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WINGS Birding Tours – Photo Gallery

Bolivia: Northern Andes, Madidi National Park and Barba Azul

One of the first regional specialties we might see, even before our introductory meeting, is the distinctive Titicaca Grebe. Marshes and ponds near lake Titicaca could host a variety of interesting waterfowl including Andean Goose…
…and the distinctive Crested Duck. We drive over a high Andean pass and stop to check the tundra-like puna for ground-tyrants and ovenbirds.
If it’s sunny, and if we pay close attention, we could see a high-altitude butterfly like the little known Titicaca Blue.
On the way down the eastern slope of the Andes we bird the lush cloud forests from the roadside as well. There are many species we might see only in these high-elevation habitats, such as Black-throated Flowerpiercer. Crimson-mantled Woodpecker is an exciting find in the cloud forests. If we have a view into the interior of lush, mossy trees we might get a view of the minute Mountain Wren. There are a few spots where we have views of the rushing river where Torrent Duck is a distinctive possibility. The drier habitats of the Apolo Valley are quite a contrast, and it may be a surprise that this is the favored habitat of the Swallow-tailed Cotinga. Our lodging here is the modest but quaint and hospitable Apolo Monastery. Our rooms are simple but clean and have private bathrooms. We have a couple internal flights, and one of them might offer some spectacular views of the Bolivian peaks. We’ll eventually arrive at the lush and birdy foothills of Sadiri Lodge, and perhaps a mixed flock with the highly local Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet will greet us. The feeders by the dining hall should be attracting a few species of hummingbird, the most common of which is the oversized Gray-breasted Sabrewing. Our cabins are only a few years old, nestled among pristine forest. Comfortable and spacious, each has a private bathroom with hot water showers. Be prepared to walk between your cabin and the dining hall up a series of steps, along which you might see and will certainly hear several species of frogs. Along the jeep track below the lodge we’ll encounter many species of birds. White-lored Tyrannulet is one of the more commonly heard birds that we might see. Western Striolated-Puffbird, a recently described species named after Barak Obama, is a scarce bird, but if calling we’ll have good chances of seeing it. Another very scarce bird is Subtropical Pygmy-Owl, and Sadiri Lodge is one of the best places to look for it. The odd Sharpbill, in it’s own family at the present, is regular in the canopy flocks at Sadiri Lodge. Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak is a scarce canopy flock member that seems to be quite regular in this region. We’ll have to be very lucky for a Rose-fronted Parakeet to perch well enough to see its distinctive plumage. The lights around the dining hall of our lodge could attract some moths; upon closer inspection some, like this  silkmoth, can be stunningly attractive. Not far away on a global scale is the drastically different Llanos de Moxos. We’ll take a private air taxi, perhaps getting a glimpse of the evidence of an advanced, pre-Columbian agricultural society. Before we know it, we’ll be in the savannas of the Beni. There are several kinds of habitat here, all accessible by foot, including marshes, islands of palm-dominated forests, and open savanna. Areas of imperceptibly higher elevation have a brushier habitat reminiscent of the mainly Brazilian cerrado and with similar birds.     We won’t be able to ignore the afternoon flight of macaws heading to their roost, dominated by the gorgeous Blue-and-yellow Macaws. But a star attraction will be the very local and  rare Blue-throated Macaw; we could see as much as 10% of the world’s population here. There are many birds at home in the open country that dominates here, such as Campo Flicker. A very small population of the incomparable Cock-tailed Tyrant occurs here, and we’ll make an effort to see one. The stately Maguari Stork is a close relative of the European members of the same genus. We’ll also look for birds in the palm-dominated forest islands in this habitat where Blue-crowned Trogon is an attractive resident. Though birds will be our focus, some other taxa will be hard to ignore; if Giant Anteater is around, we’ll make an effort to get views like this. In some gallery forests at the end our itinerary Band-tailed Manakin is a regular sight. Stunning sunsets will likely be a daily event here, and our final one will be a wistful end to our wonderful adventure.