Following an early landing at Quito, we seemed to make record time out of the airport, and quickly found our driver from Bellavista Lodge. We made good headway North out of Quito, and after firstly declining the offer of joining the throng to look at a touristy volcanic crater, Johnny obligingly stopped a little way further on when we spotted a Green-crowned Brilliant on the other side of the road. This wasn't just a brief stop, since it also happened to be the start of a trail at Calacali, which is a well known site on the New Road for one or two speciality birds.
The track we took descended down a scrub and low bush ridden hillside, overlooked a plateau containing a small horse racing circuit, and was bounded by impressive hills on most sides. Birds were present in quite good numbers here, but almost all were generally very secretive or flighty. Some of the target birds we managed to pick up were Tufted Tit-tyrant, regular Green-tailed Trainbearer, and Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch. The latter was the most common species here, but did prove difficult to pin down.
The trio of hummers was completed by a Sparkling Violet-ear, one of the few birds to sit long enough for enjoyable views. Most obliging of all was a male Golden-bellied Grosbeak, which was resplendent when singing at the top of a couple of favoured perches. A few raptors were seen, but the only one to be definitely identified was a couple of American Kestrels. It was noticeable that the temperatures increased as the morning progressed, and we did actually get a little sunburnt for our efforts.
Following the sunshine of Calacali, we set off for Bellavista. The new road wasn't perfect, but did add Turquoise Jay and Great Thrush to the list. The turnoff for Tandayapa and Bellavista found the Old Road, which was more of a track than a road. We traversed the few kilometers further ascending all the time to reach the cloud forest of our destination. The temperature had dropped, as had the amount of clear skies.
Bellavista is set amongst the well forested hills which abut on to the Andes, and consists of a few lodges set amongst numerous trails. Main bird activity centres around the hummingbird feeders, which are dotted around the compound. Buff-tailed Coronets take centre stage, being the most numerous visitors to the feeding stations. They also tend to perch close to the feeders - one of the only species to regularly do so. Perhaps the most stunning bird to visit is the diminutive Booted Racket-tail, but other close contenders had to be Violet-tailed Sylph and Gorgeted Sunangel. The buzzing sound of an arriving Purple-throated Woodstar was appropriate since it even resembled a bee in appearance.
Hummingbirds almost monopolised the feeders, with the only alien intruder being a regular Masked Flowerpiercer.
Away from the feeders, there were a few more interesting birds, although these became more difficult to appreciate as the afternoon wore on with the increasing cloud and rain reducing visibility. At the dome, a Golden-crowned Flycatcher was seen a couple of times, with Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers regular in front of our room. To be fair, not many other species were see around the lodge, but the afternoon had been very enjoyable. We decided to pack in about half an hour before light receded due to the heavy fall of rain.