This is the second entry of the series “Birding in Cajamarca”. In this occasion, I will focus on the valley that surrounds the capitol city of the region: the Cajamarca valley.
The city of Cajamarca is located in the middle of a fertile valley, mostly devoted to grazzing cattle. The valley is located at an elevation of 2,700 meters (about 8,900 feet), and has a mild weather all year long. Most of the native vegetation of the valley has disappeared, largely because of human activity, but some interesting areas remain untouched. Even some of these areas hold endemic and range restricted bird species like the Grey-bellied Comet, or the Great Spinetail. In a good day, birders can see up to 60 species of birds in just a few hours.
Although the original vegetation of the valley is almost gone, there is a special place near the city center that is becoming a paradise for birds. About ten years ago, the local potable water company abandoned one of their sewage treatment facilities, leaving about eight water treatment ponds without use. Over the years, these ponds had transformed into a highly trophic ecosystem, creating an excellent habitat for migrant and resident birds as well.
Residens birds that can be found here are Common Vermilion Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Cinnamon Teal, Sparkling Violetear, Plumbeous Rail, Puna Ibis, Andean Coot, Black-crowned Night-heron, American Kestrel, Chiguanco Thrush, and a lot more.
Some birds that seam to migrate locally, and had been seen here are: Blue-winged Teal, Groove-billed Ani, Black-winged Stilt, and Comb Duck.
Among the boreal migrant species that have been seen in this area are: Killdeer, Pectoral Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, and Lesser Yellowlegs.
The Cajamarca river runs northwest-southeast along the valley, creating a narrow canyon in its estern most edge. In this area the valley becomes narrow, and it’s surrounded by hills covered by xerophitic vegetation (mainly Accacia trees and cacti). Just after the town Jesus, there is a area of unaltered dry scrub known as El Chuco Alto. This dier habitat allows a different set of bird species than the rest of the valley.
The most important bird species of the area is the Great Spinetail, a rare furnarid restricted to some dry valleys of northern Peru. The species is uncommon to rare in most of the known places whitin its distribution range, but at El Chuco Alto it seems to be quite common.
Other interesting species in the area are Spot-throated Hummingbird, Purple-collared Woodstar, Striped Cuckoo, Tawny-fronted Pygmy-tyrant, White-rumped Black-tyrant, Black-lored Yellowthroat, Buff-bridled Inca-finch, and more.
Another fascinating birding place in the Cajamarca valley is Sangal. This place is well know for being the most reliable place in the world to see the Grey-bellied Comet hummingbird. Sangal is in the Rio Chonta valley, the Chonta river being one of the main tributaries of the Cajamarca river. It is located northeast of the core of the Cajamarca valley, and can be reached from the city center in less than 30 minutes.
This place is also home of other interesting species like: Giant Hummingbird, Black Metaltail, Andean Parakeet, White-winged Cinclodes, Rusty-crowned Tit-spinetail, Black-crested Tit-tyrant, Brown-bellied Swallow, Black-crested Warbler, Golden-billed Saltator, Plain-tailed Warbling-finch, and more.
As you can see, the Cajamarca valley can be an exceptional place for birding. Please visit www.greentours.com.pe for information about our birding tours to Cajamarca and north Peru.
In two weeks I’ll be back to you with more “Birding in Cajamarca”