Northern Peru 2018
Sunday 10th June - Sunday 1st July
Northern Peru offers one of those very special places where over 30 northern endemics can be exclusively found, and in addition to these sought-after species we have a chance of 10 more widespread Peruvian endemics as well as numerous Tumbesian and montane specialties that are only found in Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador. Our tour through this wonderful part of the country will visit dry desert and Mesquite forest at Bosque de Pomac and Chaparrí, in strong contrast to the lush cloudforests of Cordillera de Colan. As we visit the breathtaking Marañon River gorge and follow the eastern foothills which reach down to the Amazon basin, highlights could include such enigmatic birds as Marvellous Spatuletail, Peruvian Plantcutter, White-winged Guan, Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater, Rusty-tinged and Ochre-fronted Antpitta (with luck!), Koepcke's and Cinnamon Screech-Owls, Yellow-faced Parrotlet, Chestnut-backed Thornbird, 3 species of inca-finch, Grey-bellied Comet, Royal Sunangel, Lulu's Tody-Tyrant, Marañon Crescentchest and White-capped Tanager. We even have a chance of seeing the mythical Long-whiskered Owlet, a bird seen by relatively few birders but now possible in the Abra Patricia area. The Northern Peru birding circuit keeps getting better and better, with new sites, new trails, and more great new birds to be seen and our expanded itinerary is specially designed to make the most of this and provides extensive coverage of one of South America's most exciting destinations. This is a very special tour to a fantastic birding destination with the superb Roger Ahlman as our guide - we couldn't be in better hands!
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This morning we will visit the nearby wetland of Pantanos de Villa Wildlife Refuge, a 263 hectare protected habitat that will give us excellent looks at a variety of commoner birds such as Cinnamon Teal, Black Skimmer, Grey-headed Gull, Great Grebe, Andean Coot, White-cheeked Pintail, Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, and a few summering shorebirds. We then move on a short bit to the beach for some seabirding with Peruvian Pelican, Inca Tern, Guanay Cormorant, Peruvian Booby and Belcher’s Gull. After lunch at the airport we have an afternoon flight to Cajamarca where we will be met by our driver and check in at a nice hotel just out of town and set in a dry inter-montane valley. Night in Cajamarca.
We'll start early this morning for a 90 minutes drive to San Marcos where we will look for the Northern Peru endemic Great Spinetail (NPE). We may also see Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Spot-throated Hummingbird, Tropical Gnatcatcher of the minor subspecies and Black-lored Yellowthroat. On the drive back to Cajamarca we can stop at a high altitude lake for species such as Cinereous Harrier, Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant, Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant and Band-tailed Sierra-Finch. After lunch we can spend the afternoon in the Chonta Valley and look for the endangered and poorly known North Peru Endemic Grey-bellied Comet (NPE). Amongst the bushy slopes and gullies there are numerous possibilities such as Andean Swift, Black Metaltail (Peru Endemic; PE), Bronze-tailed Comet (PE), the endemic race of Tyrian Metaltail, Peruvian Meadowlark, White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail (PE), Unicolored Tapaculo (PE), Pied-crested and Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, Black-crested Warbler, Golden-billed Saltator, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Piura Hemispingus, Mourning, Peruvian and Peruvian Sierra-Finches and Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail. In the afternoon we return for dinner and overnight at our comfortable hotel in Cajamarca.
Day 4 Cajamarca - La Encanada - Celendin
We start our day an hour east of Cajamarca at La Encañada where we bird woodland and scrub for Giant Hummingbird, Jelski's Chat-Tyrant, Black-crested Tit-Tyrant, Baron’s Spinetail, Streak-backed Canastero and Rufous-eared Brushfinch, plus we have further chances for any of our target species we may have missed on the previous day. Further on towards Cruz Conga we hope to see the cajamarcae race of Rufous Antpitta most likely to become a new species; Cajamarca Antpitta. After breakfast here we will drive towards Celendin making stops en-route and possibilities amongst the open areas and scrubby hillsides include Andean Gull, Andean Flicker, Red-crested Cotinga, Brown-bellied Swallow, Striated Earthcreeper, Rufous-webbed Tyrant, Streak-throated Canastero, White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Streak-headed Antpitta, Rufous-webbed Tyrant, and Slender-billed Miner. We also have chances for the rare White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch (PE) and Rufous-eared Brush-Finch (PE) before reaching the bustling town of Celendin where we spend the night. Night in Celendin.
Day 5 Celendin - Leimebamba
We have an hour's drive to Hacienda Limon set amidst impressive scenery where we will wait for the sun to creep over the surrounding hills and begin our search for Grey-winged Inca-Finch (NPE) and Chestnut-backed Thornbird (NPE). While having breakfast we may pick up Peruvian Pigeon (PE), Black-necked Woodpecker, Marañon Thrush, Buff-bellied Tanager. We then move slowly downhill towards the Marañon river looking for Buff-bridled Inca-Finch (NPE) and Yellow-faced Parrotlet (NPE) which is usually the more difficult of the targets. Other possibilities include Striped Cuckoo, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-naped Brush-Finch, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Rusty Flowerpiercer and Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet. Scattered patches of Cactus and Bombax forest will give us chances for more birds that may include Chestnut-backed Thornbird (NPE), Bare-faced Ground-Dove, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Streaked Saltator, Fasciated Wren, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Green Jay, Yellow-tailed Oriole, and Purple-throated Euphonia. After lunch in Balsas we cross the Maranon river and ascend the steep eastern slope up to the Black Mud Pass at 3600m looking in the first place for Coppery Metaltail (NPE) but also other high altitude species like Andean Lapwing, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant, White-chinned Thistletail (NPE), Blackish Tapaculo (race intermedius that might be a split), Blue-backed Conebill, Many-striped Canastero, Pearled Treerunner, Moustached Flowerpiercer, the insignis subspecies of Superciliared Hemispingus, Grassland Yellow-Finch and with luck Russet-mantled Softtail (NPE). Night in Leimebamba.
Day 6 Leymebamba - Abra Patricia
We start on a road just uphill from town where we look for Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Golden-headed Quetzal, Andean Condor, Red-hooded Tanager and Maroon-chested Chat-Tyrant. Amongst the morning mist we could find many other species such as Coppery-naped Puffleg (NPE), Rainbow Starfrontlet,Sword-billed Hummingbird, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Purple-throated Sunangel, the obscura race of Rufous Antpitta (possible split), and in the mixed species flocks we could see Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Barred Fruiteater, Streaked Tuftedcheek, White-chinned Thistletail, Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, White-banded Tyrannulet, White-collared Jay, Mountain Cacique, Andean Slaty Thrush, the stunning White-capped Tanager, Scarlet-bellied and Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanagers, Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch, Drab Hemispingus and Blue-and-black Tanager. We shall also visit feeders that have Rainbow Starfrontlet and Purple-throated Sunangel and possibly Sword-billed Hummingbird. We then drive along the breathtaking Utcubamba river valley where there is often a Koepcke’s Screech-Owl at day roost, Torrent Duck, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Mitred Parakeet Peruvian Pigeon (PE), White-bellied Hummingbird, Black-capped Sparrow, Black-necked Woodpecker (PE), Maranon Thrush (PE), and Buff-bellied Tanager (PE), and with some luck also Little Woodstar. In the late afternoon we will arrive at the superbly located Owlet Lodge at Abra Patricia where we have three nights. If weather allows we will make our first attempt for the amazing Long-whiskered Owlet (NPE) after dinner. In recent years this species has been seen very close to the lodge, but we still need a lot of luck!
We have the full day day birding the lush cloudforests of Cordillera de Colan amidst the higher parts of the Abra Patricia area for species such as some extremely localised species found in just a few small sites in northern Peru and southern Ecuador such as Royal Sunangel (NPE), Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant and the extremely localised Bar-winged Wood-Wren, as well as Ochre-fronted Antpitta (NPE), Yellow-scarfed Tanager (PE), White-capped Tanager, White-eared Solitaire and a number of other more widespread species typical for the altitude. The feeders we visit today have Greenish and Emerald-bellied Pufflegs, Long-tailed Sylph, Sword-billed hummingbird, Rufous-vented Whitetip and others. The whole area holds a list of over 420 species so the possibilities are plenty including Green-tailed Trainbearer, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Sparkling Violetear and Sierran Elaenia. At Abra Patricia we look for the spectacular Royal Sunangel (NPE) dressed in royal blue, and then the recently described Lulu's Tody-Tyrant (NPE), plus Emerald-bellied Puffleg, White-eared Solitaire and Peruvian Wren (PE) are just a few more possibilities. Bar-winged Wood-Wren, White-capped, Silver-backed and Yellow-scarfed Tanagers (PE), three species of antpittas, that include Ochre-fronted (NPE), Chestnut (PE) and Rusty-tinged (NPE). As we search forest trails, mossy trees and bamboo thickets we can hope for a wealth of interesting species that may include Blue-browed, Yellow-throated, Rufous-crested and Grass-green Tanagers, Bronzy Inca, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals, Long-tailed Antbird, Peruvian Rufous-vented Tapaculo (PE), Peruvian Tyrannulet (PE), Inca Flycatcher (PE), Rufous-tailed Tyrant, Chestnut-bellied Chat-Tyrant, Sharpe's Wren and with a lot of luck White-chested Swift or a Barred Antthrush. This evening we will make another attempt at Long-whiskered Owlet if still needed, and there's also a possibility of Cinnamon Screech-Owl and Swallow-tailed Nightjar sometimes around the lodge buildings. Night at Owlet Lodge.
Day 8 Abra Patricia
Day 9 Abra Patricia - Tarapoto
Less than an hour from Tarapoto is another new private reserve with some excellent trails and feeders. The main attraction is Koepcke’s Hermit (PE) coming to feeders. Other hummers to look for include Gould’s Jewelfront, Great-billed Hermit and White-necked Jacobin. The alitutde here is only around 500 m so we will get many amazonian species as well. Along the trail is a nice lek of the stunning Golden-headed Manakin and they often have Long-tailed Potoo staked out as well. Other great birds here include Huallaga (Black-bellied) Tanager (NPE), Bluish-fronted Jacamar and Fiery-capped Manakin. We then move on to some very stunted forest which has Dotted Tanager, Short-billed Honeycreeper and with luck also Plumbeous Euphonia. In the afternoon we have a couple of hours drive south to Bellavista along the Huallaga River where some stops could produce Comb Duck, Hoatzin and maybe Large-billed or Yellow-billed Terns in the river. Night in Bellavista.
Day 11 Bellavista - Plataforma
Today is a very special day as we will switch vehicles to some old, specially jacked-up Toyota Hilux which are the only vehicles that can make it up to Plataforma on the worst possible road and it may well take us most of the day to reach this area. Hopefully it has beeen dry the days before as we have to hike up to a part of the forest where Scarlet-banded Barbet (NPE) has been reliable in recent years. Only discovered in 1996, this bird has an exceedingly small range and is endemic to these few hills where the populatio is estimated to only reach approximately 1,000 individuals. We will spend two nights at a basic hotel in Plataforma, but it is the only accommodation available and is ideally situated for us to explore this seldom visited area. Night in Plataforma.
Day 12 Plataforma
We will spend a second day for catch-ups before we head down to Bellavista for the night. The list of potential species up here is proving to be very exciting and other birds recoded here include Wattled Guan, Curl-crested Aracari, Barred Forest Falcon, Subtropical Pygmy-Owl, Rose-fronted Parakeet, Blue-headed Parrot, Blackish Nightjar, Long-tailed Hermit, Wire-crested Thorntail, White-necked Puffbird, Russet Antshrike, Ornate Antwren, Hairy-crested and Scale-backed Antbirds, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Chestnut-throated Spinetail, Chestnut-winged and Ruddy Foliage-gleaners, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Variegated Bristle-Tyrant, Olivaceous Piha, Foothill Schiffornis, and Black-faced Dacnis. Night in Bellavista.
The morning will be spent at Quebrada Upaquihua which has dry forest and some different birds. We look for Planalto Hermit at its only site in Peru, Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Rufous Casiornis to mention some. When it starts to get to hot we move on for a few hours drive to the very nice Waqanki Lodge just outside Moyobamba. The hummingbird feeders here can be really good with many species we have already seen, but we may add Black-throated Hermit and White-chinned Sapphire to our ever-growing list. Also, Mishana Tyrannulet is often around the feeders and we shall at least hear Russet-crowned Crakes as well. At night we hope for Rufous and Spot-tailed Nightjars and Band-bellied Owl. Night at Waqanki Lodge.
Day 15 Waqanki
Today we have a rather streneous hike up to the San Lorenzo ridge. The habitat is quite trashed but higher up we get into patches of bamboo that has Pale-billed Antpitta which has been reliable here for a few years. We also hope to find Russet-mantled Softtail, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant and Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher. We may also see Violet-throated Starfrontlet and Chestnut-backed Antshrike and other tempeate species. After a trout lunch we have a few hours drive to Jaen. At a couple of stake outs we shall look for Little Inca-Finch and we may see Drab Seedeater and the shumbae subspecies of Collared Antshrike. Night in Jaen.
Day 18 Tamborapa - Olmos
Back up to Limon de Porcuya where we shall look for Piura Chat-Tyrant, Peruvian Sheartail, Bay-crowned and White-winged Brushfinches, Ecuadorian Piculet, Henna-hooded and Rufous-necked Foliage-Gleaners, Elegant Cresentchest, Chapman’s Antshrike, Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, Three-banded Warbler, Black-cowled Saltator and Line-cheeked Spinetail. After a nice lunch in Olmos we head to Bosque Pomac and try to make the hitlist for tomorrow a bit shorter. The main targets among the extensive area of Mesquite forest in the reserve include Peruvian Plantcutter (NPE), Tumbes Tyrant, Rufous Flycatcher (NPE), the rare and extremely localised Tumbes Swallow and Cinereous Finch. We may also see White-tailed Jay, White-edged Oriole, Short-tailed Woodstar, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker and Grey-and-white Tyrannulet. Night at a nice hotel nearby at Horchones.
Days 20 - 21 Bosque Pomac - Chaparri
We have another morning at Bosque Pomac to look for any species we might have missed from yesterday and further possibilities include Peruvian Thick-knee, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Scarlet-backed and Guayaquil Woodpeckers, Ecuadorian Piculet, Ecuadorian Trogon, Short-tailed Woodstar, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Collared Antshrike, Baird's Flycatcher, Plumbeous-backed Thrush,Coastal Miner (PE), Necklaced Spinetail, Fasciated Wren, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Tumbesian Tyrannulet and Grey-and-white Tyrannulet. White-edged Oriole and Cinereous Finch (PE) amongst many others.
We then have a few hours drive to the very nice Chaparri Lodge in the desert. On the way in we usually see flocks of the rare Sulphur-throated Finches, which are restricted to the Tumbesian region of SW Ecuador and NW Peru. Chaparrí is a private reserve with an extensive Mesquite forest and is one of the best places to see Tumbes Tyrant (NPE) and Sulphur-throated Finch, whilst Ochre-bellied Dove is also possible here. Here is where we shall mop up what we haven’t seen yet. Tumbes Hummingbird is often coming to bath just by the dining area. Tumbes Tyrant and Rufous flycatcher is also here and at night we shall try for West Peruvian Screech-Owl around the lodge and also Scrub Nightjar.
Another full day in the reserve gives us plenty of chances to mop up some of those tricky species already mentioned. A population of White-winged Guans are also here and they derive from released birds but now have a self-sustained population and no birds have been released since 2005. Other possibilities here include Lineated and Scalet-backed Woodpeckers, Purple-collared and Short-tailed Woodstars, Baird's and Sooty-crowned Flycatchers, Elegant Crescentchest and Parrot-billed Seedeater, whilst a little further afield we can still find Scrub (Anthony's) Nightjar, Grey-chinned Hermit, Pacific Elaenia, Grey-breasted Flycatcher, Black-capped Sparrow. Night at Chaparri.
Day 22 Chaparri - Chiclayo - Lima - 1st July
On our way out we stop at the Tinajones reservoir to look at wetland birds. Black-faced Ibis has a small isolated population here and we may see Comb Duck, Savanna Hawk, Peruvian Thick-knee, Short-tailed Woodstar, Short-tailed Field-Tyrant and Great Grebe. We then head to Chiclayo for our afternoon flight to Lima, stopping at a stake out for Chestnut-collared Swallow along the way. We should arrive in Lima in the late afternoon in plenty of time for our early evening flights back home and the conclusion of a stunning tour.
Single Supplement: £650.00
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6 and a maximum 8.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms mostly en-suite, all meals including picnic lunches where necessary, domestic flights, bottled water, all entrance fees, transport throughout, and services of local guides and leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, departure tax, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: The hotels used during this tour range from good to standard, most with en-suite facilities. We will stay in the best available lodges/hotels which are as close to the birding sites as possible in order for us to maximise our time in the field. At Plataforma the lodging is relatively basic with outdoor bathrooms
Tour Code: This is a relatively intense tour as we make early starts and have long days in the field. Some long drives are necessary but the roads are mainly paved now and our transport is comfortable and well maintained. We are visiting in the dry season but please be aware that we could get some rain in the afternoons, especially in the eastern parts of our route. Expect it to be hot and humid in the lowlands, ranging to cold and wet in higher areas. Please note that this tour will focus on finding many of Northern Perus specialities and endemics, but a wider variety of species will be seen as well.
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