Two Go Mad at Abra Patricia - 10 days in the Peruvian Andes: Oct 28th - Nov 7th 2007

Published by Chris Goodie (chrisg AT focusrite.com)

Participants: Chris Gooddie and Gary Rosenberg

Comments

Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Vermilion Tanager
Vermilion Tanager
Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin
Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin
Peruvian’ Golden-faced Tyrannulet
Peruvian’ Golden-faced Tyrannulet
Lulu’s (Johnson’s-) Tody-Tyrant
Lulu’s (Johnson’s-) Tody-Tyrant
Speckle-chested Piculet
Speckle-chested Piculet
Fasciated Tiger-Heron
Fasciated Tiger-Heron

Report compilation by Chris Gooddie, chrisg @ focusrite.com (remove all gaps in e-mail addresses in this report.)

Gary Rosenberg and I hooked up once more for a lightning raid on the avian jewels to be found nestling amongst the Northern Peruvian Andes.

Gary had just finished leading a Wings tour in the Manu, and I had been working in Brazil, Argentina and Chile, so it seemed rude not to rendezvous at the Manhattan Hotel in nearby Lima and head up to the Northeast to look for localized endemics, antpittas and the legendary Tangara tanager flocks.

We planned to spend a few days exploring Northwest San Martin and Eastern Amazonas departments, working our way up the upper Mayo Valley, and our final itinerary pretty much followed that route, with only minor weather-driven diversions. We first birded the lowlands around Tarapoto and Rioja, before heading further Northwest and gaining altitude all the way to the pass at Abra Patricia.

Trip Details and Background Info.

Itinerary:

Sun Oct. 28th: Arrived in Lima mid-morning on a Lan Chile flight, checked into The Manhattan Hotel. p.m. Birded pools and beach at Venta Nilla. Night in Lima.

Mon. Oct. 29th: Early afternoon flight from Lima to Tarapoto, where we were met by Martin Zamora and his driver Jorge. Birded nearby Quebrada Shatayacu (Juan Guerra.) Night in Tarapoto.

Tues. Oct. 30th: a.m. Upaquihua. p.m. Shapaja Road (Juan Guerra.) Night in Tarapoto.

Weds. Oct. 31st: a.m. The Tunnel (Yurimaguas Road) and forest below. p.m. Forest 5kms West of Moyobamba, and Morro de Calzada. Night in Rioja.

Thurs Nov. 1st: a.m. Morro de Calzada. p.m. Road to Soritor, Posic Savannah, Yacumama Savannah. Night in Rioja.

Fri Nov. 2nd: a.m. Aguas Verdes white sand forest, Puente Aguas Verdes. p.m. KM383 above Afluente, the pass at Abra Patricia, Puerto Pumas Hotel garden. Night in La Florida.

Sat. Nov. 3rd: a.m. ECOAN Lodge trail at the pass. p.m. Road from the pass to Garcia trail, and the trail itself. Night in La Florida.

Sun Nov. 4th: a.m. Start of the Garcia trail, and Garcia Village. p.m. Above Afluente, then KM361 (La Florida side of the pass) and around the pass. Night in La Florida.

Mon Nov. 5th: a.m. Trail at KM367 (Puente San Antonio) and ECOAN Lodge trail. p.m. Santos’s Hillside for the Spatuletail. Lago Pomacochas, scrub around Puerto Pumas hotel. Night in La Florida.

Tue Nov. 6th: a.m. The main road from the pass to Valle Hermosa, then KM380-383, just above Afluente. p.m. KM407, then savannah sites around Rioja again (Soritor road etc.) Night in Tarapoto.

Weds Nov. 7th: a.m. Shapaja Road (c5 (?) kms beyond the village) and Upaquihua. p.m. Flight Tarapoto-Lima, then Lima-Madrid, and overnight Madrid-London arriving early evening Nov. 8th.

Reading:

Birds of Peru: Schulenberg, Stotz, Lane, O’Neill, Parker. Helm Field Guides 2007. The new Peru Field Guide is here! Sadly it shipped just after our trip began, but at least we got to check details when we got back…at last Peru has the field guide it deserves. Brilliant and essential. Abbreviated as ‘BOP’ below.

Where to Watch Birds in Peru: Thomas Valqui ISBN-10: 9972330923 2004. Extremely useful site guide, with lots of maps etc. Generally excellent, though many details, especially distances, are very inaccurate in the Abra Patricia section. I have noted a few key corrections below where significant. The species listing for each site is generally good, though relative abundances can be erratic. To be fair, Valqui himself notes a debt of gratitude for the information in this section, so it seems likely that much of the detail is second hand/possibly rather old. Note that all KM markers noted in Valqui are the old markers not the new ones, see below.

A Guide to the Birds of Peru: Clements, Shany, Gardner, Barnes. At the time of our trip, the only field guide to depict all the species likely occur, and though flawed, an improvement on the previous state of affairs. However, it’s now been totally eclipsed by the vastly superior Schulenberg et al guide above. Text descriptions are very brief, there are no maps, the quality of illustrations is highly variable, and critical ID details for difficult species groups/pairs usually need more detailed checking elsewhere. The species order is truly bizarre and often infuriating at times, with closely related species often widely scattered. (Otherwise good…) Now that the new guide is out this older guide will doubtless be relegated to gathering dust on my bookshelves.

The Birds of Ecuador: Ridgely and Greenfield. Helm Field Guides. The text is excellent, and the guide covers many though not all of the species likely to be encountered. It’s almost as compact as the above guide, and much more detailed; useful if you have space but the new field guide provides almost all the detail you need, so maybe leave this at home for later reference as required.

The Birds of South America Vols I + II: Ridgely and Tudor, Oxford University Press. BOSA remains an essential bible for research before/after the trip, especially Vol II, though now ageing gracefully. Volume 1 covers the Oscine Passerines (Jays, Swallows, Wrens, Thrushes and allies, Vireos, Wood-warblers, Tanagers, Icterids and Finches.) Volume 2 covers the Suboscine Passerines (Ovenbirds, Woodcreepers, Antbirds, Gnateaters, Tapaculos, Tyrant-flycatchers, Cotingas and Manakins). Great for reference, (though obviously now somewhat out of date with regard to the most recent splits and new discoveries,) but far too bulky for use in the field. (Use to decode scribbled field notes after the event.)

The Birds of The High Andes: Jon Fjeldsa and Neils Krabbe; Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen. 1990 (Apollo Books, Denmark.) Another superb guide covering many of the species likely to be encountered in the higher altitude zones, though also now starting to show its age here and there.

Peru: Lonely Planet Survival Kit: Rob Rachowiecki. A useful source of background detail. We didn’t take it with us as all our accomm./logistics were pre-booked.

I also updated my original (Manu-centric) spreadsheet of our most likely 1500 or so species and incorporated altitudinal ranges/habitat/site occurrences/ID basics/song and call transcriptions for most species. E-mail to the above address if you'd like a copy of this file (Excel for Mac or PC) to edit for your own use.

Getting There/Getting Around/Ground Logistics: Most people arrive in Lima when visiting Peru; we did the same, I arrived from Santiago, Chile, Gary hot-footed it from Cuzco. Return route for me was direct from Lima to Madrid and then on to London with Iberia, (British Airways code share,) Gary flew direct to Florida. Our internal outbound/return flights (Lima-Tarapoto-Lima) were with Lan Peru and Star Peru respectively, both delightfully uneventful.

Barry Walker’s company ‘Manu Expeditions’ (www.Biridng-In-Peru.com) organised all our logistics for us- highly recommended as ever. The company is contactable by e-mail at Birding@ManuExpeditions. We used a driver (Jorge) and vehicle (small pick-up truck) booked via Barry Walker, a local company run by the reliable (and English-speaking) Martin Zamora in Tarapoto. Jorge met us at the airport and drove us everywhere. Alternatively it would be easy to drive yourself around Tarapoto/at Abra Patricia etc, though the benefit of having a driver is that you don't have to schlep back up hills having birded downhill along the main 05N road, (the ‘Carretera Marginal’,) thus maximising useful birding time.

This road from Tarapoto up through Rioja and to Abra Patricia is now paved and in excellent condition all the way, though the side roads around Tarapoto (the Tunnel road to Yurimaguas, the Buenos Aires (Upaquihua site) and especially beyond Shapaja, (the 2nd road (further from Tarapoto compared to the Shatayacu road) at the Juan Guerra site,) currently still need high clearance. 4WD is highly advisable after rain, with the road beyond Shapaja in particular being extremely muddy. Both the Buenos Aires and ‘Tunnel’ (Yurimaguas) roads were being extensively worked on when we visited, and the latter will be paved all the way to Yurimaguas in a year or so; the section to the tunnel itself should be completed by Spring ’08. We had been warned before we arrived that there was no access to the Tunnel, but in fact ‘up’ access was OK prior to 7am, and ‘down’ access was OK all day. Hence until the roadworks are finished, get up early, bird the tunnel area at dawn and then work back down, and be sure to check the latest information on arrival as doubtless access details will vary in the short term due to e.g. dynamiting some sections. The roadworks do mean that currently the site is noisy and heavy populated with big trucks full of rubble etc.

Important note: all previous reports and site guides (including Valqui) use the old (white, faded) KM roadside post markers which are now being superseded by shiny new black and white roadside KM markers, (white roadside posts with black bands above and below each KM figure.) KM readings used throughout this report are the NEW KM’s not the old ones. East of the pass at Abra Patricia the new KM posts are 11 kms lower than the old ones, (KM389 new = KM400 old) but unless I screwed up, beyond the pass (towards Oso Perdido, La Florida) the difference between old and new seems to be only 1 KM?! My KM notations are to the nearest marker i.e. +/- 1KM, or half KM where indicated.

Accommodation: Our package included pre-booked accommodation throughout as follows:

Lima: Hotel Manhattan www.perucontact.com/en_peru/ManhattanInnAirportHotel_305.html A small, friendly, hotel close to the airport.

Tarapoto: Hotel Shilcayo, http://www.rioshilcayo.com.Off to the left up the hill at the back of Tarapoto town. (The same owners had also just opened a new Lodge, (the Pumarinri: www.pumarinri.com/) Contact via the Shilcayo,) c20kms up the Shapaja Road to the East of Tarapoto. The night-birding in the Pumarinri Lodge grounds is rumoured to be excellent with e.g. Band-bellied Owl, Crested Owl, Tawny bellied Screech-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl and Tropical Screech-Owl all close to the hotel. However, the road beyond Shapaja was completely impassable due to multiple landslides following heavy rain the night before our arrival in Tarapoto, and 4WD would be required to drive the c10kms beyond the small town of Shapaja even in drier conditions. The lodge is approx. 1 hour’s drive from Tarapoto airport.)

Rioja: Hotel Gran Bombanaje http://www.travel-library.com/hotels/south_america/peru/rioja/ (junction of jr Angaiza and jr Faustino Maldonado.)

La Florida: Hotel Puerto Pumas http://www.peru-hotels.com/tarpuma.htm. Tel: 524100, or 524242. Reservations through Corporacion Turistica Amazonica: ctareps @ peurtopalmeras.com.pe. 1 hour’s drive from the pass in rain/fog, 45 mins. if the weather’s OK. Nicknamed ‘The Ghost Hotel’ by Barry Walker, this comfortable hotel has almost no staff (except the redoubtable Oscar who meets you on arrival and then leaves the key out each evening so that you can let yourself in,) no other guests, and has no food despite an apparently well equipped kitchen and large dining room area. It is however, very comfortable, has cold beer and a massive flat screen TV, and there are basic food shops, reasonable restaurants etc 10-15 mins walk away in La Florida. It also features the most bizarre collection of dark, cubist art in the known universe, However, a brand new ECOAN (Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos) lodge is opening right at the Pass at Abra Patricia itself, which will be THE place to stay, funds permitting, ($50-$70 per night?) when it opens early in 2008. One block was already open amongst the building work late November 2007 and was used by the Canadian tour group we met on-site. There is already at least one good trail around the edge of the lodge property that we birded, see below. It’s currently possible to bird this and the Garcia trail which are both owned and run by ECOAN for $10 per person per day if not staying at the lodge. Alternatively you can stay at the Chacita restaurant, which is c500m West of the pass (towards Oso Perdido/La Florida,) though facilities are very basic, (a wooden floor;) at least you don’t have to walk far for breakfast.

Clothes/weather: Wellington (rubber) boots are very useful for the muddier trails at Abra Patricia, (e.g. the Garcia trail) and especially for the white sand forest trail at Aguas Verdes, (which is basically a stream,) although I managed with regular lightweight waterproof hiking boots and got wet feet. Breathable fabrics and a small sweat towel are useful for the humid lowland forest areas. A collapsible umbrella is also extremely useful, and a sun-hat is essential. Note that birding may require warm clothing for the first hour or so and later in the day if it rains higher up- we got pretty cold during heavy rain on one morning- so prepare for both heat and cold. We experienced rain on 5 or 6 days, and had three mornings where we basically saw very little despite birding under umbrellas throughout the downpours. The best weather would be cloudy/light showers to keep activity going; most days in the lowlands (Tarapoto) were very hot and humid by 9am, though often with reasonable cloud cover. As usual, on sunny cloudless days birding could be very slow between 10am and 3pm. A high factor sun cream is advisable for the lowlands.

Birding Hours: It was light enough to start birding at 5.30am each day, and dark by around 6pm. We were in the field at dawn every day, leaving hotels at 430 or 5am; activity can die off pretty quickly mid-morning e.g. by 9-30am, especially if it’s hot/sunny.

Visas: UK/US passport holders do not require a visa for stays of 90 days or less- passports should have at least 6 months left to run before expiry. Photocopy the picture page and keep it separately in case of loss.

Insurance: Get some before travelling- the UK’s post office offers reasonable deals. Take your insurance documents with you.

Language: At least some basic Spanish is pretty much essential, especially outside the main towns, where few people speak English.

Maps: We had only one, but at least it was waterproof… It is usefully entitled “Peru” (Rough Guide Maps, www.roughguides.com 1: 1,500,000, 1 inch, 23.7 miles.) We used this basic map in conjunction with Valqui and added our own detail as we went along. UK birders can try specialist map retailers e.g. Stanfords at the west end of Long Acre, Covent Garden, London. A GPS is extremely useful for finding poorly marked trails and especially for confirming altitudes.

Audio: We used Gary’s i-Pod recordings extensively, and also on occasion used a small shotgun mic. to record and play back in the field. Using some kind of playback is absolutely vital if you want to see skulking and elusive species in forest; there are few trails at Abra Patricia and those that are accessible are narrow and the forest often dense. Pishing often works well too, with many birds responding quickly and positively. There’s a fair bit of material available now, including the excellent 3-volume Antbird CD by Phyllis Isler and Bret Whitney (Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds. Note however that this 3-CD pack does not include Ochre-fronted Antpitta, and that the Rusty-breasted Antpitta song is not the race that occurs in Northern Peru.) Also the Cornell Lab. series CDs (e.g. Tom Schulenberg’s, “Voices of Amazonian Birds”, Volumes 1,2 & 3/ “Voices of Andean Birds”, Volumes 1 & 2 etc) are useful, but we relied heavily on GR’s encyclopaedic collection. (Any references to ‘tape’ below actually refer to i-Pod tracks; old habits die hard.)

Photography: Digi-scoping was often difficult, but the Tangara flocks between the pass and Aguas Verdes do offer some great photographic opportunities for those with more patience than me. It’s difficult or impossible to find memory cards etc outside the major cities, so bring all supplies with you. We had no problems either with cameras or digital media, even in high lowland humidity.

Other Equipment: Many hotels and restaurants have only basic lighting at best, so a head-torch is useful for copying up notes etc. If you don't have a GPS, an altimeter would also be useful for checking altitude and thus defining likely species’ altitudinal ranges. A spot-light is essential for night-birding. Mosquito repellent, a sun hat and sun block are essential at all altitudes. Bring an umbrella to allow birding in the rain.

Water: Probably not safe to drink in most of Peru- we drank mineral water exclusively, which is widely available; bottled water can be purchased from hotels and shops.

Money/Security: The currency is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol, (c3.2 = 1 US $ Nov '07.) Food, accommodation etc are cheap if you shop around in towns/villages. US dollars (cash) are accepted in some smarter hotels, Lima restaurants etc, and travellers cheques can be changed at Lima airport- US $ are better than UK £ in all cases. Travellers cheques and credit cards are usually only of use in Lima, Rioja, Tarapoto. You need to be security conscious in Lima but a little common sense is all that’s needed for a hassle-free trip.

Altitudes: We birded between approx. 300m and 2600m, nothing high enough to give us any significant altitude-related problems, although clambering up muddy trails at the pass is noticeably harder work than doing it at Aguas Verdes. Tarapoto is at approx. 330m, Rioja a little higher at 900-1000m, then from Aguas Verdes at 1150m the road ascends all the way up to 2500m at the Abra Patricia pass. We found that certain species appeared to inhabit very narrow altitudinal bands, so e.g. a tanager flock above Afluente at c1700m contained our only Blue-browed- and Vermilion Tanagers, Golden-collared Honeycreeper etc, yet a mega flock just above Afluente at only a couple of hundred metres lower elevation did not include these species. Hence if you have your own vehicle it’s well worthwhile driving a few KM’s listening for flocks and sampling as wide a range of elevations as possible, rather than trying to cover large distances on foot.

Health: Immunisations against Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis and Cholera are recommended. Malaria prophylaxis is also recommended, although we didn’t take anything as we were only in the lowlands for a couple of days. We only encountered large numbers of mosquitoes at Upaquihua.

Beer etc: Cusqueña etc is widely available, and usually properly chilled. There is a god.

Food: There are basic restaurants in most towns and villages, although outside major urban areas the menu tends to be restricted to whatever is available, and thus is often limited to two or three dishes. If in doubt ask for lomo saltado (usually involves beef, rice, chips, vegetables.) We also had excellent tortillas de verduras at a couple of places (super-thin, crispy omelettes.) The best thing about Peruvian cuisine, (unless you like Guinea Pig in which case ask for ‘cuy’,) is the ceviche- fish ‘cooked’ by being marinaded in lime juice. We had it all three nights at the hotel in Tarapoto. Fans of spicy food should ask for ‘rocotto,’ which is a local vegetable with the kick of a serious chilli.

New Species: We saw the yellow-billed, eye-ringed ‘Bare-eyed’ Turdus thrush, which may well prove to be a sp. novum. c1km along the Aguas Verdes white sand forest trail. The new BOP refers to this as the “gray-tailed morph of Hauxwell's Thrush Turdus hauxwelli and says “Less well-known 'gray-tailed' morph (probably a separate species) reported from lower Rio Napo south to Northern Ucayali, and West to San Martin; differs by being duller brown, with gray-brown tail, more prominent throat-streaking, yellow-green bill, and narrow yellow-orange eye-ring...Songs and calls of gray-tailed morph very like those of Bare-eyed Robin.” We also targeted Abra Patricia’s recently discovered specialities, largely without success, (see ‘significant dips’ below,) though we did see e.g. Lulu’s (Johnson’s-) Tody-Tyrant.

Site Details:

I’ve described all the sites we birded, see Valqui for further details. I only created maps where Valqui does not include one, or where I felt that more detail/corrections were needed.

Aguas Verdes to La Florida Route/Altitudinal Bands- Map #1
I included this because most of the key birding sites/closest villages are not included on Peruvian maps, and Valqui’s maps only show very local site details not how they relate to each other. Plus having all the approximate altitudes in the same place will hopefully prove useful. The Tarapoto/La Florida road follows the upper Mayo Valley before heading West into the inter-montane valleys and then (beyond La Florida) following the course of the Rio Utcubamba. Tarapoto to Rioja is c140kms, Aguas Verdes is another 70kms to the West, Afluente is then 7kms further towards the pass, and La Florida is another 65kms beyond Afluente (142kms West of Rioja.) The road is paved all the way to La Florida and beyond, and travel is relatively quick as a result, though the road is single carriageway along the whole length, and it can be slow going on the up and down/twisting road from Afluente to La Florida. All sites are on/just off this same (05N) main road, so as long as you leave Rioja in the right direction navigation couldn’t be simpler. Note that what everyone calls ‘Afluente’ in birding terms is not the Afluente village at KM391.5, but 2-11 kms above the village at KMs 389-380.

map

Morro de Calzada, near Rioja- MAP # 2. Altitude: 850m (parking area- the peak is obviously higher.)
Access: Moro de Calzada is a small reserve centred around an isolated hill that juts out above the flat plains around Rioja. Turn right off the main Tarapoto to Rioja road at the Petro Peru gas station onto the dirt road into the village. Ignore the 3-4 dirt tracks off to the right and follow the road round a sharp 90º left turn (there’s a bar on the corner here) and then take the next dirt road on the right (x-roads.) After 0.1kms turn right again onto another dirt road and look for the Comedor Infantil San Luis on your left after 0.1km or so. You should be able to see an elevated stone water tower on your left as you drive further up this road. Drive c2kms to the end of the road and park on the rough ground by the small gated/fenced water building. The main trail up the peak is off to your left, only 10m from where you park, and there’s a 2nd trail through more open country/forest edge to your right. The entrance road also has open country species.

The main trail up to the peak kicks sharply left by a low cliff on your right hand side after c400m, and then passes through an open area with a couple of pools. Head uphill with your back to the pools and you’ll connect with the main trail into the forest proper. The lower slopes can easily be birded in a couple of hours.

The Soritor Road (also a dirt road but drive-able) is directly opposite the turning into the village i.e. on the left as you head Northwest to Rioja from Tarapoto, (opposite side of the road from the gas station,) and is signed to ‘Restaurant La Gaty’ as well as to Soritor.

map

Yacumama Savannah near Rioja- MAP #3. Altitude: c900m
Access: Ignore Valqui’s directions, they are not great. Drive Northwest on the main 05N out of Rioja crossing the Puente Uquihua as you leave town and heading towards Aguas Verdes etc. After 10.3kms at about KM459 turn left signed to ‘Yacumama Restaurant’ (big sign with a picture of a snake on it. Not clear if this means snake is also on the menu.) When you turn here you can see a huge cement factory up the main 05N road ahead of you in the distance. (Contra Valqui, the turn is 2km before the cement works.) Having turned left, continue up the dirt road for c300m until you see a sign/fork right to ‘Villa Maria.’ Keep left and continue on into the open savannah for 800m where you can bird from this quiet dirt road. If the road’s bad, park by the entrance to the Villa Maria and walk in. En route to Yacumama you also pass the turn for Posic (another savannah site) on the right, only 1.5kms out of Rioja. Take this right turn and drive another c1.5kms and look for a big area of fenced green pasture on the left. Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch is supposed to be here, though we dipped.

map

Forest West of Moyobamba Altitude: 1100m
Access: Heading Northwest on the main 05N as you drive from Tarapoto to Rioja, you reach the town of Moyobama. As you enter the town there is a traffic circle with a large orchid monument in the middle. Turn left, (right is to the Mirador hotel,) signed Jepelacio and Los Baños Thermales (thermal baths.) You pass a large coffee collective warehouse on the left, and after very approx. 1km there’s a left fork to the Baños Thermales. Keep right and drive up this road, continuing uphill for another c12-15 mins. You get to a point on the road where reasonable hill forest comes down to the road which is the area to try. We didn’t have much luck here birding on a hot afternoon, but Ash-throated Antwren has recently been seen in this area. (No map as it’s easy to find.)

Aguas Verdes White Sand Forest- MAP #4 Altitude: 1100m
Access: As you drive into Aguas Verdes village, look for a stony dirt track on your right immediately after you reach the start of the buildings coming in from Rioja (to the Southeast.) This is just before 3 or 4 buildings on the right hand side of the main road, which include a shop and a green restaurant. Drive a few hundred metres up to the brow of the hill and park up on the right hand side between a couple of private houses. Walk back Southeast (the opposite direction to the way you drove into the village on the main road) and you’ll find a white sand river trail that is unmarked and not at all obvious- if it’s white and sandy you’ve found it. The trail is basically along the river-bed and is clean and easy to follow though very wet, and passes through good forest. Due to the distinctive habitat, species here include birds not found elsewhere at Aguas Verdes. We birded the first kilometre or so, to a point c200m after the trail bends 90º to the left and there’s a small side trail off to the right that leads downhill (and presumably back to the main road?)

map

Garcia Trail- MAP # 5 Altitude: c2000m
Access: the trail head is easy to find. It’s on a left-hand bend at KM373.5 on the main 05N road, on the right hand side of the road as you drive from Aguas Verdes to the pass, just after you pass the Garcia shacks on the left at KM374, (there’s also one blue shack on the right here.) The start of the trail is marked by a low wall, (very easy to hop over,) and a locked gate with a small arched top stone above it. Take the trail to the right, (not to the left which soon peters out.) The trail drops steeply downhill for c200m before levelling out. It subsequently passes through two large clearings before eventually reaching the river where the trail appears to end, total length perhaps 2kms or less. It’s easy to navigate as long as you are reasonably fit, though can get extremely muddy. The early stretches are flanked by very dense forest which is hard to bird, but there are great birds in there somewhere…

map

Abra Patricia/ECOAN Lodge- MAP #6 Altitude: 2250-2500m
Access: There’s now a large unmissable gate on the right hand side of the road at the pass, KM364.5, 0.5km before the Chacita restaurant on the right at KM364. This is the entrance road to the new ECOAN lodge; 4 buildings which are c250m up the main entrance road/path beyond. The only trail we birded was off to the left of the entrance road after c100m, (the trailhead is obvious, first path on the left after you pass through the main gate,) though there may be others. This trail runs inside the forest along the Western edge of the ECOAN property, (turn right after the 1st c100m of the trail,) and doubtless gives access to many of the pass’s specialities; Ochre-fronted- and Rusty-breasted Antpittas should be here? This is the only place we saw Rusty-tinged Antpitta, and we found a survey tag c0.5km along the trail marked ‘Grallaria/Grallaricula.’ Yes, but which Grallaricula?! We played tape for both but saw neither in any case. The trail is clean and relatively easy going, though rather muddy and up and down. The lodge was under construction in November 2007 but will be THE place to stay in future, (I’d guess one will be able to book by e-mail, info @ ecoanperu.org, if not check the ECOAN website: http://www.ecoanperu.org) It looks comfortable and is right in the thick of the action…

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Sunangel Knife-edge Ridge, Abra Patricia MAP #7 Altitude: c2100m
Access: The main Aguas Verdes-La Florida 05N road cuts through the ridge itself at KM371.5, c20m before a sharp left hand bend as you drive towards the pass. Park on the right as you head up towards the pass, and scramble up the slope at the Northwest (pass) end of the lay-by. You can then stand on the isolated end section of the ridge and scope back across the road to check the main part of the ridge opposite. Royal Sunagels habitually feed low in scrubby cover that cloaks the hillside, so it can take a while to find them.

map

Afluente - MAP #8 Altitude: c1200-1500m
Access: The main area to bird is from the main road between KM389.5-KM388, and anywhere from here up to KM380 can be good. The best spot for Ash-throated Antwren is around the Bar/Restaurant/Vulcanizado ‘Siempre Chuque’ clearing at c1200m elevation and up to 200m either side, especially the area around the water tap/wrecked car, 50m Northwest of the restaurant itself, (both the tap and the restaurant are on the right as you drive up to the pass.) We saw a pair c100m towards the pass from the restaurant, (where ‘RCQ217’ is painted on the road,) before you get to the old KM401 post. Our mega-flock was 200m Northwest from here i.e. towards the pass. Birds can be anywhere along the road, and it pays to look for flocks at various spots along this c10km stretch. Just above the higher end of this stretch is the old LSU trail at KM378 (we didn’t have time to bird here), marked by a large ‘protected area’ metal sign.

map

La Florida/Santos’s Place - MAP #9 Altitude: c2500m
Access: on the main 05N road 38kms Northwest of the pass. The Puerto Pumas hotel is 200m down a metalled road off to the left just as you reach the start of la Florida town coming from the pass. The car-chasing dogs are likely to greet you as you turn the corner…To find Santos’s house from Puerto Pumas, drive through La Florida and continue Northwest for another c3.5kms until you come to a small village (1st village after you leave La Florida) Santos’s house is the (only) white one on the left, 5th from last as you come in from La Florida. If in doubt just ask for Santos, everyone in the village knows him. He speaks easy-to-understand Spanish but no English.

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Significant Dips:

Long-whiskered Owlet: One of the world’s smallest owl species, this was discovered by an LSU expedition in 1976 and had scarcely been seen since until David Geale saw it in the field in Spring 2007. The bird is said to be unresponsive to tape and sadly we have no evidence to contradict this. Per Barry Walker in Sept. ‘07: “the new sighting was not up the DFL LSU trail (which is basically non-accessible unless you are a mountain climber and like mud baths!) Where it is, is as follows: as you descend from the Abra Patricia pass and ECOAN lodge along the main road you come to a big wide valley coming in from the right on a tight left hand bend (a couple of wooden huts here on the right.) This is known as Valle Hermosa (KMc367) This valley is the only big valley on the right just before the bridge over the Alto Nieve (before you get down to Sunangel Ridge.) If you were to follow this valley downstream to the left of the road opposite the huts (David Geale says they cut trail and its probably overgrown now but ECOAN have plans to open it for tourists) for 1- 2 easy hours on mostly the flat you get to a palm-dominated forest where he saw the birds. He says that in Feb. ‘07 they were calling just after dark and sporadically through the night to dawn. Despite several attempts the birds were NON RESPONSIVE to playback of their own voice, flew large distances, and appeared to move away when approached. He only saw them when he flushed a pair just after dawn from a roost 4 m off the ground in a dense vine tangle and one when netted at night. So I fear they will be as enigmatic as ever…” Altitudinal range as far as is known is 1900-2400m.

Ochre-fronted Antpitta: Also discovered on an LSU expedition, it should in theory be get-able along the Garcia trail, or perhaps at the Puente San Antonio Gully Trail at KM367, (the PSG bridge is clearly signed and is either just above or just below Valle Hermosa, can’t remember which,) the lower parts of the ECOAN Lodge trail(s) etc? We did not even hear one despite extensive trawling. The ‘song’ is a typical Grallaricula downslurred ‘pheeuw’, slightly thicker and more bi-syllabic than e.g. Ochre-breasted Antpittas in Southern Ecuador. BOP lists altitudinal range as 1850-2400m, so doubtless there are other spots.

Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant: Another Abra Patricia speciality at 1700-2200m. We looked hard e.g. around the clearings well down the Garcia trail but no sight/sound.

Cinereous-breasted Spinetail: In theory common around Rioja, we played tape everywhere and never got a response.

White-capped Tanager: Should be around the pass at Abra Patricia and a few KM’s down but no joy for us. The call is a loud piercing ‘pseu!’ very similar to White-collared Jay.

Dotted Tanager, Plumbeous Euphonia, Blackish Pewee: no sign of any of these three around the Tunnel on the Yurimaguas road Northwest of Tarapoto.

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow: We missed the Canadian group’s bird above Afluente by a few minutes.

Thanks to: Barry Walker and all at Manu Expeditions, Jorge our driver, Oscar at Puerto Pumas, Santos and Wilmer for their help in scoring the Spatuletail, and Gary R. as always for his knowledge, companionship in the field and photos.

Daily Birding Diary

Sun Oct 28th: I arrived in Lima mid-morning on a Lan Chile flight, and was met by a Manu Expeditions driver who whisked me to The Manhattan Hotel. After a brief nap I rendezvoused with Gary R and we headed out to bird the pools and beach at Venta Nilla. After puzzling for a few moments over an unusually long-billed Western Sandpiper we scoped the other waders, picked up a single Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, and sniffed out a couple of pairs of Peruvian Thick-knees before heading to the beach. A brief sea-watch produced a Pomarine Skua, 2 Red-legged Cormorants, flocks of distant Grey Phalaropes, and passing Peruvian Boobies, Elegant Terns and Gray- and Belcher’s (Band-tailed-) Gulls. Dinner in the hotel was preceded by the first of many Cusqueña beers, before we crashed out, dreaming of the Tangara flocks to come.

Mon. Oct 29th: An atypically late start allowed us to sort out our luggage and partake of a leisurely breakfast before heading to the airport for our early afternoon 1.5 hour flight from Lima to Tarapoto, where we were met by the smiling Martin Zamora and his trusty driver Jorge. In due deference to the change in temperature we discarded a few layers of clothing and birded the riverside forest at nearby Quebrada Shatayacu (the first of the two roads/sites at Juan Guerra.) Judicious use of the i-Pod soon lured in our target species, a pair of Northern Slaty- (‘Huallaga’) Antshrikes, with other highlights being a Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, a Slate-colored Grosbeak and a showy Scaled Pigeon. A call we heard repeatedly eventually turned out to belong to Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, which proved to be common in the forest along the road. By 6pm the light was failing, so we wove our way through the crowded streets of Tarapoto and checked in to the Hotel Shilcayo. Dinner was excellent if pricey in Peruvian terms, but the stellar ceviche, garnished with the fiery local rocotto chilli, more than justified the price tag.

Tues. Oct. 30th: We left the hotel at 5am, and having negotiated the mudbath roadworks, reached the Upaquihua site at the KM10 marker South of the village of Buenos Aires, (just a tad more parochial than its more famous Argentinean namesake,) by 545am. In avian terms, our progress en route was slowed only by a flock of Blue-winged Parrotlets and a single Comb Duck. We applied mozzie repellent, (certainly a prerequisite here,) and slowly walked the broad trail to the right of the road at the 10KM marker, soon finding the undescribed foothill race of White-flanked Antwren, a pair of Southern Chestnut-tailed Antbirds, a couple of Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakins and two Ashy-headed Greenlets.

A small mixed flock included a Chestnut-vented Conebill and a Lafresnaye’s Piculet, and more Northern Slaty- (‘Huallaga’) Antshrikes made an appearance, as did three White-browed Antbirds. However, more exciting were two of our target birds, the range-restricted White-bellied Pygmy-Tyrant, (which proved common with six individuals being seen and others heard,) and the even more localised Mishana Tyrannulet, the latter’s presence revealed by an upslurred ‘sooee, sooee.’ A pair of Hoatzins added an Amazonian touch, whilst the surrounding savannah was home to Mouse-colored Tyrannulets and a Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant. In addition we logged what must be the largest toad in the whole of Peru, located by Gary almost stepping on it as we headed in along a narrow side-trail. At length we adjourned to the Shapaja Road, and after a packed lunch consumed on the hoof we set about adding to the list along the road. A Double-banded Pygmy-Tyrant showed well, and a Black-throated Hermit made a brief appearance, though a distant Pheasant Cuckoo was way too far off to respond to our tape. Our evening meal (repeat ceviche, steak, beer) was enlivened by watching some kind of Government computer training seminar in the space adjacent to the restaurant, but despite our best efforts to translate the local Tarapoto accent we failed to figure out what on earth it was all about.

Weds. Oct. 31st: a.m. Another 5am start meant that we reached the Tunnel on the Yurimaguas Road well before 7am, and thus we were able to avoid the large-scale re-surfacing roadworks, which had threatened to prevent uphill access. The cloudy and showery weather meant avian activity was good, and we soon notched up a Golden-headed Quetzal two ‘Peruvian’ Golden-faced Tanagers, a male and two female Short-billed Honeycreepers, 1 Masked- and 1 Yellow-backed Tanager, a couple of White-lored Tyrannulets, 2 Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireos and 2 Dusky-chested Flycatchers amongst many others.

Eventually the constant rumble of huge rubble-filled trucks convinced us that the Tunnel road was not the place to be in order to experience the true serenity of the forest, and so we drove Northwest, anxious to cover some ground and get closer to Rioja. En route we birded a site 5kms West of Moyobamba which had been recommended by Barry Walker, and which had produced a recent report of Ash-throated Antwren. We found the forest OK, but there was no sign of the Herpsilochmus, although Olive-chested Flycatcher, and our first Huallaga Tanager were some recompense. However, the forest was quiet in the heat of the afternoon, so we admitted defeat and drove further Northwest to Morro de Calzada, a small reserve nearby. We heard Tataupa Tinamou as we walked along the main access road, but it was a long way away, and so we concentrated our efforts on the forest around the car park and the first few hundred metres of the trail up to the peak. A Spot-breasted Woodpecker showed well in the last of the light, and as darkness fell we had good views of both Blackish- and Rufous- Nightjars. Better still was a Band-bellied Owl briefly seen in flight, though it remained typically elusive and refused to pose for our spot-light. A Striped Owl was rather more accommodating, and we enjoyed prolonged views in the open country a mile or so down the entrance road. We bounced out through the pitch-black night and a few minutes later were checking in at the Hotel Gran Bombanaje in Rioja. A few minutes more and we were enjoying a good sopa criolla and lomo saltado in the deserted restaurant, although we were initially puzzled as to why our waiter laid the table and served the meal at an empty table a few yards away from where we were sitting. After a little persuasion, he acquiesced and brought everything over so that we could get on with the business in hand. Replete, we retired for the evening, and to our immense relief, Halloween passed without a major firework fiesta, our room at the back of the hotel proving quiet and comfortable.

Thurs Nov. 1st: We returned to bird the lower slopes of Morro de Calzada at dawn, and were rewarded with good views of a single Black-faced Tanager, Small-billed-, Lesser- and Yellow-bellied Elaenias, and a briefLittle Tinamou sprinting across the main trail, before we slowly climbed up into the main forest above the pool. The forest itself was extremely quiet, but we did find two nice ground-dwellers, a Scaly-breasted (Southern Nightingale-) Wren, and a Tawny-throated Leaftosser. Both showed extremely well in response to tape, the latter clinging precariously to a steep, trail-side bank. In the afternoon we birded the road to Soritor in a leisurely fashion, the sticky heat and lack of Cinereous-breasted Spinetail tape-response sapping our enthusiasm. A group of three Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrants (the world’s smallest passerine) provided a delightful distraction, before we drove 10kms Northwest of Rioja to find the Yacumama Restaurant Savannah mentioned (though inaccurately located) in Valqui. Luckily Jorge our driver knew the site, (though he referred to it as ‘Villa Maria’), and we arrived in time to bird the last couple of hours of daylight.
A pair of Russet-crowned Crakes showed (relatively) well, their tiny trumpeting mentalism as comic as usual, and we managed to secure a Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant, which we had missed earlier in the day. A calling Buckley’s Forest-Falcon sadly refused to show itself, but a pair of Spot-tailed Nightjars and a 2nd Striped Owl put on a fine show. Once back in Rioja we walked into town to take in the sights and buy some provisions for the next day’s lunch, pausing to admire the church on the plaza major, the only well-funded and hence well-painted building in town.

Fri Nov. 2nd: Another early start meant we were at the entrance to the Aguas Verdes white sand forest trail at first light, and the higher altitude here (c1100m) plus the change in habitat soon brought us a new set of species. We got off to a great start with excellent views of a pair of White-browed Purpletuft, and even better looks at a male Zimmer’s- (Northern Chestnut-tailed-) Antbird, which for the most part resolutely refused to move far enough away to allow us to focus our bins.

As we progressed along the trail we added a pair of Moriche Oriole, two Napo Sabrewings, a Hauxwell’s Thrush and best of all, c1km along the trail where a sub-trail kicks off to the right down the hill, the possible species novum Turdus thrush which resembles Hauxwell’s Thrush and which has yet to be formally described.

Our plan to sit out the heat of the day with a leisurely lunch at the Restaurant Bella next to the Puente Aguas Verdes was scuppered by their total lack of food; a shame, since their interior décor was made up of a fine collage of catholic iconography, nude women and adverts for shampoo and Inca Kola. Instead we birded the bridge and the forest along the road back towards Aguas Verdes town, turning up a few Gray-chinned Hermits at a lek. Things were decidedly quiet however, and so we drove on a further 4kms, stopping at KM393. Now firmly in the Tanager zone, we had our first mixed flock containing 10 species of Tangara, with a Cock-of-the-Rock making up the numbers. By 3pm we were up at the famous Abra Patricia Pass, but the weather was less than ideal with persistent rain and dense low-hanging cloud making life difficult. Nonetheless we still managed to pick a Bluish Flowerpiercer, 3 Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulets and an Emerald-bellied Puffleg out of the gloom. Eventually the rain drove us out, and after securing access to the ECOAN Lodge trails for the morning, we motored around the curvas peligras for an hour, drawing up an hour later at the impressive gates of the hotel Puerto Pumas in la Florida. Having collected our key from the redoubtable Oscar we made ourselves at home, before wandering up and down the gloomy corridors admiring the ghoulish cubist art, which adorns every available inch of the hotel walls. After a restorative beer we headed into town, finding a friendly welcome and the best lomo saltado of the trip at the restaurant Los Cipreses. We also bumped into a Canadian birding tour being led by an old friend of Gary’s, and we covetously pored over their recently acquired copy of the new field guide. When it came time to pay the bill we were short of change, but faithfully promised to pay the one outstanding Nuevo Sol the following night, our solemn word being greeted with cynical hilarity by the owners.

Sat. Nov. 3rd: Dawn found us working a wet and muddy but recently cleaned trail that runs along the western edge of the ECOAN lodge grounds. In short order we taped in a pair of (Peruvian) Rufous-vented Tapaculos that came fantastically close in typical Scytalopus style. A Chestnut-breasted Wren was similarly obliging, but the 5+ Rusty-tinged Antpittas that we could hear calling were a different matter. We played cat and mouse with them for an hour and a half, but they would only come so close, before sitting still and calling invisibly from within impenetrable dense cover. Eventually we gave up and worked our way further down the trail, picking up a group of Sharpe’s Wrens, aRufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, and two Olive Flycatchers. After a further half a kilometre or so we heard another pair of Rusty-tinged Antpittas close to the trail, and after another epic battle at last had brief views of a bird at close range crossing the trail twice as it circled around us; not the best views but better than nothing. Around the end of the trail we were perplexed by an unfamiliar call; a cuckoo-like four-note refrain, ‘phew…phew…phew…phew’, with the first and last notes higher than the middle two. The closest species known to us was Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii (which seems an unlikely extra-limital record…) and we were unable to identify the species responsible- any ideas welcome.

In the afternoon we walked the road from the pass down to the Garcia trail, and then the full length of the trail itself. The roadside birding produced an Inca Flycatcher, a Fasciated Tiger-Heron, a pair of White-capped Dippers and a family of Torrent Ducks, all of which posed for photos, plus Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrants, and a Collared Inca.

The undoubted star however was the Royal Sunangel, a rare and range-restricted endemic, which performed for us on the Sunangel knife-edge ridge. The Garcia trail itself was steep but drier than I had been led to believe it had been in previous years, but despite our endless trawling there was no sight nor sign of either Rusty-breasted- or Ochre-fronted Antpittas. We did however eventually succeed in pulling in a Bar-winged Wood-Wren, and a pair of Lulu’s (Johnson’s-) Tody-Tyrants showed rather more convincingly as they responded to tape with a show of tiny fury.

The return trip produced a Uniform Antshrike, and a male Glossy-black Thrush, but we saved arguably the most handsome bird ‘til last; a cracking Cinnamon Screech-Owl that performed admirably 50m down from the top of the trail. All that remained was to return to Los Cipreses to celebrate our successful owling and to add the missing Nuevo Sol to our tip, much to the amusement of the proprietress.

Sun Nov. 4th: We birded the first two hundred metres of the Garcia trail again, but had no more luck with our antpitta search than we had yesterday, and we quickly adjourned to the road by Garcia village below. However, the weather was not helping and the birds were unresponsive, (save for a Bar-winged Wood-Wren which showed far better than yesterday’s bird- clearly taping from the road is the best tactic with this species,) so we drove lower down to try for a few mid-altitude species, working KM388-391 just above the town of Afluente. We soon found new birds, including Olivaceous Greenlet and Ecuadorian- and Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulets, but better still was the sight of a small rufous and black head peering over a roadside bank at point-blank range, the bird emitting a soft rolling ‘prrrrrp’ contact call. As I focussed my bins I immediately realised I was looking at a small covey of Rufous-breasted Wood-Quails! I managed to discreetly get Gary’s attention without flushing the group, and we both enjoyed amazing views for a few seconds before the birds ambled off deeper into the forest. We walked a few metres further up the hill and an Ecuadorian Piedtail, the first of four, zipped across the road, and we heard a Plain-backed Antpitta call, a scarce bird in Peru. We soon turned our attention to trawling for the site’s famous speciality, and following half an hour or so of effort we finally heard a response. After a further brief struggle we picked up a pair of Ash-throated Antwrens working their way through the canopy towards us. Sadly they veered to the right following a mixed species flock, and we had to make do with poor views. However, as we caught up with the main group of birds to try to relocate this global rarity we realised that this was no ordinary congregation of passerines but the legendary Afluente mega-flock! The following two hours were a blur, punctuated by a series of adrenaline rushes as we picked off the scarcer species; an unbelievably elusive Equatorial Graytail led us a merry dance, two male and one female Wire-crested Thorntail made an appearance, at least two different Speckle-chested Piculets performed extraordinarily well, a pair of Andean Slaty-Thrushes perched up, a female Guira Tanager materialised in front of our eyes before melting back into the flock, never to be seen again, a Yellow-cheeked Becard dropped in, and a Sickle-winged Guan obligingly flew across the road in front of us.

Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrants seemed to be everywhere, and other species logged included Dusky-capped Flycatcher, 2Versicolored Barbets, Little- and Smoky-Brown Woodpeckers, a male Black-faced Dacnis, an Ash-browed Spinetail, and 2 Yellow-breasted Antwrens. Amongst the cavalcade of Tanagers were many Huallaga-, 3 White-winged-, 10+ Golden-, 2 Yellow-bellied-, 4 Green-and-Gold-, 4 Golden-eared-, 2 Yellow-throated- and 2 Golden-naped-.

Eventually we tore ourselves away, driving back to the pass and beyond, to bird around KM361 on the Oso Perdido/La Florida side of the pass. The forest proved very quiet, though whilst trawling with tape we did stimulate a Chestnut Antpitta to sing from a distant hillside, the only one we encountered all trip. At the pass itself we ended the day with Andean Guan and a flock of gorgeous Flame-faced Tanagers, surely one of the world’s best looking Tangaras.

We drove back through La Florida and beyond to KM322.5, soon locating the house of Santos, owner of the land on which a pair of Marvellous Spatuletails had recently been seen, to arrange access for the following day. Sadly Santos informed us that he would be tied up at a conference at the new ECOAN Lodge, but confirmed that his brother Wilmer would be happy to take us up to the site. Happy to have successfully made the necessary arrangements, we chatted for a while, learning that Santos had recently seen a Pale-billed Antpitta at the nearby Rio Chido Trail site. We pressed him for details and found out that ‘recently’ meant ‘last Tuesday’! However, the trail apparently remains extremely muddy and difficult, and it seems that a two-day expedition would be necessary if one wanted to try for the birds early in the day- a side-trip for another visit. Dinner was once again at Los Cipreses, and we caught the proprietress taking a sneaky photo of us, doubtless to prove to her other patrons that she had indeed fed the mad gringo birders on at least one occasion.

Mon Nov. 5th: Dawn saw us at the start of the Puente San Antonio trail at KM367, but the pouring rain did little to raise our hopes of getting to grips with our missing antpittas. The trail looks great for Grallariculas in particular, although it runs alongside (and occasionally through…) a river, making it tough to hear vocalisations. (At times it is necessary to walk up the shallow river to find the continuation of the trail.) The combination of river noise and the tattoo of raindrops beating down on our umbrellas meant that we were up against it. However, only c75m along the trail we heard a Rusty-breasted Antpitta, which responded once to tape but did not come in, despite us spending an extended period staring into the dripping bamboo. We reluctantly worked further up the trail, nervously negotiating the perilous river crossings and soon abandoning any attempts to keep our feet dry. The rain grew ever more intensive, and after a couple of hours we had seen little except a raucous party of White-collared Jays and Mountain Caciques. Fruiteaters, possibly including a Masked Fruiteater called frustratingly from somewhere up in the canopy above us, but in truth we continued birding more in hope than expectation. Eventually we abandoned the fruitless pursuit and tried the ECOAN Lodge Trail, but the weather continued to frustrate our best efforts, and having seen only a Long-tailed Antbird and heard more uncooperative Rusty-tinged Antpittas we elected to adjourn to the Chacita restaurant just West of the pass to warm up over a coffee and a couple of tortillas de verduras, accompanied by a local vegetable so inedible that even the skinny dog watching our every forkful turned up his nose in disdain.

We drove back down to Santos’s House and hooked up with the improbably-named Wilmer, a delightful young man who had he been any more laid back would have fallen over. He led us up an easy trail which scales the hillside behind their house, and pointed out the hidden feeder, close to which we dutifully set up scopes and cameras. After only a few minutes a female Marvellous Spatuletail came in, and after waiting the best part of an hour a stunning male finally graced us with his presence. This iconic bird perched up for 15 seconds or so, before departing as quickly as he had arrived, and despite regular visits by the female over the next two hours we did not see the male again. Wilmer confirmed that an early morning visit is preferable for more reliable sightings of the male.

Our main mission for the day having been achieved, we birded around the Lago Pomacochas, which was almost birdless, and in the last of the light we wandered around the land between the Puerto Pumas hotel and the lake, finding a cracking male Rufous-capped Antshrike, a Baron’s Spinetail, and a Rufous-chested Tanager. After dinner at Los Cipreses we bade farewell to our new-found restaurateur amigos and sat in front of the huge TV set at the hotel to complete the day’s log, sink another beer, and talk over our hits and misses to date.

Tues Nov. 6th: To start the day we worked the road Eastwards, down from the pass towards Valle Hermosa, encountering another Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant, a Green-and-Black Fruiteater and another pair of Silver-backed Tanagers. It was becoming clear that our quest for the remaining higher altitude species which had so far eluded us, (Ochre-fronted- and Rusty-breasted Antpittas, White-capped Tanager etc) was not to be successful, so we reluctantly drove lower down the East slope, stopping at KM380-383. Here we connected with a killer mini-flock, which held at least 8 Vermillion Tanagers, a stunning male Golden-collared Honeycreeper, a Rufous-rumped Antwren and a pair of Blue-browed Tanagers, which departed all too quickly. These were all species that we had searched for at altitudes slightly lower and higher than the c1750 metres at which we finally found them; it seems that in this area of Peru at least they perhaps occupy a very narrow altitudinal band. Best of all however, were two Crimson-bellied Woodpeckers picked up by GR on contact call, and which eventually showed well after a prolonged game of hide-and-seek. We also heard the bizarre call of a Wattled Guan further down the road, but it proved unresponsive, as did the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow that the Canadians had seen the day before at a fruiting tree. We found the tree without too much difficulty, but it proved to be occupied only by a large flock of Band-tailed Pigeons. Time was marching relentlessly on, and we continued our journey, dropping down beyond Afluente, and stopping here and there to bird promising spots, but adding few new species. By the time we had forded the localised floods and reached Rioja in the mid-afternoon the day had become unhelpfully hot, and despite our indefatigable trawling for Cinereous-breasted Spinetails we failed to locate this species which had seemed common on an earlier GR visit- perhaps they are the first Austral migrant Synallaxis?! Birding the Soritor road we bumped into a female Black-billed Seed-finch and a couple more Mouse-colored Tyrannulets, but little else of note, and finally the lure of the Shapaja Hotel’s ceviche proved too strong to resist.

Weds Nov. 7th: Determined to put our last few hours to good use, we hit the Shapaja Road at first light, glad of our vehicle’s high clearance as we struggled up the extremely muddy slopes beyond the village. A Bright-rumped Attila was an early highlight, with a Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher and a Blue-black Grosbeak as supporting cast. However, the rain once again intervened, and we decided to cut our losses and drive further South to revisit Upaquihua, but it seemed the same cloud followed us, and just as we arrived the heavens opened. We quickly tired of slogging through the quagmire, our exertions rewarded only with close views of an enormous snail, no doubt a drinking pal of the similarly outsized toad we had seen on our first visit. As we skidded our way back down to Buenos Aires we added one last species, a Yellow-headed Caracara, bringing our final tally to 398 species seen, not a bad total for a mere 10 days’ birding.

Having packed and checked out, we sat outside the tiny airport terminal at Tarapoto airport and cracked a last East slope beer in honour of the Spatuletail. The rest of our respective journeys went smoothly, and 20 hours later I arrived back home in London via Lima and Madrid, exhausted, but with just enough strength to pick up the phone and order the new Peru guide…

Species Lists

Species listed in square brackets [ ] were heard only. Species listed in round brackets ( ) were almost certainly seen but not confirmed. Subspecific detail noted where known/of interest. Speciation follows Schulenberg et al’s ‘Birds of Peru.’

‘E’ = Endemic to Peru. ‘NE’ = near-endemic e.g. just sneaks into Bolivia, sw Brazil, sw Ecuador, n Chile.

Site abbreviations: AP- Abra Patricia, Af.- Afluente, AV- Aguas Verdes, JG- Juan Guerra (Quebrada Shatayacu,) MdeC- Morro de Calzada, SR- Shapaja Road, TR- Tunnel Road to Yurimaguas, Up.- Upaquihua, VN: Venta Nilla Lima, Ya.- Yacumama Savannah

Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui
Heard along the SR, at AV, and at MdeC, where one also seen crossing the start of the main trail.
[Great Tinamou Tinamus major]
1 heard at Up.
[Cinereous Tinamou Crypturellus cinereus]
Heard at Ya.; a sad ‘pheww.’
[Undulated Tinamou Crypturellus undulates]
3+ heard at Up.
[Tataupa Tinamou Crypturellus tataupa]
Heard at MdeC.
White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland
3 on pools at VN.
Great Grebe Podiceps major
2 on the sea at VN.
Peruvian Pelican Pelicanus thagus
50+ offshore at VN.
Peruvian Booby Sula variegata
100+ offshore at VN.
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Many offshore at VN.
Red-legged Cormorant Phalacrocorax gaimardi
2 flew North offshore at VN.
Andean Duck Oxyura ferruginea
1 female on a pool at VN.
Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos
1 seen in flight between Buenos Aires and Up.
Torrent Duck Merganetta armata
A male, female and juv., 100m South of the Puente Nieva between the pass and the Garcia trail at cKM368.
White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis
20 at VN.
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera
4 at VN.
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
c10 in total, scattered singles at various locations.
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
3 at VN.
Cocoi Heron Ardea cocoi
1 along the Rio Mayo on the SR.
Great Egret Ardea albus
c20 in total, scattered records in open country.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Common in open country
Striated Heron Butorides striatus
4 in total; 2 on the lagoon on the right as you drive to Up. from Buenos Aires, and 2 on ponds in the savannah around Rioja.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
1 at dawn nr MdeC.
Fasciated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma fasciatum
1 posed for photographs, c200m above the Puente Nieva, KM368 at AP.
Puna Ibis Plegadis ridgwayi
10+ at NV.
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Common, seen in numbers on every day but one.
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Very common, seen in large numbers on every day but one.
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture Cathartes melambrotus
1 at KM399 above Af.
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture Cathartes burrovianus
1 at Ya.
Hook-billed Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus
An adult and an immature at Up.
Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus
Locally common over forest, 73 in total in the lowlands including 65 on 30/10. 1 above Af.
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea
1 on the road to Soritor.
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris
The commonest raptor, seen in small numbers on 8 of the 11 days.
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
1 at AP.
Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus
3 singles- JG, 2 at AP.
Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima
1 at Up.
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
1 at VN, 1 above Af.
Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis
1 on the Soritor Road, 2 at Ya.
NE [Buckley's Forest-Falcon Micrastur buckleyi]
1 heard calling repeatedly from a small isolated wood, beyond the first open area of savannah at Ya. The dirt road sweeps to the left c1km in from the Villa Maria restaurant fork, and the woodland is on the right, next to the road.
Speckled Chachalaca Ortalis guttata
1 at Up. (GR) 3 at Ya.
Andean Guan Penelope montagnii
1 between the Chacita restaurant and the Pass at AP.
Sickle-winged Guan Chamaepetes goudotii
1 above Af.
[Wattled Guan Aburria aburri]
1 heard above Af. at approx. KM381.
Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail Odontophorus speciosus speciosus
3 at very close range beside the road above Af. at KM388. Also 2 heard duetting at the Puente Aguas Verdes.
Russet-crowned Crake Anurolimnas viridis
2 seen and 6 heard at Ya. Others heard elsewhere around Rioja at savannah sites e.g. along the Soritor Road.
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinicus
5 on the lagoon on the right as you drive to Up. from Buenos Aires.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
21 in total on lowland pools.
Andean Coot Fulica ardesiaca
Common at VN.
Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana
4 on the lagoon on the right as you drive to Up. from Buenos Aires, and 3 on pools nr Rioja (GR.)
Peruvian Thick-Knee Burhinus peruvianus
2 pairs on the concrete squares beside the dirt road near the freshwater pools at VN.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
5 at VN.
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
2 at VN.
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
2 at VN.
Spotted Sandpiper Tringa macularia
1 at VN, 1 on the river from the Puente Aguas Verdes.
Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri
5 at VN.
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
3+ at VN.
Sanderling Calidris alba
Common at VN.
Whimbrel Numineus phaeopus hudsonicus
15+ at VN.
Wilson's Phalarope Steganopus tricolor
50+ on pools at VN.
Red (Grey) Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius
30+ on the sea at VN.
Semi-palmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
Common at VN.
Semi-palmated Plover Calidris semipalmatus
Common at VN.
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
20+ at VN.
Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata
30 in total at AP, 2 West of the pass, the rest in fruiting trees above Af.
Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis
7 over the two days at Up/JG/SR.
Plumbeous Pigeon Columba plumbea
1 heard at MdeC, 1 seen above Af. (GR.)
Ruddy Pigeon Columba subvinacea
1 seen at Up. (GR) others heard there, and above Af.
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata
Common around Lima.
West Peruvian Dove (Pacific White-winged Dove) Zenaida meloda
Common around Lima.
Plain-breasted Ground-Dove Columbina minuta
6 at Up., 2 on the Soritor Road.
Blue Ground-Dove Claravis pretiosa
5 in total all in flight at lowland forest sites. The call is a rather comic ‘boop.’
Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina tapalcoti
Common in open country, seen on 6 days, max 30/day.
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi decipiens
31 in total on 6 days.
White-throated Quail-Dove Geotrygon frenata
1 above Af. (GR.)
Scaled Pigeon Columba speciosa
3 singles, 1 SR, 1 MdeC, 1 AV.
White-eyed Parakeet Aratinga leucophthalmus
Common, c120 over 5 days.
Cobalt-winged Parakeet Brotogeris cyanoptera gustavi
31 seen over 5 days.
[Scarlet-fronted Parakeet (Conure) Aratinga wagleri]
Heard at AP.
Blue-winged Parrotlet Forpus xanthopterygius
15 between Buenos Aires and Up.
Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus
33 over 3 days at Tarapoto sites.
Red-billed Parrot Pionites sordidus
3 at AP.
Speckle-faced Parrot Pionus tumultuosus seniloides
3 between the Chacita restaurant and the pass at AP.
Scaly-naped Parrot Amazona mercenaria
10 total at AP over 3 days.
Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana
7 seen, others heard, most at Tarapoto sites.
[Pheasant Cuckoo Dromococcyx phasianellus]
1 heard calling well up the Shapaja Road, (very approx. 11kms from the main road?) just after the road crosses a ford, and then bends right and then left to skirt around an isolated, woodland-enclosed farmhouse.
Hoatzin Opisthocomus hoazin
2 at Up.
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani
Very common in small parties in open country.
NE Cinnamon Screech-Owl Otus petersoni
1 showed really well 3/11/07, at the start of the Garcia trail at AP, and was heard in the same spot at dawn the next day. An uncommon and range-limited near-endemic, (it also occurs along outlying ranges in southern Ecuador, but this is by far the most accessible site,) and a smart owl to boot.
Band-bellied Owl Pulsatrix melanota
1 seen poorly, flying over us in response to tape along the 1st 200m of the main trail at MdeC.
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium brasilianum
2 at Up., plus 1 heard at JG.
Striped Owl Asio clamator
1 c1km along the entrance road at MdeC, and 1 at Ya.
Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis
1 flushed at dawn whilst driving up the SR.
[Ocellated Poorwill Nyctiphrynus ocellatus]
1 heard 200m up the main trail at MdeC (GR.)
Rufous Nightjar Caprimulgus rufus
1 seen whilst spot-lighting at MdeC.
Spot-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus maculicaudus
3 taped in at Ya.
Blackish Nightjar Caprimulgus nigrescens
A pair seen whilst spot-lighting at MdeC.
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
Seen on 5 days, incljuding a huge flock of c400 over Garcia Village, AP.
Pale-rumped Swift Chaetura egregia
2 on the SR.
Short-tailed Swift Chaetura brachyura
2, Posic Savannah nr Rioja, (GR.)
White-tipped Swift Aeronautes montivagus
52 over 4 days, max 30/day.
Fork-tailed Palm-Swift Tachornis squamata
36 total over 3 days.
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis
1 on the entrance road to MdeC.
Green Hermit Phaethornis guy
1, Puente Aguas Verdes (GR.)
Great-billed (Long-tailed-) Hermit Phaethornis malaris
1, JG.
Gray-chinned Hermit Phaethornis griseigularis
2 at a lek on the main road, 300m Southeast of the restaurant Bella, which is by the Puente Aguas Verdes. The lek is within the forest, visible from a small gap in the cover, 10m before the start of the roadside railing, on the left of the road as you walk from the bridge back towards Rioja.)
Black-throated Hermit Phaethornis atrimentalis
1 well up the SR.
Gray-breasted Sabrewing Campylopterus largipennis
I at Up. (GR.)
NE Napo Sabrewing Campylopterus villaviscensio
2, white sand forest trail, AV.
Sparkling Violet-ear Colibri coruscans
2 seen on two days, Puerto Pumas hotel garden, La Florida.
Ecuadorian Piedtail Phlogophilus hemileucurus
A total of 7 seen over two days above Afluente, either side of the Siempre Chuque Vulcanizidora clearing, KM388-389.
Violet-headed Hummingbird Klais guimeti
1 above Afluente at KM389.
Wire-crested Thorntail Popelairia popelairii
2 males and a female in the canopy at the Southeastern edge of the Siempre Chuque Vulcanizidora clearing, KM389.
Fork-tailed Woodnymph Thalurania furcata
1 below the tunnel on the TR, and 1 above Af. (GR.)
Golden-tailed Sapphire Chrysuronia oenone
1, 100m beyond the tunnel on the TR.
White-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia chionogaster
The commonest hummer in the garden of the Puerto Pumas hotel, La Florida, max. 10/day.
Sapphire-spangled Emerald Amazilia lacteal
A male at JG, and a 2nd at Up.
Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys
1 at the pass, and 1 on the ECOAN Lodge trail, AP.
Bronzy Inca Coeligena coeligena
2 on the Garcia Trail, and 2 1km below the El Chofercito restaurant.
Collared Inca Coeligena torquata
1 between the pass and the Garcia trail, and 2 just above the Valle Hermosa.
E Royal Sunangel Heliangelus regalis
1 on the sunangel knife-edge ridge, AP at KM371.5. A range-restricted endemic occurring only patchily in SW Loreto, NE Cajamarca and here in NW San Martin.
Emerald-bellied Puffleg Eriocnemis alinae
2 males, both around the pass at AP.
Black-tailed Trainbearer Lesbia victoriae
1 at the pass, AP, KM364.5.
Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina smaragdinicollis
3 around the pass, 1 just above Valle Hermosa.
Long-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus kingi
2 imm. males on the Garcia trail, and 1 above Af.
E Marvellous Spatuletail Loddigesia mirabilis
One or more females visiting Santos’s feeder every 15 mins. or so (1pm-4pm) on hillside c3.5kms West of La Florida. A male visited the same feeder only once, perching up for 15 precious seconds at 1:45pm.
Black-throated Mango Anthrocothorax nigricollis
1 female on the Soritor Road.
Golden-headed Quetzal Pharomachrus auriceps
1 just above the tunnel on the TR, plus 3 others heard e.g. above Af.
[Crested Quetzal Pharomachrus antisianus]
1 heard on the Garcia Trail.
[Blue-crowned Trogon Trogon curucui]
1 heard MdeC.
Amazonian White-tailed Trogon Trogon viridis
1 seen JG, and heard at 3 other sites.
Masked Trogon Trogon personatuts
A male on the ECOAN Lodge trail, AP, and one heard there on our 2nd visit.
Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata
A pair near the car park at MdeC.
Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona
1 at the lagoon on the right as you drive to Up. from Buenos Aires.
Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana
2 at the lagoon on the right as you drive to Up. from Buenos Aires, 1 along the Soritor Road.
[Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhynchum]
1 heard at MdeC.
Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus momota
2 at JG, 2 at Up.
Bluish-fronted Jacamar Galbula cyanescens
2 at Up, 1 heard MdeC.
Striolated Puffbird Nystalus striolatus
2 along the forest edge trail at MdeC.
Black-fronted Nunbird Monasa nigrifrons
4 at JG, 2 on the SR.
Swallow-wing (-ed Puffbird) Chelidoptera tenebrosa
3 on the SR, 2 at MdeC.
Gilded Barbet Capito auratus
14 over 4 days at TR, MdeC, AV.
Versicolored Barbet Eubucco versicolor
2 females seen above Af.
Emerald Toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus cyanolaemus
7 in total over 3 days at AP plus others heard; at the pass, ECOAN Lodge etc.
[Golden-collared Toucanet Selenidera reinwardtii]
1 heard at Aguas Verdes, 300m East of the bridge.
Chestnut-eared Aracari Pteroglossus castanotis
9 in total over 4 days, at SR, MdeC etc.
Yellow-ridged (Channel-billed-) Toucan Ramphastos culminatus
1 below the tunnel on the TR, 1 at MdeC.
E Speckle-chested Piculet Picumnus steindachneri
At least two individuals in the Afluente flock above Af., 4/11/07. Photographed. Per BOP ‘Uncommon and geographically restricted.’
Lafresnaye's Piculet Picumnus lafresnayi
1 at Up., c150m along the narrow side trail that kicks right after the main trail c200m from the road. 1 at MdeC, 200m up the main trail from the car park.
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker Melanerpes cruentatus
9 in total over 6 days.
Bar-bellied Woodpecker Veniliornis nigriceps
1 on the SR.
Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus
2 above Af., KM389.
Little Woodpecker Veniliornis passerinus
1 below Af. at KM393, 1 above Af. at KM389. The latter record in particular at c1400m is high relative to BOP’s stated altitudinal range of ‘below 1000m.’
Red-stained Woodpecker Veniliornis affinis
1 c5 kms below the tunnel on the TR, 2 at MdeC.
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Piculus rivolii brevirostris
4 in total over 3 days at AP.
Spot-breasted Woodpecker Colaptes punctigula
1 at MdeC.
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
1 at MdeC (GR) 1 heard at Ya.
Crimson-bellied Woodpecker Campephilus haematogaster
Two birds eventually seen well if briefly at approx. KM381, well above Af., 6/11/07. 1 was an adult male, the other showed blackish underparts and was perhaps an immature bird. BOP describes as ‘rare in humid montane forest along east slope of the Andes 900-2300m.’
Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos
A single bird seen on each of our two visits to Up., and 1 on the white sand trail at AV.
Tyrannine Woodcreeper Dendrocincla tyrannina
2 opposite the ECOAN lodge gates at the pass. BOP: ‘rare in humid montane forest 1850-3150.’
Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus amazonus
2 at MdeC.
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorynchus spirurus
1 just beyond the tunnel on the TR, and 1 at MdeC.
Buff-throated Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus guttatus
A single at Up.
Montane Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger
1 between the pass and Valle Hermosa at AP.
Pale-legged Hornero Furnarius leucopus
Two pairs seen in open country around Tarapoto.
Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae azarae
1 on the white sand trail at AV.
Rufous Spinetail Synallaxis unirufa
1 on each of two visits to the ECOAN Lodge trail at the pass.
Ash-browed Spinetail Cranioleuca curtata
2 above Af., 1 at KM389, 1 at KM393, in mixed flocks.
Dark-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis albigularis
1 on the white sand trail at AV., 1 heard above Af.
[Plain-crowned Spinetail Synallaxis gujanensis]
Heard at Up.
E Baron's Spinetail Cranioleuca baroni
1 in scrub between the Puerto Pumas Hotel and Lago Pomacochas. BOP lumps the baroni group as a part of the Line-cheeked Spinetail complex. If split, (per Stotz et al 1996) C. baroni is ‘Baron’s’ and C. antisiensis is ‘Northern Line-cheeked.’ The latter occurs in SW Ecuador and N Peru, (Piura and Cajamarca s. to n. Lambayeque.)
Common Thornbird (Rufous-fronted Thornbird) Phacellodomus rufifrons peruvianus
11 in total over 3 days in open country around Tarapoto. Birds here are of the isolated Marañón/ Huallaga Valley peruvianus race, a candidate for full species status.)
Equatorial Graytail Xenerpestes singularis
1 at the tail end of the Afluente flock above Af. at KM389 eventually responded to tape and perched up above us giving reasonable views. In Peruvian terms occurs only in limited areas of Cajamarca and Amazonas, plus (happily for us) extreme Northwest San Martin.
Streaked Tuftedcheek Pseudocolaptes boissonneautii
1 on the ECOAN lodge trail at the pass.
Montane Foliage-gleaner Anabacerthia striaticollis
4 in the large flock above Af.
Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner Philydor rufus
1 just above the tunnel on the TR, 3 in the flock above Af.
[Black-billed Treehunter Thripadectes melanorhynchus
1 heard above Af. at KM388.
[Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner Automolus ochrolaemus]
1 heard on the SR.
Tawny-throated Leaftosser Sclerurus mexicanus
1, c1km up the main trail at MdeC showed very well in response to tape. A classy ground-dweller.
Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans
At least 6 in the flock above Af.
[Great Antshrike Taraba major]
1 heard well up the SR.
Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus
A pair seen at Up., and another heard on the Soritor Road (GR.)
Lined Antshrike Thamnophilus tenuepunctatus
A female seen above Af., and another heard on the white sand trail at AV.
Uniform Antshrike Thamnophilus unicolor
A cracking male on the Garcia trail and a female heard there. At the upper end of their altitudinal range here.
Plain-winged (Black-capped) Antshrike Thamnophilus schistaceus
A pair seen on the SR, and heard below the tunnel on the TR and at AV.
Mouse-colored Antshrike Thamnophilus murinus
A male showed very well in response to tape, c10kms up the SR. the song is a relatively monotonous ‘shot off perch’ affair with a louder/lower last note, ‘cheese-cheese-cheese-cheese-cheese-cheese-cheese-YEAH!’ Slower, shorter and lower than Plain-winged, though we still struggled to reliably distinguish between the two species’ songs.
Rufous-capped Antshrike Thamnophilus ruficapillus jaczewskii
A male showed itself without too much of a struggle, in bushes between the Puerto Pumas Hotel and Lago Pomacochas. Also heard on Santos’s hillside, c4kms to the West. Birds here are of the disjunct Northern race. BOP lists the species as ‘rare to uncommon’.
Northern Slaty- (Huallaga-) Antshrike Thamnophilus punctatus huallagae
A pair well up the Shatayacu Road at JG were followed the next day with a single male at Up., with others heard at both sites. The species appears to be locally fairly common at both sites in suitable forest habitat. Huallagae has a very restricted range, occurring only along a short stretch of the Rio Huallaga.
Stripe-chested Antwren Myrmotherula longicauda
A pair seen at Up. and others heard there. Also heard at JG, and above Af. (GR.) Song is a long monotone series of bi-syllabic phrases, ‘stripe-it, stripe-it…’
White-flanked Antwren Myrmotherula axillaris
A pair attending a juvenile at Up., and 3 along the white sand trail at AV were all of the (central Huallaga) undescribed foothill race.
E Ash-throated Antwren Herpsilochmus parkeri
A pair jointly responded to tape and gave poor views, immediately Northwest of the Siempre Chuque Vulcanizaidora clearing above Af., KM389, 4/11/07. It’s unclear whether they subsequently joined the Afluente flock, or whether they beat a hasty retreat, but either way we never saw them after our initial contact despite combing the flock for the next two hours. BOP described the species as ‘locally fairly common,’ which is pushing it a bit in our experience! The range is very restricted in both geographical and altitudinal terms, basically only in San Martin and only at 1250-1450m.
Yellow-breasted Antwren Herpsilochmus axillaris
2 with the flock above Af. at KMM388. Per BOP, ‘rare to uncommon.’
Rufous-winged Antwren Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus
A pair at Up., came in a long way to tape, showing above the 1st small side trail off to the right, and a pair showed extremely well in low canopy 500m along the white sand trail at AV.
Long-tailed Antbird Drymophila caudata
3 seen in total on two visits to the ECOAN Lodge trail and at least 2 more heard there, also heard along the Garcia trail.
Rufous-rumped Antwren Terenura callinota
One showed very well above Af. at KM381.
Rusty-backed Antwren Formacivora rufa
4 at Up.
Blackish Antbird Cercomacra nigrescens aequatorialis/notata
1 above Af. at KM388.
White-backed Fire-eye Pyriglena leuconota castanoptera
Two males and a female seen on the ECOAN Lodge trail were of race castanoptera. The females show a black head, body and tail, and rufous wings.
White-browed Antbird Myrmoborus leucophrys
At least 6 at Up. where common. Also heard above Af.
(White-breasted) Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis cantator peruviana
2 at MdeC and 1 on the white sand trail at AV. Also heard c5kms below the tunnel on the TR.
[Scale-backed Antbird Hylophylax poecilinota]
1 heard 1km below the tunnel on the TR.
(Southern) Chestnut-tailed Antbird Myrmeciza hemimelaena
A pair seen very well at Up.
Zimmer's Antbird (Northern Chestnut-tailed Antbird) Myrmeciza castanea
A male showed at ludicrously short range, c400m in along the white sand trail at AV. This uncommon and local species is now split from what was Southern Chestnut-tailed Antbird, the latter becoming plain old ‘Chestnut-tailed-.’ The song is a slow lilting ascending warble and seems radically different from the accelerating, descending 'wheep-wheep-whee-whi-whi-weeu-chuh-chuh' (1.5-2 secs long) of M. hemimelaena.
E Rusty-tinged Antpitta Grallaria przewalskii
2 seen after an inordinate amount of labour, c1km down the ECOAN Lodge trail, 3/11/07. At least 7 more were heard along this trail, and others were heard elsewhere around the pass e.g. Valle Hermosa. This was the only highland antpitta species we heard vocalizing naturally (i.e. not tape-stimulated) in five days’ birding at the pass.
[Plain-backed Antpitta Grallaria haplanota]
1 heard above Af. at KM388.5, 4/11/07. (CG.) BOP has as ‘poorly known, apparently rare and local.’
E [Chestnut Antpitta Grallaria blakei]
1 heard very distantly, responding to our tape-trawling at KM361 (3.5kms towards Oso Perdido from the pass.) This was the only individual we heard despite trawling in all suitable higher altitude areas, although the Canadian group mentioned in passing that they had seen one ‘on the wet trail’ which we took to mean the Garcia Trail.
[Thrush-like Antpitta Myrmothera campanisona]
3 heard along the white sand trail at AV. We didn’t try to tape them out given the super-dense habitat.
[Rusty-breasted Antpitta Grallaricula ferrugineipectus leymebambae]
1 responded briefly to tape, only c75m along the Puente San Antonio Gully trail (50m beyond the first river crossing) at KM367, but could not be coaxed into view. The song we heard was a 6- or 7-note high-pitched monotone/slightly descending whistle ‘phee-phee-phee-phee-phee-phee,’ perhaps 1.5-2 seconds total duration. Note that this sounds very different from the Isler’s CD, which features a (presumably nominate ferrugineipectus) Venezuelan recording.
[Northern White-crowned Tapaculo Scytolopus atratus]
Heard on two days above Af. replaced at higher altitudes by the following species.
E Peruvian Rufous-vented Tapaculo Scytalopus femoralis
4 seen along the ECOAN trail, and at least 2 others heard. Also heard along the Garcia Trail, and from the road between the pass and Valle Hermosa. The song is a typical rhythmic Scytalopus affair; c45 monotone ‘cyuk…cyuk…cyuk…’ notes, 3 per second at first, then accelerating and decelerating latterly as if running out of steam. Responded well to tape as usual, coming in extremely close, and also ascended to the canopy on occasion.
Green-and-Black Fruiteater Pipreola arcuata chachapoyas
1 seen from the road just Southeast of the pass, others heard at higher altitudes around the pass.
E ([Masked Fruiteater Pipreola pulchra])
A fruiteater heard from the Puente San Antonio Gully trail was almost certainly this species.
[Scaled Fruiteater Ampelioides tschudii]
1 heard somewhere above Af., exact location not noted.
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock Rupicola peruviana
One below the Puente Aguas Verde. Otherwise seen only above Afluente; a female/imm. at KM393, 2 pairs at KM388 and a male at KM389.
Band-tailed Manakin Pipra fasciicauda
1 female c200m down the main trail at Up.
[Fiery-capped Manakin Machaeropterus pyrocephalus]
Heard on the SR, 1km below the tunnel on the TR, and on the white sand trail at AV.
Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin Neopelma sulphureiventer
2 seen and others heard at Up.
White-browed Purpletuft Iodopleura isabellae
2, c300m along the white sand trail at AV showed very well, perching up on bare snags above the canopy.
Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet Phyllomyias plumbeiceps
2+ above Af. at KM387. BOP notes: ‘poorly known…rare to uncommon but probably often overlooked.’
Black-capped Tyrannulet Phyllomyias nigrocapillus
1 on the ECOAN Lodge trail at the pass.
Golden-faced Tyrannulet (Peruvian Tyrannulet) Zimmerius viridiflavus chrysops
16 seen in total over 5 days, i.e. one of the commoner and more distinctive tyrannids at mid-elevations. The only call we ever heard birds give, (and we heard it a lot,) was a distinctive ‘pheurr-de-PHWEET’, with the last syllable being stressed and strongly upswept. Opinion is divided as to whether this is a good split from Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Z. viridiflavus of Ecuador. BOP continues to lump it with that species, relegating East slope Northern Andean birds to Z.f. chyrsops, and noting that chrysops’ call is ‘hu-hu-hueet.’ All the Chrysops we saw had yellow restricted to the face with a whitish belly and grey flanks, (versus the yellow-bellied viridiflavus further South in central Peru.) Birds were seen just below the tunnel on the TR, on the white sand trail at AV, and above Af. where reasonably common, max. 8/day. Another race/species flavidifrons occurs on the West slope (Piura.)
E Mishana Tyrannulet Zimmerius villarejoi
Easily found at Up.; once the call is learned (a sweet, upslurred ‘sooee sooee’) you realize that the species is rather common here. We saw 4 on our first visit, with an additional bird 300m up the main trail at MdeC. Only known from the white sand forest near the Rio Nanay in NE Peru and here in the Mayo Valley.
White-lored Tyrannulet Ornithion inerme
2 birds c1km below the tunnel on the TR road. The median and greater covert bars made up of discreet white dots are distinctive. Call is a monotone ‘psweee-swee-swee-sweert.’
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum
1 in the Puerto Pumas hotel grounds at La Florida, and 1 at Up. on the last morning.
Mouse-colored Tyrannulet Phaeomyias murina
4 in scrub habitat along the entrance road 1km before reaching the main trail entrance (KM10) at Up. 2 on the Soritor Road.
Yellow Tyrannulet Capsiempis flaveola
2 in savannah along the Posic road West of Rioja.
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet Tyrannulus elatus
1 at Up., doing its welcoming ‘three beers’ call.
Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster
12 over 3 days plus others heard. Commonest around Up. and at MdeC.
Mottle-backed Elaenia Elaenia gigas
1 in open fields with isolated trees at KM407, (c10kms towards Rioja from Puente Aguas Verdes.)
Lesser Elaenia Elaenia chiriquensis
1 joined our Elaenia-fest at MdeC, and helpfully called; a grating ‘PE-wurr’, the 2nd syllable lower than the first.
Sierran Elaenia Elaenia pallatangae
4 in total over 3 days at higher altitudes (2100m+), at the Puerto Pumas Hotel, Valle Hermosa, and the pass.
Small-billed Elaenia Elaenia parvirostris
2 at MdeC showed well and allowed comparison with Lesser- and Yellow-bellied-.
[Forest Elaenia Myiopagis gaimardii]
1 heard c1km below the tunnel on the TR.
Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea
1 near the Puente Nieva Southeast of the pass at AP (GR.)
Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet Mecocerculus minor
3 opposite the ECOAN Lodge gates at the pass at AP, and 1 on the ECOAN Lodge trail.
Many-colored Rush-Tyrant Tachuris rubrigastra
1 in reeds at the edge of the freshwater pools at VN. (CG.)
Streak-necked Flycatcher Mionectes striaticollis
7 in total over 5 days, max. 2/day. Usually in mixed flocks e.g. above Af.
Olive-striped Flycatcher Mionectes olivaceus
2 in the Afluente flock above Af., KM389.
[Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleagineus]
1 heard on the white sand trail at AV.
E Inca Flycatcher Leptopogon taczanowskii
1 between the pass and Valle Hermosa, and 1 at the Puente San Antonio Gully Trail at KM367 i.e. at 2150-2350m. Call is an explosive ‘SKEEW!’ similar to that of Ornate Flycatcher. Endemic and cute- a winning combination in my book.
Sepia-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon amaurocephalus
1 at MdeC. Aptly named.
Slaty-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon superciliaris
The Andean replacement for the previous species. 2 c1km below the tunnel on the TR, (c700m?) and 3 above Af. at KM387 (c1500m,) all presumably nominate race. The call is a characteristic ‘witchoo-witchoo.’
Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant Phylloscartes ophthalmicus
5 of the Northern nominate race seen above Af. KM389, heard at the same location on our 2nd visit.
Ecuadorian Tyrannulet (Ecuadorian Bristle-Tyrant) Phylloscartes gualaquizae
4 between KM387 and KM389 above Af. A very localised species in Peru, known only from the upper Mayo Valley.
Alder Flycatcher Empidonax alnorum
1 of these boreal migrants seen in the forest West of Moyobamba, helpfully giving its contact call; ‘pip.’ 2 seen on the Soritor Rd West of Rioja.
Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant Myiornis ecaudatus
3 seen very well in response to tape on the Soritor Road. The world’s smallest passerine, a statistic due in part to its almost total lack of a tail! Small but perfectly formed.
NE White-bellied Pygmy-Tyrant Myiornis albiventris
Another tiny canopy-dweller, common at Up. We saw at least 5 individuals. A relatively recent split from Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, M. auricularis.
Double-banded Pygmy-Tyrant Lophotriccus vitiosus
1 showed well on the SR, 30/10/07.
[Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus]
Heard on the ECOAN Lodge trail at the pass, and above Af. at KM388.
E Johnson's Tody-Tyrant (Lulu's Tody-Tyrant) Poecilotriccus luluae
3 seen and 2 heard at Abra Patricia. A pair at the start (road-end edge) of the 2nd clearing on the Garcia trail, another between the pass and the Valle Hermosa, and 2 others heard below the Valle Hermosa. Prone to responding very strongly to tape and perching out giving amazing views. A recently discovered and stunning endemic.
Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus striaticollis
1 seen at the Ya. Savannah.
Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer
1 seen well up the Quebrada Shatayacu at JG.
[Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant (-Bamboo-Tyrant) Hemitriccus flammulatus]
Singles heard well up the SR on both our visits.
Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher Poecilotriccus latirostre
1 seen at the forest site 5kms West of Moyobamba.
Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum peruanum
3 seen at Up. and 4 others heard at various lowland sites.
Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum chrysocrotaphum
1 seen on the last morning on the SR.
Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant Euscarthmus meloryphus fulviceps
1 of the isolated Huallaga Valley race at Up.
Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant Pseudotriccus ruficeps
1 on the ECOAN Lodge trail at the pass.
Gray-crowned Flycatcher (-Flatbill) Tolmomyias poliocephalus
1 c5kms below the tunnel on the TR, and 1 on the lower section of the main trail at MdeC.
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher (Olive-faced Fl/bill) Tolmomyias flaviventris
1 at JG and another 6 heard there, (a loud ‘tsweet!’) and 1 on the SR.
Ornate Flycatcher Myiotriccus ornatus
1 above Af. in the Afluente flock at KM388.5. BOP notes ‘does not join mixed-species flocks;
perhaps this individual was seduced by the sheer scale of activity?
Olive-chested Flycatcher Myiophobus cryptoxanthus
1 seen at the forest site 5kms West of Moyobamba. Also heard above Af. at KM389.
Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea
1 above Af. at KM388.
Cliff Flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea
2 just above the tunnel on the TR. 2 on the Sunangel knife-edge ridge at KM371.5 at AP.
NE Olive Flycatcher Mitrephanes olivaceus
2, c1km down the ECOAN Lodge trail at the pass. The call we heard is an accelerating, rather toneless ‘tuf, tuf, tuf-tuf-tuf-tuftuftuf.’
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi
1 on the white sand trail at AV, 1 seen above Af. at KM383, and 1 heard at the forest site West of Moyobamba.
Smoke-colored Pewee Contopus fumigatus
1 just below Af. at KM393, and 1 between the pass and the Valle Hermosa.
[Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus]
1 heard above Af. at KM389. (GR.)
Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens
5 in total over 3 days, most around Af.
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
1 seen 100m downstream from the Puente Aguas Verdes.
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
2 at Venta Nilla. Unusually for urban Lima where the sooty morph dominates, both were spanking crimson males.
Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant Myiotheretes striaticollis
3 with Cliff Flycatchers on the Sunangel knife-edge ridge at KM371.5 at AP.
Rufous-tailed Tyrant Knipolegus poecilurus
A surprisingly high total of 14 over 4 days, most around Af./AP.
Long-tailed Tyrant Colonia colonus niveiceps
3 singles, on the Soritor Road, on the white sand trail at AV, and above Af. at KM391.
Bright-rumped Attila Attila spadiceus
1 posed for photographs on the last morning well up the SR.
Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer tuberculifer
2 in the Afluente flock above Af. at KM389.
Short-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus ferox
1 c1km back along the road to Buenos Aires from Up., and 1 at MdeC.
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
1 c2km back along the road to Buenos Aires from Up.
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
Common; seen on all but 3 days. If there’s an interesting silhouette on a snag half a mile away it’ll be a TK…
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus
1 on the SR.
Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua pitangua
7 total over 5 days. The ‘zeer-eer-eer’ call is usually the first indication of the species’ presence.
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculates
Only one; c1km below the tunnel on the TR.
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynastes luteiventris
1 on the SR.
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similes
Seen on 6 days, locally common.
Gray-capped Flycatcher Myiozetetes granadensis
1 between Af. and Rioja at KM407.
Dusky-chested Flycatcher Myiozetetes luteiventris
2, 5kms below the tunnel on the TR. The call is an often-repeated, downswept plaintive ‘phyoh.’
Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucophaius
2 at MdeC.
Lesser Kiskadee Philohydor lictor
2 on the lagoon on the right as you drive to Up. from Buenos Aires.
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
Common; seen on 6 days.
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus
2 males at Up., and a female 5kms below the tunnel on the TR.
Green-backed Becard (Yellow-cheeked Becard) Pachyramphus (viridis) xanthogenys
Two males; 1 at KM393 above Af, and 1 at KM389. BOP lumps the Andean xanthogenys with Green-backed Becard of lowland Eastern Latin America, despite the fact that xanthogenys is a foothill bird, is geographically distant, (E slope in Ecuador and Central Peru vs. SE Venezuela, lower Amazonian Brazil, E and S Bolivia,) and has different vocalisations.
Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata
2 on the SR, 1 above Af.
White-collared Jay Cyanolyca viridicyana jolyaea
12 in total over 3 days around the pass.
Violaceous Jay Cyanocorax violaceus
Heard and seen at 2 lowland sites.
Green (Inca-) Jay Cyanocorax yncas yncas
11 total over 3 days; 2 at Up., Garcia area, above Af. etc.
Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo Vireolanius leucotis
2 showed well in a mixed flock 50m above the tunnel on the TR.
Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis
1 at Up., and 1 heard above Af.
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus
c20 total over 5 days.
Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys
1 above Af. at KM380.
Dusky-capped Greenlet Hylophilus hypoxanthus
1, c5kms below the tunnel on the TR.
Olivaceous Greenlet Hylophilus olivaceus
3 above Af. at KM380-381.
Ashy-headed Greenlet Hylophilus pectoralis
4 at Up. Call; ‘peew-peeerrrrr’ with descending 2nd note.
White-capped Dipper Cinclus leucocephalus
A pair on the river between the pass and Garcia, just below the Puente Nieva.
Andean Solitaire Myadestes ralloides ralloides
2 seen and 8+ heard around the pass down to c2100m. Birds here are of the nominate (South of the Marañon) race.
[White-eared Solitaire Entomodestes leucotis]
Heard on both visits to the Garcia trail.
Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus
12 seen at various sites.
Great Thrush Turdus fuscater gigantodes
27 total over 5 days at Abra Patricia. Easy to see around the pass itself.
Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus
A male well down the Garcia trail, and a 2nd male on our 2nd visit.
(Andean) Slaty Thrush Turdus nigriceps
A pair in the Afluente flock above Af., KM389. An Austral migrant, this was a late record.
Pale-breasted Thrush Turdus leucomelas
1 watched feeding in the open area between the first section of main trail and the forest trail proper, 60m above the two pools at MdeC, 1/11/07. Although widespread in Eastern South America, this species is known only from this area and Pampas del Heath in Peru.
Black-billed Thrush Turdus ignobilis
17 total over 7 days at low-mid elevations.
Hauxwell's Thrush Turdus hauxwelli
1, c1km along the white sand trail at AV, only c50m from the individual described below. Also heard on the SR.
E? ‘Gray-tailed morph of Hauxwell’s Thrush’ Turdus hauxwelli/species novum
1 seen c1km up the white sand trail at AV, 25m beyond the left hand bend where a minor downhill trail kicks off to the right skirting an open area. The bird is dull/mid brown, with a heavily streaked- (dark on whitish) throat, prominent yellowish bill, and narrow yellow-orange eye-ring. The eye is dark but dull red.
Gray-mantled Wren Odontorchilus branickii
2 seen in the Afluente flock above Af., KM388.5
Sharpe's Wren Cinnycerthia unirufa
A noisy group of 5 seen c300m down the ECOAN Lodge trail. A local species in Peru, restricted to NW San Martin, NW Amazonas and SE Piura.
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Commonly heard, a couple seen.
Mountain Wren Troglodytes solstitialis
1 on the ECOAN Lodge trail was the only one seen, though also heard between the pass and the Valle Hermosa.
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys
5 seen, but commonly heard around the pass and down to c2000m.
NE Bar-winged Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucoptera
We played lots of tape along the Garcia trail and after an epic struggle had poor views of a circling bird. The following day we played tape a little lower down from the road, c50m Southeast of the Garcia Village and a bird showed beautifully. Note to self: only play tape from the road. Note too that a number of Grey-breasted Wood-Wrens also responded strongly to Bar-winged tape…BOP lists as ‘very local’, though I prefer Ridgely and Tudor’s ‘known only from several remote, isolated mountain ranges in n. Peru.’ (In Peru the species occurs only in Cajamarca, SW Loreto and here in NW San Martin. Range now known to extend into S. Ecuador.)
Scaly-breasted Wren (Southern Nightingale-Wren) Microcerculus marginatus
2, c1km up the main trail at MdeC showed well as they circled us in response to tape.
Chestnut-breasted Wren Cyphorhinus thoracicus
1 came in to tape and showed very well, c300m down the ECOAN Lodge trail.
Buff-breasted Wren Thryothorus leucotis
1 on the Quebrada Shatayacu at JG, and 1 at Up.
[Thrush-like Wren Campylorhynchus turdinus]
Heard on 3 days, e.g. at Ya.
Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea parvirostris
1 of the Amazonian race in a small mixed flock at Up.
White-winged Swallow Tachycineta albiventer
2 perched about half a mile away on a rock in the Rio Mayo, scoped from the SR.
Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
8 in total over 4 days.
Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
Common, max. 25 per day.
White-banded Swallow Atticora fasciata
Singles seen hawking insects over the Rio Mayo on each visit to the SR.
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis
27 total over 5 days.
Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanica
5 total over 2 days in the garden of the Puerto Pumas hotel in La Florida.
Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi
3 seen above Af. Heard at a couple of other sites.
Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca
3 seen on two visits to the ECOAN Lodge Trail. As gorgeous as ever.
Canada Warbler Wilsonia canadiensis
The commonest wood warbler; a total of 8 over 3 days.
Slate-throated Redstart (-Whitestart) Myioborus miniatus
9 seen over 3 days; most above Af.
Spectacled Redstart (-Whitestart) Myioborus melanocephalus
22 seen over 5 days.
Citrine Warbler Basileuterus luteoviridis striaticeps
2+ along the Puente San Antonio Gully trail at KM367.
Russet-crowned Warbler Basileuterus coronatus
Heard every day around the pass, and 2 seen on the ECOAN Lodge trail.
Three-striped Warbler Basileuterus tristriatus
2 above Af. at KM388, and 2 a little higher at KM382.
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola
7 in total over 3 days.
Black-faced Tanager Schistochlamus melanopis
Only 1; on the first section of the main trail at MdeC.
Magpie Tanager Cissopis leveriana
18 over 5 days, always in small groups.
Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus
12 over 3 days around the pass.
Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus canigularis signatus
1 seen KM389 above Af. (GR.)
Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus flavigularis
6 below the tunnel on the TR , and 2 at Abra Patricia (GR.)
Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager Cnemoscopus rubrirostris chrysogaster
11 over 3 days, at relatively high altitudes at AP.
Rufous-chested Tanager Thlypopsis ornata
1 in scrub between the Hotel Puerto Pumas and the Lago Pomacochas, and 1 between the pass and the Valle Hermosa.
Guira Tanager Hemithraupis guira
A lone female in the Afluente flock at Af.
Yellow-backed Tanager Hemithraupis flavicollis sororia
Just one male seen; c5kms below the tunnel on the TR.
White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus
17 over 7 days, at both lowland- and mid-elevation sites.
Olive Tanager Chlorothraupis carmioli
4 on the TR, in the first kilometer below the tunnel.
Yellow-crested Tanager Tachyphonus rufiventer
1 below the tunnel on the TR (GR.)
White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus
2, 5kms below the tunnel on the TR.
Hepatic Tanager Piranga flava
2 on the TR, around the tunnel.
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
2 on the white sand trail at AV, and 3 above Af., KM387-391.
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
2 on the TR, in the first kilometer below the tunnel.
White-winged Tanager Piranga leucoptera
4 above Af., KM387-391.
Vermilion Tanager Calochaetes coccineus
A flock of 8 at KM380 above Af.
E Black-bellied Tanager (Huallaga Tanager) Ramphocelus melanogaster
At least 16 in total over 5 days; first bird seen in the forest c5kms West of Moyobamba. Restricted to the Mayo- and upper Huallaga Valleys.
Silver-beaked Tanager Ramphocelus carbo
15+ over 3 days in the Tarapoto area.
Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
Common; seen in good numbers on 9 days.
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum
Common; seen in good numbers on 7 days.
Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala
10 in total over 3 days, most at higher altitudes around the pass.
Hooded Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis montana
2 just above the Puente Nieva at KM368, AP.
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus somptuosus somptuosus
1 at KM382 above Af.
Yellow-throated Tanager Iridosornis analis
8 total over 3 days e.g. above Af. The call is a distinctive, descending ‘psseeeooo.’ A typically good-looking though relatively low altitude Iridisornis, the only one of the genus we saw on the trip.
Purple-throated Euphonia Euphonia chlorotica
4 on the SR.
Thick-billed Euphonia Euphonia laniirostris
2 at Up.
Bronze-green Euphonia Euphonia mesochrysa
1 c1km below the tunnel on the TR, and 2 above Af. at KM390.
White-vented Euphonia Euphonia minuta
A pair below the tunnel on the TR and a male at MdeC.
Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster
5 over 3 days in total at lowland sites e.g. a pair just below the tunnel on the TR on 31/10/07, (a four-euphonia site/day!)
Orange-eared Tanager Chlorochrysa calliparaea bourcieri
4 above Af. at KM387, and 1 at KM382.
Turquoise Tanager Tangara mexicana
1 on the TR (GR.)
Paradise Tanager Tangara chilensis
20+ over 3 days. Most if not all were of the upper Huallaga race chlorocorys.
Green-and-gold Tanager Tangara schrankii
6 above Af. at KM387-391, and 1 at KM381.
Golden Tanager Tangara arthus pulchra
24 over 3 days at AP.
Saffron-crowned Tanager Tangara xanthocephala venusta
30 over 4 days at AP.
Flame-faced Tanager Tangara parzudakii
5 over 3 days at AP at higher altitudes, e.g. between the Chacita restaurant and the pass. A stunning Tangara.
Yellow-bellied Tanager Tangara xanthogastra
2 seen c5kms below the tunnel on the TR, and 2 above Af. at KM388.
Spotted Tanager Tangara punctata
c10 in the huge mixed flock above Af. at KM388.
Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola
17 over 4 days at AP.
Burnished-buff Tanager Tangara cayana
1 in savannah habitat on the Posic Road Northwest of Rioja, 1/11/07. In Peru, known only from the Mayo Valley and Pampas del Heath.
Golden-naped Tanager Tangara ruficervix amabilis
A pair seen well above Af. in the Afluente flock at KM388, and a single between the pass and Garcia (GR.)
Golden-eared Tanager Tangara chrysotis
1 below Af. at KM393, and 4 above Af. in the Afluente flock.
Metallic-green Tanager Tangara labradorides
Two seen, both above 2150m; 1 opposite the ECOAN Lodge gates at the pass was high at c2500m, (BOP gives range as 1350-2200m,) with a second bird seen between the pass and the Ville Hermosa.
Blue-browed Tanager Tangara cyanotis
A pair seen well but briefly in a small mixed flock with Vermilion Tanager and Golden-collared Honeycreeper at KM380 above Af. (CG.)
Blue-necked Tanager Tangara cyanicollis caeruleocephala
40 seen over 3 days at AP. Often encountered in numbers in mixed flocks.
Masked Tanager Tangara nigrocincta
Only one; c1km below the tunnel on the TR.
Beryl-spangled Tanager Tangara nigroviridis
14 over 5 days at AP.
Blue-and-Black Tanager Tangara vassorii branickii
7 over 4 days at AP.
Silver-backed Tanager (Silvery Tanager) Tangara viridicollis
Surprisingly numerous; 14 over 4 days at AP e.g. above the Ville Hermosa, 100m below Garcia village etc. We grilled each bird in a quest to find Green-throated Tanager, (1 reported just below Garcia village by the Canadian group,) but to no avail.
Golden-collared Honeycreeper Iridophanes pulcherrima
A cracking male at KM380 above Af.
Black-faced Dacnis Dacnis lineata
A pair c1km below the tunnel on the TR, and a male in the Af. flock.
Short-billed Honeycreeper Cyanerpes nitidus
2 males and a female seen in a mixed flock on the TR. This seems to be the most reliable (only?) site for this species in the Upper Mayo Valley.
Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana
12 over 4 days.
Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza
4 on the TR.
Purple Honeycreeper Cyanerpes caeruleus
3 singles; 1 on the TR, 1 on the white sand trail at AV, and 1 in the Afluente flock.
Swallow Tanager Tersina viridis
12 over 2 days, commonest at MdeC. Always a pleasure.
Chestnut-vented Conebill Conirostrum speciosum
1 at Up. (CG.)
Capped Conebill Conirostrum albifrons
A pair opposite the ECOAN Lodge gates at the pass, and a single male above Valle Hermosa.
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
Common in Lima and at AP.
Yellow-browed Sparrow Ammodramus aurifrons
9 over 4 days in open country, most around Tarapoto.
Rufous-naped Brush-Finch Atlepetes rufinucha latinuchas
10 over 3 days around the higher reaches of AP. Per BOP, the N. and C. Peruvian races, including this latinuchas race, form the ‘Yellow-breasted-’ or ‘Cloud Forest-’ Brush-Finch group.
Red-capped Cardinal Paroaria gularis
2 at the edge of the lagoon between Buenos Aires and Up. (CG.)
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
Singles in open country. Common at savannah sites.
Dull-colored Grassquit Tiaris obscura
4 over 3 days e.g. Posic Road. I had planned to note down exactly where else we saw them but lost the will to live.
Black-and-white Seedeater Sporophila luctuosa
A migrant flock of c50, almost all females/imms. feeding in long grass on the Soritor road.
Chestnut-bellied (-breasted) Seedeater Sporophila castaneiventris
4 on the Soritor Road.
Chestnut-bellied (Lesser-) Seed-Finch Oryzoborus angolensis
6 on the Soritor Road.
Black-billed Seed-Finch Oryzoborus atrirostris
2 males on the Soritor Road on our first visit, and a female on the 2nd. BOP notes status as ‘rare and local.’
Plain-colored Seedeater Catamenia inornata
1 in the grounds of the Puerto Pumas Hotel, La Florida (GR.)
Rusty Flowerpiercer Diglossa sittoides
6 in the grounds of the Puerto Pumas Hotel, La Florida.
Bluish Flowerpiercer Diglossopis caerulescens
1 opposite the ECOAN Lodge gates at the pass.
Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossopis cyanea
1 between the Chacita restaurant and the pass at AP.
White-sided Flowerpiercer Diglossa albilatera
A male between the Chacita restaurant and the pass at AP.
Slate-colored Grosbeak Saltator grossus
1 well up the Quebrada Shatayacu at JG, and 1 heard 0.5kms below the tunnel on the TR.
Blue-black Grosbeak Cyanocompsa cyanoides
A male on the last morning on the SR.
Golden-bellied Grosbeak Pheucticus chrysogaster
A male between the Puerto Pumas Hotel and Lago Pomacochas. BOP lists as ‘rare to uncommon in eastern cordillera, primarily in intermontane valleys.’
Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus
6 seen in total over 4 days.
Grayish Saltator Saltator coerulescens
5 seen in total over 3 days.
Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus
8 seen over 4 days.
Russet-backed Oropendola Psarocolius angustifrons alfredi
15 seen over 4 days.
‘Subtropical’ Cacique (Scarlet-rumped Cacique) Cacicus uropygialis
An inquisitive group of 6 birds seen at KM381 above Af. This is a putative split from the West slope Scarlet-rumped Cacique, but we played tape of the latter’s song and these East slope ‘Subtropicals’ responded strongly, coming in a long way and displaying noisily on arrival…
Yellow-rumped Cacique Cacicus cela
Common, seen on 7 days in total, max. 20/day.
(Northern) Mountain Cacique Cacicus chrysonotus leucoramphus
c6 seen on the Puente San Antonio Gully trail at KM367 at AP, and 2 seen above the Puente Nieva.
Solitary (Black) Cacique Cacicus solitarius
2 well up the Quebrada Shatayacu at JG, and 2 somewhere at AP, site not noted.
Moriche Oriole Icterus chrysocephalus
A pair on the white sand trail at AV.
Orange-backed Troupial Icterus icterus
11 over 4 days, most around Tarapoto.
Oriole Blackbird Gymnomystax mexicanus
6 over 4 days, max 3/day, all around Tarapoto.
Peruvian Meadowlark Sturnella bellicose
5 in the fields next to the Lago Pomacochas behind the Puerto Pumas Hotel, La Florida.
Yellow-hooded Blackbird Agelaius icterocephalus
10+ at VN (introduced.)
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis
2 in the grounds of the Hotel Shilcayo, Tarapoto.
Giant Cowbird Molothrus oryzivorus
10 in total over 4 days; 3 singles and surprisingly a flock of 7 way above their usual (max. 1200m) altitude; at c2050m near the Garcia trail at AP.

Total: 398 species seen, + 33 heard only; 431 total. (11 endemics.)

List of animal species seen:

Saddle-backed Tamarin Saguinus fuscicollis
3 at MdeC at the forest edge near the car park.
[Dusky Titi Monkey Callicebus moloch]
Heard at one of the Tarapoto sites.
White-fronted Capuchin Cebus albifrons
1 on the Posic road near Rioja.