Cloud Forests of Northern Peru Post-trip to the Amazon River Cruise Jan 17—24, 2015

Posted by Steve Hilty

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Steve Hilty

Steve Hilty is the senior author of A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, and author of Birds of Venezuela, both by Princeton University Press, as well as the popular Birds of ...

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This was my fifth visit to this beautiful area and it was the rainiest—and most consistently cold and damp—by far. However, despite the persistently inclement weather, we saw many beautiful birds including an impressive lineup of tanagers and hummingbirds. Everyone will have a personal favorite, maybe the Marvelous Spatuletails, or Johnson’s Tody-Tyrant, or the rare Chestnut-crested Cotinga, or the flash of a male Andean Cock-of-the-rock shooting across the road or just perched in full view, or maybe a dazzling Flame-faced Tanager. And don’t forget the hummingbirds! The male Fork-tailed Woodnymph at Arenas Blancas was dazzling to behold.

The weather began well enough at the Waqanki Lodge and we spent a pleasant morning there with birds in the clearing and in the old fields, the hummingbird gardens, and the forest. Following lunch we drove westward and into higher elevations at the Abra Patricia Lodge and later at the HUEMBO reserve. Birding always brings surprises, some frustrations, and some exhilarating experiences, and this trip had all of those. That we are even able to visit this beautiful area is a treat because the lodge is relatively new, and the paved road that accesses this remote area is less than thirty years old. Furthermore, thanks to donations and the hard work of many people, the Abra Patricia-Alto Nieve Private Conservation concession now preserves or manages nearly 25,000 acres of this lovely forested region. And, this lies adjacent to the Alto Río Mayo Protection forest, which extends protection to nearly 450,000 acres of pristine highland forest.

I feel privileged to be able to see this area and to experience its many moods (yes, even the chilly damp evenings) and the birds and wildlife that are found here. I hope that you enjoyed it too, although I know it was cold and damp, and almost all of us suffered from a bronchial condition that developed into a head cold and eventually put considerable strain on the lodge toilet paper reserves! I guess it is all part of the experience. The birds were incredible.

The rain followed us all the way back to Tarapoto, and StarPeru (as well as LanPeru) air flights were considerably weather-delayed, resulting in a very late arrival into Lima. We must credit an agent of StarPeru at the tiny Tarapoto airport, however, with considerable foresight in anticipating the delay and arranging to have the luggage of two of us with close connections waiting when we arrived at baggage claim and then fast-tracked directly to the United Airlines check-in (so fast, in fact, that the two of us had to run to keep up with the girl pushing the cart) where our boarding passes were already printed and waiting! We went from baggage claim arrival to check-in, then through security and immigration and to our waiting United Airlines flight in less than 15 minutes (or was it 10 minutes?)! This was surely a record and a remarkable example of VIP treatment. I only wish I had gotten that agent’s name at the StarPeru desk in Tarapoto! I hope that the rest of you also had good flights home.