Week 2 and 3.
The next two weeks were spent birding the heck out of the Tandayapa Valley and surrounding areas. 5 hiking trips to Bellavista Cloud Forest and the upper valley, 3 half day trips to Yanacocha Reserve, Milpe and Mindo cloud Forest reserves and to Paz de Aves, home of Maria, the Giant Antpitta.
Birding on the trails around the lodge was very good at times. One of the loudest residents of the main trail was this Rufous-crowned Warbler. While a Warbler, it is a member of the genus Basilueterus rather than our northern Dendroica genus.
Like in Costa Rica, Rufous-collared Sparrows were a common sight in the valley.
Immaculate Antbirds were another common sight at the hide behind Tandayapa Lodge.
And now my computer is giving me problems uploading photos, so I will finish the rest with text.
Yanacocha Reserve sits at around 10,000ft and is one of the few places in the world that one can find Black-breasted Puffleg. Unfortunately, these awesome Hummingbirds did not wish to cooperate with me. However, my single highland target bird did. A single Sword-billed Hummingbird posed just long enough for me to get it's picture. Other birds including Thornbills, Shining Sunbeam, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Masked Flowerpiercer and Crimson-bellied Mountain-tanager made up for the lack of Black-breasted Pufflegs. The spectacular scenery lasted til about 9am when a cloud descended over the mountain and shut us in. After the scenery petered out, I focused my attention on the Hummingbird feeders where Glossy Flowerpiercers, Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Sapphire-vented Puffleg and others were busily emptying the feeders.
Milpe Reserve turned out to be the exact opposite of Yanacocha. Being in the foothills (~1200ft) it had more potential for tropical species. However, it turned out to be one of the worst days I'd had. Arriving 2 hours later than I'd wanted to, I hiked every trail in the reserve, including, at one point, scrambling over a fallen tree, wading through ankle deep mud and walking down a steep slope down to the river and back up again. Except for the first 100yds of trail, the place was deader'n a doornail. No Choco Toucan, no Moss-backed Tanager, nada. At least the Club-winged Manakins were nice to see. A Brown-billed Scythe-bill in a small Funariid flock made it a worthwhile day.
Mindo simply had the same species as Tandayapa. Nothing new to see there other than to say that I've visited the World-famous Mindo Cloud Forest. :)
Easily, the best day I had was a visit to Angel Paz at Paz de Aves Reserve near the Tandayapa Valley.
My guide at the reserve managed to call in Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Dark-backed Woodquail and Rufous-breasted Antthrush. All three species fairly difficult to see otherwise. Then, after much searching, we finally found, waay in the back of the reserve, Maria, the Giant Antpitta. The single most famous Antpitta in the world if I'm not mistaken. Hiking back to the feeding platforms at the beginning of the trail, the guide put out fruit and whistled in Sickle-winged Guan, Black-chinned Mountain-tanager, Toucan Barbet and others.
The birds in the Tandayapa Valley were equally as spectacular. White-winged Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Beautiful and Turquoise Jays, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Tropical Parula, Brown-capped Vireo, Powerful Woodpecker, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Common Potoo, and many other species graced the Cloud Forest during my walks. Pale-legged Hornero, Torrent Tyrannulet and White-capped Dipper were among the species that frequented the stream in the small village of Tandayapa.
In all, it was an awesome 3 weeks of amazing birding in and around the Tandayapa Valley. Many thanks to Tropical Birding for allowing me to stay at Tandayapa Lodge during my 3 weeks there.
I will try and post more photos to this blog eventually. Til then, most of my best photos from Ecuador can be viewed at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/swallowtailphoto/sets/72157623925417032/
I am flying to Lima, Peru on Thurs (Sept 16th) and will be attempting to blog about my adventures in Southern Peru for the next 2 and a half weeks. I will be in Peru from Sept 16- Oct 4th.
So til next time, many safe and happy travels to you all!