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#86521
Hey all, just got back a few days ago from an amazing trip to the Andes of Ecuador.

We took part in the San Jorge Eco Lodge "Magic Birding Circuit" 8 day Photography tour.
The Lodge is actually 4 lodges (we visited 3) that range from high Andes to Amazon in elevation, run by Ecuadorians.
3 and 4 course meals included breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Surprisingly, this tour was cheaper than other advertised "pro workshops" but had i chosen to pursue multi-flash setups, Luis (our guide) would have been happy to oblige me with equipment.
I chose to shoot the entire trip with natural lighting conditions however, i don't think my work suffered too much without artificial light.

I didn't know what to expect from a group tour but was assured group sizes would be 6 or under.
As it turned out, it was just my wife Api and i, we had our guide Luis Alcivar (the owners son and a fellow bird photographer himself) to ourselves!

He delivered on all his "iconic Ecuador birds" although we missed Choco Toucan at Milpe lodge, we really made an effort but in the end it was our British birder friends Mike and Helen (birders in a different group but staying at same lodges for part of trip) who got the looks we kept missing.
On our last birding day he really went out of his way to drive us to the Torrent duck location on a raging muddy river in rain and cold conditions, this bird wasn't on the schedule, it was a "bonus" - i did see a female float by briefly but never secured a shot (did get two new hummingbirds there though).
My camera lens fogged over one afternoon but the lodge at Milpe had an electronic device dryer (a hot box, basically) that heated everything up until fog was gone, quickly.
Other than that, everything went smoothly and according to plan, American Airlines were a pleasure to fly with, Dallas Fort Worth is an easy airport to get around and i would recommend this trip to any serious bird photographers.
Here then is a small selection of some of my favourite hummingbirds
We shot 31 species total :shock:

Oh, i also followed my bird photog comrade Liron into the 1000 species club, we both got our 1000th in Ecuador, he did it a few months earlier though.

Next up, tanagers.

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Rainbow-bearded Thornbill (the last bird we shot on our trip, at 3800 metres altitude.)

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White-bellied Woodstar

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Booted Racket-Tail - much smaller than you would think

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Giant Hummingbird - the worlds largest hummingbird, at 4000m elevation.

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Green-crowned Brilliant

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Brown Inca

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Long-tailed Sylph

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Velvet-purple Coronet

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Green-crowned Wood-Nymph

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Andean Emerald

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Brown Violetear

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Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

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White-necked Jacobin

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Sword-billed Hummingbird - iconic

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Shining Sunbeam - the front of the bird is quite unexciting

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Black-tailed Trainbearer

Thanks for looking :)
#86522
Excellent captures. I have seen only one other picture (and no personal views) of the back side of the Shining Sunbeam. Seeing those hummers brought back memories of my 2007 trip to Ecuador. Thanks for sharing. FYI I am not a photographer just a border.
#86528
zwest wrote:Amazing! Is there a specific flower that the sword-billed gets into that none of the others can?
Yeh, pretty much, I saw a documentary once where they discussed how the hummingbird evolved its bill over time to take advantage of the long trumpet-like flowers i don't know the name of.
#86562
Nigel wrote:Amazing images Paul...excellent for natural light. You did not even consider fill in flash?
Which of the lodges is best for hummers?


I used to always walk around with flash and better beamer a few years ago but stopped using it one day, and have not used it since.
There were a couple of times in Ecuador where i sure could have used it but in reality, flash is banned when shooting Angel Paz's antpittas and the Cock-of-the-Rock lek anyways.
I love to see the frozen wing multi flash hummingbird in flight shots as much as anyone but its too much work lol i love the simplicity of a perched hummingbird on anything but a feeder and i enjoy getting those looks, just my thing.
Debra pointed out that cameras have gotten better with low light conditions, totally true, i was using ISO 2400 a lot with my D500 and could have pushed it further, any extra grain can be dealt with with a good noise reduction filter if the image is otherwise sharp.

The best hummingbirds were at gardens run by friends of Luis, he explained that the fact that the lodges were not overrun with hummingbirds at the time was because of lack of rain earlier, not enough blooming flowers, so he drove us down the hill from lodge (tandayapa) a bit to a private garden by a small river that was hopping with hummers, it was crazy!
#86617
GlennBartley wrote:Awesome set Paul. The Rainbow-bearded Thornbill is especially good.

Cheers!

Glenn
Thanks Glenn, it was your Birds in Ecuador book that first opened my eyes to the incredible diversity of birdlife down there.
It will take a few more trips down to amass the amount of birds you have photographed though, there is still the Galapagos and the Amazon :)
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