There's nothing better than tucking into some fried yuca and a beer after a long, harrowing drive, especially if there happens to be a loaded fruit feeder crawling with subtropical forest birds just outside the window. Restaurant Mirador los Bancos is a great place for a midday stop on the northwestern birding circuit, providing birders with up close looks at tanagers normally found high up in the canopy. The potential for photography is outstanding too, given the right lighting conditions. In the dry season when there aren't a lot of fruiting trees in the area surrounding the Rio Blanco below the restaurant, perhaps ten species of tanagers can visit during the day, as well as a variety of toucans, sparrows, and even woodpeckers.
On this particular afternoon, we were treated to the brilliant Flame-Faced Tanager, the striking Black-Cheeked Woodpecker, and the sly Orange-Billed Sparrow, in addition to the more regular Blue-and-Gray, Palm, and Golden Tanagers. The Red-Faced Spinetail was also hanging about with the mixed flock, although it had nothing to do with the bananas available at the feeder. The hummingbird feeders get plenty of action as well, and we delighted in the bee-like Green Thorntails swarming about as the solitary White-Whiskered Hermit tried to nose its way in.
Notable birds seen: White-Whiskered Hermit, Green Thorntail, White-Necked Jacobin, Green-Crowned Brilliant, Andean Emerald, Green-Crowned Woodnymph, Black-Cheeked Woodpecker, Red-Faced Spinetail, Masked Water-Tyrant, Green Honeycreeper, Thick-Billed Euphonia, Golden Tanager, Silver-Throated Tanager, Flame-Faced Tanager, Orange-Billed Sparrow, Black-Striped Sparrow.