PIURA (Compass)

Lat:00o00´S/00o00´W ha topography msl 
Protected/registered status 
Best Time for visit (9th-12th March, 2006)


Birding Site Guide

The Chinguela Ridge can be birded by first heading to Huancabamba from Piura (8 hours if you're lucky). The road is bad and in the rainy season, traffic is interupted constantly with lanslides and river-crossings. 3 bus companies leave from Piura. I travelled with 'Etipthsac' who leave at 7am and also have night bus leaving at 5pm (S20). Huancabamba has several places to stay, eat and also internet access. I stayed at Danubio for S10. From Huancabamba, colectivos leave for Sapalache (ask from where). This is another 1 hour uphill on a poor road which is also susceptible to landslides in the rainy season. Public transport probably finishes in Sapalache although a couple of minibuses were seen going up and coming back down in the early afternoon. It may be possible to stay at the restaurant in Sapalache if you miss the last colectivo back to Huancabamba at about 5pm or want to get an early start. Several pick-ups travel along this road and it may well be possible to hitch. If not, it is less than 3 hours to the ridge along a fairly new road in good condition leaving from the Sapalache plaza. Paramo Pipit was seen on the way up. I walked up here and camped for 2 nights birding the elfin forest on the other side of the ridge. Habitat destruction appears to be occuring at an alarming rate, especially along the road. Burning whole hillsides appears to be standard practice. At the highest point on the the road, there are several patches of elfin forest that are definately worth exploring. I missed these in the fog on the way up and had no time to explore on the way back. Further on, the road passes through paramo for a while and then elfin forest starts again. An overhead electric wire crosses the road at several points. Where it crosses the 3rd time, there is a path leading down past one of the poles to the left of the road. This leads past the site of an old house where the ground is flat and makes a good camp-ground. In the rainy season, there were plenty of small streams which would seem to provide amply drinking water. 

Any elfin forest from the top down to where the dead trees start is worth birding. The best area I found was an old trail which runs above the road at the top through paramo. Before a right turn down the hill around where the elfin forest starts again, there is a lone tree on the right. Before this on the left of the road are some numbers painted in white on a rock. 386 crossed out and 1282 painted in its place. Just before this is a very small stream coming down. Follow this up and it will get to a bigger trail above. This passes through several good patches of forest. Birds found in this area included Chusquea Tapaculo, several species of mountain-tanager, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Mouse-colored Thistletail and Andean Snipe (also heard displaying at night). General birds of the elfin forest included Glossy Flowerpiercer, Neblina Metaltail, Glowing Puffleg, Rufous-naped Brush-Finch, Black-crested Warbler, Turquoise Jay, etc.

I also birded the western slope of the ridge approached from a different way. Instead of turning off the road to the plaza in Sapalache, continue straight on to a trout farm (pescaria). Here the road ends but a path continues up. This forks soon and either route leads up and to some remnant forest patches. Birds seen here but not on the eastern side were: Citrine Warbler, Red-crested Cotinga and Rainbow-fronted Starfrontlet. The habitat destruction on this slope is worse and very little remained. At the tree-line on the western side, I flushed a large snipe from paramo which flew into forest. It seemed much more rufous than Andean and could have been one of the rarer species. I saw 69 species including 19 lifers. 


Species seen

  • Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
  • American Kestrel Falco sparverius
  • Andean Snipe Gallinago jamesoni Photographed
  • Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata
  • Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata
  • White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
  • Sparkling Violet-ear Colibri coruscans
  • Chestnut-breasted Coronet Boissonneaua matthewsii
  • Shining Sunbeam Aglaeactis cupripennis Photographed
  • Mountain Velvetbreast Lafresnaya lafresnayi Possibly seen
  • Collared Inca Coeligena torquata Photographed
  • Rainbow Starfrontlet Coeligena iris
  • Glowing Puffleg Eriocnemis vestitus
  • Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina Photographed
  • Neblina Metaltail Metallura odomae Near-threatened Photographed
  • Rainbow-bearded Thornbill Chalcostigma herrani Photographed
  • Mouse-colored Thistletail Schizoeaca griseomurina Photographed
  • Many-striped Canastero Asthenes flammulata Photographed Recorded
  • Pearled Treerunner Margarornis squamiger
  • Flammulated Treehunter Thripadectes flammulatus Possibly heard
  • Chestnut-naped Antpitta Grallaria nuchalis Heard only
  • Chusquea Tapaculo Scytalopus parkeri Photographed Recorded
  • Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rubrocristata
  • White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps
  • Sierran Elaenia Elaenia pallatangae Possibly seen
  • White-throated Tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys
  • White-banded Tyrannulet Mecocerculus stictopterus Possibly seen
  • Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus Possibly seen
  • Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea
  • Cliff Flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea
  • Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis
  • Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca fumicolor Photographed
  • White-browed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca leucophrys Possibly seen
  • Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
  • Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea Seen in Huancabamba
  • Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
  • Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina
  • Paramo Pipit Anthus bogotensis
  • Rufous Wren Cinnycerthia unirufa
  • Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis
  • Great Thrush Turdus fuscater
  • Turquoise Jay Cyanolyca turcosa Photographed Recorded
  • Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus
  • Spectacled Redstart Myioborus melanocephalus
  • Citrine Warbler Basileuterus luteoviridis
  • Black-crested Warbler Basileuterus nigrocristatus
  • Russet-crowned Warbler Basileuterus coronatus
  • Blue-backed Conebill Conirostrum sitticolor
  • Capped Conebill Conirostrum albifrons
  • Black-capped Hemispingus Hemispingus atropileus Photographed
  • Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
  • Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala Photographed
  • Hooded Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis montana Photographed
  • Black-chested Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis eximia Photographed
  • Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus lacrymosus
  • Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus igniventris
  • Golden-crowned Tanager Iridosornis rufivertex
  • Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager Dubusia taeniata Photographed
  • Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus Photographed
  • Plain-colored Seedeater Catamenia inornata
  • Glossy Flowerpiercer Diglossa lafresnayii Photographed
  • Black Flowerpiercer Diglossa humeralis Possibly seen
  • Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossopis cyanea
  • Pale-naped Brush-Finch Atlapetes pallidinucha Photographed
  • Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch Atlapetes latinuchus Photographed
  • Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
  • Golden-bellied Grosbeak Pheucticus chrysogaster
  • Peruvian Meadowlark Sturnella bellicosa Seen near Sapalache
  • Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanica Seen near Sapalache

Other Fauna 
A total of -- species of mammals. 

There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles. 


Author: Charles Hesse