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Northern Peru October & November 2009

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Old Wednesday 11th November 2009, 16:05   #1
Oregonian
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Northern Peru October & November 2009

We're just back from a lovely trip to Peru, in three phases: Three days in Lima, guided by Mario Cabrejos [[email protected]]; four days in the Abra Patricia area, guided by Julio Tellos, arranged through Gunnar Engblom's Kolibri Expeditions; and five days with a group of orchid enthusiasts attending the orchid festival in Moyobamba. We only ticked some 220 species - I must be too lightweight at birding, since there are so many reports of many more in the same amount of time. Perhaps it's lazyness - not putting a name to every tyranulet that flicks by in a mixed group could reduce the list a bit.

Highlights included seeing Marvelous Spatuletail at Pomacochas, hearing a pair of Long-whiskered Owlets and the lodge by that name, and seeing my first actual wild penguins at Pucusana, and so much more!

On the 29th of October Mario and I visited sites north north of Lima, including Lomas de Lachay and the port of Callao.
The Lomas were incredible, such an interesting place. The fog came and went, and we managed to avoid the hordes of school children most of the time. Many good birds, including:
Least Seedsnipe
Coastal and Thick-billed Miners
Raimondi's and Grassland Yellow-finch
Yellowish Pipit
Oasis Hummingbird
Peruvian Sheartail
Purple-collared Woodstar.
Many others - I'll see if I can attach a list later.
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Old Thursday 12th November 2009, 00:26   #2
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Just hearing the Owlet probably counts for at least 100 birds! Looking forward to the rest of your report.
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Old Friday 13th November 2009, 03:26   #3
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La Punta - Callao

After Lomas de Lachay, on the way back to Lima we stopped at Callao, where the penninsula ends with a nice coastal mudflat/wetlands. This is a lovely spot for birding, apparently very secure.

There was a stunning flock of gulls, including many Franklin's and Kelp Gulls, along with a few Belcher's, Andean, Gray-headed and Gray Gulls. A few Terns were mixed in, Elegant and Royal, and there were shorebirds, including Whimbrel, Spotted and Western Sandpipers, Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones. I could have spent more time there, and there was surely more to find, but it was the end of the day, and we had to cross Lima to get back to Miraflores.

The gulls were a real highlight, Belcher's, Gray-headed and Gray new for me.
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Old Friday 13th November 2009, 13:26   #4
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South of Lima - October 30, 2009

This trip was inspired by opportunism, planned around two orchid shows my wife Patricia (an American Orchid Society judge) volunteered to help with, one in Lima, and one in Moyobamba. So on Thusday the 29th, I went with Mario by myself, but on Friday, Patricia and another judge, Carol, came with us.

Mario picked us up at 9:00, and we headed south, to the beach at San Pedro, wetlands near Chilca, and the port of Pucusana.

The beach at San Pedro was fantastic, crawling with seabirds and shorebirds. We had our first look at a Humbolt Penguin there, but it was less than satesfactory, bobbing offshore in the waves, mostly just the head visible. Pelicans, terns, and boobies were actively diving just offshore. The wetlands behind the beach were dry, but we ticked a Peruvian Meadowlark (which we had seen yesterday at Lomas) and headed south for better wetlands at Chilca.
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Old Friday 13th November 2009, 20:10   #5
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South of Lima - October 30, 2009 - Chilca

Chilca was interesting, and the wetlands just to the south productive. This site is not covered in Valqui's book, but worth a stop en route to Pucusana.
We found several targets: Chilean Flamingo, Wren-like Rushbird, and Many-colored Rush-tyrant. Other birds there included Least Bittern, Great Grebe, Puna Ibis.

We had almost given up on the Rush-Tyrant, but driving out there was a pair nesting right by the road! We watched the parents exchange places, without getting out or disturbing them, from a few feet away.

While cruising back roads en route to Pucusana, we found a freshly plowed field with some 20 PeruvianThick-knees!
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Old Saturday 14th November 2009, 13:50   #6
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October 30 - Pucusana

As Thomas Valqui says in Where to Watch Birds in Peru: "This charming little fishing town..."; "Almost guaranteed sightings of the Humbolt Penguin are reason enough to come."; "There are plenty of seabirds and a nice boat trip..."

So we did. For a few dollars we went out in a small boat through the harbor, north along the cliffs to some swell houses, across the bay to circumnavigate the island, where there were lots of Peruvian Boobies, Peruvian Pelicans, and Inca Terns; also Red-legged Cormorants, Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes, and Humbolt Penguins. We had just found the cinclodes when we rounded a point and saw four Penguins on the rocks beyond. They hustled down the rocks and dissappeared into the water. Far more satesfactory than seeing them bob about in the ocean 100 meters offshore from San Pedro!
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Old Saturday 14th November 2009, 14:24   #7
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Good stuff Jeff. Can't wait for the Owlet installment..
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Old Sunday 15th November 2009, 02:09   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oregonian View Post
As Thomas Valqui says in Where to Watch Birds in Peru: "This charming little fishing town..."; "Almost guaranteed sightings of the Humbolt Penguin are reason enough to come."; "There are plenty of seabirds and a nice boat trip..."

So we did. For a few dollars we went out in a small boat through the harbor, north along the cliffs to some swell houses, across the bay to circumnavigate the island, where there were lots of Peruvian Boobies, Peruvian Pelicans, and Inca Terns; also Red-legged Cormorants, Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes, and Humbolt Penguins. We had just found the cinclodes when we rounded a point and saw four Penguins on the rocks beyond. They hustled down the rocks and dissappeared into the water. Far more satesfactory than seeing them bob about in the ocean 100 meters offshore from San Pedro!
My sentiments exactly about Pucusana- great little town and easy birding. It was nice to see that you visited Callao- I was blown away by how good the birding was right from the promenade. Flocks of Inca Terns and Peruvian Boobies, several jaegers of 2 species chasing gulls and terns, dozens of whimbrels, loads of gulls, etc.
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Old Sunday 15th November 2009, 15:55   #9
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Lima October 31

This was a travel day, but we had some time in the morning, so Mario took us around Lima for some urban birding, and to see the sights. We did add Scrub Blackbird to the trip list, otherwise while it was a lovely outing, not many birds.

Forgive the poor image of the Amazilia Hummingbird, but it was the only one I managed to get.

In the afternoon, we flew across the Andes to Tarapoto, and took a taxi to the Hotel Puerto Mirador in Moyobamba, there to enjoy good local cuisine, fine Pisco Sours, and the company of orchid enthusiasts until late.

In the morning we would be off on phase two - Gunnar Engblom had arranged for a local guide, Julio Tellos to pick us up at 6:30 for four days in the Abra Patricia area.
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Old Sunday 15th November 2009, 19:51   #10
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having just done the southern peru circuit am getting increasingly jealous as you move further north!!

looking forward to the spatuletail!
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Old Sunday 15th November 2009, 22:05   #11
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November 1, 2009 - Marvelous Spatuletail Day

Julio Tello, the guide contracted by Gunnar Engblom of Kolibri expeditions for us, and Charles, the driver, picked Patricia and I up 6:30.
First stop was still in the lowlands, just beyond Rioja, Yacumama. Valqui's book mentions the place, and suggests not to go in, but to bird nearby. We did go in, and found some very nice birds. There was a nice collection of birds around some ponds on the way in, including my first Capped Heron. Walking through the woods, we found a roosting Greater Yellowheaded Vulture posing for photos. A canopy flock included one of the narrow-range endemics, Huallaga (Black-bellied) Tanager. We hung around by a bend in the river, enjoying Tropials, Chestnut-eared and Lettered Aricari. Our target was Buckley's Forest Falcon, but it was not calling, and did not appear.

From there we continued over Abra Patricia, to La Florida, where we checked into Puerto Pumas, and admired many hummingbirds in the garden. They did not have feeders, but gobs of lantanas, so black-tailed and Green-tailed Trainbearers, Green and Sparkling Violetears, White-bellied Hummingbirds were making quite a show.

After lunch we checked out Lake Pomacochas, without finding much, and headed over to the Marvelous Spatuletail Interpretive Center. The bird is not hard to see, once there: you follow a path to a bench overlooking some feeders not 10 yards downslope, and wait. Bronzy Incas came, and violetears, and then after awhile, a male Marvelous Spatuletail. You've seen the videos and photos, what can I add? Attached is my poor photo, with the head in a plastic feeder, just for the record. In person, the light plays off the rackets and the facial ornamentation, and it is just fantastic.

That done, we went on to some other feeders for Andean Emeralds and Purple-collared Woodstars. On the way, we disturbed a group of Andean Guans, which flew off to the woods below. While we were admiring the hummingbirds, a Sierran Elaenia came in and posed for photos. That made the first for the Birdforum collection - see it in Opus:
http://www.birdforum.net/opus/Sierran_Elaenia
How can it be that with all the great photographers, all the wide-ranging birders on this forum, that I get to bring in the first of anything?
More later,
Jeff
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Old Tuesday 17th November 2009, 05:03   #12
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November 2 - La Florida to Abra Patricia

In the morning we visited a Kolibri Expeditions private reserve. Early on we found a mixed flock, including one of the narrow-range endemics, Buff-bellied Tanager, as well as Blueish and Masked Flowerpiercer, and Crimson-mantled Woodpecker. Several Purple-throated Sunangels were chasing each other about, and we worked on a female for a bit before we realised it was one of the Purple-throated Sunangels.

After lunch we headed up to Abra Patricia, but I'll go on about that later, including the bit about the Long-whiskered Owlets, which volunteered some calls at 2:30 AM on the trail to the tower, not far from the cabinas, under a full moon.

Attached is a photo of Julio and Charles at the private reserve, and one of the Chrimson-mantled Woodpeckers.
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Old Sunday 22nd November 2009, 14:42   #13
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Lechucita Bigotona - The Long-Whiskered Owlet Lodge

On the afternoon of November 2nd, we went on up to Lechucita Bigotona, the Long-Whiskered Owlet Lodge. This place is great, and well worth the trip. It has all the features that make a lodge great:
- Super birds
- It is right in the woods, no driving necessary to see super birds, once you're there.
- Staying at the lodge helps support a large refuge in important habitat.
- Feeders to watch from the terrace, for "beverage at hand" birding.
- Personel at hand knowledgeable in the natural history of the area.
- A connected organization, that responds to email and will help set up a visit, and accomodate transort from the airport and to off-site birding locations (for the Marvelous Spatuletail, for instance). Emai Lechucita Bigotona [[email protected]].
- Comfort levels well above the minimum requirements. The minimum is a dry flat survace for sleeping. This place is way above that, including all the extras: beds (with clean sheets), showers with heads, toilets with seats, actually nice rooms, spacious with an extra room for sitting, electrical power, and an internet connection, though the power cord for our netbook wasn't long enough to reach the place where the wire for the internet connection hung down from the wall, so we couldn't plug the little computer into the power and the internet at the same time. Of course they didn't run the generator all the time, so it was moot much of the time. We find such silly little things to complain about!

For mor information about the lodge, see:
http://www.ecoanperu.org/lechucitabigotona/eblb.htm
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Old Sunday 22nd November 2009, 21:43   #14
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Feeders at the Long-eared Owlet Lodge

The lodge has the little elevated tables for putting out fruit for the birds, and kept them stocked with bananas, but no birds came to them. Them manager said the birds just haven't learned to use them. It was neat to see a Tayra using the feeders, though. Attached is a photo. When I have seen them before, it has always been a glipse from a distance.

The hummingbird feeders were very well attended, allowing me to provide Birdforum with its first Emerald-bellied Puffleg:
http://www.birdforum.net/opus/Emerald-bellied_Puffleg
Other hummingbirds visiting included Bronzy and Collared Incas, Long-tailed Sylph, and Speckled Hummingbird. The manager named a few more, including Greenish Puffleg. We saw Greenish Puffleg near the entrance, but not at the feeders. It was very easy to spend time there.
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Old Wednesday 25th November 2009, 15:13   #15
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Sounds like an excellent place. Thanks for telling us a bit about it.
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