Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Saipina Valley to Siberia Cloud Forest

Early this morning we visited the rather picturesque Saipina valley which entailed an hour and a half's drive along a bumpy dirt road. As the road finally dropped down lower we pulled over to look at a couple of Andean Guans, and a little further along at a river crossing a flock of Puna Ibis were feeding in the shallows. 

Saipina Valley

After passing through the village we began walking along the road and had a few very colourful Red-fronted Macaws flying over, as well as Black-capped Warbling-finch, White-tipped Plantcutter, Golden-billed Saltator and Grey-crested Finch amongst others. We then drove a short distance to a lovely canyon with a river running through it, where we discovered a small colony of endemic Cliff Parakeets. We watched them taking nesting material up onto the cliff face and flying down into the bushes to collect more for quite some time. It was a lovely spot with Southern Martin flying around in front of us, Great Kiskadees and a Spotted Sandpiper on the river, and a close Cliff Flycatcher beside the coach. 

Cliff Flycatcher

A distant Blue-tufted Starthroat was scoped before we had a close encounter with a Sooty-fronted Spinetail in the bushes below us. Leaving here we drove back along the dirt road and found a superb Spot-backed Puffbird on some telegraph wires which also allowed a close approach. 

Spot-backed Puffbird

So with things going well this morning we continued in fine form just a few kilometres drive away, as we searched for the endemic Bolivian Earthcreeper on an arid hillside. Sure enough we heard one calling in response to the tape and after a few false starts we had amazing views of a very aggressive individual. In fact we had the bird for half an hour in the low thorn scrub below us and had amazing views. 

Bolivian Earthcreeper

During the course of our search for the earthcreeper we had a little flurry of birds coming in to the pygmy-owl imitation by Miguel comprising Chaco Suiriri, Fuscous Flycatcher, Southern Beardless-tyrannulet, Chivi Vireo, Tropical Parula, and other common species. 

Chaco Suiriri Flycatcher

Chivi Vireo

We also had a pair of Spot-backed Puffbirds perched in a bush giving a much better photo opportunity than the one on the wire from earlier in the day. 

Spot-backed Puffbirds

From here we returned to the hotel for a quick cup of coffee before driving up into the hills to Siberia cloud forest. It turned out to be pretty quiet up here as it was sunny and a blustery wind but we still picked up a number of new birds. 

White-throated Tyrannulet

A White-crested Elaenia got the ball rolling for some of the group, followed by White-throated Tyrannulet, the endemic Bolivian Brush-finch, Mountain Wren, Pearled Treerunner, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Blue-capped Tanager, Pale-legged Warbler and Brown-capped Redstart. A Violet-throated Starfrontlet put in a very quick appearance, and was followed by Purple Honeycreeper and Azara’s Spinetail

Mountain Wren

Just then, a Rufous-faced Antpitta began calling and we tried in vain to call it in. But a calling Brown Tinamou made its way onto our life list despite the raucous chatter, leaf crunching and a pair of bright white disco trousers that were probably stone coloured in a former life! But it did take a long, long time to show but the wait was definitely worth it. So after a protracted stake-out we began driving back to the hotel, passing a Mountain Caracara along the way and sat down to a mountain of food for dinner!

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