Monday 28 May 2018

Day 54 Chincheros - New Birds for the Green Year List at Last!

May 24th, 2018

Sunny in the morning and hot. Cloud in the afternoon making it feel cool in a t-shirt. Windless

Up at six and packed by half past, I start the day with a four mile push that takes me over a thousand feet higher. Usual problem with dogs including one pack of five that bark and snarl much to the amusement of their owner, not to mine.
Reaching Chincheros at last, I quickly find a hotel for thirty five Soles, around £7.50 for a double room en suite. Nine a.m. off to explore the village, I find a shopping mall! It has two shops, some fruit and veg sellers and two cafes upstairs. I choose the one that has tables and chairs on a terrace overlooking the mountain scenery and order the usual breakfast, rice, chicken and yucca. Add on to that a large cup of milky coffee and the cost of six Soles, around £1.50, is as expected. The tip I give of two Soles is not.
Exploring further, I find just beyond the beautiful village Plaza, an internet shop. Going inside there are around twenty old box computers in two rooms. I am placed at computer number eighteen and away I go, catching up with news, emails and the Test match, England versus Pakistan. In the UK it is half way through the afternoon and yet already England have been bowled out! Ouch!
Midday I leave the cricket and head back to hotel to collect my binoculars and camera to go birding for the afternoon. This is the first time since Izcuchaca, thirteen days ago, that I can go proper birding instead of just seeing what birds I find along route. There is a large white statue of the Virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus atop a hill behind the hotel and there are scrubby bushes and tall Eucalyptus trees. Surely there are birds. I set off to find out.
After some steps take me to a dirt road, and after being disgusted at a beautiful mural which sadly shows the evil that is bullfighting with the added twist of an Andean Condor being tied to the bull's back, there are plenty of butterflies but precious few birds. After climbing to the statue I still haven't seen more than a handful; Chiguanca Thrushes - three, Sparkling Violetears – also three and a single White-bellied Hummingbird. Past the statue two workers are building a wall and it looks from the sign of the derelict wooden buildings and a couple of empty and dilapidated swimming pools, most likely for baptism ceremonies by the looks of them, that a new cafe or similar is being built to replace the broken down ones.
From here I have the choice of two paths; one goes straight on at the same height along the valley and through the trees, the other goes up higher. I take the first. After half an hour of bird glimpses I feel that I have seen the feathers of five bird families but not identified one of them to species. I sit down on a Eucalyptus plank, there has been a lot of tree felling and plank making here, and watch. There has been a tit-tyrant species, a woodpecker species, a hummingbird species that I haven't seen before, a cotinga likewise and a really frustrating warm brown spinetail, probably Azara's, that just dives from one piece of cover to another. Did I see a rufous cap on it? I take my time and sit and watch. A bird allows a view higher up on a branch. Rufous-collared Sparrow, I might have known. I remember reading a trip report where the writers had joked that rufous-collared Sparrows were rare. They're not. They are very common and everywhere.
After sitting for twenty minutes or so and not seeing a lot, I decide to walk back and take the path that goes higher. A Cinnamon Flycatcher agrees with me and shows itself nicely, hunting from a nearby branch. The smart looking bird keeps returning to the same branch and shows both sides, front and back. Having it's wings spread a little I can see a small square pale yellow rump just below the olive green mantle. Cinnamon Flycatcher is a beauty of a bord. The tit-tyrant is on the other side of the path and shows itself as well, a Yellow-billed. It's crest isn't as large as I would have expected but everything else fits. Things are looking up so I do. There is another Cinnamon Flycatcher on a high branch of a very tall Eucalyptus. A Black-throated Flowerpiercer is doing just that, piercing the yellow flowers of a Broome species.
Along the new path I reach the end of the tall trees and sit on a plank and watch the valley. A blue, speckled breasted hummingbird lands very close by my very still form. Now why didn't I put on a less conspicuous t-shirt? Bright white just isn't suitable! The bird spots my binocular movement and is off. A Lesser Violetear goes onto the list. (This bird was previously known as a Green Violetear but was split into two species - 2020) 
At last a new bird for the Green Year list. I haven't had a new one for nine days! Another hummingbird lands on a bush about thirty feet away. This one has a split and body length long tail. Green and white, another new bird for the Green Year list, a Black-tailed Trainbearer.
I move to another area and immediately see the Cotinga species but this time it is sitting still on a dead branch instead of hiding in thick undergrowth. Now that I can see it I know it to be a Red-crested Cotinga, yet another new bird for the growing list. This is beginning to be a fabulous afternoon. I hope it doesn't stop.
The Sun that allowed the butterflies to be so common on the way up here has by now gone behind some thick cloud that has developed around the mountain tops. This has made things feel cool and I sit wishing that I had brought a jumper with me. There is no way I can stop birding though as new birds are appearing regularly. Two more Cinnamon Flycatchers sit together on a branch. A White-winged Black Tyrant sits on another nearby. Then a large Tinamou flies past, the whoosh of it going past my head is impressive.
Four p.m. I start my way back to the hotel. A tit-tyrant stops me but before I can reach for my binoculars, a loud woodpecker-like call turns my head in the opposite direction. The woodpecker lands on a bush and I can only say that it is the most wonderfully coloured woodpecker I have ever seen. It isn't far away from me and I watch as it moves around on a couple of branches before settling on a dead tree stump to root for insects. What a bird! Scarlet-red head, mantle and back, well spotted breast over yellow underparts with a black throat and white face mask, it is just a bit larger than the European Great-spotted Woodpecker and far more spectacular. A Crimson-mantled Woodpecker goes onto the Green Year list and my life list. Black on the crown tells me she is a female. It is a real thrill to see such a magnificent bird. The warm brown skulker shows and immediately disappears. One that got away.
Back by the statue, I take the dirt road down the hill instead of the zig zag path that I took to get up here. Immediately there are birds, lots of them and the panic is to see them all before they skedaddle. In quick order I see more Rufous-collared Sparrows and a flock of ten or so Hooded Siskins. Blue & Yellow Tanagers, a House Wren and a Streak-throated Bush Tyrant. Taking more time to view, there is a bird in the high canopy of the Eucalyptus. I eventually decide that it is an immature or female Yellow and Blue Tanager.
Coming down to the shrub layer once more three bright yellow birds draw my attention. One has a cinnamon-coloured head whereas the other two don't. These two completely lack any supercilia, have a uniform yellow-green colouration and have grey legs. Their overall colour has me confused but if they are immatures then they would be the offspring of the Rust & Yellow Tanager, a final new Green Year list bird and lifer once more.
The flock passes and a gentle walk down to the village is interrupted by a friendly shopkeeper who wants to give me a bottle of pop for free. Down at a local Primary school they are having a festival and I watch from the outside as a line of five year olds dance with a little help from their teacher.

Green Year list : 201 birds average new birds to list per day : 3.72 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 4.03 miles (not including afternoon walk)

elevation : up 1,381 feet, down 355 feet

altitude : 9,196 feet

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