Guyana Southern Extension Sun Parakeet, Red Siskin and more

Most tours do not get far enough south for Red Siskin and Sun Parakeet – we do! There are other great birds to see here including some species really hard to access in Brazil

Sun ParakeetSun Parakeet

Day 1: Leaving Karanambu we travel by rough roads before dawn, we will travel by 4x4 to the small community of Karasabai on the western border with Brazil. After arriving at the village, we will transfer to the nearby area by 4 x 4 of the savanna is flooded to the Ireng River where a chartered boat will take us to look for one of the rarest birds in Guyana, the Sun Parakeet. Thirty years ago, this species was extremely common, however, a huge number were caught for the cage bird trade and the area around Karasabai is now believed to be the only place in Guyana where this spectacular parrot can be found. Now regarded as highly endangered, small flocks can often be seen flying overhead, however, to get really good views, we will need to search the trees close to the river where despite their orange, yellow and green plumage, they can be surprisingly hard to spot. Other species which can be seen in this area include Maguari Stork, Muscovy Duck, Crested Bobwhite, Painted Parakeet and Orange-backed Troupial and for those interested in mammals, the savannahs around Karasabai still hold a reasonably healthy population of Giant Anteaters. After several hours on the river, we will return to Karasabai then drive back to Lethem. (B: L: D)

Day 2: Today we travel by 4x4 toward Dadanawa Ranch birding on the way. We should see a variety of raptors and other open-country birds. Dadanawa Ranch, a cluster of raised wooden buildings surmounted by a towering Brazil nut tree and more or less surrounded by low gallery forest along the Rupununi River. After establishing ourselves here we’ll travel eastward and pass several shallow ponds before reaching Towa Towan, a high, rounded outcrop of blackened granite with a Jabiru nest near the summit and a small pond at the base with dense mucca mucca, a giant arum. We’ll look for certain flycatchers in surrounding Curatella glades and in late afternoon we’ll hope to see nighthawks on the wing and witness the roosting of Yellow-crowned Parrots. Overnight at Dadanawa Ranch. (B: L: D)

Day 3: Another early start awaits us as we will be travelling to look for another endangered bird, the Red Siskin. Like the Sun Parakeet, this species has been decimated by the cage bird trade, although it was only in recent years that it was actually discovered in Guyana. There is now, however, an active local conservation society which is studying and protecting the birds and with their assistance, we will hope to get good looks of this stunning species. Depending on how long our search for the Red Siskin takes, there should be time for some further birding in the area, although an alternative option is to visit some forested hills on the edge of the Kanaku Mountain range. Afternoon transfer back to Lethem. Overnight Lethem (B: L: D)

Day 4: At dawn, we will be on the Takatu river. we’ll be turning our attention to two birds which have seemingly always had restricted ranges, the Hoary-throated Spinetail and Rio Branco Antbird. Both are only found in gallery forest along the Rio Branco and its main tributaries (all of which ultimately flow into the Amazon) and recent agricultural changes have seriously reduced the amount of available habitat for both birds. As a result, both species are now classified as Critically Endangered. To reach suitable habitat, we will use 4 x 4 jeeps but if the savannah is flooded travel by boat down the Takatu river (which flows past Lethem) and then up the Ireng river. This is likely to take us at least a couple of hours in each direction and we should encounter species such as Capped Heron, Muscovy Duck, Pale-legged Hornero and various wetland whilst travelling. Although the habitat needs of the Antbird and Spinetail are seemingly slightly different (the Antbird prefers taller trees with vine tangles, whilst the Spinetail is possibly a little more tolerant of some human disturbance), they can both be found along a comparatively short stretch of the Ireng river. We plan to return to Lethem for the 4pm flight to Georgetown – night at Cara Lodge (B: L: D)

Day 5: Transfer to the international airport for flights home. B

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