Peru Tour – Complete Birdwatching Trip Report – Pantiacolla Lodge, Amazonia Lodge, Cusco | Part 4
Peru bird watching tours can be customized to fit all comfort levels. Also, with the Amazon rainforest and the Andes being so close, birds enthusiasts can take trips through the jungle and mountains to see these creatures in their natural habitats. As a tourist destination for birdwatching, the potential of Peru is enormous. There is a lot to explore; hence a single trip is not enough to discover all the wonders that Peru has to offer I can’t say this enough, but Peru has everything for all bird watchers, at least once in their lifetime. To help everyone, we are trying to share our journey about our entire Peru birdwatching trip.
Honestly, as I prepared for my trip, I couldn’t help but wonder, but now I’m back, and we already made articles about birdwatching in Peru, animals to watch in Peru and even the best places to stay while birdwatching.
Thank you for giving us so enough appreciation for the third part of Peru birdwatching. We wandered towards The Manu Road, Lago Huarcapay, Paucartambo, Pantiacolla on that one. As promised we are back with the next part. Check the third part here – Click Here.
B6 – Day 16
At 6 AM we began birding along the Oropendola Trail. Even though birds were sparse, but what we found were quality birds. Pink-throated Becards were followed by Purple-throated Fruitcrows. We had good views of several Ringed Antpipits, a White-crested Spadebill, and some Antbirds. A Grey Antbird stayed so high in the canopy that my neck seriously hurt after watching it, a Scaly-breasted Wren, in contrast, sat very low near the ground, but quickly flew off. Two Starred Wood-Quails scrambled through the foliage and a Collared Trogon was just gorgeous. After a while, the trail ended and we followed on the Monk Saki Trail. I didn’t know how long this was going to be, so I was very happy when we returned to the lodge to rest my feet. But first, we enjoyed some more real quality birding. At a small creek, there was a big flock, but again the birds stayed high up the canopy. So we sat down and tried to identify as many birds as possible. I think without Alex we would have ended with 15-20 species less, as most were rather cryptic ones, such as 4 species of foliage-gleeners, some small Tyrannulets, drab Greenlets, or hard to identify antbirds. Only the tanagers were rather straightforward. When the flock had moved on, so did we. Bird activity was rather slow again, but still, most birds we encountered were new and interesting ones. We found a pair of Tawny-throated Leaftossers, a species that Alex had only seen once before, stumbled upon a smaller flock of antbirds, enjoyed great views of the cute Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin. Many Screaming Pihas were calling in the last parts of the trails but weren’t responsive to playback. Cinereous Mourners, in contrast, would show often even without tape. Other shy species were the Rusty-belted Tapaculos, plus Round-tailed and Band-tailed Manakins were heard often, without any sightings.
During the midday heat for once, we didn’t bird (only Alex scouted the trails like he always did). Most lay in their hammocks and enjoyed garden birds, Demi and I went swimming (not easy, as the water is only 50cm deep but torrential as hell. If a Harpy had appeared we could have neither informed anybody nor watched it through our binoculars, as it took us about 30 minutes to get back from the middle of the river to the shore. We had, none showed up 😀
In the late afternoon, Alex took us to the Capybara Trail. Here he showed us more great birds, like White-cheeked Tody-Tyrants, Red-throated Caracaras and White-browed Antbirds. One of the main stars was a stunning Red-billed Scythebill. So stunning, that I forgot to take a picture. Alex also managed to glimpse an Amazonian Antpitta crossing the trail behind us.
When we returned it was dawning and Florian and I decided to look again for the Sand-coloured Nighthawks. Again dozens showed, but this time a different looking bird joined them. I was already very happy to have found a Common Nighthawk (a species Alex and Micha had had the anterior night around the lodge), but upon further inspection of my pictures, some things don’t match. It appears to be a very odd Sand-coloured Nighthawk. Or is it a new species to science 😛
When I returned to the lodge grounds I noticed two large birds sitting on a pole next to the lodge `restaurant´. My first impression was two macaws fighting for a roosting place, but a closer look revealed there were two Common Potoos. One sat on the pole, while the other one approached it several times (I have no clue for what purpose, but it was not a fight) before it flew off. The other one stayed much longer, so everyone got to lay eyes on it. Our third Potoo!
Bird of the day: Russet-backed Oropendola — 108 species seen, 38 heard; 58 new
B7 – Day 17
Pantiacolla Lodge to Amazonia Lodge
Pretty much, the first bird today was a Plumbeous Antbird after we had started rather late. We walked the same trail as yesterday. Very soon after followed the days first highlight, an Undulated Tinamou that showed exceptionally well. Interestingly it didn’t seem to belong to the local undulatus race, but the northern yapura. Next, we found a close Blue-throated Piping-Guan, heard the Scythebill again, and then encountered a handsome Black-faced Antbird. When we entered some thicker forest, we stumbled upon various smaller flocks, containing a Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, a White-bearded Hermit, Bluish-slate, and Dusky-throated Antshrikes, several other Antbird and Antwren species and some Blue-crowned Manakins. On our way back, we suddenly saw a Striolated Puffbird sitting very openly in a dead tree, a species we hadn’t found the day before, despite many efforts.
Back at the lodge, many of us took a little time out and just lay in their hammocks. Luckily Alex wasn’t one of them (I was), so when somebody exclaimed, there was Puffbird. We all jumped up and ran. But this beautiful White-necked Puffbird stayed for at least half an hour without moving much. Another great find were two Scarlet-headed Barbets. After this, we all boarded the boats and headed upriver in the direction of Amazonia Lodge. Again I had to try to take Alex’s role in our boat, but together with the help from the others in my boat, I missed almost nothing back. Besides some Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, we found some Sand-colored Nighthawks, roosting and flying very close to the river. Another great find was that 3+2 Southern Lapwings, some years ago, is still a significant rarity in Peru plus two Greater Yellowlegs. On the way, we made a short stop for lunch, which produced the funny-looking Boat-billed Flycatcher.
As soon as we arrived at Amazonia Lodge, Alex immediately found a Bare-necked Fruitcrow on the other side of the river. We then walked to our rooms and were just amazed by the vast garden with all the feeders frequented by tanagers, chachalacas, and hummingbirds. We enjoyed those for quite some time, and it was just great to watch Grey-breasted Sabrewings, White-necked Jacobins, Golden-tailed Sapphires, and Spot-vented Emeralds at close range.
After some rest, we went for a short walk around the nearby lagoon. Here one of the most anticipated species of the whole trip was abundant, the Hoatzin. We later agreed that this was our bird of the trip. Several other goodies followed with Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Squirrel Cuckoo, and Black Antbirds. But then Alex noticed a very inconspicuous whistling note, and Florian spotted the birds for us. Two Chestnut-capped Puffbirds, our third Puffbird species for that day!
When we returned, I was just too tired to go on the nightwalk (something I would have never thought to ever happen to me), but those who went enjoyed some great views of a Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl.
Bird of the day: Sand-colored Nighthawk — 117 species seen, 33 heard; 24 new
B8 – Day 18
We started birding in the gardens of Amazonia Lodge today, where soon a male Rufous-crested Coquette appeared (just behind the main house). The trees were alive with bird action and it was difficult not to miss anything. A Plain Softtail called but didn’t show, a White-winged Becard cooperated more. Turquoise and Paradise tanagers, Black-faced Dacnises, Olivaceous Siskin, and some Flycatchers perched in the open. A tiny tiny bird proved to be a Fine-barred Piculet and a Southern Red-tailed Squirrel showed up too. A female Rufous-crested Coquette put in a short appearance, before four of us (Florian, Micha, Demi and I) started in direction of the canopy tower, while the others preferred to stay around the bird feeders in the garden. Some accompanied us to a spot, where we hoped to find Long-tailed Potoo, but when we couldn’t find it, they returned to the lodge. However, Long-tailed Tyrants were abundant here. We climbed a steep, but well-kept trail and soon started to find new birds. Nice were the tiny Pygmy Antwrens, followed by great views of a Black-faced Antthrush. After some 25 minutes, we reached the canopy tower. This is about 20 meters high and thus quite shaky, so we tried to move as little as possible. We didn’t see much from here, but what we saw were very nice birds. White Hawks showed beautifully, (a King Vulture too, which we didn’t notice until we looked at our pictures), Blue-and-yellow and especially Military Macaws could be seen from here and Turquoise Tanagers, Purple Honeycreepers and a Yellow-browed Tody-Tyrant showed at close range.
We descended and birded Trail A, very soon stumbling upon a nice large flock, containing Fire-throated and Gilded Barbets, Olivaceous, Elegant and Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Bluish-slate, Plain-winged and White-shouldered Antshrikes, Pygmy, White-flanked, Grey and Long-winged Antwren, some tanagers, Purple and Green Honeycreepers (and more) and as a special treat a Half-collared Gnatwren. When the flock had moved on, we did too and after a while stumbled upon the next flock. A Great-billed Hermit wasn’t associated with it, but White-winged Shrike-Tanagers, Turquoise, Paradise, Green-and-gold, Golden-eared, Yellow-bellied, Bay-headed, Opal-rumped, and Olive Tanagers (just to give an impression of the variety), Black-faced Dacnises, several greenlets and vireos, flycatchers and Tyrannulets, several more antbirds, -wrens and –shrikes, Woodcreepers and foliage-gleaners, Red-stained Woodpeckers, Blue-crowned Trogons and much more, were. After a long time of neck-breaking staring into the canopy we made our way back to lodge, but not without lucking upon an extraordinarily beautiful Round-tailed Manakin and a Fasciated Antshrike at close range.
The people back at the lodge hadn’t only had the hummingbirds, jays and tanagers at the feeders but also found Grey-necked Wood-Rails, Blue-headed Macaws, a Razor-billed Curassow and a Blue-throated Piping-Guan around the lodge, they had also seen the White Hawks, King Vultures and macaws from down there.
Most preferred to stay around the lodge after lunch, but I went to the lagoon again. Of course, there were the great Hoatzins, but some surprises awaited me too. A Black Cayman slid into the water, a Green-and-rufous Kingfishers shot away and both the beautiful Yellow-bellied Dacnis and the majestic Crimson-crested Woodpecker showed beautifully. When I wandered back I met Demi and Nadine who had just seen some Silvered Antbirds.
In the afternoon we made another walk, again some people stayed at the lodge. This time we went along through a bamboo forest to find some specialties. We didn’t have luck with Rufous-headed Woodpeckers or Manu Antbirds but got lucky with Bamboo Antshrike, Rufous-capped Nunlet and a completely unexpected White-necked Puffbird. The last surprise back at the lodge was a Bare-necked Fruitcrow in the garden.
Even though I would have liked to try a nightwalk this would have been senseless, as it started raining heavily in the evening.
Bird of the day: Rufous-crested Coquette — 131 species seen, 17 heard; 37 new
B9 – Day 19
Amazonia Lodge to Cusco
At 3:45 AM my alarm went off and together with Heinz and Demi I tried one last nightwalk in the Amazonian lowlands. We walked along the lagoon and back along the jeep trail, both pretty optimal places for spotlighting, however, we couldn’t find much. In the lagoon swam some caymans. Along the jeep trail, one could spotlight up and down the next 100m, but nothing was found until back close to the lodge I finally glimpsed an eye. It took the others, quite a while to get on it, but then we could all finally see it: A beautiful Nightjar. However, we didn’t know what species, yet. It wasn’t until back home that I figured out, this had been a Silky-tailed Nightjar, a species not yet recorded at Amazonia Lodge!
Upon returning to the lodge gardens we also found a Pauraque showing well and heard a Common Potoo. We packed our stuff and went to the boats. On the way, something ran over the trail, probably an armadillo, but my spotlight was dying, so I will never actually know.
We arrived at Atalaya after only 15 minutes of the boat ride, quickly loaded the bus, and drove straight towards Cusco. We only stopped to get some fuel and high up in the Andes, where it finally became clear, we’d arrive with lots of spare time. Of course, it wasn’t easy to see birds during that transit, but we still managed to spot a few. The Great Potoo sat exactly where we’d seen it before, but the Andean Potoo was gone. A Blue-banded Toucanet sat next to the road, an Andean Solitaire sang and a Roadside Hawk was found. But the best bird was without a doubt a male Amazonian Umbrellabird with its `neck tube´ clearly visible right beside the road. What would I have given to stop the car, but with the construction site (which supposedly would only open at 12 o’clock) still ahead of us we just couldn’t afford to lose time (We managed to get past it bribing the workers with a bottle of Coca Cola). The same happened when Sabine spotted some owl from the driving bus.
As I said, we arrived at Cusco airport with plenty of time, said our farewells to Florian, Micha, and Danebod and then met our new guide, who would take us to Ollantaytambo. Along the road, we saw many of the highland birds we’d come to know so far: Cinereous Harrier, Puna Ibis, Andean Coot, and others. After dinner in Ollantaytambo we boarded the train to Aguas Calientes, where another guide, Marco awaited us and led us to our hotel.
Bird of the day: Amazonian Umbrellabird — 42 species seen, 3 heard; 1 new
I hope you enjoyed the previous parts, hope to see you soon to check out the other parts. We’ll travel our path to Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Lago Titicaca, Colca Canyon next. Do let me know if you have any questions.
Peru Tour – Complete Birdwatching Trip Report – Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Lago Titicaca, Colca Canyon | Part 5
Peru Tour – Complete Birdwatching Trip Report – Pantiacolla Lodge, Amazonia Lodge, Cusco | Part 4