Lost for almost a century, the spectacular Palkachupa Cotinga was rediscovered in the Apolo valley as recently as 2000. Yet to this day few people have heard of this species, never mind seen it! Our short extension to the dry, semi-humid forests near Aten is dedicated to finding the Palkachupa Cotinga as well as a handful of other rarely-seen and difficult-to-find species, including Green-capped Tanager, Yungas Antwren, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Stripe-faced Wood Quail, Yungas Manakin and Military Macaw.
Palkachupa Cotinga, Stripe-faced Wood Quail, Red-winged Tinamou, Military Macaw, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, White-eared Puffbird, Yungas & Round-tailed Manakin, Yungas Antwren, Bolivian White-crowned Tapaculo, Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant, Unadorned Flycatcher, Plumbeous Tyrant (split from Andean), Screaming Piha, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Green-capped, Guira, Yellow-crested, Green-and-gold, Paradise & Fawn-breasted Tanager, Southern Mountain Cacique
yungas forest, dry “savanna”
mild to hot
Day 1: Lago Titicaca to the Apolo
We head out very early this morning for the long (+-13hours) and bumpy drive to Atén in the Apolo Valley. The day is dedicated to travel, but we will make the odd stop en route to the town, where we may come across Common Miner, Plain-breasted Earthcreeper, Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant and Rufous-naped Ground Tyrant amongst others.
Days 2 & 3: Apolo Dry Plateau and Apolo Yungas
After yesterday’s driving adventure, we can look forward to two full days of our Bolivia birding tour dedicated to searching for rare birds. If we are very lucky, we will sit down for our first breakfast with Palkachupa Cotinga in the bag already! Named according to the local Quechua language (‘palka’ meaning fork and ‘chupa’ meaning tail), the 600-strong population is incredibly isolated and Critically Endangered to boot. Conservation efforts are progressing, but slash and burn clearance for cattle farming is, unfortunately, rife in the area.
Depending on our morning’s success, we will either continue to search for the Palkachupa Cotinga or start branching out for many other species in dry, savanna type habitat that may include Rufous-crested Coquette, White-eared Puffbird, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail, Black-bellied Antwren, Chestnut-tailed Antbird, White-backed Fire-eye, Red-winged Tinamou, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Montane Solitary Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Green-cheeked Parakeet, Blue-tailed Emerald, Rufous-crested Coquette, Black-throated Toucanet, Red-stained Woodpecker, Bluish-slate Antshrike, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Black-faced Tanager, White-bellied Pygmy Tyrants, Greenish Elaenias, Upland Antshrike, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Tschudi’s and Black-banded Woodcreepers, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Amazonian Motmot, Olive-faced Flatbill, Chestnut-vented Conebill and Guira Tanager. A truly bizarre combination of species that are not known to co-exist elsewhere.
However, possibly the second or third most sought-after species here is the incredibly localised and rare Green-capped Tanager. Remarkably, it is the ongoing habitat destruction in the area that is thought to be the main reason for it recent arrival. Outside of a few sightings in Apolo, the species is only reliably seen in Inambari, Peru!
We shall also dedicate some time to the surrounding patches of Yungas forests where mixed flocks are commonplace and have their own set of sought after species that we will put plenty of effort into finding. Specials here include the world’s ‘least-known small grey bird’, the Yungas Antwren (seen on our inaugural 2015 tour), Bolivian White-crowned Tapaculo, Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant, Unadorned Flycatcher, Plumbeous Tyrant (split from Andean), Screaming Piha, Yungas and Round-tailed Manakins, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Guira, Yellow-crested, Green-and-gold, Paradise and Fawn-breasted Tanagers, Southern Mountain Cacique and a host of sierra finches. A spot of owling may well find Spectacled, Striped and Black-banded Owls, Common Potoo, Rufous and Scissor-tailed Nightjars, Ocellated Poorwill.
Day 4: Apolo Valley to Charazani
After what will have been a cracking expedition to see some of Bolivia’s, and indeed South America’s rarest and toughest birds, we will depart the Apolo Valley and head to Charazani. We may yet add a few species on the drive, with Streak-throated Bush Tyrant, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant and Red-necked Woodpecker all possible. While Charazani itself does not provide us with further birding opportunities, it does make a very convenient half way house to break up the long journey back to La Paz.
Day 5: Charazani to La Paz and final departures
We climb back into our vehicles for one last drive as we head back to La Paz, reaching the capital city in the early afternoon where this Bolivia birding tour will come to an end.