T h e birds of Abra Patricia and the upper río Mayo, San Martín, north Peru - PDF

T h e birds of Abra Patricia and the upper río Mayo, San Martín, north Peru Jon Hornbuckle Cotinga 12 (1999): En 1998 se llevó a cabo un inventario ornitológico en un bosque al este de Abra Patricia,

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T h e birds of Abra Patricia and the upper río Mayo, San Martín, north Peru Jon Hornbuckle Cotinga 12 (1999): En 1998 se llevó a cabo un inventario ornitológico en un bosque al este de Abra Patricia, Departamento San Martín, norte de Perú, en el cual se registraron 317 especies de aves. Junto con los registros previamente publicados y observaciones recientes realizadas por visitantes al área, el número de especies asciende a por lo menos 420. De éstas, 23 están clasificadas como amenazadas globalmente3, incluyendo Xenoglaux loweryi y Grallaricula ochraceifrons, ambas prácticamente desconocidas. Además, se registraron siete especies de distribución restringida. A pesar de que el Bosque de Protección del Alto Mayo protege teóricamente ha, la tala del bosque es una actividad frecuente y al parecer no existen medidas reales de control. En la actualidad se están realizando esfuerzos para conservar esta importante área. In t r o d u c t io n In northern Peru, the forest east of the Abra Patricia pass, dpto. San M artin (see Appendix 3 for coordinates) is of p articular in terest to ornithologists as it is the type-locality for the nearmythical Long-whiskered Owlet Xenoglaux loweryi and O chre-fronted A n tp itta G rallaricula ochraceifrons10,15. However, ornithological surveys of this area have been confined to three Louisiana State University Museum of Zoology (LSUMZ) expeditions, totalling six weeks: in 1976, 1977 and 19835,15,18. Since that period the region has been too dangerous to visit, until the recent cessation of guerilla activities. 11 The area is located at the northern end of the Cordillera Oriental, the easternmost range of the north Peruvian Andes, sloping eastward to the Rio Mayo. It is traversed by the one paved road through the Andes in northern Peru from Olmos, on the coastal plain, to Moyobamba, on the western edge of Amazonia. The native forest along this road has largely been cut or badly degraded, except for a remaining pristine area on the slope east of Abra Patricia, at c m, 375 road km east of Olmos and 90 km west of Rioja, down to 1000 m, below which it has been cleared principally for rice paddies and cash crops. This humid temperate and subtropical forest has survived due to its inaccessibility the dirt road through it was constructed only 20 years ago. However, in 1998 the road was being rebuilt, making it one of the best graded and surfaced roads through extensive virgin forest (for 35 road km) anywhere in the Andes. The inevitable consequence of this is the arrival of settlers and opportunists, resulting in increased deforestation. This situation was clearly apparent during my visit in August 1998, with an Anglo Swedish party, and I decided to return, with Peru-based assistants, in November 1998 to undertake a new bird survey in order to provide a sound basis for a conservation programme. M e th o d s Fieldwork was conducted for 20 days in November 1998 by Jeremy Flanagan (JF) and JH, assisted by César Chávez Villavicencio (CC) and Carlos Aries for part of the time. Rob Innés and Chris Jones (RI, CJ) also spent 10 days in this period birding along and near the road and contributed their sight and sound records to the survey. We operated 9 11 mist-nets of c. 100 m total length at four elevations. Net sites were on the trail at the pass ( m), on and near the Garcia ridge (1850m 1950 m), above Afluente ( m) and at Aguas Verdes (1,050 m) see Fig. 1. Most of the nets were kept open constantly, except during prolonged rain or where bats were found to be relatively common at night. All birds were measured on removal, photographed selectively, and released after a tail feather had been snipped in order to determine whether the bird was a fresh capture. Forest near the m ist-net sites was surveyed, unsystematically, by the observers, from the road or main trails. Observations from other birders that had visited the area during the previous two years were sought. Valuable contributions were received from Rose Ann Rowlett and Richard Webster (RAR, REW), Barry Walker (BW) and Dave Willis (DW). A list, drawn up by Gary Graves (GRG), of species recorded during his 1976 expedition with John O Neill (JPO) was also made available to me. The habitat at the LSUMZ study sites has been described in some detail5,15,17 but can be summarised at the lower elevations as subtropical forest of tall (50+ m) emergent trees and closed canopy at c. 30 m, w ith a dense understorey. Canopy height decreases with altitude so that by m it is 6 9 m in the flatter and sheltered areas but only 4 5 m on exposed ridge-tops. Frequency of rain and cloud cover is high, with most trees covered in thick moss and laden with bromeliads, orchids and ferns. Palms and emergent ferns are numerous, as are Chusquea bamboo thickets in places. At the pass, the canopy is still up to 9 m high with no stunted forest, but extensive deforestation has occurred in the west, with a lesser amount on the east side. The weather was a mixture of rain and sunny intervals, wetter in the first two weeks particularly at night, with rain throughout some nights, but relatively dry in the last week. Prevailing easterly winds varied in strength from light to moderate. R e s u lts The total number of bird species recorded during the August and November 1998 fieldwork was 317, including 115 captured by m ist-netting (353 individuals and 19 recaptures, Appendix 2). With 56 species new to the area recorded during these periods, the total for the locality becomes 420 species see Appendix 1. Since the study period was short, data could not be analysed statistically for parameters of species abundance. T h r e a t e n e d s p e c ie s The 23 species currently considered by BirdLife International3 to be globally threatened (two Vulnerable and 21 Near-threatened) are listed below, with all known recent records from the area. Hooded Tinam ou Nothocercus nigrocapillus Individuals seen on the trail near Abra Patricia pass on 28 August (JH) and 20 September 1998 (RAR), and one tape-recorded there on 23 November (JH). One was also heard at 1,950 m on the west side of the pass, just outside the area, on 28 October 1996 (RAR, REW). Fasciated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma fasciatum Noted as fairly common near the pass by Davis5, individuals on the river above Garcia on 25 September 1997 at 2000 m24 and in the same area on 27 August 1998 (JH et al.) are the only recent records. However, as it has been seen more frequently west of the pass, e.g. six by BW during three visits, the species appears to be regular in the survey area. C rested Eagle Morphnus guianensis One record by Parker & Parker18 but none since. 12 Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle Spizastur melanoleucus One seen well at 1300 m on 21 September 1998 was mobbed by a Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis (RAR, REW), Orange-breasted Falcon Falco deiroleucus Individuals at 1200 and 1600 m on 25 October 1996 and in the rocky canyon at 2000 m on 16 January and 27 October 1996 suggest a pair was holding territory that year. Since then the preferred area has become a major quarry and staging area for road construction, and the only record has been of two at 1300 m on 21 September Wattled Guan Aburria aburri Classified as uncommon by Parker & Parker18 and rare by Davis5. The only recent confirmed record was of two above Afluente in August 1998 (DW). A single guan in flight at dusk above the river at Afluente on 16 November 98 was probably this species (JH). Spot-winged Parrotlet Touit stictoptera The only known records of this Vulnerable species are of three on 16 January 1996 at 1,100 m, in the Afluente area24, two at 1800 m on 23 May 1996 (BW), five at 1800 m on 9 November 1998 (CC), and two at 1900 m on 10 November (JH). Long-whiskered Owlet Xenoglaux loweryi A female was mist-netted in the early morning of 22 August 1976, probably on the Garcia ridge15, and two, thought to be a pair, on 23 August in the stunted forest on the opposite side of the road (JPO in litt.). These were the first specimens and the only confirmed records from the locality. Two additional specimens were mist-netted c. 90 km to the west, at 2350 m on the Cordillera de Colán, on 15 October 1978, by Tom Schulenberg (TSS)20. Xenoglaux has not been recorded since, nor has it ever been seen for certain in the field or tape-recorded. Despite mist-netting in the stunted forest at night we failed to find any definite evidence of this species presence. However, we did tape-record an unknown species calling at night. It was not taperesponsive and only called occasionally, on relatively clear nights, but at 2 3 localities at m and c m. It could have been Xenoglaux as the call was so different from any owl known to several experienced ornithologists, but it could even be attributable to a new taxon. Napo Sabrewing Campylopterus villaviscensio An adult male mist-netted at Aguas Verdes on 19 November 1998, at c m, was the first record for the area and at the lower end of the species known elevational range23. In Peru it is known only from two localities: east of Moyobamba, San Martín, where first recorded by Davis in October 1983, principally at 1350 m, with 26 specimens obtained5, and the upper río Comainas (a tributary of the río Cenepa) in the Cordillera del Cóndor21. Ecuadorian Piedtail Phlogophilus hemileucurus Considered endemic to Ecuador until discovered at Afluente in 1977 by Parker & Parker18 who regarded it as uncommon. Individuals were seen on 26 October 1996 at 1000 m and 21 September 1998 at 1300 m24; one was mist-netted at 1050 m on 19 November, and several sighted at 1350 m (RI, CJ). Royal Sunangel Heliangelus regalis This Vulnerable species was first recognised in June 1975, in the Cordillera del Cóndor, near the border with Ecuador8. Although not recorded at Abra Patricia by O Neill & Graves, it was found, by Davis5, at 1550 m east of Moyobamba. One was noted on January 1996 in the stunted forest ridge at Garcia24 and 1 2 males were seen near there in May 1996 (BW). At least five males were observed there on 29 August 1998, and one sub-adult male trapped (JH). In November 1998, it was fairly common along the ridge, with single adult and sub-adult males trapped. Lanceolated Monklet Micromonacha lanceolata Parker & Parker18 recorded a single individual. One was seen at 1500 m, above Afluente, on 26 October 1996, with two in the same place on 21 September , but it was not recorded during our survey. G rey-breasted M ountain-toucan Andigena hypoglauca Described as uncommon by Davis5 near the pass. Individuals were seen by RAR, REW and JH et al. in August September at m. More apparent during the November survey when it was recorded daily along the trail at the pass, with up to six birds feeding in one fruiting tree. Speckle-chested Piculet Picumnus steindachneri Regarded as common by Parker & Parker18, and fairly common, most often seen with flocks by RAR, REW who have recorded up to eight in a day, throughout the m elevational range but principally below 1800 m24. Relatively common in the río Afluente area in November 1998, when recorded singly or with mixed-species flocks, foraging low in dense roadside shrubbery to m up toward the tips of thin branches (RI, CJ ). Russet-mantled Softtail Thripophaga berlepschi At least two of this little-known Vulnerable species were seen well in a feeding flock in bamboo understorey at 2250 m on 25 November 1998 (RI, CJ). A bird thought to be this species was recorded 13 along the same trail at the pass, in a feeding flock with other furnariids, on 28 August 1998 (JH et al.). Although below the published range for the species ( m19 and m23), Davies et al. reported six sightings on Cordillera de Colán at m in subcanopy and canopy mixedspecies flocks4. Equatorial Greytail Xenerpestes singularis Found near Afluente in 1977, the first record from any locality for many years, and noted as uncommon by Parker & Parker17. One or two were seen at m on all trips by RAE, REW with five on 21 September 1998 near Afluente located by regular checking of mixed-species flocks within its altitudinal range24. The only record during our survey was of at least three in a mixed flock at 1300 m (RI, CJ). Chestnut Antpitta Grallaria blakei First described in and tape-recorded by Bret Whitney in August 1989 at the pass. It was classified as rare by Davis6, and was heard at two different localities near the pass in September-October One was trapped along the trail at the pass during the survey, and another tape-recorded 2 km further east (RI, CJ). Based on contacts with calling birds, it appears to be much scarcer than Rustytinged Antpitta G. przewalskii. O chre-fronted A n tp itta Grallaricula ochraceifrons This elusive species has a near-identical history to Xenoglaux and its life-history is also unknown. The first specimens, a pair, were caught at Garcia at 1890 m on 26 August 1976 and another male was taken there on 30 August Two other specimens were mist-netted by G. L. Graham and TSS at m on Cordillera de Colán on August 19782, but it has apparently been unrecorded since, contrary to some of the literature9,19. We were unsuccessful in locating this species on the ridge, but on moving our mist-nets to the stunted forest on the opposite side of the road, at c m, swiftly trapped a female. However, the species was not recorded again despite two subsequent days of effort at this site. Scarlet-breasted Fruiteater Pipreola frontalis One was seen on 20 September 1998, at 1100 m, near Puente Aguas Verdes (BW et al.) and four at 1000 m on 22 September (RAR, REW); Parker & Parker18 had a single unconfirmed record. Scaled Fruiteater Ampelioides tschudii Three were observed near Puente Aguas Verdes on 27 August 1998, with individuals near Afluente on 28 August (JH et al.), 20 September (BW et al.) and 22 September (RAR, REW); Parker & Parker18 had only a single record. B u ff-th roated Tody-Tyran t Hemitriccus rufigularis The only evidence of this widely distributed but scarce species in this area is of one seen on 26 October 1996 at 1500 m, above Afluente24. There have been a few records from the isolated mountains east of Moyobamba, dpto. San Martin, the first being those reported by Davis5 who found it to be uncommon at m. Cinnamon-breasted Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus cinnamomeipectus Four specimens of this species described from the Cordillera de Cóndor in July were taken, shortly after its initial discovery, at Garcia by JPO and GRG7. Three or four were seen on the Garcia ridge in August 1989 by Bret Whitney and singles were noted there in September 1997 and A pair was observed in the same place during our survey and one was trapped, while another was seen and tape-recorded in the forest on the opposite side of the road. Bar-winged Wood-wren Henicorhina leucoptera Although rarely seen, and RAR, REW found the species difficult to detect during their trips, we heard its song relatively frequently in stunted forest at m during the survey. Two were trapped on the Garcia ridge and one on the opposite side of the road, with several others heard in both areas. It does not appear to be constrained here by the presence of Grey-breasted Wood-wren H. leucophrys which is common nearby, as was proposed to explain its absence on Cordillera de Colán4. The ecological separation of the two species would be a worthy and practicable research project here. O t h e r n o t e w o r t h y r e c o r d s Andean / Yungas Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium jardinii / bolivianus A rufous morph Glaucidium was caught low in a net by the trail at 2250 m on 21 November 1998, possibly attracted by a bird caught in the net. As it was too heavy for G. parkeri, it was presumed to be G. jardinii, or bolivianus as this form south of the Marañón is sometimes considered12, and this was later confirmed by Stefan Woltman who compared a photo with skins at the LSUMZ. An owl seen in flight at dusk at the pass (2300 m) on 20 November 1998 appeared to be of Otus size, rather than Glaucidium, but was not relocated and no Otus calls were heard. O. petersoni, ingens and albogularis may possibly occur at this elevation, all being recorded at Cordillera de Colán (TSS in litt.). 14 C rim son-bellied W oodpecker Campephilus haematogaster A male of this secretive species was seen and taperecorded at 1400 m on 15 November 1998 (JF). Previously noted as rare by Parker & Parker18. Tapaculos Scytalopus spp. Davis5 and Parker & Parker18 regarded Peruvian Rufous-vented Tapaculo S. fem oralis13 as uncommon, but we found it commonly, trapping two, at 1800 and 2300 m, and heard many more. At lower elevations White-crowned Tapaculo S. atratus13 appeared relatively common based on vocal contacts. The vocalisation of this bird differs from that of the Ecuadorian population13 (RAR, REW) and is more like that of Bolivian Tapaculo S. bolivianus. Further work is required to resolve the taxonomic status of these populations13 (TSS pers. comm.). Trilling Tapaculo S. parvirostris was found by Whitney at the pass in August and RAR, REW heard it there on both visits in The only tapaculo recorded by O Neill and Graves, at 1900 m, was subsequently identified as Ash-coloured Myornis senilis (GRG). We heard an unfamiliar species calling at m range but failed to identify it. Shrike-like Cotinga / Elegant Mourner Laniisoma elegans This widespread but rarely seen species was classified as uncommon by Parker & Parker18, implying that it was recorded daily or every other day in small numbers. The only subsequent report was of one heard calling at Puente Aguas Verdes on 20 September 1998 (BW et al.). Chestnut-crested Cotinga Ampelion rufaxilla Two were noted on 24 September 1997 and eight the next day, at m near the pass24. Two on 25 November 1998, at 2100 m, and one at 2300 m (RI, CJ) were the only records during our survey. Jet Manakin Chloropipo unicolor Two males were mist-netted in the vicinity of Garcia one on the ridge and one below it but none was seen in the field. Ridgely & Tudor19 note that Chloropipo manakins are rarely observed. This species was also recorded by O Neill and Graves at l670 m. Inca Flycatcher Leptopogon taczanowskii This restricted-range species was not recorded, surprisingly, during earlier studies but was first noted by RAR, REW on 17 January 1996 at 2100 m, and seen by the same observers on subsequent visits. During our survey it was considered to be not uncommon near the road at m (RI, CJ), although only one was trapped, at 2300 m. It occurred singly, in mixed-species feeding flocks and in small parties with dependent young. Tody-Tyrant Poecilotriccus A new species of Poecilotriccus, closely related to Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant P. ruficeps found north of the Río Marañón, was discovered in the north Peruvian Andes in the late 1970s. Although considered to be a new species, its formal description is still pending. Davis5 regarded it as fairly common west of the pass and RAR, REW recorded several at m on all visits, noting that it inhabits roadside second-growth shrubbery and bamboo, and also occurs in bamboo thickets within undisturbed forest24. We also found it fairly common, but only at m, where five were trapped. Black-and-white Tody-Tyrant Poecilotriccus capitalis Parker & Parker18 reported two sightings of this rare and local species near Afluente while RAR, REW observed a pair on 26 October 1996 at 1000 m. A female was trapped on 18 November 1998 and a pair seen the next day at 1350 m above the species maximum elevation (1100 m) according to Stotz et al.23, although Ridgely & Tudor19 quote 1350 m. Ecuadorian Tyrannulet Phylloscartes gualaquizae Up to five were recorded daily at m, in the Afluente area, during August October visits (RAR, REW, JH, BW et al.). This, the only known site in Peru (BW), is the southernmost limit of this restricted-range species, which occurs at m23. Olive-chested Flycatcher Myiophobus cryptoxanthus Parker & Parker18 made only one record of this species which is known fr
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