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February 19, 2017

JAN. 24, 2015. DAY 7.  Ah, retirement. No alarm clock, no 6am desayuno, no Mauricio. We sleep in, shower upon rising and join at breakfast 2 Californians and 2 Ecuadorian expats from California, Spencer and Margo Platt, and Sherie and Benny Fouche, respectively, who are travelling together along a route quite like ours. We first encountered them at Guango; now they are here at San Isidro, and will be with us again for 3 of our 4 days at our next lodge at Wild Sumaco.


L-R Spencer, Benny, Sherie, Margo, Phil

We take a short walk after breakfast, but get chased back in by the rain. We take a short walk after lunch and a rest, and the rain chases us back in again. We are in time to meet Carmen Bustamente, who has managed and arranged all the details of our time in Ecuador. (See She and her family own the eco-lodges at San Isidro and Guango and have done much to preserve vital habitat in Ecuador for all wildlife, including their work with the Jocotoco Foundation (See We also met her husband Mitch Lysinger, one of Ecuador’s top birders and guide. We spend the rest of the afternoon chatting with Mitch, who grew up in Coral Gables, near Miami. We start naming birders we both might know, and when we mention H P Langridge, Mitch pulls his upper lip tight against his teeth and starts an HP impersonation that is frighteningly right-on. Turns out that when Mitch was a kid, he helped HPL on the Coot Bay Christmas Counts in Everglades National Park. When I was a kid, I helped HPL on a Coot Bay Count! And so the afternoon went, telling stories about Wes Biggs, the Athertons, Paul Sykes, and so many birders whose paths have crossed both Mitch’s and ours . . . a great afternoon!


Mitch Lysinger and Phil

We had a chance to chat with Carmen, thanking her for all her efforts with our trip and hearing about complications she dealt with when lodges at the end of our trip failed to reserve rooms she thought were settled, and how all that was resolved. She also gave us a clearer idea of what to expect during our five-night stay at Napo Wildlife Center later in the trip.

After dinner, Margot and Spencer and we tracked down the San Isidro Owl, and we all had fabulous looks and hears. The day had yielded only one lifer for both of us and a catch-up bird for Ann – but lots of much-needed rest and socialization with new friends.

JAN. 25, 2015. – DAY 8 

Another lazy day at San Isidro, and with showers coming at random through the day, the birds seemed lazy, too. The morning was pretty well rained out, with a really pretty stripe-chested flycatcher, the only lifer to show for the day. Ann and I took a long, easy afternoon walk up slope from the entrance gate on the Sierra Azul Road, and other than motmots calling to us from back in the trees, we encountered very little birdlife. It’s a walk that doubtless would have proved much more productive during the morning hours, but both of our free mornings, it rained. We did get a couple more chances to chat with Mitch and Carmen, and had a couple great views of a blackish agouti, the only one I’ve ever seen that was not deer brown. As we headed off to bed our last night at San Isidro, their special owl screeched its notes of reminder about what a special place this is.


Phil on the observation deck of the dining room/lounge.


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  1. Diane de Moye permalink

    As always, enjoyed your trip vicariously.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. permalink

    Such a great report. Amazing story about Mitch! Xo

    Sarah Dean Sent from my iPhone


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