As I watched the temperatures falling to near zero the past few nights, I thought of warmer places to be.
Two years ago Laurie and I were at the North Coast Nature Fest in Cleveland's Metropark system (http://www.clemetparks.com/). Among the displays, we saw this very excited young woman(Kathy Krynak) speaking about Ecuador. Laurie saw a print of a Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and took one right away. After we listened to what she had to say, and buying a few souvenirs, Laurie said "We're going there!". I've learned never to doubt what she says...
Six months later, after many emails and a few phone calls, we were at the Hotel Quito! The morning after our flight arrived we were picked up by our guide, Edison Buenano. We were looking for the rest of the group, but we were it. What a way to go birding, with your own private guide.
On our way to Reserva Las Gralarias (http://lasgralariasfoundation.org/), we birded the Yanacocha trail and Old Mindo Road. Edison's eyes and ears were amazing! He would spot things through trees, out the window of the 4X4, or through fog, nothing seemed to get past him. And he was very insistent that you got a good view of the birds too. I came home with over 1600 photos, some of which are pretty good!
We ended our 6 days of birding with 308 species including the Swordbilled Hummingbird and the Giant Antpitta. If you're feeling 'under the weather' I highly recommend looking up this lodge and Ecuador. Warm weather, warm people and great food.
We enjoyed Las Gralarias so much, we donated an acre of land and have put on presentations showing the beautiful scenery and birds found in the Mindo valley.
Now I'll go back to dreaming about being warm...
The photos at the top are, left, Broad-billed MotMot and, right, Flavescent Flycatcher.
The photos below are, left, Giant Antpitta and, right, my favorite, Velvet Purple Coronet.