After birding the Pantanos de Villa in Lima and attending the opening ceremonies at the Universidad Científica del Sur on the 28th of November, we set off for the first of two spectacular birding destinations: the Amazon rain forest in Madre de Dios. When we landed in Puerto Maldonado in the afternoon of the 29th, I spotted a Southern Caracara being chased by two Tropical Kingbirds. The kingbirds we would continue seeing at every location we visited, but this species of caracara, uncommon in Peru, was not seen again as far as I know [edit: the LSU-team did see Southern Caracara again, leaving Puerto Maldonado on the way to the Andes]. During a short boat ride from Puerto Maldonado to the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Lodge we saw some Black Caracaras. They were fairly common along the river Madre de Dios, and a daily sighting during the Amazonian part of the trip. Beautiful birds.
The first afternoon there we walked around the grounds of Inkaterra's Reserva Amazonica Lodge, literally teeming with birds. How about Black-throated Mango and Sapphire-spangled Emerald around your cabin, a roost of Black-fronted Nunbirds nearby, Spotted Tody-Flycatchers flitting around at eye-level, colorful mixed tanager flocks up in the trees, or colonies of Yellow-rumped Caciques and Russet-backed Oropendolas along the hotel's main trail? At night, we sometimes heard Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl and Great Potoo from the cabin, while every morning, just before first light, one or more Gray-necked Wood-Rails would give wake-up calls. That said, there was not a 'rainforest racket' of sound keeping you up all night, just some discreet frog background noise - the kind some people put on to fall asleep to. All these birds I just mentioned were easily observed around the cabins of this wonderful hotel. This place is not cheap, mind you. (We were invited, so for us it was free, ha!) Yet I think Inkaterra offers good value here, combining luxury and world-class cuisine with a thoughtful approach to limiting the environmental impact of the hotel. If I could afford it, I'd gladly come back here. (I'm plugging the hotel a little bit because I was invited there by the Peruvian government and by Inkaterra, to attend a birding event intended to promote birding tourism to Peru. Well, I'll say it again, this place is absolutely worth visiting.)
|the birding rally kick-off: 30 November, 5 AM|
Another one high on my wish list - and not seen by every team - was Sunbittern. It was getting dark at the end of a cloudy, rainy day, so the photo is poor, but what an incredible bird!