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A birdwatching trip to Peru ,
MANU BIOSPHERE RESERVE
This report details a 3½ weeks birding trip to Peru in November 2002 made by myself, Vital Van Gorp, Eric Wille and the brothers Jos & Staf Elsermans.
Peru is a special place, from the rich Humboldt Current and the majestic Andes, to the lush Amazon rainforest. Between these extremes are dry forest, high elevation grasslands and cloud forests that result in an unsurpassed geographic and climatic diversity that is reflected in the high number of bird species. Indeed, with nearly 1,800 species recorded within its borders, Peru runs head to head with Colombia in being the country with the largest number of bird species in the world.
Unlike other top ranking Neotropical birding destinations, such as Ecuador and Costa Rica, Peru has vast tracts of forest and wilderness untouched by civilisation; two-thirds of the Manu Biosphere Reserve, for example, is completely unexplored.
The trip encompassed many of the well-known sites in Peru. We concentrated on four areas: the arid coastal areas north and south of Lima (including a pelagic trip), the high Andes near Lima, the Cuzco region on the eastern edge of the Andes including the Inca City of Machú Picchú and our main target the famous Manu Biosphere Reserve.
FLIGHT AND VISA
We booked our flight from Brussels to Lima for € 630 with Iberia. This flight took approximately 14 hours and went via Madrid. The flights were punctual and trouble free.
As with most South American countries you do not need a visa for Peru if you intend to stay no more than 90 days.
When you're leaving Peru, you are required to pay a departure tax of US$25. Domestic flights are pretty cheap in Peru between main cities and daily, saving a lot of driving time. The flight (Air Continente) from Lima - Cuzco took about one hour and cost US$75. For domestic flights you have to pay a departure tax of US$4.
MONEY AND ACCOMMODATION
The unit of currency in Peru is the Sole (S/.). The exchange rate in November 2002 was about 3.75 to the US$.
One can easily change US dollars everywhere in the cities, although this is unnecessary, because US dollars are accepted in every shop and restaurant. Creditcards: Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in the large shops of Lima and Cuzco.
Hostal Mami Panchita - Lima
US$25.00 (double room)
Hostal Marani – Cuzco US$25.00 (double room)
Hostal La Portada - Pisco US$12.00 (per person)
FOOD AND DRINK
Peruvian food is distinctive and is generally good. Stay away from uncooked fruits and vegetables that you haven't peeled yourself, and don't use ice. Mineral water and bottled drinks are available throughout the country and in all restaurants of course the traditional ‘Pisco Sour’.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Peru has been labelled off-limits because of its politics and the activities of the Sendero Iluminoso, the Shining Path guerrillas. Nowadays Peru has effectively contained or eliminated the guerrilla groups that kept most birders away for much of the 1990s. Like hundreds of birders before us, we never felt threatened nor had safety concerns other than taking the normal precautions against pickpockets and purse snatching in downtown Cuzco or Pisco.
The people in Peru are in general both friendly and helpful, making for a pleasant and relatively hassle-free trip.
With caution you should not anticipate any problems. During our drive through the country we had several encounters with roadblocks, but we experienced no problems from the police.
The usual tropical health problems present themselves on a trip to Peru, compounded by the possible joys of altitude sickness, which can be a three days horrible illness if unconditioned.
For vaccinations consult your own doctor for up to date advice. There is a small chance of malaria in the lowlands.
Be sure to get enough malaria tablets for your trip, and do take them.
It is advisable to take a good medical kit with you as you are sometimes along way away from the nearest largest town. Mosquitoes (Amazonian lowlands) and flies are sometimes a problem.
At the Pantiacolla Lodge were vicious microscopic itchy little buggers known as chiggers. These tiny mites raise welts, which itch like, well, like crazy. Chiggers attack wherever clothes fit tightly, such as around the belt line and sock tops, but also at other places of your body, no matter how private.
Insect repellent is necessary here. Spray your socks and pant-legs liberally with an insect repellent before going afield and take a soapy bath upon returning.
Most people in Peru speak little or no English. A short study of names of food in Spanish before departure will be of benefit to the traveller. At gas stations sign language for a fill-up, and reading the total on the pump works fine.
Asking for directions may be a nightmare if you don't understand Spanish.
Always carry a Spanish-English dictionary. With just a slight knowledge of the language you will make out with few problems.
Peru has a temperate climate but with wide differences between day and night. Given the country’s broad range of habitats and climate zones, there cannot really be any recommendations as to when is the best time to come, but there are clearly months when not to come.
Generally you have to take into account that the rainy season in most of the Andes and to the east of them lasts from October through March with a peak from December through February. Having said this, during our trip in southeast Peru we only had two days with some rain!
At high altitudes conditions range from cool to decidedly cold. Required clothing: lightweight linens with a raincoat. A light overcoat is necessary at night, particularly in the Altiplano and the puna.
A hat is recommended in the mountains and necessary in the Amazonian lowlands. The tropical sun is intense at altitude.
However the weather in Peru is unpredictable. At anytime of year at higher elevations, there may be rain and mist. Downpours can occur everywhere in Peru, but especially in the tropical zone they can last for hours. An umbrella and rubber boots are a must in the Amazonian lowlands!
Many parts of the country are easily accessible by public transport, but unfortunately this is not the case for most of the more interesting parts we wanted to visit. So it's best to hire a car if you can afford it. For car rental, you will need a major credit card and a passport. In the cities taxis are abundant and cheap, usually running at a fixed price within certain boundaries.
We used Wim ten Have’s Tanager Tours for the Manu region and Abra Malaga and Gunnar Engblom’s Kolibri Expeditions for the Santa Eulalia Valley area and the pelagic trip.
These varied from very good to appalling. Peru has few roads and only 5% of them are paved. The Pan-American Highway along the coast is very good, but the main roads in Peru are generally rather bad.
BIRD SONGS & EQUIPMENT
B & L Coffey, Bird Songs and Calls from South
Tom Schulenberg, Voices of Amazonian Birds, Volumes 1,2 & 3.
Tom Schulenberg, Voices of Andean Birds, Volumes 1 & 2.
Simon Grove, Bird Songs of South East Peru.
Sjoerd Mayer, Bird Sounds of Bolivia.
A tape recorder is essential if you want to catch sight of secretive species like antbirds, antthrushes, antpittas and tapaculos.
A good torch is a must. A telescope is useful at lakes and very useful for viewing canopy species especially from roadsides. Clothing can be T-shirt and short anywhere, except on the summit of Marcopomacocha and Abra Malaga where a sweater is more comfortable.
As anyone who has birded the Neotropics knows, the Tyrant-Flycatchers present the most identification problems, consequently many birds remained unidentified. A combination of range, altitude and habitat can aid identification, but ultimately the most useful tool for difficult genera is call recognition.
I have decided to follow the English names of James F. Clements (Birds of the World, A Check List, Fifth Edition, 2000).
Maps of Peru can be obtained at the airports or from bookshops in Lima. The standard of the maps is not too high, and all the roads are not shown on them, but they do give you a bit of an idea as where to stay.
I bought a map at a gas station: "Lima 2000", a fairly good road map. Usually I draw maps of important sites, but the birding areas are so well described in the available reports (see references) and on the Internet that there is little point in giving exact locations for birds.
The following list of birds we saw frequently and if you spend any sort of time in the right habitats you will too:
Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian Booby, Neotropic Cormorant, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, American Kestrel, Spotted Sandpiper, Band-tailed Gull, Gray-headed Gull, Inca Tern, Band-tailed Pigeon, Pacific Pigeon, Croaking Ground-Dove, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, White-collared Swift, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Tropical Kingbird, Blue-and-white Swallow, Chiguanco Thrush, Great Thrush, Hooded Siskin, Slate-throated Redstart, Spectacled Redstart, Cinereous Conebill, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-and-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Dusky-green Oropendola, Russet-backed Oropendola.
The list of birds mentioned in the daily log, which follows, is purely taken at random from each day’s events highlighting some of the more interesting species. For a detailed report of species and numbers please refer to the systematic list at the end of this report.
I want to thank Wim ten Have, Mark van Beirs and Jon Hornbuckle for their help and valuable advice in planning this trip. Thanks are also due to Rob Bouwman who was very generous in passing on useful information.
Hostal Mami Panchita
Av. Frederico Gallesi 198
San Miguel - Lima 32
James F. Clements. Birds of the World. A Check List,
James F. Clements and Noam Shany. A Field Guide to the Birds of Peru.
John S. Dunning. South American Birds, a Photographic Aid to Identification.
Louise H. Emmons and Francois Feer. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals – A Field Guide.
John Fjeldsa and Niels Krabbe. Birds of the High Andes.
Frank Rheindt. A Birdwatcher’s Site Guide to Peru.
Robert S. Ridgely and Paul J. Greenfield. The Birds of Ecuador.
Robert S. Ridgely and Guy Tudor. The Birds of South America, Volume I, The Oscine Passerines.
Robert S. Ridgely and Guy Tudor. The Birds of South America, Volume II, The Suboscine Passerines.
Nigel Wheatley. Where to watch birds in South America.
“A Field Guide to the Birds of Peru” is the first complete guide of Peru. For depth of coverage and documentation, this field guide does not compare with the magnificent two-volume “The Birds of Ecuador”.
In the meantime the book fills a need, although hardly the “huge gap in our knowledge of South American ornithology” indicated on the back cover. However the book will be useful because, for the first time, all of the species in Peru are illustrated under one cover.
With no range maps and a highly abbreviated text, the book’s merit rests much more on its illustrations than on its supporting text, although it has no subspecies treatment.
Danish Ornithological Society. Birdwatching in Peru.
July - August 1997.
Martin Hunnybun. A Birding Trip to Peru, 17th August - 10th October 1998.
Chris Gooddie. Birding Peru Update: Machú Picchú, Abra Malaga, November 1998.
John Hornbuckle. Peru: Cuzco to Lima, 4 - 11 September 1999.
Rob Bouwman. Peru July/August 2001.
October 31 Chaam * Brussels * Madrid * Lima
November 1 Lima * Santa Eulalia Valley
November 2 Santa Eulalia * Marcopomacocha * Lima
November 3 Lima - Pelagic trip
November 4 Lima * Lomas de Lachay
November 5 Lima * Cuzco
November 6 Cuzco * Lago Huacarpay
MANU BIOSPHERE RESERVE
November 6 Pillahuata
November 7 Pillahuata
November 8 Pillahuata * Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
November 9 Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge
November 10 Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge * Atalya * Pantiacolla Lodge
November 11 Pantiacolla Lodge
November 12 Pantiacolla Lodge
November 13 Pantiacolla Lodge
November 14 Pantiacolla Lodge * Amazonia Lodge
November 15 Amazonia Lodge * Cuzco
November 16 Cuzco * Machú Picchú
November 17 Machú Picchú * Ollantaytambo
November 18 Ollantaytambo *Abra Malaga
November 19 Abra Malaga
November 20 Abra Malaga * Ollantaytambo * Cuzco
November 21 Cuzco * Lima * Pántanos de Villa
November 21 Pisco
November 22 Pisco
November 23/24 Pisco * Lima * Madrid * Brussels * Chaam
The list of birds mentioned at every site, which follows, is purely taken for the more interesting species and is certainly not complete.
THE PACIFIC COAST
Accommodation: A hotel in Lima. We stayed at Mami Panchita, an excellent hostal. The owner (Toon) is a countryman of mine and is a very friendly and helpful person.
Ø RESERVA NACIONAL DE LACHAY
Lomas de Lachay lies an hour and a half north of Lima (100km) on the coast along the Pan-American Highway and is a convenient place for a day-trip (e.g. while awaiting an evening international flight).
This desert oasis is home to a number of difficult birds including a few good endemics. The arid lomas with cactus and rock that are moistened by the fog from the ocean are particularly interesting. Raimondi's Yellow-Finch, although erratic in occurrence, is probably more frequent here than anywhere else in its range. Other specialities are Coastal Miner, Grayish Miner, Thick-billed Miner and Cactus Canastero.
The entrance fee was S/. 5.00 per person.
Species seen here:
Andean Tinamou, Black Vulture, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Variable Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Peruvian Thick-knee, Least Seedsnipe, Eared Dove, Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Burrowing Owl, Western Long-tailed Hermit, Amazilia Hummingbird, Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail, Purple-collared Woodstar, Coastal Miner, Grayish Miner, Thick-billed Miner, Vermilion Flycatcher, Blue-and-white Swallow, Chestnut-collared Swallow, Yellowish Pipit, House Wren, Hooded Siskin, Masked Yellowthroat, Cinereous Conebill, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Collared Warbling-Finch, Blue-black Grassquit, Drab Seedeater, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Peruvian Meadowlark.
Ø PELAGIC AT LIMA
Peru’s sprawling capital lies within the coastal desert on the Pacific seaboard of Central Peru, right adjacent to the Humboldt Current. The Humboldt Current has recently been found to be one of the world's most exciting areas for pelagic birding. Kolibri Expeditions arranged the pelagic off Lima. The boat went out 65 kilometres into the Pacific. We had to pay US$121 per person.
Species seen here:
Humboldt Penguin, Waved Albatross, Shy Albatross, Antarctic Giant Petrel, Southern Fulmar, Cape Petrel, Cook’s Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Pink-footed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, White-vented Storm-Petrel, White-faced Storm-Petrel, Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel, Markham’s Storm-Petrel, Ringed Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving-Petrel, Peruvian Pelican, Blue-footed Booby, Peruvian Booby, Neotropic Cormorant, Guanay Cormorant, Red-legged Cormorant, Red-necked Phalarope, Red Phalarope, Chilean Skua, South Polar Skua, Pomarine Jaeger, Long-tailed Jaeger, Band-tailed Gull, Kelp Gull, Gray-headed Gull, Laughing Gull, Franklin’s Gull, Sabine’s Gull, Swallow-tailed Gull, Elegant Tern, South American Tern, Arctic Tern, Inca Tern, Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes.
Ø SANTA EULALIA VALLEY – MILLO VALLEY AND MARCOPOMACOCHA CIRCUIT
The Santa Eulalia Valley provides an excellent sampling of Pacific slope species, such as Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, Collared Warbling-Finch, Peruvian Sheartail and Peruvian Pygmy-Owl. Even better birds such as Great Inca-Finch, Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch, Black Metaltail and Bronze-tailed Comet can also be found, and the river can produce Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper and White-winged Cinclodes.
Some of Peru's best puna birding can be found in the Milloc Valley, as well as a polylepis forest, featuring White-cheeked Cotinga. A typical selection of puna birds could include Andean Tit-Spinetail, Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch, Striated Earthcreeper, Giant Coot and Silvery Grebe.
Marcopomacocha is famous for the enigmatic Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, but is also home to such denizens as the very rare White-bellied Cinclodes, up to eight species of Ground-Tyrants including Black-fronted Ground-Tyrant, and other species including Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Olivaceous Thornbill and Black-breasted Hillstar.
Marcopomacocha is high-altitude birding at its extreme: 4,500 m. Take it easy here, and drink lots of fluids.
Species seen here included:
Silvery Grebe, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Puna Ibis, Andean Goose, Torrent Duck, Crested Duck, Andean Duck, Black Vulture, Andean Condor, Harris’ Hawk, Variable Hawk, Mountain Caracara, American Kestrel, Aplomado Falcon, Giant Coot, Andean Lapwing, Puna Snipe, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Andean Gull, Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Bare-faced Ground-Dove, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Groove-billed Ani, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Andean Swift, Amazilia Hummingbird, Black-breasted Hillstar, Giant Hummingbird, Bronze-tailed Comet, Black Metaltail, Black-necked Woodpecker, Dark-winged Miner, Bar-winged Cinclodes, White-winged Cinclodes, White-bellied Cinclodes, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Junin Canastero, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, Vermilion Flycatcher, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Puna Ground-Tyrant, Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant, White-capped Dipper, House Wren, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Chiguanco Thrush, Hooded Siskin, Cinereous Conebill, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Mourning Sierra-Finch, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Great Inca-Finch, Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch, Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch, Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Buff-throated Saltator, Golden-bellied Grosbeak, Scrub Blackbird.
Ø PARACAS PENINSULA:
Accommodation: A hotel in Pisco or Paracas. We slept at Hostal La Portada in Pisco.
About three hours south (250 kilometres) of Lima, the Paracas Peninsula is a national reserve along the Pan-American Highway. Paracas is a paradise for inshore birds of the Humboldt Current. The Pisco marshes are crowded with herons and waders, and the surrounding grassy fields hold specialities such as Dark-faced Ground Tyrant, Tawny-throated Dotterel and Peruvian Thick-knee. On the adjacent rocky coastline of lagunillas, Surfbirds abound during the northern winter and Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes can be seen searching amongst the seaweed.
The extensive mudflats and sandy and rocky outer coast of Paracas Bay host thousands of North American waders, especially during the northern winter and Chilean Flamingos during the northern summer.
A boat trip (US$10 per person) gives the opportunity to see the great colonies of boobies, pelicans and cormorants in the Ballestas islands, as well as some pelagic seabirds.
Species seen here included:
Humboldt Penguin, Pied-billed Grebe, White-tufted Grebe, White-chinned Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian Booby, Neotropic Cormorant, Guanay Cormorant, Red-legged Cormorant, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-cheeked Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, Puna Ibis, Chilean Flamingo, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Harris’ Hawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Slate-coloured Coot, Black-necked Stilt, Blackish Oystercatcher, American Oystercatcher, Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Hudsonian Godwit, Whimbrel, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Surfbird, Red Knot, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Least sandpiper, Dunlin, Wilson’s Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Band-tailed Gull, Kelp Gull, Gray-headed Gull, Franklin’s Gull, Elegant Tern, Royal Tern, Inca Tern, Eared Dove, Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Groove-billed Ani, Lesser Nighthawk, Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes, Vermilion Flycatcher, Short-tailed Field-Tyrant,, Blue-and-white Swallow, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Yellowish Pipit, Long-tailed Mockingbird, House Sparrow, Cinereous Conebill, Grayish Saltator, Slender-billed Finch, Parrot-billed Seedeater, Chestnut-throated Seedeater, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Peruvian Meadowlark., Shiny Cowbird.
The attractive, ancient city of Cuzco in southeast Peru is the gateway to the famous lost Incas City of Machú Picchú and to a number of superb birding sites including the Manu Biosphere Reserve and Abra Malaga.
Southeast Peru is home to the world's most prolific bird life, with the Manu Road in particular providing some of the best birding anywhere.
Ø MACHÚ PICCHÚ
Accommodation: A hotel in Aguas Calientes. We slept at Hotel La Cabaña.
The train ticket to Machú Picchú, our stay at Hotel La Cabaña including breakfast and the fee for the visit to the famous Inca City cost US$83 per person.
The ruins are only accessible by train (or on foot) from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo. The lost Inca City of Machú Picchú is one of the wonders of the world and even the most single-minded birder should consider visiting the ruins.
Perched imposingly atop a high ridge surrounded by rugged, forested mountains, the Inca City towers above the rushing waters of the Rio Urubamba. The lost city owes a great part of its beauty to the surrounding landscape and the majestic location of the city. As if the ruins alone are not worth the visit, the subtropical slopes and the narrow gorge below are surprisingly good for birds and the endemic Inca Wren is easy to find in the scrub around Machú Picchú.
Species seen here:
Torrent Duck, Speckled Chachalaca, Andean Guan, Pale-vented Pigeon, Plumbeous Pigeon, Mitred Parakeet, Squirrel Cuckoo, White-tipped Swift, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, Green-and-white Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, White-bellied Woodstar, Highland Motmot, Black-streaked Puffbird, Blue-banded Toucanet, Occelated Piculet, Azara’s Spinetail, Plain Xenops, Variable Antshrike, Torrent Tyrannulet, Black Phoebe, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Inca Flycatcher, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, White-throated Tyrannulet, White-banded Tyrannulet, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Blue-and-white Swallow, Brown-bellied Swallow, Inca Wren, House Wren, Andean Solitaire, Swainson’s Thrush, Pale-eyed Thrush, Brown-capped Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Slate-throated Redstart, Spectacled Redstart, Pale-legged Warbler, Russet-crowned Warbler, Capped Conebill, Rust-and-yellow Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Silver-backed Tanager, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Tricoloured Brush-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Golden-billed Saltator, Dusky-green Oropendola.
Ø ABRA MALAGA
Accommodation: A hotel in Ollantaytambo or Urubamba. We camped along the road on the wet side of the pass.
Abra Malaga is approachable from the towns of Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, both of which have accommodation and accessibility from Cuzco.
Abra Malaga is the spectacular pass on the road from Cuzco to Quillabamba and is the “low” point along a ridge of rugged peaks. Just before the pass there are a few polylepis trees on the left-hand side of the road.
Abra Malaga continues to be the prime locality for Royal Cinclodes and the other polylepis specialists. The polylepis is home to several other rare and endangered birds such as Junin Canastero, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant and White-browed Tit-Spinetail in addition to more widespread polylepis specialists such as Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Stripe-headed Antpitta and Giant Conebill.
Sadly enough there seems to be little interest to conserve the remains of polylepis woodland at the pass of Abra Malaga.
The new road in construction will probably make the situation worse.
South of Abra Malaga Pass (dry side):
Species seen here:
Shining Sunbeam, White-tufted Sunbeam, Andean Hillstar, Great Sapphirewing, Tyrian Metaltail, Andean Flicker, Red-crested Cotinga, Blue-and-white Swallow, Andean Swallow, House Wren, Chiguanco Thrush, Great Thrush, Hooded Siskin, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Black-backed Grosbeak.
Polylepis trees area:
Species seen here:
White-collared Swift, Olivaceous Thornbill, Blue-mantled Thornbill, Bar-winged Cinclodes, Royal Cinclodes, White-browed Tit-Spinetail, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Cordilleran Canastero, Stripe-headed Antpitta, Puna Tapaculo, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Giant Conebill.
North of Abra Malaga Pass (wet side):
Species seen here:
Puna Ibis, Speckled Teal, Variable Hawk, Mountain Caracara, Andean Guan, Black-necked Stilt, Andean Lapwing, Greater Yellowlegs, Andean Gull, Band-tailed Pigeon, White-collared Swift, Andean Hillstar, Gould’s Inca, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Coppery-naped Puffleg, Tyrian Metaltail, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Golden-headed Quetzal, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Marcapata Spinetail, Pearled Treerunner, Undulated Antpitta, Rufous Antpitta, Trilling Tapaculo, Diademed Tapaculo, Red-crested Cotinga, Sierran Elaenia, White-throated Tyrannulet, White-banded Tyrannulet, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant, Barred Becard, Blue-and-white Swallow, Inca Wren, Mountain Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Chiguanco Thrush, Glossy-black Thrush, Hooded Siskin, Spectacled Redstart, Pale-legged Warbler, Citrine Warbler, White-browed Conebill, Blue-backed Conebill, Black-capped Hemispingus, Parodi’s Hemispingus, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Drab Hemispingus, Three-striped Hemispingus, Rufous-chested Tanager, Slaty Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Mountain –Tanager, Tit-like Dacnis, Plush-capped Finch, Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Plain-coloured Seedeater, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Masked Flowerpiercer, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Cuzco Brush-Finch, Stripe-headed Brush-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow.
The Huacarpay lakes lie at a lower altitude in the Cuzco Valley about 50km southeast of the city. The lakes are home to a variety of widespread waterbirds, but the main attractions are the endemic Rufous-fronted Canastero and Bearded Mountaineer. Flowering tobacco trees attract the Bearded Mountaineer and the Rusty-fronted Canastero is common on the cacti-clad slopes around the lakes. Streak-fronted Thornbird is also a possibility here, but we did not see the bird.
Species seen here:
Silvery Grebe, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Puna Ibis, Speckled Teal, Puna Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Osprey, Plumbeous Rail, Common Moorhen, Slate-coloured Coot, American Golden-Plover, Puna Snipe, Greater Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, Andean Gull, Eared Dove, Bare-faced Ground-Dove, Giant Hummingbird, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Bearded Mountaineer, Wren-like Rushbird, Rusty-fronted Canastero, Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant, House Wren, Chiguanco Thrush, Hooded Siskin, Cinereous Conebill, Band-tailed Seedeater, Greenish Yellow-Finch, Golden-billed Saltator, Yellow-winged Blackbird.
MANU BIOSPHERE RESERVE
Southeast Peru is home to the world's most prolific bird life, with the Manu Road in particular providing some of the best birding anywhere. Manu Biosphere Reserve is a vast wilderness in southeastern Peru, home of the Rio Madre de Dios (Mother of God), a major tributary of the Amazon.
The reserve itself is over half the size of the Netherlands, and much of it is completely unexplored. Uncontacted Amazonian peoples still inhabit the upper reaches of Manu's forest.
Manu is widely acknowledged to contain the most diverse flora and fauna in the world. Manu has the highest diversity of life on earth and unbroken forest stretches from the lowlands to treeline and is home to more than 1,000 species of birds.
This forest has produced the highest day-list ever recorded on earth.
The reserve offers an entire ecosystem, from the puna zone down the eastern Andean slope through cloaking montane cloud forest to seemingly endless lowland rainforest.
To get to this forest is difficult and expensive, but the experience is well worth it! During our visit we stayed at four different locations: the Pillahuata area, the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, a cloud forest lodge at about 1500m elevation, the Pantiacolla Lodge in lowland rainforest on the banks of the Rio Madre de Dios and the Amazonia Lodge in the foothills.
Ø PILLAHUATA AREA (2,600m)
Essentially a roadside clearing with a couple of buildings, Pillahuata could be considered, in the words of a real estate agent, charmingly "rustic." Perched at 2,600 metres, there are no other options (other than camping) for birders who want to wake up and start birding in upper montane humid forest.
Species seen here:
Hooded Tinamou, Brown Tinamou, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Roadside Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Mountain Caracara, Andean Guan, Stripe-faced Wood-Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon, Speckle-faced Parrot, Scaly-naped Parrot, Andean Parakeet, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, White-collared Swift, Sparkling Violetear, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Tyrian Metaltail, Scaled Metaltail, Long-tailed Sylph, Masked Trogon, Blue-banded Toucanet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Azara’s Spinetail, Marcapata Spinetail, Puna Thistletail, Pearled Treerunner, Red-and-white Antpitta, Rufous Antpitta, Trilling Tapaculo, White-crowned Tapaculo, Barred Fruiteater, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Sierran Elaenia, White-throated Tyrannulet, White-banded Tyrannulet, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Barred Becard, Blue-and-white Swallow, Fulvous Wren, Mountain Wren, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Andean Solitaire, Swainson’s Thrush, Great Thrush, White-collared Jay, Blackburnian Warbler, Slate-throated Redstart, Spectacled Redstart, Citrine Warbler, Capped Conebill, Hooded Siskin, Grass-green Tanager, Common Bush-Tanager, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Black-eared Hemispingus, Rust-and-yellow Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Masked Flowerpiercer, Dark-faced Brush-Finch, Black-backed Grosbeak, Mountain Cacique, Dusky-green Oropendola.
Ø COCK-OF-THE-ROCK LODGE AREA (1,500m)
A fairly new lodge at 1,500m on the Manu Road just down from the famous Manu road Cock-of-the Rock lek.
The Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge is situated on the boundary between the humid subtropical cloud forest above and the guadua bamboo/upper tropical forest zone below and is home to a large variety of birds. The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek is nearby and feeders attract hummingbirds, barbets, and tanagers.
Species seen here:
Brown Tinamou, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Torrent Duck, Swallow-tailed Kite, Roadside Hawk, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Plumbeous Pigeon, Squirrel Cuckoo, Rufescent Screech-Owl, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Chestnut-collared Swift, White-collared Swift, Green Hermit, Sparkling Violetear, Speckled Hummingbird, Violet-fronted Brilliant, White-bellied Woodstar, Green Kingfisher, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Striated Puffbird, Versicoloured Barbet, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Azara’s Spinetail, Ashy-browed Spinetail, Streaked Xenops, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Stripe-chested Antwren, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Scaled Antpitta, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Yungas Manakin, Cerulean-capped Manakin, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Black Phoebe, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Blue-and-white Swallow, Gray-mantled Wren, Moustached Wren, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Green Jay, Olivaceous Siskin, Tropical Parula, Slate-throated Redstart, Russet-crowned Warbler, Three-striped Warbler, Magpie Tanager, Common Bush-Tanager, Short-billed Bush-Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager, Black-eared Hemispingus, Slaty Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Yellow-throated Tanager, Bronze-green Euphonia, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Orange-eared Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Golden Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Purple Honeycreeper, Black-and-white Seedeater, Yellow-browed Sparrow, Dusky-green Oropendola, Russet-backed Oropendola.
Ø AMAZONIA LODGE (450 m)
Accommodation: Amazonia Lodge.
The ambience and hospitality of a large, old tea plantation situated at 450m along the Rio Alto Madre de Dios was one of the highlights of our trip. We spent only a very short time at the Amazonia Lodge.
This family-run converted tea hacienda has a bird list of over 500 and new species are continually being added. The lodge is situated in the transitional zone at 500 metres where the last low foothills of the Andes begin to flatten out into the lowland Amazon Basin proper.
The lodge's bird list contains 588 species and keeps going up, fast becoming one of the largest lists in the world.
The potential is enormous - unfortunately we did not have enough time to fully explore it.
Species seen here:
Little Tinamou, Brown Tinamou, Undulated Tinamou, Black-capped Tinamou, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Buckley’s Forest-Falcon, Plumbeous Kite, Red-throated Caracara, Speckled Chachalaca, Hoatzin, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Blackish Rail, Purple Gallinule, Sunbittern, Pale-vented Pigeon, Plumbeous Pigeon, Gray-fronted Dove, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, White-eyed Parakeet, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Mealy Parrot, Squirrel Cuckoo Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Great Potoo, Common Potoo, Pauraque, White-collared Swift, Gray-rumped Swift, Short-tailed Swift, Koepcke’s Hermit, Gray-breasted Sabrewing, White-necked Jacobin, Sparkling Violetear, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Wire-crested Thorntail, Blue-tailed Emerald, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Black-eared Fairy, Amethyst Woodstar, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Black-fronted Nunbird, Fine-barred Piculet, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Pale-legged Hornero, Plain-crowned Spinetail, Plain Xenops, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Occelated Woodcreeper, Spix’s Woodcreeper, Bamboo Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Bluish-slate Antshrike, Goeldi’s Antbird, Sooty Antbird, Black-throated Antbird, Black-faced Antthrush, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Band-tailed Manakin, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Torrent Tyrannulet, Ringed Antpipit, Short-crested Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Gray-capped Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Blue-and-white Swallow, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Black-capped Donacobius, Scaly-breasted Wren, Black-billed Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Hooded Siskin, Masked Crimson Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Paradise Tanager, Masked Tanager, Yellow-bellied Dacnis, Blue Dacnis, Green Honeycreeper, Purple Honeycreeper, Black-and-white Seedeater, Chestnut-bellied Seedeater, Red-capped Cardinal, Grayish Saltator, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Crested Oropendola, Russet-backed Oropendola,.
Ø PANTIACOLLA LODGE (450 m)
Accommodation: Pantiacolla Lodge.
Pantiacolla Lodge is situated on the banks of the River Madre de Dios at 450m (±50m) above sea level.
The lodge is quite simple, but the magnificent location more than compensates for the lack of luxury. Over 550 species of birds have been recorded at this lodge, making this one of the richest localities for birds in the world.
Overall, it is fair to say that Pantiacolla delivered. Although little visited by birders, Pantiacolla has a good, very well maintained trail network, including trails climbing up to remnant cloud forest at 1,000 metres. Outstanding varzea forest, including some extensive bamboo, is close to the lodge and proved to hold a number of range restricted species.
Key specialities seen included Blue-headed Macaw, White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant, Bamboo Antshrike and Manu Antbird.
Species seen here:
Great Tinamou, Cinereous Tinamou, Little Tinamou, Undulated Tinamou, Black-capped Tinamou, Capped Heron, Cocoi Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Plumbeous Kite, Roadside Hawk, Red-throated Caracara, Speckled Chachalaca, Spix’s Guan, Starred Wood-Quail, Pied Lapwing, Collared Plover, Spotted Sandpiper, Pale-vented Pigeon, Plumbeous Pigeon, Gray-fronted Dove, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Blue-headed Macaw, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, White-bellied Parrot, Blue-headed Parrot, Mealy Parrot, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Great Potoo, Sand-coloured Nighthawk, Pauraque, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, White-bearded Hermit, Koepcke’s Hermit, White-necked Jacobin, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Gould’s Jewelfront, Long-billed Starthroat, Collared Trogon, Blue-crowned Trogon, Black-tailed Trogon, Amazon Kingfisher, Blue-crowned Motmot, Broad-billed Motmot, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Great Jacamar, Collared Puffbird, Striolated Puffbird, Black-fronted Nunbird, White-fronted Nunbird, Swallow-wing, Lemon-throated Barbet, Scarlet-hooded Barbet, Curl-crested Aracari, Channel-billed Toucan, White-throated Toucan, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Little Woodpecker, White-throated Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Speckled Spinetail, Plain Xenops, Chestnut-winged Hookbill, Rufous-rumped Foliage-gleaner, Crested Foliage-gleaner, Chestnut-crowned Foliage-gleaner, Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, Fasciated Antshrike, Bamboo Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, Plain-winged Antshrike, Mouse-coloured Antshrike, Spot-winged Antshrike, Bluish-slate Antshrike, Pygmy Antwren, Sclater’s Antwren, Rufous-tailed Antwren, White-flanked Antwren, Long-winged Antwren, Gray Antwren, Dot-winged Antwren, Striated Antbird, Black Antbird, Manu Antbird, White-browed Antbird, Black-faced Antbird, Warbling Antbird, White-lined Antbird, Southern Chestnut-tailed Antbird, Goeldi’s Antbird, Sooty Antbird, White-throated Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Black-faced Antthrush, Amazonia Antpitta, Thrush-like Antpitta, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Creaming Piha, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Band-tailed Manakin, Blue-crowned Manakin, Round-tailed Manakin, Fiery-capped Manakin, Dwarf-Tyrant Manakin, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant, Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant, White-eyed Tody-Tyrant, Johannes’ Tody-Tyrant, Drab Water-Tyrant, Ringed Antpipit, Gray-crowned Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Spadebill, White-crested Spadebill, Dull-capped Attila, Gray-capped Flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Pink-throated Becard, Thrush-like Wren, Scaly-breasted Wren, Musician Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, Black-billed Thrush, Lawrence’s Thrush, White-necked Thrush, Purplish Jay, Violaceous Jay, Dusky-capped Greenlet, Buff-rumped Warbler, Magpie Tanager, White-winged Shrike-Tanager, White-shouldered Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, White-lored Euphonia, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Rufous-bellied Euphonia, Turquoise Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Purple Honeycreeper, Yellow-browed Sparrow, Buff-throated Saltator, Epaulet Oriole, Troupial, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Solitary Cacique, Crested Oropendola, Russet-backed Oropendola, Amazonian Oropendola.
Thursday 31st October
A long early morning flight to Peru with Iberia was a conventional enough start to our journey. We had a short respite in our trip with a stopover at Madrid and landed in the clouds of Lima at 18.30. A taxi transferred us to the Dutch-owned Mami Panchita Hostal, where we met Gunnar Engblom. We paid him and he introduced us to our companions for the next two days.
Friday 1st November
After an early morning wake up call at 3.30 followed by breakfast we departed to the Santa EulaliaValley in the company of four other birders. Gunnar did not accompany us, a great disappointment, because the guy he sent with us, Victor, was not a birdwatcher at all, although he did know the location of the birding hot spots.
Birds started turning up as soon as we left Lima, with such coastal specialities as Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove and the local race of Vermilion Flycatcher. Our first stop in the valley at San Pedro de Canasta produced amongst others Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Bronze-tailed Comet, Oasis Hummingbird, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant and Blue-and-yellow Tanager.
We made it with the van higher up and it did not take us much time to locate the endemic Rufous-breasted Warbling-Finch and Rusty-bellied Brush-Finch.
Higher up we had to work for another endemic, the elusive Great Inca-Finch that showed itself eventually to everybody, although it took quite some time. Other birds we saw were Andean Swift, Black-necked Woodpecker, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail and Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant.
We then hopped back into the van and began to head up hill again, but at one point the grade was a bit steeper and the road was of loose gravel. The van, with its badly worn tires lost traction and we began sliding backward. We did not go over the edge, but it surely scared the hell out of me. We all knew, though when you have come all the way from Europe to see a few particular birds you hate to have to do it, it was time to turn back to Santa Eulalia.
When Victor got hold of Gunnar near Santa Eulalia, Gunnar said for us to stay where we were, he would come to us.
Once Gunnar arrived he was able to negotiate us camping on the grounds of a full hotel. Gunnar negotiated with a bus depot to have a 15-passenger bus and driver available for 5:00 a.m. the next day.
Saturday 2nd November
Next morning we waited in vain for the bus. Gunnar reappeared and disappeared again leaving Victor to give us the message that he, Gunnar, was going to have to find another bus. We had to wait till 7 o’clock before a large bus arrived, of course too late too see the White-cheeked Cotinga at the polylepis forest.
We arrived at the White-cheeked Cotinga stake out at 11.15 and we dipped miserably. We however did see Andean Condor, Black Metaltail and Stripe-headed Antpitta.
Hereafter we drove via the Milloc Pass to the mining encampment of Marcopomacocha. It was excellent birding here and we found a wide diversity of birds. Some of the best ones were Giant Coot, Puna Snipe, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Giant Hummingbird, the very rare White-bellied Cinclodes, Junin Canastero, Puna Ground-Tyrant and Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant.
Marcopomacocha has acquired some fame in the birding world as a prime site for the Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, a bird described in one book as "almost mythical”. We spread out and walked across a treeless plain on a very spongy area.
In no time everybody was out of breath due to the high altitude. But no luck again. I did see a Dark-winged Miner, which I thought pretty exciting, but no Diademed Sandpiper-Plover.
In the late afternoon we returned to Lima and again spent the night at Mami Panchita.
Sunday 3rd November
Early next morning we left the harbour of Lima in the company of twenty birders amongst them Noam Shany, co-author of “A Field Guide to the Birds of Peru”. The sea was a bit shaky but not too bad, but even then a few birders (amongst them Noam) got seasick! Within sight of land we had Peruvian Pelicans, Franklin’s, Kelp, Band-tailed and Gray Gulls. Terns included Elegant, South American and Inca. There were also a dozen or so Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, Neotropic, Guanay and Red-legged Cormorants. There were a fair number of Peruvian Boobies, two Humboldt Penguins and three Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes.
Out of sight of land the birds were more pelagic in type and it was not long before the first majestic Waved Albatross was sighted, after which there was almost always one on view. The pelagic turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip and amongst the other birds we did see were Shy Albatross, Antarctic Giant Petrel, Southern Fulmar, Cape Petrel, Cook’s Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Pink-footed Shearwater, Wilson’s, White-vented, White-faced, Wedge-rumped, Markham’s Storm-Petrel and Ringed Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving-Petrel, South Polar Skua, Sabine’s Gull and Swallow-tailed Gull.
The Cook’s Petrel was probably the best find on the pelagic trip at least based on the reaction of the Swedish birders.
At 6.00 p.m. we were back at the dock in Lima.
Monday 4th November
We had hired a van for one day and we drove out of Lima into the hot, arid desert habitat - gray and rocky with cactus, moisture provided only by coastal fog - to Lomas de Lachay. In the vegetation by the side of the entrance road we saw a few Least Seedsnipes. Our first stop in Lomas de Lachay was rewarded by unusually good looks of a foraging Thick-billed Miner at the parking lot!
The reserve was closed, so we hiked around the gate and up the road and the hills to find the Cactus Canastero, but we did see this endemic. Other birds we did find in the reserve were Andean Tinamou, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Amazilia Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail, Coastal Miner, Grayish Miner, Chestnut-collared Swallow, Drab Seedeater and the endemic Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch. In the late afternoon when we left the reserve, we found a pair of Peruvian Thick-knees along the road. The birds allowed for close approach and we scoped the pair at the nest.
We then returned to Lima and again spent the night at Mami Panchita.
Tuesday 5th November
An early morning wake-up call at 5.30, followed by breakfast and a 6.30 departure from the hotel.
Our 8.00 a.m. Air Continente flight was on time and in no time at all we had left the coastal mist behind, and were soaring over the stunning snow capped Andes. At 9.00 we arrived in a sunny Cuzco and took a cab for a quick transfer through the narrow city streets to Hostal Marani, also Dutch-owned, our accommodation for the next night.
Not much later my countryman Wim ten Have arrived from Arequipa and we then headed to the nearby Plaza de Armas to book our trip to Machú Picchú.
In the early afternoon the five of us headed to the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman above Cuzco. We made a stroll in the vicinity of hotel Don Carlos and one of the first birds we spotted in a conifer was the large endemic Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch. Other birds we saw here were Spot-winged Pigeon, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Andean Flicker and Black-throated Flowerpiercer, to name but a few.
We had dinner in a restaurant at the Plaza de Armas, where we drank our first Pisco Sour and many would follow the rest of the trip.
Wednesday 6th November
Early next morning we were on our way to Lago Huacarpay. Our first stop in the Huacarpay area was at a shrub-covered hillside where we found Bearded Mountaineer, an extremely localised endemic, as well as Rusty-fronted Canastero.
This turned out to be our best day for waterfowl east of the Andes. Circling the lake gave us looks at Speckled, Puna and Cinnamon Teal as well as several Plumbeous Rails at close range along with Slate-coloured Coot, Puna Snipe and Andean Avocet. Yellow-winged Blackbirds flitted amongst the extensive reedbeds and we also had good looks at Many-coloured Rush-Tyrants and Wren-like Rushbirds.
Leaving Lago Huacarpay and passing through heavily farmed altiplano communities we approached the Abra Ajanaco pass and headed to the Quechua town of Paucartambo. We had lunch here and plenty of coca tea was provided to help counteract the effects of high altitude. A short stroll in Paucartambo added Black-tailed Trainbearer and Torrent Tyrannulet to our list.
We made the last climb to the cumbre at 3,800 metres and then descended down the eastern slope into humid montane forest. It was all downhill from there – though certainly not ornithologically.
After passing a sign noting the Manu Biosphere Reserve entrance, we stopped. The top of the mountain was shrouded in fine mist, but this didn't stop us from birding. Stunted forests here held Puna Thistletail, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrants, Black-throated and Masked Flowerpiercers and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers.
We made several more stops between 3,000 and 2,600 metres and recorded amongst others Rufous Antpitta (calling frequently), Andean Guan, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Smoke-coloured Pewee and Moustached Flowerpiercer.
In the late afternoon we arrived at a very misty Pillahuata and stopped at a large wooden building by the road.
An old guy opened the building for us and we put our luggage inside.
Juve, our driver and cook, put together a great meal of spaghetti under rather primitive conditions. I did not sleep very well, lying in my sleeping bag on the floor of the wooden cabin, while quite a few trucks were driving by during the night.
Thursday 7th November
Next morning it was chilly, but it was sunny all day and we had no mist at all. We spent most of the day walking along the road in the upper montane forest near Pillahuata. In the clearing near Pillahuata, in the early dawn light we found Sparkling Violetear, Blue-capped Tanager and a very close Crimson-Mantled Woodpecker.
Walking uphill, we came across a Marcapata Spinetail, a few Barred Fruiteaters, Sierran Elaenia, a beautiful Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant and Dark-faced Brush-Finch.
We encountered a nice slow-moving flock and were able to follow it for a while. The flock included Blackburnian Warbler, Capped Conebill, Grass-Green Tanager, White-throated Tyrannulet, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Black-eared Hemispingus and Moustached Flowerpiercer.
In the afternoon we walked downhill adding Speckle-faced Parrot, Blue-banded Toucanet, Barred Becard, White-collared Jay, Black-Backed Grosbeak and Mountain Cacique to our fast growing bird list.
We drove a bit further down and heard a group of very noisy Stripe-Faced Wood-Quails, but were unable to locate them.
When it was almost dark we had fairly good views of one of South America's fanciest Nightjars, the spectacular Lyre-tailed Nightjar, the males of which have a very long tail. Jon Hornbuckle had mailed me that he had seen an Andean Potoo in this area, but no luck for us. We again spent the night in the cabin at Pillahuata.
Friday 8th November
An early breakfast at Pillahuata and we then walked down the Manu Road a couple of kilometres towards the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge to rejoin the vehicle.
Many of the birds here were the same as we saw yesterday, but inevitably we found a few new ones amongst them Andean Parakeet, Long-tailed Sylph, Fulvous Wren (split from Sepia-brown), Andean Solitaire, Olivaceous Siskin and Rust-and-yellow Tanager.
However the absolute highlight of the day was the Rufous-and-white Antpitta that performed so incredibly well for Eric and me. The last kilometres of the Manu Road we did by van and at lunchtime we arrived at the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.
It was a very nice place, especially after the minor hardships of Pillahuata
We spent some time at the balcony of the dining room of the lodge. The well-established hummingbird feeders attracted a plethora of birds, including Green Hermit, Sparkling Violetear, Violet-fronted Brilliant and White-bellied Woodstar.
The fruit feeders attracted a bright male Versicoloured Barbet eating bananas just a few metres away. Paradise & Golden Tanager and Orange-bellied Euphonia were also regular visitors to the feeders.
After lunch we hiked uphill a few hundred metres to the Cock-of -the-Rock lek, that offered excellent views of several males producing their strange honking calls. Hereafter we made a stroll uphill and amongst the birds we noted were Ashy-browed Spinetail, Montane Foliage-gleaner and Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager.
After dinner we spotlighted a Rufescent Screech-Owl at the nearby platform.
Saturday 9th November
During the night, we received quite a bit of rain, but we awoke to clear blue skies and lower temperatures.
We spent most of the day along the Manu Road in the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge area, although after lunch and a brief siesta, a mid-afternoon thunder shower passed though and we had to stop a few hours when it rained very heavily.
Most noteworthy of the birds we encountered here were Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Striolated Puffbird, Stripe-chested Antwren, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet, Gray-mantled Wren, Short-billed Bush-Tanager, Slaty Tanager, Yellow-throated Tanager and Bronze-green Euphonia. The trails at the lodge were less productive although we did see Yungas Manakin, Fulvous-breasted Flatbill and heard Chestnut-breasted Wren.
We also heard a Scaled Antpitta calling as we walked on the trails, but despite repeated efforts at playback, we were unable to see one, although the bird was only a few metres away and we stayed for more than an hour at the spot.
Sunday 10th November
Pancakes with honey and hot coffee at 5:30 got us moving. A last look at the nearby river produced our first Fasciated Tiger-Heron and Green Kingfisher. En route to Atalya we made a stop at the bamboo zone and had good looks at Bluish-fronted Jacamar and Green Manakin. Other birds we encountered en route were Chestnut-eared Aracari, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Ornate Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Moustached Wren and Two-banded Warbler.
At noon we arrived at Atalya. We promptly boarded our boat and set off on our journey down the Alto Madre de Dios River and within five minutes the boat almost capsized, but luck was with us!
During our river journey we were able to see typical riverside species such as Capped Heron, Cocoi Heron and Spotted Sandpiper. We also saw six Fasciated Tiger-Herons, this usually shy species was actively feeding on the fast-flowing, turbulent river edge, while White-winged and White-banded Swallows flashed past and groups of parakeets and macaws passed us now and again.
At 3.00 p.m. we arrived at the Pantiacolla Lodge, our base for the next four nights. It turned out we would be the only guests here. When we had put our stuff in our rooms we quickly set off for the nearby Tinamou trail, the first kilometre of which offered an excellent example of varzea forest heavily influenced by bamboo.
The forest gave us a whole new set of species and in a very short time we noted Spix’s Guan, Black-tailed Trogon, Red-billed Scythebill, Plain-winged Antshrike, Bluish-slate Antshrike and Musician Wren.
After dinner, we conducted a quick, successful search for Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, which was behind the lodge in a tree.
Monday 11th November
At first light we were piling into the boat and headed a few minutes upstream to the colpa, a clay lick, to find the Blue-headed Macaw. Although we saw hundreds of macaws and parrots, our target birds were nowhere in sight.
A bit disappointed we returned to the lodge.
We hardly had finished our breakfast, when Wim spotted a pair of Blue-headed Macaws perched near the lodge clearing. We had good looks of this Manu speciality in my new telescope. We then walked to the Tinamou Trail, but it started raining with a vengeance right away, which made birding virtually impossible. The rain drove us back into he cover of our camp, but eventually it stopped. Bird activity was peaking after this morning‘s torrential rains and we were off to the Capybara & Tinamou Trail again.
These trails proved to be one of our favourites, with many of the most interesting and "wanted" birds observed here.
Few Amazonian lodges have such high quality varzea forest interspersed with mature bamboo. Wim ten Have, THE expert at Pantiacolla, knew every call and song and with his help we identified many species amongst them Cinereous Tinamou, Rufous-rumped, Crested, Chestnut-crowned & Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner, Bamboo Antshrike, Spot-winged Antshrike, Manu, White-lined, Southern Chestnut-tailed, Goeldi’s & White-throated Antbird, Spotted Bare-eye, Round-tailed Manakin, the elusive White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant, Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant, a glimpse of a Johannes’ Tody-Tyrant, Dull-capped Attila and White-winged Shrike-Tanager.
In the late afternoon we made another walk at the Capybara & Tinamou Trail trying to find the Pale-winged Trumpeter, but as I expected, we did NOT find the birds. In the 25 years I am birding now there is one golden rule:
If you want to see a bird real badly, you won’t see it. I wanted to see four species this trip: Sword-billed Hummingbird, White-cheeked Cotinga, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover and Pale-winged Trumpeter and of course I did not see three of the four target birds (Murphy’s Law).
After updating the day's list and dinner with a few excellent Cusquena beers, most of us decided to sleep.
Tuesday 12th November
During the night it rained real heavily, but in the morning it was dry. Of course we explored the Capybara Trail again, but most of our time was spent at the Pichico trail. The taller tierra firme forest was less productive than the varzea forest, but we encountered a few large flocks.
The high trees of the terra firme forests required intensive use of the tape-recorder, resulting in thrilling views of a Great Jacamar. Huge canopy flocks yielded such specialities as White-throated Woodpecker, Speckled Spinetail, Spix’s Woodcreeper and Dusky-capped Greenlet, whilst the stereotypic songs of Black-tailed and Blue-crowned Trogons lured our bins towards these tropical gems.
More memorable birds included White-bellied Parrot, Pale-tailed Barbthroat, Koepcke’s Hermit, Gould’s Jewelfront and Collared Puffbird (thank you Eric). We had nice views of a White-eyed Tody-Tyrant. Manu has the sub-species Hemitriccus. zosterops griseipectus that is a good candidate for a splitting, in which case Ridgely and Tudor have suggested the name White-bellied Tody-Tyrant.
After another unsuccessful hunt for the Pale-winged Trumpeter in the fading light we headed back to the lodge.
Wednesday 13th November
The break of dawn found a few of us standing at the riverside to watch flocks of Sand-coloured Nighthawks returning to their daytime roosts on the sandbanks in the river.
We had a sunny day today and made long strolls in the forest. Amongst the new birds we encountered were Scarlet-hooded Barbet, Yellow-ridged Toucan now considered a race of Channel-billed Toucan, Curl-crested Aracari, Striated Antwren, Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin, Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant and Amazonian Oropendola.
Mammals were in evidence, and amongst the monkeys were the very noisy Red Howler Monkeys and Brown and White-fronted Capuchins crashed through the canopy, whilst Saddle-back Tamarins won the prize for beauty.
We also saw a group of no less than 11 South American Coatis climb out of the top of a tree.
In the afternoon Eric, Juve and I searched in vain for the Trumpeter and we returned a little disheartened to the lodge to enjoy a cool beer, followed by a relaxing dinner and a lively log call.
Thursday 14th November
All to soon our time at Pantiacolla ended and we began our journey back and as we boarded our boat, we all agreed that we had been treated to a great birding experience at Pantiacolla.
It was a rather cold journey back down the river to the Amazonia Lodge, where we were to spend our last night in the Amazon. It took us three hours before we arrived at the lodge, the site of legendary snake attacks by Bushmaster and Fer-de-Lance.
The owner of the comfortable family-run lodge was waiting for us along the river with his jeep to pick up our luggage.
We then walked to the lodge, but the trails to the lodge were very muddy. Amongst the birds we found were Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Hoatzin, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Band-tailed Manakin and Torrent Tyrannulet, the first for the Amazonia bird list
The bushes in bloom in front of the veranda of our rooms had lots of hummers including Gray-breasted Sabrewing, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Blue-tailed Emerald and Golden-tailed Sapphire.
After lunch Wim showed us a perched Great Potoo and we then went uphill to the new 25 metres high viewing platform located in the middle of a mountain 725 metre above sea level. Vital got the shock of his life, when a fairly large snake glided from the mountain, just in front of him and he still has nightmares of an attacking Bushmaster.
We hardly did see any birds on the platform, but on the steep trail we noted amongst others Black-fronted Nunbird, Occelated Woodcreeper and Masked Tanager.
In the late afternoon we witnessed the confident, slow paced strut of a pair of Sunbitterns on the road itself just ahead of us and gave up a calling Buckley's Forest-falcon because we could not find the raptor.
Friday 15th November
The early hours of the day we spent on the trails around the lodge and we had great views of Ringed Antpipit, Fine-barred Piculet, Chestnut-bellied Seedeater and best of all the beautiful Wire-crested Thorntail.
Strangely enough we did not see the Rufous-crested Coquette, probably the most common hummer at the former plantation.
The rest of the day was basically a travel day as we went by boat up the Madre de Dios River and over the Andes to Cuzco.
However we had time to stop on the dry side of the pass and pick up another Peruvian endemic, the striking Creamy-crested Spinetail. At 19.15 we arrived in Cuzco and again spent one night at Hostal Marani.
Saturday 16th November
We left Cuzco early in the morning for the four hours train journey to Machú Picchú, known as one of the ‘great railway journeys of the world’. We passed through picturesque Andean scenery, traditional villages, Inca ruins and rushing rivers. We descended 1,300 metres through the Sacred Valley of the Incas and followed the Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes. From the train we saw Torrent Ducks on the Urubamba River and got closer looks as we left the train.
After dropping off our luggage in Hotel La Cabaña, we had lunch and then headed to the nearby Urubamba gorge to bird the forest adjacent to the Urubamba River and the tracks along the railway. New species came thick and fast, with the multi-coloured array of Tanagers being particularly memorable, amongst them Rust-and-yellow, Silver-backed and Saffron-crowned Tanager.
An Andean Solitaire, a speciality of humid montane forests was seen, but best of all were the endemic Green-and-white Hummingbird, Black-streaked Puffbird, Pale-eyed Thrush and the very confiding Highland Motmots.
Then dark clouds gathered overhead and the first drops of rain started to fall and this wasn't too much fun and we returned to the bustling backpacker town with still plenty of time for some frenzied souvenir shopping and some great bargains in the lively street market.
In the evening we had real fun with Eric, when he ordered a guinea pig in a restaurant. He tried to pull some meat from the poor creature, but it was all fat and bones and eventually I had to give him a large slice of my own pizza.
Sunday 17th November
If there is one place that springs to mind when one thinks of Peru, it is the ancient Inca City of Machú Picchú and in the early morning we took the 20-minute bus ride up to the city, perched 600 metres above the Urubamba River.
At the ruins we made a stroll in this mystical archaeological complex spending around three hours in all, while White-tipped Swifts flew overhead. Our main target here was the endemic Inca Wren, which was quite common in the bamboo around the ruins.
We then descended and slowly walking downhill, Variable Antshrike, the endemic Inca Flycatcher, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Capped Conebill and Brown-capped Vireo were seen well and a Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet was a challenge to our identification skills
In the late afternoon, we boarded the tourist train and went back toward Cuzco as far as to the historic town of Ollantaytambo. We had to wait a few minutes before Wim and Juve arrived with the van. We checked into the Hotel Munay Tika, very close to the railway station.
Monday 18th November
We set out the following day to drive up into the dry Andean valley above Quillacolla where stands of mature polylepis woodland still existed. We started the day by locating the endemic White-tufted Sunbeam, Andean Hillstar, Red-crested Cotinga and Black-backed Grosbeak south of Abra Malaga on the dry side of the pass.
We then tackled the high polylepis woodland on the dry side of the pass. The squeezing on my chest was a more potent reminder that we were now at 4,300 metres altitude and this was certainly not a hike for those who are overweight, overage and generally out of shape. A short but sharp climb to a ridge was rewarded with spectacular views of the high Andean scenery, and the prospect of a long slippery down-hill walk to the gorge a few hundred metres below us.
The polylepis, although much degraded by wood-cutters, produced nearly all of its special birds, including Olivaceous & Blue-mantled Thornbill, the very rare Royal Cinclodes, White-browed and Tawny Tit-Spinetails, Stripe-headed Antpitta, (one of the few antpittas easily seen once found), Puna Tapaculo, Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant and Giant Conebill.
We then had to climb quickly to the ridge, because the valley was suddenly shrouded in misty clouds. We crested the ridge after 30 minutes of breathless hiking and the last hundred metres to the van we hardly did see anything.
Crossing the pass was like leaving one microclimate and driving into another. The rest of the day at Abra Malaga was devoted to the wet side. The scenery here was incredible, the peaks looked black, but the sky had an orange tinge that reflected on the snow of the Veronica glacier - just a wonderful photo opportunity - and Vital made many photos here.
Although the scenery distracted at times we managed to find a good selection of the cloud forest birds and new trip sightings continued to pop up including Coppery-naped Puffleg, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Diademed Tapaculo, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant and Plain-coloured Seedeater.
We then moved down to Canchayoc to camp for the night. As we set up camp, we kept an eye out for Swallow-tailed Nightjar, but the nightjars were nowhere in sight.
Tuesday 19th November
After some early morning exploration of our camp area and breakfast, we were ready to begin the ascent to the lower areas. We spent all day along the road exploring the cloud forest. Here we scored on Sword-billed Hummingbird, Gould’s Inca (recently split from Collared), Marcapata Spinetail, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Inca Wren, Back-capped Hemispingus, Parodi’s Hemispingus, Rufous-chested Tanager, Tit-like Dacnis, Plush-capped Finch, Cuzco Brush-Finch and many other birds
We heard several Undulated & Rufous Antpittas calling as we walked downhill, but despite repeated efforts at playback, we were unable to see a single one. We also heard Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucans calling in the ravine below us, but we were unable to lure them in with playback.
Late in the afternoon a downpour started, cutting off the birding and we put up our tents behind a coca police checkpoint, in a very bird-rich area at 3,000 metres.
Wednesday 20th November
Till 11.00 a.m. we birded in the area of the police checkpoint. The cloud forest held Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Pearled Treerunner, Blue-backed Conebill, Superciliaried & Drab Hemispingus and Slaty Tanager to name but a few.
We then headed back to Cuzco hoping to find Andean Ibis en route, but alas the bird remained elusive.
We had lunch at Ollantaytambo and were back at 4.00 p.m. at Hostal Marani in Cuzco. The rest of the day was spent with souvenir shopping in the small streets of Cuzco.
Thursday 21st November
We said goodbye to Wim and we then caught an early morning flight to Lima. Greeting us upon our arrival in Lima was Lucho our driver for the rest of the trip. Eagerly shaking hands, carrying luggage and generally exuding enthusiasm.
We drove down through the suburbs of southern Lima to the marshes of Pántanos de Villa. We spent some time scanning the water and reeds from the road before going into the reserve itself and walking the trail to the two towers.
Amongst the birds we did see here were the impressive Great Grebe, Peruvian Meadowlark, as well as amazing views of Least Bittern, a species rarely seen in the open and Shiny Cowbird.
We continued south for about an hour and then turned off the Pan-Americana Highway at Puerto Viejo. Most of the birds were the same ones, but we added White-tufted Grebe and White-cheeked Pintail to our list.
In the late afternoon we arrived in Pisco and checked into the comfortable Hostal La Portada and with some daylight to spare we had time to bird the nearby marshes. Here, among other species, we found Puna Ibis, Black-bellied Plover, Hudsonian Godwit, Semipalmated, Western & Least Sandpiper and Yellowish Pipit.
Friday 22nd November
The following morning we found ourselves ‘scoping the thousands of shorebirds at Paracas Bay, before heading out to sea on our second “pelagic” trip. We found a nice selection of waders including Sanderling, Surfbird and Dunlin (a rare migrant this far south) and also a group of Chilean Flamingos.
We sped away with our speedboat from the pier with Peruvian Boobies and Pelicans overhead. As we passed the huge fish oil-processing plant on the south side of the bay and as we approached the huge candelabra figure etched on the towering hillside, seabirds became more numerous, including large numbers of Inca Terns.
As we approached the Ballestas Islands the sheer numbers of seabirds amazed us. Almost every rock face seemed to support cormorants, pelicans, boobies or gulls. We did see a beach packed with South American Sea-Lions, listening to their haunting calls and pounding of the surf as it smashed into the towering cliffs. Finally, we came across what we had been particularly looking for, a group of Humboldt Penguins perched precariously on wave washed rocks. This small and declining population of the Ballestas Islands is near the northern limit of its range.
We set off back for lunch and then disaster struck. A thick smoke from the rear of the boat signalled the demise of the engine's battery, and the boat came to a halt. After a few harrowing minutes trying to make contact with another speedboat, our ‘captain’ finally got through and was assured that another boat would be sent to rescue us. For the next quarter of an hour we drifted helplessly in the Pacific.
Several small flocks of Sooty Shearwaters, two Wilson’s Storm-Petrels and a few White-chinned Petrels held us busy, when our rescue boat finally came into sight. We ended up back at Paracas in time for a late lunch, and still had plenty of time for an afternoon excursion to Paracas Nature Reserve,
Hereafter we drove across the Paracas peninsula through Sahara-like deserts, which supported no vegetation of any kind, to El Cathedral. After looking through the waders we also located a pair of Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes feeding on wave washed rocks. The last hours of the day we searched in vain for the rare Slender-billed Finch.
Saturday 23rd November / Sunday 24th November
On our final morning in Peru we again visited the extensive marshes at Pisco and found many waterbirds, including Red Knot and a few Elegant Terns. In nearby areas along the coast we found Lesser Nighthawk, Parrot-billed & Chestnut-throated Seedeater and Short-tailed Field-Tyrant.
On our way back to Lima Lucho made a suggestion to make a stop at the Cañete Valley, where the extremely rare and elusive Slender-billed Finch was known to occur.
After some painstaking searching we were rewarded with views of at least 2 individuals. We were close to the end of the trip and very lucky to see this rare, very local and declining endemic species, a splendid finale to an excellent bird trip.
The rest of the drive back to Lima that afternoon was relatively uneventful and at 6.00 p.m. we arrived at the airport. We said goodbye to Lucho and the next day after a smooth transatlantic flight, we arrived in Brussels safe and sound.
White-cheeked Cotinga, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover and Pale-winged Trumpeter eluded us, but all-in-all Peru had certainly been everything I expected and more and I think we all agreed that the trip was a success. This was due for the most part in a good group to travel with, but also due to the professionalism and caring attitude of our guide Wim ten Have.
We identified 606 species during these 23 days. Yes, the chiggers at the Pantiacolla Lodge did attack us, but nothing unbearable. We had some rain, but I think we all knew we could have had a lot more. Most of the rain fell during non-birding hours, so I can’t complain too much.
I ended up with 146 lifers, certainly the last time I will ever have that many ticks on a Neotropic birding trip.
With such a vast bird list picking out my ten best birds of the trip is almost meaningless, but here they are anyway:
Cook’s Petrel, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Blue-headed Macaw, Sword-billed Hummingbird. Wire-crested Thorntail, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Great Jacamar, Red-and-white Antpitta, White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant and Parodi’s Hemispingus, most of them not endemics, but lifers all of course.
Chaam, 15 January 2003,
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List of Birds
Systematic List of Mammals