East Slope 9-12 Aug 2011 Peruvian Antpitta and Bicolored Antvireo!
A short but very sweet trip with 2 wonderful South Africans, Greg and Lara Noel. Our first dayís weather was the most brutal I have ever faced at Papallacta pass and the antennas were plastered with 10cm of sastrugi by a gale-force wind so we called off the seed-snipe hunt. Lower down we jumped a Tawny Antpitta and managed to tease out a White-chinned Thistletail and a Many-striped Canastero. Paramo flycatchers were scarce but we saw Paramo Ground-Tyrant and Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant. Raptors were more obliging with nice soaring views of Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Puna Hawk, Carunculated Caracara and American Kestrel. On Papallacta lake we had Andean Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Coot and a lone Andean Gull on the west side of the pass.
The next day was still wet but improved by the hour as we nabbed a part of the Guango flock with Pearled Treerunner, Turquoise Jay, Mountain Wren, Spectacled Whitestart, Blue-and-black Tanager, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Common Bush-Tanager, Black-capped Hemispingus, Black-eared Hemispingus, Pale-naped Brush-Finch and Slaty Brush-Finch. An Andean Guan rustled and we finally had a good look. The feeders were pumping with Collared Inca, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Buff-tailed and Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Tourmaline Sunangel, Long-tailed Sylph and finally Mountain Velvetbreast. After many bouts in the Polylepis we finally snagged a flock of Giant Conebills with Black-backed Bush-Tanagers and a White-throated Tyrannulet, later a Red-crested Cotinga and more Tawny Antpitta. Towards Baeza we spotted 2 male Torrent Ducks and later a female as well as Torrent Tyrannulet. Along the Baeza Bypass I was surprised to see 2 pairs of Rufous-tailed Tyrants which are scarce and local but often seen in the far south below Tapichalaca reserve. Farther on in the fields beyond the river which was abnormally high and devoid of birds we had a pair of Red-headed Barbet as well as Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Black-billed Thrush, Tropical Parula, Blue-necked Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Black-capped Tanager and Blue-gray Tanager.
The Guacamayos trail was great with constant bird activity, more Andean Guan (see video), Red-billed Parrot. Solitary individuals of Streak-necked Flycatcher, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant as well as pairs of Handsome Flycatcher, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Smoke-colored Pewee, Smoky Bush-Tyrant numerous Green-and-black Fruiteater, Sepia-brown Wren and Plain-tailed Wren. In the flocks, Beryl-spanged Tanager (see video) , Saffron-crowned Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Common Bush-Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager, Black-eared Hemispingus and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch. Very vocal but hidden were Flammulated Treehunter, Chestnut-crowned and Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Spillmanís and Long-tailed Tapaculo. With persistence and playback one Blackish Tapaculo gave us a fine view.
In the afternoon we walked the Cock-of the Rock trail with a great and unsolicited view of Bicolored Antvireo! Birding up the road yielded White-capped Parrot, Crested Quetzal, Golden-headed Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker. That night we had great views of Lyre-tailed Nightjar, San Isidro Owl and the Rufous-banded Owl was very active around the lodge.
Early morning around the lodge reaping the overnightís moth crop were Masked Trogon, Subtropical Cacique, Russet-backed Oropendula, Montane and Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Inca Jay, Black-billed Peppershrike, Barred Becard, Black-and-white Becard and Brown-capped Vireo. Also about were White-crested Elaenia, White-tailed Tyrannulet and Rufous-breasted Flycatcher. The White-bellied Antpitta came fast and stuffed its bill with worms to go feed its male mate. We had great luck for my trip bird and lifer the Peruvian Antpitta! It was on a nest and then came down to feed on worms. They are in the process of habituating this very scarce and local species, lets wish them luck. Up the road we added Rufous-crested Tanager and Oleaginous Hemispingus amongst the flocks.
The last afternoon driving home we allowed time to hit the antennas again in fine weather but no Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe anywhere. The guard said he hadnít seen them around for a week. We added Andean Tit-spinetail which was missed earlier along with better views of Many-striped Canastero.
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