Friday, September 07, 2007

Peru days 20-23 Alto Mayo

Left Tarapoto behind for a four trip up the Rio Mayo valley for field work on the upland Heliconius and Ithomiines in the lower to upper montane Andean cloud forests. Leaving the heat and humidity of the lowlands behind, I felt normal again in the comparative coolness at altitude. Bird-wise it was exciting but as field work for the lab is the main purpose of my time here, I feel like I’m just scratching the surface in terms of the birds I see. The Alto Mayo must have some of the most exciting birding opportunities on the planet. Some little known species occur below the Abra Patricia pass – Long-whiskered Owlet, Ochre-fronted Antpitta and Bar-winged Wood-Wren – all discovered by LSU expeditions in 1976 and rediscovered in 2002.

My highlights from the following sites:

Breakfast stop at Pacayzapa
Common Thornbird, Yellow-billed Cacique, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Troupial, Amazon Kingfisher, and Green Kingfisher.

Lejia/Fundo Davila
Huallaga Tanager

Mishquiyacu, Moyobamba 1050-1250m
White-crowned Tapaculo, 30+ Russet-backed Oropendola, Red-rumped Cacique, Long-tailed Woodcreeper, Yellow-backed Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Bay-headed Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Rufous Motmot, Buff-fronted Foliage Gleaner, and Ornate Flycatcher.

Venceremos 1700m
Best here was a pair of the endemic Speckle-chested Piculets (9cm woodpeckers!), Beryl-spangled Tanager, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Yellow-throated Tanager, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Brown-capped Vireo, Hepatic Tanager, and Golden-faced Tyrannulet as well as some nice tanagers.

Caserío Alto Nieva 1940m
An endemic hummingbird, the Royal Sunangel, Rufous-tailed Tyrant, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, White-tipped Swift, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Cinnamon Flycatcher and Greater Yellow-headed Vulture.

Trail to Cerro Patricia from the house of Pepe Espinar Gomez 1800-1700m
White-capped Tanager, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Olivaceous Piha, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, White-backed Fire-eye, Royal Sunangel, Deep-blue Flowerpiercer, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Barred Becard, White-eared Solitaire, Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet, Spotted Tanager, Vermillion Tanager, and Barred Antshrike.

Hand-sized moth from our eatery in Aguas Clares

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