M and I have had a couple of days out of town to check out a nearby cloud forest area, at the base of the Tandayapa Valley. Thanks to a great story on Not Your Average American’s blog, M had identified Alambi Cloudforest as a great place to visit and possibly stay (out of a number on offer close to Quito). We were lucky enough to arrange our trip at a time when the manager of the place, Jairo, could also be our birding guide.
Jairo picked us up in Quito early in the morning and we headed off into the country. Even before we had left the city, Jairo slowed down at one point as he had seen some interesting bird – typical M behaviour. We were off to a good start. Our first stop was an area called Yunguilla, part of a community reserve, where we saw eighteen different bird types. We also said ‘hola’ to a few locals walking past, including one guy collecting grass for his guinea pigs and wondering what we were looking at.
Then it was on to Alambi lodge to have lunch and check out the view from the verandah. Alambi is well-known for the fab view from the lodge, as they have 10 or so bird feeders and a lush garden, which means easy and spectacular hummingbird (and others) viewing. During our stay various tour groups would come and go to also enjoy the view (and take trillions of photos). I didn’t expect the number and variety of birds that seemed to be there nearly all the time.
After a lovely lunch cooked by Jairo’s mum Olympia, we headed up the road for more wildlife viewing. While the morning had been dry, the afternoon was kind of soggy. There is a reason why the cloud forest is so lush – it rains a lot. We stopped in a couple of places but as the road was so boggy decided to turn back. Despite the rain we were lucky enough to see a female Cock of the Rock bringing a lizard to her chicks. All we could see of the chicks was an Albert Einstein-style shock of downy head feathers. This led to a discussion about the chances of seeing a male Cock of the Rock – like most other birds, it’s the male which is most spectacular. It was decided we would get up at 5 am the following morning to get to a bird hide known for being a great viewing place, Refugio Paz de la Aves. Excellent. So shortly after a lovely dinner, again cooked by Olympia and helped by one of her grandchildren, we headed to bed.