Cerro Blanco: July 10-11, 2008

Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco is a private reserve with a fascinating history. Located just ten minutes outside of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city with over three-million inhabitants, the reserve is owned by Holcim, a prosperous cement company. While materials are extracted to fabricate cement on one corner of the property, the rest of the land, mostly dry tropical forest, has been set aside to protect the habitats of a wide variety of bird and mammal life. The reserve is managed by Fundacion Pro-Bosque, and is one of the few protected areas of Tumbesian dry forest in Ecuador. It is considered to be one of the last refuges in Ecuador of the Great-Green Macaw, which serves as the reserve’s symbol.

Aimee and I decided to camp here in order to get an early start on the forest trails; this proved particularly advantageous as we were able to explore the reserve by ourselves, whereas guided groups are the norm. Spending almost three hours on the Canoa Trail, which follows a stream bed up into the hills for a few kilometers, we familiarized ourselves with some of the more common Tumbesian species, including the Speckle-Breasted Wren, Pacific Parrotlet, Black-Capped Sparrow, Gray-and-Gold Warbler, and Collared Antshrike. As for the Great-Green Macaw, the eight-or-so individuals that live in the reserve can sometimes be found much further back in the hills, requiring an overnight trek.

Notable birds seen: Fasciated Wren, Speckle-Breasted Wren, Collared Antshrike, Squirrel Cuckoo, Ecuadorian Thrush, Baron’s Hermit, Streaked Saltator, Yellow-Tailed Oriole, Guira Tanager, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Gray-and-Gold Warbler, Black-Capped Sparrow, Amazalia Hummingbird.

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