Galapagos Cruise: Tandayapa Pre-Trip Oct 16—18, 2013
Posted by Paul Greenfield
Our Tandayapa Pre-trip was originally designed as a simple two-day “warm-up” and point of comparison with VENT’s Galapagos Islands Cruise, additionally conceived as an easy introduction to mainland Ecuador’s avian riches. And boy, what a warm-up this pre-trip was! We began with a leisurely departure from Hotel Quito and a “touristic” stop at the little-visited equatorial monument in the Calacalí town plaza where we came upon just a few common highland bird species—Black-tailed Trainbearer and Southern Yellow-Grosbeak were highlights. After some typical “Equatorial” photos and fun, we continued down the western Andean slope towards our first official stop, but got delayed by a shockingly red male Andean Cock-of-the-rock perched over the El Paseo del Quinde Ecoroute. What a fantastic start!
After arriving in the late morning at Pacha Quindi and its pastoral gardens, we settled in for an impressive hummingbird show of over a dozen species—Brown Inca, Booted Rackettail, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Fawn-breasted and Empress brilliants, Purple-throated Woodstar, and Western and Andean emeralds among them. It was difficult to pull ourselves away from this idyllic setting (and its birds!), but we had to move on. We continued along the Ecoroute towards our final destination, making a few selected birding stops—which really paid off! A brief coffee break was taken at Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge, with its wonderful nectar feeders, which treated us to, among several species, Buff-tailed Coronet, Gorgeted Sunangel, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, and Masked Flowerpiercer. By the time we pulled up to our lodging, we had compiled quite a number of memorable sightings, including six Golden-headed and two Crested quetzals, Masked Trogon, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, and Pearled Treerunner to name a few highlights.
Our following morning at Séptimo Paraíso began with pre-breakfast birding around the grounds and our first taste of the area’s riches, including Barred Forest-Falcon, Red-faced Spinetail, Ornate Flycatcher, Cinnamon Becard, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Tropical Parula, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Swallow-Tanager, and Black-winged Saltator. After breakfast we departed for a short drive to Milpe Bird Sanctuary where we spent the morning among a new set of hummingbirds, toucans, motmots, flycatchers, and tanagers. Some of the highlights that come to mind include White-necked Jacobin; White-whiskered Hermit; Green Thorntail; Green-crowned Brilliant; Green-crowned Woodnymph; Rufous Motmot; Pale-mandibled Araçari; Chocó Toucan; Bronze-winged Parrot; Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner; Ecuadorian Thrush; White-lined, Palm, Blue-necked, Flame-faced, Golden, and Silver-throated tanagers; and Thick-billed and Orange-bellied euphonias. We returned to Séptimo Paraíso for a pleasant lunch, followed by time enjoying the lodge’s hummingbird garden and grounds. This was an excellent time to review many of the hummingbird species we had seen, and also pick up a couple of new ones—Brown Violetear and Wedge-billed Hummingbird—before heading back to Quito for the start of another, very different adventure on our Galapagos Islands Cruise.