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BOLIVIA

Friday 23rd August - Tuesday 17th September 2013

Eustace Barnes

Red-fronted Macaw (Eustace Barnes)

Red-fronted Macaw (Eustace Barnes)

If ever the cliché ‘undiscovered gem’ applied to any country then it is Bolivia; a country hosting two magnificent endemic macaws in its list of nearly 1400 species. Bolivia, sitting as it does at the meeting point of several major biogeographical regions is by far the most diverse land locked country. The eastern lowlands range from the Amazon in the north through the Llanos de Moxos to the Cerrado and Chaco in the south, while in the west the Andean cloud forests, desertic canyons, Puna grasslands and vast altiplano surrounded by towering snow capped peaks complete an unparalleled natural wealth. Not surprisingly we recorded a staggering 661 species! Highlights included, of course, the endemic Macaws, Hooded Mountain Toucan, Masked Antpitta, Bolivian Recurvebill, several Black-legged Seriemas, a superb Undulated Antpitta, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, White-cheeked Solitaire and several Slaty Gnateaters amongst others.

Those highlights sit with a lengthy supporting cast but it may be better to recount some of the exceptional mornings starting in the Chaco, where we enjoyed a continuous procession of species that included Spot-winged Falconet, numerous Ringed Teal and the aforementioned Black-legged Seriemas; the latter a favourite morning for many in the group. Our morning at Los Volcanes was equally good with Slaty Gnateater, Bolivian White-crowned Tapaculos, Bolivian Recurvebill, Grey-throated Leaftosser, a pair of Military Macaws, Andean Condors and so on. However, waking at the Rio Misque to the sight of dozens of Red-fronted Macaws, hundreds of Cliff Parakeets, Bolivian Blackbirds and more Andean Condors were the greatest visual spectacle. The cloud forests at both Siberia and on the Chapare road were outstanding with one morning producing Barred and Band-tailed Fruiteaters, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Crested Quetzal, White-eared Solitaire, Black-winged Parrots, Hooded Mountain Toucan and the rare Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant! Lago Uru Uru was a carpet of all three species of flamingos and thousands of ducks together with Andean Avocet and a vagrant Maguari Stork. Our time in the Beni was quite overwhelming with, not only great views of the endangered Blue-throated Macaw, but also vast numbers of Southern Screamers, Ibises and icterids together with Great-billed Seedfinch and Long-tailed Reedfinch. Where else could such variety be daily fare?

Cliff Parakeet (Eustace Barnes)

Cliff Parakeet (Eustace Barnes)