• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Yanachaga Chemillén National Park, Peru (1 Viewer)

Iceberg slim

I know its 42
Bought back great memories from my trip in 2003 to Satipo/Oxapamapa, we camped right underneath the antenna, glorious report and superb photographs
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Thanks for the advice

Well, things are pretty calm in Pasco right now, and they did just reopen a few international flights starting last week. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if large chunks of the country went back into lockdown next month.
I would advise looking at Ecuador instead, where it seems that they're much farther along in terms of getting back to "normal".

We were in Ecuador last year so probably too soon for a return. Now looking at Cuba if it reopens as planned next month or a return to Brazil (North East) if not.
 

Thibaud

Well-known member
Wow, so many birds that we did not see!

I have spent a lot of time looking for places to go to the jungle, turns out going back to YC has always been a great option I overlooked!

Haha indeed! There certainly are far fewer accommodation options compared to the more famous birding spots to the North and South, but that makes it more exciting in a way!
And for those who prefer to go with experienced guides, Gunnar Engblom (of Kolibri expeditions) is going to be passing through next week and it looks like he's thinking of adding YC to his regular tour offerings.
 

Thibaud

Well-known member
OK I'm back from the field!

And first of all, erratum!
For some reason, I can only edit each message I post once, which means I can't rectify the original, but in the Huampal 2 section, the 3rd photo is a Violet-fronted, not a Black-throated Brilliant.
(Perhaps an admin can help me out here?)


Huampal 3

I mentioned the trails uphill, but in fact some of the best birds can be seen right from the station.
There is a mineral lick in the river just below, which you can watch from a spot between the trees. At dawn and dusk, you have a good chance of seeing the tricky Wattled Guan coming there, along with the more mundane (but still lovely) Sickle-winged Guan.
There are also several Inga trees around the station, and if they are in bloom, they are good for Fork-tailed Woodnymph (easily the commonest hummer at lower elevations in the region), Blue-tailed Emerald, Golden-tailed Sapphire, and, last but not least, Wire-crested Thorntail!
Green Hermit also comes in when the Heliconias are in bloom, and there is a territorial Many-spotted Hummingbird that often perches on high, dead snags in trees around the station.
Finally, and best of all, there is a very friendly pair of Lanceolated Monklets (we named them Alfredo and Josefa) who have adopted the clearing formed by the station as their hunting grounds. The male is instantly recognizable as the tip of his bill is broken (photo 1). There is clearly is good population around as I saw other birds a couple of times on other trails a few km away.
Once you're done there, you can turn left on the road when you leave the station and head downhill, and you will soon get more of a lowland feel.
Just a couple hundred meters away, there is a dirt road that actually goes back uphill to Alto Yulitunqui, and it is worth following as it often gets some good mixed flocks. This is a particularly good spot for euphonias and you can regularly get Thick-billed, Orange-bellied, and Bronze-green Euphonias, along with Blue-naped Chlorophonia in a single flock.
This path is also good for Gilded Barbet and Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner. I also had Masked Tityra and Yellow-throated Toucan around there.
Best of all, there is an exploded lek of Round-tailed Manakin (photo 2), perhaps 500 meters up.
If you follow the road downhill instead, you will get to a narrow hanging bridge after a couple kilometers. Look for the discrete Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher in this area, as well as Black-throated Mango and Yellow-breasted Warbling-Antbird (which becomes increasingly common in riverside thickets if you follow the road further down).
This area, but really the whole canyon, is excellent for raptors. Up to a dozen Swallow-tailed Kites are the most conspicuous, often accompanied by Short-tailed Hawk or more rarely Hook-billed Kite. Variable Hawks (often juveniles) seem to come down quite a bit lower than usual (for the East slope of the Andes), and Southern Caracaras also are in the process of colonizing the area. Also keep an eye out for Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, which seems to have a good population in the Yanachaga, as I saw it in Paujil, twice in Huampal, and once by the antenas!
But of course, the star of the show is the Black-and-chestnut Eagle (photo 3), which also has a strong breeding population around here. One day, I was actually lucky to accompany a ranger who's been studying them and after a grueling 5 hour hike, we were able to see an active nest from 30 meters away!
While you've got your head up looking for raptors, you're also likely to see pairs of Blue-headed Macaws (photo 4) commuting, along with the more common Blue-headed Parrots.
A bit further down, I also found a roosting Band-belied Owl (photo 5) (another bird is also regularly seen by the campsite).
Finally, I never walked more than 5 or 6 km downhill, but if you have a vehicle, there is some good roadside birding on the way to Pozuzo, with things like Long-tailed Tyrant, Mottle-backed Elaenia, or large flocks of White-eyed Parakeet.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_6531 lr - Copy.jpg
    IMG_6531 lr - Copy.jpg
    563.7 KB · Views: 23
  • IMG_5313 - Copy.jpg
    IMG_5313 - Copy.jpg
    773.3 KB · Views: 21
  • IMG_7480-2 isidori 3 - Copy.jpg
    IMG_7480-2 isidori 3 - Copy.jpg
    715.1 KB · Views: 22
  • IMG_8075 primo - Copy.jpg
    IMG_8075 primo - Copy.jpg
    814 KB · Views: 22
  • IMG_6736 lr - Copy.jpg
    IMG_6736 lr - Copy.jpg
    632.3 KB · Views: 22

Thibaud

Well-known member
(Sorry about the slow pace in updating this report, we've been in the field a lot, taking advantage of the freedom to travel within Peru, and rushing before the rainy season sets in and a lot of roads become impassable.)

Santa Bárbara

This is the highest elevation sector of the park that's accessible. Unlike the other three, there are no guard houses where you can stay directly, but you can arrange to stay in the village's school or in one of the houses. Ask for Don Modesto and Doña Gregoria, at "Girón Eucalipto". No guard house also means no entrance fees.
If you have a 4x4, you can drive right up to the village, which sits at 3400 meters, but the last few km are probably impassable in the rainy season.
Sill, the lower sections of the road (broadly referred to as Cueva Blanca) have some beautiful cloud forest and excellent birds. There is of course a fair bit of overlap with the San Alberto, but some things are definitely easier here, such as Rufous-chested Tanager, Gray-hooded Bush-tanager (the gray-billed subspecies), White-capped Tanager, Yellow-billed Cacique, or White-bellied Woodstar. There are a couple patches of large Nicotiana plants by the road, and if they happen to be in bloom, you would do well to stop a couple of minutes and see what hummingbirds turn up there. I also had Maroon-chested Ground-Dove once along that road. The beautiful Scarlet-bellied Mountain tanager is an absolute "plaga" (trash bird) here, while it's inexplicably absent in San Alberto. Every couple of hundred meters, you will also see a pair of Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrants holding territory. One night, I had a delightful encounter with a very cooperative White-throated Screech-owl (photo 1), and also heard Rufous (Oxapampa) Antpitta singing one evening.
In the higher parts of the forest, especially for a couple of kilometers where a large, purple-flowered Bomarea abounds, look out for Sword-billed Hummingbird (photo 2) and Violet-throated Starfrontlet. Where there are Chusquea thickets, you can try and tape in White-browed Spinetail, and with a bit of luck, you will also run into the rare endemic Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant (photo 3, per eBird, this is the only spot in Pasco where that species has been reported).
When the trees start giving way to the puna grasslands, you should quickly be able to find Many-striped Canasteros singing on top of bushes, while Red-crested Cotingas and Streak-throated Bush-tyrants perch on isolated trees. This is also a good spot for Rufous Antpitta, though it can also be seen in thickets right in the village. (That would be O'Neill's Antpitta, according to the recent 12-way split of the complex, which seems a bit excessive. For example, 3 of the new species for Peru have small, adjacent ranges, and sound essentially alike to my ears! Anyway...).
I've been using the term "village" rather loosely when referring to Santa Bárbara, as we are talking of maybe twenty houses spread over 3 or 4 kilometers! The chacras between said houses are the best spot to see Puna Ibis, Andean Lapwing, Andean Gull, and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. Look for Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Plain-colored Seedeater, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, and Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant perching on the small bushes, and you can try for a pair of Puna Snipe (photo 4) along the quebrada that runs by the village. Brown-bellied Swallows nest in the school's roof and the town's adobe houses sport tell-tale holes, but it might take a while before you finally spot the culprit : Andean Flicker.
Look for flowering Puya plants, as they seem to be the preferred food of the spectacular Great Sapphirewing. Apart from that, while I held hope for some interesting high elevation hummers, Tyrian Metaltail was the only one I ever saw.
There are several paths that leave the village. I had the best luck along the one that actually branches off to the left of the access road some 500 meters before you enter the town proper (if you ask the people, this is the road to Paccha). White-chinned Thistletail is quite common in the bushes, and if you're lucky, you'll run into the stunning Golden-collared Tanager (photo 5). Sedge Wrens sing from the concealment of the grass, while the edges of the isolated woodlots are the domain of flycatchers, with White-throated Tyrannulet, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Smoky Bush-tyrant, and the scarce but beautiful Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant. In terms of raptors, I only ever had Variable Hawks, though I'm sure some of the other high-elevation species occasionally make an appearance. There are also roving bands of Golden-plumed Parakeets.
A beautiful but strenous hike takes you along that path to where it ends after 8 km, over a pass and into a stunning basin with several small lakes, which have Yellow-billed Teal and Andean Duck. Still, there were surpringly few birds there, so I certainly wouldn't make it a priority in terms of birding. I should also stress that the whole area is dry puna, and doesn't have nearly as many birds as the wetter altiplano of Junín or Cuzco, for example. Still, it's a lovely area, very different from the valley below.
Next, I'll finally talk about the lowland goodiess! I'll try and post one more time before we head out again (to the famous Satipo road!) on Wednesday.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_1113 - Copy.jpg
    IMG_1113 - Copy.jpg
    1.1 MB · Views: 10
  • IMG_9274 - Copy.jpg
    IMG_9274 - Copy.jpg
    241.4 KB · Views: 11
  • IMG_9986 - Copy.jpg
    IMG_9986 - Copy.jpg
    738.8 KB · Views: 10
  • IMG_1893 - Copy.jpg
    IMG_1893 - Copy.jpg
    790.3 KB · Views: 11
  • IMG_1397 - Copy.jpg
    IMG_1397 - Copy.jpg
    716.7 KB · Views: 10

Birding Peru

Well-known member
Great reports, Thibaud. It was a pleasure to bird with you recently on the San Alberto trail.
For people interested in Central Peru there is an additional site worth mentioning for goodies like Cloud-forest Screech-Owl, Creamy-bellied Antwren, and the densest population I have ever seen of Cerulean-capped Manakin. It is Hacienda Armorique outside of La Merced where you also can stay cheaply. You can connect with the owner on FB.

For those who ask for destinations during the COVID pandemic, it is good to know that Peru is doing quite well when it comes to COVID right now. The daily number of new cases is going down and is currently at mid-April levels. Also, take into account, that the majority of tests for COVID being done are antibody tests, which means that if it is positive, it will indicate that the person has had COVID - not that it is necessarily active and contagious. Overall, it means that for the past 7 weeks with the daily numbers going down, in spite that Peru has opened for internal travel and receiving international flights from the Americas, that there are very few active cases in Peru right now.
I have seen articles claiming that Peru is close to herd immunity...
That would be a quite drastic conclusion, but the fact is that there are few active cases in Peru and that the risk of getting infected is lower here than in the UK at present.

So if anyone is getting desperate looking for a foreign birding trip, Peru should be on your radar. My company has slowly resumed trips, with two trips to Central Peru this month - meeting up with Thibaud in Oxapampa, and spending a lot of time on the Satipo road where we work with the community to set up a birding resource with bird feeders and lodging. (Volunteers wanted - message me if interested).

Right now in Huanuco. Just saw a Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager at Bosque Unchog today on our second day with our client Jules Eden. A bit distant, but excellent scope views. Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager. Bosque Unchog. Nov 22, 2020. Gunnar Engblom AK3A6632.jpg Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager. Bosque Unchog. Nov 22, 2020. Gunnar Engblom AK3A6627 copy.jpg
 

Thibaud

Well-known member
You still haven't told us where Santa Barbara actually is!
Aha sorry Jan! About halfway between Oxapampa and Huampal is a small town called Huancabamba. From there a small road goes across the valley to a hamlet called Lanturachi, and from there up the mountain to Santa Barbara. These are the coordinates : -10.354313, -75.663309
You can see the access road on satellite images, and it's also on maps.me
 

Thibaud

Well-known member
Alright, because I like dragging things out, I'll mention another important spot before we get to Paujil, namely

El Oconal

This is a large wetland outside the town of Villa Rica, which is just over an hour (via Sho'llet, on an unpaved road which may be best avoided in the rainy season), or two (via the paved road which goes through the Puente Paucartambo) from Oxa. It also happens to be on the way to Paujil!

The lake sits at 1500 masl, and is your best bet to see a number of water-bound species in Pasco. These include Snail Kite (very conspicuous, you should easily see several, pic 1), Least Grebe, Black-capped Donacobius (pic 2), Red-capped Cardinal, Limpkin, Wattled Jacana, and the usual assortment of egrets and gallinules. You may also catch some of these amazonian species that seem to be colonizing the Peruvian lowlands, even though the Birds of Peru maps only show them as occurring hundreds of kilometers away, such as Brazilian Teal or Southern Lapwing.
There is a road that circles the entire lake, though at times it veers away from the water, and there are some good birds to be looked for in the forest remnants, such as Green-backed Becard, Black-faced Tanager, Thrush-like Wren, Plain-crowned Spinetail, Olivaceous Greenlet, the always sneaky Coraya Wren, or Stripe-chested Antwren (pic 3). Also keep an eye out for the beautiful Masked Crimson-Tanager, which I actually saw in a garden while having lunch in Villa Rica.
It's also very convenient, as you can litterally walk to the lake from town (I stayed at Hostal Oro Verde, where a perfectly decent bedroom was 25 soles, if memory serves).

From Villa Rica, the next stop is San Juan de Cacazu, a couple hours away. You can spend the night there, and spend the next day birding the road that goes up the ridge and down into the adjacent department of Junín, past Ubiriki and towards Pichanaki (you'll need a vehicle for that). Southern Emerald Toucanets (pic 4) were particularly abundant along that road, as well as Golden-bellied Warblers, which reach the northern end of their range there. This is also a good spot for Spotted Tanager, and if you follow the road for some 20 km or so, you start to get a lowland feel, with nice things like Great Antshrike and Chestnut-tailed Antbird (pic 5).

Back to Cacazu, it is another 20 km to the crossroads at Chatarra, where you turn left towards Iscozacín. There is forest all along that road, and any roadside stop, especially as you get closer to Iscozacín, might produce some lowland goodies, such as Lemon-throated Barbet or Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper. Plus, if you do the drive early enough, you are virtually guaranteed to see Pale-legged Horneros foraging along the road.

Some 20 km before Iscozacín, you will reach the Pan de Azucar Bridge. From there, you can walk a gruelling 12 km to the Paujil station, carrying all of your stuff and your food. Or, you can splurge and contact Kenny the boatman to ferry you upriver, for 350 soles (100 usd) each way. He charges on a trip basis, so it's a bit steep if you're alone, but very reasonable if there are 3 or 4 people. For safety easons, you will most likely have to walk the last 3 km or so if the water level is low, but Kenny will be able to drop your bags all the way and carry you across the small stream below the station, which is usually waist-deep.

And that finally brings us to Paujil, but that will be for the next post!
 

Attachments

  • _Rostrhamus sociabilis - Copy.jpg
    _Rostrhamus sociabilis - Copy.jpg
    583.6 KB · Views: 8
  • Donacobius - copy.jpg
    Donacobius - copy.jpg
    846.6 KB · Views: 7
  • _Myrmotherula longicauda - Copy.jpg
    _Myrmotherula longicauda - Copy.jpg
    945.2 KB · Views: 6
  • emerald.jpg
    emerald.jpg
    801.4 KB · Views: 7
  • CT Antbird.jpg
    CT Antbird.jpg
    719.9 KB · Views: 8

Thibaud

Well-known member
Paujil 1

Let's begin with logistics. The station at Paujil is a big two storey wooden house, with a kitchen, flushing toilets and showers (though most people prefer to bathe in the quebrada below, which is heavenly after a day in the forest). There's electricty all day long thanks to solar panels. There are several rooms with beds plus a couple large rooms to set up tents if necessary.
However, you will need to bring all your food, soap, toilet paper, and a sleeping bag or your own sheets.

As for the birds, you can easily spend half a day without setting foot on the trails, as there are a good number of birds that hang out in the trees right around the clearing where the house was built. Large groups of Paradise (pic 1) and Green-and-Gold Tanagers flit around in the canopy, accompanied by the smaller Purple (pic 2) and Short-billed Honeycreepers (the latter being the less common of the two). At times Masked Tanagers can be abundant, while they seem to disappear in other seasons. Orange-bellied Euphonias often come down in the lower shrubs when they bear fruit, along with the less common Thick-billed Euphonia, Rufous-Bellied or even Golden-bellied Euphonia if you're lucky.
Silver-beaked, Blue-gray and Palm Tanagers are always in evidence, sometimes even perching on the roof of the kitchen, and both Social and Gray-capped Flycatchers nest by the station, while Yellow-browed Sparrows forage in the grass.
Mixed flock birds that often come by the edges of the clearing include Red-stained Woodpecker, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Black-capped Becard, Gray Elaenia, Green Honeycreeper, Blue and Black-faced Dacnis, Yellow-bellied Tanager or Bay-headed Tanager. There is also a Bright-rumped Attila that regularly sings nearby, but I never managed to lay eyes on the damn thing.
Keep an eye overhead for King Vultures and Plumbeous Kites, and there is a pair of Orange-breasted Falcons that can sometimes be seen by the cliff that overlooks the station.
Finally, one of my personal favorites, the Western Striolated-Puffbird (pic 3), a pair of which can often be seen in the large tree right by the kitchen (make sure to learn their characteristic double whistle, and they reply readily to playback).
If you walk down the steps to the river, you will likely find some Black Phoebes by the water, along with White-banded and White-winged Swallows (pic 4) on likely perches. Fasciated Tiger Herons often perch in the rocks and Drab Water Tyrants can occasionally be seen nearby, while Gray-rumped Swifts come by and hawk over the water in the evenings.
If you can, arrange for a ranger to take you across the quebrada Paujil in their little boat, as some of the best and easiest birding can actually be done on the trail that loops through the secondary forest past the rangers' houses (do be sure to clear it with them). You should have no trouble spotting Violaceous Jays, Yellow-rumped Caciques, Crested and Casqued Oropendolas in the trees by the chacras (keep an eye out for the occasional Olive Oropendola accompanying them), while Blue-headed Parrots constantly fly overhead.
Walking quietly on the trails, you've got a good chance of spotting a Gray-fronted Dove, a Ruddy Quail-Dove or even a Sapphire Quail Dove walking ahead of you, with the occasional White-throated Tinamou (pic 5) if you're lucky.
Paujil is not a particularly great place for hummingbirds (besides the ever common Fork-tailed Woodnymph), but what you will see often are hermits zooming by and occasionally hovering for an instant to check you out, mainly Great-billed and Black-throated Hermits.
Flocks in the forest interior will likely contain at least one of the common antshrikes : Mouse-colored, Plain-winged, and Dusky-throated Antshrikes. Those are usually accompanied by Gray and Long-winged Antwrens, and the occasional pair of Pygmy Antwrens. Other flock members are likely to include things like Carmiol's Tanager (very, very common here) Speckled Spinetail, Wedge-billed and Elegant Woodcreepers, Whiskered Flycatchers, Lemon-chested and Tawny-crowned Greenlets. You will hear the latter's whistle constantly but for some reason they are frustrfatingly hard to see, let alone photograph - the origin for the genus name Tunchiornis, which references the Tunchi, a mythical bird of bad omen that is heard at night but never seen (from imitations I've heard, I suspect it's a Pheasant Cuckoo).
A great place to stop for a while is the quebrada that runs just below Abelino's house. I've had Piratic Flycatcher, Crowned Slaty Flycatcher (summer months only), Crimson-Crested Woodpecker, Turquoise Tanager, Sepia-capped Flycatcher Double-banded Pygmy-Tyrant (pic 6), Short-crested Flycatcher, and Plain-Brown Woodcreeper right there. Through the constant din of bird vocalizations, keep your ears attuned to the insect-like buzz of the Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant (pic 7), a delightful fluffball of a bird, and the smallest passerine in the world!
As you step back into the forest, keep an ear out for the pretty White-shouldered Antshrike, which is usually much more shy than its relatives. Black Antbird is a common voice in shrubby vegetation along the edges and responds readily to playback. The most common true antbird is definitely Black-faced Antbird, and it shouldn't be a great challenge to see this rotund bird. Some areas along the main path where it follows the river, with a rather open understorey, are a good spot to look for the beautiful Spot-backed Antbird (pic 8). White-chested Puffbird isn't uncommon, but I only ever saw them through luck, either when I startled one by the path, or when I happened to spot one swooping for a prey. I also once startled a roosting Spectacled Owl in that same area.
The path is only a few kilometers long but it can easily keep you occupied all day. If you are coming back around sundown, you may run into Green Ibises foraging in the mud near one of the houses, while Plumbeous Kites hunt overhead, looking like nighthawks!
I'll leave the primary forest for the next post!
 

Attachments

  • _Tangara chilensis.jpg
    _Tangara chilensis.jpg
    577.2 KB · Views: 6
  • _Purple honeycreeper.jpg
    _Purple honeycreeper.jpg
    953.4 KB · Views: 6
  • _Western Striolated Puffbird.jpg
    _Western Striolated Puffbird.jpg
    545 KB · Views: 6
  • _White winged swallow.jpg
    _White winged swallow.jpg
    323.2 KB · Views: 7
  • _White-throated tinamou.jpg
    _White-throated tinamou.jpg
    1.2 MB · Views: 7
  • _Double banded Pygmy Tyrant.jpg
    _Double banded Pygmy Tyrant.jpg
    460.1 KB · Views: 7
  • _Short tailed Pygmy Tyrant.jpg
    _Short tailed Pygmy Tyrant.jpg
    575.2 KB · Views: 6
  • _Spot-backed antbird.jpg
    _Spot-backed antbird.jpg
    597.2 KB · Views: 6
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Top