Tandayapa Pre-trip Galapagos Cruise Oct 24—27, 2017
Posted by Paul Greenfield
Northwestern Ecuador offers an exceptional experience for wildlife enthusiasts, and its birdlife is hard to beat! This Tandayapa pre-trip experience is meant to provide an introduction to Ecuador’s rich biodiversity while offering a backdrop, contrast, and comparison to the main Galapagos Cruise and the archipelago’s unique and relatively stark ecosystems. The Tandayapa-Mindo-Milpe region we visited is one of color and variety, and although a short three-day visit might seem too brief to those who are unfamiliar with the region, I can only comment that “the real proof is indeed in the pudding,” as the old saying goes.
In a rather easygoing manner, we managed to see a lot, initiating our experience full-on at Pacha Quindi, a local “classic” and one of many fine birding gardens that have sprung up over the years in this bird-rich haven. From the get-go, we were surrounded by a blur of frantic wings from 16 hummingbird species, among them: Brown, Lesser, and Sparkling violetears, Violet-tailed Sylph, Brown and Collared incas, Buff-tailed Coronet, (White) Booted Racket-tail, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Fawn-breasted and Empress brilliants, Purple-throated Woodstar, and Andean Emerald. Before departing, a soaring Barred Hawk, a Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and pairs of Golden and Golden-naped tanagers paid us a visit. We continued on our way along the quiet ‘Paseo del Quinde’ Ecoroute and made a brief but birdy stop at Bellavista Cloud-Forest Lodge, perched high-up on a forested ridge; more, and at least one different (Tawny-bellied Hermit) hummingbirds entertained us as we sipped coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, followed by great looks at a very obliging Toucan Barbet that blessed us with its visit—this is indeed one of Ecuador’s stellar species—along with an out-of-range Red-faced Spinetail, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Black-and-white Becard, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren (at our feet!), Russet-crowned Warbler, Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, Rufous-chested Tanager, and a pair of Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers, among other species. We then advanced through thick fog—where “what-should-be” a spectacular Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan came to check us out at one spot, showing only as a pale, hazy gray shape overhead in the dense brume…well, that’s cloud-forest for you. We planned to return to this road for more on our last morning. We eventually arrived, now below the clouds but in the rain, at our final destination, Séptimo Paraíso Lodge. After settling in we did some “‘wet” afternoon birding among euphonias, saltators, and a tanager or two, and even more hummingbirds at their sheltered feeding station: White-necked Jacobin, White-whiskered Hermit, Green-crowned Brilliant, and Crowned Woodnymph were among the additions to our day’s list.
Read Paul’s full report in his Field List.