along the trail.  These beautiful, curious birds provided great views but did a good job at shying away from the camera, always managing to hide behind a stick or a leaf! 

I'm already looking forward to my next visit, and next time I'll plan to stay at the lodge or closer at least so I can catch some of the early morning birds.  But this trip did not disappoint with 12 species of hummingbirds and 10 lifers I was a happy birder!  

~ Jenn 

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