We spent a very comfortable night at the Hotel Cumbaza in Tarapoto. This is a cute little hotel with good food, good wifi and air conditioning. It was here in their restaurant that I was introduced to Chicha Morada, a drink made from purple corn and it became my preferred drink for the trip. Delicious!
We left very early in the morning to embark on the 4.5 hour drive to Reserva Arena Blanca. About halfway there we made a stop for a picnic. Miguel set up a table under a shade structure by the side of the road and we had a nice breakfast. Right across the road was a deep crevice in the rock where a flock of oilbirds live. We ate, packed up and continued to our destination.
steve and william checking
their video of the oilbirds
As we were pulling into the street to enter the Reserve we noticed a mural that someone was in the process of painting. Since the bird has two long tail feathers with spatules on the end, I took this as a good omen that I would find a Marvelous Spatuletail Hummingbird to photograph in a few more days.
Reserve Arena Blanca is a private conservation area in the town of Aguas Verdes, San Martin. The area has been popular with birders for many years (as tracked by eBird). In 2014 Norbil Becerra acquired this land and built the facility for the observation and photography of birds. There is an observation platform overlooking many flowers and hummingbird feeders that attract the beautiful Wire-crested Thorntail and the Rufous-crested Coquette, as well as White-bellied Woodstars, Many-spotted, Golden-tailed Sapphires and the Black-throated Sunangel.
FEMALE RUFOUS-CRESTED COQUETTE
After photographing at Arena Blanca for a few hours, we drove to another well-known birding area, La Llanteria in Afluente, San Martin. This property is on the side of a mountain and is a birding hotspot. The land belongs to the Chuque family and Elmer Chuque and his children maintain the area and keep the feeders filled for the many species that come here. Two rare hummingbirds are frequently seen on the property and I got to photograph both of them: the Equadorian Piedtail and the White-tipped Sicklebill. The area is also visited by the Green Hermit, Violet-fronted Brilliant and the Fork-tailed Woodnymph. From here we were on our way to the Owlet Lodge in Abra Patricia.