Wednesday, 11 July 2012

La Merced to Huanuco, Peru

It was meant to have been an early night for Birdgirl, but home education until 9pm seemed to include watching old videos of songs on Classic1 satellite channel. I think it is the first and last time the TV gets switched on during this trip, though Birdgirl did discover Pink Floyd and Beck.

We made a start at 6.30am from La Merced, in a Hyundai people carrier type thing, with our driver Henri back with us.  Birdgirl was inevitably tired and grumpy from three late nights in a row and in much need of an early night before tomorrow, when Andrew Marshall joins us.  Andrew will be the first person we have not known already that we have been on a foreign birding trip with Birdgirl.  I am feeling a little anxious about it and have given Birdgirl strict instructions to be well behaved, but it’s impossible to be good all the time when you are 10 years old.  I know that really I don’t have anything to worry about, as Birdgirl is better behaved than many adult birders, but that doesn’t stop the anxiety.

From La Merced we first drove south west towards Tarma, stopping next to a river for breakfast and Brown-Flanked Tanager, which we did not see.  Carrying on to Tarma (which is still low altitude), we then turned right to drive north past Junin Lake (the second largest Lake in Peru after Lake Titicaca) and up through the mountains towards Huanuco, which is at 3,250m.

Next stop (after a stop for chocolate for Birdgirl) was at polylepis forest which was absolutely lovely to bird in and seemed to be at 3,400m (from my ability to breathe).  The polylepis itself was old and in good condition, whilst the grass was short and dry and not littered by rubbish or anything even more unsavoury.  The sun was shining but because of the altitude, birding was pleasant (as was lying on the grass waiting for birds to come in as some enjoyed doing).

We managed to see Stripe-Headed Antpitta, Baron’s Spinetail, Andean Hillstar and Chris saw Black-Crested Tit-Tyrant whilst Birdgirl and I were having a loo stop – always the way!
Andean Hillstar taken by adn copyright Alex Durand

We also got some good views of Giant Conebill, which was somehow sweet after looking and not seeing it in both Ecuador and Bolivia (where our driver had seen it whilst we were off looking).

Back at the vehicle, Henri had prepared a lovely spaghetti lunch (bringing fresh supplies from Lima), after which we headed on towards Huanuco.

Birdgirl having a break before lunch

We then stopped an hour south of Huanuco in a dry scrub valley, where we saw quite a few of the endemic Rufous-Backed Inca-Finch and after much searching a Black-Crested Tit-Tyrant which Birdgirl and I had missed earlier.

View from the top

Birding is a serious business

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