Hummingbirds — Ecuador Photo Tour

Long-tailed slyph hummingbird; Ecuador.; Guango Lodge

Hummingbirds are on the agenda for anyone taking a bird photography or bird watching trip to Ecuador.  Gary and I planned our photo tour in March to see as many hummingbirds as possible during our 10-day stay in the country.

Ecuador has more than 132 hummingbird species.  That’s more species than any other country and 40% of all hummingbird species in the world.

Lucky for us, hummingbird feeders are a common sight around Ecuador.  We chose our stops during this trip based on hummingbird feeding location so we could maximize our photo and viewing opportunities.

First stop was Guango Lodge on the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains.  Guango is great for photography with a new hummingbird “Pavilion” by the bus parking area.  There are natural perches by each feeder.  This gave us an opportunity to photograph the hummers as they rested between visits to the feeders.

We used flashes to bring out the sparkle in the hummingbird’s feathers.  Everyone used a diffuser of some sort to soften the light so the flash wasn’t so obvious.  I used the Lumiquest Softbox.  Someone else used the Rogue FlashBender 2.  No need for a flash extender since the hummers were 6-10 feet away most of the time.

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Our guide, Nelson Apolo Jaramillo, suggested that we leave Guango in the afternoon and visit a friend’s lodge about 45-minutes past Guango.  We all agreed and drove down to Rio Quijos Eco-lodge on Hwy 45.  The lower elevation gave us some new species.

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Our hummingbird photography continued a couple of days later as we moved across Quito to the Yanacocha Reserve.  The reserve headquarters has a nice café, restrooms, and trails.  These are situated near a covered hummingbird photography area.  Lots of natural perches around the hummingbird feeders.

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The target species here was the sword-billed hummingbird.

Septimo Paraiso; Mindo, EcuadorOur next stop was the Mindo Valley lower down the western slope of the Andes.  Our lodge in this area was  Septimo Paraiso.  It truly is Seventh Heaven in so many ways.

We gave everyone a full-day of photography and birding on the grounds of Septimo Paraiso.  There are several hummingbird feeding stations as well as fruit feeders for perching birds.

Booted racket-tail hummingbird; Ecuador.; Septimo ParaisoI set-up the hummingbird flashes in the garden under a nice pavilion that was ringed in hummingbird feeders.  Once I got the set-up working then we traded out every hour.  Each person in the group got to use the flashes.   Everyone got at least one nice photo with the multi-flash set-up.

 

The next two days were devoted to visiting several location in the Mindo area that featured hummingbird feeders and fruit feeders.    We went to Alambi Cloud Forest Reserve, San Tadeo, and the Birdwatcher’s House.

Each stop gave us a couple more species of hummingbirds plus more opportunities to photograph familiar species.

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Come back tomorrow for news about tanagers and other perching birds.

 

 

 

Antisana Reserve — Ecuador Photo Tour

Antisana Volcano KAC8540-Pano

My husband, Gary Clark, and I got a chance to return to Ecuador earlier this month to lead a Strabo Photo Tours Collection trip.  Our trip visited the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains, the western slope, Quito, and the Antisana Reserve.

Antisana is a large tract of undeveloped land surrounding the Antisana Volcano.  The reserve protects Quito’s water supply and is prime habitat for the Andean Condor.

The Antisana Ecological Reserve covers 120,000 hectares or 296,000 acres.  The Antisana Volcano is 5758 meters or roughly 19,000 above sea level.  Most of the reserve is above the tree line and covered in low grasses called paramo. Rolling hills, cliffs, deep valleys, and even a lagoon round out the habitat.

Antisana Volcano KAC0634

Permits are required to enter the reserve so access is limited.  This means it can sometimes feel like you have the place to yourself even on a busy Sunday afternoon

 

Our first stop was a coffee shop near the entrance to the Antisana Reserve.  It’s called Tambo Condor.   www.tambocondor.com  This is a great place to stop for coffee or a snack but we were there for the hummingbirds.  The feeders attracted giant hummingbird (on the right above) and shining sunbeam (on the left.)  Andean condors roost on the cliffs across the valley.

On the day we visited, the skies were clear and sunny.  Wind was howling, though, but we were prepared and dressed for it.

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Gary and I got everyone out of the motor coach when we were high on the paramo for a fun time chasing and photographing carunculated caracaras and Andean lapwings.  It was cold, the altitude was killing us, but it was fun.

We ate box lunches at the lagoon.  It was too cold and windy to eat outside so we used the coach as a shelter.  We got in and out depending on the birds outside.

Andean condor; Ecuador.; Antisana Reserve; Vultur gryphusGary and our guide Nelson were great spotters.  We saw Andean Condors six times during our visit.  The last sighting was the best when an adult condor flew right over our heads and gave everyone a perfect opportunity for incredible photos.

 

 

Andean condor; Ecuador.; Antisana Reserve; Vultur gryphus;
Andean condor on the Antisana Reserve in Ecuador

Tomorrow — Hummingbirds of the Eastern Andes.