Saturday, 2 December 2017

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