Starting with Lomas de Lachay north of Lima, along the entrance we found several Least Seedsnipes and the endemic Coastal Miner while flocks of Grassland Yellow-Finches flew by. It was foggy as could be expected at this time of the year but it soon cleared up and we could enjoy several flocks of Mountain Parakeets, also Peruvian Sheartail, Oasis Hummingbird and close-up Cinereous Harrier and many Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles. After lunch we tried the very dry valley on the back side and soon found the endemic Cactus Canastero. Not much life hear apart from some Burrowing Owls and eventually some Grayish Miners.
Very early departure next day to the airport and flight to Chiclayo. We were met here by a bus that took us for breakfast and then to the community reserve Chaparri. At the nearby Tinajones reservoir we found no less than 75 Comb Ducks and also the hoped-for Black-faced Ibis along with hundred of Cinnamon Teals and White-cheeked Pintails, a pair of Great Grebes and several Herons. After a rest at the lodge we walked a trail and soon found a Tumbes Tyrant. Common birds around here included Collared Antshrikes, White-tailed Jays, Pacific Hornero, Superciliared Wren and Purple-collared Woodstar. A bit higher up a crew from National Geographics were filming a Spectacled Bear which we also saw as it was feeding in a Mango tree. During the afternoon we also found Tumbes Pewee, White-faced Brush-Finch, Elegant Cresentchest and Pacific Elaenia to mention some. A nightwalk before dinner gave Pacific Pygmy-Owl and West Peruvian Screech-Owl spotlighted.
A walk the next morning had us held up with semi-wild White-winged Guans that showed well. A Rufous Flycatcher was a good find and soon followed by Sulphur-throated Finches, Cinereous Finch, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Parrot-billed Seedeater, Collared Warbling-Finch, Pacific Pygmy-Owl and Sooty-crowned Flycatcher. After lunch we headed back to Chiclayo and the nice Costa del Sol hotel.
At Bosque Pomac we started at the mirador but failed to find Tumbes Swallow. Instead we got another Rufous flycatcher, several Sulphur-throated Finches and Cinereous Finch. A walk in the forest immediately gave excellent views of Peruvian Plantcutter along with common birds like Necklaced Spinetail and Streaked Saltator. Happy with this we headed for Limon de Porcuya in the mountains but still on the west side of the Andes. Black-cowled Saltator was easily seen as was Line-cheeked Spinetail, Three-banded Warbler, Chapman’s Antshrike. The endemic Piura Chat-Tyrant was briefly seen by some as was a few other birds.
Next day had a very early start for Quebrada Frejolillo where real wild White-winged Guans can be seen. We arrived at dawn and were soon met by our local guide Lino Rico who took the group up the valley. The faster group easily found a group of Guans while the slower group got a male Ecuadorian Trogon. Fortunately one Guan lingered long enough for the slow group as well. Red-masked Parakeets were flying around and we also found Black-capped Sparrow, Ecuadorian Piculet, Lineated Woodpecker, Yellow-olive Flatbill, White-edged Orioles and eventually an adult King Vulture. After a well-deserved rest at our hotel in Olmos we went to the Guan center and had close-ups of several species of Guans and Currasows in the cages. We made a stop at a stake-out near a small marsh and soon got excellent views of Spotted Rail. From a bridge we had a family of Collared Plovers and Killdeers and also some migrating Baird’s Sandpipers.
Another try for Limon de Porcuya next morning went better with Blue Seedeater, views for everybody of Henna-hooded and Rufous-necked Foliage-Gleaners, Gray-and-gold Warbler and a brief view of a Condor. A long drive took us to Jaen in the Maraņon valley and the afternoon was spent north of town. We soon heard Tatupa Tinamou and got to see Maraņon Cresentchest, Maraņon Slaty-Antshrike, Red-pileated Finch and some got to see Maraņon Spinetail before it got to late in the afternoon.
The next morning was spent catching up with other Maraņon specialities. Better views of the Antshrike, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Drab Seedeater, Purple-throated Euphonia, Red-eyed Vireo of the resident race and finally a pair of Chinchipe Spinetails. Happy with this we left, packed up and headed for a stake-out for Little Inca-Finch which worked well despite the heat. We also saw a White-tailed Hawk that we found here two years ago and which was a major range-extension. A long drive broken up by lunch and another stake-out for Maraņon Spinetail fot those who missed it yeasterday. In the late afternoon we enjoyed the feeders below Pomacochas with a couple of nice male Marvelous Spatuletail as highlight.
Next morning we went back to the feeders to get better light for photography. A distant pair of Chestnut-crested Cotingas distracted us a while and Rufous-capped Antshrike proved hard to see. Other hummers included a stunning male Purple-collared Woodstar, Chestnut-breasted Coronets, White-bellied Hummingbird and additional looks at the Spatuletail. A visit to the lake gave gripping views of Plumbeous Rails, a Striated Heron and several Grassland Yellow-Finches and Peruvian Meadowlarks.
After lunch we headed for Abra Patricia and immediately enjoyed the hummingbirds at the feeders. Emerald-bellied Pufflegs, Bronzy Inca, Long-tailed Sylph and Speckled Hummingbird.
We had a 4 am start next morning for a hike to a stake-out for Cinnamon Screech-Owl. Along the way we heard Rufous-banded Owl and once at the spot the Screech-Owl came in to playback and showed very well for a few minutes. On the way back we spotlighted a White-throated Screech-Owl and taped in a Wattled Guan. After breakfast we headed down the road and soon picked up Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant along with Grass-green Tanager and Hooded Mountain-Tangers and a stunning Crimson-mantled Woodpecker. Further down the road a flowering bush attracted a male Royal Sunangel, White-tailed Hillstar, Green-fronted Lancebill and an odd-looking Greenish Puffleg. White-tipped Swifts were flying around and flocks of Tanagers had Silver-backed, Saffron-crowned, Beryl-spangled and Flame-faced. A pair of Golden-eyed Flowerpiercer showed well as did a family of Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulets. After lunch and a rest we could enjoy a stunning male Golden-headed Quetzal in the light rain from inside the dining room. After dinner just two participants joined the leaders for the Quest for the Holy Grail - Long-whiskered Owlet. We walked a kilometer down the trail and tried and soon got a response. The bird came closer and eventually sat in our beams for about a minute. A curiously awesome experience considering that only about 50 people or so have ever seen this, the World’s smallest Owl!
The next morning we drove down to lower altitudes around Afluentes. We didn’t hit any real flocks but we got the endemic Speckle-chested Piculet and Huallaga Tanager. Other birds that showed included Golden-tailed Sapphire, Streaked Xenops, Long-tailed Tyrant, Scaled Fruiteater and Paradise Tanager. At the Aguas Verdes birdge we found Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper and had eye-level view of Bay-headed Tanager. Back up to Afluentes and lunch, it was a bit slow around midday but little by little birds started to show up with Versicoloured Barbet, Wire-crested Thorntails and all of a sudden we had a big and lingering flock next to the road. We managed to squeeze out Equatorial Graytail, Black-and-white Becard, Ecuadorian and Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulets along with many common birds. The next day we did the trails in two groups to increase the chances for as many as possible to see each bird. It was generally slow in the forest but Chestnut-breasted Wren, Rufous Spinetail, Barred Antthrush and White-backed Fire-eye were among the seen birds. After lunch at the lodge we got ready for a long drive to Estancia El Chillo.
Along the Utcubamba river we saw Torrent Ducks and fly-by Peruvian Pigeons. At the nice hotel we immediately was shown the staked-out Koepcke’s Screech-Owls on daytime roost. Morning birding around the hotel gave seen Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Maraņon Thrush, Striped Cuckoo, Baron’s Spinetail, Black-necked Woodpecker and an out-of-range Amazon Kingfisher. Further up towards Leimebamba we had a flock of Mitred Parakeets and some old skeletons in a cave. Afternoon was spent at the new feeders near the museum with a male Marvelous Spatuletail, several stunning Rainbow Starfrontlets, Purple-throated Sunangels, and a Sword-billed Hummingbird. The grounds had Rufous-winged Tyrannulet, Stripe-headed Brush-Finch and Buff-bellied Tanager. We also visited the nearby Atuen road and got Maroon-chested Chat-Tyrant, Golden-headed Quetzal and Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan. Next day was mainly a long traveling day from Leimebamba to Celendin. We started at Abra Barro Negro with some nice temperate forest birding. First birds were Yellow-scarfed Tanager and Red-crested Cotinga followed by Plushcap and Yungas Pygmy-Owl etc. Higher up we ran into bad weather but when it cleared up we soon got the targets Coppery Metaltail and peruviana race of White-chinned Thistletail which may be a future split. On the way down to the Maraņon river we found some Buff-bridled Inca-Finch and some late afternoon birding around Hacienda Limon on the west side of the river, gave Gray-winged Inca-Finch and Chestnut-backed Thornbird.
The group didn’t want to backtrack to Hacienda Limon the next day so we went straight to Cajamarca with birding en route. First stop gave White-tailed and Black-billed Shrike-Tyrants as well as Black-crested Tit-Tyrant, Peruvian Sierra-Finch and Golden-billed Saltator. Higher up we heard several ‘Cajamarca’ Rufous Antpitta and one was glimpsed. Also Tawny-rumped Tyrannulets and Sword-billed Hummingbird while Mountain Caracaras showed very well. After lunch in La Encaņada we birded a nearby valley and got several Jelski’s Chat-Tyrants, Baron’s Spinetails, the baroni race of Rufous-naped Brush-Finch and our first Black Metaltail. Next day was the Quest for the difficult and rare Gray-bellied Comet. It put in a short apperance after only ten minutes but was seen only by some. While we searched for it we enjoyed Rusty-crowned Tit-Spinetails, Black-crested- and Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrants, Mourning Sierra-Finch, Andean Swifts and more Black Metaltails. Finally Roger spotted a male Comet and everybody could enjoy scope-views.