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Ecuador - the West Slope

Part 3: Tandayapa

I lost ten pounds on this trip.  I'm not surprised.  When we arrived in the parking lot at Tandayapa Sam assured me that the paved steps going up to the lodge (hereafter referred to as "the landing") was the "easiest" way.  I thought I was gonna die before I got up there!  But one look at the local (and admittedly beautiful) terrain around there tells you that there IS no such thing as a level trail!  So I got in shape (relatively speaking) REAL fast!

The cold I contracted at Papallacta slowed me down the first day, so it took me awhile to figure out a routine.  Their trail system is quite extensive, but about the only trail I could handle was the Platform Trail, which is the one to the Antpitta Blind.  I tried the Potoo Trail, but because of my asthma (and the fact that I'm a big chicken), I only made it to the water tank; beyond that the trail becomes too dicey for my liking (but the rest of the folks visiting the lodge at the time handled it fine).  I managed to do the whole of the Tanager Trail once, but again there's a point where I had to watch my footing, so subsequently I just hiked to the top of the hill on that trail and watched the trees for five, which was great because it was a little more open and you could see the canopy easier.  Those two short jaunts plus the Antpitta Blind made for a good afternoon route, and I ended up birding the entrance road and part of the dirt road up towards Bellavista as my morning route (which turned out to be a great route: not only do you get a variety of habitat with woodland and open areas, but you can watch the sky for raptors as well).  Siestas were spent being mesmerized by the hummers at the nine hummer feeders they have set up (16 species are easy; 20 a day is harder, but possible), plus watching for goodies at the fruit feeders.  The latter was regularly visited by Red-headed Barbets, a Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Rufous-collared Sparrows, White-winged Brush Finches, Blue-winged Mountain Tanagers, and a Red-tailed Squirrel! J

              

Left:  The famous hummingbird deck was always swarming with activity!    Right:  Antpitta Blind: a light is kept on all night to attract bugs, and in the morning the antbirds et al come dine!

      

Open woodland along the Tanager Trail  

          

Potoo Trail

                          

Left:  One of many fascinating flowers.   Right:  View from the lower observation deck

  As I told one of the other birders there, if I felt I had to see every bird I heard before I could count it, I'd go batty: I heard a lot, but seeing things was tough (but many things eventually showed themselves over the course of the five days there).  I didn't use a tape (mainly because so many places prohibit the use of tapes to attract birds, and it would have been one more thing for me to carry), so I just pished, and I was surprised at how well that actually worked: the best bird to respond to that was a Scaled Fruiteater on the main road!   There were periodic breaks in the woods along what trails I could hike where you could look out over the canopy (you were actually walking along a pretty steep hillside), and a five-minute sit at those places could be quite productive.  The Antpitta Blind (and the trail to it), was one of the highlights, as Immaculate Antbirds and Russet-crowned Warblers regularly came in to feast on the bugs attracted to the big light there, and the Rufous-breasted Antthrush was a regular visitor to the compost pile (see the list for other goodies).  This and the Potoo Trail were basically deep forest trails where you could quietly watch and listen for the more skulky things.

     

Billy from Belgium enjoys point-blank views of the hummers!

                    

Left:  Meanwhile, the barbet is in hog heaven!   Right:  Heading down the landing to the main road

       

Left:  View of the main road on the way.   Right:  The start of the landing from the parking area

       

Then you have to poke down the entrance road to the main road!

    

Views along the main road

The lodge itself is comfortable, with several rooms along the hallway (decorated with bird photographs, of course!), and a large dining/sitting area at the front.  The food is to die for (especially the soups) and Maria (the head gal who oversees everything) was wonderful!  There's another building down below that has two more rooms with wonderful views of the valley, but the top of the building actually doubles as an observation deck where you can look out over the canopy, and one evening I sat through dusk hoping for a nighthawk or two (didn't happen).  One could easily spend all day just staring at the hummers and even walking right up to them: they are seemingly fearless and I was within inches of feisty little Booted Rackettails (they were the cutest) and pushy Buff-tailed Coronets, amongst the others!  I loved the woodstars, too, as they really do fly like little bumblebees, and as they'd approach the feeder they'd kind of bob their head like a strutting pigeon (although maybe not quite as obvious...)!  The only thing that would empty the place would be the Plain-breasted Hawk that occasionally made a visit...

                             

Left:  Staephanie, Ivan, and Alan hang around the feeders after lunch!   Right:  Squirrels aren’t any different in South America than they are here when it comes to raiding the feeders! (Red-tailed Squirrel)

This was the only lodge where I didn't include an "off-campus" trip, mainly due to the fact that no drivers were available (Sam was more than willing to take me to Milpe otherwise).  But it worked out fine (as you'll see in the Las Grallarias report), and the day we were originally scheduled to go to Milpe we found a knock out Cock of the Rock on the Platform Trail!

Link to Bird list and Photo Gallery

 

Click here to continue to Las Grallarias, or here to go back to Yanacocha.

 

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