Report 11. Thursday, September 13, 2007. Birding Day 10. Birding Milpe Road. The Mirador Bird Feeders.

Note: Sharon's notes are in {green curly brackets}. Information added to the original reports will be in [red].

Reminder: New life birds for us will be in UPPER CASE. New trip birds, but not life birds will be in Initial Caps. Birds in neither category (we've seen them on the trip already, or just talking about them) will be in lower case.

My cell phone alarm goes off at 530 am. We get ready for the day and head over for breakfast at 6 am. We meet Steven and Magda, and Steven points out a BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER, right in the parking lot. Score one more parking lot bird for Sharon's list! There's a common tody-flycatcher also, plus a Tropical Parula. A SCALY-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER used to be called spectacled foliage-gleaner. What? No leaf-tossers?

We have breakfast, use the rest room, load into the van and head out for the Milpe tract, another famous birding area of Ecuador.

After a bit, we arrive at the Milpe parking lot as do some rain showers. There are other groups here, and we immediately get a WHITE-WHISKERED HERMIT, on one of the hummingbird feeders. A green-crowned woodnympth is also on a feeder. A BUFF-FRONTED FOLIAGE-GLEANER is above one of the buildings.

An andean emerald is on a feeder also. The weather's foggy with a light sprinkle. Steve says every time he's come here, mornings have been just like this. A SNOWY-THROATED KINGBIRD is on a corner of the gate. I think I like any bird with "snowy" in the name.

We load back into the the van and head down the road, also known as Los Bancos road. We get tropical parula, and then a fantastic sight:

Steven gets us on a couple of ORNATE FLYCATCHERS. They are in a small tree in a large open area, sparsely sprinkled with trees. One is on a branch sticking out to the left, then another flies to an exact symmetrical matching branch on the right. The scene is perfect symmetry and we try to get some photos.

Suddenly BOTH of the birds rise up off their branches, cross over in the air, and dive down towards the ground. It was like a Blue Angels maneuver. We are all delighted at the show. And the ornate flycatcher becomes one of our favorite birds.

We continue walking down the road, and Magda gets a pale-mandibled aracari, followed by Steven pointing out a Greenish Elaenia and then a spotted woodcreeper. A low fog continues to hover.

We see our first case of a bird putting a brand on a cow. We just can't figure out what the egret used as paint...

Steven says to look out for a certain bird and son-of-a-gun within five minutes, we get OCHRE-BREASTED TANAGER. It's not even 745 am yet and my feet are on fire already.

We're suddenly on the leading edge of a flock, and we get FAWN-BREASTED TANAGER, orange-bellied euphonia, TAWNY-BREASTED FLYCATCHER and OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER.

Steven gets us a SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, over the fence separating the property from the road and then a BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW to boot.

We hear a red-headed barbet, and Steve has isolated it at the very top of a giant tree, totally hidden by the upper foliage. An open gate leads to a road which might go to the other side of the tree, and Steven asks us to wait on the main road while he investigates.

We never see the barbet, but we get a pair Olive-crowned Yellowthroats, near a dog. There are many farms and ranches along this road, and they've fenced lots of their properties. We get Southern Beardless-tyrannulet next, then olive-striped flycatcher by a blue water tank.

A smooth-billed ani shows off his wonderful bill just before Steven gets us on a nice female Swallow Tanager. A YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN scratches its throat, and a flame-faced tanager is over our heads. Sharon spots a bird with a yellow Mohawk the TRI-COLORED BRUSH-FINCH. We get a spectacular look at a male yellow-bellied siskin.

Buff-throated saltator follows, then a squirrel cuckoo scurries along a branch. Wilson moves the car up and stops near us. We continue walking though, getting smoke-colored pewee, and a female orange-bellied euphonia, with its yellow headlight on the forehead.

I find a gap pointer growing in the earth, and extract it. {This reminds me of our trip to Trinidad in 2000. In that trip also, Bob lost a tooth and the dentist said we could delay fixing it until our trip was over. So Bob (bless his heart) spent both trips smiling proudly for the camera with his missing tooth. He obviously isn't as vain as I would be if it had been MY tooth that was missing.}

A couple of gorgeous Blue Morph butterflies show up. Sharon is hoping for Ecuadorian tsetse fly, but only gets us a blue-necked tanager.

I point out an andean emerald, but Steven excitedly says it's a Purple-crowned Fairy. Very beautiful. We get female variable seedeater, then more yellow-bellied seedeaters. Then we get our first male swallow tanager. Great color and pattern scheme.

Steven gets us another hook-billed kite as Wilson pulls up behind us. Every time I see that van pull up, my feet say aaahhhhhhhh. But we usually just keep walking.

Steven gets us a nice White-lined Tanager, then a male olive-crowned yellowthroat. Magda spots a bird that Steven IDs as a RUFOUS-WINGED TYRANNULET.

A Shiny Cowbird shows itself, then we get Yellow Tyrannulet, and I think Steve got us this bird in Costa Rica. He says yes, that's likely. It's 10 am.

WHITE-THIGHED SWALLOWS flit about, and Steven says this is the yellow race. As people amble, Sharon and I are by ourselves and we hear this weird call. We know it's some sort of crake or rail. I check the book and it is either white-throated or gray-breasted crake. We ask Steven and he says it's White-throated Crake.

We go over to where the sound was, and Steven sets the iPod up in infinite-repeat mode, then places it at the edge of the thick grass. He says to watch carefully, that the crake will likely pop up right by the iPod. But the bird didn't sign up for this. It never comes out and we move on.

Steven says that the parakeets we saw yesterday (I didn't mention it in the report) were likely maroon-tailed parakeets, and just when he finishes, Sharon gets us our first good looks at bronze-winged parrots, after Wilson sets the scope up.

Steven brought his scope, the one he used duct tape to repair in Kenya, but something happened to the optics on the plane flight to Quito and it's non-functional. It won't focus unless the bird is exactly 42.5 feet away (or something). Luckily Wilson has a good one.

We drive past a farm and holy moly (wink wink to Sharon's sister Jeane), they have these long-necked chickens, like the one that is over the bar in the Mirador del Rio. We also see the female, which is all black. It's a ticken. It's a churkey. I'm mind-blown that that bar photo wasn't done with Photoshop [When we get back to San Jose, Sharon finds the bird on the internet. It's not Ecuadorian by any means, except that this species does well in this kind of habitat and weather. I think they were originally oriental, and you can buy them in Connecticut, probably over the internet, if you wish]. {It's called a "turken" but is a breed of chicken.}

We go back to the Mirador to check out the feeders. The girls in the back are grinding up corn, we figure, to feed the SCRUB BLACKBIRD we see. Rufous Motmot tick-tocks its long tail, in a tree near the feeders. A pale-mandibled aracari can't quite make up his mind about the feeders.

Another group of birders show up and sit in the two tables next to us. We all get Ruddy Quail-dove on the ground, then CRIMSON-RUMPED TOUCANET.

Most of us get CRIMSON-BELLIED WOODPECKER, just before it flies off, over the bluff and disappears in the forest way down below, out of sight.

Feeder 5 is large enough to accommodate three different species at the same time, if they are agreeable.

Hey the birdfeeders in our back yard don't look like this.

I look over at the long-necked red rooster photo over the bar and I chuckle, recalling the birds we actually saw a few minutes ago.

We have a nice lunch. I pay for mine, Sharon's and Wilson's and it cost $11.10. We load up our luggage from our room, Sharon shrieks at a humongous spider in the bathroom, then sooner-or-later we're off again. {I make the mistake of going all the way into the bathroom before asking Bob about something I see on the floor mat. "Is this a spider, or just some grass tracked in?" Bob moves the mat with his foot and YIKES the big spider runs into the bathroom right toward me! I do the embarrassing "woman" thing of jumping around while screaming until I can get out of its way. Glad we are leaving this place instead of seeing the spider the first day.} We'll stay in a new place tonight.

Steven sees a bird fly into a tree, and has an inkling. He tells us to watch out for this bird, and we look it up in our field guide. So I'm looking for a large tanager, which will appear to large and kinda dar...k.

We look around everywhere, in two trees with no luck, where Steve thought this bird landed. Then I walk to a spot where I can see up into the tree. I begin to scan, with my binoculars and there it is, MOSS-BACKED TANAGER.

As we continue to walk, we see the most incredible ambulating mass of dark wormy things you can imagine. You don't have to imagine because here they are! When one stopped, they all stopped. Then after a few seconds, they'd all start moving again.

We load back into the van to autoambulate, and drive past some llamas. I ask to stop for some photos and Wilson says something like Guanapo or guanaco. I get some great photos of what I guess is a mother and young one. They come right over to the fence, and I'm expecting a spit, but none comes.

Again we're out of the car, and we take a trail into the forest. Suddenly we hear a gradually-increasing noise, and turn to face in that direction. An enormous tree crashes to the ground, answering the age-old question, "If a tree falls in the forest, and there's someone around, will the tree make a sound?"

It's about 345 pm. We are at an open spot, and can hear a river below us. Steve gets us CHOCO WARBLER, then the bird moves and we get excellent looks. A Plain Xenops hangs upside down, much like most pictures I've seen of this bird.

Some get red-rumped woodpecker, but I miss it, though I do see a bird fly. We get the wonderful TAWNY-CRESTED TANAGER, then Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, both in a moving flock. I see a woodpecker fly, then everybody gets the RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER, down by a waterfall sound.

We climb down, down, picking up a pair of YELLOW-THROATED BUSH-TANAGERS, then a nice BROAD-BILLED MOTMOT. Down, down we go. I'm last and I slide around a corner. The muddy earth is slick, and everybody tries to walk on the fallen leaves, which act like grippers, so one doesn't slide. But occasionally I have to look up into the trees for birds while I take a step or two.

I recover just in time to get a cool DUSKY-FACED TANAGER. We get a pair of DUSKY PIGEONS, which pose smartly in a nearby tree, then start climbing back up.

I stop where Sharon had pointed to what she calls a "sensitive plant", touching it in several places, and watching the fern-like leaves fold up, wherever I touch.

Close, Sesame.

Somebody spots this tiny yellow frog, I think Magda. Steven gets a video of the frog, and I can't believe the zoomed-in image on his video screen. The tiny frog looks like a gargantuan. Looking through our poison dart frog book, I don't find this one. The white eyes are fantastic.

We continue out, getting BICOLORED ANTBIRD, Lesser Greenlet, and then SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER. A chirping hummer turns out to be a white-whiskered hermit.

Walking further, we get a bird very similar to the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker that MIGHT have been found in Arkansas. It's a Lineated Woodpecker.

We make it to the van and head back towards Mindo. Suddenly Steven asks Wilson to stop, and we get several great ROSE-FACED PARROTS, perched in a palm tree. They let us look as long as we care to. Nice timing, nice surprise bird.

We continue on then, stopping once to see if we could draw out another noisy white-throated crake, but again have no luck.

There are sounds like frogs, but Steven knows better, and gets us on some CHOCO TOUCANS. Fantastic birds. It's nearing sundown and lots of birds are settling into roosts. We get excellent views of a number of bronze-wing parrots in the scope our best look yet, with their rainbow tails. Crackin' birds.

Then, just before we head on to tonight's lodge, we get MAROON-TAILED PARAKEETS in the scope. More great birds.

It's getting darker, and I take a shot of the sun peeking through a hole in the clouds, behind some palms.

Wilson then drives us to Septimo Paraiso, a rustic lodge in the middle of the forest. Our last forest headquarters. I notice a tall side-mouth can with two large and one small umbrella. I get permission from owner Pablo to borrow the smaller one. He says it used to be his, but his wife loaned it to some guests, and now it has become a loaner.

The dining room's in the basement. We have dinner, including some delicious juices, and talk with the couple who own and run the eco-lodge. They are dedicated, fascinating people, with two children. I think he is Ecuadoran and she looks like she's Minnesotan.

Steve questions the Pablo about local birds, and Pablo is on top of the birds on his property. He has quite a few tips, which birds are around and which are gone or not here yet.

We finish up the dessert and head for our rooms and a nice sleep. We have a large room, with two double beds, so I steal the first one to put all my crap (that's normal people's talk for electronics) on, but allow Sharon a small corner. I'm so nice to her.

See her walking stick on the overflow bed?

Our birding trip is drawing to a close, and I'm a little verklempt. But we have a couple more good days, so that's what I'll think about tonight, as I drift off into neverland.



Trip Birds Seen Today (First Time on the Trip): 49
Total Trip Birds to Date: 355

Life Birds Seen Today: 31
Total Life Birds to Date: 261

Best Birds: Ornate Flycatcher, Swallow Tanager, Purple-crowned Fairy, Moss-backed Tanager, Bicolored Antbird, Rose-faced Parrot.

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