Sunday, 26 August 2012

Abra Patricia and the last of North Peru


Andy Marshall’s crew left the next morning after breakfast for Moyobamba and we spent the whole morning walking the trails with Roberto.  We got some not great views of Barred Antthrush after some perseverance but no White-Faced Nunbird, our other target bird.  We wanted to see the endemic Ochre-Fronted Antpitta but Roberto said that it was really difficult this time of year as they did not call much.  When the birding is this targeted, it is really tough and you need a lot of time and patience to see each bird.  Maybe a future north Peru cleanup tour!

Forest birding can be pretty difficult stuff


After lunch we drove back down the road towards Afluentes where we saw Vermillion Tanager but no endemic Ash-Throated Ant-Wren.  At one point a passing vehicle stopped and Roberto spoke to the people inside.  There was a foreign couple in the back and we wondered if they were birders.

When we returned to the lodge, the couple were staying with us.  They were an American couple from Washington DC, Chris and Barbara Leupold with their very friendly guide Eduardo Ormaeche.  They were here to photograph birds and Chris explained that he only had a birds photographed list.  That is a tough one.

We had run out of time to try for everything and most of the birds that were possible in the area were pretty difficult.  So we went for the ones that were most likely.  In the morning we started at the Royal Sunangel Trail where we saw a male very well, confirm to Chris and Birdgirl that the male birds they had seen were the Sunangel.  I was glad to see a male, as the one I had seen was female.  At the same time, we saw two Bar-Winged Wood-Wrens really well popping up without playback.  It is amazing what difference it can make for some birds trying in the morning.  We then went to the trail for Cinnamon-Breasted Tody-Tyrant.  This was hugely disappointing.  Loggers had cut a huge path about 10 meters wide through the bamboo forest leaving a muddy quagmire.  Roberto said that the birds used to come in to playback and cross the narrow trail without too much difficulty but since the damage they had become very difficult.  It is sad to see.

We then drove down the mountainside, birding along the road towards Afluentes (again).  We stopped near some buildings which was a good site for Golden-Collared Honeycreeper in the mornings and, sure enough, several were feeding on the red flowers.  This was another tick back for Birdgirl and myself as it was a bird Chris saw on the Manu Road, but which we missed.  Again we tried unsuccessfully for Ash-Throated Ant-Wren.

After returning to the lodge and a quick lunch we were on our way back towards Moyobamba to Waycuecha feeders and the close by Mishquiyacu Valley.  The aim was to try for Scarlet-Breasted Fruiteater and Ash-Throated Ant-Wren.  Half way there our vehicle stopped and we realised that Andy and his group’s vehicle was stationary on the other side of the road on their way back from Moyobamba back to the lodge.  We jumped out and had a chat with them.  They had seen the Ash-Throated Ant-Wren that morning but it was a very hard two hour walk up to where you can see it.  They all looked exhausted.  We clearly did not have enough time to do this but were pleased to hear that they saw the fruiteater ok.

We arrived at Waycuecha feeders at 3.30pm to find that our local guide Carlos was not there.  Gunnar had arranged for him to be guiding us and he was meant to be waiting for us at 2pm and so we were very late.  We could not work out if he was still coming or not but were taken to the feeders in the meantime.  Here we were greeted by the reserve caretaker who spoke no English at all but fortunately there was also a Dutch birder. Timo Langemeijer, who was married to a Peruvian and spoke good Spanish.  It turned out that Carlos had gone out with another group but had told the caretaker where to take us.

Between us we managed to find the site for the Scarlet-Breasted Fruiteater, near the start of the Mishquiyacu Valley (exactly where Eduardo had said) and see the bird.  

Then it was time for our 3 hour drive to Tarapoto to catch our 10.10 pm flight to Lima.  Here we said good bye to Horacio, who had driven tirelessly but also looked after so well, particularly since Gunnar had left us in his care.

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