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Ecuador -- Mainland and Galapagos Islands, Oct. 2011

Day 2, October 15. A day at San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito hiking on grounds and watching birds.

We awoke early and joined the group for breakfast at the lodge. By 0800, Dr. Cruz was leading us on a hike through the grounds of the lodge and surrounding forest. The topic of the day was medicinal plants (Dr. Cruz, a vet, is also an expert on local medicinal plants and how they were used over the centuries by native peoples). Many of the plantings on the grounds are medicinal plants, and many more medicinally useful species grow in the woods.

The land immediately around the lodge was used for farming and ranching, and it has since grown back as a eucalyptus forest. These trees are not native to the area, but invade quickly, grow well, and help stabilize the soils, providing habitat for native species to recolonize the area. Farther up in the hills, trails lead through an old-growth high-elevation temperate forest where bromeliads blanket the trees and a diversity of birds (e.g., Rufous Antpitta) call from deep, dark thickets. We stopped for lunch at the base of a waterfall, and after that, the topic switched mainly to birding and geology.

Back at the lodge, we relaxed, watched Great Thrushes feeding in the lawn, and sat by the hummingbird feeders as Great Sapphirewings, Shining Sunbeams, Sparkling Violetears, Tyrian Metaltails, White-bellied Woodstars, and Black-tailed Trainbearers swooped in and out. They that got a chance, a pair of Masked Flowerpiercers snuck in and grabbed a bit of nectar from the feeders too.

San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Liz hiking in the cloudy, High-elevation Temperate Andean Forest
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Trail from dining room to living quarters - not for the faint of heart
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Pool at San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Hummingbird patio at San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Hiking in 2nd-growth Eucalyptus Forest
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Liz finding bugs under wet stones at waterfall
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Bromeliads in the trees along old-growth forest trail
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Black-tailed Trainbearer hummingbird at a feeder!
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Vehicles stop here, and guests walk to the living quarters
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Grand entrance to the living quarters
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Patio outside the dining hall with hummingbird feeders
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Patio with red flower pots and hummingbird feeders
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Table set for a grand dinner in the dining room
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Dinner with the group
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Always an appetizer plus tea and coffee
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Never sure what it is, but always presented fancy and tastes great!

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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