Saturday, March 4th
Sunshine and a chorus of birdsong greeted us when we awoke. Seen by daylight, the Yellow House property was lovely. Tropical plants, ponds, streams, and flowers of every color were spread before us from our balcony view. Several toucans shared a treetop with a flock of noisy parrots. The spacious balcony was the perfect place to set up the tripod and camera with tables and chairs for the laptop and bird books. We photographed dozens of birds and enjoyed the warm and peaceful atmosphere. We went to the main house for a wonderful multi-course breakfast on a deck lined with hummingbird feeders.
We spent a relaxing day enjoying the beauty of our surroundings. Chickens roamed the yard, an occasional agouti wandered through, and we saw a several new birds, such as the beautiful Blue-necked Tanager. We hiked one of the trails through colorful flora and returned to the balcony to watch the setting sun.
Darkness comes quickly on the equator as compared to our northwest Washington area. The rains returned and we went into Mindo and found a Mexican restaurant that served a unique type of mojito made from local cane alcohol stuffed with fresh mint. We returned to our balcony and sat in the darkness enjoying the garden smells and listening to the night sounds. It had been a good day!
Sunday, March 5th
We headed up to the cable car lookout before sunrise and watched the Toucans and a couple of Pale Mandibled Aracari. A group from the US was there with a guide, so we tagged along as they walked up the road. We saw a rare Crimson-bellied Woodpecker.
We returned to the Yellow House and after doing some laundry I sat in the sun while Bob worked on his photos. We saw Blue-Grey and Lemon-rumped Tanagers, and a variety of hummingbirds. We dined at the China House in Mindo and went to bed.
Monday, March 6th
We decided to remain at the Yellow House indefinitely; we loved it there! According to Bob’s “Birding Ecuador” book, the Milpe area looked interesting. It was a beautiful drive; we saw an endemic bird called the Pacific Hornero, several Smooth-billed Ani, and many other interesting birds.
We passed the San Jorge De Milpe Birding Lodge, stopped, and were invited to tour the grounds. A guide showed us a sleeping Black and White Owl in a high tree canopy.
We climbed a three-story tower from the main lodge and could see for miles above the green tropical canopy. We sat for quite a while enjoying the fabulous views and sipping a refreshing Ecuadorian pilsner.
We returned to Mindo and wandered the town before selecting a restaurant that served Mexican food; another good meal. We befriended another Yellow House guest, a birder from England named James. The three of us arranged to go and see the famous Andean Cock-of-the-Rock at a local bird lodge, so we agreed to meet well before daylight for this interesting tour. Another fun-filled day!
Tuesday, March 7th
Bob, James, and I reached Refugio Paz de la Aves just before dawn. We met Anjl Paz, a guide and owner, and several other tour group members on a very muddy mountain road. We descended a slippery trail in the dark and crowded into a small make-shift shelter and waited for daylight. We could hear a couple of the Cock-of-the-Rocks in their lek as they vocalized noisily. When daylight came we strived to catch a glimpse of the birds. Only one could be seen now and then, so we didn’t get very good photos.
We returned to the road and over the next hour or so we climbed up and down some treacherous trails in the slippery mud to find potentially five different Antpittas. We were not that successful, but did see three: the Yellow-bellied, the Ochre-breasted, and another Chestnut-crowned.
We ended the tour at a shelter on a high ridge. Colorful birds visited us while we ate a delicious breakfast and some hot coffee (finally!). We saw a colorful Tucan Barbet, lots of Blue-winged Mountain Tanagers, and many hummingbirds.
It started to rain as we descended the mountain and the road was running with mud. Back at the Yellow House we relaxed on the balcony while the rain turned torrential. We enjoyed another dinner at the Dragonfly and returned to the Yellow House with some carrot cake and wine.
Wednesday, March 8th
After breakfast we explored the grounds and discovered a secluded pond covered with blooms. A little covered bridge led to the tiny island. We saw a Masked Water Tyrant, a Turquoise Tanager on a banana feeder, and a Scarlet-backed Woodpecker.
We decided to find another birding spot recommended by the “Birding Ecuador” book called Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary. The location in the book was wrong, be we eventually found it down a long road of open farm and pasture. We saw a small flock of Pacific Parrotlets – very cool! No one was around as we walked through woods with cicadas so loud they hurt our ears. We climbed a five-story tower in the hot and humid afternoon, but saw very few birds. We would have been smart to have visited this spot in the early morning when the birds were more active.
It was pouring rain by the time we returned to the Yellow House. The town streets were flowing with muddy water. We dined once again at the Dragonfly, a place fast becoming a favorite.