Monday, December 21, 2009

Nov 17 - Leymebamba to Celendin (the day of huge temperature ranges)

5:30 AM departure from Leymebamba. We had breakfast on the road behind the van and heard a Rufous Vented Tapaculo which we eventually got to see. We also watched a pair of Barred Becards building a nest. Another highlight bird of the morning was the Lined Cheek Spinetail. We took the road to Celendin which went up to 3700 meters then down 3000 meters to Balsas, then back up to 2570 meters in the town of Celenden, leaving the department of Amazonas and entering the department of Cajamarca. It was a cold start to the morning – probably mid 40’s. Our first stop was when we spotted a few Andean Lapwings and on the other side of the road two Andean Flickers. The lapwings were very large compared to other Lapwings we have seen before on other trips. By lunch we reached the lowest point in the town of Balsas where it was probably 100F. We ate at a very dirty small restaurant and had chicken and rice. Upon leaving we stopped on the other side of the river where it looked like we were in Big Bend Texas – lots of cactus, guava, and century plants, with the muddy river flowing thru the mountains. We saw a small flock of scarlet fronted parakeets. The ground was littered with small cone shaped shells – very odd. At the next stop we spotted a Black necked Woodpecker (endemic), Bare Faced Ground Dove and Buff Bridled Inca Finch. The Chestnut Backed Thornbird stuck it’s head out of the hanging stick nest when we played it’s song, while it’s mate was under a tree listening. Martin spotted a Tarantula crossing the road so we stopped for photos then continued our way to Celendin which is a much larger town then Leymebamba. The hostal we are staying at is called Loyer’s. The rooms all face an open air courtyard which is larger and simpler than previous places. We went to a restaurant next to the hotel and were excited to order pizza – we’ll see if it comes. It is 8:45 PM already and no dinner…

The drive thru the mountains was pretty scary at times. It was really only passable by one car so it was very interesting when another card approached. We had to blow the horn at every curve to warn potential oncoming cars. It was a dirt road and sheer drops with no guard rails. It was interesting to see a house here and there in such remote places. Women wearing tall straw hats carrying baby’s in a blanket attached to their back as they walked or farmed the fields. We even saw one lady knitting with the whole family sitting outside with her. Houses are basically small shacks with no electricity or running water.

At the end of the day we stood in a field by the side of the road while thousands of white collared swifts passed by. Since some people had gotten Chiggers, I was a bit hesitant to walk too far into this field.

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