In previous trip reports, I have described birding experiences in Northeastern, North central, and Western Venezuela, as well as Junglaven, during 2003-2005. In an effort to target another couple of special species during a 'long weekend', I traveled west of Caracas to Barinas and then back-tracked a bit to Parque Nacional Yacambu, utilzing the services of Venezuelan Guide Pepe Clavijo (pepito1313ATyahoo.com ). Pepe, who is probably best known for his work with Scallop-breasted Antpitta (both banding as a part of scientific research as well as finding additional sites for it, digiscoping it, and showing it to numerous birdwatchers and bird tour leaders) works with a Venezuelan birdwatching company called: BIRDING VENEZUELA Chacao - Caracas Tel. +58-212-2665766 / 2667467 / 2662445 Fax. +58-212-2667944 email: birdingvenezuelaATgmail.com .... http://www.birdingvenezuela.com (coming soon!) For more information on birding in Venezuela, see:-
Logistics: ground transport and accomodations were all arranged by Birding Venezuela.
Day 1: 23 Sept: Caracas to Barinas: If one drives without stopping for meals, Barinas lies about 6 1/2 hours west of Caracas, or 4 1/2 hours west of Maracay. American Airlines has apparently applied for permission to fly to Valencia from Miami, which would make this area even easier to access due to Valencia's location 30 minutes west of Maracay. We first stopped for birding just north of Barinas at Barinitas, at an altitude of 470m, where Pepe had recently seen an Andean Lanisoma. Although we didn't manage to locate the Lanisoma that day, at mid-day we did see Stripe-throated Hermit, Many-banded Aracari, Scaled Piculet, Red-rumped Woodpecker (M and F), Plain-brown and Streak-headed Woodcreepers, Great Antshrike, White-bearded Manakins (M and F), Ochre-bellied and Sepia-capped Flycatchers, Yellow Tyrannulet, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Variegated and Streaked Flycatchers, Violaceous Jay, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Pale-breasted, Cocoa, and White-necked Thrushes, Stripe-backed Wren, Pectoral Sparrow (of the well marked subspecies axillaris), and the more common species, including Oriole Blackbird.
The target bird of the afternoon, however (although I would not have complained about seeing Pepe's Lanisoma), was the form of Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant which Hilty now splits off as Blackish Chat-Tyrant (Ochthoeca negrita). We drove toward Santo Domingo, arriving at La Campana at 1600m. This species favors streamside vegetation, and we proceeded down a concrete path down to the stream edge. At 4:30 pm, as we walked up and down this path, a group of 3 Blackish Chat-Tyrants came in silently, feeding in the mid-story of the streamside vegetation. After they had begun to pass us, Pepe played a tape of their vocalization, and they approached more closely and began to vocalize, giving excellent views. After our success, we returned to Baranitas for the night, where there are a number of reasonably priced posadas on the main highway.
Day 2: Barinas to Yacambu: After an early visit to assure ourselves that the Lanisoma wasn't hanging about in the early morning, we proceeded to Parque Nacional Yacambu, stopping en route to bird the Guarico area in the state of Lara, at 1000m. There wasn't much Inga in bloom, so we spent a bit of time birding the flowering Erythrina trees, and birds of note included: Black-throated Mango, Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird, White-chinned Sapphires (both M and F), Steely-vented Hummingbird (studied very well in the scope), Short-crested Flycatcher, and more Stripe-backed Wrens (here, at 1000m, in Erythrina).
By mid-afternoon, we had arrived at Yacambu, birding at 1600m. I had 2 target birds for the afternoon, and Pepe managed to get me scope views of the first one, a female Rufous-shafted Woodstar. We had nice scope studies of a variety of hummingbirds, including Green and Sparkling Violetears, White-vented Plumeleteers (M and F), Speckled Hummingbirds, Booted Racket-tails (M and F), and Long-tailed Sylphs (M and F). A second target bird was the form of Groove-billed Toucanet which Hilty splits off as Yellow-billed Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus caolorhynchus), and we had nice close views of these. We spent some time checking out areas of damp understory for Great Antpitta...In August of 2003, Pepe and I had visited Yacambu at a time when Great Antpittas were actively calling, and we obtained several recordings of its vocalization, as well as getting excellent views, including one scope view of this rare and localized species - the first records at this site were by Dave Willis. In August of this year, Pepe managed to see one with a client, but the birds were neither calling nor apparently tape responsive. Although we played our 2003 vocalizations in several areas, including the site where our recording was made, this year we never heard vocalizations nor saw the antpitta. We stayed just outside Sanare at Posada Tierra Blanca, which had a very attentive staff, good food, and Chilean Red Wine. A nearby posada, El Encanto, is also highly recommended and is popular with birdwatching groups.
Day 3: Yacambu in early am, then return to Maracay. Pepe had seen the ssp. granadensis of Red-Ruffed Fruitcrow several times at Yacambu, but we didn't manage to see one this trip. Birds we did encounter of note included: White-rumped Hawk, Lined Quail-Dove (heard only, but reasonably common on the Cascada trail when not many people are about), Ruddy Quail-Dove, Masked Trogon, Golden-Olive Woodpecker, Slaty Antwren, Black-faced Antthrush (HO), Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (several, HO), Rusty-breasted Antpitta (HO, but regular in the bamboo on the Cascada trail), Merida Tapaculo (HO), Golden-breasted Fruiteater - excellent scope views of M and F, Golden-winged Manakins (subadult males), Black-capped Tyrannulet (excellent views as it perched 15-20 feet above ground), Andean Solitaire, Yellow-legged Thrush, Blackburnian and Black and White Warblers, American Redstarts, Orange-bellied Euphonias (including 2 Males), Saffron-crowned, Golden, Beryl-spangled and Speckled Tanagers.
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