Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Marvelous Spatuletail really was marvellous!


It was after 4pm by the time we left our hotel in Pedro Ruiz with our bags and headed east at speed towards Pomacochas.

We were visiting hummingbird feeders at the Interpretation Centre with the main target being the endemic Marvelous Spatuletail, a beautiful hummingbird with two long tail feathers each with a round feather on the end (as usual the male only).  Of all the birds in our Peru trip, this was the one we most wanted to see (excluding Harpy Eagle).  The tail uses up a huge amount of the birds energy when it flies and is only used to attract females.  Birdgirl had decided some time ago that she wanted to try and see all the hummingbirds of the world and this was one of the top ones and would be her 150th hummingbird, just under half way there.

We made a stop on the way on the roadside, which was good for Little Woodstar, but with no hummers we decided to move on quite quickly.

We reached the feeders at 4.40pm, with still plenty of light left and so I felt a little more relaxed.  Andy Marshall and his crew had overtaken us and were already at the site: it was amusing to keep bumping into them.  They had been there for 40 minutes and seen the Spatuletail easily and so I felt more confident that we had enough time.

I need not have worried.  We saw four Marvelous Spatuletails, zooming in and out of the feeders.  The first one was partially hidden behind a feeder and all that was visible were the tail feathers.  Birdgirl saw a round blob and called “What’s that small thing to the left of the feeder?  Is it a bird or bee?”.  Then she looked with her binoculars (now her old Avian Lites) and exclaimed “no, that’s it!”.

Birdgirl was really animated around the feeders, excitedly pointing out the different birds which were constantly flying in and out, seeing each other off and watching the general high level of activity after a rain shower that we had just had.

By 5.15 pm we had to be on our way, as we still had a three hour drive to Rioja, our stop for the night.

Rioja is at about 800m, as we were dropping down the Andean Foothills to the lowlands, so it was pretty warm in our hotel room.  Our coats were locked away in the suitcases (again) as we would not need them in the steaming heat for the next few days. We went for another Chinese, but this time the chef was Chinese and so the food authentic but it was 10pm by the time Birdgirl had her enforced shower and got to bed.  I think tomorrow I am going to have to force her to sleep!

The next day we birded close by near Moyobamba at Yacumama (savannah gallery forest) and Morro de Calzada (dry savannah forest where the soil is poor here so the trees are short).  The forest was absolutely beautiful covering the mountainside.  Here we were at 1,000m and could get a mixture of foothill and lowland species.  We heard quite a few Russet-Crowned Crake but as with the one we had earlier in the trip, none refused to come out.  The best we could do was an untickable view of grass movement.    

During the morning we saw Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Mishana Tyrannulet, Cinererous-Breasted Spinetail, Stripe-Necked Tody-Tyrant (also a lifer for Gunnar) and Olive-Chested Flycatcher (a Peru tick for Gunnar – the drinks are definitely on him tonight!).

We then decided to head back west towards Pomacochas to visit a couple of sites we had missed out.  It was better to fit them in now, rather than leave them until the end of the tour.  We birded above Abra Patricia Reserveand managed to see Royal Sunangel, our target hummingbird, before heading south east towards Tarapoto.

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