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Marvelous Spatuletail Birding and Photography Tour




The key feature of this tour is a visit a lek of Marvelous Spatuletail with ample time for photographing behavior. Our time at the lek, and at Leimebamba should guarantee excellent photos of the most fabulous hummingbird in the world. In addition to the Spatuletail we expect to see 25 to 30 other hummingbird species, and a good range of other bird species (see itinerary) including Andean Cock of the Rock, Oilbird, and with a bit of luck, Andean Condor.


Day 1 – Home City/Lima
Depart your home city today for Lima. Flights get in mid to late evening, and after passing through immigration and customs you are met after exiting Customs and transferred to your hotel in Miraflores.      (*M)

Day 2 - Lima/Palomino Islands/Tarapoto
Today travel to the port town of Callao, about 45 minutes from Miraflores. At 10am we start a pelagic cruise to the islands of Fronton, Cavinzas, Palomino and San Lorenzo. While you do not land on the islands the boat spends time at each to allow observation of the wildlife or other attractions. Between the dock and the first stop, Fronton, may seabirds will be seen, including the beautiful Red-legged Cormorant. Peruvian Boobies, Inca Terns and many others take advantage of the near-shore upwellings of cold water, providing a rich bounty. The first island, Fronton, has ruins of a prison, which was blasted by the Peruvian Navy to overcome a riot and hostage taking by the prisoners. One of the h ostages and 135 prisoners were killed. Many of the prisoners were Shining Path. After grim Fronton the island of Cavinzas is home to many seabirds, and once again a stop is made. The first sea-lions are usually seen here, maybe some swimming Humboldt Penguins, and occasionally dolphins. From Cavinzas the boat heads across to Palomino, home to a colony of about 4000 Southern Sealions, which abound in the nearby waters. The boats approach bring hundreds towards it, “singing” as the swim. It’s quite a spectacle, as you can see from the video (please forgive the pixallation due to Youtube reducing the size of the file for easy downlaoad). From Palomino the boat heads back, first stopping at San Lorenzo, home to a colony of Humboldt Penguins. We get back to Callao about 1pm, and transferred to a nearby restaurant for lunch. After lunch transfer back tothe airport for our 5pm flight to Tarapoto, arriving at 7.05pm, and transfer to our hotel.       (B,L)

Day 3 – Tarapoto/Pomacochas
After breakfast we head towards Moyobamba, about 2 hours away. En route we stop to watch oilbirds where the road crosses a deep shaft; these are probably the most accessible oilbirds in the world. We will take a picnic lunch at Afluentes, famous for its mixed species feeding flocks that can be found throughout the day. Flocks may contain Montane Woodcreeper, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Saffron-crowned, Bay-headed and Paradise Tanagers, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant and Streaked Xenops. Special birds in this area include Speckle-chested Piculet, Equatorial Graytail, Gray-mantled Wren, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Foothill Antwren, Versicolored Barbet and the restricted range hummingbirds Ecuadorian Piedtail and Napo Sabrewing. This is also an area to find splendid cotingas such as Cock of the Rock, Umbrellabird and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Black-mandibled Toucan, and a wide variety of tanagers including the scarce Vermillion Tanager. Later we bird near Abra Patricia for species such as Lulu’s Tody-tyrant and Royal Sunangel. We arrive at Pomacochas in the late afternoon to stay at a simple hotel in the village for the next two nights.        (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Pomacochas
Most of today will be spent at the Marvellous Spatuletail lek. Our local guide Santos Montenegro knows of several lek places and will have these staked out. We will also visit the feeders at Huembo where a number of hummingbirds apart from the Spatuletail come to feed. Among the rarer ones is Little Woodstar, but Green Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Purple-throated Sunangel, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Bronzy Inca, Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Purple-collared Woodstar, White-bellied Woodstar, White-bellied Hummingbird and Andean Emerald all visit. Other birds seen in the area include Rufous-capped Antshrike ssp. jaczewskii, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Cloud-forest Brush-Finch, Chestnut-crowned Cotinga and Buff-bellied Tanager. You can see a video by David Attenborough at our lek here.       (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Pomacochas/Kuelap/Leimebamba.
After an early morning photo session with the Marvelous Spatuletail, or alternative birding if you prefer, the journey continues to Pedro Ruiz and up the Utcubamba valley. Flocks of Mitred Parakeets can often be found here. We’ll visit Kuelap, a fortress/citadel of the Chachapoyas culture - the people of the clouds from around 800-1300 AD. It is scenically located and many birds can be seen nearby such as the endemic Peruvian Pigeon, Marañon Thrush and Sword-billed Hummingbird. Andean Condor may be seen as well, at times beneath us. We’ll spend the night in Leimebamba.       (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Leimebamba
Part of today at the feeders at the KentiKafe. Apart from Marvelous Spatuletail, we also see Purple-Throated Sunangel, Rainbow Starfrontlet and Sword-billed Hummingbird on the feeders. This is birding at its best, with superb hummingbirds continuously attacking the feeders – and each other – which we watch from comfortable chairs, with steady availability of hot chocolate, coffee, tea and excellent pastries and cakes.This afternoon we have the opportunity to go birding in the afternoon along the new track east that cuts through excellent subtropical cloud forest featuring Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, White-collared Jay and Northern Mountain Cacique. Hummingbird photographers, artists or simpl;y aficionados can remain at the cafe if they prefer. We shall also make a visit to the excellent museum in Leimebamba covering the Chachapoyas Culture; it’s just across the road from the café. The collection here is beautifully presented and quite amazing for a small musuem in a remote part of Peru.      (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Leimbamba/Pomacochas
After a visit for more hummingbirds at the KentiKafe we'll travel to Abra Barro Negro where we will look for Russet-mantled Softtail, Peruvian Thistletail (a likely split from White-chinned Thistletail), Coppery Metaltail and the intermedius form of Blackish Tapaculo (probably also a good species, so maybe an armchair ticket later). In midmorning we shall start the return trip to Pomacochas.    (B,L,D)

Day 8 - Pomacochas
Pomacochas shall be our base again tonight. If there are still images needed for Marvelous Spatuletail we are in good position, many other birding sites are in close proximity, including the Rio Chido trail, which is a good place for the enigmatic Pale-billed Antpitta.        (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Pomacochas/Abra Patricia Lodge
.After an additional morning with the Hummingbirds we move on to Abra Patricia which also has hummingbird feeders with Long-tailed Sylph, Bronzy Inca, Collared Inca, Emerald-bellied Puffleg and on sometimes Rufous-vented Whitetip. At night we shall be on the look-out for the mysterious Long-whiskered Owlet. .           (B,L,D)

Day 10 – Abra Patricia/Moyobamba
Again we shall be visiting the Afluentes area on our way to Moyobamba to be in closer position the following day when we travel back to Tarapoto. We'll continue to bird, focussing especially on sites for any species missed so far in the trip.        (B,L,D)

Day 11– Moyobamba/Tarapoto/Lima/In Flight

This morning we begin our journey home. But first near Moyobamba the Mishquiyacu area recently has some hummingbird feeders that shall be well worth checking out in the morning. The following hummers have been visiting: Reddish Hermit, Black-throated Hermit, Long-tailed Hermit, Green Hermit, Gray-breasted Sabrewing, White-necked Jacobin, Black-throated Mango, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Sparkling Violet-ear, Brown Violet-ear, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Long-billed Starthroat, Golden-tailed and White-chinned Sapphires and Rufous-crested Coquette. We continue to Tarapoto, where we fly back to Lima at 4 pm, arriving at 5.15pm. Those departing tonight will take their late evening flights home; others wishing to add more time in Peru will overnight at Miraflores or at the airport hotel depending on their schedule tomorrow.      (B,L)

Day 12 – In Flight/Home City

Arrive in your home city today.        (*B)


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