Wednesday 1 May 2019

Playa de Oro then drive to Silanche (NW Ecuador) – 1st May (Day 7)

This morning was to be our last at Playa de Oro and we still had a fair bit to see. First, we were up pre-dawn and birded the forest in the dark trying for Choco Poorwill. We came to a small clearing where Gabo had previously seen the bird and played a recording- we listened but there was silence, just like our previous attempts at this bird. We played again and then a response but not in the clearing but by the lodge and so we retraced our steps and the bird was calling loudly from the clearing behind the lodge. A quick scan with the torches and some gleaming eyes, and there at last was a Choco Poorwill, rather a featureless dark Poorwill but a highly localised one.

After a quick breakfast we headed out onto the trail behind the lodge, at last it was dry and we were hopeful of seeing our last few target species for Playa de Oro. Walking the trail behind the lodge we very quickly came across one of our targets, a pair of Short-tailed Antbird which gave us prolonged views as they skulked in the undergrowth. Further along the trail we encountered Blue-tailed (Choco) Trogon and White-tailed Trogon, Spotted Antbird, Ocellated Antbird, a very confiding juvenile White-whiskered Puffbird and two Lemon-spectacled Tanager. A calling raptor was quickly identified by Gabo as a Plumbeous Hawk and after a quick blast of playback the bird appeared in the sub-canopy and showed well. This left just one bird, a bird that is perhaps easiest to see at Playa de Oro than anywhere else and one which we had trawled for almost from our first day at the reserve. Time was running short and Gabo suggested we walk another 10 minutes before we needed to turn back. A final blast on the tape and at last a response and before long we were watching our target, the rather drab Sapayoa. Dull in plumage, the Sapayoa is a taxonomic anomaly having been classified variously with Manakins and Tyrant Flycatchers of the New World, the Asity's of Madagascar and more recently Broadbills of Asia and Africa. The species is now considered to be in a monotypic family placed between the African and Asian Broadbills - a rather remarkable species. After watching this bird for ten minutes or so it was time to turn back, on the way back to the lodge we had good views of another Sapayoa, quite remarkable given that we had spent three days here without seeing one.

Blue-tailed Trogon - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Blue-tailed Trogon - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Red-capped Manakin - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Red-capped Manakin - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

White-whiskered Puffbird - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Spotted Antbird - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Plumbeous Hawk - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Plumbeous Hawk - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Sapayoa - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Sapayoa - Playa de Oro, Ecuador

The village of Playa de Oro, Ecuador

Back at the lodge we packed and loaded the boats before heading off at just gone 11:00 and were back to Selva Alegre at just gone 12:00. We headed to a nearby forest patch where we birded the busy road where the key bird was Slaty-tailed Trogon and after getting good views we commenced our four hour drive to Silanche - it was good to leave this rather noisy stop after the tranquility of Playa de Oro.

Capuchin Monkey - Near to Selva Alegre, Ecuador

Darter species - Near to Selva Alegre, Ecuador

Palm Oil being transported to factory, one of the biggest threats to the existence of rainforests in Ecuador - Near to Selva Alegre, Ecuador

Choco Trogon  - Near to Selva Alegre, Ecuador

En-route to Silanche we stopped for a massive fish lunch on the beach at Playa las Penas  and watched Magnificent Frigatebird and Royal Tern cruise by. After lunch we birded the marshes behind the town seeing a range of new trip birds including Yellow-crowned Night-heron, Ringed Kingfisher, Black-bellied Whistling-duck, Fulvous Whistling-duck, Striped Cuckoo, Purple Gallinule, Cocoi Heron, Hook-billed Kite, Pacific Parrotlet, Peruvian Meadowlark and the highlight, a stunning Pinnated Bittern. However, there was no sign of our main target, Masked Duck.

We then headed west following the Pacific coastline before heading inland on the E20 at Esmeraldas. We arrived at the Hotel Apollo in Pendro Bicente Maldonado at 19:00 and after dinner in a neighbouring restaurant we crashed at around 22:00 to a rather sleepless night awoken constantly by barking dogs - one of the blights of the modern world.

The town of Playa las Penas, Ecuador

Magnificent Frigatebird - Playa las Penas, Ecuador

Yellow-crowned Night-heron - Playa las Penas, Ecuador

Ringed Kingfisher - Playa las Penas, Ecuador

Chestnut-throated Seedeater - Playa las Penas, Ecuador

Striped Cuckoo - Playa las Penas, Ecuador

Peruvian Meadowlark - Playa las Penas, Ecuador

Pacific Hornero - Playa las Penas, Ecuador

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