03-August-. Yanacocha & Old Nono Mindo Road / Night Tandayapa Bird
04-August-. Lower Tandayapa Valley / Night Tandayapa Bird Lodge
05-August-. Silanche Bird Santuary / Night Tandayapa Bird Lodge
06-August-. Upper Tandayapa Valley / Night Tandayapa Bird Lodge
07-August-. Milpe Bird Santuary / Night Tandayapa Bird Lodge
08-August-. Paz Bird Refuge / Night Quito August 03-. Once we meet at the hotel we drove all the way up to Yanacocha Reserve, which is own by Jocotoco Foundation. This high elevation (11.000 ft) reserve, this was a perfect introduction to the many special birds and families found within Andes. As this will be, our only time in the temperate forest. As we drove up through open farmland towards the reserve we saw a few Grassland Yellow Finch and Hooded Siskin. Quick and short drive, brought us into the reserve. Pretty soon we jumped out into a feeding flock that the Andes
are famous for. Yanacocha itself is one of the preserve with that kind of specialties, as we got Superciliaried Hemispingus, Spectacled Whitestar, Blue-backed Conebill, and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers, Rufous Wren, Rufous-breasted and Crowned Chat-Tyrant, Golden-crowned Tanager, Pearled Treerunner, which was great to start.
Once we had reached the main feeder station towards the end of the track the
hummingbird action became crazy, as dozens of hummingbirds of at least 8 different species. Top among those present was probably a Sword-billed Hummingbirds that with their such amazing long billed, made everybody out of series. Others in the mix included a brace of puffleg, Sapphire-vented,Golden-breasted Puffleg,Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Tyrian Metaltail, Great Sapphirewing, Shining Sunbeam, Mountain Velvetbreast . As we were coming back we been able to pick up couple beautiful mountain Tanager, Hooded and Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, just scanning on the top o the bushes we got some highly want see specie, and one of the most beautiful hummers specie Purple-backed and Rainbow-bearded Thornbill.
As we visited this extraordinary sight, we drove down out of the temperate forests of Yanacocha into the subtropics, and the bird-rich Tandayapa valley, which is lower elevation. Just before we left the temperate zone behind though we picked up a few choice extras, Plain-colored Seedeater, Black Flowerpiercer, Red-crested Cotinga on top of a small tree, on the way down. Finally, we reached the Old Nono-Mindo Road, as we drove true some greenery a long this peaceful and quiet road that some times get nosy durant the weekends but this time it’s been silence. Unfortunately it’s been also quiet for birds too, that usually happen this time of the year, but keep on same road we caught couple bright scarlet males Andean Cock-of-the-rocks appeared feeding on the cecropia trees, Not exactly a beautiful by sound but an absolutely incredible birds, plus Plate-billed Mountain-toucan, also on the cecropia trees, on the way down. We then made our way to Tandayapa Bird Lodge where a barrage of new hummingbird species right on the balcony feeders.
August 04-. We started with a visit to the Tandayapa Bird Lodge blind just a short time after daybreak. A nightlight in the forest there attracts a lot of moths, which then turn out in birds breakfast to any hanging insects in the morning. But just getting out from the lodge we saw the Barred Forest-Falcon that came true to my playback and the blind itself brought the main visitor to this light is often a resident pair of Immaculate Antbirds, and on this day again they did not disappoint. Also present was a very welcome couple White-throated Quail-Dove that they were chasing each other in front up us. Bouncing around on the floor with a gleaming white throated on forest floor was a Chestnut-capped Brush-finch. Plus the Streak-capped Treehunter it’s been creeping near the lodge. After our late breakfast we went to spent our birding time at the lower deck which is just down from the main lodge, itself brought us some White-winged Becard, Marbled-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Smoky-brown and the stunning Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, and the soaring Barred Hawk. Later on the morning we headed up to the trails, this narrow and well maintained trail, gave us just wonderful birds like Crimson-rumped Toucanet, scaled Fruiteater, Toucan and Red-headed Barbet and the skulked Nariño Tapaculo.
After our delicious lunch, all up us concentrated at the balcony, to figure it out all this hummer that were coming. As I said Tandayapa is one of the lodges in Ecuador with so many hummingbird species coming to be feed, as we saw; Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Andean and Western Emerald the cute Booted Racket-tail, and the Chocó specialties, the handsome Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Purple-throated Woodstar, Empress Brilliant, Violet-tailed Sylph, plus the aggressive and territorial Buff-tailed Coronet. Later on the afternoon we did some road side birding where we caught some colorful bird like Golden, Black-caped, Beryl-spangled and Golden-naped Tanager, Black-winged Saltator and the very answering to the tape Golden-headed Quetzal. Plus most want to see by hardcore birders the Beautiful Jay it’s been along the road. To end our great day we went to try some night birds, were we been able to see the most spectacular night birds in the valley, the incredible displaying male Lyre-tailed Nightjar, what wonderful day!
August 05: In our third day, we went down to Pedro Vicente Maldonado, which is hour and half driving from the lodge. As this well-known lowland-foothill forest holds a bunch choco bird species. The first part of the morning was spent birding the road to the Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, where the habitat is mainly open country areas with some remnant trees dotted around, a sad reflection of this area, that was formerly covered with thick lowland rainforest, although has largely now been cleared for palm plantations and cow pasture. However, do not let this put you off there is still some fantastic birding to be had, even within some of these cleared areas, as many birds persist in these remnant forest patches. Our first stop produced a few Gray-and-gold Tanagers, a pair of Pacific Antwren, and a small party of Pacific Parrotlet. The next few stop, just a little way up the road, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, and the Tumbesian endemic that some migrate to northern area Greenish Elaenia, Yellow Tyrannulet, Black-checked Woodpecker.
A little way on and we stopped on the edge of a palm plantation where Gray-capped Flycatchers, Lesser Greenlet, a small foraging party of Golden-hooded Tanagers, and an especially chunky and aggressive Black and white Becard that came angrily into the tree above us, was a good haul for a small line of remnant forest trees. We again tried to make our way to the reserve only to be sidetracked again by a small group of Bronze-winged Parrot and a Slaty Spinetail working at young growing bushes by the road. Late in the morning we finally crossed over the small metal bridge over the Silanche River that marked our entry into the reserve. Once we managed to get there we visited the metal tower that they have, where it brought us some species like, Pale-mandible Araçari, Green and PurpleHoneycreeper, and very close view of Guira Tanager, soaring above our head Short-tailed Hawk.
The garden of the reserve provided to us a few hummers, as they don’t have feeders, Violet-bellied and Purple-chested Hummingbird, Striped-throated Hermit too, by the Flowers. The forest trail gave us, coming and go canopy and understory mix feeding flock with; Checker-throated, White-flanked and Spot-winged Antwren, Spot-crowned Antvireo. Held a number of Dusky-faced, Tawny-crested, Rufous-winged and Scarlet-bowed Tanagers and the males of Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, Orange-fronted Barbet before the flock disappeared from view, and the trees
fell silent once more, most of this birds were Chocó specialties.
On the way back to the lodge, same road hold some birds, Western Slaty Antshrike, Snowy-throated Kingbird, Plain and streaked Xenops, plus the cute and tiny Olivaceous Piculet show up for us, which a thought it was a bonus. The male Orange-crowned Euphonia, feeding on the fruiting epiphyte, it was pretty good day by the way.
August 06-. As the upper and the lower Tandayapa Valley are situated in moist cloud forest, This part of the valley is home to some of the most highly prized Chocó species, so a little high elevation than Tandayapa Bird Lode has a almost completely different variety of species, well some times that occurs on the lodge, but rarely goes. We set up to see any wonderful birds that there occurs, fortunately we began with our old friend Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan sitting quietly in the scope too, that was rapidly followed by a sprightly Black-crested Warbler singing from some open roadside shrubs. This roadside birding, it’s been truly easy birding than been birding under the trees for most of the participants. One particularly large flock brought Barred Becard, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers to come, White-tailed Tyrannulet, and several Grass-green Tanagers. We also managed to find one of the most colorful of the Chocó species in the valley, four Toucan Barbets that had been duetting beside the road. This entire day birding on the upper valley provided us some fantastic birds species, Plain tailed Wren at the Chusquea Bamboo native from this elevation, my little pygmy-owl whistle brought some Capped Conebill, Dusky Bush-tanager, Green and black Fruiteater, Strong-billed and Montane Woodcreeper. After walking back and ford we saw some the biggest woodpecker on the valley the Powerful Woodpecker. Surprisingly after hearing for almost all morning we caught the stunning looking for tapaculos, the Ocellated and the little skulking Spilmann’s Tapaculo.
With out exception we also managed to see couple birds of prey souring on the mid mourning, Plain-breasted Hawk and Hook-billed Kite. Up’s I was also forgetting to our friends Rufous-headed Pygmy-tyrant and the Yellow-bellied Chat-tyrant. That they were feeding by the roadside. For the evening we went for Owling, where luckily we got the Colombian Screech-Owl (Rufescent Screech-Owl), it was great, that responded easily to the tape just above the lodge on the road toward to Bellavista.
August 07-. After our early breakfast, we drove down the foothill and cloud forest edge. This goes from 800m to 1300, and birding is such amazing at the reserve, as this is the border of those two type of habitat.
The birding begun right after we got out of the car, with Blue-necked and Swallow Tanagers a perched up near the parking lot, just from the coffee plantation we spotted some Chocó Toucan, Flame-face Tanager. It was then
time to hit the trails in the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation, Milpe Bird Sanctuary, another home for some rare Chocó species. Right off the bat we headed down into the forest after one of these, the fascinating Club-winged Manakin. This restricted range species is not interesting for that reason though. It like many other Manakin specie has extravagant displays and create quite a show when doing this. Is no that all, also this particular specie is so cute. I’m no saying hat the other manakins are ugly, just more handsome. And close by the Manakin lek we got a flock came true where we were, Chocó Warbler, and the cute Ornate Flycatcher, were all quickly added to the list. The flocks in the area came and went and it was difficult to know if we had seen all of the species that they were on it, as we pick them up later on the morning, the emerald-colored Glistening-green Tanager, that shared the same flock with a Pacific Tuftedcheek, Rufous-throated, Scaly-throated, Collared Trogon, Lineated and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Slaty Antwren, Spotted Woodcreeper, Golden-winged Manakin and another Chocó specialty Ochre-breasted Tanager, as I always say this particular area has always this feeding mix species. After a morning action in the trees above, we took a little break watching hummer by the hanging feeders at the car park, and quickly added another four species to our growing hummer list: Green-crowned Brilliant, the dinky Green Thorntail, Green-crowned Woodnymph, and another Chocó specialty, White-whiskered Hermit, plus the funky looking Purple-crowned Fairy its been feeding on the garden flowers.
After our picnic lunch, headed to bird along the Milpe road, where sometimes can be great birding as we pickup some Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Variable Seedeater and Pacific Hornero walking along the road. The forest that still surviving at the end of the road brought us some weird mixture specie that I call, here produced a party of flashy Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Cinnamon and One-colored Becard, the Rufous Mourner and Gray-mantled Wren, that I never seen in the area feeding in a low roadside tree. What a magical time to finish our birding in the cloud and foothills forest.
August 08-. Today it’s been our last day of the trip, as all up us knew, so I our schedule we get go to visit a small private reserve that we had not gone to before that has some very special bird species. That this family, make easy birding to these hard finding specie in while. Basically is one of main reason that people goes there This property correctly referred to as Paz de las Aves or Antpitta farm which well known by birders in the world. So one of the participants wants to see close Andean Cock of the Rock, for that we went a bit early in the morning to be able to catch them. Once we arrived there, they took us down where they put some fruits and where they feed the Antpittas. First of all we went to check the Cock of the Rock lek, there were couple of them displaying, even when we had seen it was nice to see it again. Just behind the lek they have the fruits feeding station were we added for our list the Black-chinned Mountain Tanager, Olivaceous Piha, and Sickle-winged Guan. Little seemed to stir aside from the guans and so pretty soon after Angel drew our attentions away as a certain large rusty-breasted form came bouncing down the trail towards us out the back of the blind: “Maria”, the most trusted and reliable of the Giant Antpittas on site was here and looking for some worms, that the brothers feed them. As we got in our and the most wanted to see specie, we hit the trail again and journey down into the bottom of the valley for another “stage” for the next antpitta, which Unfortunately we no allowed to use any playback over there, but fortunately his was Yellow-breasted Antpitta, this shy specie as others didn’t want to come out. Amazingly, the bird came to Angels whistle and giving us all incredible looks as it did so. whistle works most of the time. And on the way back, some up us we been lucky to see the Moustached Antpitta, which is even more shy and scare than rest of them.
We then headed back up the trail and relaxed by the busy hummingbird feeders that
were buzzing on the feeders, and brought us couple new species to add to our hummer list, all of which were Chocó specialty: the glistening Velvet-purple Coronet, and the striking view of Tawny-bellied Hermit. The feeders were truly dizzying with almost same as Tandayapa Bird Lodge, with just slight couple different specie.
As some of the participants thought that they never going to come up, at the end all of them realized they were on the top, where some up us were watching for a chance at some bolones and cheese empanadas, washed down with tea and coffee by Angels gift shopping place. Also we got on the area one of the most want to see species. That many people come for. Truly I’m talking about the rare Orange-breasted Fruiteater, another bird that is restricted to this endemic-rich Chocó region.
All in all though we had great and truly remarkable days birding in the Chocó region.
Our last stop of the trip was further east as we headed back across the equator line
towards Quito, in an area of dry, semi-desert habitat within the dry inter-Andean valley, near the “equator town” of Calacali. To be honest, the birding there was pretty slow although we did manage to add a number of dry country birds that we had not seen before. Among them were two more hummers: the distinctive Black-tailed Trainbearer, and an all too elusive Giant Hummingbird, who is been feeding and perch some how on the cactus type of plant. Weren’t exception to see in this kind of habitat, Ash-breasted Sierra-finch, and Tufted Tit-Tyrant, and watched on as an American Kestrel gliding around, Fortunately we picked up the elusive White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, who came out, just before that we live from the place.
I think there are worth mentioning trip special birds by the participants too, as there were some star by them: Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Violet-tailed Sylph, Powerful Woodpecker, Streaked andPacific Tuftedcheek and Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, I don’t think is easy to chose from so many striking, rare, and colorful species from the region, but those were the winners.
Here the total 282 species, that we had seen on the trip, that at least one of the participants has seen and 30 heard (H means heard only).