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WildlifeKate in Ecuador: Day 4 – Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve

Our next stop in my amazing visit to Ecuador was the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve. You can find out more them on their website, by clicking the link below:

We arrived in the afternoon on the 30th, in time to take a quick trip out before the end of the day. When you are in a location like this, you don’t want to miss any opportunities to get out in the reserve, however lovely your room is!

The Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve is a pretty special location. It is owned by British expat, Richard Parsons and his wife, Gloria. They first purchased the land in order to save it from farming and development. Since 1991, they have continued to add to the reserve which now includes 2000 acres of protected lands along the west slope of the Andes in the Tandayapa Valley.

Conservation is very much their driving force. Bellavista is a pioneer of cloud forest preservation and conservation in the Tandayapa Valley, and among the first to conserve such forest in the northwest of Ecuador´s Pichincha province.  Impressively, as of July 2019, Bellavista reserve is the first private reserve to gain protected status under Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas.

This video will give you an idea of the reserve and what is has to offer…

Danny and I headed off into the forest, with one of Bellavista’s dedicated guides on site. They are all extremely knowledgeable and can help with bird sightings, which are numerous… especially around the hummingbird feeders!

The reserve has lots of well-marked trails that enables you to safely navigate this area and discover what is on offer. #gallery-21870-11 { margin: auto; } #gallery-21870-11 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-21870-11 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-21870-11 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

For the first half an hour, we hardly walked more than about 500m, as there were so many birds around! With two knowledgeable guides, we were adding to the bird list at an incredible rate, despite the rain. We followed one of the trails and the area is truly beautiful. From a plethora of birds, exotic orchids, to bizarre insect life it was a matter of not knowing where to look next in this foliage-rich habitat.

As the light began to fade, we headed back to the lodge. The list from such a short period of time, was impressive!

My room was just beautiful! Spacious and comfortable with THE most gorgeous view out over the forest, even though the early evening mist had descended… it’s not called a ‘cloud forest’ for nothing and it is this moisture and warmth that creates its wonderful and diverse habitat.

The lodge has a lovely dining room, again with huge windows overlooking this same view. I was almost too distracted to even consider eating my  supper as I constantly could see birds flitting around outside.

After meeting and chatting with Richard and hearing more about Bellavista and his inspirational work, I was ready for bed. For a while, I watched the incredible moths on my windows, attracted by my bedroom light, before I fell to sleep, again worn out by all Ecuadorian wildlife adventures.

We were up early for the last day of 2019! It is well worth getting out early, before breakfast, as experiencing the start of the day, surrounded by the wildlife and this rich habitat.

What a place to wake up in!

Without even leaving the lodge, we had had some wonderful views of a range of incredible species. This gorgeous Masked Trogon sat on a perch next to one viewpoint and I spent ages just watching it!

This flycatcher also posed for me…this is the Golden-crowned Flycatcher…

We headed out on one of the many trails.… it was stunning!

We spent over an hour following one of the trails, with my guides spotting SO many species. In just over an hour, we had 44 species on our list!

Some were quite distant and fleeting views, other fantastic views, especially through Danny’s scope.

We returned for breakfast, then straight back out again. I just had to spend a bit of time by the mega busy hummingbird feeders at the lodge.

Ecuador is home to the planet’s highest concentration of colibries, or hummingbirds, representing 130 of the world’s 328 species. This reserve boasts 14 species visiting regularly and the collections of feeders were simply alive with activity. It was hard to decide where to look as they buzzed, chased and fed. For a few minutes, the feeders were taken down and I was given a dish of the sugar water solution that they feed from. Without their feeders, they chose to feed from my dish. I had thought my robin, at home, feeding from my hand was a pretty amazing experience…… I think my face says it all!

Nothing beats the feeling of hummingbird wings on your cheeks!

I had to try to photograph the hummers too, of course ….

I could have spent a whole week at this one location, in front of these feeders… so much to see. I simply loved it.

It was time to head off to another trail with the guides… I couldn’t believe how much we were seeing here!

After just a few minutes, we were called back into the lodge area to see a special bird that had been spotted by one of the guides… the White-faced Nunbird. To me, it was another incredible species to add to my list, but Danny put it in perspective when he said it was only the second time in 2019, that he had seen this bird!

This image was taken on my phone, using Danny’s scope!

This bird was quite far away, but I managed a few shots.

We headed back out and spent a couple of an hours out following the trails. Despite it being wet and pretty muddy, the trails were easy to follow. They are clearly marked as to how easy they are to navigate. Obviously many involve some upward gradients and the  altitude made my heart race a lot more than it would at my normal sea level experiences! The temperature was pleasant though and hardly any annoying insects… I’ve been more annoyed by insects in Scotland in the summer!

Constantly scanning the tree and paths, we were steadily ticking off more and more species and we had clocked up another 37 species by the time we reluctantly turned back to the lodge.

My time at Bellavista was over and it was time to move on. I had thoroughly enjoyed my time there. What a way to end the year!


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