by Lawrence Rubey and A. Bennett Hennessey
Probably one of the most interesting spots on the Chapare road, Miguelito is a small roadside village with several good birding areas nearby. It qualifies as "mid-montane" yungas forest with an altitude of between 1600 and 2000 meters, an elevation range that can be difficult to access in other parts of Bolivia. Unfortunately, there are few signs for Migueltio, but the kilometer posts are quite helpful. Miguelito itself is centered around kilometer post 96. The area has three interesting birding spots that are accessed between kilometer 96 and 97:
Stony Trail (at kilometer 96.5): About 200 m past the small settlement of Miguelito, a stony trail begins on the left-hand side of the road (see GPS waypoint). If there is still intact forest along the trail, specialties worth searching for include Versicolored Barbet, Red-billed Parrot, Yungas Manakin, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycathcer, Scaled Fruiteater, Slaty Tanager, and Straw-backed Tanager. Watch overhead for Solitary Eagle. White-eared Solitaire is often heard giving its distinctive call.
Marcelino’s place: The first driveway on the right after Miguelito leads to a large cleared area with a house on the top of the hill. The land belongs to Marcelino, a kind man who grows flowers. Ask permission to bird his land. The edges of the cleared areas can be very productive, especially the right corner near the main road. Further up, where there are a few short trails into nice forest habitat.
Lagunita (Little Lake): Travelling towards Villa Tunari, less than 100 meters past the Stony Trail, there is a small footpath leading through the forest to a little lake (se GPS waypoint below). Look for a dirt footpath leading up the slope, beside an exposed concrete drainpipe, about 60 meters from the Stony Trail. If you can not find it, drive up to the first house on the left, there may be some children who will be very keen to show you the trail (Por favor, donde esta la laguna). This laguna was completely dry in July and offered a large edge area to bird away from the road noise. Interesting species in this area are: White-crowned Tapaculo, Upland Antshrike, Stripe-chested Antwren, Scaled and White-throated Antpittas, Yungas Manakin, White-eared Solitaire, Crested Quetzal, and Olive-backed Woodcreeper.
Further along the road at kilometer 99, is the Substation Trail (see GPS waypoint). Starting at the San Jose Electricity Substation at 2000 meters, the trail descends into nice forest that has become accessible due to construction of power lines. The road goes through good forest for 5 kilometers or so. Specialties, birds best seen in the Cochabamba Yungas, include Deep-blue Flowerpiercer and Yungas Tody-Tyrant. Solitary Eagle is sometimes spotted soaring in the wooded valleys and Swallow-tailed Kites are often seen. Also of note are Upland Antshrike, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Montane Foliage-Gleaner, Golden-headed Quetzal, Short-tailed Antthrush, Scaled Antpitta, Buff-banded Tyrannulet, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, and Bolivian Tyrannulet. Watch the tanager flocks for specials such as: Beryl-spangled Tanager, Straw-backed Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Orange-eared Tanager plus some of the higher elevation tanagers reaching their lower limit.
Logistics: Travelling towards Villa Tunari on the new road one encounters the village of Miguelito at kilometer post 96. It is about 1900 meters elevation. The "town" is really no more than a few food stalls and shops in a bare area on the roadside. Look for the few Miguelito signs.
GPS reading at start of Stony trail: S 17 10.761' W 65 46.013'
GPS reading at Lagunita: S 17 10.797' W 65 45.902'
GPS reading at start of Substation road: S 17 10.984' W 65 44.955'