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BIRDING IN CAJAMARCA: THE MARAñON VALLEY

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Wilson Diaz - Mayo 14, 2019 - 5:48 pm

Birding in Cajamarca: the Marañon valley

 

Versión es español aquí.

Finally, this is the last post about “Birding in Cajamarca”. This time we are going to leave the Cajamarca valley to go east towards the Río Marañon valley.

The Marañon valley runs along the limits between the regions of Cajamarca and Amazonas. This is a dry valley, with high average temperatures (about 35° C at noon). The elevation of the mountains that flank the valley are as high as 3600 meters, and the bottom of the valley is at 900 meters, creating a canyon more than 2700 meters deep.

Marañon valley - Green Tours Peru

The valley is under a “rain shadow effect” because of it is surrounded by high elevation peaks that block the humidity coming from the Amazonian forests. This effect generates a dry climate, increased by the high temperatures if the low elevation of the bottom of the valley. In this isolated dry ecosystem several endemic species of plants and animals have evolved for millions of years.

Marañon valley - Green Tours Peru

The closest city to the valley is Celendín, a small and quite city that can be used as a base point to explore the birding sites in the Marañon valley.

Celendín - Green Tours Peru

The road between Cajamarca and Celendín

Celendín is just 105 Km from the city of Cajamarca. The drive can be done in less than 2 hours, but, since we are going to be birding, the drive can take all day long.

The first importan stop is at the Río Namora, about 1 Km. pass the town of La Encañada. Walking the trail along the river it is possible to find interesting birds like White-winged Cinclodes, Black-crested Warbler, Rusty Flowerpiercer, or eventually a Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch.

White-winged Cinclodes - Green Tours Peru

White-winged Cinclodes – Green Tours Peru

 

Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch - Green Tours Peru

Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch – Green Tours Peru

Further on the road, at the mountain pass of Comullca (3600 meters), the landscape is dominated by grassland. This is the perfect habitat for birds like Many-striped Canastero, Streak-throated Canastero, Andean Lapwing, Northern Andean Flicker, Cream-winged Cinclodes, and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch.

Many-striped Canastero - Green Tours Peru

Many-striped Canastero – Green Tours Peru

 

Northern Andean Flicker . Green Tours Peru

Northern Andean Flicker – Green Tours Peru

 

Cream-winged Cinclodes - Green Tours Peru

Cream-winged Cinclodes – Green Tours Peru

 

Plumbeous Sierra-Finch - Green Tours Peru

Plumbeous Sierra-Finch – Green Tours Peru

After the pass, the road descents towards Celendín. Several patches of Alder trees aside the road are home of special birds like Cajamarca Rufous Antpitta, Jelski’s Chat-Tyrant, and the rare Rufous-eared Brushfinch.

Jelski's Chat-Tyrant - Green Tours Peru

Jelski’s Chat-Tyrant – Green Tours Peru

 

Rufous-eared Brushfinch - Green Tours Peru

Rufous-eared Brushfinch – Green Tours Peru

Hacienda El Limón

After spending the night in Celendín, it is important to beging the new day very early in the morning in order to birding the first ours of the day.

This second day of the trip we will go into the Marañon valley itself. The first important stop here is at Hacienda El Limón, this is a small town located some 30 minutes after the pass of Jelic. El Limón is a plateau above the valley itself, at an elevation of 2000 meters.

Hacienda El Limón valley - Green Tours Peru

Hacienda El Limón valley – Green Tours Peru

At this spot, the interesting birds are Grey-winged Inca-Finch, Chestnut-backed Thornbird, Spot-throated Hummingbird, Buff-bellied Tanager, and Marañon Thrush.

Grey-winged Inca-Finch - Green Tours Peru

Grey-winged Inca-Finch – Green Tours Peru

 

Chestnut-backed Thornbird - Green Tours Peru

Chestnut-backed Thornbird – Green Tours Peru

 

Marañon Thrush - Green Tours Peru

Marañon Thrush – Green Tours Peru

Chacanto and Balzas: on the banks of the Marañon river

It takes about 40 minutes to drive from El Limón to the the town of Chacanto, at the Marañon river banks. During the descent, it is a good idea to put attention on the dry vegetation looking for the endemic Buff-bridled Inca-Finch.

Buff-bridled Inca-Finch - Green Tours Peru

Buff-bridled Inca-Finch – Green Tours Peru

Once in Chacanto, you can stop by the bridge, from where it is possible to spot Peruvian Pigeon, Black-lored Yellowthroat, Yellow-tailed Oriole, or Purple-throated Euphonia.

Yellow-tailed Oriole - Green Tours Peru

Yellow-tailed Oriole – Green Tours Peru

 

Purple-throated Euphonia - Green Tours Peru

Purple-throated Euphonia – Green Tours Peru

 

View of the Marañon from the Chacanto bridge - Green Tours Peru

View of the Marañon from the Chacanto bridge – Green Tours Peru

From Chacanto going northwards, a narrow road takes you to the small town of Balzas. This is the most reliable place to look for the endemic and rare  Yellow-faced Parrotlet.

Yellow-faced Parrotlet - Green Tours Peru

Yellow-faced Parrotlet – Green Tours Peru

Form Chacanto, it is possible to drive up into the mountains on the easter side of the valley, towards the town of Leymebamba. But, leaving Chacanto means leaving the region of Cajamarca and enter the region of Amazonas, which will be the subject of our next posts: “Birding in Amazonas”.

If you want to experience how it is to be birding on this part of Peru, check our special itinerary “The endemics paradise: Central and northeastern Andes of Peru”.