Birding Northern Ecuador
Altitude 5,797 feet
|02 Feb 09 - Tandayapa Bird Lodge
Up at 5:30 AM for breakfast and a bus ride up beyond Bellavista Lodge. Unhappily, the various washouts have turned the bumpy, single-lane, mud/dirt road into the main arterial. When vehicles - especially our bus and any random truck - meet, its a headache, sometimes a nightmare. Water was running off the road in cascades, carving divots into the main track. The cascades fell freely hundreds of feet. This is extremely rugged country, with the roads switch-backing thousands of feet up the ends of ridges. When you try to bird those roads things get really "interesting" in a hurry.
We partially solved it by purchasing day passes from Bellavista Lodge. We walked part of the Heliconia Trail. I have a shot I'll use on the web site, a "typical" birder's view in jungle understory. There's Grass-Green Tanager and Blue-winged Mountain Tanager on a Heliconia seed pod, but only glimpses. Birding narrow trails with a group of nine is hard; often, only the front 3-4 get to see whatever the guide finds.
We had lunch back at Tandayapa Lodge, and then walked the Potoo Trail. Steep in places, but very rewarding: White-capped Parrots, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, mixed flocks of tanagers. Also great work by José calling in a Toucan Barbet.
My fellow Nature Photography Network member Glenn Bartley is volunteering at Tandayapa for five months. He's only been in Ecuador three weeks and already has amazing photos.
The hummingbird feeders here, as advertised, are world class. They refill them 6-7 times a day; that has to mean thousands of hummingbirds. I think we saw 15 species of hummers, as well as flowerpiercers and honeycreepers. I'll include Nancy's amazing video in one of the links below. Tandayapa itself is very nice: comfortable beds, nice views, beautiful gardens. And a typical mild, cloud forest climate.
Both José and Roberto, our driver, are nervous about travel the next few days. Too many roads washed out. Some are reportedly going to be closed for months.
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