11-15 August 1984: Central Highway, Peru (westbound)
We returned to La Divisiora and spent two more days there, between a day at nearby Santa Elaina and Santa Lucia marsh. La Divisiora continued to produce good birds including White-bellied Woodstar, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, and Orange-eared Tanager. Nick was particularly disappointed not to see the Antthrush which appeared in a gap in the vegetation, in full view for me but unfortunately obscured for him. Santa Elaina gave us a different set of birds including Ferruginous Pigmy Owl, Chestnut-Eared and Ivory-billed Aracari, Black-faced Antbird, the superb Blue-naped Chlorophonia and Green and Gold Tanager. Santa Lucia marsh was a site for the rare Pale-eyed Blackbird and we saw two although they were amongst the least memorable birds seen on the trip!
|Black-capped Mockingthrush, now considered to be an aberrant wren|
We drove back through Tingo Maria and started the 14th climbing up above the far entrance of the Carpish Tunnel to get into slightly higher habitat. We saw a selection of hummingbirds, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant and both Chestnut-bellied and Buff-breasted Mountain Toucans. We had a quick stop near Huanuco where we saw Fasciated Wrens then after a meal we left the Central Highway and drove in the dark up towards Marcpocomapocha. Near the pass we found a roadside shrine that was just about big enough for three of us to sleep in – it saved putting up a tent. Mike preferred to sleep in the car and was almost frozen by morning, not that we were much warmer as it had been a very clear night. I climbed part way back to the pass to catch the early morning rays. As they warmed my back I could fully understand why ancient mountain cultures were sun worshippers.
|our accommodation, and car, at Marcocomapocha|
|me enjoying the first rays ...|
First stop was a marshy area near the road at Marcocomapocha which was a reliable site for the much sought after Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. We were not disappointed and soon found a pair that more than lived up to expectations. Sadly we failed to find White-bellied Cinclodes, the other species the area was notable for. We continued on down towards Milloc hoping to find a small area of polylepis forest that we didn’t have enough petrol to reach at the start of our trip. We had no better luck on the return, failing to find anywhere to fill up (or even eat) at Milloc – it appeared to be a rundown company mining town. We continued on felling we were past the point of no return and hoped, as it was mainly downhill, we might make it. Just as it was getting dark we suddenly ran out of fuel, although having what appeared to be a defective fuel gauge was the least of our problems as we’d not seen another vehicle on the road for hours and were miles from the nearest village. We’d just stopped and were getting out wondering what to do – a nearby cliff looked quite inviting!! – when a vehicle pulled up behind us. It had no alternative as we were blocking the single track road! It also had a jerry can of fuel that they were willing to sell us, at a small profit. With that stroke of good fortunate we were on our way and soon after when we thought we were in about the right area for the forest we found an area by the road to pull up and crash out. No such luck as we were moved on by the police before we could get a tent up. A distinct feeling of déjà vu was enough for us to abandon plans to spend any more time in the area and we continued back to Lima where we returned the car, were fined $200 for the damage to it (the oil leak was pretty hard to miss) and got a bus ticket to Cuzco. When asking how long the journey was we were told could be 36 hours, could be over 3 days. Our budget, somewhat dented by the car hire fine, unfortunately didn’t allow for us to fly.
|valley view from Marcocomapocha road|
|mountain view from Marcocomapocha road|
|DSP site ahead|
|hopefully this is it ...|
|looking for Sandpiper-plovers|
|me at the DSP site|
|Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, one of our most wanted birds, it did not disappoint|
|Bar-winged Cinclodes, no sign of the rare White-bellied unfortunately|
|Andean Rufous-backed Negrito (a high altitude tyrant flycatcher)|
|no surprise at this altitude that it was not the most active hummingbird I've seen|
|road to Milloc|
|light snowfall on the road to Milloc|
|Milloc, few shopping opportunities here|