Guided by Nick Athanas.
It had been quite a while since I was in northern Peru, and I had forgotten just how neat a trip it is. Tons of spectacular birds (many of them endemic), great scenery, nice lodges, and even a family of Spectacled Bears helped make it a memorable and very enjoyable trip. It’s amazing how much easier this tour has gotten since I first did the circuit almost ten years ago. Infrastructure is far better, with good hotels and lodges, improved roads, and surprisingly good food all very much in evidence. There has certainly been a lot of habitat destruction as well with some of my old stakeouts now deforested, but this is balanced out by some great conservation projects in places at Chaparrí, Abra Patricia, Jaén, and La Florida. We didn’t miss much in the way of target birds, and had a whole lot of fun in the process. It was one of my best trips for owls, with eight species seen, headlined by the almost legendary Long-whiskered Owlet, though sadly only one of the group was with me for it. Other top birds include Marvelous Spatuletail, Gray-bellied Comet, White-winged Guan, Russet-mantled Softtail, Pale-billed Antpitta, Peruvian Plantcutter, Black-bellied Tanager, and three inca-finches. All three of the group had previously birded southern Ecuador quite extensively with Tropical Birding, which allowed us to really concentrate on the specialties of northern Peru, though we enjoyed seeing many of the same birds again, and there were good opportunities for photography.