Ecuador Day 5 – Sachatamia and Back to Puembo

Since we would be birding in the morning at the Lodge, breakfast was a bit later but we were back to birding around 6 or maybe 6:30. I may have written too much on the birds in the earlier blogs and they were the focus for most of our stays, but the lodges themselves were great with pleasant bedrooms and dining rooms and the feeders and trails were great as well. This was our bedroom at Sachatamia – comfortable and quiet.

Sachatamia Bedroom

The feeders are not shown but this was a favorite spot – for breakfast or lunch while watching the birds coming in to the feeders in front of us full of hummingbirds and tanagers as elsewhere. It was from this spot that we saw one of the very few mammals seen during our entire trip – a single Agouti – a very common medium sized rodent. There was almost always a beautiful view throughout our trip

Sachatamia Overlook

Our morning started at the “moth wall blind”. It is a very productive and ingenious set up. A canvas sheet is stretched over a form and a light is turned on at night that attracts moths and insects many of which remain on the sheet when the light is turned off at dawn. This is like a deli case for birds that learn to come in early for easy pickings. We had a good list of birds there and would probably have had more if a juvenile Barred Forest Falcon had not come in and remained for more than 20 minutes. The good news is that we got great photos of the falcon but the bad news is that the activity that was picking up before its arrival, slowed dramatically afterwards.

The Moth Wall Sheet

One bird that was not deterred by the falcon was a Masked Trogon that remained for the entire time that the falcon was there. Among other birds seen at the blind were a Mountain Wren, Three Striped Warbler, Plain Brown Woodcreeper, Ornate and Golden Crowned Flycatchers, Lineated and Scaly Breasted Foliage Gleaners, Chestnut Capped and White Winged Brushfinchs, Marble Faced Bristle Tyrant and Dusky Chlorospingus. It was a very shaded area so photos were often challenging.

Chestnut Capped Brushfinch
Lineated Foliage Gleaner
Dusky Chlorospingus
Marble Faced Bristle Tyrant
Plain Brown Woodcreeper
Ornate Flycatcher
Golden Crowned Flycatcher
Three Striped Warbler with Moth
Mountain Wren

We continued birding on the grounds after an hour plus at the blind and found some more nice new birds. We did not spend more time at the feeders as there would be another place with active feeders ahead and we had a lot of ground to cover on the way back to Puembo. A bird seen only briefly but unfortunately without a photo was the Long Wattled Umbrellabird. It is such a striking and strange bird I am including a photo from Ebird taken by Stephen Davies ten years ago in the same general area. The photos after that one are mine.

Long Wattled Umbrella Bird – 2012 Photo by Stephen Davies
Ecuadorian Thrush
Golden Olive Woodpecker
Rusty Margined Flycatcher
Scrub Blackbird

We reluctantly said goodbye to Sachatamia and headed toward the Quinde Luna Reserve near Nanagelito where there were wonderful hummingbirds among other species. As soon as we arrived a White Throated Quail Dove perched at the feeders for a few moments. It was the only quail-dove seen on the trip, sadly, as I find them really appealing.

White Throated Quail Dove

It was showtime at the hummingbird feeders with 14 species and multiples of many of them. I am including photos of some but without question the highlights were very cooperative Violet Tailed Sylphs and White Booted Racket-tails for which multiple photos are included.

White Booted Racket-tail (Western) at Feeder
White Booted Racket-tail (Western) in Flight
Violet Tailed Sylph
Violet Tailed Sylph

This was the Western version of the Booted Racket-tail – with white “boots”. Later we would see the Peruvian or Eastern version in the Eastern Andes with orange boots. Similarly in the Eastern Andes we would later see another sylph species – the Long Tailed Sylph. These had been among my most wanted hummingbirds. You cannot tell it from these photos but the Booted Racket-tail is actually fairly small – if that long racket tail is excluded.

It wasn’t new for the trip but here I got our first photo of a Golden Naped Tanager. There was also another White Sided Flowerpiercer, another species seen earlier but I had not included a photo in that post. We would see many of them later, but this was where we had our first Russet Backed Oropendolas, a species I had first seen in Peru. Jorge and I hiked down to a fast moving stream hoping for a Torrent Duck, a species we had missed at Sachatamia. No luck but we did find a Torrent Tyrannulet, another species I had seen in Peru and 25 years ago in Costa Rica.

Golden Naped Tanager
White Sided Flowerpiercer
Russet Backed Oropendola
Torrent Tyrannulet

We had lunch at a hillside restaurant (with more birds) and then headed back towards Puembo with a very important stop along the way at the Intinan Museum in San Antonio de Pichincha just outside Quito. There are a number of exhibits but the main draw is the equator itself which runs through the museum and makes for some fun experiences. On the way to Intinan, we grabbed a couple of photos of what we were told was a better area of Quito, homes perched on the hill.

Cindy and Driver Jorge at Lunch
Quito View
Museo Intinan

Quite simply the equator divides our planet into halves, the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, but as initially discovered by the 19th Century French Mathematician/Engineer, Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis, there is something more to it. The “Coriolis” force/effect is an apparent inertial force caused by the earth’s rotation on its axis that causes a deflection of moving objects to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. This affects the movement of airplanes and both air and water, so for example, water going down a drain (or a toilet) theoretically moves clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. I say theoretically because there are other factors involved and the notion has been pooh-poohed by no less than Scientific American. HOWEVER, at the museum there was a very convincing demonstration in front of our own eyes that seemed to confirm that phenomenon. Water poured from a bucket down a drain went clockwise merely feet to the north of the line and in the opposite direction merely feet to the south.

Coriolis Exhibit

There seems to be some question of whether any of the places that profess to be on the equator really are, but the GPS on the cell phone confirmed we were neither north or south. I have actually been at the equator before as it runs through Kenya and we made a big deal about being astride it on the tour. Still somehow it does seem pretty cool.

All Zeroes Latitude
Equator Marker

From the museum it was back to Puembo Birding Garden. At Puembo I was able to get photos of two species missed on our first day there, The first is a digiscoped photo of a Crimson Mantled Woodpecker which was missed entirely the first day and the second is/are photos of male and female Golden Grosbeaks. I had seen a male that first day at Puembo Birding Garden but the only photo I got was of a yellow/gold form behind some leaves.

Crimson Mantled Woodpecker.

We would have dinner and spend the night at Puembo and then Jorge and Jorge would pick us up and take us to the airport the next morning for a short flight to Coca, entry point for the Amazon. It had been another great day as altogether we had seen 85 species. I had missed some photos along the way but also got some good ones, many included in this post. The totals were now 220 species for Ecuador and 14 new Lifers. I would need a rally in the Amazon to get back on track to reach 3000 on my World Life List. We’ll see.

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