Manu National Park — Peruvian Amazon (June-July 2003)

This was my first international trip that was solely for the purpose of birding. What better place than Manu Park in the Peruvian Amazon for such a trip? I decided to go with Wim ten Have and Tanager Tours. Wim is a great guide, and it is nice that he takes small groups. He has an excellent driver-cook-guide in Juve. Wim set up a custom tour that was exactly what I wanted. I went in as part of a tour that visited Huarcapay, many areas on Manu Road, the river below Atalaya, and Pantiacolla Lodge. The rest of the tour continued down the river. I stayed an extra week at Pantiacolla in order to learn more about the birds of the lowland jungle. I came back up the river with a different group and visited Amazonia Lodge before birding my way back Manu Road with Juve.

I had problems with my camera and binoculars but still had a great trip. Right before the trip, I bought an extender lens for my Olympus C-740. Being new to photography, I put my trust in the big-name camera shop in New York that sold it to me. I only had time for a few tests before leaving and didn’t notice any problems. I also bought a new pair of binoculars that were rated waterproof. When I got home, I was heartsick to see that the lens didn’t work right. It was downright terrible. Many of the photos had severe blurriness. I informed the camera shop about the problem, but they are still selling this model with the C-740. It never rained during the whole trip, but the binoculars fogged up at the worst possible time—while I was on my own at Pantiacolla. So I had no binoculars for several days. I learned some painful lessons on this trip. Never trust ‘the experts.’ Carry extra equipment. Don’t buy new equipment right before departing.

I arrived in Cusco a few days before the tour began. On the free day, I hired a taxi driver who took me to some lakes and open areas, where some of the highlights were Puna Ibis, Mountain Caracara, and Plumbeous Rail. The first stop of the tour was at Lake Huarcapay, which is just outside Cusco. The highlights were Bearded Mountaineer, Rusty-fronted Canastero, and Many-colored Rush-Tyrant. On the way over the mountains, we saw an Andean Tinamou. As we started to descend on the wet side of the mountains, we began to see flowerpiercers, tanagers, hummingbirds, etc. We camped at Pillahuata, which gets chilly at night. The next morning, we were greeted by White-collared Jays near the campsite. It was exciting to finally get to go birding on Manu Road. Some of the highlights that day were Golden-headed Quetzal, White-capped Dipper, Andean Solitaire, and tanagers. Late in the day, we drove to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge and saw the amazing Lyre-tailed Nightjar that night.

I loved the stay at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge. The weather is very pleasant at this altitude and the birds are incredible, especially the tanagers, hummingbirds at the feeders, and of course the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, which have a lek near the lodge. Among the highlights were Rufous Motmot, Versicolored Barbet, and Solitary Eagle. The next day, we visited lower elevations, where the biggest highlight was Blue-fronted Jacamar. We drove to Atalaya and took the boat down to Pantiacolla. This was quite an adventure for someone on his first serious birding trip in the Amazon. Along the river, we saw Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Sand-colored Nighthawk, and parrots.

The many highlights at Pantiacolla include King Vulture, Bamboo Antshrike, Manu Antbird, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Red-and-green Macaw, Blue-headed Macaw, Amazon Kingfisher, Blue-crowned Motmot, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Collared Puffbird, Black-fronted Nunbird, White-fronted Nunbird, Swallow-wing, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Red-necked Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Peruvian Recurvebill, Purplish Jay, Violaceous Jay, and many antbirds, flycatchers, etc. One evening, I stood down by the river at dusk and suddenly had more than a dozen large bats swoosh past from behind. Several of them grazed by within inches. One day I was out walking the trails on my own and came upon a herd of what must have been about a hundred White-lipped Pecaries. The sounds they make is like something from a horror movie. You can hear them rustling through the vegetation with jaws constantly snapping shut. The next day, I returned to this area and inspected the damage to the forest. On the beach nearby, I found the tracks of a Jaguar, which often follow these herds. One day, I hired one of the nearby residents as a guide. I was amazed at how he was able to go off the trail and find his way. The staff at Pantiacolla Lodge are very friendly. It was nice to get to know them a little during my extended stay.

I took the boat back up to Atalaya and spent two days at Amazonia Lodge, which is wonderful. The owner let me borrow his binoculars. The highlights were Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Hoatzin, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Common Potoo, Rufous-crested Coquette, Black-capped Donacobius, Masked Crimson Tanager, and Red-capped Cardinal. I spent a few days driving back to Cusco with Juve, who let me borrow his binoculars, and saw several birds that I had missed on the way down, including Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Red-crested Cotinga, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Citrine Warbler, Grass-green Tanager, and Golden-collared Tanager. At one point, an absolutely stunning Golden-headed Quetzal landed right in front of me at eye level. I couldn’t believe the metallic green back and velvet black trim. It was a dream photo op. I would have gotten some incredible photos if not for the bad lens, but some of those shots came out fairly good.

After returning to Cusco, I spent a day at Machu Picchu and saw Torrent Tyrranulet and Andean Condor, which was a great bird on which to end the trip. A list of species seen and heard follows.

* = heard only

Great Tinamou, Hooded Tinamou, *Brown Tinamou, Undulated Tinamou, Andean Tinamou, White-tufted Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Cocoi Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Puna Ibis, Torrent Duck, Speckled Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Puna Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Andean Duck, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Andean Condor, King Vulture, Swallow-tailed Kite, Cinereous Harrier, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Solitary Eagle, Roadside Hawk, White-throated Hawk, Variable Hawk, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Black Caracara, Red-throated Caracara, Mountain Caracara, *Laughing Falcon, American Kestrel, Speckled Chachalaca, Andean Guan, Spix’s Guan, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Starred Wood-Quail, Hoatzin, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Rufous-sided Crake, Blackish Rail, Plumbeous Rail, Common Moorhen, Andean Coot, Sungrebe, *Sunbittern, Andean Lapwing, Collared Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Andean Gull, Yellow-billed Tern, Large-billed Tern, Spot-winged Pigeon, Band-tailed Pigeon, Pale-vented Pigeon, Eared Dove, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Bare-faced Ground-Dove, Gray-fronted Dove, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Red-and-green Macaw, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Blue-headed Macaw, Dusky-headed Parakeet, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Blue-headed Parrot, Mealy Amazon, Squirrel Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, *Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, *Yungas Pygmy-Owl, Common Potoo, Sand-colored Nighthawk, Common Paraque, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Chestnut-collared Swift, White-collared Swift, Short-tailed Swift, White-bearded Hermit, Koepcke’s Hermit, Reddish Hermit, Gray-breasted Saberwing, White-necked Jacobin, Green Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Rufous-crested Coquette, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Violet-fronted Brilliant, Chestnut-breasted Coronet, Shining Sunbeam, Gould’s Inca, Great Sapphirewing, Giant Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Bearded Mountaineer, Tyrian Metaltail, Rufous-capped Thornbill, Long-tailed Sylph, Black-eared Fairy, Amethyst Woodstar, White-tailed Trogon, Collared Trogon, Masked Trogon, Blue-crowned Trogon, Black-tailed Trogon, Golden-headed Quetzal, Ringed Kingfisher, Amazon Kingfisher, Blue-crowned Motmot, Highland Motmot, Rufous Motmot, Broad-billed Motmot, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Collared Puffbird, Black-fronted Nunbird, White-fronted Nunbird, Swallow-wing, Gilded Barbet, Lemon-throated Barbet, Versicolored Barbet, Blue-banded Toucanet, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Curl-crested Aracari, *Golden-collared Toucanet, Cuvier’s Toucan, Fine-barred Piculet, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Little Woodpecker, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Andean Flicker, Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Red-necked Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Pale-legged Hornero, Wren-like Rushbird, Azara’s Spinetail, Dark-breasted Spinetail, Plain-crowned Spinetail, Creamy-crested Spinetail, Marcapata Spinetail, Ash-browed Spinetail, Rusty-fronted Canastero, Pearled Treerunner, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Striped Treehunter, Peruvian Recurvebill, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Olive-backed Foliage-gleaner, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Elegant Woodcreeper, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, Fasciated Antshrike, Bamboo Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Plain-winged Antshrike, Variable Antshrike, Spot-winged Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Bluish-slate Antshrike, Pygmy Antwren, Sclater’s Antwren, Stripe-chested Antwren, White-eyed Antwren, Foothill Antwren, Rufous-tailed Antwren, White-flanked Antwren, Long-winged Antwren, Gray Antwren, Dot-winged Antwren, Striated Antwren, Manu Antbird, White-browed Antbird, Black-faced Antbird, Warbling Antbird, White-lined Antbird, Chestnut-tailed Antbird, Sooty Antbird, Black-faced Antthrush, *Rufous-breasted Antthrush, *Red-and-white Antpitta, *Rufous Antpitta, *Thrush-like Antpitta, *Rusty-belted Tapaculo, *Trilling Tapaculo, *Bolivian Tapaculo, Red-crested Cotinga, Barred Fruiteater, Screaming Piha, Plum-throated Cotinga, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, *Yungas Manakin, Band-tailed Manakin, Blue-crowned Manakin, Round-tailed Manakin, Sulfur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Large Elaenia, White-crested Elaenia, Mottle-backed Elaenia, Torrent Tyrannulet, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Inca Flycatcher, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet, Slender-footed Tyrranulet, White-throated Tyrranulet, White-banded Tyrranulet, Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant, Johannes’ Tody-Tyrant, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher, Large-headed Flatbill, Dusky-tailed Flatbill, Rufous-tailed Flatbill, White-crested Spadebill, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Whiskered Flycatcher, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Smoke-colored Pewee, Black Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Drab Water-Tyrant, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant, Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, Grayish Mourner, Short-crested Flycatcher, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Gray-capped Flycatcher, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Pink-throated Becard, Masked Tityra, Brown-chested Martin, White-winged Swallow, Blue-and-white Swallow, Brown-bellied Swallow, White-banded Swallow, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, White-capped Dipper, Black-capped Donacobius, *Thrush-like Wren, Gray-mantled Wren, Fulvous Wren, *Inca Wren, *Moustached Wren, House Wren, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Scaly-breasted Wren, *Chestnut-breasted Wren, *Andean Solitaire, Chiguanco Thrush, Great Thrush, Glossy-black Thrush, Black-billed Thrush, *Lawrence’s Thrush, *White-necked Thrush, Long-billed Gnatwren, Purplish Jay, Violaceous Jay, White-collared Jay, Red-eyed Vireo, Lemon-chested Greenlet, Dusky-capped Greenlet, Hooded Siskin, Slate-throated Redstart, Spectacled Redstart, Two-banded Warbler, Pale-legged Warbler, Citrine Warbler, Russet-crowned Warbler, Three-striped Warbler, Buff-rumped Warbler, Bananaquit, Cinereous Conebill, Blue-backed Conebill, Capped Conebill, Magpie Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Common Bush-Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager, Black-capped Hemispingus, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Black-eared Hemispingus, Rust-and-yellow Tanager, Yellow-backed Tanager, White-winged Shrike-Tanager, Slaty Tanager, Yellow-crested Tanager, White-Shouldered Tanager, Black-goggled Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, White-winged Tanager, Masked Crimson Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Palm Tanager, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Golden-collared Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Purple-throated Euphonia, Thick-billed Euphonia, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Orange-eared Tanager, Turquoise Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Golden Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Yellow-bellied Tanager, Spotted Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Masked Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Black-faced Dacnis, Purple Honeycreeper, Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch, Double-collared Seedeater, Chestnut-bellied Seedeater, Band-tailed Seedeater, Moustached Flowerpiercer, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Deep-blue Flowerpiercer, Masked Flowerpiercer, Greenish Yellow-Finch, Red-capped Cardinal, Dark-faced Brush-Finch, Pectoral Sparrow, Yellow-browed Sparrow, Rufous-naped Sparrow, *Grayish Saltator, Buff-throated Saltator, Slate-colored Grosbeak, Blue-black Grosbeak, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Giant Cowbird, Epaulet Oriole, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Mountain Cacique, Crested Oropendola, Dusky-green Oropendola, Russet-backed Oropendola, Amazonian Oropendola