Friday, June 8th: We gathered at 5am for our drive up the Central Highway to the Carpish Tunnel, which goes under Carpish Ridge. But before leaving, we noted House Sparrows calling near the main square. The drive took about an hour and a half. We went through the tunnel and parked immediately after it. This is still a good birding area, but the hillsides are slowly being cleared, with much of it being planted in hydrangea.
We then started walking up the trail (an old road), quickly running into a mixed flock. It included Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Spectacled Whitestart, and a pair of Peruvian Wren that gave us great looks, including one with a lot of white on the face (Peruvian Wrens often have white on the face). A couple of Superciliaried Hemispinguses chatted by as we found Taczanowski's (Slaty) Brush-Finch and Blue-backed Conebill. Then a Gray-browed (Stripe-headed) Brush-Finch appeared. We barely had time to look at it before I noticed a lovely Plushcap.
White-collared Swift whirled overhead as we continued up the hill. A few Chestnut-collared Swifts also zoomed by, giving their distinctive calls. A long-tailed skulker turned out to be a Rufous Spinetail. Our first Violet-throated Starfrontlet gave a decent look, but not like the one later that showed off it starfront. We also notice flocks of Band-tailed Pigeons overhead, while some Citrine Warblers got stirred up by a background call on the tape for a pygmy-tyrant. We spotted a Moustached Flower-piercer downslope as we searched for, and finally found, a Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant that had been calling. We ended up seeing several of these. We also heard Tschudi's Tapaculo at some point, but did not see it.
We were still dealing with a flock, and were able to add Pearled Treerunner, White-banded Tyrannulet, White-browed (Black-capped) Hemispingus, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, and Beryl-spangled Tanager in short order. A Cinnamon Flycatcher sallied out several times, but did not give a good look.
We heard Barred Parakeets flying by, but were unable to find them. This happened several times during the day. We did see the Pale-footed Swallows, some of which were briefly perching downslope. Some Golden-plumed Parakeets flew by calling. We didn't see them, although I did see them once in southern Ecuador. Some Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucans gave only poor views as they flew from tree-to-tree. In contrast, we got a great look at the spectacular Crimson-mantled Woodpecker.
We were looking at a few Azara's Spinetails when a rather large group came up the trail. We suspect it was a church group visiting a shrine up on Carpish Ridge, but we are not sure. A few of them stopped to photograph us, others noticed the spinetails and took a look at them. After the group passed, we continuted to add additional species. These included Golden-browed Chat-Tyrant, Slaty Finch, Barred Becard, and Mountain Wren. The last had been sighted by some lower down the trail.
We then walked the mile or so back to the bus. A Roadside Hawk was in the same area we had earlier seen a raptor. There's a good chance it was the same bird. We caught up with Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, seen by one of the group when we ascended. It was with a flock that included Grass-green Tanager and Hooded Mountain-Tanager. Another flock stopped us in our tracks as we neared the bus. It added Masked Flower-piercer, Sierran Elaenia, and Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant.
After lunch, a few Swallow-tailed Kites flew by. We went back up the trail and found a few more birds. While we watched a Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Cal noticed a perched Red-crested Cotinga. Later on, I noticed a Rufous-chested Tanager, which looks sort of like an orangish Prothonotary Warbler. We looked for Chestnut Antpitta, but most of us, myself included, were only able to hear it, not see it.
It had been raining on and off in the afternoon. It got heavier, and we returned to the bus. We made a couple of roadside stops along the Rio Huallaga on the way back to the hotel. We found both adult and immature Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles, a flock of Fasciated Wrens, White-bellied Hummingbird and a Black Phoebe. Then we returned to the hotel, arriving around 6:15.
My species total for today was 60. My trip list increased by 47, including 9 lifers. My current trip total is 189 species, including 56 life birds.
Grand Hotel Huánuco, Huánuco