Bird Watching North Peru
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Northern Perú is a land of stark contrast, from the desolate coastal dunes of the Sechura desert and dry Tumbesian forest through the awe-inspiring depths of the Marañón canyon to the lush Cloud forest of the eastern slopes of the Andes.
This tour explores an incredibly diverse area with numerous fantastic endemics, and we target almost all of them. In the last 10 years, the infrastructure has improved amazingly and we stay in some superb and memorable lodges and hotels, many of them with great feeders.
Moderate to intense. This tour covers a lot of ground and tries to see as many birds as possible, with special focus on the regional endemics, we usually amass a great list. It is important to be out early since birding is usually best in the morning, and start times range from 4-6am.
Many breakfast and lunches will be in the field, but we will have thermoses for hot beverages and portable tables and chairs. On three or four days of the trip there will be some downtime after lunch to relax, but most days will be quite full. On several days, we will stay out after dark to spotlight for birds, some participants choose to skip the occasional afternoon or nocturnal outing and just relax around the lodge. There are a few long drives, the longest being about 5 hours.
Generally moderate, but there are a few more difficult walks that may be considered optional. Most of the birding is done from flat or slightly inclined roads and trails, and you can expect to walk 3-4ml/4.5-6.5km on most days. At Waqanki and Abra Patricia, the trails are steep in places and sometimes slippery, so a walking stick helps. Trying to see the Long whiskered owlet requires a 3ml/5km round trip walk at night on a moderately inclined trail.
This is an optional hike and some participants skip it and relax at the lodge. On day 13 there is a difficult hike on a steep and rocky trail that is about 2ml/3.2km roundtrip and lasts about 4-5hours, some participants may choose to skip this and do some easy birding on their own near the vehicle.
Highly variable. A wide range of temperatures can be expected. Temperatures in the high elevations can get down to near freezing early in the morning, but usually warm up to be quite pleasant (70f/21c), and usually sunny. In the lower elevations temperatures usually vary from (68-90f/20-32c). This tour takes place in the dry season but it is not unusual to get some rain at Waqanki and Abra Patricia.
Good to excellent. All lodges have hot water and electricity, single rooms may not be available for the one night in Leymebamba due to the small size of the lodge. Electricity is quite limited at Chaparrí lodge (solar), but it is enough to light the rooms and to provide a charging station at the restaurant.
At Owlet lodge, every two rooms share a bathroom. Depending on the lodge occupancy, you may be able to have a private bathroom but it is not guaranteed. Other hotels and lodges all have private, en-suite bathrooms. Wi Fi is usually available everywhere except at Chaparrí lodge, though it is usually very slow and only available in public areas of the hotel/lodge.
This is a birding tour, but casual photographers will have good chances to photograph birds at feeders at several of the lodges. Bird photography inside the forest is much more challenging, and hardcore bird photographers will likely be frustrated by the rather fast pace of the tour. We will also make some short stops for scenery photos, especially in the spectacular Marañón Canyon.
- Accommodation from the first until the last night.
- All meals from breakfast on day 2 to lunch on day 17 with dietary options, drinkable water between meals
- Tour leader with telescope and audio gear.
- Local guide at Chaparrí/Waqanki (only if available).
- Ground transportation for the group.
- Entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary.
- Tips to the (tour leader, local guides, drivers and lodge/restaurants staff.
- International and local flights.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Travel insurance.
- Excursions not included in the tour itinerary
- Extras in hotels such as laundry service, minibar, room service, telephone calls and personal items.
- Medical fees.
Day 1: Arrival in Lima
Your international flights arrive in Lima, the capital city of Perú. We will spend the night in a nice hotel next to the airport or in Miraflores area.
Day 2: Coastal Mesquite Forest and Chaparri
We will start with a 1h/20min flight to Chiclayo then drive out of the city and spend the morning birding dry forest and desert scrub.
We will look for some of the rarest Tumbesian endemics in the gnarled woodland, including (Cinereous finch, Rufous flycatcher, Peruvian plantcutter, Tumbes swallow and Tumbes tyrant, with luck, we can also find Peruvian thick knee). Later, we will drive for 1h/30min north to the nice Chaparrí lodge in the dry foothills of the western Andes.
A highlight here is the White winged guans that were successfully reintroduced and are now breeding on their own in the wild and easy to see. The lodge also has feeders that attract a variety of dry forest species including Croaking ground dove, Golden grosbeak and White edged oriole. 2 overnights in Chaparrí lodge.
Day 3: Chaparri Reserve
Bird activity can be spectacular right around the lodge early in the morning, with Baird’s flycatchers, Superciliated and Speckled breasted wrens, Gray and white tyrannulet, Collared antshrike, White tailed jay and others singing like crazy and often easy to see.
A nearby stream attracts hummingbird like Purple collared woodstar and Amazilia hummingbird, which bathe in the shallows. An easy walk through the woodland near the lodge will give us chances for (Pacific elaenia, Tumbes hummingbird, Necklaced spinetail, White headed brush finch, Tropical pewee among other common Tumbesian species).
If we missed Tumbes tyrant in Pomac, we have another chance to find it here. We will spend the afternoon in the lower areas searching specially for (Sulphur throated finch, Scrub nightjar, Collared warbling finch, Parrot billed Seedeater and Short tailed field tyrant). Overnight in Chaparrí lodge
Day 4: Chaparri / Pacific Coast
If we have missed anything near the lodge, we can look for it this morning, then we can check some lakes and wetlands below the reserve to look for Comb duck, Black faced ibis and various other waterbirds. We will spend the afternoon along the coast.
Reedbeds hold Many colored rush tyrant and Wren like rushbird while coastal beaches and wetlands give us a chance for a wide variety of species including Gray and Gray hooded gulls, Peruvian booby, Peruvian pelican, numerous migrant shorebirds, Yellowish pipit and another shot at Peruvian thick-knee. Overnight in a lodge north of Chiclayo.
Day 5: Abra Porculla / Jaen
We need a very early start as we drive about 2h/20min up to a low pass over the western Andes.
Remnant forest patches here offer the best chance to see Piura chat tyrant as well as other Tumbesian gems like Black cowled saltator, Chapman’s antshrike, Bay crowned and White winged brush finches and Three banded warbler. Skulkers like Henna hooded foliage gleaner and Rufous necked foliage gleaner are also here, but can be shy and tough to see.
In the afternoon, we will drive several hours to the town of Jaén where we spend one night, we will spend the afternoon trying to see some of the main targets, especially Little Inca finch and Marañón crescentchest.
Day 6: Jaen/Huembo
We will spend the morning birding various sites near Jaén, looking for some key Marañón endemics like Marañón spinetail, Marañón crescentchest, Marañón slaty antshrike, Little Inca finch and the endemic races of Black capped sparrow and Northern slaty antshrike. We will then drive several hours to the Huembo reserve, where we spend one night in the new lodge here.
Huembo is home to the Marvelous spatuletail, the incredible male is often mentioned in discussions about the world’s most beautiful bird, at least one male usually visits the feeders here on a regular basis along with numerous other hummers like (Bronzy Inca, Chestnut breasted coronet, White bellied woodstar and White bellied hummingbird, occasionally Little woodstars visit flowering plants near the lodge as well). Overnight in Huembo lodge
Day 7: Huembo / Moyobamba
We will enjoy some easy birding around Huembo lodge in the morning, targeting the endemic Speckle chested piculet, the Marañón race of Speckle breasted wren, the local Buff bellied tanager and more widespread species such as Southern emerald toucanet, Rufous winged tyrannulet and Silvery tanager. We will then drive east through the Andes making roadside stops based on bird activity and arrive at Waqanki lodge near Moyobamba in the afternoon.
We should have some time to check out their feeders for some late afternoon hummer activity. Some species that visit their feeders include (Gray breasted sabrewing, White chinned and Golden tailed sapphire, Rufous crested coquette, Long billed starthroat,
Black throated hermit, Sapphire spangled and Blue tailed emeralds). 3 overnights in Waqanki lodge
Day 8 - 9: Waqanki - Moyobamba
An amazing variety of birds inhabit this area due to a variety of habitats, lush Cloud forest blankets the mountain slopes, and a good trail will give us a chance to see some great birds like (Chestnut throated spinetail, Black bellied tanager, Golden collared toucanet, White bellied pygmy tyrant, Fiery throated fruiteater, Gilded barbet, Peruvian warbling antbird, Black and white tody flycatcher, Fiery capped manakin, Bluish fronted jacamar, Mishana tyrannulet, Blackish spot backed and Spot winged antbirds, Paradise tanager and many more).
The endemic Ash-throated Antwren occurs here, the trail to the site is very difficult and not suitable for a group tour such as this one, if you are interested in doing it and local Guides are available, it may be possible to split the group on one of the days so that those who wish to do the tough hike can do so, should you wish to try this hike, it is best to advise us in advance.
We will also spend time birding the dry scrub around Moyobamba where quite different birds can be seen such as (Cinereous breasted spinetail, Stripe necked today tyrant, Pearly vented tody tyrant, Rusty backed antwren and Burnished buff tanager). Rice fields have some neat birds like Oriole and Pale eyed blackbirds, Black billed seed finch and Spotted rail. We will also be sure to visit a bridge about 30min away where Oilbirds roost during the day. The newly described Varzea thrush is often seen near the lodge itself. At night, Band bellied owl can often be seen near the lodge clearing.
Day 10: Moyobamba / Abra Patricia
We will leave Moyobamba very early and drive to a blind which offers a chance to see Cinereous tinamou, Little tinamou and Rufous breasted wood quail as they come in to eat corn at dawn. It is a good spot to look for Zimmer’s antbird and the hummer feeders often attract some different species like Blue fronted lancebill and Black throated brilliant.
We will then work our way up through the foothills, birding the roadsides and hoping for mixed species flocks that can be truly superb with dozens of species. A few species we might see include (Spotted, Green and gold, Paradise, and Orange eared tanagers, Bronze green euphonia, Chestnut tipped toucanet, Lanceolated monklet, Ecuadorian tyrannulet, Marble faced bristle tyrant, Plumbeous crowned tyrannulet, Gray mantled wren, Montane foliage gleaner and Olive backed woodcreeper). In the afternoon, we arrive at Owlet lodge in Abra Patricia, named after the Long whiskered owlet, a bird that was virtually never seen in the field until this lodge was built about 10 years ago.
We will spend some time at the hummer feeders which usually have Long tailed sylph, Emerald bellied puffleg, Speckled hummingbird, Booted racket-tail, Fawn breasted brilliant, along with some species we would have seen at Huembo. Depending on the weather we may make a first attempt at trying to see the Owlet. Overnight in Owlet lodge
Day 11 -12: Abra Patricia Area
This area has unique elfin ridgetop forest that support numerous rare and extremely localized species, some of which were only described to science in the last 30 years. We have got a good chance to find (Bar winged wood wren, Royal sunangel, Johnson’s today tyrant and Cinnamon breasted tody tyrant, and will make a serious effort to see three difficult endemic Antpittas, Rusty tinged, Chestnut and Ochre fronted, all of which have begun to visit feeders in the last couple of years.
Other interesting birds here include (Yellow scarfed, Yellow throated, White capped, Silvery, and Blue browed tanagers, White-faced nunbird, Inca flycatcher, Chestnut crested cotinga, Rufous vented tapaculo and Variable antshrike). Along with the Owlet, night birding near the lodge might turn up Cinnamon and White throated Screech owls and Rufous banded owl. We may also return to the foothills for a short time to look for anything we missed.
Day 13: Abra Patricia / Leymebamba
We will leave again in the dark and drive about an hour to the start of a difficult trail where we hope to see Pale billed antpitta. We will only attempt this steep, rocky trail if it is dry and takes at least an hour to walk up, but there is a reasonable chance to see the Antpitta.
We will also try to find Russet mantled softail, Unstreaked tit tyrant, Red hooded tanager and a distinct subspecies of Plain tailed wren. In the afternoon, we will drive through the scenic Utcubamba Canyon where we will look for Marañón thrush and Black-necked woodpecker before arriving at the bustling town of Leymabamba, where we spend one night. Depending on what time we arrive there could be a chance to check out some hummer feeders nearby.
Day 14: Leymebamba / Celendin
A long but spectacular day as we traverse the Marañón Canyon.
We will start in patches of temperate forest that can be superb early in the morning with great birds like Gray breasted mountain toucan, Barred fruiteater and Yungas pygmy owl, feeding flocks can be loads of fun with various Tanagers, Hemispinguses, Flycatchers, Warblers and much more.
We will then drive up to the Grassy Páramo and Scrub near the rim of the canyon, where we will look for the endemic Coppery metaltail, then try for Páramo species such as White chinned thistletail and Many striped canastero. We will then descend into the canyon along one of the most amazing roads in the World. As we get lower the habitat becomes much drier and we will keep an eye out for Marañón endemics like Yellow faced parrotlet, Peruvian pigeon and Buff bridled inca finch.
In the afternoon we drive up over the Western rim, stopping at stakeouts for two more endemics, Gray winged inca finch and Chestnut backed thornbill. We will spend 2 nights in a hotel in the small town of Celendín.
Day 15: Marañon Canyon / Celendin
There is a good chance we will have missed at least one of our Marañón targets, so we will plan to head back down to nail them this morning.
If we got lucky with all of them the previous day, then we will get a head start on some of tomorrow’s targets. We may also relax a bit today after the long days behind us.
Day 16: Celendin / Cajamarca
This road passes through mixture of farmland and mountain scrub, yet can be surprisingly productive (Rufous webbed bush tyrant, Tufted tit tyrant, Rusty crowned tit spinetail, Tit like dacnis, Slender billed miner, Striated earthcreeper, Stripe headed antpitta, Peruvian sierra finch, Streak throated canastero, Black metaltail, Shining sunbeam and White browed chat tyrant), are just some of the birds we will trying to see along here.
The local subspecies of Rufous antpitta is likely to be split someday, so we will make an effort to find one. We will spend the last night of the tour in Cajamarca city. In the afternoon, we will search for Gray bellied comet at a well known site not far from the city where we should also find White
Day 17: Cajamarca / Lima
In the morning, we drive east of Cajamarca into arid intermontane valleys to search for another rare endemic, the Great spinetail.
We should also find Spot throated hummingbird if we have not seen it yet as well as a few other species that might include White winged black tyrant, Giant hummingbird and Andean tinamou.
We will check out of the hotel and have a nice lunch to celebrate the end of a great tour before heading to the airport and catching a flight to Lima, which should arrive in time to connect with some late evening International departures. Should you require an extra night in Lima, we would be happy to help arrange it.
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