SAN ISIDRO RESERVE
ABOUT THE BIRDING
Cabanas San Isidro owns a 1300 hectare private reserve at an elevation of 6100-6700 ft. Trails through the reserve offer excellent birding opportunities through an altitudinal gradient. In addition, the lodge location provides easy access to Guacamayos Ridge and the Loreto Road. An easy drive upslope to the Santa Lucia-Bermejo River Road provides fine roadside birding through higher elevation temperate forest.
One of the attractions at San Isidro is the antpitta conditioning program patterned after the efforts of Angel Paz. Currently two species of antpittas have been conditioned to come into the open for native caterpillars, Chestnut-naped Antpitta and White-bellied Antpitta. Several hummingbird feeders near the lodge dining room regularly attract Tawny-bellied Hermit, Sparkling Violetear,Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-tailed Coronet, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Bronzy Inca, Long-tailed Sylph, and a number of other species. Species commonly seen right around the cabins include Masked Trogon, Powerful Woodpecker, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Black-billed Peppershrike, and Saffron-crowned Tanager. In very early morning before first light, Rufous-bellied Nighthawks can usually be seen swooping through the parking lot chasing moths attracted to the lights. An easy 20-minute walk from the cabins leads to an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, which is most active from October-March.
Roadsides and trails through the forest of the private reserve offer superb birding opportunities. Two species of special interest commonly seen are Golden-headed Quetzal and Crested Quetzal. Many other birds can be found in the forest. Possibilities include Sickle-winged Guan, Highland Motmot, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Streak-capped Treehunter, Striped Treehunter, Long-tailed Antbird, Barred Antthrush, Variegated Bristle-Tyrant, Black-chested Fruiteater, and a good variety of tanagers.
A nice excursion is a visit upslope to the Santa Lucia-Bermejo River Road, with a stop after dark on the way back to look for Lyre-tailed Nightjars on the bluffs overlooking the highway. Some highlight birds along the river road include Torrent Duck, Wattled Guan, Sickle-winged Guan, Andean Toucanet, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Powerful Woodpecker, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Olive-chested Flycatcher, and Yellow-browed Sparrow.
LOCATION OF SITE
San Isidro is located in the Quijos Valley along the Tena-Baerza Road at an elevation of 6800 ft on the eastern flank of the Andes Mountains. It's reached by driving from Quito across Papallacta Pass and then downslope, about 2½ hours drive without stops.