Northern Peru and the Cordillera Blanca (1-28 Oct 2010)

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1 Northern Peru and the Cordillera Blanca (1-28 Oct 2010) Edward Vercruysse and Lieven De Temmerman, Belgium. Aknowledgements Thanks to: Edward Vercruysse for the excellent company, Hans Matheve for providing bird sounds, Gunnar Engblom for motivating me to come to Peru, Sam and La Esperanza for assistance and good advice, our young guides at La Esperanza for their excellent service, Jose Altamirano at Moyobamba for being a dedicated guide, birdwatcher and conservationist, Andrew Spencer for some contact and for writing a very useful report, and Bill Lotz at Atlanta for being a great birding pal. Introduction I only decided to travel to Peru one month before this trip. So most if not all logistics (except for the pelagic) where arranged on the spot. As I speak Spanish well enough (with a Colombian accent!), this was quite easy and turned out well. But in hindsight, some crucial logistic errors and hiccups have cost us severely on some of the better target birds and overall list: 1. The dramatic events during the pelagic delayed us going off board and made us lose a full day, as we were not able to get in Trujillo early enough to catch a bus to Huamachuco. Some other birders have flown to Trujillo, and this could also save a day, as long as you can connect with transport to Huamachuco (buses only in the morning) 2. We did not encounter any transport coming from El Molino, to Huamachuco. This cost us half a day. 3. We decided to spend the night in Celendin coming from Cruz Conga, while it would have been better to go straight to Balsas and bird from there in the morning. 4. I lost my Ipod in the poring rain in the Leymebamba canyon. From that moment on, we missed many birds because we didn t have the recording. 5. We spend two days at La Esperanza for Long-Whiskered Owlet. While this is still an excellent birding site, and a very good place to see Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey, it is 4 hours walking each way, time that could have been spend by e.g. looking for other birds at Abra Patricia. We found out, later in the trip, that the owlet was being seen regularly at the Owlet lodge, but only for the last couple of weeks. Not staying at the Owlet lodge cost us on Ochre-fronted Antpitta, which is regularly seen on the trail just in front of the lodge. 6. Rio Chido only provided heard-only Pale-billed Antpitta. We found out later that there is a much easier site for this species, which hardly involves any walking. 7. We were heavily rained out at Afluente. 8. The lack of transport in the Llanguanuco area combined with a night bus to Lima, weared us out a bit, so we decided to skip Lomas de Lachay on the last day.

2 9. The last day was not the last day: we had our flight one day later than we showed up at Lima airport. We already had made arrangements with a birding pal in Atlanta the next day, so we decided to splash the cash and, rebook and board the flight one day early. So in the end, we only had 23 birding days instead of a possible 26. Site descriptions Pelagic, El Molino, San Marcos, Rio Chonta, Cruz Conga, Lucma, Balsas, Leymebamba, Rio Chido, La Esperanza, Abra Patricia Pass, Garcia trail, Moyobamba, Afluente, Aguas Verdes, Las Juntas, El Limon (Olmos), Rafaan (Mocupe), Huaylas, Abra Portachuelo and lagos Llanganuco, Pantanos de Villa Travel reports used: Rheindt (independent, covering lot of sites by Valqui) Gooddie (with Gary Rosenberg, own transport, with good maps) Evenhouse (independent, info about getting around cheap) Spencer (independent, excellent overall, covers a lot of Valqui sites and has GPS coördinates) Davies (bird pictures on flickr, very nice set) van der Spek (independent, good info) Valqui (the site guide, indispensable) I have the reports of Spencer (his website is down) and Valqui (now out-of-print) available (mail me: yoemy at hotmail dot com) Link to google map Peru &spn= , &z=6&source=embed

3 Travel scheme (1-28 oct 2010) 01 BXL-Atlanta-Lima (11 PM). Short night Lima (travel day) 02 Pelagic from Callao starting at 5PM. Back in Callao at 8.30 PM. Night Lima. 03 Lima-Trujillo 1.30 PM-7.30 PM. Night Trujillo (travel day) 04 Trujillo-Huamachuco (9 AM-2PM). Night Huamachuco (travel day) Huamachuco-El Molino (3AM-8.30 AM). Birding El Molino (3hrs). El Molino-Huamachuco (1-05 5PM). Night Huamachuco Huamachuco-San Marcos (5-9 AM). Birding San Marcos (5hrs). San Marcos-Cajamarca (3-06 5PM). Night Cajamarca. 07 Birding Rio Chonta (6AM-5PM). Night Cajamarca. 08 Cajamarca - Celendin with Rufous Antpitta stop (5AM -1 PM). Birding above Celendin (3-6PM) Birding Celendin-Balsas with private car (5AM-1PM). Balsas-Leymebamba with truck (1-5PM). 09 Leymebamba feeders (5-6PM). Night Leymebamba. 10 Birding above Leymebamba (5AM-6PM). Night Leymebamba. Birding Leymebamba canyon (5-11 AM). Leymebamba-Florida de Pomacochas (12 AM-4 PM). 11 Night Pomacochas. 12 Birding Rio Chido trail (5AM-6 PM). Night Pomacochas. Birding lower Rio Chido trail (5-10AM). Pomacochas-La Esperanza (11-12AM). Walking to La 13 Esperanza LW-Owlet site (1-6PM). Birding LW-Owlet site (7-9PM). Birding LW-Owlet forest with walk towards La Esperanza (5AM-2PM). La Esperanza- 14 Moyobamba (3-9PM). Night Moyobamba 15 Birding Moyabamba. Night Moyobamba. 16 Birding Moyobamba. Night Moyobamba. Birding Moyobamba (5-10AM). Moyobamba-Abra Patricia pass. Roadside birding (3-6PM). 17 Night Chacita restaurant near the pass. Hitchhiking and birding Garcia trail (5AM-11AM). Roadside birding towards the pass (11AM- 18 6PM). Night Chacita restaurant. Birding Abra Patricia pass after the rain stopped (8AM-1PM). Hitchhiked to Aguas Verdes (1PM- 19 2PM). Roadside birding Aguas Verdes + Night. Birding White Sand trail Aguas verdes (5AM-10AM). Birding Afluente untill the rain (11AM-3PM). 20 Afluente-Pedro Ruiz in bus (3-6PM). Pedro Ruiz-Jaen in carro (6PM-7PM). Night Jaen. Jaen to Juntas with carro (6-7AM). Birding Las Juntas (8-11AM). Juntas-Jaen (11-12AM). Jaen- 21 Chamaya (12-1PM). Birding canyon 2.7km north of Chamaya (1-3PM). Chamaya-Olmos in bus + mototaxi (3-7PM). Night Olmos. 22 Birding El limon (5AM-2PM). El Limon-Chiclayo carro (3-5PM). Night Chiclayo. Birding Rafaan (Mocupe) (6-2PM). Back to Chiclayo (1hr). Night on the bus towards Huaraz 23 (10PM-6AM) Huaraz-Yungay (collectivo, 1hr). Yungay-Huylas (taxi, 1hr). Birding the road to Huaylas (10AM- 24 3PM). Hitchhiked to Caraz. Caraz-Yungay (1hr). Night Yungay. Yungay-Abra Portachuelo (2hrs). Birding Llanganuco lakes and Abra Portachuelo (7AM-6PM). 25 Yungay-Huaraz (collectivo). Huaraz-Lima (11PM-6AM). Check in Explorer's house. Some sleeping (6AM-12AM). Birding Pantanos de villa (2-6PM). 26 Flight Lima towards Atlanta. 27 birding ( (9AM-3PM). Flight Atlanta Brussels. 28 Arrival in Brussels.

4 Practicalities World birding is and expensive hobby, and given my personal situation and ideas about birding, I nowadays tend to keep the cost as low as possible and still try to manage see all the birds. I realised that, wanting to see as many species as possible, this hobby will probably cost me a lot of money in the end, so I include the price per bird and per lifer bird. I know that one day, the price per lifer will increase dramatically. We spent 850 EUR for the flight BXL-Lima via Atlanta with Delta. We paid around 600 euro for transport, food and hotels. I ended up seeing around 560 species with 313 lifers (2.7 euro/bird or about 5 euro/lifer). The hotels are discussed below in more detail. The transport included free rides (hitchhiking), bus, collectivo (recommended over bus for flexibility and usually as cheap), mototaxi (in city centers), truck (were everything else fails). Travelling times are stated in the travel scheme at the beginning of the report, prices (sometimes) in the site descriptions. The food was basic: breakfast with cookies and bananas and chocolate (try the square Nestle sublime, not the Peruvian chocolate which we did not like). We mostly skipped the lunch (with some notable exceptions like in Moyobamba, because the food was too good to skip), and had a (vegetarian) evening meal in some cheap restaurant. We did not have to pay any guide nor entrance fee, except to walk the Orquidareo trail in Moyobamba (5 soles each visit/person), the feeders at the Kenticafe in Leymebamba (5 soles each visit/pers) and the entrance to Pantanos de Villa (one trail = a whopping 10 soles, we did only the trail to the beach and shared a boat with two nice Peruvian girls for 3 soles/person, I had to row the boat.). The only 'organised' parts of the trip were the two-day trekking towards the forest at La Esperanza, and the Pelagic. We paid 25 euro each for the two-day trekking to the Long-whiskered Owlet site. The result of that hard walk you can see below, where I describe the Esperanza site. The pelagic cost us 170 dollars. One last note: I speak Spanish well enough and this probably helps a lot with organizing and the negotiations. I think you can do easily without, however, as long as you have good info about the practicalities and how to reach the birding sites. I will try to provide that information in this report. BEST BIRDS: It is quite popular these days to name your best birds of the trip. I will give it a try, based on the effort I put in, the beauty of the bird (very personal) and the overall observing experience, in no particular order: 1. Purple-backed Sunbeam: Very rewarding to see this most-wanted hummer after sitting 48 days on a bus from Lima Gray-winged Inca-finch: Probably the thoughest of the Inca-finches (but in hindsight easy). 3. Marvelous Spatuletail: The best-looking hummer in the world, no doubt. 4. Coppery Metaltail: After a hard and strenuous walk, we finally found one on the top of Abra Barro Negro. 5. Long-whiskered Owlet: Brilliant views at La Esperanza. 6. Cinnamon Screech-owl: Even better views than the Owlet at La Esperanza. 7. Yellow-scarfed Tanager: Stunning colours! 8. Royal Sunangel: A perfect poser for pictures, and very rewarding surroundings. 9. Fiery-throated Fruiteater: A bird that was high on the wish-list, a male was seen very well in the quebrada Misquiyacu. 10. Short-tailed Pygmy-tyrant: The smallest passerine in the world Tumbes Tyrant: Beautiful little tyrant, found just when we thought we would have to leave without seeing one. 12. Rufous Flycatcher: After some searching one landed very close on the top of a bush. 13. White-cheeked Cotinga: Another hit-or-miss bird, after four hours of scanning and searching it paid off.

5 Places to stay We stayed at hotels with prices varying between 10 and 50S for a double. Only 2 of them (Trujillo, Olmos) did not have hot water and were a bit spartan, the one in Aguas Verdes was just plain dirty, even for my standards. The prices in Lonely Planet are already outdated. To prove that, we asked and saw a lot of official papers with the prices, going around 20% higher than the ones in LP. In most places we tried to get a small reduction, that is, if they asked more than 40S for a double. But most places are really worth the money, those have good bathrooms with hot showers, soft pillows and clean blankets. LIMA: Explorer s house. 21S/person for the dormitory. Very much recommended for the atmosphere and the warm welcome by the owners. We stayed here the first night and the last day. The lady can arrange everything (bustickets etc.), you get good breakfast and there is free internet and WIFI. TRUJILLO: Hospedaje el conde de arce. Basic/spartan. 30S/double. We had to stay here because we did not have a bus to Huamachuco. Close to the Plaza the Armas. There was, at least for us, one highlight in Trujillo while staying there: the only vegetarian restaurant we encountered during the trip: El sol restaurante vegetariano. HUAMACHUCO: Hostal Huamachuco. 45S/double. The rooms are very good for the price. Central location at the huge plaza de armas. Good Chifa across the square. CAJAMARCA: Hospedaje Santa Ana. 50S/double. Family-owned and very good. CELENDIN: Hostal Celendin. 35S/double. Excellent location and good restaurant. The rooms vary in price, they have more expensive ones facing the Plaza de armas. LEYMEBAMBA: Albergue turistico de la laguna de los Condores. 40S/double. This albergue was very nice, just off the main plaza. FLORIDA de POMACOCHAS: Hostal las Brisas. 40S/double. Not in any guidebook, but the rooms are clean and comfortable. Just take right after passing the police station. MOYOBAMBA: Hospedaje Rumipata. 25S/person/night in a big and comfortable bungalow. Japanese owners who cook very well. The breakfast is very much recommended as well. Great location for birding, The entrance is just next to the entrance for the Aguas Termales. AGUAS VERDES: Hostal Chigualita. 10S/single room, reduced to 10S for the two of us because water came into the room. Dirty, noisy, mosquito-filled place. alas no alternative. The hostal is located at the very east side of town, right when coming from Moyobamba, above a shop where they sell everthing. JAEN: Hostal Diana. 40S/double. Pretty OK, nothing more to say. OLMOS: Hostal in the corner of the Plaza (don t remember the name). 30S/double. A little overpriced for a room with a shared bathroom with cold shower. The hotel has a blue facade with big windows, on the opposite corner is a bank. CHICLAYO: Hostal Victoria. 45S/double. Great and recommended. YUNGAY: Hostal Gledel. 20S/double. Nice family-owned hotel with good rooms for the price. Hot shower in shared bathroom. Very well located for getting to the collectivos.

6 Site descriptions What follows are the sites we visited in order of appearance. I tried to sum up the target species you should look hard for at a certain site, but keep in mind that some of those species can be easier at sites we did not visit. The target birds and strategy is solely based on my experiences in the field, and is, at least for certain species, correlated with the time of year you visit the same sites. In some areas I included a self-drawn map. I copied Andrew Spencer's GPS coordinates where useful (with permission). At two sites, the coordinates from his report are confusing or incorrect (Rio Chido and Abra Portachuelo). This will be discussed in the text. But for all other sites his coordinates were spot-on and very helpful. At other sites, I use decimal coordinates I generated putting a placemark in Google maps. Lima Pelagic Target species For me, all Albatrosses, Storm-petrels, Peruvian Sea-side Cinclodes, Peruvian Diving-petrel and Peruvian Tern. Location info The pelagic was organised by Gunnar Engblom and his crew from Kolibri Tours. The meeting was at 5AM at the Muelle at Plaza Grau ( , ). The boat was a small catamaran, very stable but with an upper deck for good 360 degree views. We departed at 5.30 to spend as much time as possible in the best area for open sea birds. On the way, we passed some rocky islands where we could see Sea Lions, Humboldt Penguins and Sea-side Cinclodes. Our tactics/experiences: Ward was keeping an eye open on the upper deck, in the company of 30 other pelagic fans with some wellknown birders among (Hadoram Shirihai, Hugh Buck, Philip Rostron, John Penhallurick, Eustace Barnes, David Beadle, Barry Walker,...). Meanwhile, I was chumming like crazy due to seasickness, having a nap and occasionally climbing up to the upper deck, in order not to miss too many good birds. About the target birds This has to be my best pelagic ever, but then again, I have no real reference points. With Waved and a possible Chatham's (Salvin s) Albatross, Peruvian Diving-petrel very close, Ringed (Hornby's) and Markham's Storm-Petrel next to the boat, excellent views of Chilean and Long-tailed Skua, the Penguins on the rocks (my first!), Peruvian Tern, Swallow-tailed Gull and a surprising Northern Giant Petrel, I could only be satisfied. The numbers in the trip list are the ones I have seen, but most other people on board (like Hardoram) probably have seen more birds (and species) than me. The only downside, putting all the star birds in the shade, was the unbelievable news around 3PM when Gunnar said we were missing one of his crewmembers. The missing guy was a Peruvian citizen working for Kolibri. He was doing all the chumming and cooking on board. As he was not found sleeping lower deck and nowhere to be found, we concluded he must have fallen over board, without any one of 30 birdwatchers having noticed. We turned the boat and searched for 2 hrs, but we did not find him. We soon realised that his chance to survive would be very small. The current is very cold, and he was already missing for at least 1.5 hrs. The coast guards were immediately alarmed, but it was not long before dark, and they would not risk a rescue attempt anymore in fading daylight. When arriving at 9PM in the harbour, exhausted by the long boat trip, the harbour police entered to boat to control everybody's passport before leaving. We wanted to take a nightbus to Trujillo, but because of the huge delay and jetlag, we checked in around 10PM at Explorer s House in Lima.

7 El molino Target species: Purple-backed Sunbeam, Baron s Spinetail, Rufous-chested Tanager, Rufous-eared Brush-finch. Location info: El Molino is situated east of Huamachuco, on the road to Buldibuyo that deviates to the south through some of the least bird-traveled roads in Peru. There is a daily bus in Huamachuco leaving at 2.30AM (yes, that s right, AM!), from transportes Caipo near the hospital. The little bus undertakes the bumpy ride to hummerheaven in 5-6 hours, taking the turnoff right at lake Sausacocha, and having a breakfast stop halfway in Chagual before crossing a high plateau and finally descending towards El Molino. You will see the obvious small forest patch south of El Molino already from above, from the opposite side of the valley, GPS in google: , In El Molino, you can leave your bags within a restaurant and follow the road a little further down towards the first hairpin curve. Here you take the dirt track at the left side of the road, just in the curve. Walk on the track towards a small house/hut. The Sunbeam proved to be common around that house/hut. Our tactics/experiences: We didn t do little much than walking around on one sunny morning between 9 and 12, occasionally going down the slope in the forest and (gasping for air) back up, suffering a combination of jet-lag, bus fatigue and the high altitude. The better birds were found during those strolls in the vegetation, but from the dirt road you should see all of the targets. At 2PM we had a guy with good vehicle (Toyota Hilux 4x4) who was going towards Huamachuco. We made the return trip via slightly different roads (shortcuts) and saw our first Andean Lapwings and Puna Ibisses this way. At 5.30PM we were back at Sausacocha where the road goes either to Huamachuco (20minutes) or Cajabamba (1.5 hrs), where we hoped to catch a bus towards Cajabamba. We asked around and there was no bus anymore, so we hitched a ride back to Huamachuco with a local Sausacochan to spend the night in a more comfortable setting, rather than staying in Sausacocha where the electricity was shut down due to lightnings. The lake itself was only birded for half an hour from a distance, so nothing special was seen here. About the target birds: The Sunbeam is straightforward. The only difficulty seeing this bird is undertaking the trip, but it is worth it. The Spinetail was a real skulker, but we did not really play the tape before we got some time with the Sunbeam. It is easy to see on some other sites, in case you miss it here. Rufous-chested Tanager: This one we found as a couple in a little flock with Brush-finches. If you find some flock activity, you should keep an eye open. Rufous-eared Brush-finch: In the same flock as the tanagers, and fairly easy to see. The best spot I found however was Abra Portachuelo (discussed later in this report).

8 San Marcos Target species: Spot-throated hummingbird, Black-necked Woodpecker, Great Spinetail, White-winged Black-tyrant, Buffbridled Inca-finch. Location info: This site is nothing more than a canyon/valley starting from the first switchback north of San Marcos, going in the direction of Cajamarca. However, we had to explain twice or trice to different mototaxis where we wanted to go exactly before one wanted to go for it. The birding starts approx. 3-4kms from San Marcos. Our tactics: We took an early morning bus in Huamachuco (5AM) and arrived in San Marcos at 9AM, after switching busses in Cajabamba. Our luggage was left in a restaurant at the Plaza de Armas in San Marcos. We paid 3 soles for the mototaxi to bring us to the long switchback described in Valqui (S , W ) where we started at 9.30AM until 2PM. We did the walk from the long switchback up to the top of the main trail, which crosses the asphalted road higher up. We saw all our target species along this trail and did not venture far into the (vague) side trails. At 3PM we took a collectivo to Cajamarca that arrived at around 5.30PM. About the target birds: We heard the Spinetail vocalizing just when walking on the track. It is very responsive to playback and will come close. The Black-necked WP moved fast and was hard to keep track with. We barely had some distant (but good) views by chasing the couple of birds through the (thorny) scrub. Spot-throated Hummingbird is fairly common and should not be missed. White-winged Black-tyrant was only found after some time and some searching. It can be quite difficult to detect when not flying and not perched in the open. It also flies big distances when hunting for insects. Buff-bridled Inca-finches were a little skulking on the ground in the scrub. If you go towards Balsas, they are probably easier to get there (see Lucma and Balsas further in this report).

9 Rio Chonta Target birds: Bare-faced Ground-Dove, Black Metaltail, White-winged Cinclodes, Gray-bellied Comet, Rusty-crowned Titspinetail, Black-crested Tit-tyrant. Location info: This site is easily reached with a taxi from Cajamarca. Just ask for the Rio Chonta, it s about 15kms from the city center. At the hydroelectrical plant you will notice that the canyon is at its smallest there, and the groundbromeliads are everywhere (but not in flower). The coordinates are S , W , 2826m Our tactics/experiences: We dipped heavily on Gray-bellied Comet. We searched a lot longer than most people tend to do at this site (because they actually get on the bird rather quickly it seems). Birding hours were between 6AM and 5PM and the weather conditions were nice and sunny. We walked from the bridge crossing the river from left to right (going up), where there is a trail going up to the left. We took this trail and found it to follow a sort of irrigation canal. Here you have a closer and better look at the bromelias. We walked this trail to the hydroelectrical plant, forth and back. And back and forth. And we scanned all of the hillsides and steep slopes for Comets. The only good find scanning the hillsides was a couple of Plain-tailed Warbling Finches. This is a good bird for this site, but you can get it very easily in high-altitude polyepsis forest e.g. Abra Portachuelo. About the target birds: Black Metaltail was fairly abundant and although it is an endemic, you can see it at many different places in North and South Peru. This was the only site where we saw White-winged Cinclodes and Rusty-crowned Titspinetail, but they were quite common and should be common in other sites, too. Cruz conga Target birds Rufous Antpitta (cajamarcae), Jelski's Bush-tyrant, Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing Location info The site described in Valqui is not valid anymore due to forestation, following Spencer. So what we did was take a regular 'carro' in Cajamarca and we got out exactly at the coordinate where Spencer mentions that there is still forest left and thus a good chance for the antpitta: (S , W , 3543m) The location is a left-hand curve with down left a lot of forest still left, and up right only some little parts. The surroundings are devoid of forest, bar some very small birdless patches. Our tactics/experiences We were dropped by the carro at 6.30AM after 1.5 hrs driving from Cajamarca to Celendin. We left our big backpacks at the roadside and spent most of the time birding at the big bend where you can see quite far through the vegetation downslope. Here we had brief glimpses of a Rufous Antpitta lured in by the tape. After 3 hrs we halted a bus and arrived in Celendin around noon. About the target birds The antpitta's (3 at least) started calling around 7.30AM, one was close enough to the road to give it a try with playback. This was the only place we saw Great Sapphirewing (not a lifer though), and one of two with Shining Sunbeam. With a little concentration and luck (and playback?) you should get Jelski's chat-tyrant. They tend to stay low in the vegetation. A couple of Aplomado Falcons gave quite an airshow above our heads.

10 Lucma (hacienda El Limon) Target birds Gray-winged Inca-finch, Chestnut-backed Thornbird, Buff-bellied Tanager, Maranon Thrush, Fasciated Wren Location info El Limon is the name of the hacienda that once probably included the whole area. The place you have to go for the scrub with the target species is a village called Lucma. It is about 30 minutes from the main road, at the end of a gravel road that can be done by any normal car. For once we did not try our luck with public transport (as there isn't any), and rented a car with driver for half a day in Celendin. Arrangements were made the night before at the collectivo station (4 bloques from the plaza) in Celendin. We paid 120 soles from 5AM (departure at the plaza) untill 1PM in Balsas. The drive from Celendin to Lucma took a little more time than expected. We arrived at the football field of Lucma around 6.30AM (S , W , 2184m). From there, the walk up is pretty straightforward. As for the previous site, we just followed the GPS coordinate in the report from Andrew Spencer (S , W , 2350m) and found all our targets on the way up. Our tactics/experiences The birding was pretty straightforward, just keep walking up the whole time and try to do all side trails. Take a good look at the Streaked Saltators, which are very streaked in the Maranon. Chestnut-crowned Antpitta was heard a lot on this site, but as usual hard to see. Balsas and the Marañon Target birds Yellow-faced Parrotlet, Peruvian Pigeon, Buff-bridled Inca-finch, Marañon Thrush Location info The birding here starts when you get back from Lucma and arrive at the main road going down. The roadside scrub is excellent for some more Gray-winged Inca-finches. Lower down, Buff-bridled Inca-finch was found again. From a roadcut down to the Maranon, you get to see more and more cacti between the Bombax trees. Here the road goes down more steeply, and you should start looking for Yellow-faced Parrotlet (S , W , 1493m). Down at the river, after the last hairpin bend (to the left), you see the lush vegetation along the Maranon at the right. Here you should find Peruvian Pigeon quite easily. Marañon Thrush should also occur along the Maranon and be somehow conspicuous, but we only saw some in Lucma. Our tactics/experiences We walked down from the roadcut, and had the car driving by every half an hour, in case we wanted to go down faster. We only had about 2hrs to find the Parrotlets before our car-hire agreement expired. Our driver claimed at one time he saw parrotlets 15 minutes before we arrived on foot at the car, but we dipped. As we had our backpacks with us, and because there was hardly any traffic on the road, we opted not to stay another day in Balsas and so we headed straight to Leymebamba with the first truck that passed. About the target birds We dipped on the Parrotlet, and have the feeling that we could have been very close. As those parrotlets are fairly mobile, I guess chances seeing them are much better when just spending some more time on the site. The other target species are easier to find but Marañon Thrush was not a give-away. We only saw them in Lucma.

11 Leymebamba + Abra Barro Negro Target birds Marvelous Spatuletail, Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan, Coppery Metaltail, Purple-throated Sunangel, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Andean Condor, Buff-throated Treehunter Location infc There are several locations around Leymebamba worth birding: The canyon south of the museum/kenticafe area, the Abra Barro Negro pass you crossed coming from Balsas (at km 406 and at km 398 for Coppery Metaltail) and the Eastern andes ridge you will probably only see from far-far away. Our tactics/experiences We birded the feeders at the Kenticafe (just across the museum, 3kms south from Leyme) 3 times in the afternoon (first, arriving late, and second and third after some other birding). Every time we saw the same stunning male Marvelous Spatuletail, omnipresent Rainbow Starfrontlets, and one time a Purple-throated Sunangel and a splendid Sword-billed hummer. The first morning was spent at the forest patch at km 406 (17kms with a taxi from Leyme), which was excellent for Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan (but did not produce Russet-mantled Softtail), and km (last patch of forest before the pass) which produced Coppery Metaltail. That last patch was reached from the first by walking/hitching whatever passed (the milk truck). The second morning was spent in the Canyon. We asked the same taxi-guy to bring us as far as possible (approx. 40 minutes or 12-13kms to a place he called Puromacho). The targets here should be Andean Condor, Buff-throated Treehunter and maybe some good Isidornis tanagers we all missed. We were rained out badly after only 1.5 hr birding here, and on top of that, I lost my Ipod. About the target birds We saw the hummers we wanted to see here. Coppery Metaltail was the most energy demanding: we walked quite some time checking all the forest patches along the road towards the pass. It was finally seen at: S W Despite finding a good trail in the forest at km 406 that went up through the bamboo, we failed to see any softtails. We heard (but did not seem to get the attention of) an Undulated Antpitta, but we saw Chestnutcrowned Antpitta. The forest in the canyon is very good from about 3kms after the turn off from the main road. We saw some promising mixed species feeding flocks before it started to rain heavily (so we also didn t do any nightbirding)

12 Rio Chido Target birds Pale-billed Antpitta, Russet-mantled Softtail, Rufous Spinetail, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Variable Antshrike, Ash-colored Tapaculo, Large-footed Tapaculo, Peruvian Wren, Plushcap, Red-hooded Tanager, Stripeheaded Brush-finch Location info 3 km towards Pedro Ruiz from Florida de Pomacochas, there is a big left-hand curve where the Rio Chido crosses. We asked the mototaxi to drop us here around 5.15AM, and we walked the wide track aside the river. There is an obvious track going steeply up to the left BEFORE you cross the river (the only obvious track, but not correctly GPS'ed by Spencer. After breathing deep in-and-out for half an hour, the track will flatten out a bit. Follow the main track (so take e.g. right here: S , W ) untill S , W where you go up left in a small valley with a pasture next to the little river, and forest at both flanks of the valley. You will, after more breathing and hearing Chestnut-crowned Antpittas all the time, reach the bamboo eventually after approx. 1hr more. note: ignore the GPS in Andrew Spencer's report at S , W , where he says to hold left at a fork. This coördinate is not even close to the trail. Our tactics/experiences Chesnut-crowned Antpitta is the most common Pitta when going up the pasture, but you should keep going. We heard Pale-billed Antpitta in the right-most patch of bamboo. However, we were never close enough to get an actively calling Pitta closer with playback. They did not seem to react on playback from some distance. We heard another Pale-billed from the middle patch of bamboo straight up, but alas also too far. After working on a stationary flock in the right-most patch, we went to the left patch and found a taperesponsive pair of Stripe-headed Brush-finch, and a (family?) flock of 5 Russet-bellied Spinetails, probably exactly the same flock/birds/spot where Andrew Spencer saw them. About the target birds We failed to see the Antpitta, but I am sure, with better tactics, it should be possible to see them. Next time I would: -go early enough -forget all other birds and keep walking to reach the bamboo as early as possible, - do a big effort to go immediately towards the sound of an active calling Antpitta, or go straight to the right patch where you have some better acces to the bamboo than the most left patch (We did not explore the middle two patches).

13 La Esperanza Target birds Long-whiskered Owlet, Cinnamon Screech-owl, Lulu's Tody-tyrant Location info La Esperanza is a village on the road between Florida de Pomacochas and the Abra Patricia pass. So every bus going towards Moyobamba/Tarapoto will pass. The village itself is just like any other, but there is one building that will draw your attention: The Neotropical primate conservation edifice. The walls are nicely painted, but the main interest is Sam and Noga.These two gringos had the courage and character to build up their NGO and live here for several years. They can arrange guides and food for your Owletquest, and I am sure some of you would be ashamed that they don't ask anything for their service, and the guiding is already cheap. So independent birders: go there! Practically, you better Noga to inform her about your visit, how many people/date/days. The only thing you have to do next is show up at La Esperanza, buy some food yourself, and walk for 4hrs (preferably in daylight, so start no later than midday. It is easy to leave Florida de Pomacochas at around 9-10AM, get in La Esperanza one hr later, and start walking one hr after arranging everything and having a meal in a restaurant in the village. The walk The walk is about 4 hrs, but we had the track almost completely dry and so easy to keep up the pace. The first part is down-and-up, but nothing too difficult. Once you reach the forest you can do some short birding stops. From the forest on, the road goes only gently up and down, you will reach a birdy ridge (good for flocks) and the last 20 minutes are all steep downhill in a densely forested valley. You will reach the wooden hut surrounded by a clearing, where the guides will cook. Although the walk was pretty hard, you still have to save some energy. After dinner we went up another mtrs on a very steep slope to the Owlet territory. Our tactics/experiences We walked fast on the way to the lodge, and did only some very short birding stops. As soon as the forest was reached, we saw Speckle-chested Piculet in a small flock. One of the guides pointed out a good spot for Lulu's Tody-tyrant, which was easily found after playback. The same spot was also very good for Rusty-tinged Antpitta. We tried this one on the way back, but despite 3 of those F$%^&ers calling, we never saw the slightest movement while the birds could not have been

14 further than 5 mtrs in dense tangles. Once at the hut (1800 MASL), we rest a bit and prepared mentally for the hard walk up in the dark. Don't take anything else than necessary stuff, and do not overdress. Take a VERY good torch. We had full moon that probably helped for owl-activity. The guides assured us that they have a 100% hit rate for the Owlet. And so it was. We first heard the Owlet from very far (?) away, possibly initiated by playing the sound (so the Owlet was maybe not actively calling). We had to wait (and tape) about 15 before the Owlet came closer, in that time we did not move an inch. Once the Owlet was close enough, we made sure we were positioned well. From that moment, we made no sound other than playing the tape. Only at the moment the Owlet was heard very close, we used the torch to search and found it only 5mtrs away. We kept on illuminating for a short time so it did not see us and would not fly. After some pictures we left it where it was, and moved on to the Cinnamon Screech-owl we already heard calling before.the Screech-owl was very easy to lure in. The next morning we birded around the hut. Sam and Noga can provide you with a birdlist that has some impressive species. We failed to see most of that list, but I felt that staying at the hut some more days would certainly result in seeing some good birds. about the target birds This has to be one of my best owling sessions I ever had, and the reason is not only the name of the species involved. The views were just extraordinary. Some other good target birds from the Abra Patricia area can be found here. In fact, the potential is as good and you can also be rewarded seeing Yellow-tailed Woollen Monkey. We saw a big group not far from the hut on the way up to the ridge. Abra Patricia pass Something about the kilometer markings at Abra Patricia: There are old and new signs, new+11km=old. I noted some kilometer markings were you would see some landmarks based on the old signs (which were much more present): 399 Aguas Verdes Orange bridge bridge Seeranoyaan village Puente Afluente MASL road goes downwards village good roadside forest MASL Cliffs Cliffs MASL houses GARCIA trail and ridge 2050 MASL Puente Nieva Puente San Antonio MASL LW-Olwet lodge+pass La Chacita restaurant La Esperanza (340 according to the new signs). Target birds Black-throated Tody-tyrant, Yellow-scarfed Tanager, Chestnut Antpitta, Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, Rufous-vented Tapaculo, Chestnut-crested Cotinga. Location info The pass is nothing more than the highest point of the road. But you will immediately notice that the west side of the pass is rather deforested, while the east side holds continuous un-broken canopy for kilometers (up until Afluente, with some settlements here and there). But the main area described here is between the pass and no more than 3kms east. Our tactics/experiences We spent two nights in the (very basic) Restaurante Chacita, 500 mtrs west of the pass and the Owlet lodge. From there, we walked towards the east side. The best flocks were found just opposite from the lodge gate (you can't miss that one). In one flock we found Yellow-scarfed Tanager and Black-throated Tody-tyrant. Walking further down, we found our only Emeral-bellied Puffleg at his favorite flowering bush, and some roadside Lulu's Tody-tyrants. Walking down some more, we heard (and saw) Chestnut Antpitta at S , W One night we wanted to go searching Lyre-tailed Nightjar (but we didn't as it rained). About 1-2 kms down the pass to the east side should be a good spot, where you have some vertical cliffs. about the target birds Ochre-fronted has been seen in front of the Owlet lodge (the beginning of the track opposite the street), but we dipped. Rufous-vented Tapaculo was one of three Tapaculos we heard but did not see on this trip. It should be easy if you carry the recording. Chestnut-crested Cotinga should be searched for scanning the first wide right-hand curve mtrs east from the lodge gate, where you have a good view on the canopy.

15 Garcia trail Target birds Royal Sunangel, Cinnamon-breasted Tody-tyrant, Bar-winged Wood-wren, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow Location info The Garcia trail is easily found, as there is some small wooden fence in front of it (S , W , 1954m). There is also a low ridge with poor soil and low vegetation just left of the trail as you are standing in front, and it is there we saw Royal Sunangel. Gooddie mentions another ridge (the Sunangel ridge), that one is 2-3 kms higher up the pass (there we also saw Sunangel). Our tactics/experiences We arrived at dawn and the first birds we saw were three Slaty Finches. We climbed over the fence, and started walking down the trail. The first part goes down a little steep, and there is an obvious switchback with a lot of bamboo. Despite taping for Ochre-fronted Antpitta and Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant, none of them showed up. A little lower down, we found some Antshrikes and a Hooded Tinamou walked in front of us on the trail. You soon reach a clearing where there is a lot of big bamboo. Here we heard and saw Barwinged Wood-wren, in the middle of the clearing along the trail. The part after the clearing did not deliver interesting birds. We walked up and down the first part of the trail twice. The second time we found at least 5 new species not seen the first time, and I would not be surprised if walking the trail twice on two different days would give a good chance seeing some more good birds. About the target birds The Sunangel was found very rapidly, Ochre-fronted Antpitta was taped for but not a sigh/whistle, Cinnamonbreasted Tody-tyrant ditto. Bar-winged Wood-wren was only seen at the clearing, but not further searched for after seeing the bird. Others claim it to be easier to see from the road, and on the ridge trail where it should be the commoner Wood-wren. We saw a lot of Sickle-winged Guans walking up the road towards the pass after birding the trail. On the trail itself, an Andean Guan gave very good views. We did not see Red-ruffed Fruitcrow but it is rather unpredictable and much easier around Otun Quimbaya, Colombia. Moyobamba Target birds Too many! Fiery-capped Manakin, Rufous-crested Coquette, Lanceolated Monklet, Ash-throated Antwren, Speckle-chested Piculet, Golden-collared Toucanet, the undescribed gray-tailed Hauxwell s-type Thrush, Yellow-crested Tanager, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater, Andean Laniisoma, Graytailed Piha, Black-and-white Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-capped Nunlet, Yellow-breasted and Foothill Antwren, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Buff-winged Sicklebill, Mishana Tyrannulet, Short-tailed Pygmy Tyrant, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail, Dusky Spinetail, Rufescent Screech-owl, Cerulean Warbler... Location info The foothill forest 5 kms south of Moyobamba offers some very rewarding birding. The fact that it is easily reached, protected by a nature-loving family and has splendid accomodation should draw in a lot more birders in the near future. The birding trails and sleeping facilities are all conveniently located 4 kms south of Moyobamba. Ask for the Baños de San Mateo. A mototaxi will cost around 5S. Just next to the baños, there is the entrance of hospedaje Rumipata. This place has good food and comfortable, spacy bungalows. From here, at least three bird-rich trails are worth exploring: the orquideas trail, the coffee trail and the trail just in front of the wooden gate at the main wooden building of Rumipata. The Orquideas trail is property of the Altamirano family. They protect it, have hummer feeders along the trail and ask a humble 5S for birding the trail. For that money, you have access to the Orquideario too, where there are about of those marvelous flowers in semi-natural circumstances growing.

16 Our tactics/experiences We birded the Orquideas trail one morning and one short afternoon, the Coffee trail a full day and the trail in front of the wooden gate for one morning. We (unfortunately) did not bird the zig-zag trail. As most birds were very silent except for the (very) early morning, we also spent some time birding the lodge grounds of Rumipata. We missed a lot of target birds, but we did see goodies like Green Manakin, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Whitethroated Spadebill, Mishana Tyrannulet, White-bellied Pygmy-tyrant, Blue-crowned Trogon, Short-tailed Pygmy-tyrant, White-browed and Spot-winged Antbird, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Rufous-fronted Todyflycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Hauxwell's Thrush, Scaly-breasted Wren, Black-bellied Tanager (common), Troupial. It was only the very last (of 3) days that we met José Altamirano. We knew he was guiding in Abra Patricia, so we assumed he knew something about the birds in Moyobamba and his Orquideario trail. And so it was. He explained about the Zig-zag trail, that there is a good possibility to see Gray-tailed Piha and Scarletbreasted Fruiteater over there, and twice or trice he has seen Andean Laniisoma along the same trail. He also said that Rufescent Screech-owl is almost guaranteed in the main quebrada (we searched for it in vain at the Orquideario one evening). He also showed one of two territories of Mishana Tyrannulet at the first coffee plantation just before the 1st quebrada. There was also a Short-tailed Pygmy-tyrant there. Some (or most) of the other target birds mentioned above were seen by Andrew Spencer (check his report). In Hindsight, I would recommend doing the zig-zag trail at least one full morning, focus on that one and the Orquideario trail, skip the trail opposite of the wooden gate, and do the Coffee trail only once (and ask José to guide you!). About the target birds Too little were seen. Nothing was calling and sometimes the forest was very silent. A better preparation and constant taping would probably result in attracting more target birds, and other groups had significantly more succes with the assistance of José, who really knows his birds and calls.

17 Aguas Verdes (white-sand forest) Target birds Zimmer's Antbird, Peruvian Yellow-breasted Antbird, White-browed Purpletuft, Orange-breasted Falcon, Napo Sabrewing and many more... Location info We only birded the White-sand forest just behind the village of Aguas Verdes, and a little bit of road-side birding towards the orange metal bridge 2 kms west towards the pass (the actual start of the park). The white-sand trail is found as follows: coming from Moyobamba, you will see the first houses on the right. One of them is a shop where you can get anything (even steel wire from Bekaert, a Belgium company). This is also the dirty hotel. The first dirt road right after this block of houses goes up gently. If you reach the top of that slope (2-300 mtrs, go right at the green house with a light pole. Here you walk straight east through some cleared areas with a house here and there, for (in 2010) some 200 mtrs. The forest you enter is degraded a lot. Soon it becomes a little better, but the the lower vegetation is quite dense. If following the main track (with pure white sand and a lot of water), you reach a clearing. Before the clearing, you should already have found Zimmer's Antbird. Our tactics/experiences We did not have the sound of Zimmer's Antbird, but fortunately it was singing and so very responsive to his own recording. Yellow-breasted Antbird was found just before the clearing. Napo Sabrewing was found on the same trail, but on the way back. Orange-breasted Falcon and another dozen of good birds can be found along the main road towards the bridge. There should be a lek of Gray-chinned Hermit just past the bridge, but we did not found it. We saw a surprisingly close roadside lek of Cock-of-the-rock only mtrs past the bridge at the right. About the target birds The antbirds are very responsive to tape (good, because we didn t carry the sound of Zimmer s after I lost the Ipod!). White-browed Purpletuft and Orange-breasted Falcon are not at all guaranteed, and I wonder how much longer that white sand forest will survive and be so easily accessible (before someone shuts off the access trail). Afluente Target birds Equatorial Graytail, Vermillion Tanager, Ash-throated Antwren, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Scarletbreasted Fruiteater, Golden-eared tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant Location info Vulcanizadora Siempre Chuque is a good place to start. In the past, Chuque did not only repair tyres, but was also a host for some birders. These days with a good-asphalted road and a small hotel in Aguas Verdes (10 kms east), there is no real need for a place to sleep. Our tactics/experiences We only spent like 3 midday hours in the area. We scanned (and found) for some flocks, but nothing very spectacular. The roadside birding just above the Vulcanizadora was pretty good, but I felt that other tracks of road were at least less deforested and in better shape for finding some good flocks. About the target birds We saw Ash-throated Antwren, Golden-collared Honeycreeper and Golden-eared Tanager in one flock around 3 kms up the Vulcanizadora. However, I had bad views of the first two species and thus was not very satisfied with the birding we had there. After 2PM, it started to rain heavily. We were running out of time for the rest of our trip, so we decided to leave the Abra Patricia area a little reluctantly.

18 Las Juntas Target birds Marañón Crescentchest, Marañón Spinetail, Marañón (Northern) Slaty-Antshrike, interior Sooty-crowned Flycatcher, nigriceps Black-capped Sparrow, chinchipiensis Necklaced Spinetail, Speckle-breasted Wren, Drab Seedeater, Red-crested Finch. Location info Las Juntas is about 50kms north of Jaen. You can reach it with a regular carro going towards the Ecuatorian border, and it takes about 40 minutes to get to a right-curve with the guardrail at the left side of the road (S , W ). From here, you can walk about 1km on a good trail towards an overgrown pasture. Our tactics/experiences We birded the trail towards the pasture in a hurry between 6 and 9AM. We found a lot of good birds on that trail, but we were very focused on finding a Little Inca-finch as soon as possible on the higher slopes above the pasture before it would get too hot. We failed in finding a good trail up to the higher slopes, and did not see a trace of Inca-finches. So we walked back to the road ( AM), and added some more good target birds along this trail. In the end, the birding here was very good and rewarding. Once at the main road, we did not wander too far from the road and did not bird the rice fields across the road. We tried to find an Inca-finch from the road, but except from a Harris's Hawk that quickly disappeared behind the horizon, no good birds were found there. We took a car back to go as quickly as possible towards the site 2.6km north of Chamaya (after picking up our luggage in Jaen), to search (and see) the Little Incafinch there, together with Collared Antshrike and our only sightings of Brown-crested Flycatcher, Yellowtailed Oriole and Ecuadorian Ground-dove. About the target birds At Las Juntas, you should easily see the target birds, but some may require some more work and patience like Marañon Crescentchest (best taped out), Marañon Spinetail (quite inobtrusive) and Red-crested Finch. Band-winged Nightjar was flushed on the overgrown pasture (twice). El Limon (Quebrada Frejolillo, near Olmos) Target birds White-winged Guan, Elegant Crescentchest, Tumbes Sparrow, Tumbes Hummingbird, Scrub Nightjar, White-headed Brush-finch, Tumbes Tyrant. Location info Olmos can be surprisinly hard to find or reach (it seemed so the morning we went there), but after going back a different road towards Olmos, it turned out to be straightforward and easy. We felt like Che Guevara and after turning off an offer to bring us with a high clearance taxi for 150 soles, we choose the motorcycle option for 120 soles (two drivers, one for each of us), for the whole morning (5 untill 1.30PM). So that next morning we took the Panamericana and survived the bitter cold and wet mist. The turn-off at km 125 led us through some dirt roads and a lot of river crossings (where I allmost fell under the motorbike because the driver lost control), before finally reaching El Limon around 6.30AM. On the way back, it turned out there was a much easier way (described by Valqui), which can be easily done with low-clearance 2-wheel drive vehicles, at least in the dry season. Once in Olmos, you arrive at the cimenterio (burial place), and take right just before that. This track/trail soon fades out for cars, but can be done with a motorcycle untill you reach the (in this case) dry riverbed (S , W , 333m). From here, you walk right (up) the riverbed, keep following the path in the middle of the stony river. Once you see a very obvious side quebrada to the left, you take the path up that quebrada (S , W , 344m). The Guans were seen halfway up that gully (S , W , 457m).

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