13 - 26 July 1996
by Roger Boyd
7 days at 4 lodges along Amazon and Napo rivers.
5 days in Cuzco area. 140 new species + 8 duplicates
1 afternoon in Lima (Miraflores). 12 new sp. + 8 dup.
Total of 405 species for the trip.
Departed Miami 7:20pm, arr. Iquitos at 11pm. Met at airport by Peter Jensen of Explorama Tours. Stayed at Hotel Real in town. We had 16 people in our group.
Birded Amazon floodplain across the street from Hotel. This area was an excellent introduction for the group as we started the day with 28 sp. The best were Orange-headed Tanager, Spotted Tody-flyc. and Black-billed Thrush. We then boarded our bus at 8am to go to Explorama dock. Boarded our "speed boat" to travel down the Amazon 60 miles and then up the Napo River 40 miles and then 2 miles up the Sucacari River to Napo Camp. This took 3 hr. Arr. for lunch. Birded along trails behind camp this afternoon with excellent views of Golden-collared Toucanet and Wire-tailed and Golden-headed Manakins along with 24 other new species. Also saw a troop of Monk Saki Monkeys. At dusk we heard 3 sp. tinamous, Paraque and 2 sp. owls. Went out on boat after dark but did not find a thing.
Headed for dock for early boat trip but were delayed by large foraging flock in fruiting tree over dock. Picked up 7 new sp. including Lettered Aracari. Out on the river we had excellent looks at Drab Water-tyrant, Bare-necked Fruitcrow and 10 other new sp. Got drenched on the way back to breakfast. After breakfast we went to a nearby cocha (oxbow lake) and found Horned Screamer and Hoatzin, along with 23 other species. A very cooperative Pygmy Kingfisher sat 15-20 ft. away for everyone to see. After lunch we walked a trail behind the new wing of lodge where the best birds were Spangled Cotinga and Blue-tailed Emerald. Night trip along trails found a large array of frogs and insects as well as a serenading Spectacled Owl. We also had Trop. and Tawny-bellied Scr.-Owls calling most of night.
Up early to be greeted by Rufous-capped Antthrush on trail to the latrine. Early boat trip along islands in Napo to get excellent views of Amazonian Umbrellabird, Troupial, Black Caracara and 9 others. After breakfast, some went fishing, others went on excellent antbird trail behind camp. Saw many more than identified. Did get great looks at the elusive Black-necked Red Cotinga and Purple-throated Fruitcrow. After lunch, walked about 1.5 mile to ACEER lodge. Downpour soaked us about 1/2 way there. But at 80oF its like being in the shower (actually warmer). Went to Canopy Walkway, the first in the Americas. Raining and not near as productive as previous trip. Did see 18 sp. including White-browed Purpletuft. Night walk again, much more productive for mammals (kinkajou), frogs and insects.
Next morning back to canopy walkway, raining again. The few flocks of tanagers and others we saw were difficult to identify due to very poor lighting. We did have Blue-and-yellow Macaws fly within 50 ft. Saw a total of 12 sp.(2 yr. earlier our sp. list was 3 times that). Best sp. for the morning was a Scale-breasted Woodpecker. Mid-morning we walked back to Napo and boarded the boat to go back to the Amazon and about 10 miles up river to Explorama Lodge. After lunch we walked part of the Cocha Trocha (lake trail) and looped back to come out behind the dining lodge. Excellent trip. Saw a total of 40 sp. with 10 new. Best was clearly the Long-billed Woodcreeper, Plumbeous Antbird and Black-capped (Plain-winged) Antshrike.
Early morning walk out towards the village. Total of 26 sp.with 8 new. Did see 7 sp. of parrots for the morning. After breakfast we went down river to look for the Pink River Dolphin. Saw several as well as Pied Lapwing and Oriole Blackbird along with a few others. Down pour on return trip. Rained heavy til mid afternoon. Mostly birded from hammock house and under walkways. In the afternoon we visited a local village. Not too impressed by their crafts but saw 3 sp. of antshrikes, Lesser Hornero and several other new sp. behind one of the huts. Tried walking Bushmaster trail later but got rained out.
Early morning walk out towards river this time. Picked up 9 new sp. including White-throated Kingbird. After breakfast we walked the Bushmaster Trail and ran into the best army ant swarm and attendant followers I have ever seen in 16 trips to the tropics. We saw 18 species with the ant swarm, all but 2 new for the trip. It was pretty hectic trying to make sure everyone got to see each species. We didn't succeed, but we tried. Perhaps the best were Black-spotted and Reddish-winged Bare-eyes. This was indeed the highlight of the trip for me. Mid-afternoon we moved up river about 20 miles to Explorama Inn. Walked one of the loop trails behind to lodge. We picked up 4 new sp. including White-eyed Parakeet. Seranaded most of the night by a very loud Tropical Screech-Owl.
Found the Tr. Scr-Owl snoozing on a broken tree stump next to our bungalow. At least everyone got to see it! Also found Great Potoo in trees near dining hall. Traveled upriver a ways and walked several miles along fields and patches of jungle. Found several new sp. including Moriche Oriole. After breakfast we walked several miles from the Inn to the village of Indiana. Picked up 4 new species including Golden-bellied Euphonia. Lighting continued to be difficult since it was still overcast. Mid-afternoon returned to Iquitos. Stayed at Hotel Real again. Spent about 2hr. birding the floodplain across the street. Best sp. were Fork-tailed flyc., White-headed Marsh-Tyrant and Southern Martin.
Early departure by plane to Cuzco. We learned upon returning home to the U.S. that our guide on the Amazon, Angel Ocmin, was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after leaving the airport after seeing us off. Upon arr. at Cuzco (10,500 ft.) we went to our hotel, left some luggage (Amazon stuff) and had several hot cups of coca tea which supposedly calms the altitude probleMs. Bought several Alpaca wool sweaters for $15 U.S. each, they are beautiful. We then went SW from the city to Choquepujio Marsh. Many ducks, plumbeous rail, chat-tyrant, ibis, Giant Hummingbird etc. Total of 32 sp, all new. Had a huge box lunch. Went down the Urubamba Valley (the sacred Incan valley) and stayed at Valle Sagrado Hotel near town of Urubamba. Had Greenish Yellow-Finch and Hooded Siskins in courtyard and a King Vulture high in the mountains overhead.
Left at 5 am for Abra Malaga (Malaga Pass), the highest point is 14,500+ ft. We stopped several times in scrubby type areas on the way up to puna. We spent too much time on the dry side. We got over the top and down to lush cloud forest habitat about 10:30am and it was socked in with fog. In some places it was hard to see across the road! We could hear 'tons' of stuff and see it moving but seeing it well enough to ID and show to others was maddening. Hind site would say to go straight over the top early and bird the dry side in the afternoon. On the way back in the afternoon, the activity was still there. We did find 21 new sp. on the dry side as we came up and 8 more on the way down. The best were probably the endemic Green-and-white Humm. and the Red-crested Cotinga. We identified 25 in the cloud forest but could probably have doubled that with better visibility. The best seen were the endemic Shining Sunbeam and the Streaked Tuftedcheek and Scarlet-bellied Mt.-Tanager. Drove back to Cuzco and stayed at El Dorado.
Left at 6:00am for Abra Lares. Mostly puna grasslands but did see great diversity of finches and hummingbirds with 21 sp., all but 5 new. The best were Gray-breasted Seedsnipe, D'Orbigny's Chat-Tyrant and the endemic Beared Mountaineer. Near the summit of about 13,000ft. we walked down part of the Incan trail, probably about 5-6 miles. Took most of us about 3 hr. Quite a variety of finches and hummingbirds. Returned by way of Pisac Artisan center for shopping and on to El Dorado in Cuzco.
Departed 5:30 am for train to Machu Picchu. This is a narrow gauge RR and very interesting. The train ascended the mountain by making 6 switchbacks, back and forth across the mountain. It then descended the Urubamba Valley and arr. at the base of the mt. where the ruins are located.(about 3hr.) We then boarded a bus and went 8 km up the mt. side (about 1000 ft elevation) to the entrance of the ruins. We spent about 3 hr. touring the area and then had lunch, birding up there briefly and descended about 3 pm. Most of us then walked further down the RR tracks to locate the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. We saw 3 males and a female. Also good foraging flocks of tanagers and several cooperative parrot flocks. Heard Inca Wren several times along the tracks. Returned to hotel about dark (6pm). Stayed at Hotel Pueblo. Most expensive hotel there but worth it!
Some returned to the ruins early, most birded the hotel courtyard. Had another cock-of-the-rock in the courtyard. Many tanagers, honeycreepers, thrushes, hummingbirds were seen (30 sp.). The endemic Green-and-white Hummingbird was common. Saw Inca Wren along the front steps of the hotel. Walked back to the RR station, crossed the bridge and walked to the right to the museum. Torrent Ducks are common on the river. The birding along the museum road was good. The best were Barred Becard, Golden-naped Tanager and Dusky-green Oropendola. Returned to town and the hotel to pack. Streaked-necked Flycatcher sitting in low bush next to Hotel entrance. Got on train at the hotel at 3 pm and returned to Cuzco about 6pm. Stayed at El Dorado again.
Flew to Lima (1.5 hr.) We had been unable to book a continuing flight
to the states so we stayed over night. We stayed at Hotel Hacienda
in Miraflores. This was about 4 blocks from the bluff overlooking
the beach. Some went shopping...again...and some went to the gold
and fabric museum. Others went birding... In about 3 hr.
birding along the bluff and through the residential areas we picked up
20 sp. of which 12 were new. It was overcast and kind of dingy
lighting, so again color was difficult. Seabirds were OK because
we were looking down on them but residential was tough. Plus we had
no field guide that illustrated some of the species we expected to be there.
The most abundant birds were White-winged Doves and Guanay Cormorants.
The toughest bird we had was the Vermilion Flycatcher...in the Lima area
50% or more of the birds are very dark brown morph. Some had a slight
cinnamon hint or rosiness to the belly - but hard to imagine it was a Vermilion
Flycatcher! The best birds were Inca Tern and Amazilia Hummingbird.
We used Explorama Tours in Iquitos for the Amazon portion of the trip. Their guides are native and well trained in a wide variety of natural history. For the Cuzco portion we used Peruvian Odyssey in Cuzco and Lima. Their strong suit was archaeology but misled us in believing they had expertise in natural history. I had to constantly correct bird identifications made by our 2 guides. One didn't even own binoculars.
BIRD AND MAMMAL LIST
Sorry, I did not include scientific names. If there is a question about a species, I can provide a scientific name for what we saw.
R = IN ROUTE ALONG RIVER
N = EXPLORNAPO CAMP
A = ACEER
L = EXPLORAMA LODGE
E = EXPLORAMA INN
I = IQUITOS
M = MALAGA PASS
S = LARES PASS
P = MACHU PICCHU
Li = LIMA
|12.||White-necked (Cocoi) Heron||RL||-|
|31.||Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture||LI||-|
|32.||Greater Yellow-headed Vulture||IN||-|
|122.||Fork-tailed Palm Swift||RNALE||-|
|205.||Plain-winged (blk-capd) Antshrike||L||-|
|235.||Southern Beardless Tyrannulet||LLi||-|
|296.||S. Rough-winged Swallow||NLE||-|
|323.||Solitary Black Cacique||N||-|
|371.||Masked Crimson Tanager||N||-|
|383.||Slaty (Slate-colored) Grosbeak||NA||-|
H = Heard only
|2.||Monk Saki Monkey||N||-|
|5.||Common Squirrel Monkey||N||-|
|7.||Neotropical Pygmy Squirrel||A||-|
|11.||Northern Amazon Red Squirrel||L||-|
|13.||Pink River Dolphin||R||-|
|14.||Short-tailed Fruit Bat||E||-|
|18.||Southern Fur Seal||Li||-|
Baldwin City, Kansas 66006
Baldwin City, KS 66006