Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nov 8 - Abra Patricia to Rioja

With headlamps on we headed up the trail at 5:00 AM and started to hear a few bird sounds. We struck out on the Long Whisked Owlet, but did hear a White Throated Screech Owl and a Rufous Banded Owl. On the walk back we had Variable Antshrikes, both male and female. We then ascended the tower, but there was not much up there except pretty views of the jungley hilly habitat of the Andes. Julio prepared breakfast for us to eat at Abra Patricia and then we descended the road on our own without Gunnar as he had to check his email, etc since we had not had access in 2 days. At the end of the road we ran into a big flock of a variety of beautiful tanagers including Saffron Crowned Tanager and a Chestnut Crested Cotinga. Once the flock moved on, we walked down the main road birding along the way. Once Julio and Gunnar caught up with us we birded with Gunnar, Martin and Norbert sitting on the roof of the van watching for birds while we sat in the van. If they saw something they would stomp on the roof and Julio would stop and we would get out. Some of the highlight birds were the Andean Solitaire, Vermillion Tanagers and White Capped Tanagers. We then made our way to a roadside stop for lunch, where we had a mix of Lentils, rice and tuna. We continued to walk down the road, but it wasn’t too birdy until we got the flock of Black Capped Donacobius’ which were being chased off by Smooth billed Ani’s. There was also a group of Thrush-like Wrens, Yellow-Rumped Caciques, a Magpie Tanager and a Squirrel Cuckoo. We then made a stop to see the Cock of the Rock at Aguas Verdes, what a fabulous bird! Unfortunately it was in a forest so it was hard to get photos. We then said goodbye to Alan Wilkinson (a London Nokia employee) that we met on this trip. He was continuing his trip to Southern Peru. But we had to call him back because Paul spotted a Torrent Duck from the bridge over the Rio Verde River. This was one of our target birds so it was exciting to see! Then on towards Rioja where we are spending the night at the Gran Bombanaje Hotel , but we made a stop at the Poisic rice fields to check for Crakes. I got to sit on the roof of the van this time, but all we saw were Purple Gallinules, Striated Herons and a Yellow Browed Sparrow. We arrived at the hotel at about 7 PM, and had takeout Chinese in the restaurant of the hotel.

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