Trip Report for our Venture to
West Slope of Ecuador
We all met up for breakfast at the Hotel Quito on the 15th and planned our day. At 6:30 AM we left for Yanacocha and ultimately Los Bancos. Driving up to the Jocotoco Reserve at Yanacocha we got Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, great looks at several Tuft Tit-Tyrants, decent looks at several Rufous-naped Brush-Finch (found by Doris), and a Plain-colored Seedeater.
Just before the reserve entrance in the rain we got crippling views of Tawny Antpitta and Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, while inside the reserve we got several Buff-winged Starfrontlets at the hummingbird feeders. During a break in the rain we hoofed it along the trail getting the uncommon Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Sapphire-vented and Golden-bellied Pufflegs, Great Sapphirewing, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager and a couple of noisy Rufous Wrens amongst others.
We then descended Yanacocha using the short-cut to the Tandayapa Valley. Three White-capped Dippers and a White-rumped Hawk were seen along the road, while at Amphi Lodge we spent some time identifying hummers and got the following: Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Tawny-bellied and White-whiskered Hermits, Brown Violetear, White-bellied and Purple-throated Woodstars, Booted Racket-tail, White-necked Jacobin, White-tailed Hillstar, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and Brown Inca. What a get start to our hummingbird list! We also got White-lined Tanager, 3 Euphonias, Buff-throated Saltator, Silver-throated Tanager, and Ecuadorian Thrush – all on the banana feeders. Arriving late at the Mirador we met Simon and got Green Thorntails and Bananaquits at the feeders, and Chestnut-collared Swifts flying over the gorge.
March 16 found us heading down to Milpe and the Milpe Cloudforest Reserve. Along the entrance road leading to Milpe we found Pale-mandibled Aracari, Slaty Spinetail and Maroon-tailed Parakeet. Right in the parking lot we had 4 amazing Long-wattled Umbrellabirds- another totally unexpected bird. Along the Milpe trails were Ornate Flycatcher, Toucan Barbet, Choco Warbler, Slate-colored Grosbeak, Golden-headed Manakin and Russet Antshrike among others. At lunch in Los Bancos we found a pair of Rufous-throated Tanagers atop a bare tree. After lunch we went down to the Rio Blanco and got among others Masked Tityra, Pacific Horneo, Lineated Woodpecker, great views of a White-throated Crake running across the road. However the Neotropical River Otter fishing in the river had to be the best sighting of the day!
After an early breakfast on March 17 we headed off to Angel Paz’s place to look for Antpittas. After a disappointing Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek where we only got 5 birds, we did locate a male Lyre-tailed Nightjar and had great views of the Yellow-breasted Antpitta. Above Angel Paz’s house we got Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, a gliding Bicolored Hawk (a rare sight), Pacific Tuftedcheek, Green-and-Black Fruiteaters and Ocellated Tapaculo. Alas a recent landslide stopped us looking for Giant and Moustached Antpittas. From there we went for a late lunch at Sachatamia and got Fawn-breasted and Empress Brilliants, Violet-tailed Sylph, Velvet-purple Coronet, Black-capped Tanager and down the trails several Three-striped Warblers and a Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant.
March 18 saw us drive to Rio Silanche Reserve to bird the lower elevation, Choco endemic rich rainforest. Opposite the entrance we got 3 Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail, 2 Mealy Parrots and 3 Purple-throated Fruit-Crows. What a start – incredible. Walking along the road we also got Gray-and-gold Tanager, Hook-billed Kite, Rufous-winged Tanager, Western White-tailed Trogon, Golden-olive, Cinnamon and Choco Woodpeckers, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-bearded Manakin, and Green Honeycreeper among any other species. From there we walked into the reserve and immediately got a Pallid Dove on a nest, a Red-billed Scythebill, and Violet-bellied and Purple chested hummingbirds all next to the guards lodge. Along the trail we got Southern Nightingale-Wren, Band-tailed Barbthroat, White-tipped Sicklebill, Scarlet-rumped Cacique and Orange-fronted Barbet. After lunch we climbed up their tower and got among others, Lesser Greenlet, Streaked Xenops, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Purple Honeycreeper, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis and Dusky and Ruddy Pigeons. Back at the guard lodge we got an Ecuadorian Trogon and Purple-crowned Fairy. A great day all told.
Today, March 19 we drove toward the Tandayapa Valley via the Nono-Mindo Road, walked along the Nanegalito Road and visited Tony & Barbara Nunnery’s place – Pacha Quindi. But before we left the Mirador we found a dying White-tipped Sicklebill near the door to the restaurant. Sadly it did not survive its collision with the restaurant windows. At the entrance to Mindo we got Andean Solitaire, Azara’s Spinetail and a Black-capped Tanager. Along the first part of the EcoRoute along the Nono-Mindo road at a small road cut we got Capped Conebill, White-banded and White-tailed Tyrannulets, Russet-crowned Warbler, Cinnamon Flycatcher, and Blue-capped Tanager. Along the Nanegalito road we had great looks at two Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, heard a Powerful Woodpecker, saw a Blue-Black Tanager, and got Flavscent Flycatcher, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Spectacled Whitestart, Streaked Tuftedcheek, and Green Violetear. Near Nanegalito we spooked a Band-winged Nightjar off the road. Lunching at Tony & Barbara’s we got their full complement of hummers.
March 20 saw us at Poco Del Choco, a teaching facility opposite the Milpe road. Right off the bat near the Mindo road we got a Streak-capped Treehunter. Along the road to Poco Del Choco our fog enwrapped drive got us Black-chinned Mountain-Tanagers, and Laughing Falcon. Once at the facility we took a walk along their trails and got Powerful Woodpecker, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Northern Barred-Woodcreeper, Tawny-breasted Flycatcher, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Uniform Antshrike, and a fleeting look at a Yellow-collared Chorophonia. At their house we got Red-headed Barbet, Dot-winged Antwren, and a swarm of army ants that yielded one Bi-colored and several Immaculate Antbirds. We also heard a Dusky-faced Tanager. But we dipped out on the Banded Ground-Cuckoo, one of the rarest birds on the planet, and sadly it hadn’t been seen for a month. On the return trip we got good looks at Red-billed Parrot.
For March 21 we ventured down the Mindo road and got our first Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Barred Becard, Acadian Flycatcher, we saw several Red-faced Spinetails and a female Blue Seedeater, got a Barred Hawk soaring overhead and in Mindo we got Torrent Tyrannulet, Dull-colored Grassquit, Pacific Antwren and Bay Wren. Later in the day we drove to Mangaloma looking for Banded Ground-Cuckoo. We once more failed with the GC but got Thrush-like Schiffornis, Band-backed Wren, Plumbeous Kite, Buff-rumped Warbler while some of the group had an Indigo-capped Ground Dove walk along the trail.
Our last but one day found us driving to Mashpi lodge. Although not welcomed there we did manage Chestnut-backed Antbird, Rufous Motmot, Bay-headed Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet all along the river. At the entrance to Mashpi lodge we did get Moss-backed Tanager, both male and female Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Black-billed Peppershrike and a Black-chinned Woodpecker. This day brought us over 300 bird species so far for the trip.
Our last day was spent driving the Tandayapa Road to Nanegalito road then up the Calacali road back to Quito. In Los Bancos we got a flock of Pacific Parrotlets and then along the Tandayapa road several Grass-green Tanagers and a Gorgeted Sunangel, Along the Nanegalito road we got both male and female Scaled Fruiteaters, Western Hemispingus, and Smoky-brown Woodpecker among others. Below the pass near the race track in the Inter-montane valley of Quito we got Giant Hummer, Purple-collared Woodstar, Common Ground-Dove, Andean Siskin, Tropical Mockingbird, Saffron Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater and Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch. All told we got 316 for this great trip.