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BOLIVIA: PALKACHUPA COTINGA EXPEDITION

Sunday 8th October - Sunday 15th October 2017

János Oláh

Palkachupa Cotinga (Denzil Morgan)

Palkachupa Cotinga (Denzil Morgan)

Following the Birdquest regular tour to Bolivia we offered an expedition this year to try and locate the highly localised Palkachupa or Apolo Cotinga which was rediscovered in 2000 after 98 years of the original discovery (though there is a specimen labled La Paz, Bolivia in 1847) by the local bird protection society of Armonía. This species was split from Swallow-tailed Cotinga as recently as 2011 based on the disjunct distribution, plumage and habitat differences and now considered a Bolivian endemic. This was a new bird for Birdquest and we were also checking how it could be integrated to our main tour or make it a regular extension. This stunning and special bird is breeding in a wet savannah habitat amongst wet forest fragments which is threatened by agriculture, hence it is listed as endangered and the total population is estimated to be a mere 400-500 individuals. Armonía created a Palkachupa Cotinga Reserve near Atén in a Leco indigenous community and trying to save this species. You can find out more on Armonía work on their website: armoniabolivia.org.

It is supposedly a sedentary bird though birds were located away from this special habitat in wet Yungas foothill forests of the Andes and certainly more research is needed. The alternative name ‘Apolo’ came from the name of the biggest nearby settlement to this habitat. Getting to Apolo however is not easy hence there is no currently operating airport with public access anyway – there used to be one in the past – and it takes many hours of driving to get there.

Short-winged Grebe (János Oláh)

Short-winged Grebe (János Oláh)