Tandayapa Pre-trip Galapagos Cruise Jul 03—06, 2018
Posted by Paul Greenfield
Mega-biodiversity is difficult to fathom. The sheer complexity of such natural ‘systems’ makes deciphering them a real challenge, if not a practically imposible task, even for the keenest eye—most of the world’s ‘mega’ hot-spots’ are so biologically mindboggling that actually appreciating their advertised reality can even seem a bit dissappointing…“So where’s all the wildlife everybody keeps talking about?” Mother Nature often jealously conceals her prized treasures, and with luck and a hefty dose of patience one may be fortunate enough to catch snippets and fleeting glimpses of certain aspects of her hidden riches that are often so very ingeniously camouflaged amidst a densely vegetated backdrop. It was precisely this state-of-affairs that we set out to explore and sample during our three-day Tandayapa Pre-Trip adventure.
As a preview to our Galapagos Islands Cruise, this easy itinerary was also designed to offer a comparative look at two very different ecosystems—that of mainland Ecuador’s mega-rich northwestern Andean slopes compared to the species-limited Galápagos Archipelago. The first hint that we had just immersed ourselves in one of earth’s most diverse bioregions became evident as we made our mid-morning arrival at Pacha Quindi and were immediately confronted by nearly a dozen distinct hummingbird species bounding every-which-way in a dizzying frenzy: Brown, Lesser, and Sparkling violetears; Green-tailed Trainbearer; Brown Inca; Buff-tailed Coronets; ’White-booted’ Racket-tails; Fawn-breasted Brilliants; Empress Brilliant; Purple-throated Woodstars; and Andean Emeralds. At the same time, a nearby plantain banana feeder drew our attention to pairs of Red-headed Barbets and Crimson-rumped Toucanets; Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers; Golden-naped, Metallic-green, Golden, and Flame-faced tanagers; along with White-winged and Chestnut-capped brushfinches, while a pair of Toucan Barbets sounded off in the distance. The surrounding trees and shrubs attracted a few additional species as well. By the time we had finished our field lunch, it was time to head onward along a rural road that has earned its claim-to-fame as the Paseo del Quinde EcoRoute; along the way we encountered Chestnut-collared Swifts, Gorgeted Sunangel, Red-billed Parrots, Montane Woodcreeper, Pearled Treerunner, Smoke-colored Pewee, Slate-throated Whitestart, Blue-and-black Tanager, Masked Flowerpiercer, and Yellow-bellied Seedeater; a fortuitous stop along this cloud forest-lined road also brought forth a cooperative group of at least four Plate-billed Mountain-Toucans—oh boy! This is one of the region’s ‘crown-jewels,’ and it seems that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the show! We rolled up to our lodge, Séptimo Paraíso, with time to settle-in and even enjoy some afternoon birding before our list session and dinner—White-necked Jacobin, White-whiskered Hermit, Green-crowned Brilliant, Crowned Woodnymph, and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird; a surprisingly ‘obvious’ Lineated Foliage-gleaner; Cinnamon Becard; a typically skulking Gray-breasted Wood-Wren; Ecuadorian Thrush; and Flame (Lemon-)-rumped Tanagers…what a pleasant and productive first day!
Read Paul’s full report in his Field Report.