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Riberalta, Bolivia Birding Trip Report

15-20 July 1997

By Jon Hornbuckle

[October 1998 Trip Report by Barry Wright]

[Additional Sites by Jon Hornbuckle]

The town of Riberalta in the far north of Bolivia lies at the confluence of the rivers Beni and Madre de Dios, at the boundary on Pando and Beni, some 80km from the border with Brazil. It is easily reached by air from La Paz or Trinidad, although flights are not daily. Sjoerd Mayer put the area on the ornithological map by finding the rare Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant and Spotted Antpitta Hylopezus macularius, previously known only from northern Pando, Peru and Brazil. He also discovered that the latter sings differently from the better known population, warranting specific status as H. auricularis, which he named Masked Antpitta. From July 15 - 20 I birded the area with Robin Brace and Paul St Pierre, and following Sjoerd's directions, saw both species well. We had missed Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant in April 96 at Noel Kempff Mercado NP, its main known stronghold - perhaps it is a migrant as we found it easily here.

We flew from La Paz with TAM, the military airline, booked the previous day and at $103, cheaper than the two civil airlines. It stopped on the way at Cobija in Pando, surrounded by forest - we should have had a couple of days there had we realised. In Riberalta we walked the few 100m from the terminal to the basic but comfortable Residencial Los Reyes, $4 per person in a 3-man room. Note that there is no bank at La Paz airport and it is very difficult to change travellers cheques in Riberalta.

There are three sites to visit:-


This low-lying area of patchy riverine forest and scrub between the town and the Rio Beni, is a 30 min walk or 10 min motorbike ride away, past the brick-making plants on the western edge of town. As well as the Antpitta, it holds Slender-footed Tyrannulet, Johannis' and Spotted Tody-Tyrants, Ashy-headed Greenlet and Chestnut (Purus) Jacamar.


A left turn down a sandy track off the main Guayaramerin road immediately after the disused check-point at the edge of town, accessed by motorbike (taxi), goes to the small village of Antofagasta. Beyond there, trails lead through Amazonian forest to a small river. We saw White-browed Hawk, Leaden and Streaked Antwrens, Rufous-tailed Flatbill, Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin and Black-billed Seed-Finch. There are doubtless many other good species to be found here - eg I believe I briefly saw Amazonian Royal Flycatcher O.(coronatus) coronatus.

KM 36

There are occasional km marker posts along the Guayaramerin road but the 36km post is difficult to see. On the bus it is reached some 30 mins after the military camp / checkpoint - a wide track on the right, sign- posted Quela 2km, goes through mature savanna of San Lorenzo de Pampas. Four pairs of Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrants were present in the grassland near the first 2 km of track, and we also saw 7 White-rumped Tanagers, 10 White-bellied Parrots and 2 Horned Sungems, but no Cock-tailed Tyrant which might be expected. Sjoerd was told that there was extensive undisturbed savanna along the road to Santa Rosa, 1-2 hrs away by motorbike.


July 15 La Paz - Cobija - Riberalta, 09.00 - 12.00. Hotel and airline office. 16.30-18.00 Hamburgo.

July 16 Guayaramerin bus to Km 36, 06.35-07.30. Bird savanna till 12.00. Hour wait for lift back, in a pick-up. Late afternoon at Hamburgo - gripping views of Antpitta.

July 17 Motorbikes to Antofagasta 06.05-07.00. Bird trail to river and along river till 11.00. Walk back to village for bike pick-up at 12.00. Hamburgo late afternoon, walked back in dark.

July 18 Bikes to Antofagasta 05.45, birded till 13.00. Afternoon at Hamburgo lake - gripped off on Chestnut Jacamar.

July 19 Hamburgo plus lake 06.15-12.00. Siesta at hotel then back to Hamburgo late afternoon - still no Jacamar.

July 20 Hamburgo 06.30-08.30. To airport at 09.00 for 10.00 LAB flight to Trinidad ($67), departing at 12.30 with stop at Guayaramerin on Brazilian border.


Taxonomy and names follow Birds of the World: A Checklist by JF Clements (1991 + updates). A cross means the species was seen and "H" that it was only heard.



Hamb Antof Km 36
Crypturellus soui LITTLE TINAMOU   x  
Crypturellus undulatus UNDULATED TINAMOU H H  
Crypturellus parvirostris SMALL-BILLED TINAMOU     x
Rhynchotus rufescens RED-WINGED TINAMOU     x
Anhinga anhinga ANHINGA x    
Chauna torquata SOUTHERN SCREAMER x    
Cairina moschata MUSCOVY DUCK   x  
Syrigma sibilatrix WHISTLING HERON     x
Ardea cocoi COCOI HERON x    
Casmerodius albus GREAT EGRET x    
Bubulcus ibis CATTLE EGRET x    
Butorides striatus STRIATED HERON x x  
Mesembrinibis cayennensis GREEN IBIS   H  
Mycteria americana WOOD STORK   x  
Coragyps atratus BLACK VULTURE x x  
Cathartes aura TURKEY VULTURE x x  
Cathartes burrovianus LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE x    
Cathartes melambrotus GREATER YELLW-HEADED VULTURE   x  
Sarcorhamphus papa KING VULTURE   x  
Elanoides forficatus SWALLOW-TAILED KITE   x  
Rostrhamus sociabilis SNAIL KITE x    
Ictinia plumbea PLUMBEOUS KITE x    
Leucopternis schistacea SLATE-COLOURED HAWK x    
Leucopternis kuhli WHITE-BROWED HAWK   x  
Buteogallus urubitinga GREAT BLACK-HAWK x    
Busarellus nigricollis BLACK-COLLARED HAWK x    
Buteo magnirostris ROADSIDE HAWK x x x
Falco femoralis APLOMADO FALCON     x
Falco rufigularis BAT FALCON   x  
Odontophorus stellatus STARRED WOOD-QUAIL   H  
Micropygia schomburgkii OCELLATED CRAKE     H
Aramides cajanea GREY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL x    
Jacana jacana WATTLED JACANA x    
Vanellus chilensis SOUTHERN LAPWING x    
Phaetusa simplex LARGE-BILLED TERN x    
Sterna superciliaris YELLOW-BILLED TERN x    
Columba speciosa SCALED PIGEON   x  
Columba cayennensis PALE-VENTED PIGEON H    
Columba subvinacea RUDDY PIGEON x x  
Columbina talpacoti RUDDY GROUND-DOVE x    
Columbina picui PICUI GROUND-DOVE x    
Claravis pretiosa BLUE GROUND-DOVE   x  
Leptotila rufaxilla GREY-FRONTED DOVE   x  
Ara macao/ chloropterus SCARLET/ RED-AND-GREEN MACAW   x  
Ara severa CHESTNUT-
x x x
Aratinga leucophthalmus WHITE-EYED PARAKEET x   x
Aratinga aurea PEACH-FRONTED PARAKEET     x
Forpus xanthopterygius BLUE-WINGED PARROTLET x x  
Brotogeris chiriri YELLOW-
Brotogeris sanctithomae TUI PARAKEET x    
Pionites leucogaster WHITE-BELLIED PARROT     x
Pionus menstruus BLUE-HEADED PARROT   x  
Amazona farinosa MEALY PARROT   x  
Piaya cayana SQUIRREL CUCKOO   x  
Piaya minuta LITTLE CUCKOO   x  
Crotophaga ani SMOOTH-BILLED ANI x   x
Guira guira GUIRA CUCKOO X    
Tapera naevia STRIPED CUCKOO H    
Nyctibius griseus GREY POTOO H    
Chordeiles acutipennis LESSER NIGHTHAWK x    
Nyctidromus albicollis PAURAQUE x    
Caprimulgus parvulus LITTLE NIGHTJAR H    
Chaetura brachyura SHORT-TAILED SWIFT x    
Tachornis squamata FORK-TAILED PALM-SWIFT x    
Phaethornis hispidus WHITE-BEARDED HERMIT   x x
Phaethornis ruber REDDISH HERMIT   x  
Florisuga mellivora WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN x    
Heliactin cornuta HORNED SUNGEM     x
Trogon melanurus BLACK-TAILED TROGON   x  
Trogon viridis WHITE-TAILED TROGON   H  
Trogon curucui BLUE-CROWNED TROGON   H  
Trogon collaris COLLARED TROGON   x  
Trogon violaceus VIOLACEOUS TROGON   H  
Ceryle torquata RINGED KINGFISHER x    
Chloroceryle amazona AMAZON KINGFISHER   x  
Chloroceryle americana GREEN KINGFISHER   x  
Chloroceryle aenea AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER   x  
Momotus momota BLUE-CROWNED MOTMOT   x  
Galbula ruficauda RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR x x  
Galbalcyrhynchus purusianus CHESTNUT JACAMAR (PSP) x    
Bucco macrodactylus CHESTNUT-
Nystalus striolatus STRIOLATED PUFFBIRD   x  
Monasa nigrifrons BLACK-FRONTED NUNBIRD   x  
Chelidoptera tenebrosa SWALLOW-WING   x  
Ramphastos tucanus RED-BILLED TOUCAN   x  
Picumnus albosquamatus WHITE-WEDGED PICULET x    
Melanerpes candidus WHITE WOODPECKER     x
Melanerpes cruentatus YELLOW-TUFTED WOODPECKER   x  
Venilornis passerinus LITTLE WOODPECKER   x  
Piculus rubiginosus GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER x    
Deconychura longicauda LONG-TAILED WOODCREEPER   x  
Xiphorhynchus picus STRAIGHT-BILLED WOODCREEPER   x  
Furnarius leucopus PALE-LEGGED HORNERO   x  
Furnarius rufus RUFOUS HORNERO x    
Synallaxis gujanensis PLAIN-CROWNED SPINETAIL x    
Hyloctistes subulatus STRIPED WOODHAUNTER   x  
Philydor erythrocercus RUFOUS-RUMPED FOLIAGE-
Xenops rutilans STREAKED XENOPS   x  
Taraba major GREAT ANTSHRIKE x    
Thamnophilus doliatus BARRED ANTSHRIKE x    
Thamnophilus aethiops WHITE-
Thamnophulus murinus MOUSE-
Thamnophilus punctatus EASTERN SLATY ANTSHRIKE x    
Thamnophilus amazonicus AMAZONIAN ANTSHRIKE   x  
Thamnomanes schistogynus BLUISH-SLATE ANTSHRIKE   x  
Myrmotherula surinamensis STREAKED ANTWREN   x  
Myrmotherula assimilis LEADEN ANTWREN   x  
Cercomacra cinerascens GREY ANTBIRD x H  
Cercomacra nigrescens BLACKISH ANTBIRD x    
Myrmoborus leucophrys WHITE-BROWED ANTBIRD x    
Hypocnemis cantator WARBLING ANTBIRD   x  
Hypocnemoides maculicauda BAND-TAILED ANTBIRD   x  
Sclateria naevia SILVERED ANTBIRD   x  
Myrmeciza atrothorax BLACK-THROATED ANTBIRD x x  
Formicarius analis BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH   H  
Hylopezus (macularius) auricularis MASKED ANTPITTA x    
Lipaugus vociferans SCREAMING PIHA   x  
Cotinga maynana PLUM-THROATED COTINGA   x  
Querula purpurata PURPLE-
Neopelma sulphureiventer SULPHUR-BELLIED TYRANT-MANAKIN   x  
Elaenia flavogaster YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA x   x
Elaenia parvirostris SMALL-BILLED ELAENIA     x
Zimmerius gracilipes SLENDER-FOOTED TYRANNULET x    
Tyrannulus elatus YELLOW-
Euscarthmus rufomarginatus RUFOUS-SIDED PYGMY-TYRANT     x
Myiornis ecaudatus SHORT-TAILED PYGMY-TYRANT   x x
Hemmitriccus iohannis JOHANNIS' TODY-TYRANT x    
Todirostrum maculatum SPOTTED TODY-
Ramphotrigon ruficauda RUFOUS-TAILED FLATBILL   x  
Terenotriccus erythrurus RUDDY-TAILED FLYCATCHER   x  
Cnemotriccus fuscatus FUSCOUS FLYCATCHER x    
Contopus cinereus TROPICAL PEWEE x x  
Pyrocephalus rubinus VERMILION FLYCATCHER x   x
Colonia colonus LONG-TAILED TYRANT x    
Myiarchus tuberculifer DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER   x  
Myiarchus tyrannulus BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER     x
Tyrannus melancholicus TROPICAL KINGBIRD x x x
Megarhynchus pitangua BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER x x  
Myiodynastes maculatus STREAKED FLYCATCHER   x  
Myiozetetes similis SOCIAL FLYCATCHER x x  
Philohydor lictor LESSER KISKADEE x    
Pitangus sulphuratus GREAT KISKADEE x x x
Pachyramphus polychopterus WHITE-WINGED BECARD   x  
Vireo olivaceus RED-EYED VIREO   x  
Hylophilus pectoralis ASHY-HEADED GREENLET x    
Hylophilus ochraceiceps LEMON CHESTED GREENLET   x  
Turdus amaurochalinus CREAMY-BELLIED THRUSH x x  
Turdus ignobilis BLACK-BILLED THRUSH x    
Turdus hauxwelli HAUXWELL'S THRUSH x x  
Campylorhynchus turdinus THRUSH-LIKE WREN x    
Cistothorus platensis SEDGE WREN     x
Thryothorus genibarbis MOUSTACHED WREN   x  
Thryothorus guarayanus FAWN-BREASTED WREN x    
Troglodytes aedon HOUSE WREN x    
Tachycineta albiventer WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW x    
Phaeoprogne tapera BROWN-CHESTED MARTIN x    
Stelgidopteryx ruficollis SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW x    
Ammodramus humeralis GRASSLAND SPARROW     x
Ammodramus aurifrons YELLOW-BROWED SPARROW x    
Paroaria gularis RED-CAPPED CARDINAL x   x
Coereba flaveola BANANAQUIT   x  
Conirostrum speciosum CHESTNUT-
Schistoclamys melanopis BLACK-FACED TANAGER     x
Cypsnagra hirundinacea WHITE-RUMPED TANGER     x
Hemithraupis guira GUIRA TANAGER x    
Nemosia pileata HOODED TANAGER x    
Lanio versicolor WHITE-WINGED SHRIKE-TANAGER   x  
Tachyphonus luctuosus WHITE-
Tachyphonus cristatus FLAME-CRESTED TANAGER   x  
Ramphocelus carbo SILVER-BEAKED TANAGER x x x
Thraupis sayaca SAYACA TANAGER x x x
Thraupis palmarum PALM TANAGER x x x
Tangara mexicana TURQUOISE TANAGER x x  
Tangara velia OPAL-RUMPED TANAGER   x  
Dacnis lineata BLACK-FACED DACNIS   x  
Chlorophanes spiza GREEN HONEYCREEPER   x  
Volatinia jacarina BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT x   x
Sporophila castaneiventris CHESTNUT-
Oryzoborus atrirostris BLACK-BILLED SEED-FINCH   x  
Saltator maximus BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR   x  
Saltator coerulescens GREYISH SALTATOR x    
Cyanocompsa cyanoides BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK H H  
Psarocolius decumanus CRESTED OROPENDOLA   x  
Cacicus solitarius SOLITARY CACIQUE x    

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