Counting birds in Mindo
The second X-mas Bird Count we participated in this year was the Mindo-Tandayapa Bird Count. As the compiler of the count data and member of the Mindo Naturalist Guides Asociation, I was also quite busy helping with the organization of the count this year. The CBC in Mindo is the biggest x-mas bird count event in Ecuador with 200-300 participants each year. So there is a lot to organize beforehand: count routes, leaders, pre-inscription of participants, flyers, posters, T-Shirts, lunch boxes, meetings with authorities, lodging, transport etc…etc… All this logistical work is done by a few volunteers from our asociation and so the last weeks before the count are always crazy. Especially the very last day before the count day when 300 box lunches need to be prepared and packed, banners need to be placed on the road, arriving participants need to be inscribed, visiting friends need to be lodged and fed, and the agenda of the opening ceremony needs to be taken care of. After the ceremony, when all count routes were organized, box lunches and T-shirts were handed out and everybody was good to go for the count day, we finally could be looking forward to the count day with relief.
The count day itself then is rather relaxing, even when you get up at 4 am and count birds all day long. My count route was at Las Tangaras reserve again. Early in the morning we hiked into the reserve and met with the current managers and divided participants into two groups. Maartje, our ex-volunteer who now lives and teaches in Quito, went with me and Wilo to count birds on the reserve’s trails. We had fairly good weather until lunch and just got back in time to the lodge when the rain started. The afternoon count wasn’t as good due to the rain, but in the end we had a joined list of 116 species for the reserve. And the desconteo the next day showed that we had three species nobody else had counted that day, a Russet Antshrike, a Rufous-rumped Antwren and a Streaked Saltator. Back in town we met with our students and volunteers who had also participated in the count on several different count routes. We had pizza and beer at Wilo’s parents restaurant and later on we celebrated the count in a bar together with some of our friends from Mindo.
Sunday was the day of the desconteo (after-count) where we met with the leaders of the 36 different routes and I compiled the data for our count circle. All in all the desconteo went quite well this year and we finished around 3pm. We counted a total of 467 species, two more species than last year and even recorded a couple of species that had not been registered since 2005. Given that we had a very rainy afternoon we were very satisfied with our result this year.