Sunday 5 May 2019

23 de Junio and Milpe (NW Ecuador) – 5th May (Day 11)

We were up at 04:30 and headed from the hotel Mirador Bianco in Los Bancos to 23 de Junio. After picking up our guide, Louis, from the town we headed up the slippery mud road to as high as we could before walking the final few hundred metres to the view point. Here we scanned and listened and occasionally heard the rather bizarre mooing of our target bird. Eventually Louis amazingly picked-up a very distant male Long-wattled Umbrellabird in a moss and epiphyte glad canopy tree. The bird soon flew and disappeared into the forest. It was not the single bird we were here for but we wanted to see the lekking of this species, Louis had told us that at peak times there were up to 15 males here. Next, Louis remarkably found an Ornate Hawk-eagle perched within a distant tree, the bird was partially obscured and quite difficult to see even through a scope. Eventually though we positioned ourselves so that we had good views of this stunning eagle as it preened in the canopy. The Hummingbird feeders here attracted a small number of species including Velvet-purple Coronet, Green-crowned Brilliant and Andean Emerald. Louis then decided that the Umbrellabird's were not lekking today and so we headed a short distance up the road with Louis imitating the mooing of the Umbrellabird. It was not long before he picked up a very close male Long-wattled Umbrellabird and we had fantastic view of this bizarre species as it fed and eventually displayed in the roadside trees. When displaying the bird made a bizarre mooing sound while inflating its neck feathers and extending its impossible wattle beyond its usual size to form a ridiculous distended dangling phallus – how does the bird not stumble over this thing even when in relaxed mode? Not bright in plumage but surely one of the most bizarre of bird species.

Long-wattled Umbrellabird in relaxed mode - 23 de Junio, Ecuador

Long-wattled Umbrellabird in display mode - 23 de Junio, Ecuador

Guayaquil Woodpecker - 23 de Junio, Ecuador

Green-crowned Brilliant - 23 de Junio, Ecuador

Velvet-purple Coronet - 23 de Junio, Ecuador

Fawn-breasted Tanager - 23 de Junio, Ecuador

Crested Guan - 23 de Junio, Ecuador

After coffee at Louis’s house we headed back to Los Bancos with Louis. After dropping him off we then headed to Milpe Gardens until lunchtime. As seemed to be the pattern for late morning, birding was very slow going. We wandered the first few hundred metres of the trail seeing little but for a juvenile Spotted Nightingale-thrush but eventually we we encountered an antswarm where things got a little more lively and we encountered Bicoloured Antbird and Short-tailed Antbird fairly quickly and and we had hopes for Banded Ground-cuckoo but despite playing recordings we had no luck – unsurprisingly. We walked the rest of the trails trying for Pacific Flatbill and Western White-throated Spadebill but had no luck and saw little else of significance but for Choco Warbler and Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant. After a much welcome lunch in a roadside café we headed back to the Mindo Reserve and birded the forest, despite very busy Hummingbird feeders there was not much to be seen in the forest.

Roadside Hawk - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

Choco Warbler - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

Western Ornate Flycatcher - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

Long-tailed Skipper Urbanus proteus - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

Andean Emerald - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

White-necked Jacobin - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

Spotted Barbtail - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

Crested Guan - Milpe Gardens, Ecuador

At around 15:00 heavy rain began to fall and so we headed up the Old Nono Mindo Road and turned down the Las Gralarias Road where we stopped at Birdwatchers House. The gates of the house were locked but as Gabo knew the owner he removed the gates and entered the property and after appeasing the barking dog we took shelter beneath a rain cover and watched the Hummingbird feeders. Here Buff-tailed Coronet, Velvet-purple Brilliant, Green Violetear, Violet-tailed Sylph, Empress Brilliant and Masked Flower-piercer provided great photographic opportunities but the star was  the rare Hoary Puffleg, a subtly beautiful Hummingbird and the only tick of the day. As the light began to fade, and we had had enough of the rain, we descended and into brighter weather and enjoyed a spectacular sunset over a misty Milpe forest.

Buff-tailed Coronet - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Velvet-purple Coronet - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Buff-tailed Coronet - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Empress Brilliant - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Flame-faced Tanager - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Hoary Puffleg - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Hoary Puffleg - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Velvet-purple Puffleg - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Buff-tailed Coronet being buzzed by a Green Violet-ear - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Violet-tailed Sylph - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Green Violetear - Birdwatchers Garden, Milpe, Ecuador

Milpe Sunset

Milpe Sunset

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