ARAGUAS (Choroní), (Compass)

Lat:00o00´S/00o00´W 107,800ha topography 0-2435m (Pico Cenizo) 
Protected/registered status 
Best Time for visit (28th-30th September, 2006)


Birding Site Guide

This is a wonderful National Park very close to Caracas (an hour and a half to Maracay). Buses leave the terminal in Maracay hourly for Ocumare on the coast that pass the Rancho Grande Biological Station run by UCV. It only takes about half an hour to get to the entrance but you must pay the full fare to Ocumare of B5,000. The drivers know it but it is just before the pass, so if the bus starts going back down again. You’ve missed it. Normally there is probable no need to make a reservation as there is ample space in the dormitorios, but when I arrived, there were many entomology students on a field course and space was tight.

Dormitorios are a bit dingy but you are provided with a sheet and pillowcase. Bring a sleeping bag. Plus your food for the stay. You can use the kitchen here and the water is fine to drink. It costs B10,000 per night to stay. The building is gigantic and much is derelict and out of use. Still, from the top you have an amazing view over some trees and the best way to start the day was to bird the terrace for an hour or 2. They have a feeding station which is popular with several manager species, Russet-backed Oropendolas and Red-crowned Woodpeckers (there is even a white one). The fruit goes very quick, so bring a few of your own might be a good idea. Other birds seen from the terrace were Blood-eared Parakeets (very common), Lilac-tailed Parrotlet, Crested Spinetail, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Swallow manager and Brown-capped Vireo. 

There are trails leading from the side building. There is a sign saying not to enter without a guide. This may not be necessary but check with the staff upstairs. Juan is a good guy to check with. Follow the trail up and you reach a fork. Turn right, past a tree fall and then left onto a loop through nice forest. This brings you back to the first fork. Instead of turning left onto the loop trail, continue onto another fork, signed to ‘Guacamayo’ to the left and ‘La Toma’ straight on. The ‘Guacamayo’ trail winds up steeply and has many forks. Also it is not well marked and possible to get lost but if you keep going up you should reach the peak which I had as over 1500m. Near the top I saw a possible Schwartz’s Antthrush. About 100m below the to is the only place I saw Venezuelan Word-Quail. A large group of about 20 including some juveniles, they seemed unresponsive to playback. ‘La Toma’ trail I found best for general birding. Near the fork, I saw a few good groups including 2 Marble-faced and Venezuelan Bristle-Tyrants, Guttulated Foliage-gleaner, Red-billed Scythebill. The trail bends round to the left and on the other side there was an ant swarm with many woodcreepers, Grey-headed Manager and Black-face Antthrush. Early in the morning you can often hear Plain-backed Antpitta and Short-tailed Antthrush. From late September to late March, The Audobon Society of Venezuela and Miguel Lentino from the Phelp’s Collection run a Banding station at the pass, just near Rancho Grande. I was allowed to join in for a couple of days and volunteering for the month here might be possible. It is an important passage point for boreal migrants as it is the lowest point in the cordillera.

A total of 500 species have been recorded for the park, I saw 83 species including 15 lifers.

Species seen

  • Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui Heard only
  • Black Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus Recorded
  • Venezuelan Wood-Quail Odontophorus columbianus Endemic Near-threatened Photographed
  • Ruddy Pigeon Patagioenas subvinacea Heard only
  • White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
  • Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana
  • Red(Blood)-eared Parakeet Pyrrhura hoematotis Endemic Photographed Recorded
  • Lilac-tailed Parrotlet Touit batavica Photographed
  • Red-billed Parrot Pionus sordidus
  • White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris Photographed
  • Gray-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris Photographed
  • Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi Photographed
  • White-tipped Swift Aeronautes montivagus Photographed Recorded
  • Lazuline Sabrewing Campylopterus falcatus Photographed
  • Golden-tailed Sapphire Chrysuronia oenone
  • Violet-fronted Brilliant Heliodoxa leadbeateri Photographed
  • Violet-chested Hummingbird Sternoclyta cyanopectus Endemic Photographed
  • Long-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus kingi Photographed
  • Groove-billed Toucanet Aulacorhynchus sulcatus Endemic Photographed
  • Scaled Piculet Picumnus squamulatus
  • Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus Recorded
  • Golden-olive Woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus
  • Crested Spinetail Cranioleuca subcristata Recorded
  • Montane Foliage-gleaner Anabacerthia striaticollis Photographed
  • Guttulated Foliage-gleaner Syndactyla guttulata Endemic Photographed
  • Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner Philydor rufus
  • Gray-throated Leaftosser Sclerurus albigularis
  • Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa Photographed
  • Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus
  • Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus Photographed
  • Cocoa Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus susurrans Photographed
  • Red-billed Scythebill Campylorhamphus trochilirostris Photographed
  • Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis
  • White-streaked (Venezuelan) Antvireo Dysithamnus leucostictus
  • Slaty Antwren Myrmotherula schisticolor Recorded?
  • Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis Recorded
  • Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona Heard only Recorded
  • Schwartz's Antthrush Chamaeza turdina Photographed
  • Plain-backed Antpitta Grallaria haplonota Heard only
  • Handsome Fruiteater Pipreola formosa Endemic Photographed
  • Olive-striped Flycatcher Mionectes olivaceus Photographed
  • Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant Pogonotriccus ophthalmicus Photographed
  • Venezuelan Bristle-Tyrant Pogonotriccus venezuelanus Endemic Near-threatened Recorded
  • Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant Lophotriccus pileatus Recorded
  • Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomea Photographed
  • Smoke-colored Pewee Contopus fumigatus Recorded
  • Pale-edged Flycatcher Myiarchus cephalotes Photographed
  • Golden-crowned Flycatcher Myiodynastes chrysocephalus Photographed
  • Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus
  • Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis
  • Rufous-breasted Wren Thryothorus rutilus Possibly heard
  • Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucophrys Photographed Recorded
  • Scaly-breasted Wren Microcerculus marginatus Photographed Recorded
  • Yellow-legged Thrush Platycichla flavipes
  • Pale-breasted Thrush Turdus leucomelas
  • White-necked Thrush Turdus albicollis Photographed
  • Green Jay Cyanocorax yncas Recorded
  • Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys Photographed
  • Golden-fronted Greenlet Hylophilus aurantiifrons Possibly seen
  • Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis
  • Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi
  • American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
  • Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis Photographed
  • Slate-throated Redstart Myioborus miniatus Photographed Recorded
  • Three-striped Warbler Basileuterus tristriatus Photographed
  • Bananaquit Coereba flaveola
  • Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus ophthalmicus Photographed
  • Gray-headed Tanager Eucometis penicillata Photographed
  • White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus Photographed?
  • Silver-beaked Tanager Ramphocelus carbo
  • Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus Photographed
  • Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum
  • Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus somptuosus
  • Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster Photographed
  • Blue-naped Chlorophonia Chlorophonia cyanea Photographed
  • Golden Tanager Tangara arthus Photographed
  • Speckled Tanager Tangara guttata
  • Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola Photographed
  • Black-headed Tanager Tangara cyanoptera
  • Swallow-Tanager Tersina viridis
  • Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch Buarremon brunneinucha Photographed Recorded
  • Blue-black Grosbeak Cyanocompsa cyanoides Photographed
  • Russet-backed Oropendola Psarocolius angustifrons Recorded

Other Fauna 
A total of -- species of mammals. 

There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles. 


Author: Charles Hesse