Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary: June 27, 2008

The second of Mindo Cloudforest Foundation's two reserves, Rio Silanche is definitely more important. At an altitude range of 300-350m, the reserve is firmly located in the western lowlands, which are being rapidly logged, mined, etc. The forest in this region is extremely patchy, and the reserve, like Rio Palenque, is a mere postage stamp of conservation. The birding is, of course, amazing, and the bird list is varied and extensive enough to keep birders up at night in anticipation. Mark Gurney, a very experienced guide and birder in the region, also claims it is home to the largest mixed flock he has seen anywhere in the world.

Aimee and I were only there from dawn to midday, when the birding became unusually quiet, but the time was extremely productive. Walking the trails early in the morning, we had a Battle at Kruger experience while watching a Black-Striped Woodcreeper catch a huge tarantula, beat it senseless against a tree trunk, and finally swallow it whole. Then, I tracked down two Chesnut-Backed Antbirds skulking in a bush while a White-Bearded Manakin was snapping about. Towards the back of the reserve in what appeared to be secondary forest, we marveled at a pair of Lineated Woodpeckers and a group of Band-Backed Wrens.

We also spent a few hours up in the 15m canopy tower with our new scope, observing a nice mixed flock in the distance, including the Scarlet-Breasted Dacnis, Masked Tityra, Gray-and-Gold Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, and Blue Dacnis, all birds that I was encountering for the first time. In fact, I was pretty overwhelmed in general at this site; I know almost nothing about antbirds and I struggle to identify even the most common flycatchers. Plus, I was way too focused on seeing puffbirds and trogons, both of which we saw none. Clearly, Rio Silanche will still keep me up at night.

Notable birds seen: Orange-Fronted Barbet, Pale-Mandibled Aracari, Lineated Woodpecker, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Wedge-Billed Woodcreeper, Spotted Woodcreeper, White-Flanked Antwren, Dot-Winged Antwren, Chestnut-Backed Antbird, Masked Tityra, White-Bearded Manakin, Band-Backed Wren, Gray-and-Gold Tanager, Tawny-Crested Tanager.

1 comment:

rick Greenspun said...

You are a mountain of information and eloquently written. I once asked info on Guango Lodge which you promptly and unselfishly shared. I am going back to Ecuador for the third time and thanks to your in depth knowledge of the country, have planned some of my birding stops based on your descriptions.
thanks tons for sharing. You should publish your blogs into a bird finding guide. Good Health and Good Luck in all you do
Rick Greenspun

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