The first annual x-mas bird count 2015 was realized this time in Chiles-Chical. Together with a few friends from the Mindo Naturalist Guides Asociation and three students, Wilo and I participated in the Chiles-Chical x-mas bird count for the first time. This count circle is known for being binational which means that the count is realized both in Ecuador and Colombia.
After a long drive of almost eight hours we arrived at the small village Chical, near the Colombian border, where we met our friends from Mindo for lunch. Later we were divided in two groups. Some friends from Mindo stayed in Chical in order to count some routes in the area and we continued our journey for another 45 minutes to the valley of Chilma Bajo. As we arrived early afternoon to our accommodation at the Finca Legado Pasto, we decided to use the time to search for Chical’s most famous bird species, the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. Not far from our hostel there is a cattle field where the male fruitcrows can usually be found in the morning and afternoon, a so-called Lek. After crossing a small river and getting chased across the field by 50 young bulls, some of us got a short glimpse of one fruitcrow individual flying by. The others were to busy with the observation of a Sword-billed Hummingbird. Later we could hear the fruitcrow calling somewhere in the trees. But even those of us who crawled into the nearby forest, couldn't get a better look of it. So we returned to our hostel to meet the other participants.
For the actual count on the next day with had fairly good weather. Two of our students, Alwina and Kira, went with a group that explored the valley next to Chilma Bajo. They had an exhausting walk up and down the hills but were able to count just about hundred different bird species. Our other student Kai went with me on the Chilma Alto-Chilma Bajo road. We had stunning views of the valley and the Chiles volcanoe and registered about 90 species. Wilo’s group returned to the Lek area. Together with our friend Javier from Mindo they were lucky enough to find over 140 different species including four of the rare Red-ruffed Fruitcrows, a beautiful Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia male and a pair of Plate-billed Mountain-Toucans.
The next morning we met all the other participants in Maldonado for the post-count. The data from over twenty different groups had to be joined. As we only compiled the number of species counted and not the actual number of individuals, the post-count was over quickly. And after a last lunch together with our friends from Mindo we could hit the road and travel back to the reserve.
Special thanks to Kira, Alwina and Javier for the photos!!