Friday, August 31, 2007

Peru day 15: Tarapoto > Río Shilcayo

Hiked up the Río Shilcayo today for numata and ithomiines. After a few days of heavy rain, conditions were slightly more comfortable with a cool breeze at times. From Achual in Tarapoto, soaring higher than the vultures was a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites and in the gardens, three or four Huallage Tanagers – a Peruvian endemic. Several species of stunning blue Morpho butterflies were bombing along their territories on the river and Boca Toma is a good advantage point to observe them passing at close range. I may try and photograph them in flight here later in the week. The Black Phoebe, a fairly terrestrial Tyrannid flycatcher which sallies from rocks and lower branches, is fairly common amongst the boulders in the fast flowing areas here. One pair has a nest in an undercliff area at Boca Toma constructed from mud pellets in much the same was as a Barn Swallow though involving considerably more effort - the cyclindrical assembly is about 20 cm high! A large Band-bellied Owl was flushed from a quebrada in thick forest and it disappeared quickly, with no difficulty in navigating through the dense tree cover. Higher up, Mathieu disturbed a “bittern-like” bird from a pool. On catching up I was pleased the bird had retreated to a nearby visible tree and turned out to an immature Fasciated Tiger-Heron. Buff-rumped Warblers, a terrestrial Parulid, were fairly common and a Green Kingfisher was also seen briefly.

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