Day 75: Why Does the Fox Stay?

A chance encounter with an Andean Fox mixes up the birding.

March 16, 2015, San Isidro, Ecuador — This year is flying past! It’s hard to believe it’s mid-March already, and I’m down to my last two days in Ecuador. The days are blurring into each other; I no longer have any clue what day of the week it is (Tuesday? Saturday?), and I mark time by the birds I see. On days with lots of good sightings, like today, the hours go by in a hurry; on slower days, my mind wanders.

Edison and I are spending these last two days on the east slope of the Andes, hitting as many elevations as possible to maximize bird diversity. Today we started at Papallacta, near 14,000 feet, and worked our way down to San Isidro, stopping on the way at a place called Guango Lodge to walk some trails. Once again, we saw more than 100 species today, adding a bunch of new ones to my yearly tally. Birding in Ecuador is seldom slow, especially with Edison!

I knew it was going to be a foxy day when, first thing this morning, I caught a glimpse of something sitting next to the road in a patch of cloud forest near Papallacta. “Is that just a dog?” I said, and Edison took a look. “No, that’s a fox!” he replied. “An Andean Fox!” We jumped out with our cameras, and the fox, which was almost the size of a golden retriever, went nowhere. It stared us down, then ignored us and chewed on something (a rabbit?) until we left it.

A few minutes later, we found and photographed a similarly blasé Masked Mountain-Tanager; then, at Guango, Edison spotted an Andean Pygmy-Owl which allowed us to get so close we could almost touch it. A good day for good views! Tonight we are guests at San Isidro, one of the very first birding lodges in Ecuador, with high hopes for an action-packed morning here tomorrow.

New birds today: 19

Year list: 1689

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