Monday, September 28, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
In the last week or so I’ve been back up in the Alto Mayo and out to Yurimaguas again for the last time. Around Nueva Cajamarca, our base for the upland Heliconius, the endemic Black-bellied (Huallaga) Tanager, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove and Rufous-fronted Thornbird were noted en route. The rice fields between Moyobamba and Aguas Claras held hundreds of Snowy, Cattle and Great Egrets and a few Striated Herons. Up around 1300m at El Afluente I finally obtained nice views of Ecuadorian Piedtail and Violet-headed hummingbird. Other notable species included Long-tailed Woodcreeper, Equatorial Greytail, Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, Smoke-coloured Pewee and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. Between 1700 and 1800m on the LSU trail to Cerro Patricia the beautiful stunted forest produced Bar-winged Wood-Wren, Striped Treehunter, Deep-blue Flowerpiercer, White-backed Fire-eye, Napo Sabrewing and Emerald Toucanet.
Back in Tarapoto for a day, I made use of some pre-breakfast time to explore the Urahuasha trail once more, adding Spotted Tody-Flycatcher and Speckled Chachalaca to list to a two hour list of 50 species.
On to Yurimaguas via the tunnel at Km-18 produced a trio of stunning hummers: White-tipped Sicklebill, Black-eared Fairy and Koepcke’s Hermit. A Golden-collared Toucanet was calling from a roadside tree, its colours all revealed against a deep blue sky. Between Yurimaguas and Munichis, Oriole Blackbird, Red-crested Blackbird, Snail Kite, Dusky-headed Parakeet and Purple Gallinule were seen along roadside pools. Our final morning the Yurimaguas area was cool and cloudy with little butterfly activity and, with an hour or two to kill on the Micaela Bastida road while conditions improved, I located around 60 species along 1km of roadside passing forest fragments, second growth, chacras and marshy fields. Best of the lot were Scarlet-crowned Barbet, Blue-headed Parrot, Short-billed Honeycreeper, Spangled Cotinga, Grey-capped Flycatcher, Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher, Yellow-headed Caracara and Uniform Crake.
I’m now leaving the Tarapoto area and moving on to Pucallpa via Lima. Our new study site, mainly for Heliconius pardalinus butleri , will be around Yarinacocha, the big oxbow lake beside the Rio Ucayali.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
The first night in the town (Nueva Cajamarca) we were staying in had a power cut all night – in fact every time I’ve been here they’ve had a power cut. We were wandering around with candles and in 2007 I ate my dinner in a pitch black restaurant just with candles. This time we found a place called ‘Arizona Chicken’ which was the only place with all its lights on. They were using a portable generator to keep things going. A waiter came up and told us they served chicken. This was helpful as we would never have known that they served chicken. We got a 2.25 litre bottle of Inca Kola which could have been used to see our way back on the dark as it is almost glow in the dark yellow! Best birds of the day were Andean Cock of the Rock, Golden-winged Manakin, Slaty Antwren, Rufous-vented Whitetip and Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager on a trail from Puente Serranoyacu.
The second day was better with some sunshine but few Helinconius timareta butterflies which we were after. We climbed up a trail from El Afluente which leads to a village eight hours away but we only did a bit of it up to 1733 metres. Sadly I encountered no large Tanager flocks this time. Tanagers are these multi-coloured finch-sized birds, many of which move around in mixed feeding flocks in the mountain forests. It is really exciting when a flock passes and you are in frenzy looking this way as you try to see and identify as many as possible. They are best viewed from above so a trail on a steep slope is best. Anyway, I did see some great birds: Sickle-winged Guan, which is a pheasant-like bird which scrambles around in the midstory of the forest; Green Jays, vivid green and banana yellow which screech loudly when they see you; a stunning hummer, the Booted Racket-tail (though not as stunning as THE most-wanted Peruvian hummingbird seen the next day); and other attractive forest denizens such as Booted Racket-tail, Red-billed Parrot, Speckled Chachalaca, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Rusty Flowerpiercer (no relation to the fabled Rusty Wire-pecker), Ornate Fycatcher, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-tailed Tyrany, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Paradise Tanager and Plumbeous Kite.
The following day the low cloud and light drizzle never lifted. We planned to cut the trip short and return to Tarapoto. Our driver suggested that he could take us to Lago Pomacochas at La Florida, some distance away over the Abra Patricia pass …. for ‘touristic’ reasons. This is the only area for the crazy Marvellous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) – and endemic hummer with two extra long retrices and a ‘racket’ at each end - see a photograph at the link below. Its world distribution is centered around one small region in northwest Peru. Totally unprepared with no gen, I managed to find a local who knew a site at 2400m. After several other species of hummingbirds including Green-tailed Trainbearer and Purple-throated Sunangel, I found an immature Marvelous Spatuletail – which lacked the crazy tail. Then another, this time an immature male with only partially grown retrices/rackets. A few females were seen but all only zipped in briefly for a few seconds. Eventually a full adult male put in the briefest appearance and later again as it chased of the immature. This bird has to be seen to be believed – probably the best since the Scarlet-banded Barbet in 2007. We went to lake at Pomacochas and saw a few Andean specialties at some of their lowest altitudinal range including Andean Gull, Andean Lapwing, White-cheeked Pintail, plus Plumbeous Rail, Torrent Tyrannulet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Striated Heron, and Peruvian Meadowlark.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Larger versions and more photos with labels can be found on the public version of my Facebook 'Peru Fieldwork 2009' album: