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NORTHERN PERU

Wednesday 19th June - Tuesday 9th July 2013

Matt Denton

Scarlet-banded Barbet (Eustace Barnes)

Scarlet-banded Barbet (Eustace Barnes)

If there is a trip that consistently continues to get better then this is the one. I think superlatives failed us at times and those times were probably when we were watching some rather excitable Scarlet-banded Barbets, and when a Pale-billed Antpitta came to inspect us and certainly when the Long-whiskered Owlet perched on a mossy twig in front of us one starlit night. Of course there were many other magnificent species and unforgettable experiences that peppered the tour including being watched by the endangered Grey-bellied Comet, playing around with the very elegant Ochre-fronted Antpitta and the rare White-faced Nunbird. As is said on many occasions the diversity of life in the Andes is unparalleled and those countries with its dramatic folds within their borders enjoy high levels of biodiversity. Reflecting this, although by no means our priority and it is very easy to get carried away with numbers in South America we did record 589 species. Within this total were 40 Peruvian endemics and a similar number of range restricted species along with a long list of rare foothill specialities which is what now makes this tour so much more exciting.

It seems unnecessary to mention all of the superb sightings we enjoyed but several do stand out and are deserving of an early mention including the Fiery-throated Fruiteaters we watched at length, the superb male Royal Sunangel at Alta Nieva, an inquisitive Bar-winged Wood-Wren at our feet, a Chestnut Antpitta and multiple sightings of Yellow-faced Parrotlets in the breath-taking Maranon Canyon, a loquacious pair of Great Spinetails, probably over 35 White-winged Guans at Quebrada Frejolillo, a superb male Marvellous Spatuletail, several pairs of Peruvian Plantcutters and Rufous Flycatchers. The recently describe Scarlet-banded Barbet was, of course, our bird of the trip followed closely by the Long-whiskered Owlet and its oft purported mythical qualities. We enjoyed great looks at the rare Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant, several male Peruvian Sheartails dazzling us in bright sunshine at Abra Porculla, a pair of Marañon Crescentchests at our feet and quite extraordinary numbers of tanagers including Yellow-scarfed, Blue-browed and Straw-backed Tanagers, two species of endemic inca-finches, the very rare Tumbes Swallow, the stunning Tumbes Tyrant, a very cooperative Piura Chat-Tyrant and dozens of Sulphur-throated Finches We did miss the Little Inca Finch in spite of an heroic attempt to find it the midday sun but little else of note.

Peruvian Thick-knee (Eustace Barnes)

Peruvian Thick-knee (Eustace Barnes)