If you want to see Marvelous Spatuletail, but have very little time, this is the best 5-Day program for you without being rushed and which will give you a number of other good birds, including a chance to see the enigmatic Long-whiskered Owlet. Please note that the Spatuletail leks between October and May, but that perfect males can be seen throughout the year. Having said that, July-August is generally molt season for the males, so in some years perfect males have not been seen on these short trips this time of year.
This trip also gives many visits at bird feeders - especially hummingbird feeders - which provides excellent opportunity for bird photography. Some 40 species of Hummingbirds can be seen on the trip.
We offer this program every week Monday-Friday, when there is a minimum of two people. Not that it is possible to upgrade to premium lodging.
Trips originating in Jaen are $40 less
Price is based on 5 people.
If only two people there is a $500 surcharge/person
If three people there is a $250 surcharge/person
If four people there is a $90 surcharge per person.
There are some community and reserve fees that you pay directly to the reserves.
Km 24 near Tarapoto - Koepcke's Hermit reserva $15,
Aguas Verdes Arena Blanca $15
Llanteria - Afluentes. $10
Royal Sunangel feeders $10
San Lorenzo fee $7
Most people shall have flown in the previous night in order to start birding at first light. The hotel in Tarapoto is included.
Travel to the tunnel area on the Yurimaguas road. Here we find a number of special upper tropical species such as Blackish Pewee, Dotted Tanager and with luck the localized Plumbeous Euphonia. We also often see Andean Cock of the Rock, Swallow-tailed Kite and Paradise Tanagers. Later we continue to AKONABIKH where there are hummingbird feeders that attract Koepcke's Hermit and Gould's Jewelfront, and many more. A short hike take us to a lek with Golden-headed Manakins.
Around noon we continue towards Moyobamba. On the way we shall stop to look at Oilbirds at the Quiscarumi gorge. We finish the afternoon at Morro de Calzada, a strange rock formation on the Moyobamba-Rioja plateau. This area is good for Mishana Tyrannulet, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail and sometimes Spot-fronted Swift and White-chested Swifts which come to roost. It is also a good spot for nightjars at dusk with Spot-tailed, Rufous, Blackish and Little Nightjars and often calling Common Potoo, as well as Stygian Owl.
We spend the night in Waqanki Lodge.
Those who are fit may want to try the ridge trail above Waqanki for Scarlet-breasted and Fiery-throated Fruiteaters, Ash-throated Antwren, Chestnut-throated Spinetail and many more.
The hummingbird-feeders at Waqanki are fantastic. It is often possible to get over 15 species of hummingbirds in only a couple of hours. The star species is Rufous-crested Coquette and Black-throated Hermit.
We continue over the Myobamba/Rioja plain checking out ponds and rice paddies for Pale-eyed Blackbird, Black-capped Donacobius, Least Grebe and Black-billed Seed-Finch.
Later at the new birding resource at Aguas Verdes called Arena Blanca. Here the is a fantastic feeding station for Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail and Little and Cinereous Tinamou. Also Yellow-billed Sparrow comes to the grains provided from the feeding station. There is also an area set up for hummingbirds. The speciality here are Green-fronted and Blue-fronted Lancebill, as well as Wire-crested Thorntail, but there are loads of other hummers too.
The white-sand forest is very interesting with Northern Chestnut-tailed (Zimmer's) Antbird, Varzea Thrush, Mishana Tyrannulet and Black-bellied (Huallaga) Tanager.
We end the day at Fundo Alto Nieva with the feeding station for Ochre-fronted Antpitta, and at night a first try for Long-whiskered Owlet.
Night at Fundo Alto Nieva. There are only four beds available with private bath, so if the group becomes larger there is a surcharge of $100 per person to stay this night at the Owlet Lodge, Abra Patricia. Note that the lodging at Alto Nieva is somewhat basic, but is included to have a larger chance to get the Long-whiskered Owlet.
We start the morning in the at Fundo Alto Nieva with the feeding of Rusty-tinged Antpitta, and checking the hummingbird feeders which often attract Royal Sunangel and Rufous-vented Whitetip.
Mid morning we transfer to the birdy Afluentes area. The flocks in the subtropical roadside forest can be very impressive. Vermilion Tanager, Subtropical Cacique, Speckle-chested Piculet, Montane Woodcreeper, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Paradise, Golden, Blue-necked and Bay-headed Tanagers and the endemic Ash-throated Antwren and many other birds. Sometimes we have seen Black-billed Toucan, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Umbrellabird and Andean Cock of the Rock in this area.
In the afternoon we shall continue to Abra Patricia pass to stay at the Owlet Lodge. We shall get a second chance for Long-whiskered Owlet here if necessary or try for Cinnamon Screech-Owl.
Night at Abra Patricia Owlet Lodge.
The trails at the Owlet Lodge are good for Chestnut Antpitta, Barred Antthrush, Wattled Guan, White-faced Nunbird, etc. The feeding flocks contain Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Blue-backed Conebill, Spectacled Whitestart, Pearled Treerunner, White-throated Tyrannulet, Blue-and-Black Tanager and Metallic-green Tanager.
The feeders have Emerald-bellied Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Peruvian Rackettail, Bronzy Inca, Violet-fronted Brilliant and Collared Inca. From the lookout one may often see White-capped Tanager.
We continue mid-morning to Pomacochas where we spend some time practicing bird photography at the Hummingbird feeders at Huembo with close-up views of the Marvelous Spatuletail and other hummers such as Collared Inca, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Sparkling Violet-ear, White-bellied Woodstar, White-bellied Hummingbird and Bronzy Inca. A rare visitor is Little Woodstar.
Those who are fit enough may want to try for Pale-billed Antpitta up the track to San Lorenzo. Also you can take the vehicle all the way to San Lorenzo, other birds that may be encountered, are Chestnut-crowned Cotinga, White-capped Tanager, Rusty-tinged Antpitta, schulenbergi race of Plain-tailed Wren and Russet-mantled Softtail.
Night: Huembo Birding Lodge.
We shall be visiting a lek site for Marvelous Spatuletail in the morning or have some additional time for photographing the Spatuletail in the morning. The lek is active on and off between November to April but some luck is also needed. Later we drive to Jaen with selected stops on the way for Peruvian Pigeon, Marañon Thrush and perhaps Buff-bellied Tanager.
We arrivie to Jaen for a late lunch in the field while we look for Little Inca-Finch, Marañon Crescentchest, Marañon (Northern) Slaty-Antshrike, Chinchipe Spinetail and with luck Marañon Spinetail.
The flight to Lima is at 17:15.
Normally group size is 2 to 7 pax. However larger groups with two guides, and from 9 with two vehicles, giving more flexibility can be offered. There are only 4 beds at Alto Nieva. With larger groups some will have to stay at more expensive Owlet Lodge.
Anytime of year is good. But note that Marvelous Spatuletail often lacks spatules Jul-Aug. Marvelous Spatuletail lek is sometimes active between Oct-May, but rarely guaranteed.
Suitable for all ages, but fitness required for longer hikes. It is always possible to spend more time with hummingbird feeders if hiking is not an option.