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Day 4 (Monday, 21st April)

    This morning was probably THE one that we had been looking forward to since planning the trip, since a visit here promised a Cock-of-the-Rock lek and one or two Antpitta species. The plot is owned by Angel Paz, who was once a farmer, but stumbled on some tasty birds quite recently and realised its commercial potential, which not only helps with conservation, but has also greatly increased his income. We set off from Bellavista at 4.30 and arrived at the car park an hour later. This was where the best of the day (potential of special birds) was confronted with the worst - there were a lot of other birders also on the tour (over 20 in the end) which was far too many, and compounded our aversion to group birding.

    Nevertheless, the throng descended snakelike down the muddy paths, most donning torches while waiting for the first light from the sun. A Barred Forest-falcon was heard above the track, but not picked out until later by a dedicated group who had already seen the Cock-of-the-rock lek. Once at the hide, all were crammed in to watch the birds plying to and fro for about an hour, although they only showed well intermittently and briefly. Much better views were had of a Crimson-rumped Toucanet preening in front of the upper hide, with an Olivaceous Piha munching on a banana.

Cock-of-the-rock hide

Forest

Cock-of-the-Rock hide

Forest path

Toucanet

Piha

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Olivaceous Piha

   The group then gathered next to an open shelter a little higher in the forest, where we were to witness the odd technique that Angel has employed to show off some of the birds. He appeared around the corner of the track, calling and laying down morsels of food with a pair of Dark-backed Wood-quails following. These totally wild birds eventually alighted on to a tree stump directly in front of us to complete the meal. We were then marched down to the river, where his calling and baiting played out a similar scene with a Yellow-breasted Antpitta. This bird is more elusiive than the more well known local Giant Antpitta (Maria by name!), but the latter failed to materialise. While staking out 2 sites for her, other birds picked out included Streak-throated Foliage-gleaner and Tyrranine Woodcreeper.

Yellow-breasted Antpitta

Dark-backed Wood-Quail

Yellow-breasted Antpitta

Dark-backed Wood-Quail

    We thankfully left the group at this point to ascend to the hummingbird feeders at the top of the trail. Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds were probably the most numerous species here, but we also added Velvet-purple Coronet to our list, and much better views of Empress Brilliant than the snippets from Tandayapa yesterday. Before leaving Angel's, a tasty breakfast overlooking the valley was accompanied by Swallow-tailed Kite and American Kestrel.

Brown Inca

Empress Brilliant

Brown Inca

Empress Brilliant

Velvet-purple Coronet

Fawn-breasted Brilliant

Velvet-purple Coronet

Fawn-breasted Brilliant

Breakfast

Valley

Breakfast

Valley below Paz reception

Mindo

Mindo fields

Mindo

Open area on outskirts of Mindo

River

Smooth-billed Ani

Mindo River

Smooth-billed Ani

Restaurant


Mindo restaurant
 

    A few miles further up the New Road is Mindo, and we reached there after popping into a small hotel at the main turnoff to look for Toucan-Barbet. None were found, but Beryl-spangled Tanager was added to our tanager list. Before reaching the restaurant (yes, so soon after brunch) we parked up on one of the tracks in the town to find Smooth-billed Ani and a pair of elusive Slaty Spinetails. A bridge over a fast and well stocked river was then crossed, where a brief stop drummed up a White-capped Dipper, which may well have been servicing a nest under the bridge.

    Timing was of the essence, since the rain started as soon as we arrived at the small restaurant, and this increased to torrential proportions as we fed, not stopping at all for the remainder of the day. This wasn't a problem at the time, since we laid back and enjoyed some very close hummers, including the first White-whiskered Hermit and small numbers of White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violet-ear, Velvet-purple Coronet, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and Purple-throated Woodstar

Jacobin

Brown Violet-ear

White-necked Jacobin

Brown Violet-ear

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Bananaquit

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Bananaquit

    The rain hadn't ceased by the time the forest at the edge of Mindo was reached, and this made birding difficult by interfering with the optics. However, a Rufous Motmot from the car on approach certainly kept optimism high. This part of the forest contained more open land than previously encountered, and the birds started slowly, but increased when finding a bird party close to our turning back point. This included a pair of Red-headed Barbets, Flame-rumped Tanagers, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Tropical Parula, and one or two more which may have escaped attention.

Track

View

Open forest track above Mindo

View from track

    The journey back was in the rain and approaching darkness. Nightjars were searched for near to Tandayapa without success, but ample compensation came in a Common Potoo pearched directly outside of the dome at Bellavista Lodge. As if not enough, a Slate-throated Whitestart was hawking insects from the lights underneath the canopy.

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

Text only