Report 15. Monday, September 17, 2007. Going Home. Statistics. Prizes.

Note: Sharon's notes are in {green curly brackets}. Information added to the original reports will be in [red].

Reminder: New life birds for us will be in UPPER CASE. New trip birds, but not life birds will be in Initial Caps. Birds in neither category (we've seen them on the trip already, or just talking about them) will be in lower case.

Alarm is off at 3 am. I mentally review today's itinerary.

Ride to the airport, check in, go through security, flight to Miami, go through immigration and customs, flight to San Francisco, meet Bob and Carrie Ross who will pick us up, drive home, sleep in our own bed.

It'll be a full day.

Juan Carlos drives us to the airport himself, with the same van we've been using, and missing one bolt on the right rear wheel. I don't even think about it.

We get to the airport plenty early, say goodbye to Steven and Magda (we are taking AA to Miami, they are taking Copa Airlines to San Jose, Costa Rica) and begin the exit procedure.

We go through immigration, pay our $40 exit fee per person, clear security, then clear local security, and are at our gate, in plenty of time for our 630 am flight.

Sharon tries to get coffee but they tell her they don't allow coffee in the waiting area. This is followed about five minutes later, by about twenty passengers entering with coffee. Hu-whut?

Earlier, on our way in, I buy a Mt. Cotopaxie tee shirt and a refrigerator magnet. I'm good to go.

In addition, there's free WiFi at the airport, courtesy of Movistar (like Cingular or Verizon). I get Google, but out of Argentina, so it's in Spanish.

I am on La Web.

Well the time goes by, the call comes, and we take our regular seats in business class. Regular because it's the same two seats in the same section on the same airplane type as we had in the two legs coming from SFO to Miami to Quito. So we feel right at home.

The early morning takeoff is spectacular, with the sun just hitting the peaks around us. Sit back and watch this.

Spectacular Cotopaxi


The sun is just up, to our right


A little lighter now.


We eat, we sleep, we read, we watch a movie, I begin to write up the first trip report to email when we get home. Incredibly, there was not one point in the trip where I could email a report.

After four hours or so, it's 943 am Central Daylight Time, and we're about to land in Miami.

We go through immigration, passport control, then we're routed off to the side because we said we were on farms and might have walked where cattle had walked.

They have to disinfect the shoes and boots we wore because of some terrible hoof-and-mouth {Or as sometimes happens, hoof-IN-mouth} problems that are occurring in South America. Excellent! So we won't have to clean them when we get back home. I don't mean 'excellent' because of the hoof-and-mouth, you know. It's because I just got out of some work.

This activity takes an hour or so, but we still have two hours till our flight leaves. {I felt sorry for the guy who scrubbed and disinfected our shoes. What a job. But he told us about the terrible things he has had to do including spoiled meat with maggots someone was bringing from Haiti. Why? You might ask? So I guess cleaning shoes isn't too bad considering.}

We finally get our shoes and boots back, pack them in plastic bags they give us, put them in our luggage, and head over to the place where we turn in our checked luggage again. Then we take our carryon stuff, go through final security, and make it to our gate.

And you surely know the rest. We board, make it to San Francisco, watching more movies, eating more first class food, sleep some more, read some more, write up some more reports, double check the life bird list to be sure it's accurate, and of course, work a number of sudoku puzzles. Hmm, let's see that can't be a 3...

Bob and Carrie Ross meet us at SFO and take us home. The plan was for them to go to our house and drive our new Volvo up, but it wouldn't start. Dead battery. So the Rosses have picked us up in their car.

It feels great to be back in the Bay Area, great to be with friends, great to get home, great to see our cat Boomer. This is Monday September 17th. We left San Francisco on Sunday, September 2.

And there you have it, except for the...


Trip Duration: 16 days, counting travel days, though the first travel day began in the late afternoon.

Trip Cost: About $8000 (about $800 of which was to bump up our coach seats to business/first class), including tips. In addition, we used frequent flyer miles to purchase the main air tickets, which helped lower the cost.

Trip Cost per Day per Person: $250, but if you don't count travel days, it's a little over $300.

Number of Trip Birds in Ecuador: 386, including 13 heard-only birds.

Number of Life Birds: 285 in Ecuador, nine of which were heard only, but still countable by our rules (not by Steven's rules, but that's because he's so good at SEEING birds), plus 1 in Florida. 286 for the trip.

Cost Per Bird: About $27. This is a great bargain, especially given the size of our life list before we went to Ecuador.

Life List After Ecuador: 2542 species, of the approximately 10,000 species in the world.

2500th Bird: Tricolored Brush-Finch

Number of Snakes: One skin.

Top Ten Birds (Couldn't get it below seventeen, six of which are hummingbirds (H)). In no particular order:

Andean Condor

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager

Sword-billed Hummingbird (H)

Lyre-tailed Nightjar
Flame-faced Tanager
Beryl-spangled Tanager
White-capped Dipper
Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Purple-throated Woodstar (H)

Booted Racket-tail (H)
Pacific Parrotlet
Red-billed Scythebill

Ornate Flycatcher. The Acrobat.

Violet-tailed Sylph (H)
Purple-bibbed Whitetip (H)
Velvet-purple Coronet (H)

Birds Most Tired of Seeing:

Great Thrush, Tropical Kingbird, Rufous-collared Sparrow.

Favorite Lodge:

Papallacta Lodge, with its outdoor spa pools.

Weirdest Thing

(Two-way tie): The moving worm mass on the road in PVM, and the long-necked chickens.

Favorite Souvenir:

Ecuador Wallhanging


58 species. Day 9, Wednesday, September 12. Pedro Vicente Maldonado (PVM). Trails and Canopy Tower.


39 species. Birding Day 1, Tuesday, September 4. The Antisana Area. The first day of a trip almost always gets us the most life birds.


First, the list of 30, divided into two groups: birds we got (15) and birds we missed (15). I consider fifty percent to be fantastic.


Bluish Flowerpiercer, Scaled Fruiteater, Emerald Tanager, Rufous-winged Tanager.

LUTMAN "EXPECTED BIRD COUNT" SYSTEM RESULTS (If you don't dig statistics or math, as Sharon would say, "I invite you to skip this"):

Using the Ecuador range map for each bird, plus knowing the approximate route we would be birding, I used the amount of overlap to make an estimate of the probability of seeing each bird in Ecuador (I did NOT read the text on each bird, which would have taken WAY more time, but would have been more accurate, in terms of probability-to-see). Ratings were between 0 (no overlap, no chance) and 10 (100% chance, guarantee). So a rating of 4 means I estimated a 40% chance to see that bird.

When you add up the percent-chance-to-see for each bird, you get the total number of expected birds for the trip. You can do this both for total birds, and just for life birds. Then you can compare the expecteds with the actuals.


The most incredible result was that of 692 birds I gave zero chance of seeing, we saw 119! In other words, we saw 17% of the 692 birds, and is a huge error in my estimating method in the "zero-chance" category. The estimates of zero percent chance of seeing was based on the fact that our birding path did not appear to overlap the bird's range, according to the map. However, in some cases "the bird's range" was only a few small dots, and in a huge number of cases, the birds' range appeared to be too far to the west by a smidgen. However, we saw a ton of birds in PVM in the west, so I imagine our actual westernmost point was actually inside birds' ranges that I didn't think were inside.

Clear as mud, huh?

For birds with ratings between 10 and 90 percent-chance-to-see, on the average, my estimates were too high by about 31%. Numerically, what that means for example, is that if I estimated there would be 13 birds seen in one of those groups, on the average we would see about 10, roughly speaking. Breaking the groups down, I did not too bad in the 10%, 20%, 70% groups and terrible in the 30% and 50% groups, but I think this is just data scatter from too few data points.

For birds with a "slam dunk" rating - a guarantee: of the 15 birds in this category, we saw 8, and I think you know what that says about my "guaranteed" category.

Clearer now? Huh? Huh?

Overall Results:

When I add up the percent chances of 1608 birds in Ecuador, I get 365. We saw 381, so the overall estimate wasn't too bad a little low. If I restrict it to life birds, the expected number of birds was 287 and unbelievably, we saw 285!!! Don't get too excited. I attribute it mostly to random luck, to be that close.

Statistics Table (caution, don't try this at home. I am a professional):

Note: The calculations for the 287 lifers expected is from another larger, more detailed table I didn't include here.


You: Did you hear about the conversation between the deaf guy and the idiot?
Listener: No.
You: WHAT?

Now when somebody gives you the opening line, and YOU are the listener, you can just beat them to the punch by saying "What?" yourself, making YOU the deaf person. See?

HEY. Can you even HEAR me? Hey, I'm talkin' to you.

I added those last two parts, see, they're not part of the joke. But seriously, can't you hear me?

I hereby declare the Ecuador Trip Reports to be officially OVER. Unless you need some yliapa...

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