Our first day in Cuenca we joined a tour group headed to Aguarongo. We were interested in the tour because it included a birding walk, which we looked forward to. The tour included a bus ride up the mountain, coffee and snack, a guided tour telling about local plants and a lunch featuring local food. It was very interesting, but we were disappointed in the birding walk. We enjoyed the people on the tour, but there were just too many for good birding. It still was a pleasant day and something different to experience.
At Aguarongo: Brown-Bellied Swallow, Great Thrush, Rufous-Collared Sparrow, Green-Tailed Trainbearer
Did you know that the Panama hat originated in Ecuador? Cuenca was one of the first places to make them. Apparently, they made lots of hats which were shipped to Panama to then go to world markets. People passing through Panama would purchase them, so they have been called Panama hats ever since. We went to a factory where one could buy every sort of straw hat.
We enjoyed seeing the center of town and walking along the river. We saw the unfinished bridge and a museum in a bank. Outside of the museum are some ancient ruins and some caged birds like toucans, parrots, and guacamayas. We saw some new birds that we could hope for, and others that we had seen in the wild, up close and personal. But it was even more fun to see some of the uncaged birds.
Our hosts had a hummingbird feeder that was frequented by only one hummer, a Sparkling Violetear. He was gorgeous and knew it!
In Cuenca: Scrub Blackbird, Great Thrush, Southern Yellow-Grosbeak, Vermilion Flycatcher, Fulvous Whistling Duck, American Kestrel, Sparkling Violetear, Blue and Yellow Tanager
Another morning in Cuenca we went with our hosts to Cajas National Park. It was raining off and on but we had fun birding anyway. We circled a large lake and saw both forest birds and water birds. The exciting bird there was the Grey-Breasted Mountain-Toucan! We were hearing it earlier, but Jennifer spotted it near the end of our walk. I imagine several trips to that park would not exhaust the bird sitings. But we only had a morning, and a rainy one at that.
We saw some alpacas pasturing at Cajas. We didn’t want to get too close to them lest they spit at us. However, it was a Kodak moment that we had to take advantage of.
In Cajas we saw: Great Thrush, Slate-Throated Whitestart, Andean Teal, Black-Napped Tyrannulet, Black Flower Piercer, Masked Flower Piercer, Andean Coot, Ruddy Duck, Speckled Hummingbird, Hooded Siskin, Rainbow-Bearded Hummingbird?, Grey-Breasted Mountain-Toucan, Paramo Seedeater
After visiting Cajas we went to a restaurant where we got to taste cuy, a guinea pig that is considered a delicacy in Ecuador.
Next blog: Loja