Empty nest syndrome loomed, and, as our kids prepared to leave home for college, I came up with a plan to nip the syndrome in the bud. Perhaps a birding vacation would mitigate the feelings of temporary loneliness. I got a $650 roundtrip ticket to Lima from Washington DC on TACA Airlines. It was cheap compared to many destinations. I was not sure why it was so cheap, but who cares. I would go for just over two weeks.
I began to surf the web for itineraries. I decided on the following: Lomas de Lachay Preserve just north of Lima to Paraiso Lagoon nearby, then on to Polylepis forest in high up Huascaran National Park a little northwards still. Afterwards, I would retrace my path to Lima and scoot up the Carretera Central to cloud forests around Oxapampa, Villa Rica, and Satipo. I would ascend the famous Satipo Road, and then go down into the lowland jungle along the Puerto Ocopa road near Satipo, if that road was passable. Finally, I would visit elfin forest in Bosque Unchog, and see some special birds at Ticlio Pass way up high on the way back to Lima. I might even check out Santa Eulalia Canyon if time permited.
It was a laudable itinerary, gleaned rapidly from birding group websites, and based on the idea that travel between points would not be overly difficult. I sorely needed advice on things like road conditions and availability of gas, as well as rental car altitude capabilities, and best special bird locations. I assumed I would be able to camp with my small tent when necessary. I printed a few maps from googlemaps.com.
There were only a few professional birding guides in Peru with easy-to-find email addresses and these did not divulge much information. Understandably, perhaps they were hoping that I would book with them, rather than face the unknown. That would have been a good idea if I had had a bit of extra cash. Nevertheless, face the unknown I did, and it was possible to do Peru solo, though the road travel in Peru left me a little shell-shocked. This was primarily due to a multitude of sharp road curves, many slow trucks, temporary road blocks with construction, and difficult and confusing secondary roads, when these were taken.
I arrived in Lima International around 9 pm and found the airport modern and easy to escape from. During the flight in, I had filled out my customs declaration card and temporary visa card, handed out by the stewardesses prior to landing. I believe it was the second of these cards that was ripped in two and the bottom half given back to me. I held on to it (with my passport), because it was needed for exiting the country later on. There was also a departure tax for leaving Peru later, but I found out that the tax was already included in the price of the ticket, so no special purchase was necessary at any booths for this. The Budget Rent-A-Car booth was inside the airport just after the luggage pickup carousel, along with five other rental car booths, and Budget was expecting me, based on my online reservation of a Suzuki Jimny 4x4 jeep. I was so happy later on that I had gotten a jeep because no other car type besides a pickup truck would have handled the kinds of roads I was to experience.
Around 10 pm, I exited the International Airport and headed out onto Lima’s pot-holed roads, heading north on Elmer Faucett to Nestor Gambetta, which T-intersects with the Panamerica Norte highway, after about 20 kms or so. Then, it’s up the Panamerica Norte about an hour to Lomas de Lachay Reserve. I only stopped at a gas station to get ice cream and a big amount of bottled water. I had changed about two thousand US dollars into Peruvian soles inside the airport in Lima, reasoning that I would change a lot of it back again to dollars when I left the country. This strategy worked out fine, as I still had about $1,200 left when I returned to the US. I carried my passport and money in a neck pouch under my shirt, which was really successful as an approach to crime prevention, but which was even better because I never absent-mindedly lost these things that way. The neck pouch was purchased at the local AAA store. All things considered, I never really felt crime was an issue while in Peru. Safe and expedient road travel was consistently the biggest concern.
Every so often, when driving in Peru, you want to ask locals if you are on the road headed to the correct location to wherever you’re going. That way, there are no surprises. The phrase ‘de frente’ means that the destination you ask about is straight ahead. Donde esta Huacho? The answer could be, “de frente’ (straight ahead). It is especially important to ask directions whenever there are obvious forks or turns in the road that leave one wondering. Although there are occasional signs citing directions to cities, there are not a lot of them, and signs that list road numbers are practically non-existent. Word of mouth is the best map. GPS probably would work too, but I didn’t have that. At 51, I’m notoriously low-tech.
The turnoff to Lomas de Lachay Reserve had a nice sign with the name of the reserve. It was midnight or so, when I turned right off of the Panamerica Norte into the reserve at this sign, and rattled up the straight dirt road the 10 km or more to the reserve guard hut and gate. Both Short-eared Owl and Burrowing Owls sat in the headlights on the way to the gate. I didn’t see any signs of life in the reserve’s entrance gate hut, so I set up my quick one-man tent at the edge of the parking area by the gate and slept ‘til daybreak.
First Full Day in Peru - Sept 12, 2013
I awoke to early light and much bird song. There was a heavy dew and a mist that felt like rain but which was not quite that. Peruvian Meadowlarks were singing everywhere from the lush flowery meadows in all directions. A few of them added short skylarking flights to their songs. Right around the parking lot, Grayish Miners and Rufous-collared Sparrows were fairly common; Eared Doves too. I walked back down the dirt road and began seeing interesting birds. Yellowish Pipits were a fairly common bird in these grasslands of gradual slopes. They did short sky dances, as Meadow Pipits will do in England, but these were less glamorous displays. As I walked downwards, back towards the Panamerican, the vegetation got shorter and shorter, since it is the upper slopes that get the most dew. As the vegetation got shorter, Least Seedsnipes, usually in pairs, became more and more common. They had very interesting sky displays, one of the pair shooting rapidly up about 40 feet in a steep parabolic arc, and then suddenly plummeting back groundward along the mirror image to the first arc. They looked like they were stabbing the sky. At the bottom of the hill, right about where the dirt road intersects with the Panamerica Norte, it is too dry for much vegetation at all, and more resembles sand dunes than anything. Here, I saw a Coastal Miner. I went back to the gate hut and an attendant (who apparently had been in the hut all night after all), said that my smartest bet bird-wise was to visit the cactus-clad slopes of the back of the refuge to see Cactus Canastero before the morning passed. So it was that I drove back down the Panamerica Norte towards Lima a couple kilometers to a traffic circle and turned left off the circle, thence driving 8 kilometers or more to a left hand entrance into the back of the reserve by a little red and white house. Another kilometer or more along this back entrance road and my canyon trail was off to the left. I walked up a canyon between hillsides until I was on the hills themselves, amongst organpipe-like cactus clumps on very steep terrain indeed. A male Oasis Hummingbird greeted me. A Cactus Canastero began singing and soon showed itself nicely. A flock of Mountain Parakeets sat on the rocks and cacti slightly above me. Band-tailed Sierra-Finches busied about here and there. On the way back out of the canyon, Blue-and-white Swallows swished by, and Thick-billed Miners made weird noises way up in the rocks and boulders above, sometimes showing themselves briefly. Back along the surface road towards the traffic circle, a huge Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle sat in a tree. Also, reeds and bushes held Chestnut-throated Seedeater and Blue-black Seedeater. Familiar sights from home were Killdeer and American Kestrel.
Back at the entrance gate hut, a couple of hummers used the hut’s few shade trees for perching: a male Peruvian Sheartail, with nice long white streamers, and a female Purple-collared Woodstar. Eared Doves were still everywhere. I drove past the hut and saw a Variable Hawk and another Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. There was a large flock of Chestnut-collared Swallows along the road. A kilometer or two past the hut, the road ended at a parking lot with ranger residences, and trails leading a short ways into the lush vegetation. An Amazilla Hummingbird was in the trees right at the parking lot. Cinereous Conebills and House Wrens were frequent. A female Band-tailed Seedeater was nearby, and Hooded Siskins. Collared Warbling-Finches were pretty conspicuous.
Next, I headed north on the Panamerica Norte about half an hour, endeavoring to find the entrance road to Paraiso Lagoon natural area. After only 15 or 20 minutes, though, I saw some Golden Plover-sized birds in the short-flowered fields on the right of the road. A quick check with the spotting scope showed that these were Tawny-throated Dotterels, about 5 of them. The color combination of their plumage was very nice. They behaved much as Golden Plovers would, standing still, then run-walking, then standing still – all the while searching for worms or insects. Least Seedsnipes continued to show at times as well.
Just a little further down the Panamerican, and after another flock of Tawny-throated Dotterel, there was a turnoff to Paraiso Lagoon on the left. A sign with an arrow simply said, “Paraiso”. The access road was about 5 km and potholed, but not at all impassable. Everything around was flat and dry. The lagoon itself was reasonably large and just behind the actual beach of the rich Pacific Ocean. Rocky headlands over the beach were to the left of the lagoon.
I started birding the nearest edge of lagoon shoreline. Andean Coots dotted the surface of the lagoon just about everywhere. Common Gallinules were also in there. There were a few duck types, White-cheeked Pintails and Cinnamon Teals most notably. Puna Ibis were here and there along the lagoon edge, and a flock of one or two hundred Chilean Flamingos was visible. The most common shorebird around the lake seemed to be Wilson’s Phalarope, but there were lots of other shorebirds, including Black-necked Stilts, peeps, Spotted Sandpipers, Yellowlegs, and Snowy Plovers. Black Skimmers surfed the lagoon. Yellowish Pipits were flushed around the lagoon edge with frequency, and another Coastal Miner was found. I ate quite a lot of the sea purslane plants growing at the edge of the lagoon. They were tasty and nutritious, and were not any different from the species growing in coastal Delaware from what I could tell. There were a couple of locals collecting clams along the flat part of the beach, which was a 10 meter stretch of sand between the ocean and the lagoon. To the left of the lagoon, rocky headlands stuck out to confront the surf, and these offered great spots for viewing. Right at the shore were flocks of Surfbirds, turnstones, Sanderlings, Blackish and American Oystercatchers, and Whimbrel. A Wandering Tattler sat on a rock. Gulls were close up and easy to enjoy: Gray-hooded (my favorite), Belcher's, Kelp, and Franklin's. Concerning the Pacific itself, Peruvian Pelicans and Peruvian Boobies cruised by periodically. At least 4 Great Grebes were sitting on the ocean, and when I checked out an unusual couple of profiles on the water, I was startled, and a bit excited, to find a pair of Humboldt's Penguins. They have a very characteristic low profile in the water, and, unlike the way I had imagined them, they were not streaking through the water like seals. Instead, they were simply sitting together, floating. Neotropic Cormorants cruised between the lagoon and the ocean. There were interesting lizards in the cliffs that mimicked the volcanic rock color. I enjoyed the salty smells and productivity of the whole area, but finally hit the road back to the Panamerica Norte.
I drove about an hour further north towards Paramonga. It was late afternoon. At length I noticed a large patch of cattails right beside the busy highway. A small stream cut through and I stopped the car to try for birds, despite the traffic. As soon as I swished, a Many-colored Rush-Tyrant responded, hopping towards me through the bottoms of the reeds, and sometimes walking a bit on the mud. The bird was quite pretty. Further along the road, I noticed ground doves flying by with black in their wings, Croaking Ground-Doves. Larger doves, resembling White-winged Doves back in the states, were West Peruvian Doves. On a telephone wire: Long-tailed Mockingbird. Grove-billed Anis were seen. The shadows lengthened and by the time I turned inland at Paramonga it was almost dark. Lesser Nighthawks flew around above some cane fields. I continued driving for about an hour and then stopped at a nice hotel on the right side of the road just before Chasquitambo. I was on the road (Route 16 on maps) that runs from Paramonga to Laguna Conococha, a large highland lake still some distance further.
2nd Day in Peru - Sept 13
The nice hotel in Chasquitambo was surprisingly decent and inexpensive (10 US Dollars), yet few persons were using the hotel. It was morning, and I was rested for the next leg of the journey. After only 15 minutes of driving, I found a good roadside pullover, allowing access to the riparian habitat that the road was following. The location might be called an inter-andean valley. There were steep high dry mountains on both sides of a river that had created a flat floodplain of sorts with somewhat xeric vegetation, acacia trees and dry rushes and the like. Scrub Blackbirds were noisy residents, as were Long-tailed Mockingbirds. Blue-and-yellow Tanagers were around. In the scrubby acacias were Tropical Gnatcatcher, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, Croaking Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove and Southern Beardless Flycatcher. Overhead, Andean Swifts came whizzing by. Vermillion Flycatchers were conspicuous. A Chiguanco Thrush watched me from a bush. I heard a Peruvian Pygmy-Owl as I was getting back into the car. Its call was relatively rapid for a Pygmy-Owl, and its exact position in the vegetation was not immediately obvious. I did not really feel like pursuing it, so it was a heard-only bird.
I drove on, up and up a few hours, towards Laguna Conococha, which is just the other side of a high mountain pass, and near a town of the same name, Conococha. There were some switchbacks close to the pass, and on one of these I noticed a large blooming spike of an agave-type plant. Suddenly, in zoomed a Giant Hummingbird. He spent quite a while going to each bloom on the plant. This was a life bird, and one that I had wanted to see for some time now. In addition to its large size for a hummer, the species is relatively long-winged and long-tailed and the rump is lighter than the rest of the bird. There were some smaller green and white, rather dull little hummers here as well, that I didn’t identify. An Andean Flicker sat on a rock slope nearby.
As I approached the pass just before Laguna Conococha, Plumbeous Sierra-Finches flitted about amongst the rocks. I stopped the car to view the lake in the distance, down the slope from the pass. I noticed Andean Lapwings in a moist area of the slope and Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrants as well. The ground-tyrants were fairly active creatures, and I found out later that they are about the most active species of the group of ground-tyrants in general. The town of Conococha is just after the high pass, and the large lake, Laguna Conococha, is visible downhill and to the right of town. I took the right hand turnoff in the town itself, which promptly goes down to the lake (in less than 5 minutes). Viewing is easiest where the road crosses a dam or causeway. I parked here and soon had Cream-winged Cinclodes, that most common of cinclodes in central Peru, and plenty of Andean Negritos around the mudflats and lake edge. A White-faced Ground-Tyrant was on some grassy mudflats here, and it was soon joined by a different couple of active Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrants. The lake itself had many coots and ducks, as well as shorebirds. Andean Coots were the most common, but Giant Coots sat on tiny islands of vegetation that they had constructed for nesting. Crested Ducks and Yellow-billed Teal were plentiful. Silvery Grebes could be seen out on the lake. Andean Geese were usually in pairs or small groups. A few Andean Gulls flapped around. Baird's Sandpipers were common, and I did not notice any other species of peep, though Wilson's Phalaropes and yellowlegs were present. Andean Lapwings were prevalent, as well as Puna Ibis. Around the whole area, Conococha Pass and at the lake, Mountain Caracara was a relatively frequent sight, in both adult and immature plumages. These birds, and Variable Hawks, would be seen with regularity now, all the way through to Huascaran National Park.
I left Laguna Conococha around noon, I guess, and proceeded back to Conococha town and onwards towards the town of Huaraz and finally Yungay. To be honest, the hard surface highway that I had been travelling on, all the way since Lomas de Lachay Preserve, was the best road that Peru offered on my entire journey and the road continued to be good until Yungay. There were quite a few small towns to pass through as I got closer to Yungay though.
I discovered that Peru was chocked full of gas stations, each town having plenty of choices for the purchase of "combustible" (gasoline) at "grifos", the Peruvian term for gas station. Most everywhere in Peru, even in far away Satipo town, later on in my vacation, gas was easy to come by (in other words, grifos were common). Towards 5 or 6 pm, I arrived in Yungay town and asked the locals where the rocky dirt road was that headed up towards Huascaran National Park. This dirt road took about an hour to travel, going on up to the park gate. It was rocky and dusty and rather bumpy difficult driving, with the usual curves. I met a United States bicycle traveller en route. He was awed by the park scenery, as was I. There were amazingly high sheer canyon walls and snow-capped peaks that retained sunlight long after the valleys were darkened. Since it was after the park closing time of 4:30 pm, the national park entrance office was closed, but they left the gate open for entering vehicles. I stopped at a beautiful high elevation lake, Laguna LLanganuco, and set up my tent in the forest of shortish Polylepis trees. It was almost dark, but I did see Peruvian Sierra-Finch and Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch around the parking lot. A very nice Rufous-eared Brush-Finch was at the edge of the Polylepis forest. The forest also held a Baron’s Spinetail and Pearled Treerunner as shadows lengthened. A Grey Fox snooped about nearby, no doubt because it was almost dark.
The US bicycler finally caught up with me at the lake. He also decided to camp beside Laguna LLanganuco. We had a good time talking and eating before finally drifting off to our respective camp areas, and braving the cold night.
3rd Day in Peru – September 14
The sunshine of morning revived me from a miserable cold night at high altitude. The first thing I saw when I emerged from my tent was an Ancash Tapaculo, moving through the gnarled vegetation. It made a distinctive noise. It was barely light enough to see, but the tapaculo was nice and close, so a good visual nonetheless. Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail was right at the tent also. A few minutes later, as the light increased, a blue male Tit-like Dacnis was a thing of beauty, along the lake road in the Polylepis. Black Metaltails zipped by with some frequency and Plain-tailed Warbling-Finches showed. I drove to the upper end of the smallish lake Llanganuco and a Plain-breasted Earthcreeper ran and dodged about on the ground amid the tussocks and trees of the lake edge. They are enjoyable birds with tails that cock up high on occasion, and they have somewhat longish curved beaks. A little further still along the dirt road and a second lake, similar to the first, was evident. At the far end of this one, a large flock of Bright-rumped Yellow-finches fed on the open ground with a few siskins. Ruddy Andean Ducks, just a few, were on the 2nd lake, and Puna Teal. Also here, was a White-winged Cinclodes - the only one of the trip. The wings held bright and clear-cut white flashes, different from the cream-colored flashes of the more common Cream-winged Cinclodes.
After the two lakes, the bouncy, somewhat dangerous dirt road began its ascent up to the high pass below Huascaran Mountain, the highest mountain in Peru. Polylepis forest patches lay along the way, giving way to bushes and then above-treeline scenery after an hour or so. Well before treeline, however, while still in the trees, I stopped at a spot known for White-cheeked Cotinga but did not find one. At a good patch of Polylepis, which contained a stream as well, I found a Striped Antpitta It was both seen and heard. Then a couple of intriguing birds flew into the trees right next to me. I glassed them and I was exhilarated by what the binoculars showed. I was looking at a male and a female Giant Conebill, so close that binoculars were almost unnecessary. The male was even singing a rather pleasant sort of song. The birds were in no hurry. They were gleaning mealworm-like catepillars from the peeling reddish bark of the Polylepis trees. I saw them eat several of these. They foraged as a pair. It was a good day to be alive and to see such things, as this was a species I had been looking forward to seeing. A White-throated Tyrannulet was new for the trip here. Tit-like Dacnis was becoming more and more common as I ascended, as long as trees and shrubbery remained. Females outnumbered males. Above treeline, lupines and other flowers were found, on steep slopes. Occasionally, hummingbirds flew by, but I was having trouble pinning any down. At one point, at least one Giant Hummingbird did show well. Up high, several switchbacks before I reached the pass, I saw a hummingbird that would have been a Black Metaltail, except that I noticed a white spot on the side lower flank, suggesting Coppery Metaltail. The sighting was not worth debating about, though, because it would devolve that I saw plenty of Coppery Metaltails at Bosque Unchog later on in the trip. Along the winding road, I managed fabulous close looks at a Taczanowski’s Ground-Tyrant. Also up high, was a White-winged Diuca-Finch in a somewhat barren rocky moist area fed by snow melt. I turned around at the pass and headed back from whence I came. Back in the shrub and tree zone, I came around a curve, and lo, right in the middle of the road, was an Andean Tinamou. The bird was tiny, for a tinamou, and very slow-moving. At length, I nudged the car forward, having had my fill of this interesting bird, and he slowly walked into the foliage.
A park employee asked me for a lift back along the entrance road, and I was rewarded for such action with excellent views of a Cinereous Ground-Tyrant. It was too bad that the employee was not much of a bird watcher, to enjoy it properly. About 3 km or so below Laguna Llanganuco, was a well-maintained trail (with a sign even) that followed a creek up through Polylepis forest and scrub towards the lagoon. I only walked a kilometer of this trail, but I did see White-browed Chat-Tyrant in a pleasant treed glen, and I also got good looks at a Shining Sunbeam hummingbird here.
The only goal I had in mind now was to get back to Lima, so that I could head up the Carretera Central highway to the eastern cloudforest and jungle. It took until dark driving to reach the former hotel in Chasquitambo, so that became base a second time. The owner and I were glad to see each other again. I rested and organized. There had not been too much new bird-wise along the drive back from Huascaran, save a few Andean Swallows along the roadside.
4th Day in Peru – September 15
It was late (maybe 7 or 8 am in the morning) when yours truly pulled out of the hotel parking lot. It took an hour or two to get back to the coast. I saw a sign along the Panamerica Norte (which I was now travelling south on) that seemed to indicate a wildlife preserve called Medio Mundo. I turned right off of the Panamerica and within a couple minutes was at the beach in this rather informal coastal preserve. There was easy access for walking and only a few farmers nearby. Great Grebes were close sights in a narrow lagoon back of the beach. A Black-crowned Night Heron was here as well, and a fly-by Short-eared Owl, diurnal as ever. A walk along the beach revealed Gray Gulls and a fishing South American Tern. I noticed not hundreds, but thousands of Peruvian Boobies, out a ways, swirling and diving on what could only have been a huge bait ball of sardines or other fish. Over time, the bait ball drifted towards shore, and before I knew it, the boobies were right in close. Also here, were long lines of Guanay Cormorants and Peruvian Pelicans. Both had nice patterning. Inca Terns flapped around the bait ball also, and a single small Peruvian Tern was seen. What really surprised me, though, was the sight of a Storm Petrel immediately atop the close breaking waves - then another and another. They looked like Wilson’s but as one topped over a wave its undervent flashed white. I looked in the book and found them to be White-vented Storm-Petrels. How cool is that? And not even a pelagic trip nor seasickness. Equally unexpected, was a Peruvian Diving-Petrel, flying by just behind the brakers. I was not even aware that such a bird type existed, until I saw one.
South of Medio Mundo about a half hour or more, I saw a bunch of cattails on the right side of the road. I stopped the car and swished. This brought in several birds. The first bird was an even prettier Many-colored Rush-Tyrant than I had seen earlier at a similar location. The second bird was a Wren-like Rushbird. It gave a good show and I felt like I knew both of these birds pretty well by the time I left. A dead Barn Owl was seen along the roadside thereafter. As I approached Lima around noon, the traffic thickened. About a half hour to an hour after it thickened, I reached the Carretera Central, cutting off to the left from the heart of Lima. True, I missed the turn, and had to take a cloverleaf back to the Carretera, but at least I found it. Actually, the Carretera Central began in Lima as a very crowded large avenue with several lanes. After a half hour or so of eastward movement, the traffic became more manageable. At one point, however, I was following a car that featured a passenger holding a bed mattress to the roof with only his bare hands.
Consequently, I shifted lanes only to find that I was behind a car featuring a passenger holding a very large Peruvian harp onto the car roof with only his bare hands. I passed the town of Chosica and the turnoff to Santa Eulalia Canyon. Call me crazy, but I did not want to bird here now. I just wanted to get to eastern jungle on the other side of the mountains. It was the prospect of walking around in both cloud forests and lowland jungle that had caused me to choose Peru for a vacation in the first place.
It took much driving skill and patience to slowly ascend up the Carretera Central to Ticlio Pass. There were long lines of slow trucks and buses and even a few complete stops for some time at a toll booth or two. Also, there were towns to go through and curve after curve after curve. Indeed, it was after dark when I finally got to Ticlio Pass and headed downhill on the eastern slope. I was trying to get to Oxapampa this night, but I only made it as far as Tarma. The real problem was that just about 25 km before Tarma, the road I had to take veered to the right off of the main surface highway (the surface road that went on to Junin town that I did not take) and I was left with a crappy dirt bumpy tricky road all the way to Tarma. I pulled into Tarma probably around 11 pm and got a hotel.
5th Day in Peru – September 16
I had a good sleep but was up around 6 am to continue the drive. On just the other side of Tarma town, the road became a good paved surface road again, and obstacle traffic was light. It was not too difficult to drive on to La Merced and then Oxapampa. Coming down steep cloud forest-clad slopes towards La Merced was encouraging. I stopped just before La Merced at one of these forested slopes, close by a river, and saw: Plumbeous Kite, Social Flycatcher, Bananaquit, Black-billed Thrush, Buff-throated Saltator, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Silver-beaked Tanager, an all green hummingbird of unknown variety, Blue-gray Tanager, and Tropical Kingbird (the ubiquitous kingbird from now on). On the other side of La Merced town, the good surface road followed a large river past lowland jungle slopes with some pure jungle as well as some agriculture (bananas, etc.). I stopped by a river overlook and got great looks at White-eyed Parakeets, Speckled Chachalaca, Swallow Tanager, Yellow-headed Caracara, Yellow-rumped Cacique, and a male Chestnut-bellied Seedfinch. At a tiny stream in sloping jungle, I walked up the stream and was rewarded with: McConnell’s Flycatcher (a bird with my own last name), Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Warbling-Antbird, Grayish Mourner, Coraya Wren, Thick-billed Euphonia, and Violaceous Jay.
After a while there was a small bridge and a split in the road. To the right was the road to Villa Rica. To the left was the road to Oxapampa. At the split, women were hawking tangerines (eight fruits for one sol – about 30 cents). I bought some and then heard the word ‘tamales’. Delicious banana-leaf-wrapped tamales were being sold for almost nothing. I think I got 5 of them. They were fabulous to eat, and were also perfect for holding on to for later snacks. When eating, one simply has to make sure not to bite down with force on the olive pit inside each tamale. The hard surface road to Oxapampa held Cliff Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, White-banded Swallow, and Russet-backed Oropendola. I arrived at the cattle and dairy town of Oxapampa around noon. It was a pleasant town with some European roots as well as indiginous ones. In a café, I ate a Wonton Soup (Peruvian style) and a liquado milkshake and I bought some bread and coconut pastry. I sent an email to the wife and kids from a local internet store (15 cents per hour of internet usage). When I was fully recuperated from the long drive, I retraced my way back out of Oxapampa about 5 km and took a dirt road which turned off to the left of the hard surface road. A sign said, ‘Villa Rica’, but this was the local shortcut road to that location. This was the 40-odd kilometer dirt road that wound up through the hills to Bosque Shollet, a small cloudforest preserve at the road’s height, and then onwards and downwards a few more kilometers to the town of Villa Rica. It was the cloudforest that interested me. After a few kilometers on the road, I stopped and birded the roadside 2nd growth. Sparkling Violetear, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Azara’s Spinetail, Tricolored Brush Finch, and Blue-capped Tanager were present. A little further up the road still, and a nice look was had at a Rufous-tailed Tyrant (complete with reddish eye). Further still, Brown-capped Vireo, Spectacled Whitestart, Slate-throated Whitestart, Three-striped Warbler, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Citrine Warbler, Long-tailed Sylph, and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner were seen. About an hour in and I reached Bosque Shollet. The trees were large and moss-covered and fingers of primary forest habitat could be accessed, though only in a few places. I swished and a family of Peruvian Wrens noisy responded. Most were all brownish, but a few had the alternative race feature of whitish spectacles. Glossy Black Thrush was here, and Great Thrush. Tanagers like Flame-faced, Beryl-spangled, Saffron-crowned, Blue-and-black, and Grass-green were around in mixed species flocks. Common Bush-Tanagers were frequent. A few unusual tanagers were Yellow-throated Tanager (a very pretty bird) and Silver-backed Tanager. Both birds were in a flock at the edge of a clearing in Bosque Shollet. I thought that a Rufous-chested Tanager was kind of interesting-looking also. It was a smaller tanager, and almost warbler-like, and was in an area of bamboo at the forest edge. Black-eared Hemispingus was around at times. The most common flowerpiercer was Masked Flowerpiercer, but I also saw a few Deep Blue Flowerpiercers well. They are pretty with a deep glossy blue plumage and a bright golden eye. Also, one Moustached Flowerpiercer was seen. I was frequently encountering unknown tyrannulets, but I figured out later that some of these were Peruvian Tyrannulets. Also, there was a very yellowish sort of flycatcher that I saw a few times that kept giving a single loud chip call. Some book searching nailed that down as Yellow-breasted Flycatcher quite conclusively. A Smoke-colored Pewee was near a banana tree clearing. A Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant at the forest edge with a mixed species flock was nice. I spent the night in my tent near the Bosque Shollet forest sign. A pair of Bay Antpittas kept calling right by the tent. The foliage was too dense to see them immediately, but I talked with them by whistling, since they were easy to imitate.
6th day in Peru – September 17
I awoke just before light to the sound of a Rufous-banded Owl. A series of subdued hoots in succession leads up to one louder hoot. The final hoot is almost human. I birded Bosque Shollet again, finding Blue-banded Toucanet, Speckle-faced Parrot, Dusky-green Oropendola, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Streak-headed Antbird, and Chestnut-breasted Coronet. A Spix’s Guan made a lot of noise right next to me on a jungle trail. I encountered another birder who was trying for Bay Antpitta with a pre-recorded call. After a visual miss at one spot, I offered to show him the spot where a pair had been calling close to the road the day before. He intelligently cleared away a small screen of vegetation here (just a couple random weeds pushed aside), and made a good window, as it were, for viewing, should the birds respond to his tape. As it turned out, they responded immediately, and one of the birds showed itself briefly along the edge of this window. The fellow’s name was Nick, a guide who worked for Tropical Birding. He had seen two Chestnut-crested Cotingas the day before at Bosque Shollet, and he generously showed me where they were seen, though I did not encounter them myself. It was nice to be able to speak in English a bit, and it was nice to ask him some of my birding questions as well. He was heading on to the Satipo Road, and I figured I might see him again there, eventually, though that never did happen. Other birds at Bosque Shollet included Montane Woodcreeper, Short-tailed Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, and Pearled Treerunner. A Sierran Elaenia at the edge of a clearing at Bosque Shollet was interesting. A female Capped Conebill showed up at eye level in the thicket edge.
I decided it was time to move on towards Villa Rica, so I headed down the dirt road beyond Bosque Shollet and travelled 10 or 15 more kilometers. The forest quickly gave way to agriculture. In a coffee plantation with shade trees, I discovered a tree full of birds. Perhaps it was in fruit. A few Paradise Tanagers were here, but even more pretty was a pair of Blue-naped Chlorophonias at point blank range. A White-crested Elaenia was there. Also present was Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, and a Streaked Xenops.
The town of Villa Rica was laid out on both sides of a main street that ran from the bottom to the top of a short hill. There were plenty of restaurants and shops. It was a pleasant town, surrounded by forested as well as agricultural slopes and hillsides. I did not hold it against the town that my jeep lost use of the 2nd, 3rd , and 4th gears here, as I approached the top of main street. So, using 1st gear and reverse, I drove only a block further to a mechanic, whose storefront side read, “Cueva”, the cave. Also only a block away was a nice cheap Casa de Huespedes (hotel). I called and emailed Budget Rent-A-Car, who sent me a new upgraded car, a pickup truck really, that served well enough for the rest of the trip. The only kicker was that it took 2 days for the truck to get to me from Lima. Nevertheless, with birding slopes within walking distance, I was almost relieved to be pinned down here. I had already encountered a family group of Red-throated Caracaras flying right over the town center. The town seemed like a good birding base.
The first amble taken was out of the southwest edge of town for a couple kilometers to a mid-sized marshy lake called Laguna Oconal. A Chestnut-bellied Seedeater was at the edge of town. In the reeds at the lake, a Masked Yellowthroat greeted me. Amazon Kingfishers, Striated and Cocoi Herons, Wattled Jacana, Purple Gallinule, Least Grebe, Anhinga, and some heard-only, noisy Rufous-sided Crakes were lake denizens. Barred Antshrikes were easy to see and hear in the rushes along the lake edge. A male Sapphire-spangled Emerald was a lifer. It showed off its charming bluish front as it fed along a fence of flowers. Smooth-billed Anis were conspicuous.
After the lake, the road continued on through gradual slopes featuring older mossy trees and coffee shrubs together with some natural undergrowth. A Bluish-fronted Jacamar (white-chinned variety) had a nest hole in the road bank. I kept scaring him out from his nest every time I walked past it, though I tried to be respectful. There was a noisy pair of Chestnut-backed Antshrikes in the undergrowth. Also in the undergrowth, were Peruvian Warbling-Antbird and Stripe-chested Antwren. A Blue-crowned Trogon was reasonably tame in a tree that also contained Blue-headed Parrots. Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner and Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner were present, and Plain Xenops, as well as Olivaceous Woodcreeper. There were a fair number of interesting tanagers, including Magipe, Guira, Yellow-crested, White-lined, Black-goggled, Fawn-breasted, Blue-necked, Turquoise, and Palm. A Vermillion Tanager had bright colors. Quite a few Swallow-tailed Kites coursed over the valleys and hillsides. There were plenty of little tyrannulets. Perhaps I’ll figure them all out eventually. A couple Plain-crowned Spinetails finally showed, after much calling in the coffee bushes. A Thrush-like Antpitta gave its call of 3-5 simple whistles from the understory repeatedly, at dusk. As night drew on, Pauraques and Spectacled Owls began calling.
7th Day in Peru – September 18
I again visited the exciting birding slopes near Villa Rica town, just past Laguna Oconal. Yellow-bellied Seedeater and Blue-black Grassquite were around. This time, a flock of Rock (Black-capped)Parakeets showed nicely. Also, I got great looks at a male Golden-rumped Euphonia, that actually responded to my swishing, and came in quite close. Fun for me was my second ever kind of Piculet, Ocellated Piculet, which showed off at close range in a tree at eye level, and was in no hurry whatsoever. It seemed content to keep peck-pecking at various points on a branch or two for some time. On one side of the road, the hill sloped downwards, so it was like looking into the treetops from a birding tower. The other side of the road sloped upwards and was harder viewing. A family of Crimson-crested Woodpeckers showed up, a nice contrast to their little cousin, the piculet. I got an excellent look at a Straight-billed Woodcreeper. Days later, I would see and hear several more on the Puerto Ocopa road. There was a Plain Antvireo in the mid-level undergrowth. A pair of White-winged Becards was in the treetops, along with a Masked Tityra. I began to see a few Red-eyed Vireos, and there were a few of these along the Puerto Ocopa road later on. It is interesting how some of these are all the way south in Peru at the same time that more are still back home in the United States. I guess that’s migration for you. A pair of Blue Dacnises and a Tropical Parula moved about in a mixed species flock. A Yellow-browed Sparrow was in a somewhat more open area, near the ground.
8th Day in Peru – September 19
When my replacement vehicle arrived from Budget, I was off to Satipo. It was morning. The road from Villa Rica to Satipo is good hard surface road all the way, and traffic is not very heavy. After an hour or less driving from Villas Rica, you come to a hard (acute angle) left hand turnoff at a good bridge (Puente Richter, or something like that), and continue onwards to Satipo. When I got to Satipo around mid-afternoon, all of the gas stations in town were out of gas until 8pm, so I backtracked about 20 minutes to a full gas station and filled up the vehicle. I ate more soup in Satipo, and saw a lone Fork-tailed Palm-Swift flying over the town. I drove on out of town over a bridge and began driving the lower part of Satipo Road (the road that runs from Satipo over the mountains to Concepcion). Only two tiny villages are along the wooded part of the road (except for one sort of removed from the road in the lowlands). The first town is signed Mariposa and the second village is signed Calabaza. Before that, though, is the lower stretch.The lower stretch of the Satipo Road followed a decent-sized river, bordered by slopes of forest and agriculture. An Emerald Toucanet and a Chestnut-eared Aracari were conspicuous along this stretch. I drove right up to a perched Bluish-fronted Jacamar of the white-chinned variety and had a long good look. Like the one near Villa Rica, this one enjoyed the immediate road embankment. I walked briefly up a side stream and a Long-tailed Hermit flew right up to my face to inspect the intruder. Slaty-capped Flycatchers were common members of mixed species flocks. Orange-eared Tanagers and Bay-headed Tanagers were fairly common. Gray-capped Flycatcher and Golden-crowned Flycatcher were seen, the latter several times. I found an open area, by the river, that contained, in the flood plain, some short trees with whitish whispy blooms. A male Black-throated Mango was feeding here and simply loved one of these trees particularly. Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and Gray-breasted Wood-wren responded to swishing. A Spotted Tanager was one of the better birds found. At a large modern bridge over a major tributary there was a good place to park and bird. A Versicolored Barbet afforded great views in this area, as did Magpie Tanager. Green Honeycreeper was present. Orange-bellied Euphonia was new for the trip. I looked up into the canopy of a nearby slope and was startled to find the bright orange of a Lemon-throated Barbet. Two barbet species at one stop! As I ascended a bit, Dusky-green Oropendolas became fairly common, replacing the lower elevation Russet-backed. Before long, darkness crept up on me, and I quickly set up my tent in a very wide section beside the road, that was cleared, and away from the immediate road. Sleep came easily.
9th Day in Peru - September 20
I awoke to the sound of a couple motos (motorcycles), which is the most frequent form of travel on the Satipo Road, though cars are not unheard of. Traffic on the road is infrequent generally. The road has several smaller bridges and plenty of curves, like all Peruvian roads. It is a bit rocky, but fairly well-maintained. Only the curves pose any danger, if someone comes from the other direction. Fortunately, the curves can be taken with slow care when birding is the object. The slopes of forest on both sides of the road are steep, but that is like the rest of Central Peru as well. Almost everywhere I went in Peru I encountered steep slopes. You can’t get away from them. I approached the mid-elevations of the road this day. Bamboo was beginning to be a bit more prevalent. I saw a Short-billed Bush-Tanager in a mixed-species flock, and Cinnamon Flycatcher. Black Phoebe was at a small bridge. A White-collared Jay was very beautiful and was curious by nature. Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager was in with other birds. I passed a very small village of a few houses and a barely functioning restaurant. It was the town of Calabaza (a sign advertised its name). After this village, the cloudforest was mostly complete, with very few areas of clearing. Bamboo was relatively thick and mixed species flocks held 15 or so species at a time. Mountain Wren is hard to miss here. Above the village of Calabaza, it responded to swishing at most of my stops, and I saw it at no less than ten different locations. White-browed Hemispingus was prevalent with Citrine Warblers. Other birds seen at mid elevation included Plushcap, Taczanowski's (Slaty) Brush-Finch, Black-and-white Seedeater, Purple Honeycreeper, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Rust-and-yellow Tanager, Rufous-chested Tanager, Superciliared Hemispingus (a completely gray form), Oleaginous Hemispingus, Drab Hemispingus, Blue-banded Toucanet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker (a very pretty bird), Rufous Spinetail, White-sided Flowerpiercer, and Green Hermit.
I reached even higher altitudes and the birds changed composition yet again. Barred Fruiteaters flew about ocassionally on mossy branches. White-eared Solitaires called from exposed perches, emitting a lovely single drawn out note. Andean Solitaires sang as well. Great Thrushes were everywhere. A Large-footed Tapaculo made a noise right at my feet and then showed himself completely. It was quite large for a tapaculo. Not long after seeing one, a second one flew right across the road in front of me, and this one showed himself even closer and better still. Band-tailed Pigeons were always flapping by or sitting on exposed distant perches. A Tufted Tit-tyrant came into the open. Collared Incas were seen with frequency, as were Amethyst-throated Sunangels. I pitched my tent, when night came, once again along the roadside. What sounded to me like a White-throated Screech-Owl gave its trill near the tent. It was colder than the night before, at this higher elevation, but it was still bearable. I had plenty of snack food and water.
10th Day in Peru - September 21
I awoke early. Ascending out of the high elevation cloudforest to something that resembled alpine bush forest and led to new bird types still. Moustached Flowerpiercers were common here. I heard a kind of scolding noise coming from the base of a bush and scolded back. The bird was responsive but wouldn't show itself. I walked around to the other side of the bush, and, low and behold, a Tschudi's Tapaculo was in plain view. Now that was a tapaculo of the right size, not big like Large-footed Tapaculo. Blue-backed Conebill was about, and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers. A couple Red-crested Cotingas were seen at slightly separate spots. A Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant had a conspicuous perch. It flashed much rufous when it flew. An Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher was fun to see, accompanying a mixed flock in this higher habitat. The front of the breast had an orange tinge. Coppery-naped Puffleg and Violet-fronted Brilliant were good posers. I stumbled into a pair of Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrants, which were easy to identify. Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant was here too. At length, my swishing coaxed an Eye-ringed Thistletail to the edge of his tangly bush. It was a cute bird and a target bird for this area. They apparently are in this highest elevation bush scrub, just before it is too high for bush or scrub at all. White-browed Brush-Finch was here as well.
After the shrubs gave way to paramo grassland, the road almost immediately reached its highest point for me. A very small cattle village lay in the saddle of this pass. A local woman ran an extremely sparse store here, with a room full of homemade cheeses of only one variety. I bought a kilo of cheese, and some crackers. Just the other side of the village, I scoped an apparent large ground-tyrant on the ground that turned out to be a Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant. It had an all black bill and was larger than ground-tyrants. When I scared it, it flew up to perch atop a small shrub, and flashed lots of white on the sides of its tail. This was my first Shrike-Tyrant ever, and it was an interesting-looking bird. I watched it a while then let it be. Some local men were digging up a small patch of paramo to plant potatoes. I noticed that this always seemed to be a communal effort, whenever digging was done in the altiplano. The tool that was being used by the people to dig was very effective, but ancient-looking. A long wooden handle is tipped with a narrow spade. The handle is equipped with two right angled grips at widely different points on the handle. I noticed Andean Lapwings again, and Plain-colored Seedeaters were about.
I did not particularly want to bird altiplano again at this time, after seeing so much on my trip to Huascaran. I was enjoying the cloud forest too much. So, I turned around and headed back towards Satipo town. On the way out on the Satipo Road I stopped at a lower to mid elevation site that had a good mixed species flock. Only by scampering up a rockslide did I get close enough to the flock to be in its midst. The highlight here was a great look at a male and female Golden-collared Honeycreeper. An Olive-backed Woodcreeper was also interesting, and seemed to have more of a spectacled look than some woodcreepers. Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant was here and more Orange-eared Tanagers. An interesting tanager at this spot was Blue-browed Tanager, with a black mask and a blue brow. A pair of Versicolored Barbets was a nice addition as well. About three Lemon-browed Flycatchers accompanied the mixed-species flock. These were lifers, but then many species were. A Peruvian Piedtail was also.
As I descended a bit more, I noticed a large motmot sitting on an exposed branch near the river. It was an Andean (Highland) Motmot, and was a good deal larger than the Blue-crowned Motmots I was more familiar with. I was thinking how lucky I was to see one, but it turned out that there were 4 more individuals to be seen, separately, at various points as I descended the road.
I arrived at the central plaza in the town of Satipo, and found it an enjoyable place in the evening, full of people relaxing after a day of work, and surrounded by every conceivable restaurant and many hotels. Gray-breasted Martins were above it all. After a good meal, I recuperated in a nearby hotel, and prepared for the next birding assault. This next leg of my trip was the most adventurous and exploratory of my entire journey. Few birders take the road from Satipo down into the lowland port of Puerto Ocopa and drive past that on the road to Atalaya. I didn't even know if much of a road existed into this region, but reports said one was passable in the dry season. It was towards the end of the dry season now, so I guessed it would be a good time to try.
11th Day in Peru - September 22
I put some water and foodstuffs (including more homemade tamales) into the truck, and headed out of town towards the small town of Mazamari, normally about 20 minutes drive away. It turns out that this section of road is passable, yet features many construction roadcrews at frequent intervals, which typically make you wait a few minutes before giving the signal to continue. The longest wait was around 50 minutes at one spot. Part of the road is dirt but some is paved. It took a couple of hours to get to Mazamari. The small town is about the length of the military airport which is beside the road there. Presumably, the airport allows the military to effectively combat the Sendero Luminoso terrorists, who were in the area in the 90's. At the far end of Mazamari, I turned left towards Puerto Ocopa, at a well marked turnoff and a sign to the town. It took at least an hour to drive this road to Puerto Ocopa, which had less construction crews, but still a few. The road was dirt and was dusty. The small ramshackle town of Puerto Ocopa had a somewhat informal gas station (pumped with a generator) and I filled up. Also, I ate lunch at one of the restaurants in town, a good meal of rice and venison, with salad and cooked plantain. The town consists of only a few shops and houses on a small hill, with a largish lowland river at the base of the hill. This river has a somewhat rustic ferry that takes 3 cars or less at a time. It runs without much wait at all, every 15 minutes or so. It cost about 20 soles, if I recall correctly. After the ferry at the town of Puerto Ocopa, the road winds very steeply up some hills, with sharp turns - not much fun to drive really, due to steepness and curves, and usually my vehicle was in 2nd gear. I saw a small number of Purple-throated Fruitcrows here, and a close flock of White-collared Swifts. It turns out that the first 43 kilometers after Puerto Ocopa was mostly cut-over coffee plantations, not that great for birding, but still holding a few interesting species. I did get great close looks at a Yellow-bellied Tanager. After 43 kilometers of coffee, the habitat finally gave way to slopes of rainforest. I began to bird at the first trail into a narrow strip of primary forest. Squirrel Cuckoos were here. Also here, were Blue-crowned and Round-tailed Manakins, and Collared Trogon. An antpitta or antthrush or something made consistent whistling calls, but I didn’t see it. A Whiskered Flycatcher was up in the trees. At another roadside stop, a pair of Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatchers put on a show. A male Purple-throated Euphonia was appreciated nearby, and there were plenty of Paradise Tanagers. A Plain-crowned Spinetail called. A Red-stained Woodpecker showed off at close range, but Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers were more common. A small side stream held Green Kingfisher and Buff-rumped Warbler. At another stop, Olivaceous Flatbill was interesting, and an Olive-backed Woodcreeper was seen. Southern Rough-winged Swallows were the most common swallow type. I noticed Green-and-gold Tanagers fairly often, with a few other tanager species. It was already late, and I was tired from driving logistics. I put up my tent along the roadside. As I drifted off to sleep, Spectacled Owl and Tropical Screech-Owl sounded off.
12th Day in Peru – September 23
The morning held promise, so up I got. A Gray-fronted Dove called. A very large contingent of 40 or so Swallow-tailed Kites was beginning to muster along a ridge with an early thermal. A few tyrannulets were around, Slender-footed appeared to be one kind and Peruvian appeared to be another. A Flavescent Flycatcher also was seen. It was fun when a new species of piculet for me appeared. It was seen well and at length: a Lafresnaye’s Piculet. A Plumbeous Pigeon flew by. On an exposed limb, an Opal-crowned Tanager male responded to my swishing. Black-goggled Tanager was here too. Paradise Tanagers continued to be common, along with Green-and-gold.
I met an indigenous Ashaninka family, who needed a lift to a very small village. We shared an entire watermelon and some bread. The village was not far. After I dropped them off, I continued birding. Around Km 53, I was looking into the eye-level branches of trees very close to the river. Something green and almost partridge-like flew from one branch to another. I put my glasses on it, and was elated to see a female fruiteater. I quickly ran down the fieldmarks in my mind that I was seeing. There was a neat little yellow spot under the chin and a completely cross-barred underside of green on yellow. The eye was a neat yellow and there was an orange bill, and a cool line of triangular or crescent-shaped little yellow dots was along a part of the wings outlining the back. I looked in the bird book. It was a Fiery-throated Fruiteater. I turned my attention back on the bird and found that it was accompanied by a stunning male of the same species. Both birds afforded great close views and were not really moving about much. They were sticking to the same tree, merely going from branch to branch on occasion. The male had a fiery red throat bordered all around by green. Although my trip had a lot of birding highlights, I think that this cool bird may be my #1 favorite. It made the trip down the Puerto Ocopa road worth it. A little further on, a couple of Straight-billed Woodcreepers were very vocal. One was seen. They are largish and fairly rufescent. The vultures here were still Turkey Vultures. I never made it into Greater Yellow-headed territory.
The forest along the road was mostly uncut now, and had been since km 43. However, it was the end of the dry season , and about a third of the trees seemed rather brownish and dry-leaved. I stopped at a little pull off only to discover that I had pulled onto a dry crust over a muddy seepage area. I became stuck in the mud and it was my stupid fault for not noticing. I prayed and put the car into 4 wheel drive. My one free wheel seemed to barely do the job, and by the grace of God I made it out. Thanks Lord. I made it to about Km 60 or so and bird activity slowed. After all, the day was getting hotter. I decided that I had braved the road here long enough so I turned around. It had been worth it to find out about this road. While somewhat challenging for its turns and occasional steepness, it was still a decent enough road to pass through on. I would not be too surprised if it continued to be decent and possible travel on all the way through to Atalaya. Personally, I think more birders should bird here. To do it properly would require several days at least, since birds are not immediately abundant, but a slow birding process should pull out a lot of very interesting species. The few birds that I saw along the road had been interesting and were more residents of low-elevation than elsewhere. Almost nowhere did I run into flat jungle. It had all been jungle slopes. On the way back, two quail-doves flew across the road, down low and from jungle to jungle. I could not tell from their backs whether they were Ruddy or Violaceous even though a purplish sheen seemed to be present.
I passed another Ashaninka village (again not large) and a man asked for a ride back to Satipo town. I said yes and he was immediately joined by three other persons: his wife, nursing a one-year-old, and a man who said he needed to get to a doctor in Satipo, due to a heart condition. For two to three hours we drove, arriving back in Satipo town after dark. A Ruddy Ground-Dove was seen en route. The woman related along the way that her father’s only livelihood was that of being a hunter. She rattled off a list of the animals he had hunted to maintain his family when she was growing up. I remember deer was one of the animals mentioned. Her husband was more of a city boy than she was, since he grew up in Satipo town. I was taking the couple back to Satipo to visit relatives. The man with the heart condition was joining us to visit the doctor. After dropping them off at the main plaza in Satipo, I feasted in a restaurant and got the same hotel in town as I had two nights ago. It was named ‘Santa Lucia’ and was fairly good.
13th day in Peru – September 24
Come morning, I headed back out of Satipo on the fine hard surface road towards La Merced, and then Tarma. Immediately after Tarma, I hit the crappy dirt road that connected with a good hard surface road to La Oroya (after about 25 kilometers of dusty trauma). Due to some additional construction, this crappy detour had its own crappy detour (a detour of a detour), which I barely managed in my vehicle. Somehow, I also wound up at a factory in the middle of nowhere on the altiplano, but a man at the factory helped me get to the hard surface road, and it was only a few kilometers from the factory. When I hit the hard surface road, I turned right toward Junin town and not left towards La Oroya. I wasn’t heading back to Lima quite yet. Despite being tired of driving, I still had enough birding gumption left to visit Bosque Unchog, a high elevation elfin forest just the other side of the town of Huanuco. Driving though the altiplano most of the way to Huanuco was fairly easy on good road, save for the last half hour or so closest to Huanuco, which was still not overly bad, though a bit pot-holed. The part of the journey just before Junin town was fun because there were quite a few Vicunas on the altiplano here. They are deerish llama relatives with very cute faces. Apparently, the locals round them up occasionally to trim their wool, which is more valuable than their meat, so they are allowed to live. In the towns surrounding large Lake Junin (the 2nd largest lake in Peru), maca, a form of very healthy potato, is grown and sold. When you reach the community of La Quinua (between Junin and Huanuco), there is a sort of well-spaced forest of scrubby trees along the road, that is supposed to be good for Polylepis birds. I had already been to Huascaran National Park, though, so I passed on this. It was after La Quinua (on through to Huanuco) that the road was less good than it had been, but still of mediocre to reasonable quality.
I stopped at a gas station along here and saw a Gray-rumped Swift. I got a very cheap hotel in the inner part of Huanuco town. The owners were very friendly. I stocked up on food and water for tomorrow’s journey up to Bosque Unchog.
14th Day in Peru – September 25
Up again early, and out the hotel door to Bosque Unchog. Getting to the elfin forest of Bosque Unchog was grueling and demanding. It was easy enough to find the left hand turn off of the Central Highway about 12 km or so from Huanuco. It was an acute left turn onto a dirt road that immediately crossed over a larger bridge, within view of the highway. After crossing the bridge you proceed to the right and begin asking people if you are on the correct dirt road to Cochabamba, which is around 24 kilometers up the winding curves. There are some splits in the road occasionally, some steep areas, some rocks, some sheer drop-offs, some very sharp turns, a few deep ruts. You must ask directions if not clear on road splits. Turning around is very difficult if a wrong turn is taken. The upper sections of the road are worse than the lower sections a little bit. In the upper sections, I noticed several birds: Golden-billed Saltator, Golden-bellied Grosbeak, and an Undulated Antpitta. The latter was ‘heard only’, a song not that different from a screech owl trill. At the town of Cochabamba, one must ask which road leads up to Bosque Unchog (pronounced ‘unshog). After Cochabamba, it is another 8 kilometers or so up the road that ends at the trailhead to Unchog’s high valley, right at the birds. There are a couple of huts at the trailhead at Unchog, with people. It is good to give these locals food, or some cash, as a way of thanking them for the parking space. They are friendly people. They understand you are looking for birds, as you are not the first to do this. On my way up the final 8 kilometers to Unchog, I was blessed to have a schoolboy jump on the back of my truck. He wanted a ride to avoid walking, but he helped me with directions to Unchog. Only a jeep or truck is likely to make the journey without problems. I strongly recommend taking public transport from Huanuco town to Cochabamba town and then seeing if you can get a taxi or local to drive you up to Unchog (else walking this 8 kilometer part). It is simply too grueling to drive your own vehicle with much sense of sanity. A tent and sufficient food and water is necessary in case of eventualities. Alternatively, a birding tour would be even better than public transport. Anyhoo, I personally arrived at Unchog in my rental truck around 9 am or so. Banks of fog came and went, so visibility was often good, but sometimes foggy. The first patch of elfin trees was only a few meters down the trail on the left. This first immediate patch was quite small and held only White-chinned Thistletail. I continued down the trail a little ways, past a wooden cross erected beside the path, to a second patch of forest (that the trail went right through the middle of). Here a small flock of birds was immediately encountered. A Rufous-browed Hemispingus was good to see, as was Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager. A Yellow-scarfed Tanager came foraging through. Blue-backed Conebill was around, and Moustached Flowerpiercer. Pearled Treerunner was close, as was everything else. A Coppery Metaltail sat on an exposed perch and gave really fine views. Also giving views from exposed but low perches, were a couple Ochraceous-breasted Flycatchers. It seemed like as soon as it all had begun, the flock moved on, and I was left wondering where the birds were. I continued on down the trail (which was a little steep). I came to a patch of trees on the right hand side of the trail and a little ways away from the trail. I walked the moist spongy ground over to these trees and found myself eye to eye with about four Bay-vented Cotingas. They were not overly skittish and served as my bird buddies for a while, as I studied them. They were eating berries from shrubby trees if I remember correctly. A family of about three Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers was conspicuous here also. This third patch of trees was set in a little alcove in the hills, which almost joined another forested alcove slightly lower down. At this lower wooded alcove area, at length, a nice flock of birds came through. Parduscos were several (and a really good look was had at one of them). Also Golden-collared Tanagers were quite handsome, and showy. A Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager showed poorly, as it flew across a small opening. It was the only Yellowish-breasted bird that I saw here, besides the aforementioned flycatchers. I was maybe a kilometer or so down the trail from the trailhead at this point. The walk back up the trail was kind of strenuous due to steepness and thin air, but I paced myself. After fishing in the backpack for a snack and a beverage, I rested on a rock. Afterwards, back up the trail along an open ridge, I flushed two Paramo Pipits. They had a pleasant little melodious song, which was a bit variable and whispy. Even better, here, was my first ever Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant. It was a bird I had missed in Ecuador years ago, and the guide book said they are rare. It had a neat little whitish area on the hind wings, which was distinctive, in addition to the more obvious field marks. A Brown-bellied Swallow liked the area near the wooden cross. Andean Lapwings were a bit too noisy as I returned to the truck.
I thought that it would be a good idea at this chilly and high altitude to start the vehicle again, just to make sure it was not going to be difficult starting later on. As it turned out, it just barely started. That’s the thing about high altitude and vehicles, I guess. I reasoned that if it didn’t start well now, it might not start at all come morning, so I made the difficult decision to head back to Huanuco now, without my last target bird, Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager. Way up here was no place to get stranded.
After a few kilometers heading down towards Cochabamba, I stopped the truck to check a road split for my previous tire tracks, in order to return on the correct road. Unfortunately, when I turned the key to restart the truck, there was zero electricity. Nothing happened. So, as with the time I was stuck in the mud in the lowlands, I prayed. It occurred to me that I could at least check the connections to the battery. I opened the hood and banged on the two battery connections with a medium-sized rock. Happily, the truck started up in style. I thanked the Lord, and decided not to stop again until I got to civilization.
I picked a different hotel in Huanuco, next to a central plaza park with much activity. The basketball court at the plaza was being used by the locals for soccer instead of basketball. Some little green-backed hummers with grayish breasts were in the eucalyptus trees by the park. I found grayish little hummers with green backs always a bit confusing to ID. There were a few of these types at most locations I visited during the trip, but I think there were probably several species involved. As always in these Peruvian towns, I spent my evening eating at a restaurant or two and walking the plaza area.
15th Day in Peru – September 26
The drive back towards Junin town and its large lake started out early and well. However, some time before the mining town of Cerro de Pasco, there was a standstill backup on the highway featuring a long line of trucks. Questioning some drivers revealed the following: construction workers would re-open the road at midnight at the soonest, about 15 hours hence. There just happened to be a small family restaurant along the road here, so I went in to think and to eat. I ate my first ever campesina Chicharon, and had salad, potatoes, and a kind of local popcorn-like stuff. The waiter said that his son could take me around the roadblock on backroads that would only take a couple of hours. I had no better offer, so the answer was yes. The son was a young father himself, so he bade farewell to his 2 year old son, and off we went. The roads he showed me were not great but not overly bad either, I suppose. Only one or two spots were very tricky. We managed to pick up a load of mine workers 20 minutes from Cerro de Pasco. They were grateful for the lift, but their extra weight pushed the truck to its limit at this elevation and we barely had motor power to get into town. We were shocked to find the final length of road had an impassable trench dug across it, forbidding passage, and within sight of town even. Not to be dissuaded, we tried a road that cut through not too far before the ditch, and with trial and error, made it around even this obstacle. Ah, Peru travel. It’s so unpredictable. I had seen a nice White-bellied Hummingbird along the new route, though, and a couple new large brown finches or small brown tanagers I haven’t figured out yet. A Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant was seen also.
In Cerro de Pasco, we had a chicken lunch. In front of the restaurant, a large group of striking miners came walking past, surrounded by police in riot gear. I hope the strikers got their demands. My guide told me that the workers are paid 50 soles for 12 hour shifts in the mines. That’s a little over a dollar and a half an hour. Back on the Central Highway, we sped along unimpeded to Junin. A Dark-winged Miner was seen on the roadside not too far from Junin. In town, I dropped off my guide, with his pay and fare to return home. Although it was almost sunset, I drove down to the shore of Lake Junin and birded. Several hummingbirds zipped past me over the grasslands and one perched close by on a fence wire. It was a male Black-breasted Hillstar. I birded the wet shoreline and saw a Plumbeous Rail, with bright reddish pinkish legs. I didn’t see any harriers, though the habitat looked good for them. No Puna Plovers either. Perhaps more time would have produced them. Puna Ibis, Wilson’s Phalaropes, Coots, and Yellow-billed Teal dominated the bird scene here.
I travelled on through Junin and then on to La Oroya town. Here, I bedded down for the night in a cheap hotel. Ticlio Pass (on the Carretera Central to Lima) was within easy striking distance in the morning.
16th Day in Peru – September 27
I drove up the good hard surface road to Ticlio Pass in the early morning, when most drivers of slow trucks were eating breakfast. I stopped at a little pond just over the pass, and left the car running (so I wouldn’t have to worry about it starting up again at high elevation). A Giant Coot was on its nest on the tiny pond and a White-faced Ground-Tyrant was on the pond flats. I travelled a few meters further down from the pass to Km 129 (the pass itself was Km 131). A small dirt road cut off to the right, when facing Lima, as I was. At this dirt road, right next to the Carretera Central, I saw a couple of Streak-throated Canasteros in the bunch grass. They have some character, and raise their tails when disturbed from their usual scampering about. I also saw a beautiful White-bellied Cinclodes here. It was occupying the sloping hill right at the 129 Km marker. It is fun to see a Cinclodes so large and white after all the Cream-winged Cinclodes you get used to seeing in central Peru. This one is endemic and somewhat endangered as well.
Travelling down the Carretera Central was relatively uneventful. A few Peruvian Sierra-Finches and a couple Black Metaltails were the only birds of note seen while driving. Around midday, I arrived at the turnoff for Santa Eulalia canyon. To be honest, I was pretty much birded out from my long time in Peru, but even more, I was tired of driving. I went a short distance (maybe 15 kilometers up the side road at Santa Eulalia). Perhaps this was to see if I could take more Peruvian dirt roads and still stay sane. The road was so-so, with some tedious parts. I came to a bank of planted flowers along a fence and found that it was alive with 20 or more hummers. All of them were Peruvian Sheartails, but only one was a streamer-tailed male. I decided to turn around here, and headed back out to the Carretera Central. Along the way, I saw a family group of Bare-faced Ground-Doves. They were rather interesting because they had circular spots all over their upper plumage, and conspicuous orange-yellow orbital areas, plus a dark bill.
It was fairly easy navigating back to the International Airport in Lima. This, despite the heavy traffic. I was set to leave Peru tomorrow morning at 10 am. Everything went along without a hitch. I stayed the night before the flight in a cheap hotel in Lima, about 10 blocks from the airport, and relaxed and feasted and relaxed some more.
In summary, the trip had been a definite success from my perspective. I had seen just over 400 bird species, many of them lifers. I had gotten a good feel for the people and culture of Central Peru. Best, I had cancelled out the feeling of being a worker drone, a daily automaton, back home. I was ready to integrate back into the easier (or at least more familiar) lifestyle of the US. I had had enough logistical and birding excitement to last a while (we’ll see how long a while, but a definite while).
I would recommend a few things for anyone planning on birding Central Peru:
1. Use the website www.birdingperu.com, and click on ‘Where To Go Birding’. A map of Peru will display and you can click on various locations on the map (to get specific area bird lists and to get short local area overviews from a birding perspective).
2. Take public buses or planes if you can to areas desired, and then hire taxis or rent cars locally. Taxis are usually three-wheeled, durable, cheap, and abundant – called ‘mototaxis’. Even better, if you have the cash, take an organized bird tour. If you do go solo, as I did, and don’t want to take a bus, I would not really recommend Budget Rent-A-Car. Perhaps Europcar or Hertz have better standards of car maintenance. Get a pickup truck or similar. Expect to spend a full day driving between areas.
3. Visit the Satipo Road. It was the best area overall, and spend a week or more there covering all altitudes where there is still jungle. The lower and mid elevations have just as much to offer as the high elevations of the road in my opinion. Take a tent.
4. Remember that local food is good (I liked the soups) and gas is always available in all towns and even other locations.
5. Don’t worry about crime, beyond the normal precautions. People are friendly and road travel logistics is the only concern worth brain cell expenditure, in my opinion.
6. Update your bird list as you see the birds. It may be hard to remember so many birds otherwise.
7. If you bird the old-fashioned way, without recordings, as I did, you might see slightly fewer species, but you can still see some tapaculos, antpittas, and such, as this trip proved. Also, owls will still hoot, but there may be less of way to draw them in without recordings.
1. Andean Tinamou – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
2. Chilean Flamingo – Lake Junin, 9/26
3. Andean Goose – Lake Conococha, 9/13
4. Puna Teal - Huascaran National Park, 9/14
5. Yellow-billed Teal - Lake Conococha, 9/13
6. White-cheeked Pintail – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
7. Cinnamon Teal - Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
8. Andean Ruddy Duck - Huascaran National Park, 9/14
9. Crested Duck - Lake Conococha, 9/13
10. Speckled Chachalaca – Laguna Oconal near Villa Rica, 9/18
11. Spix’s Guan – heard very close, Bosque Shollet, 9/17
12. White-tufted Grebe - Lake Junin, 9/26
13. Silvery Grebe - Lake Conococha, 9/13
14. Least Grebe - Laguna Oconal near Villa Rica, 9/18
15. Great Grebe – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
16. Peruvian Pelican – Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
17. White-vented StormPetrel - Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
18. Peruvian Booby - Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
19. Humboldt Penguin - Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
20. Neotropic Cormorant - Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
21. Guanay Cormorant – Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
22. Anhinga – Laguna Oconal near Villa Rica, 9/18
23. Cocoi Heron – Laguna Oconal near Villa Rica, 9/18
24. Cattle Egret – south of Paramonga, 9/12
25. Great Egret – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
26. Snowy Egret – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
27. Black-crowned Night Heron – Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
28. Little Blue Heron - Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
29. Striated Heron – Laguna Oconal near Villa Rica, 9/18
30. Puna Ibis - Lake Junin, 9/26
31. Black Vulture - Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
32. Turkey Vulture – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
33. Swallow-tailed Kite – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
34. Plumbeous Kite – near La Merced, 9/16
35. Short-tailed Hawk – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
36. Roadside Hawk – near Villa Rica, 9/18
37. Variable Hawk – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
38. Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
39. Red-throated Caracara – over downtown Villa Rica, 9/18
40. Mountain Caracara – Lake Conococha, 9/13
41. Yellow-headed Caracara – La Merced, 9/16
42. American Kestrel – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
43. Plumbeous Rail – Lake Junin, 9/26
44. Rufous-sided Crake – heard, Laguna Oconal near Villa Rica, 9/18
45. Purple Gallinule – Laguna Oconal near Villa Rica, 9/18
46. Common Moorhen – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
47. Andean Coot – Lake Conococha, 9/13
48. Giant Coot – Ticlio Pass, 9/27
49. American Oystercatcher – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
50. Blackish Oystercatcher – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
51. Wattled Jacana - Laguna Oconal near Villa Rica, 9/18
52. Andean Lapwing – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
53. Black-necked Stilt – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
54. Tawny-throated Dotterel – south of Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
55. Black-bellied Plover – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
56. Least Seedsnipe – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
57. Killdeer – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
58. Snowy Plover – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
59. Semipalmated Plover – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
60. Whimbrel - Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
61. Lesser Yellowlegs – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
62. Greater Yellowlegs – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
63. Spotted Sandpiper – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
64. Least Sandpiper – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
65. Semipalmated Sandpiper – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
66. Baird’s Sandpiper – Lake Conococha, 9/13
67. Sanderling – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
68. Ruddy Turnstone – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
69. Surfbird – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
70. Wandering Tattler – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
71. Wilson’s Phalarope - Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
72. Kelp Gull – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
73. Belcher’s Gull – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
74. Gray Gull – Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
75. Franklin’s Gull – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
76. Gray-headed Gull – Paraiso Lagoon Beach, 9/12
77. Andean Gull – Huascaran National Park, 9/13
78. Inca Tern – Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
79. Peruvian Tern – Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
80. Black Skimmer – Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
81. South American Tern – Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
82. Plumbeous Pigeon – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
83. Band-tailed Pigeon – Satipo Road, 9/21
84. Eared Dove – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
85. West Peruvian Dove – towards Paramonga, 9/12
86. Common Pigeon (Rock Dove) – towards Paramonga, 9/12
87. Ruddy Ground Dove – Puerto Ocopa, 9/24
88. Croaking Ground Dove – 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
89. Bare-faced Ground Dove – Santa Eulalia, 9/27
90. White-tipped Dove – km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
91. Gray-fronted Dove – heard on Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
92. Quail Dove, species (Ruddy or Violaceous) – two flew from jungle across Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23, only backs seen
93. White-eyed Parakeet, La Merced, 9/16
94. Rock (Black-capped) Parakeet, near Villa Rica, 9/20
95. Mountain Parakeet, Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
96. Blue-headed Parrot, near Villa Rica, 9/18
97. Speckle-faced Parrot, Bosque Shollet, 9/17
98. Squirrel Cuckoo, Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
99. Smooth-billed Ani, Laguna Oconal, 9/18
100. Grove-billed Ani – towards Paramonga, 9/12
101. Peruvian Pygmy Owl – heard 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
102. White-throated Screech-Owl – heard along Satipo Road (at same elevation as Large- footed Tapaculo and White-eared Solitaire), 9/21
103. Tropical Screech-Owl – heard along Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
104. Burrowing Owl – Lomas de Lachay – 9/12
105. Short-eared Owl - Lomas de Lachay – 9/11
106. Spectacled Owl – heard along Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
107. Rufous-banded Owl – heard at Bosque Shollet, 9/17
108. (roadkill Barn Owl near Huacho, 9/15)
109. Lesser Nighthawk –Paramonga, 9/12
110. Common Pauraque – near Villa Rica, 9/18
111. White-collared Swift – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
112. Andean Swift - 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
113. Fork-tailed Palm Swift – Satipo town, 9/20
114. Gray-rumped Swift – between Cerro de Pasco and Huanuco, 9/26
115. Giant Hummingbird – west of Lake Conococha on Route 16, 9/13
116. Long-tailed Hermit – lower Satipo Road, 9/21
117. Green Hermit – Satipo Road, 9/22
118. Black-throated Mango – Satipo Road, 9/20
119. White-bellied Hummingbird – near Cerro de Pasco, 9/26
120. Sparkling Violetear – near Oxapampa, 9/16
121. Sapphire-spangled Emerald – Laguna Oconal, 9/18
122. Speckled Hummingbird – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
123. Violet-fronted Brilliant – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
124. Fawn-breasted Brilliant – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
125. Shining Sunbeam – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
126. Black-breasted Hillstar – Lake Junin, 9/26
127. Chestnut-breasted Coronet – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
128. Collared Inca – Satipo Road, 9/21
129. Violet-throated Starfrontlet – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
130. Long-tailed Sylph – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
131. Amethyst-throated Sunangel – mid to upper Satipo Road, 9/21
132. Coppery-naped Puffleg – Satipo Road, 9/21
133. Coppery Metaltail – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
134. Black Metaltail – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
135. Oasis Hummingbird – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
136. Amazilla Hummingbird – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
137. Purple-collared Woodstar – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
138. Peruvian Sheartail – Santa Eulalia, 9/27
139. Peruvian Piedtail – Satipo Road, 9/21
140. Collared Trogon – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
141. Blue-crowned Trogon - near Villa Rica, 9/18
142. Andean Motmot – lower Satipo Road, 9/21
143. Green Kingfisher – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
144. Amazon Kingfisher – Laguna Oconal, 9/18
145. Bluish-fronted Jacamar (white-chinned variety) – lower Satipo Road, 9/20
146. Lemon-throated Barbet – lower Satipo Road, 9/21
147. Versicolored Barbet (glaucogularis) – lower Satipo Road, 9/21
148. Chestnut-eared Aracari – lower Satipo Road, 9/20
149. Emerald Toucanet – lower Satipo Road, 9/20
150. Blue-banded Toucanet – mid and upper Satipo Road, 9/21
151. Lafresnaye’s Piculet –Puerto Ocopa Road, 9/23
152. Ocellated Piculet – near Villa Rica, 9/20
153. Yellow-tufted Woodpecker – Puerto Ocopa Road, 9/22
154. Red-stained Woodpecker – Puerto Ocopa Road, 9/22
155. Crimson-mantled Woodpecker – mid- Satipo Road, 9/21
156. Andean Flicker – west of Lake Conococha, 9/13
157. Crimson-crested Woodpecker – near Villa Rica, 9/18
158. Olive-backed Woodcreeper – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22 and lower Satipo Road, 9/21
159. Straight-billed Woodcreeper – near Villa Rica, 9/18
160. Olivaceous Woodcreeper – near Villa Rica, 9/18
161. Montane Woodcreeper – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
162. Coastal Miner – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
163. Common Miner – north of Junin town, 9/26
164. Grayish Miner – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
165. Thick-billed Miner – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
166. Plain-breasted Earthcreeper – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
167. Wren-like Rushbird – north of Huacho, 9/15
168. Bar-winged Cinclodes (Cream-winged), Huascaran National Park, 9/13
169. White-winged Cinclodes – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
170. White-bellied Cinclodes – Ticlio Pass at km 129, 9/27
171. Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail – Huascaran National Park, 9/13
172. Eye-ringed Thistletail – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
173. White-chinned Thistletail – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
174. Azara’s Spinetail – near Oxapampa, 9/16
175. Plain-crowned Spinetail – near Villa Rica, 9/20
176. Rufous Spinetail – mid Satipo Road, 9/21
177. Baron’s Spinetail – Huascaran National Park, 9/13
178. Cactus Canastero – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
179. Streak-throated Canastero – Ticlio Pass at km 129, 9/27
180. Pearled Treerunner – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
181. Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner – near Villa Rica, 9/20
182. Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner – near Oxapampa, 9/16
183. Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner – near Villa Rica, 9/18
184. Streaked Tuftedcheek – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
185. Plain Xenops – near Villa Rica, 9/18
186. Streaked Xenops – near Villa Rica, 9/17
187. Barred Antshrike – Laguna Oconal, 9/18
188. Chestnut-backed Antshrike – near Villa Rica, 9/18
189. Plain Antvireo – near Villa Rica, 9/18
190. Stripe-chested Antwren – near Villa Rica, 9/18
191. Yellow-breasted Warbliing-Antbird – La Merced, 9/16
192. Peruvian Warbling-Antbird – near Villa Rica, 9/20
193. Streak-headed Antbird – Bosquet Shollet, 9/16
194. Undulated Antpitta – heard upper Satipo Road, 9/21 and Bosque Unchog road, 9/25
195. Stripe-headed Antpitta – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
196. Bay Antpitta – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
197. Ancash Tapaculo – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
198. Tschudi’s Tapaculo – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
199. Large-footed Tapaculo – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
200. Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant – mid Satipo Road, 9/21
201. Capped Conebill (female) – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
202. Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet – Satipo Road, 9/21
203. Slaty-capped Flycatcher – mid Satipo Road, 9/21
204. Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
205. Bolivian Tyrannulet – near La Merced, 9/16
206. Peruvian Tyrannulet – Satipo Road, 9/20
207. Slender-footed Tyrannulet – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/21
208. Sierran Elaenia – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
209. White-crested Elaenia – near Villa Rica on road from Bosque Shollet, 9/17
210. Torrent Tyrannulet – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
211. Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet - 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
212. White-tailed Tyrannulet –Bosque Shollet, 9/17
213. Sulphur-bellied Tyrannulet – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
214. White-throated Tyrannulet – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
215. Many-colored Rush Tyrant – towards Paramonga, 9/12
216. Tufted Tit-Tyrant – Satipo Road, 9/21
217. Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant - 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
218. McConnell’s Flycatcher – La Merced, 9/16
219. Cinnamon Flycatcher – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
220. Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant – mid Satipo Road, 9/21
221. Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
222. Common Tody-Flycatcher – near Oxapampa, 9/16
223. Olivaceous Flatbill – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
224. Yellow-breasted Flycatcher – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
225. Flavescent Flycatcher – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
226. Whiskered Flycatcher - Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
227. Smoke-colored Pewee – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
228. Vermillion Flycatcher – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
229. Black Phoebe – mid Satipo Road, 9/20
230. Rufous-tailed Tyrant – near Oxapampa, 9/16
231. Andean Negrito – Lake Conococha, 9/13
232. Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant – Lake Conococha, 9/13
233. Taczanowski’s Ground-Tyrant – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
234. Cinereous Ground-Tyrant – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
235. White-fronted Ground-Tyrant – Lake Conococha, 9/13 and Ticlio Pass, 9/27
236. Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant – very top of Satipo Road, 9/21
237. Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
238. Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant – mid Satipo Road, 9/21
239. Cliff Flycatcher – surface road to Oxapampa, 9/16
240. Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
241. Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant – mid to upper Satipo Road, 9/21
242. White-browed Chat-Tyrant – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
243. Streaked Flycatcher – surface road to Oxapampa, 9/16
244. Golden-crowned Flycatcher – lower to mid Satipo Road, 9/21
245. Gray-capped Flycatcher – Satipo Road, 9/20
246. Lemon-browed Flycatcher – lower to mid Satipo Road, 9/21
247. Social Flycatcher – near La Merced, 9/16
248. Great Kiskadee - at San Salvador, El Salvador International Airport en route, 9/11
249. Tropical Kingbird – route 16 towards Conococha, 9/13
250. White-winged Becard – near Villa Rica, 9/18
251. Masked Tityra – near Villa Rica, 9/20
252. Grayish Mourner – La Merced, 9/16
253. Purple-throated Fruitcrow – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
254. Red-crested Cotinga – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
255. Bay-vented Cotinga – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
256. Barred Fruiteater – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
257. Fiery-throated Fruiteater – Puerto Ocopa road km 53, 9/23
258. Blue-crowned Manakin – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
259. Round-tailed Manakin – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
260. Red-eyed Vireo – near Villa Rica, 9/18
261. Brown-capped Vireo – near Oxapampa, 9/16
262. Violaceous Jay – La Merced, 9/16
263. White-collared Jay – mid Satipo Road, 9/21
264. Brown-bellied Swallow – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
265. Blue-and-white Swallow – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
266. White-banded Swallow – surface road to Oxapampa, 9/16
267. Barn Swallow – near Huacho, 9/15
268. Southern Rough-winged Swallow – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
269. Chestnut-collared Swallow – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
270. Cave Swallow – several at San Salvador, El Salvador International Airport en route, 9/11
271. Andean Swallow – Huaraz highway, 9/14
272. Gray-breasted Martin – Satipo town, 9/23
273. Yellowish Pipit – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
274. Paramo Pipit – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
275. Gray-breasted Wood-Wren – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
276. Coraya Wren – La Merced, 9/16
277. Mountain Wren – mid and upper Satipo Road, 9/21
278. Peruvian Wren – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
279. House Wren – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
280. Long-tailed Mockingbird – south of Paramonga, 9/12
281. Tropical Gnatcatcher – 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
282. White-eared Solitaire – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
283. Andean Solitaire (heard) – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
284. Chiguanco Thrush – 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
285. Great Thrush – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
286. Glossy Black Thrush – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
287. Black-billed Thrush – near La Merced, 9/16
288. Silver-beaked Tanager – near La Merced, 9/16
289. Magpie Tanager – near Villa Rica, 9/18
290. Drab Hemispingus – Satipo Road, 9/21
291. Rufous-browed Hemispingus – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
292. Oleaginous Hemispingus – mid Satipo Road, 9/21
293. Black-eared Hemispingus – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
294. Superciliaried Hemispingus (gray central Peru race) – Satipo Road, 9/21
295. White-browed Hemispingus – Satipo Road, 9/21
296. Guira Tanager – near Villa Rica, 9/18
297. Rufous-chested Tanager – Satipo Road, 9/21
298. Rust-and-yellow Tanager – Satipo Road, 9/21
299. Yellow-crested Tanager – near Villa Rica, 9/18
300. White-lined Tanager – near Villa Rica, 9/18
301. Black-goggled Tanager – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
302. Fawn-breasted Tanager – near Villa Rica, 9/20
303. Vermillion Tanager – near Villa Rica, 9/19
304. Blue-capped Tanager – near Oxapampa, 9/16
305. Blue-and-yellow Tanager - 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
306. Palm Tanager – near Villa Rica on Bosque Shollet road, 9/17
307. Blue-gray Tanager – near La Merced, 9/16
308. Short-billed Bush-Tanager – Satipo Road, 9/21
309. Common Bush-Tanager – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
310. Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager (chrysogaster) – mid Satipo Road, 9/21
311. Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
312. Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
313. Grass-green Tanager – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
314. Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
315. Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager – Satipo Road, 9/21
316. Golden-collared Tanager – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
317. Yellow-throated Tanager – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
318. Yellow-scarfed Tanager – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
319. Silver-backed Tanager – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
320. Flame-faced Tanager – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
321. Beryl-spangled Tanager – Bosque Shollet, 9/17
322. Blue-and-black Tanager – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
323. Saffron-crowned Tanager – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
324. Blue-browed Tanager – mid Satipo Road, 9/22
325. Blue-necked Tanager – near Villa Rica, 9/18
326. Spotted Tanager – Satipo Road, 9/21
327. Bay-headed Tanager – Satipo Road, 9/21
328. Yellow-bellied Tanager – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
329. Green-and-gold Tanager – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
330. Turquoise Tanager – near Villa Rica, 9/18
331. Paradise Tanager – near Villa Rica along Bosque Shollet road, 9/17
332. Opal-crowned Tanager – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
333. Swallow Tanager – La Merced, 9/16
334. Green Honeycreeper – Satipo Road, 9/21
335. Orange-eared Tanager – Satipo Road, 9/21
336. Golden-collared Honeycreeper – mid to lower Satipo Road, 9/21
337. Cinereous Conebill – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
338. Blue Dacnis – near Villa Rica, 9/20
339. Purple Honeycreeper, Satipo Road, 9/21
340. Blue-backed Conebill – Satipo Road, 9/21
341. Masked Flowerpiercer – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
342. Deep Blue Flowerpiercer – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
343. Giant Conebill – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
344. Tit-like Dacnis – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
345. Plushcap – mid Satipo Road, 9/ 21
346. Pardusco – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
347. Moustached Flowerpiercer – Bosque Unchog, 9/25
348. White-sided Flowerpiercer – Satipo Road, 9/21
349. Yellow-browed Sparrow – near Villa Rica, 9/20
350. Peruvian Sierra-Finch – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
351. Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
352. Plumbeous Sierra-Finch – Conococha Pass, 9/13
353. White-winged Diuca-Finch – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
354. Plain-colored Seedeater – upper Satipo Road, 9/21
355. Band-tailed Seedeater – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
356. Band-tailed Sierra-Finch – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
357. Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
358. Collared Warbling-Finch – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
359. Bright-rumped Yellow-finch – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
360. Chestnut-throated Seedeater – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
361. Blue-black Grassquit – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
362. Yellow-bellied Seedeater – Laguna Oconal, 9/20
363. Black-and-white Seedeater – Satipo Road, 9/21
364. White-collared Seedeater - at San Salvador, El Salvador Airport en route, 9/11
365. Chestnut-bellied Seedeater – Villa Rica edge of town, 9/18
366. Chestnut-bellied Seedfinch – La Merced, 9/16
367. White-browed Brush-Finch – Satipo Road, 9/21
368. Tricolored Brush-Finch– Bosque Shollet, 9/16
369. Taczanowski’s (Slaty) Brush-Finch – mid Satipo Road, 9/21, and Bosque Unchog, 9/25
370. Rufous-eared Brush-Finch – Huascaran National Park, 9/13
371. Golden-bellied Grosbeak – near Cochabamba (road up to Bosque Unchog), 9/25
372. Rufous-collared Sparrow – Huascaran National Park, 9/14
373. Buff-throated Saltator – near La Merced, 9/16
374. Golden-billed Saltator - near Cochabamba (road up to Bosque Unchog), 9/25
375. Tropical Parula – near Villa Rica, 9/18
376. Slate-throated Whitestart – near Oxapampa, 9/16
377. Spectacled Whitestart – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
378. Bananaquit – near La Merced, 9/16
379. Pale-legged Warbler – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
380. Citrine Warbler – Satipo Road, 9/21
381. Three-striped Warbler – Bosque Shollet, 9/16
382. Buff-rumped Warbler – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/22
383. Masked Yellowthroat – Laguna Oconal, 9/18
384. Dusky-green Oropendola – Satipo Road, 9/21
385. Russet-backed Oropendola – surface road to Oxapampa, 9/16
386. Yellow-rumped Cacique – La Merced, 9/16
387. Scrub Blackbird - 40 km east of Paramonga on Route 16, 9/13
388. Great-tailed Grackle - at San Salvador, El Salvador International Airport en route, 9/11
389. Peruvian Meadowlark – Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
390. Hooded Siskin - Lomas de Lachay, 9/12
391. Thick-billed Siskin – Lake Junin, 9/26
392. Blue-naped Chlorophonia – near Villa Rica on Bosque Shollet road, 9/17
393. Thick-billed Euphonia – La Merced, 9/16
394. Purple-throated Euphonia – Puerto Ocopa road, 9/23
395. Orange-bellied Euphonia – Satipo Road, 9/21
396. Golden-rumped Euphonia – near Villa Rica, 9/18
397. House Sparrow – near La Merced, 9/16
398. Peruvian Diving-Petrel, Medio Mundo Beach, 9/15
399. Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant, Bosque Shollet, 9/16
400. Pied-billed Grebe, Paraiso Lagoon, 9/12
401. Tyrian Metaltail, Huascaran National Park, 9/14
402. Thrush-like Antpitta (heard only), near Villa Rica, 9/19