Our last day in southern Ecuador, and at 5:00am I woke to the sound of heavy rain and strong wind...not exactly the best of birding conditions. By 6:10am we had departed the lodge, with our guide anxiously trying to figure out the best place to go based on weather. Our goal today was to get to about 3,500m elevation, but each time we tried the wind was howling and the rain was falling nearly sideways. At our first site I did manage to get one lifer, a Glowing Puffleg, and between between wiping the rain from my binoculars I was able get brief glimpses of Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Golden-crowned Tanager, Pearled Treerunner, and Rainbow-bearded Thornbill. At our second site we found only Brown-bellied Swallow, and at our third site we found Russet-crowned Warbler, Masked Flowerpiercer, Blue-capped Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Glowing Puffleg, and Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant.
At 1:15pm we had resigned to the fact that the weather was not going to cooperate, and therefore continued to the town of Loja where we would catch our respective flights home. We arrived in Loja at 3:15pm, with about 30 minutes to spare, so we made one last ditch attempt to do some birding with hopes of seeing Tumbes Sparrow. We had no such luck, and only added to our day-list a Pacific Hornero, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Croaking Ground-Dove, Saffron Finch, Tropical Gnatcatcher, and Fasciated Wren.
We arrived a the Loja airport at 3:55pm; I boarded my flight at 4:45pm and was airborne by 5:30pm. I then had a lengthy layover in Quito (from 6:25 to 12:15am), connected in Atlanta the next day at 9:00am, connected again in Seattle at 2:55pm, and eventually arrived home in Victoria at 3:30pm. My bag, thanks to airline services, arrived a day later...but at least it arrived.
For nearly eight full days of birding in southern Ecuador it certainly was a whirlwind, adventurous tour. With definite peaks and valleys in daily tallies, some long drives over rough roads, and bouts of bad luck with a flat tire and bad weather, we actually did quite well. My trip tally was 321 species, of which 77 were lifers.