Birding the Americas Trip Report and Planning Repository
Return to the Main Index

Return to the South America Index

20 November 1991 -- 18 January 1992

by Rolf de By

[Note: Due to length, this report is presented in three parts.]


From 20th November, 1991 until 18th January, 1992 the authors were birding in interesting areas in Bolivia. For the first four weeks Jeroen de By served as our photographer. Our prime interest was to find and study some of the highland forest birds of this country, as well as to have a general birding trip through the country. It was not contemplated to be a `twitching trip', meaning that our prime purpose was not just to find as many bird species as possible. Still, due to the amazing number of birds found in the country, we identified some 466 species in just eight weeks. (For the twitcher planning a trip of this length: some good preparation seems to be a guarantee of a 600+ trip.)

This trip report consists of several parts. The introduction serves as a place for general information. There is a section named ``Site report'' that describes the major birding areas that we visited and the birds observed there. The ``Trapping report'' finally, describes the information relevant to the birds that we captured. In the site reports we have included maps at some points for a better understanding of the local situation. These maps are not to scale, and should be used only for general reference purposes! Typically, foot paths will be exaggerated and rivers and main roads will be drawn to a smaller scale. We have also included (poor quality) photocopies of some topographic maps.

Finally, as SM had already travelled and watched birds extensively in Bolivia, for some sites we include a list of species observed by him on previous occasions.

Travelling to Bolivia

Both of us used Lineas Aereas Paraguayas' (LAP) connection from Brussels via Asuncion to Santa Cruz, amounting to approximately Dfl. 2350,-. As far as we know this is the cheapest way of getting to Bolivia from the Netherlands. It turns out that Aerolineas Argentinas have comparable rates nowadays. We have not been able to find reasonable alternatives directly (most airlines having direct connections to La Paz are rather expensive due to the special arrangements that have to be taken for arriving there), or via Brazil (Varig's fares were higher), or via the USA (American Airlines flies to Santa Cruz, but is more expensive also).

The LAP connection means that you will have a full birding day in Asuncion as your connecting flight typically leaves 12 hours after your arrival early in the morning. You will be put in a good hotel (Ita Enramada) with reasonable birding opportunities.

At the time of our trip, Dutch citizens could obtain a one month visa upon entering the country; this can be extended in major cities (see section on paperwork). With following trips, SM obtained a three-month visa immediately when entering the country via Santa Cruz. It seems that such regulations are constantly changing.

Travelling in Bolivia

Despite the perhaps somewhat gloomy stories about the country's political instability and its problems with narco-trafficking, it is in fact quite hassle-free and easy to get around. Most of the time, i.e. when it was not being repaired, we used Sjoerd's Land-rover for travelling. We have, however, also travelled extensively with local transportation, which is regular, especially on the major routes, albeit usually crowded.

Getting around with one's own car or with a rental car is straightforward but not without risks. The general state of the few major roads that Bolivia possesses is rather bad. This means that tarmac may be altogether lacking or may have large potholes, making driving unpleasant. There are some notable exceptions: esp. the roads La Paz-Oruro, La Paz-Copacabana, and Santa Cruz-Cochabamba (the new, northern one) have in general decent road tops. This, however, can easily change as floods and landslides cause constant damage to them. The old Santa Cruz-Cochabamba road isn't too bad also.

Public transport is organized in a variety of ways: luxury long distance buses between the major cities, buses to and from departmental capitals, micros, and trucks, where you will be sitting in the open.


For stays longer than one month, one needs to extend one's visa in the country. This can be done in departmental capitals like Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, La Paz, and Oruro. In Santa Cruz this can be a little hassle, and they will charge you some tens of dollars. In Cochabamba, it took one of us exactly 35 seconds, and nothing needed to be paid. You have to be at the Migracion office at the main plaza.


A good road map can be bought at the offices of the Servicio Nacional de Caminos. The map is constructed from LANDSAT images with the road map superimposed on it. Maps at scale 1:250.000 and 1:50.000 can be bought at the offices of the Instituto Geográfico Militar. A problem is that many of these maps are no longer available. Some of these out-of-stock maps are available as photocopies, but certainly not all of them.

In each departmental capital is an IGM. In the cities other than La Paz only maps of the departemento itself can be bought; in La Paz of the whole country. In La Paz maps will be delivered the next day; in the other cities you will not have to wait. The La Paz branch is in the city centre, on Avenida 16 de Julio 1471. You can find the other IGM's in the telephone directories.

Site report

The following sites were visited for one or more days. One can use the links provided here for a direct jump:
  • The Following Sites are in Part 2 of this report
  • The Complete Bird List is in Part 3 of this report.

    Santa Cruz area

    Here we describe the combined results of several trips made around the city of Santa Cruz on 27-28th November, and again during 12-17th January. The easiest way to make these trips is by staying in one of the Santa Cruz lodges and making day trips. The areas that we describe here are not far from the city, i.e. up to 25 km from the city centre. Because of the heat at times it is preferable to have a car at hand, although the area around the airport could easily be birded by other means of transportation. At all times we stayed in the Residencial Bolivar, at Calle Sucre, one and a half block from the main plaza.

    Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

    It can be really hot around Santa Cruz, and unless one has a car available, a day pack with enough drinks is highly recommended. The area around the airport is shown below. It can be reached by taking the road towards Montero leaving the city of Santa Cruz due north. Location X is private property--it used to be owned by a coca baron--that is used for horses and cattle. There are, however, some ponds visible from the main road, that usually produce some waterfowl and waders. Location Y is just inside the airport area, and has some other good looking ponds and nearby bushes that could be productive. Area W produced our only Greater Rheas. To have a nice overview one should take the road on the airport to the flight control tower and stop near the bend indicated on the map.

    The area indicated by Z on the map below is an area of extensively grazed grassland and some cropland. In general it is good for open field species like sparrows, seedeaters, tinamous, Long-winged Harrier etc. Coming from Santa Cruz and passing the toll house the first reasonable dirt road from the main road (to the right) is an excellent road for birding: lots of seedeaters, and nice birds like White-browed Blackbird, Wedge-tailed Grassfinch, Red-winged Tinamou, Campo Flicker, Long-winged Harrier, Grassland Sparrow and Chopi Blackbird, to name just a few. Some 6 km from the main road you arrive at a country club--we forgot the name--on your right. The area around the resort is reasonable for birding. This road can become difficult to negotiate after heavy rain.

    From the main road some km further up north there is another road to the right in the direction of a farm called ``Nueva Belgica'' or something similar--again, we forgot the exact name. Birding is just along the road. Eventually, you will reach a tiny settlement with a fairly new bridge and pond just past it. We had quite a few Nacunda Nighthawks from this bridge on 17th January.

    Map of Santa Cruz area

    Bird list

    The list is compiled using [2]. Like with most lists, in this section on sites only the better birds are listed.

    Greater Rhea Rhea americana. Two adults in the area indicated on the map.

    Tataupa Tinamou Crypturellus tataupa. Heard only, (fide SM).

    Red-winged Tinamou Rhynchotus rufescens. Common; can be heard and seen easily.

    Limpkin Aramus guarauna. Included here for those bird family fetisjists.

    Long-winged Harrier Circus buffoni. Pale phase male seen on several occasions; up to two birds.

    Blue-winged Parrotlet Forpus xanthopterygius. Actually a common bird in the lowlands, the first place where we found it was in the mentioned country club nesting in a telephone pole.

    Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus. One bird present in the car park of the airport in the evening of 17th January.

    Campo Flicker Colaptes campestris. Up to 6 birds were seen here on several occasions.

    Masked Gnatcatcher Polioptila dumicola. Another must for bird family collectors? We found a few.

    White-bellied Seedeater Sporophila leucoptera Some north of the airport along the dust roads.

    Dark-throated Seedeater Sporophila ruficollis Some in the area towards the country club.

    Tawny-bellied or Rufous-rumped Seedeater Sporophila (minuta) hypoxantha or hypochroma. Fairly common, but we are somewhat undecided which of the two species was actually involved. In fact, following [3], the birds by plumage must have been Rufous-rumped because of the saturated chestnut colour on throat and cheeks and the bluish mantle. A specimen in the Kempff Mercado museum in Sta. Cruz, which was very much like the birds we saw, however, is attributed to S. minuta apparently meaning S. m. hypoxantha, the local race. It is stated in [3] that S. hypochroma is a rare species of which very little is known. A recent trip report by some American birders also mentions hypochroma for the area.

    Grassland Sparrow Ammodramus humeralis. Common.

    Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch Emberizoides herbicola. Common. Sound recorded.

    White-browed Blackbird Leistes superciliaris. Common, they have a really funny way of displaying.

    Chopi Blackbird Gnorimopsar chopi. Fairly common, as in Buena Vista. Its song has very characteristic `chopi-chopa' phrases.

    Lomas de Arena area

    Some 7 km south of Santa Cruz lies Lomas de Arena, an area with sandy dunes, and a nice not too deep stream, that is used by the locals for their weekend outings. So, don't go there on Sundays, unless you are prepared to go really early. We visited the area on 16th January. We took the car some 5 km down the dirt road, then parked and started birding out towards the dunes. The most interesting area lies to the right of the dirt road; the stream flows parallel to the road, at an average distance of 400 m.

    Bird list

    Small-billed Tinamou Crypturellus parvirostris. Some heard.

    Red-winged Tinamou Rhynchotus rufescens. Common.

    Collared Plover Charadrius collaris. At least three along the stream.

    Dark-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus melacoryphus. One seen and sound recorded.

    Gilded Hummingbird Hylocharis chrysura. At least one seen.

    White-eared Puffbird Nystalus chacuru. One bird constantly singing (at intervals, that is).

    Yellowish Pipit Anthus lutescens. Common in the grassland on the other side of the stream. This is where we looked for Seriema, but we couldn't find it.

    Río Pirai near San Jose

    Another area worth mentioning is the bushes near the Río Pirai just west of the village of San Jose, which is some 20 km south of Santa Cruz along the old road to Cochabamba. You should follow the stream bed just south of the village to the west. The area has some interesting bushes and natural ponds with reed-beds. This is another area where the local people tend to camp out for the day, so beware. We visited the area in the late afternoon of 12th January.

    Bird list

    Small-billed Tinamou Crypturellus parvirostris. Three heard and one sound recorded. One of the birds could be lured to within two metres!

    Rufous-sided Crake Laterallus melanophaius. We heard at least three and saw one. This is the only place where we saw this bird.

    Golden-collared Macaw Ara auricollis. We saw three birds flying over the river at the end of the afternoon, heading south.

    Scaly-headed Parrot Pionus maximiliani. At least 20 birds were present locally.

    Nacunda Nighthawk Podager nacunda. This is probably a fairly common bird around the Río Pirai, but we saw just one. There are some excellent looking sandy river beds.

    Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus momota. One bird `singing' along a dry and small river bed crossing the main road just north of the village.

    Spot-backed Puffbird Nystalus maculatus. Some birds singing, sound recorded.

    Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus. Some birds singing in the area, especially the bushes closest to the river.

    Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer. One calling.

    Plush-crested Jay Cyanocorax chrysops. At least four.

    On other occasions, SM observed the following species: Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Pearl Kite, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-throated Spinetail, Spectacled Tyrant, Black-capped Donacobius, Greater Antshrike, White-bellied Seedeater.

    Buena Vista and surroundings

    Leaving Santa Cruz, we headed for Buena Vista along the new road to Cochabamba mainly because we wanted to visit Amboró National Park. To do so, you need to obtain a permit in the village of Buena Vista, where there is the Park headquarters. You may also arrange a stay in one of the huts in the park there. Amboró is famous for its Curassows: Razor-billed and Horned are both present in substantial numbers, giving one a fair enough chance to actually find them. They make a deep booming sound (probably not unlike that of the North-American Ruffed Grouse) that appears somewhat difficult to locate.

    Unfortunately, we were unable to enter the park because of a major thunderstorm with subsequent flooding. It was our plan to enter the park via the trail along the Río Macuñ ucu. Actually, we camped on a bank of the Río Surutú the night before we were to enter the park, and if the storm had started only six hours earlier, you probably would not be reading this report ...

    Nevertheless, there are many really good birding areas close to Buena Vista that are worth mentioning here. The first is an area that one drives through when coming from Santa Cruz. It lies roughly halfway Montero and Buena Vista, if we remember correctly just west of the village of Portachuelo. We visited it on 28th November. It is a rather wet woodland area (i.e., a wooded bog) with what appears hardly used fields surrounding it. When paying attention it is impossible to miss this area, by estimate some 25 km east of Buena Vista. Some notable species that we found here: Roseate Spoonbill, Maguari Stork, Pied Lapwing, Troupial, Black-tailed Tityra, Chestnut-eared Araçari, Ashy-tailed Swift, Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher, Black-capped Donacobius, Little Woodpecker, White-winged Swallow, and Chestnut-fronted Macaw.

    Another area lies just SSW of Buena Vista proper. From the main square in the village there are two roads going south, from both southerly corners. The western most, which is the track to the tiny settlement of `El Cairo' just a few km away, takes you to the park headquarters already mentioned. It is within the village proper, just 200 m down the square on the left. Some 400 m further down and also on the left there is a newly built hotel (just finished) owned by an Englishman named Robin Clarke. He is one of the founding fathers of the national park, and is quite influential regarding conservancy matters. His garden holds Band-tailed Manakin, and if you pay proper respect--and perhaps stay in his new hotel--he just might let you have a look at it. His property is on the top of a hill, and downhill in southern direction is extremely good habitat for birds. See the list below. Clarke can be ill-tempered at times, and one of us had a big quarrel with him. Better not use our names, let alone have him reading this report! (Ah well, it may be good for the business ...)

    This general area can also be reached by the easternmost road going south from the main square, passing a water tower and some sort of radio relay tower. You are getting into the area when you cross a bridge (good for a dip in the water!). This wet area can be very productive, as can the surrounding fields. We had Green Ibis and Muscovy Duck here.

    The last area we want to mention is the road parallel to and NE of the Río Surutú. You need to take this road if going to Amboró and it passes through some excellent areas. Some 8 or so km and after you have passed a first watercourse and just after a fairly straight stretch of the road, there is a fork where the main road turns left. Our map indicates that this is just past the Estancia Tacu (on the left) although we haven't seen this signposted. Some 150 m further down the main road, which has good habitat by itself, a small, barely visible footpath leads right into the forest, which looks okay here but not really special. The footpath looks just like a little hole in the vegetation bordering the road, and you have to go underneath a fence. The forest on your right for the last 150 m actually surrounds a so-called `curichi'and holds Hoatzin. A `curichi' is a dead arm of a river, and it may be well worth asking for it. We also saw an Ocelot here. Going some more km's further along the road, one should try any of the side roads that lead to the river; they can be productive also. We camped on the river bank that can be reached by taking the road to the right just after the village of Huaytú. Fairly good birding near the river there.

    Bird list

    Black-capped Tinamou Crypturellus atrocapillus. Heard by SM.

    White-bellied Nothura Nothura boraquira. Two birds were seen along the road as they took their refuge for the waters flooding fields and forests in the afternoon of 30th November. At this time we also encountered a Tarantula on the road.

    Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix. Fairly common in the Green Ibis area.

    Green Ibis Mesembrinibis cayennensis. At least three birds were observed in the area indicated above, flying around at dusk making quite a bit of noise.

    Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata. One male in the Green Ibis area on the 29th November.

    Black-collared Hawk Busarellus nigricollis. One.

    Speckled Chachalaca Ortalis motmot. Fairly common in the Green Ibis area. Can be very noisy at times.

    Collared Plover Charadrius collaris. At least two on the river banks of the Río Surutú. This site is described under Common Potoo.

    Chestnut-fronted Macaw Ara severa. Several flying over the Green Ibis area in early morning and late afternoon. Many more along the Río Surutú.

    Canary-winged Parakeet Brotogeris versicolorus. Common.

    Hoatzin Opisthocomus hoazin. At least one bird present in the area indicated above.

    Ferruginous Pygmy Owl Glaucidium brasilianum. One was located when hunting in the early morning, near the first stream crossing Huaytú road when coming from Buena Vista.

    Common Potoo Nyctibius griseus. One bird calling along the Río Surutú in the evening of 29th November. This was at the point that can be reached by taking the first good road to the right just after the village of Huaytú. The turn off is just opposite a local bar, although this hardly deserves the name. The river is some 3-4 km. down the road.

    Blue-crowned Trogon Trogon curucui. One bird at the Nunbird site. Some more near the Río Surutú.

    White-necked Puffbird Notharchus macrorhynchos. One male singing and sitting quietly for at least half an hour just 300 m. inland from the Common Potoo site.

    Black-fronted Nunbird Monasa nigrifrons. One singing bird was found at the Hoatzin site, but then just along the road. This area was fairly productive for woodland species, actually.

    Chestnut-eared Aracari Pteroglossus castanotis. Three. And some more on days following.

    Spot-breasted Flicker Colaptes punctigula. One male in the Green Ibis area.

    Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos. At least two birds at the Common Potoo site in the morning. Two more the following day.

    Band-tailed Manakin Pipra fasciicauda. One male displaying in the garden of Robin Clarke. From the back of his house follow the small path along the ridge over a barbed wire fence and into lush forest. The birds have been present for some time now inside the forest on the left of the track, less than 100 m from Clarke's house.

    Black-capped Donacobius Donacobius atricapillus. At least two pairs in the wet Green Ibises area.

    Russet-backed Oropendola Psarocolius angustifrons. Several breeding colonies in the immediate vicinity of Clarke's house.

    Solitary Black Cacique Cacius solitarius. We noted some birds along the easternmost road to the south, heading towards El Cairo. They are somewhat shy compared to other blackbirds.

    On other occasions, SM observed here: Capped Heron, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Sungrebe, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, White-backed Fire-eye, Fawn-breasted Wren (in the little swamp), Greater Large-billed Seedfinch and Capibara.


    Sajta is a small village that lies roughly halfway Buena Vista and Villa Tunari on the new road from Santa Cruz to Cochabamba. Coming from Buena Vista one can find interesting forest just past the village on the north side of the road. It is owned by the University of Cochabamba, and this is signposted near the road. One has to enter through a gate where a family lives, and ask for permission to watch birds. This will probably be granted if you pay proper respect. Otherwise, one could check out the the path/road to the east that is indicated on the map.

    Behind the forest, there are extensive coca fields, and it is probably wise not to enter that area. We do not believe that there are risks involved when one keeps to birding inside the forest.

    The first stretch of area is cleared land, and holds a sawmill, some dormitories and a few personnel houses. There may be interesting raptors overhead. The most interesting area, however, is the lowland rain forest behind the buildings. It provides one of the easiest accessible lowland forest of the trip that we made. (There are obviously much better lowland forests in Bolivia further north, for instance, in the direction of Trinidad. The advantage of this area is its accessibility.)

    The forest has a few good trails that can be productive. They are indicated on the simplified map that is included here. We birded this area on 2nd and 3rd December, but we should have taken more time. Accommodation can be found some 10 km to the west where there is a large restaurant just past a petrol station, both on the right. Lunch can be found in Sajta village (ask for Lucy's bar, which is one of the first houses along the road). Between the petrol station and the forest plot one crosses two rivers and these can also be good for birds: we had at least five White-banded Swallows on the blackwater river, which seems to be a range extension for the species.

    Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

    Most of this we already discussed above. Since there aren't many trails in the forest plot, one cannot get lost. A tape recorder is valuable equipment here, as well as insect repellent and rain gear. This is the only lowland forest that we visited, and we feel that we should have taken more time to bird the forest. The weather was very hot and humid.


    Bird list

    Black-capped Tinamou Crypturellus atrocapillus Heard by SM.

    Anhinga Anhinga anhinga. One bird just east of Sajta village.

    King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa. Two adults sitting at the forest edge; photographed.

    Grey-headed Kite Leptodon cayanenis. One seen over the cleared area.

    Hook-billed Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus. One over the forest plot.

    Slate-coloured Hawk Leucopternis schistacea. One over the forest plot.

    Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis. At least three birds, and on several occasions. These were seen from dormitories near the forest in the early evening mostly.

    Yellow-billed Tern Sterna superciliaris. One bird over the river east of Sajta village.

    Cobalt-winged Parakeet Brotogeris cyanoptera. Three on the forest edge.

    Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus. Common.

    Mealy Parrot Amazona farinosa. Common.

    Ashy-tailed Swift Chaetura andrei. Several over the open area of the forest plot.

    Short-tailed Swift Chaetura brachyura. At least three birds above the open area of the forest plot.

    Reddish Hermit Phaethornis ruber. One of possibly this species.

    Black-spotted Barbet Capito niger. One bird with nest along the western trail.

    Lettered Aracari Pteroglossus inscriptus. One bird from the bridge over the blackwater river of the forest plot.

    Red-billed Toucan Ramphastos tucanus. Common in the forest. Sound recorded.

    Channel-billed Toucan Ramphastos vitellinus. Sound recorded.

    Red-necked Woodpecker Campephilus rubricollis. Seen on several occasions along the western trail in the forest.

    Ocellated Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus ocellatus. At least two seen in the forest.

    Buff-throated Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus guttatus. Several seen; sound recorded. At first mis-identified as Strong-billed (fide Guy Cox).

    Chestnut-tailed Antbird Myrmeciza hemimelaena. One bird sound recorded according to Guy Cox; we did not see the bird, nor did we identify it.

    Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis. Common in the forest; sound recorded.

    Screaming Piha Lipaugus vociferans. Common halfway the eastern trail. Sound recorded because you can't avoid it.

    Round-tailed Manakin Pipra chloromeros. One male in the forest.

    White-banded Swallow Atticora fasciata. At least five, flying over the blackwater river and north of the bridge, where there is a big pylon. The birds also sat on the wires.

    Rufous-tailed Flatbill Ramphotrigon ruficauda. Seen by SM.

    Moustached Wren Thryothorus genibarbis. Fairly common; sound recorded.

    Nightingale Wren Microcerculus marginatus. At least three on several occasions. Sound recorded (and lured within sight).

    Magpie Tanager Cissopis leveriana. Some in the more open areas and second growth.

    During a previous trip with a longer stay, SM observed in this area the following additional species: Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Grey-bellied Hawk, Spix's Guan, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Reddish Hermit, White-bearded Hermit, Curl-crested Aracari, Red-billed Scythebill, Black-capped and Slaty Antshrike, Black-faced Antbird, Black-throated Antbird, Spot-backed Antbird, McConnell's Flycatcher, Short-tailed Pygmy-tyrant, Flammulated Tody-tyrant, Rufous-tailed Flatbill, Olivaceous Flatbill, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Pink-throated Becard, Yellow-backed Tanager, White-shouldered Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Green Honeycreeper and Russet-backed and Amazonian Oropendola.

    Cochabamba Yungas

    When driving from Villa Tunari to Cochabamba one passes through the Cochabamba Yungas. Although the scenery here is not as spectacular as that of the La Paz Yungas, bird life can be astonishing.

    Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

    The area where we did most of our birdwatching and where we camped is alongside the main road, starting from the Hotel Bello Horizonte at approx. 1430 m altitude. Some 300 m from this hotel there is a bridge over a stream and this general area was very productive. Below, we abbreviate this site to BH. We camped, in spite of the rain, as the hotels were allegedly fully booked. We camped just before a small village, called `Miguelito', some 2-3 km south of Hotel Bello Horizonte. Our campsite was on the right of the road, in an area that looks like an old pasture. This area was very good for birds in the morning.

    The weather can be awful here at times, with heavy long lasting showers and fog, but when it clears up, the birds are all over the place. Our visit was on the 4th and 5th December.

    We give altitude indications in the list below, but we remark that we had some difficulties in calibrating our altitude meter: altitudes indicated may have a constant error.

    Another area, that SM visited with some birders on 7th March, 1992 can be found higher up at an approximate altitude of 3000 m. There is a little shop here, where one can get a drink. Here a good road forks of to the right and down towards an area called `Tablas Monte', a valley entering habitat reminiscent of Siberia. A species list is included after the main list.

    Bird list

    Torrent Duck Merganetta armata. One immature bird under the high bridge some 20 km south of Villa Tunari as one starts ascending the Yungas. This is directly after a road-block with many shops. Altitude 330 m.

    Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus. One bird at 2450 m.

    Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus megalopterus. Fairly common in the high mountains. Our first birds were found at an altitude of 3380 m.

    Plumbeous Rail Rallus sanguinolentus. One bird heard in a small marshy patch at 2450 m.

    Andean Gull Larus serranus. Our first birds for the trip were found over the reservoir at 3400 m.

    Green-cheeked Parakeet Pyrrhura molinae. Our first birds of the trip we saw near BH.

    Black-eared Parrot Hapalopsittaca melanotis. At least four birds at the campsite in the morning. They were fairly silent and quite unobtrusive.

    Red-billed Parrot Pionus sordidus.

    Scaly-naped Parrot Amazona mercenaria. One flock a little downhill from the campsite.

    Chestnut-collared Swift Cypseloides rutilus. Regularly seen from an altitude of about 1000 m.

    Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys.

    Amethyst-throated Sunangel Heliangelus amethysticollis. One male near the campsite.

    Crested Quetzal Pharomachrus antisianus. One female of possibly this species was seen near the bridge at BH. The next morning we saw at least 10 birds calling near the campsite, with the females surrounding the males (oh, heaven!). The call is a deliberate 'pee-uu wee-uu'. Sound recorded.

    Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus. One bird at the campsite.

    Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae. Two or three downhill from the campsite.

    Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus. A common bird of the higher regions; we found our first for the trip at 3480 m.

    Ochre-faced Tody Flycatcher Todirostrum plumbeiceps. One at our campsite.

    Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea. Fairly common.

    Andean Swallow Hirundo andecola. A common bird of the higher regions also. We found our first near the reservoir at 3400 m.

    Grey-breasted Wood Wren Henicorhina leucophrys. Some; sound recorded.

    White-capped Dipper leucocephalus. One bird seen on and off below the bridge at BH. Altitude 1450 m.

    Andean Solitaire Myadestes ralloides. A single bird was seen at the campsite. On the previous day we had seen and heard this species at BH.

    Glossy-black Thrush Turdus serranus.

    White-eared Solitaire Entomodestes leucotis. Fairly common around the campsite.

    Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys. One or two singing near the tents.

    Black-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus atriceps. One male at 3580 m.

    Mourning Sierra-Finch Phrygilus fruticeti. A single bird at 3580 m.

    Plumbeous Sierra-Finch phrygilus unicolor. Some at the same site.

    Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus. Common at the above mentioned altitude.

    Great Pampa-Finch Embernagra platensis. First bird at 3580 m.

    Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris. A common bird of the middle altitudes, typically in drier areas with open fields and lots of sunshine. The first for the trip were found over the pass on the Cochabamba side at 3080 m.

    Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala. Some between 2000 and 2500 m.

    Blue-winged Mountain Tanager Anisognathus flavinuchus. Our first birds for this trip were found at an altitude of 2050 m.

    Saffron-crowned Tanager Tangara xanthocephala. Three birds between BH and the campsite.

    Blue-and-Black Tanager Tangara vassorii. At least five birds around the campsite.

    Green-throated Tanager Tangara argyrofenges. Three birds just south of the bridge at BH by RdB.

    Grey-bellied Flowerpiercer Diglossa carbonaria. Three birds at an altitude of 3280 m.

    Crested Oropendola Psarocolius decumanus. Some from an altitude of 700 m upwards.

    Dusky-green Oropendola Psarocolius atrovirens. Idem.

    Additional `Tablas Monte' species list of two visits by SM later in 1992: Brown Tinamou, Andean Guan, Stripe-faced Wood-Quail, Black-eared Parrot, Scaly-naped Parrot, White-throated Screech-Owl, Rufous-banded Owl, Speckled Hummingbird, Collared Inca, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, Tyrian Metaltail, Long-tailed Sylph, Crested Quetzal, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Pearled Treerunner, Light-crowned Spinetail, Rufous-faced Antpitta, Unicoloured Tapaculo, Bolivian Tyrannulet, Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant, Red-crested Cotinga, Band-tailed Fruiteater, White-eared Solitaire, Masked Flowerpiercer, Blue-backed Conebill, Rust-and-Yellow Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager. Jon Fjeldså and Saul Arias found here Hooded Mountain-Toucan and Pale-footed Swallow. Chestnut-crested Cotinga also occurs.

    Cochabamba and surroundings

    We arrived in Cochabamba in the evening of 5th December and stayed (doing birdwatching and other leisurely things) until 13th December. We passed by the city again for an overnight stay on the 6th January, but we paid little attention to birds at that time.

    Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

    Cochabamba is one of the nicest cities in Bolivia: it has an excellent climate with lots of sunshine and only occasional rain. The city has some good restaurants and cinemas. It is an excellent place for some relaxing days. The climate is perhaps best described as Mediterranean with equally high temperatures at mid-day. At the altitude of Cochabamba (some 2570 m) birdwatching is then best postponed until later in the afternoon.

    Undoubtedly the best areas for birdwatching in the vicinity of the city are

    We give indications below.

    The Laguna Alalay is a shallow lake very close to the city centre. We mainly birded the north and east shores. The east shore seems the least disturbed and has quite a bit of vegetation. No transportation is needed, but you could obviously get a taxi to take you there.

    To get to Liriuni you have to go first to the town of Quillacollo, some 10 km west of Cochabamba on the road to La Paz. Many buses work this stretch. From here, going either by bus, car or hitch-hiking, take the first road to the north just west of the main round-about on the main road. One could ask for directions to either Liriuni or Buenavista (a settlement to which many of the micros go). Eventually the road will take one to Morochata, but very few people or vehicles will actually go that far. Buenavista is still on the Cochabamba valley floor, but after it the road starts winding towards the Cerro Tunari massif. After some 4 km the road forks with the main road going left and climbing. The right branch takes you to Liriuni after some 1.5 km. There is a restaurant here and a Eucalyptus forest through which a stream flows. This is the holiday resort. Upstream and on the right hand side of it is a nice plot of preserved Polylepis forest, although scrub would be a more apt phrase. The forest is at an altitude of 3400-3500 m. Polylepis is perhaps best characterized as a 2-4 m high tree--i.e., at Liriuni, sometimes they may get as high as 10 m--with dark red, peeled bark, slightly reminiscent of juniper. The branches grow erratically. Especially the Conebill seems to rely strongly on this tree and is hardly ever seen away from it. One can climb the hillside by following the stream and then turning right where the Polylepis is, or otherwise--which we didn't do, but which looks easier--forget about the stream, and keep following the road on which you reached Liriuni. After a while you will get round the hillside and on top of it, having most of the Polylepis forest surrounding you. After some hours of birding here, we crossed the stream to the west and slowly birded the fields downhill. This area certainly holds the Mountain Finch and the Saltator, but they are also in the Polylepis.

    We backtrack to the fork to Liriuni that we mentioned above. When one follows the main road further in the direction of Morochata one will gradually enter the Puna zone. We walked up to Cerro Tunari, with SM and JdB actually reaching the summit. This is not needed for birds, however! From Cochabamba, taking transportation up to Buenavista, we camped at altitudes of 3990 m (just below the small settlement at 4050 m) and 4400 m (near Laguna Maquiña) and reached the summit (5080 m) early on the third day. We got back to Cochabamba in the evening of that day. The weather was very pleasant--a little cold at night--but we were fortunate, as we could see a snowstorm covering most of the mountain range with snow the day after we returned. Although one can in principle follow the main road since there is no traffic, in the altitude zone between 3500-4000 m the road starts winding a lot and there are foot paths short-cutting the hairpins. We bought our last drinks in a small shop just above the big bridge at an approximate altitude of 3500 m. The settlement at 4050 m, which also has a shop, was deserted when we were there. At 3800 m you will find some more Polylepis and this is where SM again saw Giant Conebill. The area can be found as it is right above the one but last hairpin before the `plateau' that leads to the settlement at 4050 m. The trees are nicely situated against a rock face, on top of which the footpath enters the same plateau. We camped at this plateau some 500 m before the settlement.

    Finally, to get to the summit and alpine region of the mountain, one has to leave the main road when one is due north of the summit. This is some 4 km west of the settlement at 4050 m. Here the main road is nearly level and it follows the left hand side of a fairly wide valley, which runs west. If you go south from here over a hill top, there are some huts with a lama corral in another valley running SW and then S, that leads up to the Laguna Maquiña at 4400 m and another reservoir at 4600 m. We camped near the first. If you are heading for the summit, pass both reservoirs on the left. The scenery is beautiful, but for birds you need not necessarily go beyond the second reservoir. Remember, however, that only 300 m higher up you will have a splendid view over Cochabamba valley.

    Bird list

    In the bird list we use the following abbreviations for localities: Laguna Alalay (LA), Liriuni (LI), Cerro Tunari (CT), campsite 1 (C1) and campsite 2 (C2). For CT, altitude indications are given between brackets.

    Ornate Tinamou Nothoprocta ornata. One flushed near the road to CT (3300 m). Another two flushed at 3500 m on CT, while ing. These birds gave their characteristic escape calls.

    Silvery Grebe Podiceps occipitalis. Common at LA. One bird Laguna Maquiña on CT (4400 m).

    White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland. Common at LA.

    Puna Ibis Plegadis ridgwayi. Common at LA. Three birds on CT at 4400 m.

    Andean Condor Vultur gryphus. At least 12 were seen on several days, including one juvenile; all on CT, all of them above 4000 m. Our photographer was nearly hit by one bird several times, or so he tells us. There seemed to be a roost at the Laguna Maquiña.

    Fulvous Whistling Duck Dendrocygna bicolor. At least 15 at LA.

    White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata. Several at LA.

    Blue-winged Teal Anas discors One male, as a first for Bolivia. This bird had been discovered by Saul Arias some days earlier.

    Puna Teal Anas puna. At least two at LA.

    Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris. Some 25 birds on the Laguna Maquiña on CT. Their call is very much like Anas crecca.

    Crested Duck Anas specularioides. Six birds also there.

    Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica. Several at LA.

    White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis. Common at LA.

    Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus. One adult on several occasions over LI.

    Puna Hawk Buteo poecilochrous. One on CT (4100 m).

    Peregrine Falco peregrinus. One over LI. Another on CT.

    Plumbeous Rail Rallus sanguinolentus. One at LA.

    Purple Gallinule Porphyrula martinica. One at LA.

    Andean Coot Fulica ardesiaca. Common at LA.

    White-winged Coot Fulica leucoptera. One adult of this rare species was seen in the NW corner of LA by RdB on the 6th.

    Collared Plover Charadrius collaris. Several at LA.

    Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina. One bird on the 6th and two on the 7th at LA. This is a rare species for this area. They normally occur at higher altitudes.

    Several species of North American waders were found at LA: Lesser & Greater Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper (all common), Spotted Sandpiper (one), Wilson's Phalarope (common), Baird's Sandpiper (at least 10), Stilt Sandpiper (seven), American Golden Plover (at least 25) and Upland Sandpiper (one).

    Andean Gull Larus serranus. Fairly common at LA; one at the reservoir at 4600 m on CT.

    Bare-faced Ground Dove Metriopelia ceciliae. Common around LA.

    Grey-hooded Parakeet Bolborhynchus aymara. About 10 above LI. Several later on the slopes of CT, and also several between LI and Buenavista.

    Andean Hillstar Oreotrochilus estella. At least 6, the first at C1.

    Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas. Two or three always close to the stream above LI. Another two at C1.

    Red-tailed Comet Sappho sparganura. Two at LI. Another one on CT (3400 m).

    Golden-breasted Woodpecker Colaptes melanolaema. One female at 3500 m while descending from CT. Another two birds near LI.

    Plain-breasted Earthcreeper Upucerthia jelskii. Some birds on CT.

    Rock Earthcreeper Upucerthia andaecola. Some at the Polylepis forest edge above LI. Some more on CT.

    White-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes atacamensis. At least 8 on CT (4050 m and above).

    Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura fuliginiceps. Two above LI.

    Tawny Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura yanacensis. Two or three at C1.

    Cordilleran Canastero Asthenes modesta. Common on CT, the first birds at C1.

    Streak-fronted Thornbird Phacellodomus striaticeps. Some above LI.

    Andean Tapaculo Scytalopus magellanicus. Two birds seen at 3800 m on CT. One of these having a nest, feeding regularly. No apparent white head markings. The birds were close to the Conebill spot indicated above, just some 100 m before the rock face that you pass on the right.

    Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus. One above LI.

    Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant Tachuris rubrigastra. Several in the reed beds along the shores of LA.

    D'Orbigny's Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca oenanthoides. Some higher up on CT.

    White-browed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca leucophrys. At least 6 above LI.

    Little Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola fluviatilis. At least two on the shores of LA.

    Puna Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola juninensis. One in the puna zone of CT.

    Cinereous Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola cinerea. Two birds between 3900 and 4000 m on CT.

    White-fronted Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albifrons. One bird at 4650 m on CT.

    White-tipped Plantcutter Phytotoma rutila. Common in and around Cochabamba. Amazing insect-like song!

    Bolivian Warbling-Finch Poospiza boliviana. Some by SM above LI. At least 15 on several altitudes on CT.

    Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch Poospiza hypochondria. At least 10 above LI. Common on CT.

    Ringed Warbling-Finch Poospiza torquata. Two birds on our way to CT at 3300 m by SM.

    Cochabamba Mountain Finch Poospiza garleppi. Three above LI. We saw one in the Polylepis forest, and two more in hedge rows between the fields west of the stream. Another one along the road to CT by SM.

    Rufous-bellied Saltator Saltator rufiventris. We saw three above LI. Another two were seen during both our ascent and descent of CT in the lower parts, say up to 3500 m. They are quiet and unobtrusive, and may fly long distances. Even in flight fairly easy to identify.

    Giant Conebill Oreomanes fraseri. We saw one in the lower parts of the Polylepis forest at LI quietly foraging in the trees. This bird was not very shy, but was sometimes difficult to find, and could easily have gone unnoticed. Another three birds were seen by SM in Polylepis next to the rock face that we mentioned above.

    Slaty Flowerpiercer Diglossa baritula. One at 3500 m at CT by SM.

    Black-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus atriceps. Some on CT.

    Plumbeous Sierra-Finch phrygilus unicolor. Common on CT.

    Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus. Common on CT.

    White-winged Diuca-Finch Diuca speculifera. At least 15 in the valley leading to the reservoirs on CT at an altitude of approx. 4350 m..

    Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch Sicalis uropygialis. Common above 4100 m on CT.

    Greenish Yellow-Finch Sicalis olivascens. Common above 3700 m on CT.

    Grassland Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteola. Common on the east shore of LA.

    Bolivian Blackbird Oreopsar bolivianus. A flock of 10 birds was found during our ascent of CT (3200 m).

    Black Siskin Carduelis atrata. At least three at C1.

    On other occasions, SM saw Wren-like Rushbird (NE corner of LA), and Red Shoveller and Hudsonian Godwit at LA. We have spoken to people who saw Olive-crowned Crescentchest in the forest above LI.

    Takesi Trek

    This Section includes birds observed along the Takesi trek, dpto. La Paz, 14-17th December 1991. We trapped one bird on this trek just north of the village of Takesi at coordinates 67.48.34W, 16.29.55S. We took a taxi from La Paz to Ventilla and started walking there. Buses also run the stretch to Ventilla. Our movements can be traced on the map below.

    Map of Takesi Trek

    Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

    The Takesi (or Taquesi) trek follows an old Inca trail, which in some places is well preserved. It is described in Bolivia, a Travel Surviving Kit from Lonely Planet and also in Backpacking and Trekking in Peru and Bolivia from Bradt Publications.

    The first part, from the village of Ventilla (about 3400 m) to the pass, is on the drier western side of the mountains. At first the road leads through fields and shrubs, passes through the village of Choquecota, and continues through areas with bunchgrass. The last stretch to the pass leads over rocky slopes with patches of grass and small shrubs. The other side of the pass (at 4650 m) is wetter, and has some small lakes. Beyond Takesi (at about 3800 m) there is some humid habitat with bushes/trees, which is a nice place to pitch a tent (at about 3700 m). It also has some good birds. Further on, the trail leads over a long distance over grassy and scrubby slopes with little good habitat. Only just before arriving at the bridge over the river below Chojlla (2100 m) does the trail enter forest again. Past this bridge the trail goes through some good habitat, and there is house near the stream where we camped. It's another half hour walk to Chojlla, which is high above the river. Most of the way to Yanacachi (about 2000 m) the trail (which in Chojlla turns into a road) leads through mostly secondary (but still interesting) forest.

    On the afternoon of the 14th we started from Ventilla and camped at about 4000 m. The 15th we walked over the pass and camped not far below the village of Takesi. On the 16th we continued down to Chojlla, and on the 17th to Yanacachi and by bus back to La Paz.

    We were lucky with the weather: little rain and mostly cloudy, i.e. not too hot.

    Bird list

    Andean Condor Vultur gryphus. Two on the western side, between 4000 and 4400 m.

    Andean Goose Chloephaga melanoptera. Two pairs on the large meadows between the pass and Takesi.

    Puna Hawk Buteo poecilochrous. Two at 4500 to 4700 m on the western side. One was calling.

    Speckled Chachalaca Ortalis motmot. Several birds were calling N of Yanacachi, very close to the houses.

    Andean Guan Penelope montagnii At least four in the early morning from the campsite in the valley before Chojlla.

    Spot-winged Pigeon Columba maculosa. One near Ventilla.

    Ruddy Pigeon Columba subvinacea. One bird singing between Chojlla and Yanacachi was probably this species.

    Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus. One crossed the valley above Choquecota at about 4000 m at dusk.

    Chestnut-collared Swift Cypseloides rutilus. A rather large flock (maybe 50) was calling at about 2800 m on the eastern side.

    Green Violetear Colibri thalassinus. One or two were loudly singing in a forest border at about 2200 m on the eastern side.

    Sparkling Violetear Colibri coruscans. Very common in shrubs above Ventilla. Some were singing or displaying. Very common on the eastern side in a shrubby area from 2500 m down to about 2300 m.

    White-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia chionogaster. Several were singing in a shrubby area from 2900 m down to 2700 m. on the eastern side. Several between Chojlla and Yanacachi.

    Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys. One heard singing below Chojlla at about 2200 m. One seen between Chojlla and Yanacachi.

    Andean Hillstar Oreotrochilus estella. Some on the western side from about 3600 m up to 4400 m.

    Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas. One near Ventilla at about 3600 m.

    Black-hooded Sunbeam Aglaeactis pamela. Common in the humid shrubby area below Takesi at about 3700 to 3600 m. They were feeding on Brachyotum spec., which is illustrated in [1], Plate XXIX, nrs. 17c/d and 22b. We captured one.

    Scaled Metaltail Metallura aeneocauda. One at about 2700 m on the eastern side.

    Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina. At least three at about 3300 m on the eastern side.

    Blue-banded Toucanet Aulacorhynchus coeruleicinctis. One was calling at about 2200 m on the eastern side.

    Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Piculus rivolii. One between Chojlla and Yanacachi.

    Plain-breasted Earthcreeper Upucerthia jelskii. One or two above Choquecota at 4050 m.

    Andean Tit-spinetail Leptasthenura andicola. One shortly under the pass, on the western side, in very low scrub.

    Azara's Spinetail Synallaxis azarae. At least one in shrub at 3300 m on the eastern side. At least one in shrub at 2600 m on the eastern side.

    Austral (Puno) Canastero Asthenes anthoides (punensis). At least two between bunchgrass at 4000 m on the western side. However, the tail had large dusky tips, instead of rufous tips!

    Streak-throated Canastero Asthenes humilis. Common above 4000 m on both sides.

    Stripe-headed Antpitta Grallaria andicola. One bobbed around on our camping-spot below Takesi at 3700 m. Seen well. In [2] it is not listed for Bolivia, although it notes that Jon Fjeldså\ observed it in the Zongo valley. We also saw it above Pongo along the La Paz-Coroico road.

    Andean Tapaculo Scytalopus (magellanicus) simonsi. Many heard calling, and some were seen, on the eastern side from 3900 down to 3700 m.

    Highland Elaenia Elaenia obscura. One at about 2300 m on the eastern side.

    Tufted Tit-tyrant Anairetes parulus. Several on the eastern side from about 3700 m down to about 2500 m.

    Greater Pewee Contopus fumigatus. A pair at about 2800 m on the eastern side.

    Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis. Common around our camping-spot below Takesi at 3700 m.

    Brown-backed Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca fumicolor. Several in scrub around and below Takesi.

    White-browed Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca leucophrys. Several near Ventilla.

    White-fronted Ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola albifrons. One on the western side at about 4200 m.

    Golden-crowned Flycatcher Myiodynastes chrysocephalus. Two below Chojlla at about 2100 m.

    Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rubrocristatus. One or two pairs around our camping-spot below Takesi at 3700 m.

    Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina. Several near our camping-spot below Takesi at 3700 m. Several at about 3200 m on the eastern side.

    Sedge (or Grass) Wren Cistothorus platensis. Two were singing on a steep and grassy slope at 3250 m on the eastern side, close to each other.

    Grey-breasted Wood-wren Henicorhina leucophrys. Several heard singing between Chojlla and Yanacachi.

    White-capped Dipper Cinclus leucocephalus Two birds at the campsite in the valley just before Chojlla.

    Andean Solitaire Myadestes ralloides. Several were singing along the river below Chojlla. One was singing between Chojlla and Yanacachi.

    White-eared Solitaire Entomodestes leucotis. One heard singing between Chojlla and Yanacachi.

    Great Thrush Turdus fuscater. Several at our camping-spot below Takesi at 3700 m.

    Mourning Sierra-finch Phrygilus fruticeti. Several between Ventilla and Choquecota.

    Plumbeous Sierra-finch Phrygilus unicolor. Several above 4000 m on both sides.

    White-winged Diuca-finch Diuca speculifera. Common on the eastern side from 4400 m down to 3900 m.

    Short-tailed Finch Idiopsar brachyurus. Two together on the western side at about 4300 m, where the trail splits off from the `road'. Two together on the eastern side at about 4300 m near the first lake. Two together on the eastern side at about 3800 m, near Takesi.

    Rufous-sided Warbling-finch Poospiza hypochondria. Two between Ventilla and Choquecota.

    Carbonated Flowerpiercer Diglossa carbonaria. The Grey-bellied F. D. c. carbonaria subspecies was common on the western side. One of the Black-throated F. D. c. brunneiventris subspecies was singing at our camping-spot below Takesi at 3700 m.

    Masked Yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis. One in Choquecota, between 3700 and 3800 m!

    White-browed Conebill Conirostrum ferrugineiventre. Several around our camping-spot below Takesi at 3700 m. Noisy.

    Dusky-green Oropendola Psarocolius atrovirens. Common along the river from 2800 m downwards, on the eastern side.

    Mountain Cacique Cacicus leucoramphus. Several near the river at about 2900 m on the eastern side.

    Black Siskin Carduelis atrata. Several near Choquecota.


    There was a Viscacha on the western side, shortly below the pass.


    This Section includes birds observed at Sorata, dpto. La Paz, 21st-23rd December 1991. We put up mist nets just outside the village at coordinates 68.38.04W,15.45.57S.

    Location, Habitat, Weather, ...

    We went to Sorata to find Berlepsch's Canastero Asthenes berlepschi. They turned out to be easy to find: just outside the little town of Sorata, their nests highly visible in isolated Eucalyptus trees between fields! We placed two mist nets close to a tree with a nest. After one of the nets was hijacked by a bull which refused to pay attention to Rolf's protests, the birds apparently felt sorry for us and both flew into the other net. Unfortunately one of them escaped from our hands.

    The only birding we did was eastwards of the little town of Sorata, in the small side valley leading up to Chilcani. We followed the trail which starts on the higher side of the cemetery. After some 200 m there is a fork, of which the right hand one quickly gains height and goes all the way to the foot of the Illampu massive. We took the left hand track, which more or less remains level. Our trapping site is just a 15 minutes walk from here. Sorata itself is at about 2700 m, and we climbed up to a height of about 3000 m.

    Sorata lies in a fairly dry valley, with Mt. Illampu looming high above it. The valley is densely populated. The area where we birded was mostly fields and large areas of scrub and shrubs. Eucalyptus is a popular tree here. Higher up in the side valley there is more dense and forest-like habitat.

    We had pleasant weather with some rain and some sun. We stayed in Hotel Prefectural, which can be recommended.

    Bird list

    Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus. One or two.

    Mitred Parakeet Aratinga mitrata. One flock of about 45.

    Andean Swift Aeronautes andecolus. Sometimes a large and noisy flock passed by, low over the slopes.

    Sparkling Violetear Colibri coruscans. At least one.

    White-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia chionogaster. One or two.

    Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas. One.

    Green-tailed Trainbearer Lesbia nuna. Common. We captured an adult male.

    Bar-bellied Woodpecker Veniliornis nigriceps. One, in low scrub between the fields!

    Berlepsch's Canastero Asthenes berlepschi. We took a blood sample and some photographs of one captured bird (the other bird escaped). Measurements: bill to feathering 15, wing 69, tail 70. Rolf's notes: "Compared with warblers, bulky bird in the hand with long tail and relatively large head. Bill dagger-shaped and thrush-like, slightly decurved. Bill blackish. Pupil black, iris dark brown (cf. Prunella modularis adult). Legs dark greyish-brown, strong feet. Crown and mantle greyish brown with slight rufous cast. Mantle colour gradually replaced by orange on rump. Zone of graduation 5 mm. Tail rounded, outermost two rectrices completely orange, 3rd rectrix with black area, other rectrices black (see photographs). When tail not spread appearing black above, orange below. In flight tail is usually clearly two-toned above. Eyebrow buffy, eye stripe dark brown, cheeks mottled with brown (but much less so than depicted in [1], giving less dark-cheeked impression than given there). Upper flanks orangy-brown, not usually visible unless in the hand. Vent orangy-brown. Rest of underparts pale buffy. Primaries brown-black with hardly any rufous or orange. Secondaries and wing coverts broadly edged with rufous. Tertials having 3 mm wide rufous outer edges (see photographs). No moult but body feathers extremely loose and sticking to the hand (in both birds trapped).

    Behaviour: single or in pairs, both skulking and at times out in the open but always near scrub. Nest (three different ones found) high up in Eucalyptus tree in a fork near the stem. Measurements: about 40 cm high, 25 cm wide and deep. A loose construction of fairly thick branches and twigs with the opening at or just above half height. Opening small and lined with pale material (twice) like pale leaves, paper, down etc. Birds seemed to favour pale materials for what appeared to be the nest lining. Two nests were about 500 m apart.

    Song: low activity, less than once per hour, and probably not full song heard. A trill like that of Creamy-bellied Canastero Asthenes dorbignyi, but shorter, somewhat lower and lacking CC's introductory notes (due to low activity?). At dusk singing from top of nest, otherwise from within 100 m from the nest."

    Tufted Tit-tyrant Anairetes parulus. One.

    Black-billed Shrike-tyrant Agriornis montana. One, which sheltered under the roof of a house during a rain shower.

    White-winged Black-tyrant Knipolegus aterrimus. At least ten. At least two males made display flights from isolated trees. These flights looked virtually identical to those of Plumbeous Tyrant K. signatus, only the song during these little flights was different: a high-pitched `tsee-eet'.

    Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina. Several times we saw a small flock.

    Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca. Common. One pair entered a nest cavity in the wall of a house. We captured two.

    Band-tailed Sierra-finch Phrygilus alaudinus. Several.

    Rust-and-Yellow Tanager Thlypopsis ruficeps. Two in scrub near Sorata.

    Cinereous Conebill Conirostrum cinereum. We saw several pairs.

    Mountain Cacique Cacicus leucoramphus. A few were in dense shrubby habitat at about 3000 m.

    Yellow-bellied Siskin Carduelis xanthogastra. A party of five to ten near Sorata.

    > > >. . . .GO TO PART II OF THE REPORT