APTAE - Promperu birding fam trip 2018
By Wilson Diaz - Green Tours Peru
This last November 2018, we had the latest of the yearly birding familiarization trips that APTAE (The Peruvian Association for Adventure and Ecotourism) and Promperu (Peruvian Tourism Board) organize for birding tour operators and journalist from USA, Canada, and the UK.
The 2018 fam trip
In 2018, the fam tour went to northern Peru, specifically the Huallaga and Mayo valleys, the Alto Mayo Protection Forest, the Abra Patricia area, the Marañon valley, and the Cajamarca area. The tour was operated by Green Tours (since we are an APTAE partner), and leaded by Wilson Diaz.
As for the guests, this year's tour participants were:
Avery Bartels (Avocet Tours, Canada)
Mark Faherty (Massachusetts Audubon, USA)
Steven Bird (Sunrise Birding, USA)
Gina Beebe Nichol (Sunrise Birding, USA)
Dominic Mitchell (Birdwatch, UK)
Charles Thornton-Kolbe (Partnership for International Birding. USA)
Christopher Collins (Birding Ecotours, USA)
Jean Philippe Gagnon (Exploratours. Canada)
Eric Ripma (Sabrewing Nature Tours, USA)
The daily itinerary
Day 1. Nov 12. Lima
All guests arrived in Lima in the evening. The last flight arrived past midnight, so we did not have the chance to have all the group together. Actually, we all first met the next day, early in the morning at breakfast, to introduce ourselves to each other before taking the flight to Tarapoto.
Day 2. Nov 13. Lima - Tarapoto
The birding adventure started once we arrived to Tarapoto. This first day we visited Ricuricocha lake, Pumarinri lodge, and took a boat trip on the Huallaga river. We spent the night at the delightful Pumarinri lodge.
Interesting birds today were Planalto Hermit, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Least Grebe, Comb Duck,*Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant, Masked Tityra, Black-throated Mango, Sand-colored Nighthawk,*Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift,*Hoatzin,*Tropical Screech-Owl.
Day 3. Nov 14. Tarapoto - Moyobamba
The next day we explored the Cordillera Escalera Reserve and the ACONABIKH Private Reserve (a reserve created to protect the endemic Koepcke's Hermit).*ACONABIKH has a canopy tower, hummingbird feeders, and a nice trail system to explore the forest. In the afternoon we took the road northeast along the Rio Mayo valley, towards the city of Moyobamba. We spent the night at Waqanki Lodge, a lodge designed specially for birders, with hummingbird feeders and nice gardens full of flowers that keep the hummingbirds very active all day long. The forest and scrub around the lodge also have good bird activity.
Highlights of the day were*Blue-headed Parrot, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Paradise Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Koepcke's Hermit, Gould's Brilliant, Golden-headed Manakin,*Oilbird,*Black-throated Hermit, Black-bellied Thorntail, Rufous-crested Coquette, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Blue-tailed Emerald,*Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch.
Day 4. Nov 15. Moyobamba - Abra Patricia
This morning we spend the first hours at the hummingbird feeders and the lodge's gardens again (it's a really fantastic place for birding !). After breakfast we went for a hike into the forest along the Mishquiyacu trail. By mid-morning, we leaved Waqanki and took the road towards the Town of Aguas Verdes, still in the Alto Mayo valley. Near Aguas Verdes we visited the Arena Blanca Reserve, created to preserve the uniqueness of the white sand forests habitat. Arena Blanca has good tinamou and hummingbird feeders. After a fantastic picnic lunch at Arena Blanca, we went back on the road to leave the valley behind and entering the mountains of the Alto Mayo Protection Forest. We made a quick stop at "La Llanteria" hummingbird feeders for a couple of good birds. Then we moved on to the famous Abra Patricia Owlet lodge for the overnight.
Main birds of the day were*Rufous-crested Coquette, Black-throated Mango, White-chinned Sapphire, Blue-ground Dove, Little Woodpecker, Honeycreeper, Green-billed Toucanet, Red-billed Parrot, Mishana Tyrannulet, Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-green Vireo, Varzea Thrush,*Dark-breasted Spinetail, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail, Black-bellied Tanager,*Orange-billed Sparrow,*Ecuadorian Piedtail, Subtropical Cacique,*White-throated Screech-Owl, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Andean Solitaire, Glossy-black Thrush, Olivaceous Siskin.
Day 5. Nov 16. Abra Patricia - Huembo - Achamaqui
After an early breakfast, we enjoyed the hummingbird feeders in the garden and explored the surroundings of the lodge. Then we visited the Fundo Alto Nieva hummingbird feeders which are good for hummers that are hard to find away from feeders. We also explored the forest outside Alto Nieva, doing mainly roadside birding. After having lunch at Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge we continued our trip towards Huembo, a community reserve created to protect the endemic and endangered Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird. Then, we drove along the Rio Utcubamba valley towards Casa Hacienda Achamaqui, our next hotel for the overnight.
Most interesting birds of the day were*Spotted Barbtail, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager,*Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Royal Sunangel, Buff-thighed Puffleg, Booted Racket-tail, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-throated Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, Yellow-billed Cacique,*Marvelous Spatuletail, Little Woodstar, Andean Emerald, Fasciated Tiger-Heron.
Day 6. Nov 17. Achamaqui - Celendín
We had a long drive ahead, so we leaved Achamaqui before dawn. First we drove along the Utcubamba valley, a dry valley with a lot of endemic birds. Then we explored the cloud forests above the town of Leymebamba, and the paramo of the Abra Barro Negro pass. After that, we entered the Rio Marañon valley, again with plenty of endemics of the dry forest. We ended the day at a small hotel in the town of Celendín.
Today's journey took us into quite different habitats and elevations. Achamaqui is in a dry valley, at an elevation of 5,900 feet. At the cloud forests above Leymebamba we were at 9,800 feet. The Barro Negro pass is at 11,800 feet, from there we descended to 2,900 feet to cross the Marañon river. After crossing the river, we had to go up again to 11,100 feet again before getting to Celendín (which is at 8,900 feet).
All these ups and downs meant different species of birds at each place we stopped. So, the most interesting birds we had were:*Spot-throated Hummingbird, Black-necked Woodpecker, Marañon Gnatcatcher, Marañon Thursh, Streaked Saltator, Rufous-breasted Antpitta,*Great Sapphirewing, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Grass-green Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Yellow-scarfed Tanager, Blue-backed Conebill, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Deep-Blue Flowerpiercer, Northern Mountain Cacique,*Coppery Metaltail, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Peruvian Pigeon, Buff-bridled Inca-Finch, Chestnut-backed Thornbird, Grey-winged Inca-Finch.
Day 7. Nov 18. Celendín - Cajamarca
The road between the towns of Celendín and Cajamarca also has different kind of habitats. First we stopped at a semi-humid scrub not far from Celendin. At higher elevations the habitat changes to grassland, of course with a different set of birds. After a few hours we started to descent towards Cajamarca, where the habitat is of semi-humid scrub again. We arrived to Cajamarca for lunch, and in the afternoon we visited the Rio Chonta valley, famous for being the only place with a known stable population of the endemic Grey-bellied Comet hummingbird. We spent the night at the very nice Hotel La Ensenada.
The main birds of the day were*Jelski's Chat-tyrant, Rufous-chested Tanager, Black-crested Warbler,*White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Rufous-webbed Bush-Tyrant,*Chestnut-naped Ground-Tyrant, White-winged Cinclodes, Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch, Peruvian Meadowlark,*Andean Gull,*Andean Swift, Grey-bellied Comet, Black Metaltail, Giant Hummingbird, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Black-crested Tit-tyrant, Torrent Tyrannulet.
Day 8. Nov 19. Cajamarca - Lima
Last day of the trip. We still could have explored a lot of places in the Cajamarca area, but as in most fam trips, we were short of time. We took the first flight to Lima in the morning.