05 October 2011

Planning: Mindo to Yanacocha

After spending three nights at the Tandayapa Lodge, our next stop will be the Mindo Gardens Lodge, another birder-centric eco-lodge located near the town of Mindo and about 80 km west of Quito. The Mindo area is one of the premier birding sites in the world and is home to the Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation. Before arriving at the lodge, we plan to bird the roads and associated trails between Tandayapa and Mindo, then in the late afternoon we'll bird the garden trails and feeders. The next day we plan to visit the Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, a Mindo Cloud Forest Reserve property about one hour drive to the west. Rio Silanche will be the lowest elevation site we visit at just over 300 meters. Some of the relatively common species, and unique to our planned 2-week trip, include: Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Bright-rumped Atilla, Golden-hooded Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Pacific Parrotlet, Pale-legged Hornero, Purple Honeycreeper, Purple-chested Hummingbird, Scrub Blackbird, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, White-beared Manakin, and Yellow-tufted Dacnis.

The next day, after our second and final night at Mindo Gardens, we'll be birding Milpe Bird Sanctuary, another Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation property and one that includes the Mindo Gardens property. At 100 hectares, and between 1,000 and 1,150 meters, Milpe is ranked as one of the best places anywhere in Ecuador to bird. Part of its allure is that it supports some of the more spectacular Choco endemics. Some of the relatively common species, that we expect to see only here, include: Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Choc√≥ Warbler, Club-winged Manakin, Green Thorntail, Green-crowned Brilliant, Green-crowned Woodnymph, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, and White-whiskered Hermit.

After a morning of birding at Milpe we'll be gradually making our way back east to Quito where we'll spend two nights. The next day, Saturday, will be split between birding at Yanacocha Reserve, and visiting the El Ejido Market in Quito. The Yancocha Reserve is a 964 ha property managed by the Jocotoco Foundation, and is about an hour's drive west of Quito on the slopes of Volcan Pichincha. The reserve is most famous for the almost mythical, and quite possibly the rarest hummingbird in the world, Black-breasted Puffleg. While our hopes aren't high for seeing this bird, some relatively common species that we don't expect to find elsewhere include: Andean Snipe, Blue-black Conebill, Crowned Chat-Tyrant, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Rufous Wren, Spectacled Redstart, Tyrian Metaltail, and White-throated Tyrannulet.

In the next update I'll cover our plans for the final leg of our journey, birding the eastern slopes of the Andes.

Happy Birding