Monday, June 11th: Last night was not good. I ended up wearing my fleece jacket to bed, and still could barely keep warm. Hard to believe I once thrived upon this kind of weather. Fourteen years in Miami have deaclimated me for the cold. I think the higher altitude also had an effect. There were further complications as the sleeping back kept slipping down to the end of the tent. Putting these together left me with little sleep last night. As it turned out, none of the participants slept well, all I think for similar reasons.
I could hear Andean Snipe calling in the morning before I got up, but didn't know what they were until Dan mentioned them at breakfast.
We again descended the same trail, but this time about 700 feet to an area known for the Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager and Bay-vented Cotinga. On the way, we found several additional species. One was obscura subspecies of Rufous Antpitta. I didn't get a proper look at it, but did see it move across a gap, after which it gave its first response to playback.
A little farther down, we ran into a nice flock that included Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Ochraceous-breasted Flycatcher, and Yellow-scarfed Tanager. I had the pleasure of spotting the last two first. The flock also contained our first Parduscos. These birds flock together like chickadees or bushtits. It's hard to believe they are tanagers, but they are. A 2011 publication by Campagna et al. suggested they are closely related to some of the warbling-finches, including the Plain-tailed Warbling-Finch we saw a few days ago at Husacaran.
Soon after we finished our descent, we found a couple of Bay-vented Cotingas. A couple of Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrants were also present. We stayed a long time looking for the Golden-backed Mountain-Tanagers, but they were nowhere to be found. Eventually our crew brought lunch down. We continued to wait, hoping that we would get some cloud cover, and that the birds would come out.
All of us were feeling pretty tired, and weighed down by lunch (and disappointment about the tanager) when we headed back up. We did find a Large-footed Tapaculo about 250 feet up. Then Dan decided to we should try for the tanager again, so we descended again. The tanagers never did appear, so we started up again. Progress was slow. We also looked for the endemic Rufous-browed Hemispingus, but without success.
Pretty soon, Reyes appeared with a horse. One of the group, who had been struggling more than the rest, got a ride back. The horse was quickly followed by a mule, and one more person got a ride. We continued the upward slog, with all of us finding it tough. At least we were rewarded with a Line-fronted Canastero. At some point, two more mules arrived, and two more of the group headed off. That left just two of us, plus our leader Dan. Dan decided to stop on the final pitch, as yesterday. Again, I didn't really want to stop. Even though I was very tired, I continued directly to camp. Apparently they were considering sending the mules down for us, but when I appeared on the trail, they decided the mules weren't needed.
It's getting cold again, but I think it won't be quite as cold.
My species total for today was 25. My trip list increased by 9, including 5 lifers. My current trip total is 237 species, including 74 life birds.
Bosque Unchog Camp