Thursday, May 15, 2014

Peru Birding Rally Challenge Day 3 Update

Whew! We barely managed to stay ahead again, but the Field Guides team has a collection of birding experience in this area that probably can't be matched, and they will probably pass us soon. We're probably mostly just lucky up until this point and have had some good strategy, but once we hit the bird-filled Amazonian slope, it's anyone's guess what will happen. We have a total of 229 species as of today.

We ended the day in the Chonta River canyon very close to the city of Cajamarca, and that's our van there in the photo above. I was there for a short time with my friend Alan Grenon nearly four years ago, and we missed the main target then. But today we connected with the Gray-bellied Comet, a large, not-so-colorful hummingbird with a very distinctive shape and restricted range.

One of our better birds of the day was this Many-striped Canastero. The habitat looked right, I played the song with my iPod, and it flew right in and nearly fell asleep on this bush as we watched it through the spotting scopes.

Another good one was this Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, singing around mid-day.

But it was also another great day for flowers. We're here just after the rainy season, so everything is lush and in full bloom. Take this amazing white Calceolaria. Nearly all species in this genus are yellow.

And this gorgeous cactus, hugging the ground with many other alpine-like flowers in a rocky tundra at 11,000 feet elevation.

Tomorrow we drop down into the Marañón Valley with several regional endemics, then climb back up another ridge of the Andes to Leymebamba.

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