I've been looking forward to staying at Copalinga Cabañas Ecologicas ever since I found out about the lodge. Located halfway along the road between Zamora and Podocarpus National Park, Copalinga is run by a birder for birders. In fact, Belgian birder and founder, Catherine designed the layout of the lodge and the details of the cabins and the comedor with birding especially in mind: every cabin has room for a scope on the covered patio, fruit feeders are placed at the edge of the forest for easy tanager viewing during meals, and heliconia flowers are placed along the walkways to attract the elusive sickle-billed hummingbirds. Although it sounds sacreligous, birding can be more rewarding on the grounds of the lodge than in park itself.
Near the cabins and in particular at the fruit feeders I saw twenty different species of tanagers, including the Masked Tanager, Golden-Eared Tanager, and Black-Faced Dacnis. One afternoon while near a single flowering hedge, I identified five species of hummingbirds, including the Wire-Crested Thorntail and Spangled Coquette. Walking the forest trails that climb up to the ridge behind the cabins, I witnessed such fine birds as the Orange-Eared Tanager, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, and Gray Tinamous, the latter of which was almost beyond belief as the bird was strolling casually along the trail at midday in almost full view. Up on the ridge there is also a massive Podocarpus specimen; even though the national park is named after Ecuador's only conifer, you won't find trees in the park itself due to selective logging. Finally, the grounds near the road were great for practicing identifying species of tyrant flycatchers: the Yellow-Cheeked Becard, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Olive-Chested Flycatcher, Short-Crested Flycatcher, and Long-Tailed Tyrant were all frequently seen.
We had to cut our stay a little short because a massive landslide closed the road off to us as we were coming back from our visit to the old Loja-Zamora road, but that just gives me another reason to return; not seeing the Lanceolated Monklet was the first reason to come back. Also attractive is that the lodge will soon be off the grid as Boudewijn has designed a brilliant hydroelectric power system, making use of the steepness of his property to produce enough sustainable, green energy to run the lodge all year long.
Notable birds seen: Magpie Tanager, Orange-Eared Tanager, Black-Faced Dacnis, Masked Tanager, Golden-Eared Tanager, Blackish-Nightjar, White-Crowned Manakin, Dark-Breasted Spinetail, Crested Oropendola, Yellow-Cheeked Becard, Orange-Billed Sparrow, Gray-Fronted Dove, Speckled Chachalaca, Lined Antshrike, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Olivaceous Siskin, Spangled Coquette, Wire-Crested Thornbill.