Day 10. 4 Dec 2022. San Luis and the road to the Pacific coast
This is the penultimate day of the Cordillera Blanca scouting trip. Today, we are leaving the Cordillera Blanca and taking the road back to the Pacific coast. The type of habitats will be very variated, with several new birds for the trip.
We left Caraz very early, just after having breakfast. Our first birding stop for the day was some 15 minutes’ drive from the hotel, near the town of San Luis. This is the only known spot for the endemic sub-species of Creamy-breasted Canastero. We found the right habitat just by the small town of Rinconada, before getting to San Luis. It is a small hill with dry vegetation, dominated by cactae. We walked up and down in the area for about one hour, but couldn’t find any Canastero. Nevertheless, we found other interesting birds like Burrowing Owl, Oasis Hummingbird, Short-tailed Field Tyrant, Collared Warbling Finch. We were also rewarded by several blooming individuals of the endemic and endangered cactus Loxanthocereus sulcifer, which seems to be restricted to three small places in the country.
Despite the elevation (7,800 feet), the weather was warm and dry, and we had magnificent views of the Cordillera Blanca mountains. From the arid valley, the views of the white peaks of the Cordillera Blanca were almost surreal.
We were about to give up with the Canastero, when Carlos decided to drive a little further. So, after some 100 meters, we got into a different habitat, with dry scrub but no cacti. To our surprise, as soon as we jumped out of the car we heard the characteristic call of this Canastero !!
First, it was moving in the bushes, giving us great but quick views. Then, it jumped down onto the ground and we lost the bird. When we were about to leave we found it again, still hidden in the dense vegetation. You can see Steve’s pictures of this bird here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S123430475
Formaly, the Creamy-breasted Canastero is a widespread species, found in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Nevertheless, the San Luis sub-species is quite different from the others, showing rufous outer rectrices and rump. Also, the song seems to be a bit different. Actually, all sub-species could be different species, and no canasteros at all, but rather Thornbirds !!
Winchus to Pampa Romas
It was about 11:00 AM when we left the Santa valley and took the road to the Pacific coast. First, we went up the mountains on the western side of the valley. As we gained elevation, we made a couple of stops at what looked as the right habitat for Rufous-backed Inca-finch. In fact, we found it a couple of times, that was a nice and new bird for the list !!
We reached the mountain pass of Winchus at noon. We walked for more than one hour in the area, enjoying the Puya Raimondi and the views of the Cordillera Blanca on the other side of the valley.
Before leaving the mountain pass we added another bird species to the list: three individuals of Slender-billed Miner. As we drove, we had a large flock of Bright-rumped Yellow-Finches.
Once on the Pacific slope, we stopped at a few patches of good habitat, just above the town of Pampa Romas. First, we found another endemic: Russet-bellied Spinetail. Then, we had great views of Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant and Bay-crowned Brushfinch.
Pampa Romas to Nuevo Chimbote
At lower elevations the habitat is still quite dry, but paying attention to the habitat we were able to find a Great Inca-finch and a Golden-olive Woodpecker. Later, we knew we were approaching the coast when we started to hear the song of the Pale-legged Horneros. Also, the Long-tailed Mockingbirds started to show up.
At about 03:00 PM we found an artificial pond near the town of Motocachy, at an elevation of 1,380 feet. The place looked interesting on Google Maps, so we decided to make a short stop. It turn out to be an interesting place indeed. Near the pond we found several Peruvian Thick-knees, Also, at the lake itself we had a couple of unexpected Comb Ducks, along with Great Grebe, Greater Yellowlegs, and several Yellow-billed Teals.
It was getting late, so after birding at the pond we headed straight to the city of Nuevo Chimbote as we wanted to get there before dark. Finding the hotel wasn’t easy at first, several streets were closed due to maintenance works, but once we understood how it works we got to the hotel quite quickly. Nuevo Chimbote is a modern, quite city. We enjoyed dinner at one of the many restaurants in the city center and we were quite pleased with the service.
Tomorrow is the last day of the scouting trip. We will be driving from Nuevo Chimbote to the city of Trujillo to take the flight back to Lima. There are still a few more birds to add to the list !!! so you can’t miss the last chapter of this birding adventure.
If you want to follow this trip report from the begining, please visit https://greentours.com.pe/birding-huascaran-national-park-scouting-trip-report-day-1/
You can find the final chapter of this trip report here: https://greentours.com.pe/birding-around-nuevo-chimbote-last-day-of-the-trip/