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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
North and Central Peru, 29-07-2005 to 25-08-2005.,
A report on birds seen on a trip to North & Central Peru
Peruvian Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium peruvianum)
The North-Peru team – Abra Barro Negro
Dick Meijer, Frans Hendriks, Henk Hendriks, Rob Goldbach
Abra Patricia – View from the Ridge-Trail
From 29 july to 26 august 2005 I made a birding trip to Northern and Central Peru. In 1988 I made my first trip to Peru and this time I focussed mainly on the specialities of the north and the central cordillera.
During the first part of the trip (16 days to the north) I was accompanied by my brother Frans and 2 other dutch birders, Rob Goldbach and Dick Meijer.
During the second leg of the trip I was together with an American birder Richard Hopf and Frans who had to return home earlier (after 3 days) because of his work.
The first part of this trip report (North Peru) is primarily based on the report, written by Rob Goldbach and Henk Hendriks :
Rob Goldbach/Henk Hendriks-Northern Peru July/August 2005.
To cover the logistics (4WD car, driver, food etc) we used the services of a Dutch birder, Wim ten Have, living in Peru and the owner of Tanager Tours. (http://www.tanagertours.com) , for contact email@example.com.
The total fare for our 16 days through Northern Peru, including hotels, camping gear, all meals, flight Lima-Chiclayo, 4WD drive car with guide/driver was US$ 1565,- per person. The driver Juvenal Ccahuana ( Juve) was well able to assist us in finding the sites of the specialties and also in helping us finding most of the
specialties themselves. He had brought his brother-in-law with him to help him out with preparing the meals and with the driving in general. Beside the fact that Juve is a very keen birder he is also a very nice person to have around. Important is though that somebody of the group is able to speak some basic Spanish as he does not speak any English at all.
As Dick and I speak some Spanish this was no problem for us.
The car in Northern Peru was a 4WD drive Toyota combi car with sufficient space for all of us. Besides some minor cooling problems during the first couple of days and a couple of flat tyres we had no problems and the whole trip went smoothly. We had a good team, working well together and as a result every member saw almost all of the species recorded on this trip.
During the second leg of the trip we continued with a Toyota Landcruiser and this car also performed perfectly.
All in all I can only recommend Tanager Tours to birders who intend to visit Peru in the future with (small) groups. Everything was very well organised, meaning that we had maximum time for birding.
For the second leg of the trip (11 days) I had to pay an additional US$ 1300,- everything included.
GETTING THERE – FLIGHT
Frans and I flew with Iberia via Madrid to Lima.
We paid for a return ticket € 1005,- including airport tax.
In retrospect we would choose KLM to fly directly to Lima.This is more expensive (roughly € 150,- extra a person) but this way you avoid the chaos and hassle in Madrid.
GETTING AROUND – CAR – ACCOMODATION – FOOD & DRINKS
As everything was arranged through Tanager Tours we did not have to bother about all this.The accommodation we had was generally good.
The food prepared by Juve was OK and most towns we stayed had a sufficient variety of restaurants. (Italian , Chinese etc.)
Breakfast was mostly out in the field and contained yoghurt with cornflakes and/or bread with jam and cheese. The same applies for the lunches which we had often in the field but also at roadside restaurants.
During the whole trip we could have as much mineral water and/or soft drinks as we wanted. Only the beer was not included in the price. I changed US$ 50,- at the airport at the start of the trip and this was sufficient for the entire trip.
At the airport and in the larger cities you can find ATM machines to cash money.
A basic knowledge of Spanish is certainly necessary to travel around in Peru with ease. It is possible to hire a English speaking birding guide through Tanager Tours. That is a very knowledgable birder but it will cost you more money.
As I speak some Spanish I could get along with Juve very well during this trip and in fact we had some very interesting conversations on the road.
The weather during our trip was generally excellent.
July/August fits in the dry season of Northern and Central Peru. But of course
in cloud forest/rain forest areas it can rain at any time of the year.
We had some cold, early mornings at the higher altitudes but that turned into nice, sunny, warm weather later on the day. It was hot at Batan Grande (Bosque Pomac) during the day.
Unfortunately the day along the Yurimaguas road , after the tunnel area, near Tarapoto was rained out for most of the day.
At Abra Patricia we experienced some rainfall, not really interfering with our birdwatching.
I was very lucky at Bosque Unchog as many birders struggle here with fog and drizzle but we had very good weather conditions here and only some fog in the late afternoon. The same applies for Carpish Tunnel/Paty Trail. Only a little rain and fog one late afternoon.
But I do recommend to be prepared for various weather conditions, so bring rain gear, a good warm jacket, sturdy shoes and a small umbrella which can be very handy.
HEALTH & SAFETY
We did not have any real health problems during our trip. One day I had some minor stomach problems but that did not stop me from birding.
Some headaches when we travelled from Santa Eulalia to Marcopomacocha (4600 m. alt.).That day Frans also felt sick from the altitude and his stomach was upset too. Generally it is important to take your time to acclimatise.
The food in the restaurants was good but we never ate uncooked vegetables.
We did not take anything against malaria because we never were actually in areas where malaria is prevalent. The only sites where we encountered mosquitos were Aguas Verdes , Morro de Calzada and near Rioja. We used plenty of DEET-based insect repellent at these sites.
A hat/cap, sunglasses combined with a good protection lotion against sunburn is a must at high altitudes.
Travelling after sunset is best avoided in certain areas, especially near Tingo Maria. Sendero Luminoso has officially ceased to exist but there are still a lot of weapons around in the rural areas and from time to time gangs will attack busses travelling at night. But Juve knew exactly what he was doing and we never felt unsafe.
Tanager Tours is offering standard itineraries to Northern and Central Peru but you are free to change any itinerary with them.
It all depends on the time available, species you prefer to observe and the money you want to spend.
When preparing the northern part of the trip we decided for various reasons to skip the Orange-throated Tanager site of our itinerary. The fact that no tour group saw the species this year and the increasing problems with the indigenous people at the site made us decide to spend the 3 days instead along the road to Tarapoto and beyond.
In retrospect I would have liked an extra day in the Tarapoto area and also an extra day between Leimabamba – Celendin – Cajamarca. The last stretch was too much driving and we only had limited time for birding. To increase you chances to observe Yellow-faced Parrotlet it would be advisable to bird Balsas in the early morning but that means an extra day for just 1 species!!
Most days we got up between 5 and 6 a.m. We drove to a site before dawn , had a fast breakfast and started birding. Daylight ran from approximately 06.00 am. till 18.30 pm.
All in all I observed an incredible array of endemics, near-endemics and other good stuff. I recorded a total of 620 species in 4 weeks without visiting Amazonia and with the absence of wintering birds at the time of our visit.
Best species observed:
Junin Grebe, Gray-backed Hawk, Buckley’s Forest Falcon, Spotted Rail, White-winged Guan, Peruvian Pigeon, White-throated Quail-Dove, Grey-chinned Hermit (2 ssp.), Tumbes Hummingbird, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Pink-throated Brilliant, Wire-crested Thorntail, Marvellous Spatuletail, Royal Sunangel, Grey-bellied Comet, Bronze-tailed Comet, Little Woodstar, Green-headed Hillstar, Black-breasted Hillstar, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Coppery & Black Metaltail, Lafresnaye’s , Ecuadorian and Speckle-chested Piculet, White-bellied Cinclodes, Thick-billed Miner, Grayish Miner, Dark-winged Miner, Russet-mantled Softtail, Chinchipe Spinetail, Maranon Spinetail, Great Spinetail, Baron’s Spinetail, Canyon Canastero, Cactus Canastero, Junin Canastero, Chestnut-backed Thornbird, Equatorial Graytail, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Chapman’s Antshrike, Lined Antshrike, Maranon & Huallaga Slaty Antshrike, Ash-throated Antwren, Blackish Antbird, 6 Antpittas seen and another 4 heard, Maranon & Elegant Crescentchest, 6 Tapaculos seen and another 2 heard, Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant, Black & White Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Blackish Pewee, Inca Flycatcher, Rufous Flycatcher, Peruvian Tyrannulet, Piura Chat-Tyrant, Golden-browed Chat-Tyrant, Peruvian Chat-Tyrant, Maroon-chested Chat-Tyrant,Tumbes Tyrant, White-cheeked Cotinga, Bay-vented Cotinga, Peruvian Plantcutter, Maranon Thrush, Bar-winged Wood-Wren, Giant Conebill, Buff-bellied Tanager, Rufous-browed Hemispingus, Brown-flanked Tanager, Yellow-scarfed Tanager, White-capped Tanager, Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Pardusco, Short-billed Honeycreeper, Plush-capped Finch, All 5 Incafinches, Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch, Raimondi’s Yellowfinch, Black-cowled Saltator, Maranon Gnatcatcher, Grey & Gold Warbler and Tumbes Sparrow.
See annotated checklist for more details.
I brought a small Leica telescope with me which I seldom used during this trip. Only at a few viewpoints and along the coast I used the scope.
I also used a small cassette player with a good (Sony) microphone and this was very valuable in taping in species.
Further I collected a huge selection of vocalisations on a I-POD ( 30 GB.)
I collected vocalisations from the DVD of Ecuador and of Bolivia/Peru which can be ordered at Bird Songs International B.V. – www.birdsongs.nl or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , Songs of the Antbirds, Songs of Amazonian Peru and of Highland Peru.
The big advantage of the I-pod is that you can very quickly select and play a certain song with the aid of a small speaker. You can also make selected playlists with target species for a certain area. This method saves you a lot of time in the field.
Though in our case a map was not really necessary I brought with me a map of Peru:
Mapa Vial del Peru. 1 : 2.220.000
Thomas Valqui - Where to watch birds in Peru.
This is an excellent booklet and gives you plenty of information about birding sites in Peru and general info about birding in this country. Highly recommended.
J.F.Clements/N.Shany - A Field Guide to the Birds of Peru.
The first comprehensive guide of the avifauna of this country.Though the text is not always up-to-date, rather basic information on species is provided, and the plates are not always very accurate, I believe this book is an indispensable companion on a birding trip to Peru.
R.S.Ridgely & P.J.Greenfield - The Birds of Ecuador Vol II.
Frans had taken the colourplates out of this book and transformed it in a handy booklet which we used in the field.The text was used as a reference afterwards.
R.S.Ridgely/G.Tudor - The Birds of South America Vols 1 and 2.
Only scans of colour plates were used.
J.F.Clements - Birds of the World, A Checklist.
Sibley/Monroe - Distribution of Birds of the World.
I consulted both reference books but mostly Clements book.
Birdlife International - Threatened Birds of the World.
Several reports were taken from the internet and the next ones appeared most useful to us:
Martin vd. Berg/Resi Damhuis Birdwatching
in Northern Peru, December 12th 2004 – January 6th 2005.
An excellent report of an independent birding trip by 4WD car to Northern Peru.
Wim ten Have North Peru (Tumbes and the road Chiclayo – Tarapoto), – March 2005
Samuel Hansen Northern Peru , 11 July – 5 August 2003
Paul Coopmans Northern Peru, October/November 2003
Jon Hornbuckle The birds of Abra Patricia , Cotinga 12 1999
First of all my companions Dick, Rob , my brother Frans and later Richard.
Not only keen birders but also very nice company during this trip.
I also would like to thank Martin van de Berg for providing me with his selection of bird vocalisations of Northern Peru and also Peter van Scheepen who prepared 4 Cd-rom’s covering almost all the target species of the north.
Wim ten Have for organising this excellent trip and last but not least Juve without whom this trip would never has been as successful as it was.
Not only did we appreciate his skills in finding birds but he was also very nice company and always willing and eager to go out in the field with us and that on most days from 5 am until 19.00 pm.
I have tried to be as accurate as possible and any errors made in this report are only mine.If somebody wants to react on this report or want any additional info feel free to contact me.
5665 JM Geldrop
Phone: +31 (0)402853372
Other participants during part of this trip:
3328 PB Dordrecht
+31 78 6171597
5665 ER Geldrop
+31 40 2854168
Day 1: Friday July 29. Amsterdam - Lima
My friend Frank Neyts drove Frans and me in the early morning (4 am.) from Geldrop to Schiphol Airport. Our plane left on time at 8.35 for the short flight to Madrid. Fortunately we had plenty of time for our transfer to the flight Madrid – Lima as the situation at Barajas was quite chaotic. Extremely busy and many security checks. We left at 12.40 for our flight to Lima where we arrived at 18.45 .
After we had collected our luggage we met our taxi driver (arranged by Tanager Tours) and waited 40 minutes for Dick Meyer who arrived on a KLM flight from Amsterdam via the Antilles. With the three of us we drove the short distance to hotel Mami Panchita (address Avenida Federico Gallesi, San Miguel, tel 263 7203), run by a Dutchman and a very nice place to stay indeed. Had a couple of beers and went to bed. Just before midnight Rob Goldbach arrived on a Delta flight from Amsterdam.
Day 2: Saturday July 30 Lima – Chiclayo, Batan Grande, Quebrada Limon
After a short night we went again to Lima airport to check in at 05.00 for an early morning flight (LAN Peru) to Chiclayo. Upon arrival at 07.40 am we were picked up by Juve, his brother-in-law Victor and their Toyota 4WD combi car. We drove as quickly as possible to our first birding site so we could start our trip in earnest. Our first site was Batan Grande (Bosque Pomac Historical Sanctuary site 5.3 of Valqui )
On the way to this site we made a couple of roadside stops in some open acacia woodlands where we found a couple nice species. Undoubtedly the best observation was that of a pair of Gray-backed Hawks. First we saw one perched in the scope and later we had excellent views of 2 birds in flight. This is a very rare and range restricted species and a nice start of the trip. Other species found in this area were Pacific Elaenia, Short-tailed Field-Tyrant and Cinereous Finch.
At Batan Grande, famous for its Tumbes specialities, we smoothly found the two major target species, Peruvian Plantcutter (10 exx.) and Rufous Flycatcher (3 exx.). Other species of interest included Harris’ Hawk, good views of a perched Scrub Nightjar, Pacific Parrotlet, Red-masked Parakeet, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, the endemic Black-necked Woodpecker, Pacific Hornero, Neck-laced Spinetail, Collared Antshrike, Tumbes Tyrannulet, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, White-tailed Jay, Speckle-breasted Wren, Black-lored Yellowthroat and White-edged Oriole. However we failed to find Tumbes Swallow despite diligent searching of the area.
Around 13.00 pm. we left and drove to Quebrada Limon, more specifically the White-winged Guan site near Olmos (Site 4.2 Valqui). We made a couple of walks in the dry acacia woodlands along the track between the Panameriacn Highway and the village, and here we added some new birds to our list like Grey & White Tyrannulet, Sulphur-throated Finch, Black-capped Sparrow and Tumbes Sparrow.
We reached Limon at dusk and after installing our tents and having our dinner a Peruvian Screech-Owl started to call. Despite the bird being very close and very responsive we could not lay an eye on it.
So we had a glass of whisky instead ( Scottish Red Grouse whisky) which we had bought at the Schiphol Airport. We toasted with the slogan:” Red Grouse in the evening and White-winged Guan in the morning”. We will see.
Day 3: Sunday July 31 Limon(Quebrada Frejolillo), Olmos marsh
After a very early breakfast at 05.00 am. we met our local guide Lino Rico and at 05.30 we started with great anticipation our walk into the quebrada Frejojillo, in search of the very localised and threatened White-winged Guan (worldpopulation estimated at less than 300 exx.)
We had no problems finding it as we had great views of 2 family groups of 4 resp. 3 birds. We saw them beautifully perched in tops of trees and in flight, showing their white flashes in the wing. We also found a (deserted?) nest containing 3 eggs right next of the trail. We later heard that finding the Guan at this site is not always garanteed as a couple of days later 2 other birders also accompanied by Lino Rico failed to find any, despite an extensive search in the quebrada. We stayed in the quebrada until 11 am and other species recorded here included Short-tailed Woodstar, Ecuadorian Piculet, Guayaquil Woodpecker (heard), Ecuadorian Trogon, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, excellent views of Elegant Crescentchest, Tumbes Pewee, a very obliging Tumbes Tyrant which can be a very hard bird to find, Yellow-cheeked Becard, Plumbeous-backed Thrush (common), and both White-winged and White-headed Brush-Finches.
Very satisfied we returned to our camp and after lunch we again birded the dry woodlands, lower down along the entrance track.
Luckily we found a Tumbes Hummingbird which has eluded us until now and another Tumbes Tyrant. In a dry riverbed we found no less than 20 Peruvian Thick-knees. In the afternoon we drove to Olmos where we visited a small marshy area some 8 km. east of this small city, where we obtained great views of a Spotted Rail , while some of us were lucky enough to see a Paint-billed Crake.We stayed in hotel Remanso at Olmos which was quite basic.
Day 4: Monday August 1 Abra Porculla, Jaen area
At 05.00 we left Olmos, and despite some water cooling problems with the car we arrived at Abra Porculla pass (2144m.) just before dawn. (site 4.3 of Valqui)
Even before breakfast we had 2 lifers: Grey-chinned Hermit of the subspecies porcullae which could be a future split Porculla Hermit and Chapman’s Antshrike. After a quick breakfast we walked the track along the ridge towards a site for Piura Chat-Tyrant at about 2 km.distance. Birds observed during this walk included Ecuadorian Ground-Dove, Elegant Spinetail, more Grey-chinned Hermits, Elegant Crescentchest, Bay-crowned Brush-Finch and after some struggling good views of a Black-cowled Saltator.Both Chestnut-crowned and Watkin’s Antpitta were calling, sometimes very nearby, but remained out of sight. I was lucky enough to be at the right spot when a Piura Chat-Tyrant popped up and had brief but satisfying views of the bird but unfortunately for some of us we were unable to relocate the bird. At the same site we identified a few Saffron Siskins. A steep walk downhill along a little stream through a small valley produced a.o. Ecuadorian Piculet, Line-cheeked Spinetail, both Henna-hooded- and Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaners, Sooty-crowned Flycatcher, Tumbes Sparrow, Black-capped Sparrow, excellent views of a Grey & Gold Warbler low down in the foliage and Buff-bellied Tanager.
At 11.00 am. we left Abra Porculla and drove to Jaen, where a roadside stop in the scoring heat in the middle of the day gave us a Little Incafinch. This was approx. 5 km. before reaching the city. After checking in at the Royal Palace Suite hotel we made an evening stroll along the unpaved track leading up to the local seminario (site 7.3 Valqui) which is approx. 4 km. east of Jaen towards San Ignacio. Surprisingly Marañon Thrush was rather common along this track and we also added Oasis Hummingbird, Collared Antshrike and Streaked Saltator.
Day 5: Tuesday August 2 Tamborapa(Jaen), drive to Pomocochas
We left Jaen early to reach a site near the town of Tamborapa at 5.30 am.( 45 min.drive) This is the site 7.4 described in Valqui : The road to Chirinos.
We birded here until 11.00 am. Despite all our efforts we only found few birds in this dry, forested area and we had to work very hard for this. Species of interest were Scarlet-fronted Parakeet,Tawny-bellied Hermit and Spot-throated Hummingbird. Marañon Slaty Antshrike was finally observed after some playback but the endemic Chinchipe Spinetail was easily found. But we failed to find the most desired Marañon Crescentchest. Therefore we decided to revisit briefly the entrance road towards the seminario near Jaen (12.00 – 13.00) and here within little time we got decent views of a very responsive pair of Marañon Crescentchests, more Marañon Slaty Antshrikes, Marañon Spinetails and the green-backed form of Black-capped Sparrow.
During the rather long drive to Pomacochas, after lunch and car repair at Jaen, only few birds of interest were noted, a.o. Andean Guan along the road. A half hour stop along the Utcubamba river yielded White-capped Dipper, Torrent Tyrannulet, White-lined Tanager and Thick-billed Euphonia. At 18.45 we reached La Florida/Pomacochas were we checked in at hotel Puerto Pumas.
Day 6: Wednesday August 3 Pomacochas, Abra Patricia
Early up again (05.30 h), to visit the slopes near the Rio Chido, in search for the Marvellous Spatuletail. Along the track some 6,5 km. from La Florida (site 3.2 in Valqui) we found 6 different individuals of this rare and vulnerable hummingbird species, a.o. an adult without tail, a subadult with spatules and a number of female-type birds. Unfortunately no male with fullgrown spatules but then again we had great views of this species foraging low in the flowering scrub.
At 09.00 am. we proceeded to Abra Patricia, where we birded three different parts: the pass area (2300 m.alt. site 4.1 of Valqui) between km 366 – 369, the ridge trail area 1 km. before Campemento Garcia ( at km. 384, site 4.3 of Valqui) and the track at Valle Hermosa (at 2080 m. elevation, 2.6 km.from the pass; site 4.2 of Valqui). The pass area was rather birdy, especially along a narrow trail across a meadow, and here we added within short time a couple of good bird to our list, a.o. Green & Black Fruiteater, a first Inca Flycatcher, Cloud-Forest Brush-Finch, Grass-Green Tanager, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Golden-collared Tanager ( not reported before from Abra Patricia), Blue & Black Tanager and Silver-backed Tanager. Pale-billed and Rusty-tinged Antpitta were heard calling. At the cliffs along the main road, just before the Ridge trail, both White-tipped and White-chested Swifts (2 exx.) were observed as well as a fine male Royal Sunangel. The Ridgetrail itself (km 380) was less productive ( bad views, wrong time of the day, impressive views and vegetation though), and also the first one and a half hour at Valle Hermosa was not really exciting. We found the trail heavily overgrown, muddy and with mostly secondary scrub next to it. We heard many Grey-breasted Wood-Wrens but could not identify a Bar-winged with certainty. Actually the last hour of daylight and dusk at Valle Hermoso saved the day; we got splendid views of a taped in Rufous-vented Tapaculo and Glossy Black Thrush along the track, found a pair of very obliging Lulu’s Tody-Tyrants and finally we taped in a calling Lyre-tailed Nightjar, which flew several times within 1 meter over our heads. After dinner at restaurant El Paraiso (simple but tasty) near the pass we did some owling along the main road between the pass and Valle Hermoso, but this was rather disappointing: we only heard Rufous-banded Owl but not a sniff of the Andean Potoo which was seen in march 2005.
We slept at the empty wooden building not far from the restaurant.
Day 7: Thursday August 4 Abra Patricia
At night it had been raining heavily, but it became dry just after dawn. After a brief breakfast we birded again the pass area, the Ridge-trail and along the hairpin-rich section of the main road, where the road drops to the lower elevation forests near Afluente. All in all, bird activity was low today, maybe due to the lower temperatures and some drizzle, and we had to work hard to find some good birds. Best species were Plain-breasted Hawk, Rainbow Starfrontlet (Ridgetrail), Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Uniform Antshrike, Bar-winged Wood-Wren (heard only), Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Flame-faced Tanager and Bluish Flowerpiercer. At 16.00 h. we left Abra Patricia to make another visit to the Spatuletail spot (site 3.2 of Valqui) near La Florida where we found 2 female-type birds within the remaining 1 hour of daylight but again we failed to find an adult male with extended tail feathers. Night at hotel Puerto Pumas again.
Day 8: Friday August 5 Abra Patricia. Afluente
Today we would take revenge for the rather poor birding of yesterday; it would become a great day where it comes to mixed flocks ( bandada’s). At 05.50 h. we left Pomacochas and started to bird again at the pass area of Abra Patricia and next the Ridge-trail area. At the cumbra we had, in addition to species seen before, Black-throated Toucanet, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Speckled Hummingbird, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Chestnut Antpitta (heard) , excellent and close views of 2 Rusty-breasted Antpitta’s, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Grey-hooded Bush-Tanager and Drab Hemispingus. At the Ridge-trail area we observed some fine species such as Black & White Hawk-Eagle, Bar-winged Wood-Wren (finally!!), and great views of White-capped Tanager (yes!!).
Next we did extensive roadside birding along the main road in the lower elevation forest at Afluente between km 398 and 402 (old numbering, mind that there are 2 types of numbering here; very confusing). (site 4.5 of Valqui) where we encountered several good flocks. A first flock consisted of larger species such as Green Jay, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Amazonian Umbrellabird and Russet-backed Oropendola. A next flock contained some more good species such as the endemic Speckle-chested Piculet, the rare canopy-dwelling Equatorial Greytail, Rufous-tailed and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Inca Flycatcher, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Olivaceous Greenlet and Grey-mantled Wren.
Other species seen in the Afluente area included Andean Guan, Lined Antshrike, Northern White-crowned Tapaculo ( 1 seen very well and several more heard), Orange-eared Tanager, Golden Tanager and Paradise Tanager.
At approx. 18.00 h. we arrived at the restaurant near the bridge, just before the village of Afluente (km 416), where we made a brief stroll along the trail which starts at the bridge. Here we could add Crested Oropendola, Giant Cowbird and some tanager species. We spent the night on the floor of a room just next to the restaurant.In the early evening we did some owling near Afluente. We visited a stake-out for Cinnamon Screech-Owl but dipped.
Day 9: Saturday August 6 Afluente, Aguas Verdes, Rioja
Early morning we drove back along the main road to do some further roadside birding in the forests between km 399 – 402.And again we could add some good species at this site to our list, the best ones being Ecuadorian Piedtail foraging at some roadside scrub, Black-eared Fairy, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, good views of the very rare Ash-throated Antwren which responded very well to random playback of its song, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Yellow-throated Tanager, Bronze-green Euphonia and Spotted Tanager.
Next we visited the area of Aguas Verdes which is partially rather degraded.
I think that this area still holds some good stuff but we visited the site at the wrong time of the day. I am sure that an early morning visit could be rather more productive. A first track brought us to a hill behind the village with some remaining patches of forest. Here we observed only few species, apparently recent slashing of the forest has made this area almost worthless. Next we did another trail starting from Aguas Verdes, this one going through better habitat of white sand forest but here also deforestation was actively in progress.
But we did see Buckley’s Forest Falcon, Scaled Pigeon, Green Hermit, Napo Sabrewing, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Wire-crested Thorntail, Dark-breasted Spinetail, Rufous-winged Antwren, White-browed Purpletuft and the endemic Huallaga Tanager. In all this was a very productive walk. In the late afternoon we drove (1,5 hour) to Rioja ( Hotel La Ribera)
Day 10: Sunday August 7 Morro de Calzada, drive to Tarapoto
From 6.15 – 13.30 h. we visited Morro de Calzada (site 5.2 of Valqui), an isolated, forested peak just west of Moyobamba, a popular hiking area for local people but rather quiet during our visit.Now being at a lower elevation we encountered a very different blend of species. During breakfast along the entrance road approx. 1 km. before the reserve we recorded a.o. the next species: Speckled Chachalaca, Blue-headed Parrot, Swallow-wing, Scarlet-crowned and Gilded Barbets, Lettered Aracari and Wedge-tailed Grassfinch.
Mosquitos were much in evidence at this site and so we used plenty of insect repellent. In the reserve proper we searched around the picnic area and walked up the trail for about 2 km. Main species found here were Green-fronted Lancebill, Rufous Motmot, Lafresnaye’s Piculet, Lineated Woodpecker, White-flanked Antwren, Fiery-capped Manakin, excellent views of a pair of the rarely encountered Black & White Tody-Tyrant, Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant, Yellow Tyrannulet and Olive-chested Flycatcher. But we failed to find the Mishana Tyrannulet which , according to Juve, is rather common here. At least it was during his last visit in march.
After lunch we drove to Tarapoto ( 5 hours) with a single stop at km. 551 where a narrow trail leads down to the river. Here we found a Golden-headed Manakin but best of all we found a pair of Blackish Pewee feeding 2 fledglings.
At Tarapoto, after some negotiations, we stayed for 2 nights in a bit more luxury hotel than originally planned (hotel Nilas)
Day 11: Monday August 8 Yurimaguas Road
Today we would spend the entire day along the Yurimaguas Road , especially “the tunnel area” and beyond.(site 6.3 in Valqui). Actually this is still an area of vast, pristine lower mountain forest. (500 – 1000 m.elevation). The dirt road to Yurimaguas intersects this forest and at its highest point there is a tunnel of approx. 150 meter long. Birding is great at both sides. Upon arrival , just after dawn, it was still dry and clear, but after 1,5 hours the rain started and it also became rather foggy. Unfortunately the rain did not stop until 14.00 h.
But the early morning started very productive as we encountered a couple of large flocks before the tunnel, containing a.o. Amazonian White-tailed Trogon, Collared trogon, Gilded Barbet, Golden-collared Toucanet, White-lored Tyrannulet, White-winged Becard, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Yellow-backed Tanager, Olive Tanager and Fulvous-crested Tanager. We also found several Koepcke’s Hermits, as well as Grey-breasted Sabrewing, Golden-tailed Sapphire, White-chinned Sapphire, Buff-throated and Chestnut-crowned Foliage-gleaners.
We passed the tunnel and walked slowly down, but since the rain did not stop and became heavier and heavier we decided to drive further down. The road was terrible though. Finally we reached an obvious look-out point some 16 km.from the tunnel. When it stopped raining we observed some very good bird activity in this area.: a flock of no less than 75 Swallow-tailed Kites passed through the canyon, and we quickly added some more tanager species to our already impressive day list.In total, including euphonies and honeycreepers, we saw no less than 21 tanager species in the tunnel area. One of the highlights in the afternoon was Short-billed Honeycreeper, of which a male landed in a small tree at less than 5 meters away at eyelevel, giving excellent and prolonged views.
At 18.00 h. we returned to Tarapoto.
Day 12: Tuesday August 9 Juan Guerra, Abra Patricia, drive to Pomocochas
In the early morning from 05.30 – 9.30 am. we visited Juan Guerra (site 6.3 of Valqui), where we birded along the Rio Shatayacu. One of the target species here is the Huallaga ssp. of Northern Slaty Antshrike which could be a valid species: Huallaga Slaty Antshrike (Thamnophilus huallagae) , a bird we readily found. Proceeding slowly along the unpaved road along the river we could add a.o. Speckled Chachalaca, Peruvian Pigeon (observed by Rob Goldbach and a new species for this site), Plumbeous Pigeon, Hoatzin, Maroon-tailed Parakeet, a male Pink-throated Brilliant which is an uncommon species anywhere, Black-fronted Nunbird, Rusty-backed Antwren, Blackish Antbird and an unexpected Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant. We also taped in a White-browed Antbird which showed itself briefly to us.
Next we visisted a site 4,5 km.west of Rioja (site 5.1 of Valqui).
The site is near the recreation area called Yacumama. Take the road to the left just before the entrance. The habitat found here is savanna, interspersed with patches of forest/palmtrees and many fresh water ponds. After lunch we birded the area for 1,5 hour. Despite the fact that it was in the middle of the day we still found some interesting new birds. A Uniform Crake which crossed the trail several times, a Blackish Rail was seen very well while others were heard, Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher (by Rob and Frans only), a Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant feeding a recently fledged juvenal bird and Fiery-capped Manakin. We also observed a Rufous Casiornis and that ment a range expansion of this species as it was unrecorded before for this area.
We then proceeded towards Pomacochas/La Florida but made several road stops in the Afluente and Abra Patricia area.
We decided to have dinner at the restaurant El Paraiso near the pass, allowing us to do some spotlighting after dusk but without much success.
Finally at 21.00 h. we checked in again at hotel Puerto Pumas at Pomacochas.
Day 13: Wednesday August 10 Pedro Ruiz, drive to Leimebamba
A first stop was planned at Pedro Ruiz, where we would try for the Little Woodstar which is regularly recorded here , according to Juve.
After quite some searching we found the ideal flowering tree, attracting the target species , Little Woodstar ( 2 females and 1 male) , as well as other hummingbird species like Grey-breasted Sabrewing, Napo Sabrewing, Wire-crested Thorntail and numerous White-bellied Hummingbirds.
Continuing along the Rio Uctabamba, driving through very impressive landscapes surrounding the Uctabamba valley, we added Fasciated Tiger-Heron ( standing on rocks in the middle of the stream) , Torrent Duck and Torrent Tyrannulet to our list. We also observed a Southern River Otter , eating a fish on a rock.
A lunch break along the river produced a.o. Lined Antshrike and some seedeater species. Getting closer to Leimebamba, Baron’s Spinetail, Cloud Forest Brush-Finch and Peruvian Sierra-Finch were found. Leimebamba turned out to be a nice high elevation town with a pleasant atmosphere, where we stayed in a hospedaje named Laguna de Los Condores which I can recommend. We had a nice dinner in one of the small local restaurants near the plaza.
Day 14: Thursday August 11 Abra Barro Negro,Balsas
My birthday and of course , as usual, I am not at home but somewhere else on the globe birding. An early start to reach the higher parts of the Abra Barro Negro ( “the notorious Black Mud Pass”, but fortunately it was dry when we passed) at dawn.
On the way up we observed several nightjars on the track , of which we could identify 1 as Band-winged Nightjar and 2 others after some discussion as female Swallow-tailed Nightjars.
At a remnant patch of nice forest , scrub and some bamboo at approx. 3000 m.elevation (site 2.4 of Valqui) we encountered very good bird activity with several mixed flocks. Not only did we find our main target species here , Russet-mantled Softtail, but also some other high altitude goodies such as Shining Sunbeam, Rainbow Startfrontlet, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Coppery Metaltail, Pearled Treerunner, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (heard), Large-footed Tapaculo (heard), Red-crested Cotinga, Black-crested Tit-Tyrant, 3 species of Chat-Tyrant (Brown-backed, White-browed- and Rufous-breasted), Black-crested and Russet-crowned Warbler, and a good variety of tanagers incl. the leucogaster ssp. of Superciliaried Hemispingus , Drab Hemispingus and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager. A bit further down we scored Andean Flickers and also added Andean Lapwing, Mountain Caracara and Rufous-webbed Tyrant to the triplist.
Another stop gave us a pair of White-chinned Thistletail of the race peruviana which responded well to tape playback.
During our descent down to Balsas in the Marañon valley, we observed several Bridled Inca-Finches as well as Marañon Gnatcatchers. At Balsas (site 2.3 of Valqui) we had lunch in the shade of an orchard next to the Marañon river.At that time of the day it was very hot in the Marañon valley.
After lunch we walked up the road in search of the specialities of Balsas. Marañon Thrush was commonly encountered but it took some time and sweat before I got decent views of Peruvian Pigeon. Eventually ,after the other 3 already had seen the species, a small flock of Peruvian Pigeons passed closeby.But we failed to find the rare Yellow-faced Parrotlet.
Late afternoon we crossed the river and ascended the other side of the valley to Hacienda El Limon where we camped on the local sportfield.
Day 15: Friday August 12 Hacienda Limon, Cruz Conga, Rio Chonta
This turned out be a kind of a hit-and-run day. In fact it was too hectic, too much driving. Therefore it was important to find the local specialties Chestnut-backed Thornbird and Grey-winged Incafinch as quickly as possible in the nearby gullies and scrub.(site 2.2 of Valqui). Within one hour we succeeded and got prolonged and splendid views of both species, and at 07.30 h. we started the drive to Celendin.
As we had to be in time at the Rio Chonta site (site 1.1 of Valqui) to search for the rare Gray-bellied Comet we did not do any justice to all the good habitats and sites we passed on the way to Celendin and further to Cajamarca. That is why we left most of the Ground-Tyrants and Shrike-Tyrants unidentified.
By making a few quick stops we could add a.o. Black Metaltail, Giant Hummingbird, Streak-throated Canastero, Red-crested Cotinga, the rare endemic Rufous-eared Brush-Finch (Rob only), Cinereous Conebill, and Plumbeous and Band-tailed Sierra-Finches.
Unfortunately we were unable to identify with certainty White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant and we also failed to find Cajamarca Antpitta in the middle of the day. Finally at 16.20 h. we reached the site in the Rio Chonta Valley and after an hour or so (we were already getting rather nervous as we would not get a second chance) we were lucky enough to observe a Grey-bellied Comet briefly at a patch of flowering agaves on a barren hillside next to the river.
We also observed our first Black-throated Flowerpiercers at this site.
After this success we drove to Cajamarca where we spent the night in hotel Santa Rosa.
Day 16: Saturday August 13 San Marcos, drive to Trujillo
Early up again to reach the Great Spinetail site near San Marcos, 55 km.south of Cajamarca, at dawn. We expected that we had to work for the spinetail but it turned out that it was a piece of cake. We observed and heard in total at least 10 different birds!! Some fantastic views were obtained. The whole area was actually rather birdy and we saw some more interesting species like Oasis Hummingbird, Purple-collared Woodstar, White-winged Black Tyrant, Marañon Gnatcatcher, Black-lored Yellowthroat and also some Buff-bridled Inca-Finches. At 09.00 am we left for the long drive towards Trujillo. We made a stop at a small moist quebrada, at km. 129 along the Panamerican Highway, which is a stake-out for the endemic Unicoloured Tapaculo. But the bird was silent by the time of our visit but instead we had good views of a Chestnut-crowned Antpitta.
The afternoon was a rather uneventful drive to Trujillo. Stayed at a rather noisy roadside hotel. (hotel Primavera)
Day 17: Sunday August 14 Trujillo to Huacho
Although this day was merely a travel day, an amazing number of new trip birds could be added thanks to 2 strategic stops. A lunch stop at a couple of small marshes in the otherwise sandy and dry area at Panamerican Highway km. 450 was rather productive, yielding good views of a.o. Puna Ibis, White-cheeked Pintail, Cinnamon teal, Cinereous Harriër, Plumbeous Rail, Wren-like Rushbird and Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant. At Puerto Huarmey we not not only got the major target species, Seaside Cinclodes, but we also had a good variety of shore- and seabirds including Red-legged Cormorant, Peruvian Booby, Inca tern, Elegant Tern, Ruddy Turnstone, Blackish Oystercatcher, Wilson’s Phalarope and several sandpipers and gulls. Also here we encountered the rarest vagrant of the trip: a male non-breeding plumage Ruff!!! A typical dutch species.
At 16.00 h. we arrived at Huacho, where after a drink, we splitted up:
Rob Goldbach and Dick Meijer proceeded to Lima airport for their return flights home, and I and Frans continued our trip.
At Huacho I met Wim ten Have and an American birder Richard Hopf who would be my companion for the next 11 days. After Rob and Dick had left we drove to our hotel in Huacho and we chilled out for the rest of the day.
Day 18: Monday August 15 El Paraiso, Lomas de Lachay, Santa Eulalia
The original plan was to be at dawn at Lomas de Lachay and try to find the specialities of the area in the early morning. But Richard asked us if we had any problems visiting a coastal wetland area near Huacho (El Paraiso) first to try for Peruvian Tern. We agreed to spend 30- 40 minutes at this spot.
El Paraiso was actually a very interesting area , teeming with birds and one could easily spend an entire morning birding here. We certainly did not do this site any justice.
As soon as we arrived we started scanning for terns and within 10 minutes Frans spotted a small tern flying and luckily it came closer and allowed satisfying views in the scope, a Peruvian Tern.A quick scan of the area produced a.o. flamingo’s, herons, waders and some duck species. (See annotated list)
After this success we quickly proceeded to Lomas de Lachay (Site 1.1 of Valqui) where we met 2 other American birders Jeff and Joël from California.
On the way in we observed a few lethargic Peruvian Thick-knee just next to the road. We took a back road which brought us straight to the core area of the reserve. One by one we found the specialities of the area : Thick-billed Miner, Grayish Miner, Cactus Canastero and Collared Warbling-Finch. We then proceded to the official entrance road of Lomas de Lachay. On the plains before the official entrance we observed Least Seedsnipe and found a large flock of Yellow-finches. As Wim was not sure that these were Raimondi’s Yellow-Finches we walked up to the rather tame birds and scoped through the flock. They were indeed all Raimondi’s Yellow-Finches.As we had seen all the target species we did not enter the reserve itself but left the area at 11.00 h. We drove through Lima and continued towards the Santa Eulalia Valley. We had lunch at Chisico and in the afternoon we started our ascend of the Santa Eulalia Valley.
Some selected road stops gave us a few new birds. At some rocky outcrops we scoped Bare-faced Ground-Dove. A little further along this spectacular road is a site for Great Inca-Finch. Though it was already later in the afternoon we were able to obtain good views of a bird just beside the road. We decided to climb up the road towards San Pedro de Casta and at a scrubby hill side we birded for one hour. Good views were had of the endemic Bronze-tailed Comet and we also observed Peruvian Sheartail, Black-necked Woodpecker, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, Cinereous Conebill, Blue & Yellow Tanager, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater and the endemic Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch.
Then we had to turn back as we wanted to spend the night at a village, called Huanza, which was conveniently situated close to the polylepis forest patch we intended to visit early next morning but instead we ended up at another village.
They gave us a nice room in their hotel de communidad but unfortunately there was no restaurant in this village so we had to be satisfied with cake and tea. It was very cold at night (3900 m.altitude) but as they had supplied us with plenty of blankets that was no problem.
Day 19:Tuesday August 16 Santa Eulalia Valley, Marcopomacocha, drive to La Oroya
This was going to be a spectacular day. Not only did we travel through some amazing, undisturbed habitat with spectacular views but we also observed some very rare birds today. In the early morning we started at a nice patch of polylepis forest which is a stake-out for the rare endemic White-cheeked Cotinga. They had not been observed for some time but apparently they had returned to the area recently and it did not take long before we had excellent views in the scope of at least 4 birds perched on top of the trees.
Other species observed here included Black-winged Ground-Dove, Giant Hummingbird, Black Metaltail, Plainbreasted Earthcreeper, Striated Earthcreeper, Canyon Canastero and Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail. Unfortunately Frans did not feel very well, probably a combination of the altitude with some stomach problems so he had to take it easy. Slowly we continued up the valley and along the way we found a.o. Giant Coots and Andean Geese on some lakes, Streak-throated Canastero and after some searching we had good views of Junin Canastero. We observed 5 species of Ground-Tyrants and at a corral for cattle and horses we observed foraging Bright-rumped Yellowfinches, Black Siskins and Mourning Sierra-Finches.
Near Marcopomacocha we had fabulous views (within 5 meter) of White-bellied Cinclodes and at Marcopomacocha itself we quickly found one of the most wanted birds for us, a pair of Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers with a juvenal bird.
Other species found here were Olivaceous Thornbill typically foraging low over the sparse vegetation, a few Dark-winged Miners and a very confident Puna Snipe. When we continued towards the Central Highway we found a male Black-breasted Hillstar at a patch of roadside flowers. As by mid afternoon we had achieved our goals for today, Frans was not feeling very well and in fact we were all a bit affected by the altitude we decided to call it a day and to drive straight to our hotel in La Oroya to have a rest.
Day 20: Wednesday August 17 Lake Junin, km 142, drive to Huanuco
This was the final day of the trip for Frans. The plan was that we would have a boat trip in the early morning on Lake Junin to try for Junin Grebe and that he would travel back to Lima with Wim afterwards to catch his flight back home in the early evening. But despite the fact that Juve had called the office of IRENA 2 days before telling them that we were coming and that they had assured him that everything was arranged this turned out not to be the case.
When we arrived at the IRENA office at 07.00 h. in Junin they told us that the motorboat was arranged but unfortunately no boatsman was available!!
After a lot of hassle and negotiation they finally arranged a boat without a motor and 2 boatsmen who would row the boat out onto the lake. That would be at 11.00 am and that ment that Frans would not be able to join us. Of course that was a great disappointment for him but what to do against Peruvian bureaucracy.
So we said goodby to Wim and Frans who took a bus back to Lima from Junin and Juve, Richard and I went to the site where we would board our boat to go out on the lake. The boat was actually not suitable at all for rowing and so we were unable to get very far out but anyway we were able to positively identify 2 Junin Grebes with the scope, which I fortunately had taken with me on board.
At 12.30 we continued towards Huanuco but on the way we made 2 road stops. The first stop was at a very nice patch of polylepis forest just next to the road.(km 142 along the Central Highway.)
After we had lunch here we birded for 1,5 hour. Giant Conebill turned out to be very common at this site and despite the unfavourable time of the day I managed to observe a Stripe-headed Antpitta.
While driving along the central highway you witness the destruction of the habitat just next of the road , mainly by the big gold mining companies operating
in this area. They have also heavily polluted most lakes.
The second stop was at a site near Huanuco where Rufous-backed Inca-Finch is sometimes found. When we searched along a track up the hill we found very little bird activity and certainly not the Inca-Finch. When we walked back down again I suddenly flushed a Rufous-backed Inca-Finch close to the main highway which gave brief but good views and fortunately Richard saw it also shortly afterwards.
Satisfied we continued to Huanuco and took a room in the Palace Royal hotel near the plaza.
Day 21: Thursday August 18 Carpish Tunnel & Paty Trail
As usual we left Huanuco very early to get to the Carpish Tunnnel area at dawn. (Site 5.1 of Valqui)
It takes about 1 hour to reach this site from Huanuco at 2700 m elevation.
Just after the tunnel there is a old jeep track at the left side of the road which cuts through a nice patch of mossy cloud forest. The first hours were very birdy along this track. As soon as we got out of the car we heard both Chestnut and Bay Antpitta calling. We regularly encountered very vocal flocks of Peruvian Wrens in the understory along the track. Other species observed here included Large-footed Tapaculo, Tschudi’s Tapaculo (heard)., a Chestnut Antpitta right in the middle of the track, in a fruiting tree 10+ Red-crested Cotingas, several White-eared Solitaires and a male Barred Fruiteater and further along the track Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Collared Inca, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Tyrian Metaltail, Rufous Spinetail (common), Pearled Treerunner, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Citrine Warbler, Cinereous Conebill , Capped Conebill, some good tanager flocks with a.o. Rufous-chested Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Lacrimose Mountain –Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager and finally good views of the endemic Yellow-scarfed Tanager.
After lunch I spent the whole afternoon on the nearby Paty Trail (4 -5 km.from the Carpish Tunnel).This trail descends into the valley and I found the first 2-3 km. the most productive. I observed at very close range a cooperative Trilling Tapaculo but failed to tape in a calling Bay Antpitta. Other new species found along the trail include Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Bronzy Inca, Long-tailed Sylph, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Montane Woodcreeper, Uniform Antsrike, Long-tailed Antbird, Inca Flycatcher, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Blue-backed Conebill, White-browed Hemispingus, and good views of Plush-capped Finch. At the end of the afternoon I was able to observe a very vocal pair of Chestnut-breasted Wrens , walking around me on the forest floor just next to the trail.
After a very good first day in the Carpish Tunnel/Paty Trail area we drove back to Huanuco.
Day 22: Friday August 19 Paty Trail & Carpish Tunnel
Again before dawn to the Carpish Tunnel/Paty Trail area.
This time I decided to bird the Paty Trail in the morning and the Tunnel in the afternoon. At the start of the trail I had excellent views of a Rusty-breasted Antpitta but again only brief views of Bay Antpitta. I spent all morning along the Paty Trail and encountered some nice flocks. I saw Andean Guan but heard only Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail quite far of. New species observed included Speckled Hummingbird, Masked Trogon, Golden-headed Quetzal (heard only), Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Azara’s Spinetail, Rufous-vented Tapaculo, Huanacu Fruiteater (split from Green & Black Fruiteater), Sierran Elaenia, White-tailed Tyrannulet, White-banded Tyrannulet, Flavescent Flycatcher, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Russet-crowned Warbler, Grass-Green Tanager, Common Bush-Tanager, Ash-throated Bush-Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Tricoloured Brush-Finch and Stripe-headed Brush-Finch.
On the way back to the main road I was lucky to observe a Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant which turned out to be the only one seen on this trip.
In the afternoon it became quite foggy but decided anyway to bird Carpish Tunnel. Very little bird activity but still some good species seen. First we observed a pair of Maroon-chested Chat-Tyrant along a small stream next to the central Highway. Here also Band-tailed Fruiteater seen. Along the jeep track I had excellent views of Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan (dipped in Ecuador) and also saw Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant which was new for me.
Then it became too foggy for birding and we decided to return to Huanuco in the late afternoon.
Day 23: Saturday August 20 Bosque Unchog
Today the start of our camping trip to Bosque Unchog. Excited in the prospect to visit such a remote and pristine area in search of some very rare and localised species we left Huanuco at 05.00 h. We first drove to the village of señor Rivera, the local guide of Bosque Unchog who knows this area very well. He has worked in the past with people like Ted Parker and has agreed for a small fee to accompany us for 3 days. First we had to pay a visit to the head of the local community at the village of Cochabamba to pay an entrance fee for Bosque Unchog. A few km. outside Cochabamba we made a road stop at a scrubby hillside (3000 m.elevation) and within minutes we found the endemic Brown-flanked Tanager. We also observed at this site Baron’s Spinetail (easy and common), Golden-billed Saltator and Golden-bellied Grosbeak. We drove further for another 30 minutes and then the road stops and continues as a small track through the grasslands interspersed with beautiful patches of elfin forest. (elevation 3500 – 3600m.)
We quickly taped in a very responsive Tschudi’s Tapaculo which gave excellent views and started to bird along the main track. It later turned out that we were very lucky with the weather as many birders struggle here with fog and rain, while we generally had sunny weather with from time to time some fog but it never hampered our birding. The habitat is not very rich in species but it is the quality of the species which makes this site special. During our afternoon of birding we found easily the endemic Pardusco, Coppery Metaltail, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Saphirewing, the skulking Line-cheeked Canastero, Neblina Tapaculo (heard only), small flocks of White-throated Tyrannulet, nice views of a Ochre-breasted Flycatcher, Brown-backed and Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Golden-collared Tanager and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager.
Suddenly Juve shouted in the distance and a small flock of Golden-backed Mountain-Tanger was slowly moving up the valley towards me and finally gave great views. One of the highlights of the trip.
Already quite some time I heard a Yungas Pygmy-Owl calling and to my surprise I whistled the bird in easily and had good views of it calling to me sitting on a bare branch nearby. After this successful start of our stay at Bosque Unchog we returned to our campsite at the start of the track. On the way back we had a patrolling Cinereous Harriër over the grasslands.
Slept very well that night despite the fact that temperatures were around zero.
Day 24: Sunday August 21 Bosque Unchog
We took lunch with us and we spent the whole day on the track and in the elfin forests of Bosque Unchog. Again incredible views of Golden-backed Mountain-Tanger feeding at eyelevel in the canopy. Highlight in the morning was the observation of a perched Bay-vented Cotinga. Other species encountered that day that were not recorded the day before were Violet-throated Startfrontlet, White-browed Spinetail in the understory scrub, a pair of White-chinned Thistletail ssp.Plengei, Undulated Antpitta (heard), fantastic views (twice) of the obscurus form of Rufous Antpitta, Band-tailed Fruiteater, Peruvian Chat-Tyrant, White-collared Jay, Citrine Warbler, a rare Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager and Slaty Brush-Finch. But we could not find the Rufous-browed Hemispingus the hardest one of the 4 specialties of Bosque Unchog.
At night I heard 2 Rufous-banded Owls calling and one was very close to the tent.So I got out in the middle of the night but I only spotlighted one bird briefly in flight. In the early morning we heard a Andean Snipe nearby but never saw the bird.
Day 25: Monday August 22 Bosque Unchog, Carpish Tunnel
Richard and I had decided that we would fully focus on finding the Rufous-browed Hemispingus until noon. We concentrated on a certain area along the main trail going through an excellent patch of elfin forest which is according to señor Rivero the best site for this species. Again and again we walked this patch and scanned the flocks of Citrine Warblers which often accompany the Hemispingus.
Señor Rivero, standing some 50 meters away from me, suddenly started to point at one side of the track. Quickly I covered the distance and had astonishing good views of 2 Rufous-browed Hemispingusses, foraging slowly low down over mossy branches, through the understory and at one time even hopping onto the track.
Having achieved our goals at Bosque Unchog we returned to our camp. We did try near our camp for Neblina’s Tapaculo but failed to find one. Good views though of a perched Plain-breasted Hawk.
After lunch we drove back to the Central Highway, said goodbye to señor Rivero, and decided to visit Carpish Tunnel in the late afternoon.
When we arrived it was already quite foggy. Made a stroll along the jeep track observed another Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant and added the rare Golden-browed Chat-Tyrant (2 birds) to our list. We arrived rather late in Huanuco where after a good dinner at a Chinese restaurant we went to bed early, tired but satisfied.
Day 26: Tuesday August 23 Paty Trail & Carpish Tunnel
A last full day at the Carpish Tunnel/Paty Trail area.As Richard had found Masked Fruiteater at a lower section along the Paty Trail I decided to bird the Paty Trail first thing in the morning.
Had some nice flocks at the upper part and saw at least 6 Inca Flycatchers.
Unfortunately I was unable to locate Masked Fruiteater but as consolation I observed a fine White-throated Quail-Dove walking on the trail. Other species observed were a.o. Huanuco Fruiteater (6 exx.), Crested Quetzal, Variable Antshrike, Trilling Tapaculo, the endemic Peruvian Tyrannulet, White-eared Solitaire (10+), Oleaginous and Black-eared Hemispingus and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch. On my way back up the trail I went into the forest after a closeby calling Bay Antpitta and finally had very good views for more than 10 minutes of one foraging on the forest floor.
In the afternoon we birded shortly Carpish Tunnel before it became too foggy and it started to rain. Observed 2 Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucans and not much else. For the last time we drove back to Huanuco.
Day 27: Wednesday August 24 Km 142. Santa Eulalia Valley
We drove straight from Huanuco to the polylepis forest at km 142 along the central highway. It was very cold and there was snow on the higher slopes.
Stripe-headed Antpitta was very common and we observed at least 10 exx. in the area and some extremely well. More or less the same species as on august 17 were seen but our target species today was Green-headed Hillstar. The problem was that there were hardly any flowers on the lower slopes so Juve and I decided to climb the ridge and give it a try further up. On top of the ridge we reached some small crop fields and we asked one of the farmers if he knew a valley with flowering bushes. He pointed to an obvious rocky outcrop even further up and told us that behind that outcrop a nice, sunny valley was situated with plenty of flowers. So we climbed higher and then we met David ( who often wandered of alone) and who had the same idea as we had and just observed a male Green-headed Hillstar. He went back with us and within 10 minutes we observed no less than 4 different males Green-headed Hillstars.
We then continued towards Lima and made some road stops near Junin and La Oroya. Here I added Slender-billed Miner and Correndera Canastero to my list and after a rather uneventful drive we reached Santa Eulalia in the late afternoon. Decided to continue up the valley to San Pedro de Casta to spend the night there. It was already dark when we arrived at San Pedro de Casta. Night in the hotel de communidad.
Day 28: Thursday August 25 Santa Eulalia Valley, drive to Lima
Flight Lima - Amsterdam
My last day of the trip and the target species for today was the rare Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch which can be found on the scrubby hillsides close to San Pedro de Casta. Of course we arrived at the spot around dawn, where we had a quick breakfast. Slowly we birded the hillsides in search of the Warbling-Finch. From time to time we flushed an Andean Tinamou and Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch was rather common. It was Juve who found the bird but unfortunately I was the only one who had satisfying views of it. After a while I saw another one (or same one) fly in to the main road and this bird gave fantastic and lengthly views and this time Richard, who came rushing up to the road through the scrub, was also able to get good views. We also observed briefly a second bird.
Other birds seen in the same general area were a.o. Bronze-tailed Comet, Black-necked Woodpecker, Canyon Canastero, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Cinereous Conebill, Peruvian- and Mourning Sierra-Finches (common), Band-tailed- and Plain-colored Seedeater and Golden-bellied Grosbeak.
Slowly we descended the Santa Eulalia Valley and lower down we had our last lunch in the field, where the rufescens form of the Bran-coloured Flycatcher was seen. Hummingbirds like Peruvian Sheartail, Oasis- and Amazilia Hummingbird were quite common
Drove back to Hotel Mami Panchita in Lima where I packed my stuff, had a quick shower and said goodbye to Richard who had another 5 weeks in Peru.
Juve drove me to the airport where the trip ended. He made me promise to return to Peru to bird extensively the Manu Road and then I said goodbye to the guy who had been my driver, guide, cook and amigo for the past 4 weeks.
At 21.05 my Iberia flight left on time for Madrid. And after the usual hassle and a 2-hour delay I flew to Amsterdam where I arrived at 19.30 pm on August 26. Took the train home to Geldrop.
Geldrop November 2005
Flight from Amsterdam to Lima via Madrid.
06.30 – 7.40 h Early morning flight from Lima to Chiclayo.
08.30 – 13.00 h. All morning at Batan Grande.
13.00 – 15.00 h. Drive to Olmos and on to Limon.
15.00 – 18.30 h. Birding from Panam Hwy. to Quebrada Frejelillo.(Limon)
Camping at Quebrada frejelillo.
05.15 – 11.00 h.Quebrada Frejelillo (White-winged Guan site)
11.00 – 14.00 h Dry acacia woodlands between Limon and the Panam Hwy;
16.30 – 18.00 h Spotted Rail marsh east of Olmos (o/n hotel Remanso).
06.00 - 13.00 h Abra Porculla;
13.00 - 16.00 h Drive to Jaen (Royal Palace Suite Hotel). Stop outside Jaen.
16.30 - 18.00 h Birding on hill side along the entrance road to the seminario.
05.30 - 11.30 h Chirinos Road near Tamborapa, 40 km east of Jaen;
12.00 – 12.30 h Jaen: second visit to the seminario entrance road;
12.30 – 18.30 h Drive to Pomacocha/Florida (o/n hotel Puerto Pumas) with several stops en route.
06.00 - 09.00 h Visit to the Marvellous Spatuletail site;
09.00 – 17.15 h Abra Patricia: pass area, ridge trail area, and Valle Hermosa;
Slept at roadside house near the pass.
06.00 – 14.00 h Abra Patricia: pass area, ridge trail, slope down to Afluente;
17.00 - 18.00 h Second visit to the Spatuletail site near Pomacocha (o/n hotel Puerto Pumas)
05.30 – 11.00 h Abra Patricia (pass area, ridge trail);
11.30 – 16.00 h Afluente km 398 - 402 (o/n restaurant near the bridge).
06.00 – 10.00 h Afluente: birding along road at km 400 – 4002;
10.30 – 15.00 h Aguas Verdes: trails in bosque near the village;
16.30 – 18.00 h Drive to Rioja (o/n hotel La Ribera).
06.15 – 13.30 h Morro de Calzada;
13.30 – 17.30 h Drive to Tarapoto (o/n hotel Nilas).
All day at the tunnel area and further along the road to Yurimaguas.
A lot of rain. (hotel Nilas)
05.30 – 09.15 h Juan Guerra (Rio Shatayacu);
12.00 - 14.00 h Freshwater ponds and savanna woodland west of Rioja;
14.00 – 20.00 h Drive, via Abra Patricia, to Pomacocha (o/n hotel Puerto Pumas).
06.30 – 18.00 h Drive along Rio Uctubamba to Leimebamba (o/n hospedaje Laguna de Los Condores).
05.30 – 09.00 h Abra Barro Negro.
09.00 – 12.30 h Abra Barro Negro to Balsas.
12.30 – 17.00 h. Marañon valley at Balsas.
Short drive to Hacienda el Limon (o/n camping at the local sport field).
06.00 - 07.30 h Hacienda el Limon. Gr.W. Inca-Finch + R.B. Thornbird.
08.00 – 16.00 h Drive over the Abra Gran Chimu, via Cruz Conga to Cajamarca;
16.20 - 18.00 h Rio Chonta valley. Grey-bellied Comet site.
(o/n hotel Santa Rosa, Cajamarca).
06.30 – 09.00 h San Marcos (55 km south of Cajamarca): Great Spinetail
09.00 – 18.00 h Drive to Trujillo, with several stops en route (o/n hotel Primavera).
05.15 – 16.00 h Drive to Huacho with several stops: marshes at Panamerican Hwy km 450 and pacific coast at Puerto Huamay;
16.30 h.Huacho.Said goodby to Rob and Dick who left for Lima.
Met Wim and an American birder Richard Hopf. Hotel Huacho.
07.00 – 07.30 h.Visit El Paraiso at the coast near Huacho.We continued to Lomas de Lachay where we birded until 11.00 am.Drive up the Santa Eulalia Road to San Pedro de Caste.We ended up at another village.
Spectacular day. First we birded a polylepis forest patch and later we continued via Milloc pass to Marcopomacocha.Night at La Oroya.
Lake Junin in the morning.Lunchstop at Km. 142.Continued to Huanuco. (hotel Palace Royal)
06.30 – 18.00 h.Carpish Tunnel and Paty Trail.
06.30 – 17.00 h.Paty Trail and Carpish Tunnel.
Drive to Bosque Unchog.Afternoon Bosque Unchog.(Camping)
All day at Bosque Unchog.
Morning at Bosque Unchog.Late afternoon at Carpish Tunnel.(Hotel Huanuco)
07.00 – 17.00 h.All day at Carpish Tunnel and Paty Trail.
Drive to San Pedro de Caste.(Santa Eulalia) with extended birding stop at a beautiful patch of polylepis forest (km.142).Hotel in San Pedro de Caste
All morning birding at the Santa Eulalia valley.Afternoon drive to Lima.Took Iberia flight from Lima to Amsterdam via Madrid .
Afternoon arrival at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.
Full Trip List (107kB PDF)