Sunday 28 April 2019

Tundaloma Area and Playa de Oro (NW Ecuador) – 28th April (Day 4)

We were up and out at 06:00 as it got light and spent the morning birding two minor roads (Ricaurte Road and Carondelet Road) through secondary growth in the Tundaloma area. The Tundaloma Lodge, one of the prime birding areas at this location is now closed and is privately owned and as a result birding is largely restricted to these two roads which extend through agricultural areas, secondary growth and forest fragments. The birding was fairly good but a little slow going, particularly early in the morning in fairly steady rain.  We eventually chipped away at the target species here with Black-breasted Puffbird, Black-breasted PuffbirdLesser Pied Puffbird, Red-rumped WoodpeckerWhite-tailed Trogon, Rose-faced Parrot, Blue-chested HummingbirdLilacine Parrot, Pacific Antwren, Scarlet-breasted Dacnis, and Yellow-tufted Dacnis the highlight though, after much perseverance from Gabo, was a stunning pair of Five-coloured Barbet which showed very well atop a Sacropia. We drove further along the road stopping at the Rio Bogota where we were fortunate to see three Rufous-headed Chacalaca fly across the river and added Black-crowned Night-heron to the trip list. At 12:30 we returned to the El Padregal Hotel in San Lorenzo packed, had a lunch of shrimps and rice and drove the one hour to Selva Alegre through extensive oil palm plantations, with mysterious signs beside them stating 'Nature Reserve, Protected Land' and the like, suggesting these protected areas had been cleared to make way for the oil palm monocultures.

Dusky Pigeon - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Dusky Pigeon - Tundaloma, Ecuador

White-tailed Trogon - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Masked Water-tyrant - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Rose-faced Parrot - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Smooth-billed Ani - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Laughing Falcon - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Black-headed Tody-flycatcher - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Anole species - Tundaloma, Ecuador

 Scarlet-breasted Dacnis - Tundaloma, Ecuador

 Five-coloured Barbet - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Black-crowned Antshrike - Tundaloma, Ecuador

Lesser Pied Puffbird - Tundaloma, Ecuador

River in Tundaloma Area

Selva Alegre is the main gateway to the lowland forest of Playa de Oro and our boatmen were at the makeshift quay awaiting our arrival. After boarding a fibreglass canoe we headed up San Tiago River at surprising speed. En-route we made a couple of stops for supplies (including a live piglet wrapped in a bag) and to drop stuff at the village of Playa de Oro (where the piglet was unloaded, washed in the river and freed into the village). The river passed through stunning lowland rainforest and the anticipation of birding the area increased as we headed up-river. We saw relatively little from the boat but did at Fasciated Tiger-heron to the trip list. At around 14:30 it started to rain and so the last part of the journey was spent getting soaked with no coat and no umbrella to hand. We arrived at the rustic lodge set within the forest at 15:00 and after settling into the basic rooms had a quick bite to eat. The lodge was a former mining settlement in the middle of the forest which has been converted to an eco-lodge and so is ideally placed to access the fast disappearing lowland forests of the Choco region. We headed out onto the trail behind lodge but it was pouring with rain and the light levels very low, as a result the birding was pretty useless. The rain lasted all afternoon as we trudged around the surprisingly muddy trails seeing little – in fact just about the only bird we saw was a Stripe-throated Wren in the gloom – it was just about possible to make out the birds striped throat. With no night birding possible we had dinner and were in bed by 20:30 to the sound of the rain hammering on the roof of the lodge for much of the night.

 San Tiago River - Playa de Oro

The lodge at Playa de Oro

Links to Other Days of the Trip (Click to View)