The lower entrance to Podocarpus National Park is a special one for birders. Dynamic and diverse mixed flocks bombard the area for much of the day, special skulkers and terrestrial birds lurk in the undergrowth, and the White-Breasted Parakeet, one of Ecuador's endemics, is more common here than anywhere else. There is so much action that most birders only make it to the administration building of the park; the half-hour walk from the parking area usually takes all morning.
For a variety of reasons, I only spent one full day birding here. In the morning, Aimee and I walked from Copalinga to the orchid garden just past the administration building. The highlights were several, including seeing the Fasciated Tiger-Heron feeding from a boulder in the Rio Bombuscaro and stumbling upon the Gray Tinamous in roadside forest. There was also a Green Hermit lek near the orchid garden and the White-Breasted Woodwren occurred in the garden itself, where orchids are being grown on fallen tree trunks.
I returned in the afternoon intent on seeing the Coppery-Chested Jacamar, which is one of the site specialties. Just minutes into the park, I spotted one feeding from an exposed branch; the male was joined by the female just long enough for me to take a few photographs. Several hours and hundreds of Yellow-Throated Bush-Tanagers later, I ran into a mixed flock while leaving the park; the impressive Black-Eared Fairy, a distinctive white-tailed hummingbird, was leading the way.
Sometime this next school year, I'm going to fly to Loja and take a bus to Zamora for a long weekend of relaxing at Copalinga and birding in the park. The set up is just perfect.
Notable birds seen: Buff-Rumped Warbler, Ornate Flycatcher, Subtropical Cacique, Red-Headed Barbet, Orange-Eared Tanager, Highland Motmot, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Green Hermit, White-Breasted Woodwren, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Rufous-Tailed Tyrant, Long-Tailed Tyrant, Green Hermit, Lafresnaye's Picculet, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Gray Tinamous, Coppery-Chested Jacamar, Inca Jay.