Monday, December 21, 2009

Nov 18 - Celendin to Cajamarca & Santal Creek

5:00 AM departure from Celendin on our first full rainy day. Our first stop was Cruz Congo at a high elevation to search the bamboo and pine forests for Antpitta, but it was a heard only bird. We searched the woods for other birds, but the rain made it difficult. We decided to stop for breakfast in this dark hole in the wall (literally) across from some farm fields. Paul and I just had yogurt as we had had enough eggs already this trip. While we waited, we saw an Andean Lapwing, and a Peruvian Sierra Finch in the fields across the street. The big Rottweiler was following us waiting for handouts – there are too many homeless underweight dogs in Peru – very sad, but I believe the restaurant owner owned this one at least. We snuck him some bread. Next stop was at the bottom of a winding gravel road that we climbed and had quite a few good birds as we listened to the cows mooing as they were being milked and watched the donkeys climbing the road strapped with silver milk bottles on each of their sides. Highlight birds were the Rusty crowned Tit-Spinetail, Lined Cheeked Spinetail, Rufous Crested Tanager, Tufted Tit Tyrant, Black masked Flowerpiercer and Black Crested Warbler. The rain became more steady, so after about an hour we rushed to the car, feeling pretty cold and wet. We then made the journey past the highest elevation point of the trip, but unfortunately with the rain, all the windows were fogged up and it was like driving thru a cloud so we missed all the views. We made our way to Cajamarca for a lunch stop at a modern restaurant, in comparison to some of the others, and then headed to Santal Creek to find the Gray Bellied Comet. This was a very scenic area with a small river, narrow dirt road and more small shacks. We watched a short Peruvian woman with her sombrero, skirt and wool in hand trying to drag her cow down a hill and then the cow got away for a short bit and she started throwing rocks at it, quite a site. I asked her if I could take a photo and she said yes if I paid her. Some great looks at Giant Hummingbird, Black Metaltail, Torrent Tyrannulet, White Winged Cincoldes, White browed Chat Tyrant, Morning Sierra-finch, Band Tailed Seedeater, Black Crested Tit Tyrant and Andean Swifts. Heading to our hostal “El Mirador”, we hit quite a bit of traffic going thru Cajarmarca. I had no idea it was such a big city. We walked to dinner near the plaza and on the way back I took a night shot of the beautiful church just off the plaza.

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