Strip birding. Because sometimes you have to.

Ecuadorian Doves

Ecuadorian Ground Doves

After a very cold morning around 14,000 feet elevation we drove for several hours down to sea level to spend the next several days birding along the Ecuadorian coast. I went from wearing knitted stocking cap, gloves and jacket to wanting to tear off all my clothes because it was a steam bath at sea level. This is strip birding at its finest. I constructed a fan with a folded piece of paper I found on my seat and tried to cool off as we passed by field after field of rice, corn, teak, and banana crops.

Most of the afternoon was spent in the van, yet we were able to find a whopping 71 species. The bulk of our time was spent at Manglares (Mangroves) Chorute Ecological Reserve, about 25 miles from Guayaquil. When we got out of the van we poured mosquito repellent into our hands and began slathering it all over our faces, necks and any other parts of our bodies that were exposed. I was walking more steady at sea level and didn’t need my coca leaves any longer. It was a relief to be able to pick up the pace without having to worry about passing out. I took a deep breath and filled my lungs with air. Oh, how easy it felt, but I soon felt the drops of sweat meandering down my back. I was running out of clothes to peel off and there were those mosquitos we were warned about by our guide, Jose. “Malaria could be a problem here,” he cautioned.

An afternoon is hardly enough time to spend here. The reserve covers approximately 50,000 hectares of mangroves and dry tropical forests and we just saw a tiny bit of it.  The beautiful Saffron Finch was the showstopper for the day. His name suits him well.

Saffron Finch

Saffron Finch

Birds we saw here (lifers are in bold):

  1. Horned Screamer
  2. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
  3. White-cheeked Pintail
  4. Great Egret
  5. Little Blue Heron
  6. Snowy Egret
  7. Cattle Egret
  8. Striated Heron
  9. Black Vulture
  10. Turkey Vulture
  11. Snail Kite
  12. Savannah Hawk
  13. Black-necked Stilt
  14. Wattled Jacana
  15. Greater Yellowlegs
  16. Rock Pigeon
  17. Ecuadorian Ground-Dove
  18. Blue Ground-Dove
  19. White-tipped Dove
  20. Gray-capped Cuckoo
  21. Groove-billed Ani
  22. Peruvian Pygmy Owl
  23. Violet-bellied Hummingbird
  24. Amazilia Hummingbird
  25. Ecuadorian Trogan
  26. Ringed Kingfisher
  27. Black-cheeked Woodpecker
  28. Scarlet-backed Woodpecker
  29. Pacific Parrotlet
  30. Gray-cheeked Parakeet
  31. Bronzed-winged Parrot
  32. Jet Antbird
  33. Streak-headed Woodpecker
  34. Pacific Hornero
  35. Brown-capped Tyrannulet
  36. Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
  37. White-throated Tyrannulet
  38. Tufted Tit-Tyrant
  39. Pacific Elaenia
  40. Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet
  41. (Pacific) Royal Flycatcher
  42. Bran-colored Flycatcher
  43. Vermillion Flycatcher
  44. Boat-billed Flycatcher
  45. Social Flycatcher
  46. Tropical Kingbird
  47. One-colored Becard
  48. Red-eyed Vireo
  49. Lesser Greenlet
  50. Blue-and-white Swallow
  51. Gray-breasted Martin
  52. Chestnut-collared Swallow
  53. House Wren
  54. Superciliated Wren (I began calling this the Super Load Wren
    because his song is super loud)
  55. Tropical Gnatcatcher
  56. Tropical Parula
  57. Blue-gray Tanager
  58. White-shouldered Tanager
  59. Flame-rumped (Lemon) Tanager
  60. Saffron Finch
  61. Blue-black Grassquit
  62. Variable Seedeater
  63. Chestnut-throated Seedeater
  64. Plain-colored Seedeater
  65. Bananaquit
  66. Streaked Saltator
  67. Buff-throated Saltator
  68. Peruvian Meadowlark
  69. Scrub Blackbird
  70. Yellow-rumped Cacique
  71. Hooded Sisken

That’s 71 species in the afternoon and of those, 29 lifers.