Friday, 13 July 2012

Paty Trail and Carpish Tunnel, Peru

Anyone who has ever looked into a trip to Peru would have heard of the Paty Trail and Carpish Tunnel, but it was strange to visit such famous sites ourselves.

Andrew Marshall arrived on the night coach from Lima into Huanuco at 7am.  He was extremely tired having been on a pelagic yesterday and then straight onto the coach, not getting much sleep on it.  I am glad that I stuck to me guns and refused to do any night buses, one sure way of ruining your holiday.

Despite being very tired, Andrew was friendly and seemed to cope with Birdgirl’s constant backchat.  He had arrive from the UK a couple of days before and was at the start of a 1 ½ year birding trip.  Now that would be amazing!  Andrew was not a bragger, but it was clear that he had done huge amounts of world birding since his early twenties.  Somehow, he didn’t let us feel intimidated by his experience and list.

About an hour north of Huanuco, the road rises up through the mountains to about 2,700m and goes through a tunnel in the mountains, the Carpish Tunnel.  Just before this, we stopped by the side of the road and immediately saw the endemic Brown-Flanked Tanager.

Before the tunnel the mountains are dry and then although the area becomes more lush, it has been striped of virtually all forest.  Immediately after the tunnel, the mountains are forested and hence still great for birds.

Ten minutes or so after the tunnel, we parked up and walked down a trail though the forest on the side of the mountainside, The Paty Trail.  Here we saw the endemic Rufous-Vented Tapaculo, Inca Flycatcher, Peruvian Tyrannulet as well as Orange-Breasted Falcon, which is a brilliant bird.

Peruvian Tyrannulet taken by and copyright Alex Durand

Orange-Breasted Falcon taken by and copyright Alex Durand

We then had to walk back up the mountainside, which felt pretty tough.  It is amazing how quickly you lose fitness.

After another lovely lunch cooked by Henri, we drove back to the Carpish Tunnel.  We parked just off the road and birded along a path effectively above the tunnel.  Here we finally saw Chestnut Antpitta, which we had looked for quite a few times in the trip but had previously not even heard.  This was the subspecies Pasco that may get split from the main subspecies.  The bird was calling above the track, so we climbed up the back enabling us to see the bird.  Birdgirl always enjoys a bit of climbing, so this was fun for her.

We also saw Tschudi’s Tapaculo again, which we had already seen but as it is an endemic, was a lifer for Andrew.

From here we drove north towards Tingo Maria.  This is a drop of 2000m in just over an hour along a pretty good wide mountain road.  The road was closed at one section due to road works and so we did not arrive in Tingo Maria until 7.30pm.  Another Chinese later, we were back at our rooms at 9pm, another late night for Birdgirl.

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