17 October 2012

The Manu Road...(PERU 2 Oct.)

Today was to be a momentous day, as I got to bird the famous Manu Road for almost the whole day. It is famous at it cuts through a range of elevations, and therefore bird species, and almost all of it is covered in lush forest; from cloudforest in the upper regions to lowland Amazon jungle down at the bottom end. We begun our day in the cloudforest, and notably at Wayqecha, a biological station of an NGO, the Amazon Conservation Association (http://www.amazonconservation.org/contact/index.html), who were hosting us for the trip. Many birders already know of the station, stay there and frequently bird the road closeby. However, we decided to explore their Zorro Trail, which for me was enticing as this is the haunt of one of Wayqecha´s star residents. It is actually locally common around the station, but devilishly difficult to see, so I was expecting a run in within it at some during the morning. Not far from the station some butch flycatchers perched on top of the high Andean elfin forest proved to be the day's first lifebird, the inauspicious Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant. Lifebirds became more notable and exciting when a flock of cerulean blue White-collared Jays turned up momentarily distracting from my Red-and-white Antpitta quest, as while the jays screamed above, the antpitta mocked me from the dense shrubbery below. The mockery became almost painful when I tried to tape one onto the trail, and with a 50-50 chance it might come in on either side I opted to look up the trail, only for the dastardly antpitta to hop onto the trail behind me, giving me only the image of a ruddy blur when I turned to try to see it at Daniel's announcement. I would have to wait until the trail's end when I once more met up with Rich Hoyer who revealed he had heard another individual close by, and with a nice opening in the vegetation, we might just try "going in" for it. This worked a treat; after playing its call, hearing nothing for what seemed like an age, the antpitta appeared silently and stealthily  and even lingered to pluck worms from the soil! With that we hit the road and birded our way down to the tiny Amazon foothill town of Pillcopata. Birds came thick and fast all the way down as we moved steadily through rich forests - Yellow-crested Tanager was a standout in an area that also held a fair dose of the shocking Paradise Tanager too. A few flycatchers were new for me including the Inca Flycatcher, which just had to be seen by virtue of its cool name, if not for its appearance, Bolivian Flycatcher was also a lifer there too. However, several larger species made the headlines too, spotted by Daniel's sharp eyes...first a handsome Blue-banded Toucanet, following close on the heels of a glittering green Golden-headed Quetzal, and then two cotingas in the afternoon  were of course well worth seeing: lekking male Andean Cock-of-the-rocks, and the punk-haired Amazonian Umbrellabird. In between all this top draw action we even managed to see a roosting Lyre-tailed Nightjar hanging out on a lodge roof, and bumped into a pair of Woolly Monkeys beside the road.

Much more from deepest, darkest Peru to come...


JuliaR said...
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JuliaR said...

Hi Sam,
I really enjoyed reading these posts. I've been involved in the creation of a new website called discover.crees-manu.org which is all about the Manu region of Peru and would love to use some of your stunning photos on the site. Please could you let me know if that's possible.