Wednesday, March 2
We were up at 4:30 am to meet Andrea and our driver for the trip we had booked to Yanacocha Reserve, near Quito. Our route took us out the same dirt road, from where we turned east towards Quito. We found the traffic to be incredibly busy; there are only two routes from the coast to Quito, so Andrea guessed that the other one must have had a landslide which closed it temporarily. Because of the traffic it took quite a while to reach Yanacocha. We went into the northern part of Quito, where there were stalls and accidents holding up the traffic, and then turned off up some very steep roads. For the most part the road we followed was cobbled, but finally we ended up on a dirt road leading up the side of Volcan Pichincha.
Once at the entrance of Yanacocha, we divided up the food and headed out on the Inca trail, which is also the access road for the water supply people. Immediately we had the first bird of the day, a Tawny Antpitta. For some reason it was sitting on top of a bush, calling out its song. It posed for quite a while so we got some reasonable photos.
Our walk was only two kilometres long, but it took quite a long time as we birded along the way. There was a variety of birds; Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers were common, and we even saw an Andean Guan at one point. Our destination was a group of hummingbird feeders at a rest area with benches under a thatched roof. We sat and ate our breakfast and lunch combined, while enjoying the antics of the hummingbirds and flowerpiercers. The highlight here was the Sword-billed Hummingbird, whose bill is longer than its whole body! It actually used the feeders, but it had to stand back to do that.
After lunch we walked a bit more up another trail, where there were more birds. Although the Masked Flowerpiercer was by far the commonest bird, the best find was a Rufous Antpitta. We actually saw it pick up a worm from the little path and scurry off into the undergrowth.
Our walk back to the car went by quickly, which was just as well because we were all getting a bit cold. We were at 3400 metres of elevation and by now clouds were coming in. Our drive down went by quickly and before we knew it we were back at the Quito hotel. We said our goodbyes and thanked Andrea for her expertise.
The sun was shining in Quito and the day was warm, but instead of going out immediately, we did internet stuff and downloaded photos. This was the first chance we had to do that, because we didn’t have the right Windows 7 device driver for the big camera and we needed to access the internet to figure out how to get around that. Naturally a couple of minutes of googling took care of that.
Eventually we did venture out to wander around a bit and to have dinner. Guess what, pizza again! Neither of us were particularly hungry and didn’t want to venture too far, so this worked out well. Back at the hotel we worked on journal writing and updating the bird list. (Species seen up to today: 98.) We had planned to upload some blog entries, but the computer/camera issue had put us far behind and we only got one day done. Oh well, we’re off to Coca tomorrow on the way to Sacha Lodge, so no internet for several days.