I met Josh and Provi in their Cusco hotel before they set off to hike the Salkantay Trek to Machupicchu, they were very excited about our birding trip to Manu a week later, we discussed the itinerary and departure time for September 3rd 2011. I met both of them thanks to Linda Abeles who travelled with me and Habitats Peru Travel a year before.
Peru Bird List: Guided by Doris Valencia, September 3-10, 2011
with Provi Spina
• 9/3 (Saturday): Began our trip with Doris Valencia with a morning pickup at our hotel in Cusco. We headed southeast out of Cusco to the Huacarpay wetlands, where we were treated to a host of wetland birds, including a couple of species unusual to the area. Birds at the wetlands included two juvenile Chilean Flamingos (not typical there), Yellow-billed Pintail, Puna, Speckled and Cinnamon Teal, Andean Ruddy Duck, White-tufted Grebe, Andean Coot, Cocoi (White-necked) Heron (typically at lower elevation), Black-crowned Night-Heron, Puna Ibis, great views of a Plumbeous Rail, Andean Lapwing, Wilson’s Phalarope, Black-tailed Trainbearer, two male Bearded Mountaineers in the Nicotina bushes near the wetland, Wren-like Rushbirds acting like wrens in the rushes, Many-colored Rush-Tyrants foraging low in the rushes near the water, a Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, a female Mourning Sierra- Finch, a beautiful White-browed Blackbird and a flock of Bare-faced Ground-Doves. We then drove to the entrance of Manu National Park crossing a 13,000 foot pass en route. We stopped at high elevation for a few birds including Slender-billed Miner, Spot-winged Pigeon, Streak-throated Canastero, Rufous-naped and Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrants, a number of sierra-finches. We ate lunch at the entrance to Manu NP in polylepis forest, then began our descent into Manu. Not too many birds encountered on the descent, but we did add a few nice ones including Masked Trogon (male and female), Blue-banded Toucanet, Red-and-White Antpitta (endemic; individual running on road in front of van), Brown-backed and Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrants, White-collared Jay, Common Bush Tanager, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, and Rufous-naped (Slaty-eared) Brush-Finch. At dusk on the road we stopped and were treated to a flyover display of a male Lyre-tailed Nightjar. We reached the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge after dark.
• 9/4 (Sunday): We began the day at the cock-of-the-rock lek, and got to see two male Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks visiting the lek in the early morning. We did some birding up the road from the lodge before breakfast, then returned to the lodge around 7:30 to eat. Highlights of the morning walk included seeing a Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant nest and Green-fronted Lancebill near the stream by the lodge. The lodge has screens in the back that open onto a little garden with a fruiting Miconia tree and a number of hummingbird feeders. The hummingbird activity at the feeders seems to be pretty frenetic all day. A Violet-fronted Brilliant guards one of the feeders and chases off many of the smaller visitors. Sparkling Violetears also abound at and around the feeders. During breakfast, we had a terrific mixed flock at the Miconia tree, which included a far-out-of-range Green-throated (Straw-backed) Tanager, which Doris managed to photograph using Provi’s camera, a male Versicolored Barbet, and lots of other gorgeous tanagers (Paradise, Bay-headed, Saffron-crowned, Golden, Spotted). After breakfast, we continued to enjoy the mixed flock (now located on the other side of the lodge) and saw our first Golden-eared and Orange-eared Tanagers, and a female Versicolored Barbet. Further up the road we also had a pair of Inca Jays, several Black-eared Hemispingus, a Golden-naped Tanager, and a female Lyre-tailed Nightjar with chick on a semi-covered roof of a building at a nearby lodge. After lunch, Provi and I hung out in the lodge and managed to get an amazing view of a male Wire-crested Thorntail visiting the flowering Verbena bushes before it was chased off by the Violet-fronted Brilliant (it made a reappearance, however, for another minute or two before being chased off again). In the afternoon, we saw a few more birds up the road from the lodge including 2 Andean (formerly Highland) Motmots, a Lemon-browed Flycatcher, an okay view of a male Yungas Manakin, and a decent view of Three-striped Warbler.
• 9/5 (Monday): This proved to be the birdiest day of our entire trip to Peru. We started with a short morning walk upslope from the lodge and got to see a Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail that had been calling fly across the road. We also got terrific views of three Yungas Manakins, which had proven quite difficult to glimpse the day before, and saw a White-bellied Woodstar flycatching high above the road, a Golden-olive Woodpecker, and a female Black-goggled Tanager practically on the ground. We set off downslope in the van after breakfast and stopped at some bamboo to look for a couple of antbirds specialized to bamboo habitat. Although we did not find the antbirds, we had a great view of a circling Solitary Eagle. We then hit several nice mixed flocks downslope from the lodge that included a variety of new birds including Fulvous-breasted Flatbill, Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner, Yellow-crested (pr.), Green-and-Gold (one), and Yellow-throated (one) Tanagers, Two-banded and Cuzco (formerly Golden-bellied) Warbler. The birding highlight of the day, however, was our lunch stop in a patch of woods. We were treated to a parade of birds that delayed our lunch by a full hour. It began with a Pale-legged Hornero in the road, and included Black-tailed Trogon (female), Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Black-fronted and White-fronted Nunbirds, a male Lemon-throated Barbet, White-throated Toucan, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, an apparently quite difficult-to-find female Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, several Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, a singing and active Barred Antshrike male, a Pygmy Antwren (male), Warbling Antbird (male), a Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Olive-faced Tolmomyias (formerly Yellow-breasted Flycatcher), Gray-crowned Tolmomyias (formerly Gray-crowned Flycatcher), a White-winged Becard (male), Violaceous Jays, and others. We drove town to a small town on the Upper Madre de Dios River called Atalaya, where we boarded a boat for a short ride to the Amazonia Lodge. On the river we saw our first Fasciated Tiger-Herons and a few other birds as well. At Amazonia, we had lots of hummingbird and flyover activity in the clearing/garden before it got dark. Hummers included White-necked Jacobin, Gray-breasted Sabrewing, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Blue-tailed and Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Gould’s Jewelfront, a female Rufous-crested Coquette, Violet-headed Hummingbird, and Golden-tailed Sapphire. Flying over we saw Military, Scarlet, and Chestnut-fronted Macaws, as well as Blue-headed Parrots (which perched in a tree in the clearing). The evening, we heard Pauraque, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl and Spectacled Owl near the lodge.
• 9/6 (Tuesday): We spent a full day around the Amazonia Lodge (elev. 1,600 ft.). Our early morning walk was cut short by rain, which lasted until 10 am. We then had a very productive late morning/early afternoon walk, returning to the lodge around 1:15 pm. During lunch Provi and I found a Black-banded Woodcreeper nest in a holey palm in the clearing and a Palm Tanager nest with chicks in the eaves of one of the buildings at the lodge. Later in the afternoon we went back out for another walk. Highlights from our walks on the trails near the lodge included Great and Undulated Tinamous foraging on trails (great views), Spix’s Guan in a tree, Red-throated Caracara perched in a tree, a Gray-necked Wood-Rail on the old jeep trail, several Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts near the lodge in the late afternoon, great views of male Rufous-crested Coquette, several new hummingbirds including White-bearded Hermit, a quick view of Koepcke’s Hermit, and Black-eared Fairy, great looks at Blue-crowned Trogon in the afternoon, a nice look at Sunbittern, Chestnut-capped and Striolated Puffbirds (great view of the latter in the scope), Chestnut-eared Aracari, Black-throated (formerly Emerald) Toucanet, three Fine-barred Piculets (endemic), a very responsive Goeldi’s Antbird and some more difficult to see antbirds including Gray Antwren, Black-throated Antbird, and White-lined Antbird. We got a fair view of Rusty-belted Tapaculo on a log, a good view of Long-tailed Tyrant (I missed the male, but Provi saw it), Hauxwell’s Thrush, Amazonian Olive Oropendola, Troupial, and the big highlight for me, incredible views of a male Fiery-capped Manakin that Doris called in. In the evening we went out for a short owl walk and saw Pauraque and heard Common Potoo, but no owls responded. (Only after we went to bed did a Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl begin calling near the lodge.)
• 9/7 (Wednesday): This was a big travel day for us. We did a short walk in the morning, and then headed to the boat for a long boat ride downriver to the Manu Wildlife Center (MWC or Center) (elev. 500 feet). Weather was good and we saw a lot of nice birds en route. We arrived in the mid to late afternoon and got oriented before taking a short walk to the canopy tower at the Center and enjoying late afternoon 120 feet up in the canopy. Habitat at MWC is quite different from Amazonia, which is in the foothills rather than the full Amazon Basin, and has a much shorter canopy. MWC had a number of massive canopy and emergent trees including kapok (Ceiba pantantra) and figs. Notable birds from the day included Capped Herons along the river, our first Horned Screamer on the shore of the river, two King Vultures, two gorgeous Swallow-tailed Kites, several adult and one juvenile Black Caracaras, two Bat Falcons, several Pied Plovers (formerly Pied Lapwings), two Collared Plovers, Yellow-billed and Large-billed Terns, Black Skimmers, our first Blue-and-Yellow Macaws, our only perched Blue-headed Macaws (in a flowering tree in the morning at Amazonia Lodge), lots of Cobalt-winged and Tui Parakeets feeding on clay on a bank of the river, many perching and a few flying Sand-colored Nighthawks on sandbars and fallen trees along the river, lots of Swallow-wings, amazing views of two Black-faced Antthrushes walking across the trail at Amazonia in the morning on our way to the boat, Purplish and Violaceous Jays near the river, White-banded and White-winged Swallows, and Giant Oropendolas. We also saw a river otter on the river. The afternoon walk to the canopy tower gave us our first looks at Curl-crested Aracari (3, though not very well seen given poor light) and Casqued Oropendola.
• 9/8 (Thursday): We left early to go to the macaw clay lick at Blanquillo, delayed only by a visit to the lodge from a Brazilian Tapir named Vanessa, who was found abandoned as a baby and, although she has adapted to life independent of humans, periodically comes back to visit the lodge and receive snacks. The clay lick was quite active when we arrived around 6:30, with hundreds of parrots feeding on the clay. Most were Blue-headed, with large numbers of Mealy, slightly smaller numbers of Yellow-crowned, and a few beautiful Orange-cheeked Parrots as well. Shortly after we arrived the birds startled and left the wall, perching in the trees over the clay. Although we were able to observe them in the trees for a long time before they moved off to the right of the clay bank, we never saw them return to the clay. Later in the morning Red-and-Green Macaws began to arrive and we got to see over 80 of them feeding on the clay in great light. It was breathtaking. Also present at the clay lick was a Dark-breasted Spinetail, Short-crested Flycatcher, Little Ground-Tyrant, Brown-chested Martin, Southern House Wren, Double-collared Seedeater, Black-billed Seed-Finch, and Gray-rumped Swift. There were also several red howler monkeys in the trees above the clay lick. On the way back to our boat, we birded the path through the woods and got to see several Undulated Tinamous, a Dusky-headed Parrot, a Spot-breasted Woodpecker, a Thrush-like Wren, and a Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher. We stopped at a patch of bamboo on the way back to the Center that was not very active, but we did get a quick view of Chestnut-crowned Foliage-Gleaner. In the afternoon, we headed out into an area of very nice forest referred to as the Grid, because it is a grid of regularly spaced trails used for studies. The activity wasn’t high, but we saw and heard some new birds, including White-throated Woodpecker (male) in the canopy, Red-necked Woodpecker (female), Amazonian Streaked-Antwren (male), a male Black-faced Antbird, a male Rufous-capped Antthrush near dusk. We also saw a very orange-breasted Yellow-crested Tanager in a mixed canopy flock. Heard birds included Gilded Barbet, Elegant and Cinnamon-throated Woodcreepers, White-bellied Tody-Tyrant, Cinereous Mourning, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, and Red-crowned Ant-Tanager. We got great views of two Pauraques on our walk back from the Grid after dusk. And we saw three brown capuchin monkeys near the stream by the Center in the early afternoon.
• 9/9 (Friday): We again rose early, this time to visit the canopy tower near the Camungo oxbow lake (~165 ft. in a kapok tree). As we approached the canopy tower, it began to rain, and after waiting it out for about 20 minutes under the cover of a palm tree, we headed back to the boat to eat breakfast and wait for the rain to stop. The rain eventually did stop at about 8 am, and we headed back into the woods to the canopy tower. However, almost immediately it began to rain again, and it continued to rain the entire time we were on the canopy tower. Despite the imperfect weather, we did get to see some canopy species flying around. We had Gray-crowned Tolmomyias, Piratic Flycatcher, White-browed Purpletufts, an Orange-headed Tanager, plus lots of familiar but lovely tanagers including Paradise, Turqouise, Green-and-Gold, Masked Crimson, Silver-beaked, Blue-gray and Palm. New for the trip were Yellow-bellied and Black-faced Dacnis as well as White-vented, Rufous-bellied and White-lored (formerly Golden-bellied) Euphonias. Our boatmen also spotted a roosting Great Potoo on a branch above the canopy tower, which was remarkably well camouflaged. We descended the canopy tower and headed over to the oxbow lake to see the family group of Giant River Otters (at least 7) that were presently inhabiting the lake. We got amazing views of them as they swam past us and shot us unfriendly looks. Around the oxbow lake we found a few new species including Sungrebe, Little Cuckoo, Greater Ani, Grayish Saltator, Solitary Black Cacique, and Pale-eyed Blackbird. On the way back to the Center, we saw a white caiman on the riverbank. In the afternoon the rain stopped and we headed back to the Center’s canopy tower. En route we finally got to see a nice male Great Antshrike and got a good view of a Gray Antwren near the lodge. This time on the tower we got better views of two Curl-crested Aracaris, and got a view of a male Green Honeycreeper as well.
• 9/10 (Saturday): Our last birding morning was spent at a large oxbow lake a short distance downstream from the Center. On the way we saw our first Wood Storks (we saw several along the river later in the day as well) and Orinoco Goose (family with small goslings; we saw another family with slightly larger goslings later in the morning). At the oxbow, we saw a number of new species for the trip including Least Grebe, Anhinga, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Limpkin, Crane Hawk, Snail Kite, White-bellied Parrot, a roosting male Ladder-tailed Nightjar (again spotted by our boatmen), Rufous-breasted Hermit, Purus Jacamars, a Channel-billed Toucan, male and female Silvered and Band-tailed Antbirds, Black-tailed Tityra. At the lake we also saw two small black caimans. On the walk back to the boat we called in and got terrific views of Ringed Antpipit and Southern Nightingale Wren (singing its heart out), and saw Amazonian (formerly Blue-crowned) Motmot. On the river on our way to the gold mining town of Colorado we saw two more hawks: Gray Hawk and Slate-colored Hawk. From the town of Colorado, we took a taxi to the Inambari River, hired a boat across it, and then caught a group taxi for the two-hour drive to Puerto Maldonado.