Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Peru. May 7, Day 6: A change of elevation and scenery

We woke up in Chiclayo, a smaller group, in a very different place.  We met our new driver, Juan Jose, who I instantly liked. He speaks excellent English and has a great knowledge of Peru and its history. He also is a very good birder, so we had two guides, not just a guide and a driver. We were starting out in the dry Tumbes area of Northwest Peru, not too far from the Ecuadorian border. The Tumbes area, which includes part of Southwestern Ecuador is an area of heavy endemism, with at least 50 range restricted species, about a third of them endangered or vulnerable. There are a wide variety of habitats, from tropical rain forests on the coast to the driest desert on earth in the south.  We have birded this region in Ecuador, but there were still many possibilities on the Peruvian side.

We began the day at Bosque de Pomac, a dry scrub forest. The habitat seemed very familar. It reminded me both of the forest near Rio Hacha Colombia and some of our Texas thorn scrub. We walked down the main road and the birds came very quickly. We had not walked far at all, when Martin spotted a Rufous Flycatcher, one of our main targets for this area. Unfortunately the bird flew quickly. We all didn't see it. We worked the area, trying to refind it, when we were distracted by another, even better bird, Peruvian Plantcutter. This is a bird that can be very difficult to find. We all got good looks, when a second bird came in. Unfortunately my camera situation did not allow photos. After we enjoyed the pair of Plantcutters, we returned to the Rufous Flycatcher area and were rewarded by good looks. We also added Necklaced Spinetail, a very cool looking bird.

We needn't have worried about the flycatcher; they were quite common in the area.  We saw the plantcutter again and got great looks at the Tumbes form of Tropical Gnatcatcher, which looked quite different from other forms I have seen. A Peruvian Meadowlark made a good showing. We have seen these several times, but I still am blown away by it, a RED Meadowlark. Alex took us to a more open area, nearby, where we were able to see Tumbes Swallows flying over. A Peruvian Pygmy Owl answered Alex's whistling. We saw a Coastal Miner working the rocky ground. After we left here, we came across a flock of Peruvian Thick-knees. Then we found another of our targets along the road, White-tailed Jay. This is a spectacular jay, similar to Tufted Jay, which is found in Mexico.

We grabbed lunch at a small restaurant and then went to Quebrada Limon, the most reliable spot for White-winged Guan. This bird was discovered in the 1870s and then not seen again for over 100 years. We arrived at the spot and waited for a local guide, which is necessary. The group started hiking up before he arrived, knowing the guide would catch up. Unfortunately I was struggling a bit with the terrain and still feeling a little off from my bad bout of sea sickness the day before. (maybe a little dehydrated) I was having trouble keeping up, so I decided to stay back and look for butterflies, which seemed to be thick. Shortly after, the local guide passed me, heading after them.

I puttered around, attempting to get some decent photos, with little luck. I did see a number of birds, including more White-tailed Jays and Tumbes Sparrow. I worked up and down the trail a little, talked to the goats, who were not impressed, and tried to keep cool.  I wandered around a little and suddenly worried that I might not be where I needed to be for the group to refind me. I tried to find a landmark that I recognized, but I was a little uncertain. Just as I started to get concerned, I saw them coming down the trail.

Kathy and Jens had stopped by a creek, while Dan and Martin had gone on with the guide. Martin and Dan had fleeting glimpses of the Guan, but Kathy and Jens were the lucky ones! While standing by the creek, several guans came in quite close to drink. Everyone was very happy, but quite tired. We walked back to the van and headed for our hotel. I was feeling a little disappointed in myself for not persevering, but there were plenty more birds to come!

Here are my lousy photos for the day:

Here is my bird list:
1 Great Egret

2 Snowy Egret

3 Cattle Egret

4 Black Vulture

5 Turkey Vulture

6 Harris's Hawk

7 Variable Hawk

8 American Kestrel

9 Peruvian Thick-knee

10 Black-necked Stilt

11 West Peruvian Dove

12 Eared Dove

13 White-tipped Dove

14 Red-masked Parakeet

15 Pacific Parrotlet

16 Groove-billed Ani

17 Peruvian Pygmy-Owl

18 Lesser Nighthawk

19 Amazilia Hummingbird

20 Green Kingfisher

21 Scarlet-backed Woodpecker

22 Golden-olive Woodpecker

23 Coastal Miner

24 Pale-legged Hornero

25 Necklaced Spinetail

26 Collared Antshrike

27 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet

28 Mouse-colored Tyrannulet

29 Short-tailed Field-Tyrant

30 Rufous Flycatcher

31 Peruvian Plantcutter

32 White-tailed Jay

33 Blue-and-white Swallow

34 Southern Rough-winged Swallow

35 Tumbes Swallow

36 Fasciated Wren

37 Superciliated Wren

38 Tropical Gnatcatcher

39 Great Thrush

40 Long-tailed Mockingbird

41 Bananaquit

42 Blue-gray Tanager

43 Streaked Saltator

44 Cinereous Finch

45 Saffron Finch

46 Tumbes Sparrow

47 Peruvian Meadowlark

48 Scrub Blackbird

49 Shiny Cowbird

50 White-edged Oriole

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