Mindo: May 22-24, 2010

With just a handful of difficult birds left to see in the Mindo region, or the subtropical zone of the northwestern slope, I contracted a birding guide for the weekend to help me track down a few elusive species, including the Crested Guan, Sunbittern, Cloud-Forest Pygmy-Owl, and Black Solitaire. Tom Quesenberry, the affable and insightful owner of El Monte Lodge, recommended Julia Patino, one of the few female birding guides in the country and among the most knowledgeable and experienced guides in the area (she freelances as well and can be reached at 086162816). Indeed, she proved to be an excellent guide and an affable birding companion as we spent the morning along the ridge road bordering the Mindo-Nambillo Reserve, picking up some great species like the Green-Fronted Lancebill, Rufous-Breasted Antthrush, and Tiny Hawk, the latter of which she spotted at an immense distance, perched up high and in the open in the bare crown of a tree.

Later in the morning, we tried for the Crested Guan at a finca further down in the valley. The sun was blazing by then and birding activity was low, but we did track down a calling Barred Puffbird and spotted a female White-Winged Tanager in a mixed flock. Despite the abundance of fruiting trees on the property, we only heard Crested Guan way down the ridge in the forest below, although a nice surprise was a Gray Hawk that alighted momentarily in front of us. Julia was definitely dogged in her attempt to located my missing birds, calling Angel Paz throughout the weekend for updates on the Cloud-Forest Pygmy-Owl that is occasionally seen on his property, and taking us to a little-visited site on Sunday to try for Black Solitaire. Surprisingly, I found the Sunbittern on my own, crossing the Rio Mindo one afternoon in the tarabita that provides access to the lodge. There I was swinging over the river in a small cart while trying to photograph this scarce bittern as it flashed its gorgeous wings angrily along the shore.

Notable birds seen: Tiny Hawk, Gray Hawk, Sunbittern, Green-Fronted Lancebill, Barred Puffbird, Rufous-Breasted Antthrush, Club-Winged Manakin, White-Winged Tanager.

5 comments:

Renato said...

Hi Derek: Julia is a good friend of us and we like her very much. I found the Grested Guan at Patchijal Reserve. Take a look at my web page and look at the Pachijal pictures to confirm the ID. This was a few months ago..

Derek Kverno said...

That's a great photo, Renato! I love how the crest is raised.

Regarding Julia, I was really impressed by her general enthusiasm for birds and her strong views against playback. She's a real Mindo institution, I think.

Thanks again for your comments.

Maffong said...

That's funny I was in Mindo the 23rd and got birds like Pauraque, Mottled Owl in the morning and later also White-capped Dipper as a few interesting birds. But the best were 4 Crested Guans...
The Black Solitaire did I see at Tandayapa Lodge, where there have been onlyx very few records in the last years...
But I still need Sunbittern!
Look up my blog, maybe it is also interesting for you...

laura said...

I lived in Ecuador for a year in 2006-2007 and my husband and I stayed at the El Monte lodge. After waking up early to go birding (we're not birders at all) all we had found was an interesting looking giant dog. We were enjoying breakfast at the Lodge when a Quetzal came out and sat on a branch for about a half hour next to our table, it was pretty cool. Fun blog, brings back lots of Ecua-memories.

Derek Kverno said...

Thanks for your comment, Laura. I always recommend El Monte to visitors who are traveling to Mindo. The lodge is peaceful, the food is great, and the owners are really generous and interesting people. The birds, of course, are wonderful, and you can enjoy them without too much effort. Glad you got to see a quetzal up close!

Best regards,

Derek

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