Thursday, December 11, 2008

Brazil Day 12, Back up the Tower.

We got to sleep in again, so after our 5:00 AM breakfast we set out on the Rocky Trail, which led to the tower. Unfortunately it was raining. Luckily it wasn't pouring, but it was enough to subdue our spirits a bit. Also I wasn't exactly excited to do that 50 meter climb, as my knees were in bad shape.

We made a detour by the salt lick. At first we thought nothing was there. Then we saw them, more Dark-winged Trumpeters! We froze and they slowly worked their was across the clearing. We couldn't believe our luck. Another birder at the lodge had been trying to see trumpeters for three weeks with no luck. We moved on to the tower, taking a round about trail where we added several antbirds.

We reached the tower and it was still raining a little. We decided to bird the second platform, as the top platform provided a roof. When we got up there we could hear voices and realized there were other people up above us. Only a limited number of people were allowed on the tower at one time. With the three of us and the three of them we had pretty much reached the limit. We called up our hellos and continued birding.

The rain was not helping visibility. There was very little bird activity. Martin spotted a dark bird perched on the top of a tree waaaaayyyy out on the horizon. It was difficult to make out any detail. We got the scope, but it only made it a bigger fuzzy object instead of a little fuzzy object. We thought initially that it was a hawk, but something didn't seem right. The rain lifted slightly and we could see a bit more detail. Instead of looking black the bird looked brown and there was a glint of white on the wing. Martin started questioning the hawk ID. Then the brown turned to deep maroon. It wasn't a hawk at all, but a Pompadour Continga! As the light got brighter the color got deeper. It is a gorgeous bird that Martin and I had both been aching to see.

Brad decided to go up on top to see what the other group was seeing. The birding on the second level was even slower than it had been on our earlier visit to the tower. We could hear Brad talking to Roger, the British birder who was at the lodge, his translator, and the guide. Finally Martin and I decided to go up. When we got up on top we found out that they had been looking at a juvenile Harpy Eagle! We had just missed it. If we had not seen the Harpys at Alta Floresta it would have been just a little devastating. But we were satisified with the Continga, which was still perching up.

Finally the sun came out, the bees came back and it got a little bit steamy. I spotted a Yellow-throated Woodpecker below us. Then a Red-stained Woodpecker flew in. Some dacnis played in the crown of a tree next to the tower. A Flame-crested Tanager joined the group, along with a Tooth-billed Wren and several tyrannulets. Then Brad spied a Red-billed Pied Tanager in a tree off of the other side of the tower. It was joined by a singing Slate-colored Grosbeak. The entire time we were hearing Screaming Pihas.

I can't tell you how often during the trip I asked Brad "What's that call?" And most of the time he would answer "A Screaming Piha". I finally quit asking, but then Martin did! Screaming Pihas have a lot of vocalizations. It sounds to me like they say "oh well, Oh Well!, OH WELL!!" and then they go off like our neighbors over sensitive car alarm does at 3:00AM. Its a really amazing sound. And they do it all the time.

The heat and bees were getting old and we were not seeing any birds, so we went down. We walked a circuitous route back to the lodge. I think my favorite bird that we got was a Ringed Ant Pippit. This bird looks like one of our Ovenbirds, bopping along on the forest floor. It has a great call, which you hear long before you see him. We heard monkeys overhead, White-nosed Bearded Saki Monkeys. We got back, had our lunch and then siesta.

I did rest for quite awhile, but decided to do a short walk before our last afternoon river trip. I was walking between the cabana clearing and the lodge when I heard a huge racket. Up above me a big troop of the Saki monkeys were overhead. There was a mother with a baby on her back. A few youngsters were running along side the adults. They were feeding on fruit in the tree tops. A few stopped and looked at me, screaming a high pitched cry. I could see that they would be a lot happier when I was gone.

As I mentioned we were doing our last afternoon river ride. We went down stream to a trail where we could possibly see Crypic Forest Falcon, a bird that was only recently discovered. Its very similar to Barred Forest Falcon, and was originally considered conspecific with it. We had heard one earlier in the week and Brad knew they sometimes hung out in an area of the woods we were entering. We got to a clearing and Brad played the tape. The falcon called back! He was sitting deep in a wooded area and was totally invisible. I was standing frozen, not wanting to frighten it off. A bird flew over, which I didn't see. Then a falcon called from behind us. The original bird kept calling. This went on for quite some time. Then the second bird flew over and I missed that one too! I was a little frustrated.

It had started to get dark so we decided to head back. When we were out on the river at dusk the previous times Brad had been playing a tape of a Zig-zag Heron. This tiny heron has the most amazing call. It reminded me of the baritone horn I played in high school. Very little was known about this heron until recent times. It was almost mythical. Suddenly one answered! It flew in close, but was still difficult to see. Then we saw it fly across the river. We jumped in the boat and went to the other side. The bird perched nicely for us, sitting on a branch over the water. Our pilot was incredibly patient, manuevering the boat so Martin could get photos. We were very happy!

When we got back there was a candle light dinner in the outdoor pavillion. The minister of tourism was at the lodge with his wife, so the staff was going all out! We started the meal with a bowl of Piranha soup, which was quite good. After dinner we headed back to the cabana to pack for the start of our trip home the following day.

Day List
Gray Tinamou
Cinereous Tinamou
Neotropic Cormorant
Muscovy Duck
Capped Heron
Zigzag Heron
King Vulture
Double-toothed Kite
Plumbeous Kite
Cryptic Forest-Falcon - Heard
Bat Falcon
Red-throated Piping-Guan
Bare-faced Curassow
Plumbeous Pigeon
Ruddy Pigeon
Ruddy Quail-Dove
Blue-and-yellow Macaw
Chestnut-fronted Macaw
White-eyed Parakeet
Dusky-billed Parrotlet
Golden-winged Parakeet
Orange-cheeked Parrot
Blue-headed Parrot
Kawall's Parrot
Short-tailed Nighthawk
Blackish Nightjar
Ladder-tailed Nightjar
Gray-rumped Swift
Fork-tailed Palm-Swift
Long-tailed Hermit
Gray-breasted Sabrewing
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
Black-eared Fairy
Violaceous Trogon
Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Bronzy Jacamar
White-necked Puffbird
Brown-banded Puffbird
Black-fronted Nunbird
White-fronted Nunbird
Red-necked Aracari
Chestnut-eared Aracari
Channel-billed Toucan
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker
Red-stained Woodpecker
White-throated Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Long-tailed Woodcreeper
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Long-billed Woodcreeper
Striped Woodcreeper
Spix's Woodcreeper
Lineated Woodcreeper
Speckled Spinetail
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner
Plain Xenops
Pygmy Antwren
Sclater's Antwren
Plain-throated Antwren
Long-winged Antwren
Gray Antwren
Spot-backed Antwren
Rufous-winged Antwren
Gray Antbird
Screaming Piha
Spangled Cotinga
Pompadour Cotinga
Red-headed Manakin
Wing-barred Manakin
Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher
Ringed Antpipit
Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet
Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant
Large-headed Flatbill
Rufous-tailed Flatbill
Yellow-margined Flycatcher
Drab Water-Tyrant
Cinnamon Attila
Thrush-like Schiffornis
Masked Tityra
Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo
Gray-chested Greenlet
Dusky-capped Greenlet
Tawny-crowned Greenlet
Hauxwell's Thrush
Tooth-billed Wren
Long-billed Gnatwren
White-winged Swallow
White-banded Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Rose-breasted Chat
Red-capped Cardinal
Red-billed Pied Tanager
Flame-crested Tanager
Silver-beaked Tanager
Palm Tanager
White-lored Euphonia
Rufous-bellied Euphonia
Black-faced Dacnis
Blue Dacnis
Purple Honeycreeper
Slate-colored Grosbeak
Blue-black Grosbeak
Amazonian Oropendola
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Epaulet Oriole

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