Northern Peru's Cloud Forest Endemics Jul 07—16, 2012

Posted by Andrew Whittaker

Whittaker_andrew_r

Andrew Whittaker

Andrew Whittaker was born in England but considers himself to be Brazilian, having moved to this biodiverse country in 1987 to work for the Smithsonian Institution, banding...

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Seeing the mythical Long-whiskered Owlet not once, but twice, marked a dream return to Northern Peru's fabled cloud forest of Abra Patricia. You might ask, what could be better? Well, now we are based in a comfortable new lodge snuggled within this lush cloud forest with breathtaking scenery, well-kept trails, a wonderful canopy tower, hummingbird feeders, and nice trails.

Highlights came thick and fast including magical views of the poorly-known White-faced Nunbird, three endemic Antpittas (Ochre-fronted, Rusty-tinged, and Chestnut), the newly described Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher and Bar-winged Wood-Wren, 36 species of hummers including the stupendous male Marvelous Spatuletail, Royal Sunangel, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Long-tailed Sylph, and both White-bellied and Little woodstars. We were dazzled by a kaleidoscope of colors from Chestnut-crested Cotinga and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia to no less than 30 tanagers including Vermilion, Flame-faced, Yellow-crested, Grass-green, Yellow-throated, Paradise, Golden, Saffron-crowned, Golden-naped, Silvery, Plushcap, White-capped, and the endemic Black-bellied. The very best of the forest's songsters were in good voice, with the wooded valleys filled with a symphony of pure notes from the likes of Andean Solitaire and Chestnut-breasted Wren.

The forest trails were full of exotic plants and orchids, with bromeliad-festooned trees in amazingly different colors, shades, shapes, and sizes. At the top of the canopy tower we enjoyed a breathtaking view of this magnificent unbroken cloud forest, ridge after ridge as far as the eye could see.

In our comfortable van, we explored lower elevations from the lodge and were rewarded with White-rumped Hawk, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, and many mixed species flocks producing Andean-Cock-of-the-rock, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Versicolored Barbet, and White-collared and Inca jays. We were extremely lucky to get stellar scope views of such canopy species as Rufous-rumped Antwren, Gray-mantled Wren, and the odd, infrequently seen Equatorial Graytail.

On our last day we stopped to visit an Oilbird cliff and some exciting new lowland hummingbird feeders which rewarded us with more than 17 species of hummers! These included male Rufous-crested Coquette, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Black-throated Hermit, Velvet-fronted Brilliant, White-necked Jacobin, Long-billed Starthroat, and Sapphire-spangled Emerald.

We had a great group of travelers and I know we all enjoyed immersing ourselves in the rich cloud forest avifauna, and will take home many great memories. The lodge staff was fantastic, as always, and I can’t wait to return next year to this cloud forest paradise.