Wildlife watching in the Pacoche Lodge & Reserve

Written by Rolf Jensen

The Lodge and its surrounding Private Reserve are great for bird and wildlife watching. Only 40 minutes from Manta, the reserve adjoins the larger provincial reserve Refugio Vida Silvestre, Marina y Costera Pacoche (RVSMCP), a rainforest-like habitat completely different from Manta’s dry surroundings. The high precipitation is due largely to the low coastal hills’ influence on the moist south westerly breezes off the Pacific Ocean, which bring wet mists and drizzles during much of the year, a phenomenon known locally as the garua. As a field biologist who has studied mammals and birds in the Lodge’s Reserve as well as in the larger RVSMCP, I can attest to the wildlife attractions of this area. The endemic Western Mantled Howler-Monkeys are common and easily seen, though more often heard roaring in the distance,as they make their way slowly through the tall forest trees and giant bamboo groves, munching leaves, fruits and flowers as they go. Ocelot and Tayra have been seen in the Reserve, and photographed by trail trap cameras. The large nocturnal rodent known locally as the guanta, (paca in other parts of South America), has also been photographed by trap cameras, but is rarely seen. Armadillos are common, but being largely nocturnal are not frequently seen by visitors.

The bird list for the Pacoche area stands at over 200 species, and is still being added to. The feeders around the Lodge attract several species which can be seen at close quarters. Among the more notable, two species of colorful Euphonias visit regularly, as does the Highland Hepatic Tanager; males and females of the latter look very different being dark red and olive-and-yellow respectively. The spectacular Whooping Motmot, recently recognized as a different species from the Amazonian Blue-crowned, also visits the feeders fairly regularly. The commonest hummingbird in the Lodge area is the Rufous-tailed, but other species have also been recorded including the rare endemic Esmeraldas Woodstar. The endemic large Gray-backed Hawk and more recently the Crane Hawk have been observed in the Lodge Reserve sporadically, while the large western endemic Guayaquil Woodpecker is regularly seen.

Trails in the Lodge’s reserve are relatively easy and well-maintained, and the Lodge/Reserve should definitely be on the itinerary of any bird-watcher visiting Manta.

Bird List