Tuesday, 27 February 2018

ECUADOR 2018: Gareno and home (23-27 February)

This is the final blog recounting a very successful trip to Northern Ecuador with Nick Preston, Mike Catsis and Gabo Bucheli who brilliantly guided us around for almost three weeks. It is mainly illustrated with photos taken with a Canon Powershot SX60 bridge camera, many in the forest were at maximum ISO and slow shutter speed. We had had some great days in the Northwest, around San Isidro and at Sumaco and arrived at Archidona the previous evening.

23 February. We had breakfast at 06:00 and had time for a half hour walk around the grounds before leaving at 07:00. Nick and I again tried the Nature Trail but with no more success than the previous evening. We drove to the other side of Tena where we met Pedro the owner of Gareno and our guide for the next three days. A taxi with supplies went ahead, Pedro coming with us for the two hour drive to the lodge. We were on a tarmac road initially but it soon became dirt even though it was now the main bus route between Quito and Coca. We left the main road and for a while were back on tarmac. The habitat improved after we passed an oil company checkpoint which we were waved through after Pedro explained where we were going. Soon we were in decent forest and before we knew it had arrived at Gareno, or rather the start of the entrance trail. The camp staff had unloaded supplies from the taxi and prepared to take our bags to the lodge. Pedro suggested we birded the road while he went to look for a roosting Rufous Potoo. It was my main target at Gareno and one that had taken Dave Cooper until his final morning to see so Pedro’s confidence was music to my ears, although it made me increasingly tense the longer he failed to reappear. He finally did so from the opposite direction after what seemed like half a lifetime but was probably less than half an hour. He shook his head and wandered off again. My stress levels rose even further during the next half lifetime and it was with immense relief when Pedro returned saying he’d found it. We followed him into the forest, initially on a pipeline track then on a narrow trail before veering off down a very steep slope to cross a ravine and climb up the equally steep other side. We reached a ridge and a short distance down the other side Pedro pointed and there it was. Amazing bird and a brilliant find by Pedro as it was apparently in a new place although our journey to it sounded somewhat similar to where Pedro’s son Sandro had taken Dave Cooper in November. It would have been easy to pass off as a dead leaf lightly swaying in the wind. We watched it for half an hour appreciating how fortunate we were to have seen it before even seeing the lodge. We returned along another ridge to the road and down some steep steps, across a narrow bridge and on to the lodge for an excellent lunch. It was hot even in the shade and we stood down until 15:00 when we hoped activity might pick up. I took the opportunity of a coldish shower and the opportunity to sort out my stuff and wash out a few things. At 15:00 we headed into the forest on some narrow trails hoping to find an ant swarm without success and, other than a Black-bellied Cuckoo at the outset, without seeing much. We came out onto the road and birded along it seeing a good tanager flock (Opal-rumped, Opal-crowned, Masked, Green & Gold, Flame-crested and Turquoise) before returning to the lodge. We were sitting in the open-sided dining area at dusk when a Spectacled Owl started calling from within a really big thick tree next to us but before we could go looking for it the heavens opened. Nick was particularly unimpressed as it was a bird he’d wanted to see for a very long time (probably since 1985 when Colin Winyard found one in Panama that I saw after Nick had returned home). The torrential rain eased off temporarily and the owl called again but we failed to locate it before the rain came back with a vengeance. We were given a good meal and thankful of umbrellas returned to our accommodation on the other side of the clearing. Nick and I decided to be up before dawn to try again for the owl but it rained all night.
roosting Rufous Potoo at Gareno
a briliant piece of finding by Perdo, it sat gently swaying like a dead leaf
a much wanted species we came close to seeing in Guyana almost a year before 
Black-bellied Cuckoo at Gareno, another species I didn't see in Guyana

male Spangled Cotinga
female Spangled Cotinga 
24 February. The heavy rain persisted all night and only eased off after breakfast. It put us off owling and looking for Fiery Topaz in the clearing, early morning being the favoured time. A Ruddy Quail Dove from the dining room while we were eating was nice. We walked up to the road and along a short section of it until the rain stopped. We started along the Harpy Eagle trail which went through good forest although we knew the young eagle had left the nest in November. Along one of the ridges we saw a rather secretive male White-shouldered Antshrike while along one of the flatter sections were male Rio Suno and Long-tailed Antwrens. We also flushed a thrush-sized bird off a very low thrush-like nest with two eggs in it. We stopped by a stream for lunch which was brought to us by one of the helpers. Despite having a reasonable sense of direction I hadn’t a clue where we were and we joked about never finding our way back if something happened to Pedro although he was amazingly fit despite being 70. At the Harpy viewpoint we heard Pavonine Quetzal, fortunately we’d all seen one before, and saw another Black-bellied Cuckoo. On the way back we saw the thrush on its nest, but only its upperparts which didn’t help greatly with its identification. It then flew too quickly for us to see any features on it. Although we’d heard Lawrence’s Thrush calling from the canopy along the trail I felt it was probably the more terrestrial White-necked. We returned to the road and were back at the lodge at 17:30, in my case feeling rather tired. I had a quick shower then a Spectacled Owl watch until we ate but it called just once. After a good meal we headed up to the road at Pedro’s suggestion and walked along it for half a km. It was a superb evening and we heard Tawny-bellied Screech, Crested and Spectacled Owl and in the far distance, with a bit of imagination (at least for me with poor ears) a Nocturnal Curassow. Perhaps they were making the most of ideal conditions after the heavy rain of the previous evening. The Spectacled Owl was calling from the direction of the pipeline track so we walked back and along it. We were halfway along when Nick picked it out in the canopy. An impressive bird although it didn’t like being in the light and soon flew off. Pedro knew a tree above the lodge where he’d seen Nocturnal Curassow calling and though mid evening would be a good time to listen for it. We returned to the lodge but none were calling. After a short while Pedro suggested we go up anyway. It was quite a scramble and any self-respecting curassow would have seen our torches and heard us coming as soon as we started. We reached a ridge and stood quietly listening without any great hope when after only five minutes one started calling from below us. It was an amazing song and the temptation was to just listen to it but Pedro set off after it and we were not far behind. He led us to the base of the tree it was in and almost immediately Mike picked it out in his torch. It was high above us but a reasonable view through binoculars as it stood on a branch calling. I tried recording it but there was too much background noise for my basic Digital Voice Recorder which was a shame. I then tried photography but it was too high for the torch light to reach it. After perhaps five minutes it decided it had had enough of our shuffling around below it and walked slowly down a branch and dropped out of sight. An amazing encounter of a bird I never ever imagined I’d see. We almost floated back down to the lodge, surprised it was only 21:20. A long but very rewarding day. Pedro told us we were the first group he had shown the curassow to, he had really done us proud. Not at all bad for a 70 year old!
Black-mantled Tamarin

Harpy Eagle nesting tree, eagles long gone ...
another Black-bellied Cuckoo, Gareno was a good place to see them
White-necked or Lawrence's Thrush on its nest. I thought the former more likely but despite it flying this was the only view we had 

Black-headed Parrot
Nocturnal Curassow, facing right, requiring great imagination. It was much better through binoculars!
25 February. We were pretty demob happy after yesterday’s successes but there was still one speciality to see, Fiery Topaz, and the hope of an ant swarm. We were in the clearing at dawn checking the topaz’s favourite perch, a vertical branch at the top of one of the lower trees. 06:30 to 07:30 was the favoured time and just as we were about to give up and go for breakfast it appeared, briefly landing on its perch. It then hovered several times and gave reasonable views without performing for the camera. Nice bird though. After breakfast we walked through the forest on a succession of narrow trails suddenly ending up on the road on the opposite side of the lodge entrance to where I was expecting. By now it was very hot with little activity, three Black and an Ornate Hawk-Eagle perhaps our best sightings. We returned for lunch at 12:30 and sat around until 15:30 before returning along another quiet trail to the road. Once again it was very quiet with only a tanager/honeycreeper flock mobbing a female Spangled Cotinga although it did include a male Short-billed Honeycreeper which was a new bird. Sweat bees were an absolute menace all day and combined with the heat and lack of birds to drain our enthusiasm. Great as the trip had been we were all feeling it was about time to go home.
Gareno canopy tower, we gave it a miss
Fiery Topaz vigil
Mike, Gabo, Pedro and our accommodation 
impressive butterfly on Nick's shirt
dining area at Gareno
it had a nice view of the river
me trying to keep off the sweat bees, it didn't work (photo: Gabriel Bucheli)
Black Hawk-Eagle displaying
26 February. We started the day with a topaz vigil again from 06:30 and again it showed up at 07:25 but this time it perched up long enough for a photo. We had breakfast and left our bags to be taken up to the road while we went ahead. We birded along the road for a short distance while the car was being packed seeing Black-eared Fairy, White-chested Swift, Gilded Barbet and the usual selection of tanagers. On the journey back to Tena we stopped briefly near the oil checkpoint seeing Fork-tailed Flycatcher and a flock of about 500 White-collared Swifts. Further on an area of palms failed to produce the hoped for Point-tailed Palmcreeper but Red-bellied and Chestnut-fronted Macaws were nice as was our only Black-capped Donacobius of the trip. We dropped Pedro back at his house and had a quick look at the lagoon opposite not remembering, in my case, that it was where Dave Cooper and Brenda Kay had seen and photographed Sungrebe from a boat, not that the only boat there didn’t need a lot of bailing to make it lagoon-worthy. We stopped in Archidona for lunch although I wasn’t feeling hungry and stayed in the car. It was a mistake as it was in the sun and I rather overheated. We drove up to Guacamayos Ridge but the hairpins, probably combined with a change in temperature made me feel quite ill. It was cloudy at Guacamayos so we continued to the Vinillos Road where I was sick but we did see Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Andean Solitaire and Blackburnian Warbler. We arrived in Baeza late afternoon and I was still feeling very rough so went to bed. Nick and Gabo went looking for Rufescent Scops Owl but without success.
Fiery Topaz at Gareno

even nicer when the light caught its throat
a chance encounter with a Black-billed Mountain Toucan along the Vinillos Road
27 February. I was sick in the night but felt better in the morning. Mike wasn’t feeling too good either and opted to stay in the hotel. Gabo, Nick and I left soon after 06:00 driving to the Bermejo Road as providing our best chance of White-capped Tanager. It was not to be but we did see Andean Motmot, White-throated Toucanet, Golden-headed Quetzal, Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant, Inca Jay and Plain-tailed Wren. A very brief visit to the first 500m of the Guacamayos Ridge was very quiet but we saw the same male Torrent Duck, Amazon Kingfisher and White-capped Dipper on the river at Cosanga. We were back in Baeza at 11:00 for a late breakfast and left at 12:00 calling in at Guango for 15 minutes. Not time enough for Sword-billed Hummingbird but we saw Gorgetted Sunangel, White-bellied Woodstar, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Buff-tailed Comet, Collared Inca and Long-tailed Sylph. We were soon at Papallacta and took the old road over the pass seeing Variable Hawk and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. It was a straight run then down to the airport where Gabo dropped us at 15:00. We said a sad farewell to Gabo who had been absolutely excellent throughout and I was already thinking of a return visit to the south. Flights were pretty much on time, leaving Quito early evening and over three hours in Bogota before departing at 23:00.
the Bermejo Road
Inca Jay
male Powerful Woodpecker
female Powerful Woodpecker

White-throated Toucanet

what appeared to be dead leaves were mostly butterflies
Amazon Kingfisher over the Cosanga River

last morning on the Guacamayos Ridge Trail

Buff-tailed Coronet at Guango
Chestnut-breasted Coronet
Collared Inca at Guango
Tourmaline Sunangel
Papallacta Pass
28 February. We landed at a snowy Heathrow an hour early but then sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes while the plane departing our gate was de-iced. I arrived home just before 21:00, as I was expecting.

It had been a very successful and hugely enjoyable trip primarily due to excellent travel companions Nick Preston, Mike Catsis and Gabo Bucheli. Gabo was a superb guide and without his knowledge of bird vocalisations, sites and local birders we wouldn't have done anything like as well as we did. We were very fortunate to have a day along Guacamayos Ridge with Gabo's good friend Marcelo Quipo Quipo who knew the area intimately and pulled out both Peruvian Antpitta and Andean Potoo that we would otherwise almost certainly have missed. A big thank you also to Dave Cooper for inspiring us to go and providing detailed information from his November trip. We considered his so successful, especially as he and Brenda Kay were 'self-guided', that we copied his itinerary almost exactly.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

ECUADOR 2018: Sumaco (19-22 February)

This blog is the fourth of five recounting a very successful trip to Northern Ecuador with Nick Preston, Mike Catsis and Gabo Bucheli who brilliantly guided us around for almost three weeks. It is illustrated with photos taken with a Canon Powershot SX60 bridge camera, many in the forest were at maximum ISO and slow shutter speed. We had had some great days in the Northwest and around San Isidro and arrived at Sumaco the previous evening.

19 February. I slept well and we left our accommodation at 05:45 for the short drive into the village of Pacto Sumaco for a good fried egg breakfast. It was then a 10 minute drive down to the start of the F.A.C.E. Trail where we spent most of the morning. We started with some antwren frustration as a small flock was encountered a short way down the trail. Mike and Gabo heard Slaty Antwren and saw a male with spotting on the wings but the bird Nick and I saw best was a male with completely unspotted wings indicating the very scarce Plain-winged. We both had the same side-on view but weren’t going to argue about it. We took the F.A.C.E. loop and Mike flushed two Band-bellied Owls from an area of bamboo one of which we tracked down and saw looking down at us. We stopped for a while at a viewpoint with a convenient bench overlooking a large tree. It was covered in fruit but few birds were visiting so presumably wasn’t ripe. The tree was a bit distant and we’d not brought a telescope, expecting to be in the forest the whole time. Nick saw a puzzling woodstar perched high up in the tree and Gabo and I took some photos of it. We continued and before rejoining the main trail Gabo heard what he was sure was Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Nick and my main target for Sumaco (Mike had previously seen one). We were soon tantalised by a male moving around in the undergrowth but never perching in view for long enough for me to photograph. After a few minutes it disappeared to be replaced by the female which caused me some confusion expecting the male but not a bright orange head and breast! She too didn’t linger but they were every bit as good as I had expected and not out of place amongst the other top birds of the trip. Gabo also let slip that it was a new bird for him, despite over a dozen visits to Sumaco. I’m glad he hadn’t told us before as I was worried enough about seeing them as it was. Brilliant. We returned to Wild Sumaco lodge for a brief feeder session late morning, paid for two days use of the trails and showed Jonas our woodstar photos. Careful inspection of them led him to the conclusion that it was a Gorgetted Woodstar. We drove for 5 minutes back up the road and walked to the Research Station feeders for lunch (we’d brought enough lunch/snack food in Baeza to last us). The feeders were active but without seeing anything different. After an hour we walked back down to the lodge ahead of a 15:00 departure for antpitta feeding. One of the Wild Sumaco guides with a pot of worms led us down the Coopman’s Trail to the feeding area pointing out a Grey-tailed Piha of the way – particularly fortunate as it turned out to be our only one. We settled in for the antpittas, overlooking an ‘arena’ in a gully below us. A Grey-cheeked Thrush (very rare at Sumaco and presumably the bird found there by Dave Cooper in November) nervously appeared, not surprising as a few whistles and some well-directed worms had one of two Plain-backed Antpittas chasing it off. Two much smaller Ochre-breasted Antpittas had to be quick to avoid confrontations too. With most of the worms eaten the ‘bully’ antpittas moved off giving the others a chance. We hung on hoping a Northern White-crowned Tapaculo might appear which one eventually did but it was a very frustrating experience for me as I saw little more than a movement. At 17:00, after 90 minutes there during which time a Blue-fronted Lancebill was seen, we continued walking along the Antpitta Trail which soon started to climb. A Crested Quetzal was a much wanted bogey bird for Mike but otherwise it was fairly quiet. The trail took us back to the road at the point where we’d left the car. We drove back to Pacto Sumaco and our accommodation to find there was no running water and the water butts were almost empty. We’d heard a siren earlier and learnt it was to mobilise the village to transport enough water for us to wash and flushing the toilets. The mobilisation seemed to consist of two individuals with a motorbike and a couple of large containers. They seemed to have it well in hand and we left them to it. We sorted ourselves out and returned to the village at 19:00 for a good basic meal. After eating we drove down the road and tried several spots for Foothill Screech Owl. We elicited responses at two but at neither did the birds come in although at the second site (near the start of the F.A.C.E. tail) one owl seemed very close at one stage. Very frustrating. We returned to our accommodation at 22:15, ironically seeing a Tropical Screech Owl in the village perched on telephone wires.
Band-bellied Owl at Wild Sumaco

F.A.C.E. Loop viewpoint, large fruiting tree centre-right
distant Gorgetted Woodstar in the fruiting tree
as was this Euler's Flycatcher
Ornate Flycatcher
male White-crowned Manakin
Jonas showing Nick, Mike and me a Napo Sabrewing that had temporarily stunned itself flying into a window (photo: Gabriel Bucheli)
female Golden-tailed Sapphire, one of the commoner (and nicer) hummers at Sumaco
Rufous-vented Whitetip showing its white tip
male Wire-crested Thorntails on a feeder at Wild Sumaco

the males were brilliant but I actually preferred the females
they had a lot of character
the seahorse of the hummingbird world
Grey-cheeked Thrush waiting to be fed worms
Ochre-breasted Antpitta keen to get some of the action too

Plain-backed Antpitta
ready to show all comers who is boss

Volcan Sumaco's dance of the seven veils, as seen from our accommodation

20 February. We had breakfast at 05:30 and drove to the start of the Waterfall Trail, arriving in light rain soon after dawn. We set off down the trail, the first part being easy going but it soon became a steep descent which was very noisy when near the waterfalls. By now the rain had stopped and the trail contoured for a km or so before a steep ascent up the Piha Trail. We eventually ended up back where we’d started. We’d been on the trail most of the morning with the less steep sections of the trail the more enjoyable. One had to watch where putting one’s feet on the steep downhill sections while the steep uphills were a real slog. Another female Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Lined Antshrike and Musician Wren the highlights. At the top of the trail we flushed a Chestnut-tipped Toucanet that Gabo felt had come out of a nearby nest hole although we couldn’t find one. My view of what would have been a new bird was very poor. Antwrens continued to frustrate with confusion as to whether I was getting fleeting glimpses of Foothill or Ornate until I realised both species were involved. We birded the road for a while, with a pair of Black and White Tody-Flycatchers the highlight for me, before returning to the Wild Sumaco lodge via the Research Station feeders for more of the usual activity while having lunch. Gabo called me back to the car park as I was leaving it to point out a pair of Golden-collared Toucanets, a target for me that the others had seen before. They gave good views but soon moved on. In the afternoon I decided to revisit the antpitta feeding in the hope of seeing the Northern White-crowned Tapaculo better while the others tried the road again. It was just me and a different guide. He had a different technique, going down and putting most of the worms in two piles but the result was the same with the Grey-cheeked Thrush and two Ochre-breasted Antpittas bullied by the bigger Plain-backed Antpittas. Antpittas are usually a big favourite of mine but I was going off this one. After half an hour the guide left me, his worms expended. I was determined to sit it out although without a great deal of hope but after 25 minutes the tapaculo appeared rather timidly. It gave excellent views walking quickly across the feeding area towards what was left of a worm pile, its white crown spot visible the whole time it was on view. It pulled one of the remaining worms off out of view and I set my camera up on the other but wasn’t quick enough when it suddenly reappeared and dragged it away. I walked back to the lodge, birding in the car park and at the feeders while I waited for the others. I had just started walking the loop trail when it started raining heavily and I returned to the lodge veranda until the others returned. They had not seen a great deal. We returned to our accommodation and had another good meal. We tried again for Foothill Screech Owl at the start of the F.A.C.E. Tail and again heard one, although more distantly than the previous evening. It didn’t come any closer and we soon gave up on it.
Collared Trogon at Sumaco
Napo Sabrewing
Wire-crested Thornbill
it looked very young and fluffy
female Wire-crested Thorntail
a too hurried shot of a pair of Golden-collared Toucanets in the Wild Sumaco car park
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock by the lodge at Wild Sumaco

back at the feeding station: Grey-cheeked Thrush
Ochre-breasted Antpitta

Plain-backed Antpitta

21 February. We had breakfast at 06:00 and drove to the start of the F.A.C.E. Trail arriving soon after first light. We had reached the loop and were heading down it when Mike heard a call he recognised at Striolated Puffbird. It was high above us somewhere but even those with two good ears (i.e. everyone apart from me) were unsure which direction it was coming from. We retraced our steps and were immediately distracted when Gabo heard a close Yellow-throated Spadebill. We had decent views of a pair but they were constantly moving and, for me, usually perched in a partly obscured position. Still brilliant and a major target for all of us. The puffbird continued calling and we spent two hours looking for it without really being sure where it was. It would respond to playback but only with another bout of calling and we were not convinced it moved at all. Frustrating but it wasn’t a species I thought we had much chance of seeing, and so it proved. We returned to Wild Sumaco lodge, checked the feeders and birded around the car park and the Lodge Loop Trail. In the afternoon we walked the Benavide’s Trail which was very steep in places. On a downhill section I turned a corner, Gabo in front of me distracted by his ipod or similar, to see a Wattled Guan on the trail below us. I said ‘stop’ but it had seen us and ran a few paces before flying low around the next corner. Unfortunately Mike and Nick didn’t see it either. The trail came out by the Research Station and I briefly checked their feeders, as much to have a five minute rest, before following the others down the Antpitta Trail. Nick and I diverted to the antpitta feeding area for a five minute rest (I was feeling my age a bit with all the ups and downs at Sumaco). It was well past feeding time and hardly any worms were evident but I lobbed a few small bits of stick down just to see if anything was about and might come to investigate. Amazingly a Short-tailed Antthrush did, something that had never appeared at the two feeding sessions I had done, apparently it never did when the Plain-backed bullies were around. We returned to the lodge up the Coopman’s Trail and paid for our third day on the trails. We returned to the F.A.C.E. trail at dusk for a final try for Foothill Screech Owl. One started calling as it was getting dark but it was some distance away and stopped calling before we could get close. Gabo briefly lost his torch as we climbed back up to the trail but we retraced our steps and soon refound it. We tried the area a few kms down the road where we heard an owl on our first attempt. This time we had a response and the bird came close but try as we did we couldn’t locate it. In frustration we ended up creeping into the bush it appeared to be calling from but it promptly stopped –presumably having flown out of the back. That was it, unfortunately. We felt that we’d tried out best but had come up short. We returned to Pacto Sumaco for another good meal and back at our accommodation I braved the ‘shower’ with a bucket of cold water.
Nick and my room. Mosquito nets were provided but we didn't need them. It is my mess on the floor
the sort of tree that could easily hide a stationary puffbird
Yellow-throated Spadebill
it being partly obscured for me messed up the focusing too
Gabo did much better (photo: Gabriel Bucheli)
Yellow-throated Spadebill (photo: Gabriel Bucheli)
another mystery bird in the fruiting tree on the F.A.C.E Loop but this time Jonas wasn't at Wild Sumaco to identify it for us

it seemed as close to Yellow-breasted Antwren as anything on the Wild Sumaco list although at the time we thought it most likely to be a rather sluggish tyrannulet
the end of a giant
Mike, Nick and Gabo on one of the trails, not sure we'd all get by the 'shirt police'.
Black-mantled Tamarins from the veranda at Wild Sumaco

Eacles ormondei attracted by the lights at Wild Sumaco, the most impressive moth we saw on the trip
large hairy caterpillar
White-fronted Tyrannulet
female Crested Quetzal

Short-tailed Antthrush at the feeding station

22 February. A lie-in, with packing put off until later, we drove down for breakfast at 06:30.  Pacto Sumaco had been a decent place to stay. It was comfortable, quiet and had nice views which sometimes included Vulcan Sumaco. The food was good too, if somewhat basic, but candles rather than electricity (although recharging was possible where we ate) and the running water not lasting a day were not ideal. We drove to the lodge car-park and veranda where Mike was a little ahead of us and heard and saw White-chinned Swift flying over. A grip which fortunately didn’t last too long as about 15 minutes later about 200 White-collared Swifts appeared and started wheeling around overhead. Before long we saw at least two smaller swifts, often chasing each other as they shot around amongst them. White-chinned but as more by process of elimination than seeing the named plumage feature. We birded the road seeing little of note and returned to the workers feeders/Powerline Trail area in the hope of seeing the Chestnut-tipped Toucanet better. We flushed it again, sooner than expected, and again failed to see where it went. We found a large hole in a nearby tree trunk and, assuming that was where it was nesting, set up Gabo’s scope on it from as far away as possible. After a short wait during which time it did not return we left Gabo’s scope and sent 45 minutes around the feeders. A superb Wing-banded Wren responded, only the second we had heard, and gave good views but was too quick for the camera. A Dusky Spinetail flew across the path into thick cover and took me ages to get a reasonable view of (thankfully my companions, for whom it wasn’t new, were very patient). We tried a lower section of road but it too was quiet so at 11:30 decided to head back to Pacto Sumaco. Nick and I went to check Gabo’s scope first but nothing was doing. I though this odd and slowly walked towards the tree, flushing the toucanet in the process but not improving on my very poor view. We had focused on the wrong hole! It was in a different tree and faced the opposite direction. We set Gabo’s scope up on the new hole but had to go a long way around to reach the car without walking past the hole again. We returned to Pacto Sumaco, packed, dropped off the keys and left. It had been a successful visit despite a couple of frustrations. I had one more new bird to see and we had Gabo’s scope to collect. We approached it from the south and I carefully walked up and looked through the scope. Nothing, I couldn’t believe it, but Gabo thought he heard tapping from inside the tree. We moved in a bit and suddenly the Chestnut-tipped Toucanet stuck its head out of the entrance and took one look at us before launching itself out of the hole. Again we couldn’t be sure where it went but we thought we’d disturbed it enough as it was and left it in peace. Brilliant. We drove down to the main road and headed east stopping for a meal at Hollin again although I wandered around instead, my insides still rather delicate. We continued to Archidona and arrived at the Orchid Paradise Hotel at 16:45. It was very posh and rather more expensive than we were anticipating but still cheaper than Pacto Sumaco. Gabo even thought he might take his wife and young children there sometime. Gabo, Nick and I set off around the Nature Trail hoping to find Dave Coopers Striated Antbirds but had no success, a male Spot-winged Antbird some compensation. Nick and I had a very nice room with fan, until the power failed for 20 minutes and we realised how much hotter it was here than at Sumaco. We had a nice meal and a lukewarm shower was very welcome too.
our accommodation at Pacto Sumaco in our last morning
another brilliant female Wire-crested Thorntail
Coppery-chested Jacamar along the road

accommodation and toilet blocks at Pacto Sumaco

Gabo saying our goodbyes to the family who prepared our meals

Chestnut-tipped Toucanet's nest hole, it took some tracking down
Golden-faced Tyrannulet at Hollin
it was good at standing on one leg