A birdwatching trip to Ecuador in October 2001 - Andes to Amazon! The humming bird here is the Andean Emerald. On the left is a view of  Volcanes Illiniza (5,266m) and on the right is Gorzacocha, an oxbow lake off the Rio Napo, in the Amazon basin. All photos (C) Ruth Traynor.

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Home -> Diary -> West Slope -> Upper Tandayapa Valley

On the track to the Upper Tandayapa valley. Photo: Ruth TraynorAndean West Slope Diary
6 - 10 October 2001
3. Upper Tandayapa Valley

Only on one day did our guide have the use of a vehicle and, at the suggestion of Ian Campbell, we set off to explore the upper Tandayapa Valley, with its different avifauna. The track goes up in the Mindo direction to the Tandayapa Pass, passing the Bellavista Lodge just before the summit. Shortly after setting up the track, we were fortunate enough to encounter a pair of Beautiful Jays, a Choco endemic which is on the 'near-threatened' list. Nearby we also had excellent views of a Powerful Woodpecker; we were to see two more of this species later in the day.

Plate-billed Mountain-toucan. Photo: courtesy Tandayapa LodgeSome way before reaching Bellavista, there is a large quarry to the right of the track, and here we encountered our first Plate-billed Mountain-toucans, another near-threatened Choco endemic. We had excellent views of 7 of these birds, flying, perched and calling raucously. A number of Dusky Bush-tanagers, another Choco endemic, were by the quarry, and we were to encounter them frequently along the track. They were by far the most numerous tanager in the upper valley.

Birding was rather quiet until we passed Bellavista, but we then encountered a tanager flock not far below the summit of Tandayapa Pass, and the next hour or so was exciting as we struggled to get to grips with so many different species. In rapid succession, we had:

  • Flame-faced Tanager - brilliant colours
  • Grass-green Tanager
  • Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager. Photo: courtesy  www.municipalidadcuenca.gov.ecBlue-and-black Tanager
  • Blue-capped Tanager
  • Blue-winged Mountain-tanager
  • Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager - dramatic colouring. White in wings in flight.
  • Beryl-spangled Tanager - a fascinatingly marked bird
  • Fawn-breasted Tanager
  • Glossy-black Thrush - not unlike the European Blackbird
  • Great Thrush
  • Green-and-black Fruiteater
  • Pearled Treerunner. Photo: Ruth TraynorBlackburnian Warbler
  • Smoke-coloured Pewee - several of these crested flycatchers
  • Southern Yellow-Grosbeak - a striking yellow bird with white patches on black wings
  • Rufous Spinetail
  • Pearled Treerunner - a beautiful, delicately marked woodcreeper type of bird
  • Montane Woodcreeper
  • Tyrannine Woodcreeper
  • Slate-throated Whitestart. Photo courtesy of ecuador-explorer.comMasked Flowerpiercer
  • Slate-throated Whitestart
  • Spectacled Whitestart

Yes, it was an exciting hour or so! And, because the trees in the upper part of the valley are not too tall, we had reasonably close views of many of these birds - although often it was a brief view as they flitted rapidly along the roadside trees and bushes. We also encountered more Plate-billed Mountain-toucans up here.

On the way back to the lodge, we also saw Plain-tailed Wren and, a rarity, Rufous-chested Tanager - a very small tanager, which was not so easy to identify at first.

It is certainly well worth going higher up in the valley because of the very different species that you get compared with the trails around Tandayapa Lodge. And, although this upper part of the valley is closer to Bellavista, some of the upper land is actually owned by the Tandayapa Lodge.

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