Mindo: March 7, 2009

I readily admit that I rarely visit Mindo. I have nothing against the town itself, and the birding is certainly excellent; I just bristle at all the publicity the valley gets from the non-birding population here in Ecuador. Whenever anyone learns I'm interested in birds, they always ask me if I've been to Mindo yet, as if it's the only area where one can go to appreciate subtropical forest, or cloud forest, in all of Ecuador. At Mindo there's a great deal of overlap in bird species with the Tandayapa Valley above and Milpe below, and areas like Maquipacuna Reserve and Los Cedros Reserve offer almost the same species, so why even bother? If we didn't have visitors, I wouldn't have come here this weekend either, but it just seemed like the right place to stay overnight before a visit to Paz de las Aves, certainly better than in the cabañas at Restaurant Mirador los Bancos.

Upon arrival in the late afternoon, Aimee and I made our way on foot up the road to the waterfall, which serves as the access point to the hallowed Mindo-Nambillo Reserve. The weather was poor but the birding was good for a rainy evening, and on the way out of town we spotted a massive Ringed Kingfisher flying overhead and the Black Phoebe and Torrent Tyrannulet along the river. Entering better forest on the hillside, we then lucked onto a fruiting tree overhanging the dirt road that sheltered an active group of Crimson-Rumped Toucanets. Several lovely tanagers where also in attendance, including the Golden, Bay-Headed, and Fawn-Breasted Tanagers. A pair of Rufous Motmots crossed the road just before us as we continued our ascent, avoiding the many trucks carrying assorted weekend warriors back to town. Just a mixed flock later though, a downpour started, and we might have well as floated the river back to town considering how prepared we were for the rain.

Notable birds seen: White-Necked Jacobin, Green-Crowned Woodnymph, Ringed Kingfisher, Rufous Motmot, Crimson-Rumped Toucanet, Pale-Mandibled Aracari, Marble-Faced Bristle-Tyrant, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Swainson's Thrush, Tropical Parula, Three-Striped Warbler, Bay-Headed Tanager, Fawn-Breasted Tanager.

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