Trip report: Northern Peru (Sept-Oct 2015)

Guided by Nick Athanas. This was a set departure tour

Northern Peru is jam-packed with absolutely superb birds, many of which are either endemic or difficult to see elsewhere. We had great success targeting the vast majority of them on this tour, and also saw many, many other species along the way. We started in the dry Northwest with nice sightings of Peruvian Plantcutter and Rufous Flycatcher in the lowland forests and White-winged Guan and Elegant Crescentchest a bit higher up around the beautiful Chaparrí Lodge. Heading east, we stopped for Piura Chat-Tyrant and a number of dry highland specialties, and then birded around Jaén for lower Marañon birds like Little Inca-Finch and Marañon Crescentchest before heading to the east slope (making an essential stop to see Marvelous Spatuletail!). With three nights each in the Waqanki Lodge at lower elevations and Owlet Lodge at higher elevations, we had time to see a great selection of humid forest birds ranging from endemics like Mishana Tyrannulet, Ash-throated Antwren, Yellow-scarfed Tanager, Chestnut Antpitta, and Long-whiskered Owlet to more widespread but memorable species like Rufous-crested Coquette, Sword-billed Hummingbird, and Paradise Tanager. A side trip to San Lorenzo was successful for Pale-billed Antpitta and other high elevation birds before we headed up the Utcubamba Valley and over the imposing east rim of the Marañon Canyon. Once again it took a while to find Yellow-faced Parrotlet, but we nailed it beautifully in the end along with the other endemics of this spectacular region. We headed to Cajamarca for the end of the tour, picking up nearly all the possible endemics in the area including Striated Earthcreeper, Gray-bellied Comet, and Great Spinetail. Weather was excellent – in fact, it was arguably too good for several days on the east slope of the Andes, where hot and sunny conditions led to rather slow and quiet bird activity and few mixed species flocks, but with the prospect of a bad El Niño looming in the next couple of months, we really couldn’t complain too much about having very little rain. A multinational group of friendly and excellent birders, not to mention their great senses of humor, led to a nice vibe throughout this fun an successful trip.

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