Saturday, November 21, 2015

Peak of Diversity WINGS Bolivia Tour: The Chapare Road

September 23, 2015

The highway from Cochabamba (in a semi-dry, temperate interior valley) to Villa Tunari (in the tropical and wet Amazonian lowlands) drops through several life zones, and we have time to visit only a couple spots today, as it is not so close to our hotel. Weather is always an issue here too, as warm, most air rising from the lowlands frequently creates fog and rain even in the absence of any sort of weather system.

Indeed we had fog at our first birding location, though we did get good looks at a Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant and White-eared Solitaire after breakfast. We then moved down to a seldom-traveled side road at lower elevation that has had some great birds in the past. This is the San Miguelito subtation road, a narrow track with lush vegetation along the the sides that I’ve been visiting since 2000. Instead we found a widened gravel road with recently cleared vegetation, and further down the road noisy construction as the widening was in process. It seems they are preparing to build a dam in the valley below, and this will be one of their main access roads for equipment. It’s probably not going to be such a great birding spot in the future, and so now options are even more limited along the Chapare highway.

Still, we saw some stuff,  just not as much as we has hoped. This roadkilled Chironius sp. snake, for example, was a casualty of the increased traffic.

We did have one good mixed flock, and this gorgeous Crimson-mantled Woodpecker performed very nicely for us.
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker

We spent some time unsuccesfully trying to see the calling Yungas Manakins and to find a Yungas Pygmy-Tyrant, but in the process we got great looks at the often furtive Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher. At the same time we spotted this Lymanopoda acraeida, the Acraeine-mimic Satyr.
Lymanopoda acraeida, Acraeine-mimic Satyr

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