22 March 2010

Andes Custom Introtour Day 2 (Tandayapa Valley NW Ecuador): 26 Feb 2010

Continuing our short tour of the endemic rich region of the Choco of NW Ecuador, we spent the day birding the subtropical forest in the Tandayapa Valley. A short time after daybreak we peered through the gloom of dawn at a Scaled Antpitta that hopped down in front of the blind at Tandayapa Lodge. This rainforest wraith soon retreated back into cover once full light had reached the cloudforest. However, it was then that two powerfully built White-throated Quail-Doves strolled onto the compost heap and fed for some time.

Next up was a foray upslope to the upper end of the valley. As we made our way up this forest-fringed back road an odd-looking branch had us making an "emergency"stop, for this strange branch was not a branch at all but a cryptic COMMON POTOO doing its best branch impression at a day roost (TOP PHOTO)! While birding a quiet forest road the Tandayapa Lodge volunteer Scott Watson came hurriedly towards us to let us know that he had just had a magnificent encounter with the rare Tanager Finch, and so we hotfooted it to the spot and found it just where he advised-thanks Scott (BOTTOM PHOTO)! We then returned to our original spot and lucked into a trio of Plate-billed Mountain-Toucans rummaging within a fruiting tree to gasps all round.

A lunch stop at Tandayapa Lodge bought us a flurry of activity from 17 odd species of hummers, to a nesting Powerful Woodpecker by the hot tub, to a pair of White-winged Brush-Finches creeping through the brush there. A late afternoon jaunt down lower in the valley bought us the clown-like Toucan Barbet in an area that also bought us the often tricky Beautiful Jay too, before we hurried to a roadside stakeout for Lyre-tailed Nightjar and enjoyed wonderful views of this extravagant nightjar in the scope with its spectacularly long tail trailing behind him.

Next up was the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation sanctuary at Milpe, and the promise of some rich Andean foothill birding...

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