This last November 2018, we had the latest of the yearly birding familiarization trips that APTAE (The Peruvian Association for Adventure and Ecotourism) and Promperu (Peruvian Tourism Board) organize for birding tour operators and journalist from USA, Canada, and the UK.
The goal of these fam trips is to show the international tour operators the birding sites and facilities we have in Peru: private reserves, lodges, guides, hotels, etc. With this knowledge, the operators should be able to set up itineraries suited for their clients, for future birding trips to Peru that they could organize.
In 2018, the fam tour went to northern Peru, specifically the Huallaga and Mayo valleys, the Alto Mayo Protection Forest, the Abra Patricia area, the Marañon valley, and the Cajamarca area. The tour was operated by Green Tours (since we are an APTAE partner), and leaded by Wilson Diaz.
As for the guests, this year’s tour participants were:
Avery Bartels (Avocet Tours, Canada)
Mark Faherty (Massachusetts Audubon, USA)
Steven Bird (Sunrise Birding, USA)
Gina Beebe Nichol (Sunrise Birding, USA)
Dominic Mitchell (Birdwatch, UK)
Charles Thornton-Kolbe (Partnership for International Birding. USA)
Christopher Collins (Birding Ecotours, USA)
Jean Philippe Gagnon (Exploratours. Canada)
Eric Ripma (Sabrewing Nature Tours, USA)
All guests arrived in Lima in the evening. The last flight arrived past midnight, so we did not have the chance to have all the group together. Actually, we all first met the next day, early in the morning at breakfast, to introduce ourselves to each other before taking the flight to Tarapoto.
The birding adventure started once we arrived to Tarapoto. This first day we visited Ricuricocha lake, Pumarinri lodge, and took a boat trip on the Huallaga river. We spent the night at the delightful Pumarinri lodge.
Interesting birds today were Planalto Hermit, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Least Grebe, Comb Duck, Barred Antshrike, Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant, Masked Tityra, Violaceous Jay, Black-throated Mango, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, Sand-colored Nighthawk, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Hoatzin, Tropical Screech-Owl.
The next day we explored the Cordillera Escalera Reserve and the ACONABIKH Private Reserve (a reserve created to protect the endemic Koepcke’s Hermit). ACONABIKH has a canopy tower, hummingbird feeders, and a nice trail system to explore the forest. In the afternoon we took the road northeast along the Rio Mayo valley, towards the city of Moyobamba. We spent the night at Waqanki Lodge, a lodge designed specially for birders, with hummingbird feeders and nice gardens full of flowers that keep the hummingbirds very active all day long. The forest and scrub around the lodge also have good bird activity.
Highlights of the day were Double-toothed Kite, Blue-headed Parrot, Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper, Gilded Barbet, Rufous-tailed Tyrant, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Turquoise Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Scarlet Tanager, Koepcke’s Hermit, Gould’s Brilliant, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Golden-headed Manakin, Oilbird, Black-throated Hermit, Black-bellied Thorntail, Rufous-crested Coquette, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Blue-tailed Emerald, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch.
This morning we spend the first hours at the hummingbird feeders and the lodge’s gardens again (it’s a really fantastic place for birding !). After breakfast we went for a hike into the forest along the Mishquiyacu trail. By mid-morning, we leaved Waqanki and took the road towards the Town of Aguas Verdes, still in the Alto Mayo valley. Near Aguas Verdes we visited the Arena Blanca Reserve, created to preserve the uniqueness of the white sand forests habitat. Arena Blanca has good tinamou and hummingbird feeders. After a fantastic picnic lunch at Arena Blanca, we went back on the road to leave the valley behind and entering the mountains of the Alto Mayo Protection Forest. We made a quick stop at “La Llanteria” hummingbird feeders for a couple of good birds. Then we moved on to the famous Abra Patricia Owlet lodge for the overnight.
Main birds of the day were Rufous-crested Coquette, Black-throated Mango, Golden-tailed Sapphire, White chinned Sapphire, Blue-ground Dove, Little Woodpecker, Blue Dacnis, Purple Honeycreeper, Dull-colored Grassquit, Green-billed Toucanet, Red-billed Parrot, Peruvian Antwarbler, Mishana Tyrannulet, Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, Grey-capped Flycatcher, Yellow-green Vireo, Varzea Thrush, Dark-breasted Spinetail, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail, Black-bellied Tanager, Orange-billed Sparrow, Green Hermit, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Subtropical Cacique, White-throated Screech-Owl, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Collared Inca, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Andean Solitaire, Glossy-black Thrush, Olivaceous Siskin.
After an early breakfast, we enjoyed the hummingbird feeders in the garden and explored the surroundings of the lodge. Then we visited the Fundo Alto Nieva hummingbird feeders which are good for hummers that are hard to find away from feeders. We also explored the forest outside Alto Nieva, doing mainly roadside birding. After having lunch at Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge we continued our trip towards Huembo, a community reserve created to protect the endemic and endangered Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird. Then, we drove along the Rio Utcubamba valley towards Casa Hacienda Achamaqui, our next hotel for the overnight.
Most interesting birds of the day were Spotted Barbtail, Sierran Elaenia, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Johnson’s Tody-Flycatcher, Green-and-Black Fruiteater, Barred Becard, Drab Hemispingus, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Royal Sunangel, Buff-thighed Puffleg, Booted Racket-tail, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Smoke-colored Pewee, Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, White-backed Fire-eye, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Yellow-billed Cacique, Marvelous Spatuletail, Bronzy Inca, Little Woodstar, Andean Emerald, Mitred Parakeet, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Fasciated Tiger-Heron.
We had a long drive ahead, so we leaved Achamaqui before dawn. First we drove along the Utcubamba valley, a dry valley with a lot of endemic birds. Then we explored the cloud forests above the town of Leymebamba, and the paramo of the Abra Barro Negro pass. After that, we entered the Rio Marañon valley, again with plenty of endemics of the dry forest. We ended the day at a small hotel in the town of Celendín.
Today’s journey took us into quite different habitats and elevations. Achamaqui is in a dry valley, at an elevation of 5,900 feet. At the cloud forests above Leymebamba we were at 9,800 feet. The Barro Negro pass is at 11,800 feet, from there we descended to 2,900 feet to cross the Marañon river. After crossing the river, we had to go up again to 11,100 feet again before getting to Celendín (which is at 8,900 feet).
All these ups and downs meant different species of birds at each place we stopped. So, the most interesting birds we had were: Spot-throated Hummingbird, Black-necked Woodpecker, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Marañon Gnatcatcher, Marañon Thursh, Buff-bellied Tanager, Streaked Saltator, Lesser Goldfinch, Rufous-breasted Antpitta, Great Sapphirewing, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Red-crested Cotinga, Grass-green Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Yellow-scarfed Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Blue-backed Conebill, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Deep-Blue Flowerpiercer, Northern Mountain Cacique, Bare-faced Ground-Dove, Andean Swift, Coppery Metaltail, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Brown-backed Chat-tyrant, Superciliated Hemispingus, Peruvian Pigeon, Striped Cuckoo, Cordilleran Parakeet, Buff-bridled Inca-Finch, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Chestnut-backed Thornbird, Grey-winged Inca-Finch.
The road between the towns of Celendín and Cajamarca also has different kind of habitats. First we stopped at a semi-humid scrub not far from Celendin. At higher elevations the habitat changes to grassland, of course with a different set of birds. After a few hours we started to descent towards Cajamarca, where the habitat is of semi-humid scrub again. We arrived to Cajamarca for lunch, and in the afternoon we visited the Rio Chonta valley, famous for being the only place with a known stable population of the endemic Grey-bellied Comet hummingbird. We spent the night at the very nice Hotel La Ensenada.
The main birds of the day were Baron’s Spinetail, Yellow-billed Tit-tyrant, Jelski’s Chat-tyrant, Northern Andean Flicker, Rufous-chested Tanager, Black-crested Warbler, White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Rufous-webbed Bush-Tyrant, Mountain Caracara, Cream-winged Cinclodes, Streak-throated Canastero, Chestnut-naped Ground-Tyrant, Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Plain-colored Seedeater, White-winged Cinclodes, White-browed Chat-tyrant, Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch, Peruvian Meadowlark, Andean Gull, Andean Swift, Grey-bellied Comet, Black Metaltail, Giant Hummingbird, Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetail, Black-crested Tit-tyrant, Torrent Tyrannulet, Brown-bellied Swallow, Golden-billed Saltator.
Last day of the trip. We still could have explored a lot of places in the Cajamarca area, but as in most fam trips, we were short of time. We took the first flight to Lima in the morning in order to attend the workshop Promperu had organized. This event allowed the international operators to get in touch with Peruvian tour operators, so they could work together organizing future birding tours to northern Peru.
As partners of APTAE, and leaders of this year’s fam trip, Green Tours would like to thank all the people that supported and helped to accomplish a successful fam trip. Our thanks to:
Pumarinri Lodge (http://www.pumarinri.com/)
ACONABIKH Private Reserve (https://www.aconabikh.org/en)
Waqanki Lodge (http://waqankilodge.pe/)
Hotel Alta Vista (we had a fantastic dinner here when in Moyobamba) (https://altavistacasahotel.com/)
Arena Blanca Private Reserve (http://perubirds.org/rutas_Reserva_Arena_Blanca.shtml)
ECOAN – Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge and Huembo Reserve (http://www.owletlodge.org/)
Fundo Alto Nieva Private Reserve (http://perubirds.org/rutas_fundo_alto_nieva.shtml)
Casa Hacienda Achamaqui (http://achamaqui.pe/en/)
Hotel La Ensenada Cajamarca