Sunday, 21 January 2018

4th December 2017 Mashpi to Bellavista

We awoke to steady rain so decided against visiting Mashpi Amagusa that was a pity. Instead, we did some Christmas shopping - buying some Mashpi chocolate bought from Alejandro! He kindly did us one last favour by giving us directions for the only two sites that he knows for where to look for Tanager Finch at Bellavista - our last remaining 'big' target on our whistle-stop tour of some west slope sites looking for a few select species that are now far better staked-out than at the time of my two previous visits to the area. We said our farewells and drove to Bellavista. On arrival it was foggy with light rain so weather that we had unfortunately become accustomed to. We met the owner, Richard, and asked him about any recent sightings of Tanager Finch but he was not sure of any. Despite the gloomy wet weather we headed to the first area described by Alejandro and almost immediately found a pair of Tanager Finches foraging along the roadside - superb!

Cattle Egret 2
Plumbeous Pigeon 3
Smooth-billed Ani 2
Speckled Hummingbird 2
Buff-tailed Coronet 15
Booted Racket-tail 2
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker 2
Pacific Hornero 4
Rufous Spinetail 3
Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant 1
Smoke-coloured Pewee 1
Tropical Kingbird 2
Blue-and-white Swallow 4
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Masked Fowerpiercer 1
Golden Tanager 1
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager 2
Blue-capped Tanager 1
Rufous-collared Sparrow 1

Tanager Finches at Bellavista

Plumbeous Pigeon at Bellavista

Saturday, 20 January 2018

3rd December 2017 Mashpi Chocolate Farm

We awoke to grey skies and light rain. We drove to Mashpi Chocolate Farm and Danielo arrived on his motorbike and proceeded to catch a few Grasshoppers. It was raining quite heavily but we started off along the forest trail climbing to the ridge. It was dark, dank and misty inside the dripping forest and there was very little bird activity, in fact, we reached the ridge-top without seeing a single bird! Danielo started imitating the call of Rufous-crowned Pittasoma but there was no response. Probably  around 15 minutes elapsed and it was beginning to look a lost cause. Suddenly, the bird called back, just the once, but it sounded a long way away - probably a good 200m or so. Danielo didn't seem too excited and it seemed too far off for us to try and work our way towards it through the thick vegetation. Danielo occasionally continued to imitate it and suddenly there was a completely different call that immediately caused Danielo to excitedly exclaim 'Pittasoma!'. It sounded like from right behind the closest thick tree trunk. There were no further calls for what seemed like an eternity but I eventually saw a movement, and there it was, it had hopped into view just right of the trunk and was stood there surveying the scene. Stunning! Danielo tossed it a Grasshopper but it didn't seem interested and soon hopped away out of sight behind the tree trunk. Whilst thrilled to have seen it, we wanted longer views. Whilst Danielo explained that he thought the show was over, he was content to wait a while as we were keen to do so. Probably another 5 minutes passed and I saw another movement and it had reappeared. Danielo quickly tossed it another Grasshopper and this time it hopped towards us and took its reward. Danielo held another Grasshopper that then seemed to transfix the bird. We obtained some photos and it even started to call in full view. Danielo put the Grasshopper down, it quickly hopped right in and then it was off, disappearing back behind the tree. Brilliant, we had seen the species that we had most wanted to see when planning our trip! It felt time for us to leave and we slowly walked back down the trail to the Chocolate Farm clearing without us seeing another bird! Danielo then left but we continued to watch from a small shelter a few birds arriving to feed on bananas put out for them. Also, a male Purple-chested Hummingbird put in several appearances at a flowering bush recommended by Alejandro the day before. When the rain eased we walked back through the cacao, but on reaching the forest trail, frustratingly, the rain started again. Reluctantly we returned to where we were staying to sit out the weather. Henri asked what species it was that had made us so ecstatic. We showed him the illustration in the field guide and he immediately pointed to the ridge-top above where we were staying. He even suggested that they made 'good eating'!! The weather brightened-up in the afternoon, so we walked back alongside the river to the Chocolate Farm , but there was little activity. 

Neotropic Cormorant 5
Snowy Egret 1
Cattle Egret 12
Black Vulture 10
Turkey Vulture 15
Plumbeous Kite 2
Bronze-winged Parrot 8
Squirrel Cuckoo 1
Little Cuckoo 1
White-collared Swift 1
White-whiskered Hermit 1
White-necked Jacobin 1
Green Thorntail 1 male
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird 5
Pale-mandibled Aracari 2
Olivaceous Piculet 1
Pacific Hornero 2
Slaty Spinetail 2
Streaked Xenops 1
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet 1
Greenish Elaenia 1
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant 2
Common Tody-Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 2
Tropical Kingbird 6
Red-eyed Vireo 4
Brown-capped Vireo 2
Swainson's Thrush 1
Southern Rough-winged Swallow 15
Tropical Gnatcatcher 3
Olive-crowned Yellowthroat 2
Green Honeycreeper 1
Yellow-tufted Dacnis 1 male
Bay-headed Tanager 1
Blue-grey Tanager 10
Palm Tanager 4
Lemon-rumped Tanager 15
White-lined Tanager 2
Yellow-bellied Seedeater 4
Orange-billed Sparrow 1

Male Rufous-crowned Pittasoma at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Purple-chested Hummingbird at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Male Green Thorntail at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Pale-mandibled Aracari at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Little Cuckoo at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Squirrel Cuckoo at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Brown-capped Tyrannulet at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Southern Beardless Tyrannulet at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Slaty-capped Flycatcher at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Tropical Gnatcatcher at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Female Olive-crowned Yellowthroat at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Male Lemon-rumped Tanager at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Female White-lined Tanager at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Pacific Hornero at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Orange-billed Sparrow at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Snowy Egret at Mashpi

Butterfly sp. at Mashpi

2nd December 2017 23 de Junio to Mashpi Chocolate Farm

Not the best night's sleep listening to it continually raining. The alarm went off at 4am and Luis soon appeared with coffee. He gave us directions to the lek although warned us that he thought it would prove a very muddy walk due to the rain. Even worse, he didn't think we stood much chance of seeing the Umbrelabirds in the rain. We were keen to give it a try anyway and donned our waterproof coats, leggings and wellington boots not for the first time this trip. Luis said that if we were to drive the first part of the 'walk' he'd happily accompany us that was kind of him. We set off in the dark and ascended the nearby hills along a newly-bulldozed road. Sure enough, it then proved a very muddy ascent and it was still raining. As the darkness of night gave way to dawn the rain eased a little, and even better, Luis picked out a Long-wattled Umbrellabird sat near the top of a tall tree! After an initial panic trying to pick it out in the gloom we were both soon watching it. It wasn't the best of views but we were very pleased to see it and it seemed rather apt to be watching an Umbrellabird whilst sheltering under umbrellas! Understandably Luis thought that we might be keen to turn around but we thought that if one was active, we might see more, so we pressed on up the hill. We arrived at a small seating area and Luis had a tarpaulin stashed nearby that he quickly strung to the trees to provide some shelter although the skies were actually brightening. It wasn't long before a male Umbrellabird arrived in a nearby tree, joined by another and then another in a nearby tree. We were soon surrounded by them occasionally 'booming'. A female arrived and the males became frenzied with one immediately chasing her from tree to tree and away. The rain became a little heavier and the remaining males became less active, and one by one, started to drift away. It had felt a privilege to watch the spectacle surrounded by mossy cloud forest. Given the inclement weather we didn't see too many other species although a perched Bicolored Hawk was memorable. At 8am we commenced our descent seeing an Umbrellabird around halfway down. We then drove back to the Umbrellabird Lodge and with heavy rain continuing whilst we enjoyed breakfast we decided to then head for Mashpi. It was a good road the whole way and we soon even left the rain behind. We arrived at Mashpi earlier than planned and drove into town and asked for directions to the Chocolate Farm. One of the locals took us to meet the owner, Alejandro Solano, who was attending a community meeting in a nearby building. Alejandro took us to a farm adjacent to his and introduced us to Henri, who welcomed us to his farm, where we would stay full-board for the next two nights. After settling in, and even enjoying a well-positioned hammock overlooking the forest from where we saw a pair of Pacific Antwrens, we visited Alejandro's chocolate farm. Alejandro took us on an informative tour showing us the forest restoration that he has initiated since arriving there, seeing a Broad-billed Motmot in the cacao and we enjoyed some free samples of his excellent chocolate. Alejandro told us to arrive at 6am the next morning and that Danielo would be ready to walk with us up the ridge into the forest.

Cattle Egret 3
Black Vulture 5
Turkey Vulture 10
Swallow-tailed Kite 8
Plumbeous Kite 1
Bicolored Hawk 1 
Roadside Hawk 1
Bronze-winged Parrot 12
White-necked Jacobin 1
Broad-billed Motmot 1
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan 2
Golden-olive Woodpecker 1 male
Plain Xenops 1
Pacific Antwren 2
Tropical Kingbird 6
Ecuadorian Thrush 1
Grey-breasted Martin 15
Southern Rough-winged Swallow 15
House Wren 1
Slate-throated Whitestart 2
Bananquit 1
Lemon-rumped Tanager 6
Variable Seedeater 1 male

Umbrellabird lek site at 23 de Junio

Male Long-wattled Umbrellabirds at 23 de Junio

Adult Bicolored Hawk at 23 de Junio

Squirrel Cuckoo at 23 de Junio

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan at 23 de Junio

Male Variable Seedeater at 23 de Junio

Henri's farmstay is just visible in the above image right of centre ...

Henri's farmstay at Mashpi

some colourful plants in the garden

Swallow-tailed Kites at Mashpi

Male Golden-olive Woodpecker at Mashpi

Ecuadorian Thrush at Mashpi

Pacific Antwrens at Mashpi

Cacao at Mashpi Chocolate Farm

soon to be chocolate...

Broad-billed Motmot at Mashpi Chocolate Farm