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Rich Hoyer on his recently-completed tour, Peru: Rainforest Lodges of the Madre de Dios

November 27: Rich Hoyer on his recently-completed tour, Peru: Rainforest Lodges of the Madre de Dios

We had some marvelous experiences on our short tour visiting just two lodges in the rainforests of Peru's Madre de Dios department. At the wonderfully welcoming Los Amigos Biological Station, daily companions included a trio of Undulated Tinamous foraging on the open lawn, often right around our cabins. Nearby, sticking closer to the forest edge was an immature Rufescent Tiger-Heron as well, a very unusual occurrence in that habitat.

We rarely had to venture far from our rooms before stumbling into some really fun bird activity – either a mixed flock or a mob looking for an owl to harass, but some of our better finds were when things seemed very quiet at first – such as the covey of Starred Wood-Quail that nearly attacked us in response to an imitation whistle of a chick in distress. Or a nightjar flushed off the side of the trail, later determined to have been a rare Silky-tailed Nightjar. One of the favorite birds of the tour happened just like this when a lone Chestnut-capped Puffbird flew past the leader and landed just off the trail halfway past the group.

A totally different habitat was offered during our boat rides on the Madre de Dios and Tambopata rivers as we traveled to and from the lodges. One particularly memorable sighting was the sudden appearance of well over a hundred Sand-colored Nighthawks feeding over the river. On another day we had spectacular views of a pair of Horned Screamers very close on the shore.

We had two different boat rides on old oxbow lakes, both providing some of the most delightful and peaceful birding on the trip. A Sungrebe and multiple kingfishers were highlights at one, and a Western Striolated-Puffbird (the Obama-bird, we called it, as it was only recently described and named after him) was very cooperative on the other lake. At both, however, we were treated to many views of the most bizarre but beautiful Hoatzin.

We had one early morning at a parrot lick, and while macaws didn't visit this morning, we still saw several species of parrots at close range, including a noisy mob of Dusky-headed Parakeets.

At Explorer's Inn, we kept seeing new birds and wonderful mammals every time we wandered down the trails. On our very first outing, a ridiculously cooperative Black-faced Antbird found a low perch we could all see well and sang from it for at least 10 minutes.

On our last day we passed by a stretch of trail not far from our cabins for the umpteenth time, but we obviously still hadn't seen everything, as suddenly there was a pair of fabulous Pavonine Quetzals right over the trail that hadn't been there on any other pass. They stayed long enough for those who had hung back at the lodge to return and see them in their resplendent beauty.

Posted: November 27, 2017