Sunday, 26 August 2012

Tarapoto, into the Northern Peru Amazon

In the afternoon of 21st August 2012 we drove south east to Tarapoto which is only at 350m and into the Amazon Basin, but the dry part.  It is actually not that far north from Tingo Maria where we visited with Alex in our Central Peru Trip, but the area between the two is not safe with Shining Path still active and Coca growing.

After a quick dinner in the hotel we were able to crash in our air conditioned room.  When it’s hot, I love sleeping in an ice box after a cold shower and letting me body recover.  If there’s a duvet all the better, it can be just like at home, cold in the room but cosy in bed.

It was 11.00 pm by the time Birdgirl got to bed and was far too late for her (again) but at least she got a few hours enforced sleep in the vehicle after her Kindle and laptop were confiscated.

As usual in the morning, I laid out Birdgirl’s clothes and Chris dressed her in her sleep (with the odd tickle if she needed it) including putting on her boots, so that once the vehicle was loaded up she could just get up, put on her cap and go to the vehicle to sleep until the first birding stop.  Today we had over an hour before reaching Juan Gerra on the main road south of Tarapoto, so this helped us all with getting some much needed extra sleep.

We managed to see Comb Duck along the Huallaga River (that we had birded further south near Huanuco, in our Central Peru trip.  The main target had been Ashy-Headed Greenlet, but we didn’t manage to see this.  We did see Sulpher-Rumped Tanager and Bluish-Fronted Jacamar.

We then drove back to bird in the Tarapoto Tunnel area.  There were a group of three Belgium birders doing a trip with Julio, Gunnar’s main driver and were going to be birding in the area as well.  As we arrived, we saw Julio and got an exact location for where they had seen Blackish Pewee, which we saw easily in exactly the same place.  It was a good point to stop and have breakfast, as there is only so long that Birdgirl can keep going on a Frosties Bar.

We had more mangoes, which were perfectly ripe and my last minute diet before we get home, to try and lose some of the weight I have put on during the trip.  We were then joined by the Belgium group, David Van den Schoor, Raf Drijvers and Chris Steeman.  David told me that before they came to Peru he had searched one of the endemics and found the blog.  He told Birdgirl that he was very pleased to meet her.

I told them that they were looking very well dressed and clean for birders at the end of their trip, but they told me that I obviously wasn’t looking closely enough.  We got some further gen from them and then headed off to the place where they taped in Dotted Tanager easily, where we were able to do the same.

We then had to move on and head back to Tarapoto.  I managed to squeeze in a refreshing cold shower when we picked up our bags and sorted out with Gunnar what we needed for the last days of our trip.  Gunnar had to fly back to Lima as he had a scheduled pelagic trip the next day.  The trip was being cancelled due to bad weather, but he was still taking the Belgium group out on a catamaran around some islands and taking them sea watching.  We were going to have some local guides instead, so Gunnar e-mailed us with calls for the birds we needed at each site.

It was 3pm by the time we left Tarapoto and so we decided to try for Buckley’s Forest Falcon, swifts and night birds at Morro de Calzana, near Moyabamba.  Horacio was also given directions to our restaurant for dinner.

We arrived at our site at 5.30pm to the calls of a forest falcon, but sadly not Buckley’s.  The forest was alive with calls, most of which we didn’t recognise but the birds we managed to organise were Spot-Tailed Nightjar, Common Potoo and two Mottled Owls.  The owls were sitting on the path then flew around very close, before coming to perch close by. 

From here we went back to Rioja for dinner at the Chinese Restaurant with the Chinese chef, where we were met by the staff like regulars.

By 8.30pm we had eaten our delicious meal and were all fast asleep on our way to Pomacochas for the night.  The only stop was the police close to Pomacochas, who decided to haul Horacio out the vehicle and give him a good telling off for 20 minutes about his paperwork, which seems normal here.

The hotel in Pomacochas was not fancy but was well fitted, clean and friendly with incredibly comfy beds.  We managed to get Birdgirl out of the vehicle at 11pm and into bed within a couple of minutes without too much disturbance.    Including the sleep in the vehicle, she had a pretty decent night’s sleep.

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