Travel to Huánuco
Thursday, June 7th: We had an early breakfast at the hotel today, then hit the road at about 5:30am. Today is primarily a travel day. We headed south out of Huaraz, and turned at the road leading to the Pucarrajo section of Huascaran National Park. Although there are mountains here, much of this area is a high plateau. It's a place of pincushion bogs and grassland, not Polylepis forests and cliffsides. Nonetheless, the road attains high elevations here, with a high point just short of 16,000 feet.
We spent a fair amount of time in the Carpa-Pastoruri section. Our first stop was at Laguna Patococha, which was occupied by a variety of waterfowl, including Giant Coots, and White-tufted and Silvery Grebes.
After the entrance station, our next stop was at Agua Gasificada, a deep water hole. However, we walked up the road a bit to view the giant bromeliads, Puya raimondii. Other species of Puya occur in the Andes, but this is the largest of them all. We also took a look at the gas-producing water hole before leaving. Those of us who took the direct path up the steps back to van were reminded just how thin the air is up here.
We stopped further on at a promising birding area. The promise was fulfilled. Besides seeing some species we'd seen earlier on the trip, such as Striated Earthcreeper, we added Black Siskin, Streak-backed Canastero, Cinereous Ground-Tyrant, and Variable Hawk. An Andean Hillstar flew by, but I didn't get a proper look at it. This is not the first time this has happened, and it is starting to become a nemesis bird. We went a bit further up the road and stopped near a large area containing some of the hillstar's favorite flowers. It did not show, although a number of other birds did. Finally, when we were about to leave, a male Andean Hillstar perched near some of its favorite orange flowers. It even had a touch of orange on its forehead from the flowers.
Farther down the road we added White-fronted Ground-Tyrant and Slender-billed Miner. No more birds were added in the park, but we were treated to amazing scenery as we continued on. The road gradually ascends, eventually reaching at least 3 highpoints. According to Dan's GPS, the last and highest was at 4873 meters, or 15,988 feet. After that, it descends to meet the main highway from Huaraz to Huánuco.
The highway travels along a Marañon tributary, and then along the Marañon itself. As we drove along the river, we found Torrent Ducks as well as a few other species. We also stopped for lunch along the Marañon. The road then climbs out of the Marañon drainage into the Huallaga valley. By now it was late in the day, and we just continued on. One town we passed through had apparently just finished some sort of celebration, and we keep encountering busses and other vehicles packed with schoolkids, many of them riding on top.
We arrived at the hotel around 6:30.
My species total for today was 38. My trip list increased by 8, including 3 lifers. My current trip total is 142 species, including 47 life birds.
Grand Hotel Huánuco, Huánuco