Since school did not start until Monday, we had the entire weekend to acclimatize ourselves and do a little bit of exploring in the city. Fortunately I was feeling much better on Saturday so Laura and I decided to explore a park near our hostel called Parque Itchimbia.
|Exploring Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
Quito is located at an elevation of approximately 2,850 m and is situated in an inter-Andean valley. While both slopes of the Andes receive ample amounts of rain, which produces lush vegetation and a high species diversity, the inter-Andean valleys are relatively dry with low bird biodiversity. It doesn not help matters that much of the original vegetation has been removed as well, further decreasing potential diversity. It is therefore difficult to see 30 species of birds in a day in Quito.
Despite the low diversity we had fun exploring Parque Itchimbia, re-familiarizing ourselves with some of the common denizens like Eared Doves, Great Thrushes, Golden Grosbeaks and several species of brush-finches.
|Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Great Thrush - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Eared Doves - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Tarantula hawk wasp (Pepsis sp.) - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Salome Yellow - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
I lucked out and discovered two species that were new for my list - a single Band-tailed Seedeater foraging on some grasses and a small flock of Rufous-chested Tanagers, a specialty of inter-Andean valleys.
|Band-tailed Seedeater - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Rufous-chested Tanager - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Narrow-banded Dartwhite - Parque La Carolina, Quito, Ecuador|
|Sparkling Violetear - Parque La Carolina, Quito, Ecuador|
|Vermilion Flycatcher - Parque La Carolina, Quito, Ecuador|
From Monday to Friday we have had a typical routine of breakfast by 7:5 at our hostel, walking the fifteen minutes to the school, having class for four hours and walking back to the hostel. Generally our brains have felt like mush following the Spanish lessons so we would usually chill for a bit in the afternoon, followed by some exploring of the city.
|Our morning commute - Quito, Ecuador|
|Basilica de Voto Nacional - Quito, Ecuador|
We have been enjoying the local food as well. Below is a specialty of the region; a potato, cheese and avocado soup known as locro quiteño.
Food is quite cheap in Quito, especially when you leave the main tourist areas. The following meals were 3$ each!
On one of the afternoons I returned to Parque Itchimbia on my own for a few hours in the afternoon. The bird life was largely the same with a few additions. I finally saw my first Blue-and-yellow Tanagers for Ecuador as well as a few other odds and ends such as a Gray-browed Brushfinch and a Tyrian Metaltail.
|Eared Dove - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Gray-browed Brushfinch - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Tyrian Metaltail - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Rufous-collared Sparrow - Parque Itchimbia, Quito, Ecuador|
|Mindo Valley area, Ecuador|
I'll post about some of our finds here in Mindo in the next little while.