Sunday, June 13, 2010

Peru, Day 15, May 16 2010: More goodbyes and the most shocking bird of the trip

We woke up in Taropoto at 5:00 AM and had a little breakfast at our hotel. We had arranged the night before for it to be prepared before the regular opening time. When they opened the restaurant up for us, the first thing the girl did was turn on some rather loud music. Peru is a country that loves music. You hear it everywhere you go, but at 5:00 AM we were not quite ready for it, so we asked her to turn it off. She seemed a little mystified, though very happy to accommodate us.

We took off for the Yurimaguas Tunnel, which runs through a ridge near town. Past the tunnel the road starts descending into the Amazon basin. We arrived right at sunrise and were a little surprised to discover two young men with a motorcycle, one of whom was a local birder. They were staring down a deep gorge. We stopped and they told us that it was a Cock-of-the-Rock lek. Sure enough we soon heard the amazing sounds of wooing males, which Martin likens to pigs on crack cocaine. You would never guess such a beautiful bird could make such a horrible sound. Unfortunately we only heard them, but we had seen several already on the trip.

We had a nice conversation with the young man. He told us he had seen a Blackish Pewee just a little while before we arrived. Martin had told Alex the one bird he really wanted to see at this spot was Blackish Pewee. Its commonly found at this spot, so we were hopeful. We worked our way down the road a bit to where he had seen it, but had no luck. We did see several other good birds, including a Yellow-cheeked Becard. We found a flock of tanagers, including Bay-headed, Blue-necked, Masked, Yellow-bellied and Silver-beaked. Flycatchers, other than the pewee, were thick. Cliff Flycatchers were extremely common.

A Koepke's Hermit was feeding along the steep hill above us. Alex found a Spot-winged Antbird. A Chestnut-tipped Toucanet tried to fool us into thinking it was a Yellow-browed. We got fabulous looks and even a few photos of a White-throated Woodpecker. A Gilded Barbet put on a bit of a show. But we still hadn't seen the Blackish Pewee. Alex starting teasing Martin a bit, calling everything Blackish: Blackish Toucan, Blackish Woodpecker, Blackish Barbet. Alex has a great sense of humor, which had us laughing a lot on the trip.

We walked through the tunnel to the other side to see if maybe a pewee was over there. Juan Jose stayed with the car. A few minutes after we got through the tunnel, Juan Jose drove up and told us, very excitedly that he had seen the pewee! We jumped in and turned around,  driving back through the tunnel. We parked and jumped out, but the other birder said it had just flown off. We spent a little more time searching, with no luck.  We were under some time constraints, so we had to leave.

This was our last day with Juan Jose and Alex. They were both flying home and we were returning to Lima. Alex was leaving first, so we took him to the airport and had our goodbyes. I would really miss him. He is a great guide, one of the best we have ever had. Our flight wasn't leaving until evening, so Juan Jose took us back to town for lunch. I haven't mentioned my digestive problems in the last few blogs, (I bet you all are thankful for that!) but the situation had suddenly gotten a bit scary. I finally mentioned it to Juan Jose after lunch. He said "Let's go to the pharmacy. They can give you something." Sure enough the pharmacist asked me some questions about the symptoms and gave me some antibiotics and something to balance the flora of my gut. I won't go into any more detail, but it worked.

After lunch we headed back to the river where we had birded the day before. This spot sometimes has Comb Ducks, so I was searching the river itself and the banks, very thoroughly. I spotted several birds on the bank, but they were quite distant. With my binoculars I couldn't get much detail. This area is not pristine habitat. There is a lot of agriculture and the trees are not continuous on the banks. I thought the birds were going to be lapwings. I pointed them out to Martin, who got the scope on them. He also figured they were lapwings. When he got them in the scope he laughed a little. I asked them what they were and he said "Have a look". I looked  through the eye piece and said "HOLY COW", well something like "holy cow". There were four Hoatzins sitting on the bank! The only time I had seen them before was in Brazil deep in the rain forest on a river. They were not even on the radar as far as I was concerned for this trip. Martin was totally amused at how excited I was. For the rest of the day I kept talking about it. They are one of my all time favorite birds, resembling dinosaurs almost more than birds. They are an incredible demonstration of evolution.

We walked up the path where we had been the evening before. A couple of Corya Wrens were calling, but still invisible. We worked our way up a path with Juan Jose and played the call of the Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-manakin. One respondedcrakes we heard the night before, but they were silent.

We drove back to town, working our way to the airport, which was not especially easy to find. We said goodbye to Juan Jose, who I really like. He is incredibly educated, lived in Europe and Libya and knew so much about Peru and its history. Even better, he was a lot of fun, a good birder and a good driver. I felt a little sad leaving him and Alex. We flew back to Lima and settled into our hotel in Miraflores. The next day we would have a new guide and our former driver Henry.

My photos for the day:

Bird list for the day:
1 Great Egret

2 Cattle Egret

3 Swallow-tailed Kite

4 Roadside Hawk

5 Rock Pigeon

6 Plumbeous Pigeon

7 Eared Dove

8 Ruddy Ground-Dove

9 Maroon-tailed Parakeet

10 Cobalt-winged Parakeet

11 Squirrel Cuckoo

12 Smooth-billed Ani

13  Amazonian Swift

14 White-tipped Swift

15 Koepcke's Hermit

16 Gray-breasted Sabrewing

17 Black-throated Mango

18 Fork-tailed Woodnymph

19 Golden-tailed Sapphire

20 Green-backed Trogon

21 Blue-crowned Motmot

22 Striolated Puffbird

23 Bluish-fronted Jacamar

24 Gilded Barbet

25 Chestnut-tipped Toucanet

26 White-throated Woodpecker

27 Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner

28 Fasciated Antshrike

29 Blackish Antbird

30 Spot-winged Antbird

31 Thrush-like Antpitta

32 Forest Elaenia

33 Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant

34 Yellow-breasted Flycatcher

35 Cliff Flycatcher

36 Social Flycatcher

37 Dusky-chested Flycatcher

38 Crowned Slaty Flycatcher

39 Tropical Kingbird

40 Andean Cock-of-the-rock

41 Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin

42 Yellow-cheeked Becard

43 Yellow-green Vireo

44 Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo-heard

45 Rufous-browed Peppershrike- heard

46 Blue-and-white Swallow

47 White-banded Swallow

48 Southern Rough-winged Swallow

49 Coraya Wren- heard

50 Scaly-breasted Wren-heard

51 Silver-beaked Tanager

52 Blue-gray Tanager

53 Yellow-bellied Tanager

54 Bay-headed Tanager

55 Blue-necked Tanager

56 Masked Tanager

57 Black-faced Dacnis

58 Green Honeycreeper

59 Swallow Tanager

60 Buff-throated Saltator

61 Slate-colored Grosbeak

62 Blue-black Grassquit

63 Chestnut-bellied Seedeater

64 Saffron Finch

65 Yellow-browed Sparrow

66 Rufous-collared Sparrow

67 Hepatic Tanager

68 Blue-black Grosbeak

69 Yellow-rumped Cacique

70 Orange-crowned Euphonia

71 Thick-billed Euphonia

72 Bronze-green Euphonia

No comments: