Posts Tagged ‘San Jorge de Milpe’

Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager

Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager

Tanagers and hummingbirds – those are the birds that everyone talked about when I announced that I would be going to Ecuador for my first trip to Central or South America. These birds were gorgeous and colorful as promised, but we saw many other wonderful birds, too, with some of the best in simple black and white. The Partnership for International Birding (PIB) trip to northwest Ecuador was February 22nd through 28th, 2013. Six adventurous birders, our PIB guide and experienced Ecuador birder, John Drummond, and top Ecuadorian guide, Lelis Navarrete, completed our group. The birds that we saw ranged from the awe-inspiring Andean Condor with its ten-foot wingspan to the Booted Racket-tail which immediately went on my personal list of the world’s cutest birds.

The first day we birded the Calacali area and the Tandayapa lower valley in the morning before lunch at Sachatamia Lodge in Mindo. In addition to a wonderful lunch, we enjoyed our first close-up views of tanagers at feeders.

Flame-faced Tanager.

Flame-faced Tanager. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

We also saw our first warbler of the trip, this Black-crested Warbler.

Black-crested Warbler

Black-crested Warbler. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

After lunch, it was on to San Jorge de Milpe where we would spend the night. This lodge hosted many gorgeous hummingbirds as well as three very cooperative Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail which came in to a feeding station near the outdoor dining room.

Ocellated Tapaculo

My poor but recognizable photo of Tomas, the Ocellated Tapaculo

Our second day of the trip started at 4:30 AM to allow time for the 20-minute walk from the lodge to the bus, the drive to Refugio Paz de las Aves, and then the walk down a steep, slippery path in the dark. We needed to be in place before dawn to watch Andean Cock-of-the-Rock display on the lek. Angel Paz opened his property to visitors and saved it from logging after discovering the Cock-of-the-Rock lek. While creating trails, he discovered antpittas coming to eat the earthworms that were uncovered by the work. Angel learned that birders would pay to see them, too. Amazingly, he was able to “train” antpittas to come to his call by rewarding them with earthworms. Today Angel and his brother, Rodrigo, provide birders on their refuge with close views of some of the most difficult skulking birds in Ecuador. The best known of these is the Giant Antpitta, Maria, who did not show for us (perhaps on the nest). However, we were thrilled to see an Ochre-breasted Antpitta from a few feet away as well as two Dark-backed Wood-quail. My favorite bird was Tomas, a gorgeous Ocellated Tapaculo, who also appeared when Angel called him. In between these amazingly cooperative birds, we watched a Crimson-rumped Toucanet, hummingbirds, tanagers, and other forest birds.

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Crimson-rumped Toucanet. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell

At San Jorge de Milpe in the afternoon, we saw more amazing tropical birds including a Pale-mandibled Aracari.

Pale-mandibled Aracari

Pale-mandibled Aracari. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

After a wonderful day of birding, we headed to Sachatamia Lodge for the night.

Sachatamia Lodge

Sachatamia Lodge in Mindo. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

We birded most of our third day in Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary. Some of the stars on this day were black and white birds like this Dot-winged Antwren below.

Dot-winged Antwren

Dot-winged Antwren. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

The tower at Rio Silanche

The tower at Rio Silanche. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

Another favorite was the White-bearded Manakin. Males begin courtship by jumping between small saplings in the lek at the forest edge. Each time it jumps, the tiny 4-inch bird snaps its wings, which makes a loud popping sound. There was a flurry of activity with the little Manakins constantly jumping as we tried to get a good look. Then we heard Ron quietly say “I’ve got one over here” and he pointed to a spot near the ground on the other side of the path. A charming little Manakin quietly sat there in the vegetation and allowed all us to get great looks.

White-bearded Manakin

White-bearded Manakin. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

We saw very few animals of any kind other than birds, so the giant snail was a fun surprise. Note the tip of my shoe for a size comparison.

Giant snail at Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary.

Giant snail at Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary. Photo by Jeannie Mitchell.

After another great day of birding, we headed back to Sachatamia Lodge again for dinner and the night.

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