The Black-streaked Puffbird is, according to the book, difficult to see and uncommonly seen. My guide on the Amazon Journeys Birding the Manu Road adventure, Pepe Rojas, managed to find me two different ones along the Manu Road on the eastern slopes of the Andes in southern Peru. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We never got to the clay licks in the Amazon lowlands where the Macaws and other parrots gather in great numbers, but we did see two different Macaw species along the Manu Road in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes near Villa Carmen Biological Station. There was a Blue and Yellow Macaw on the ground of the station, and we found the pair of Chestnut-fronted Macaws along the road while returning from birding the road above the station. Pepe Rojas, my guide, did not think they were anything special, but I don’t see Macaws every day, and I was delighted to see them. 🙂 Even at a distance in less than ideal light. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2X Clear Imagte Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Jacamars are my photographic nemesis birds…or they were until my Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys and Pepe Rojas. Still, there is never enough light where Jacamars sit. Ever. In the space of two days at Villa Carmen Biological Station in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes, I had two good photo ops with Bluish-fronted Jacamars. This is from the second and better of the two. Even so it is at ISO 1000. Not enough light! Jacamars always make me think of giant hummingbirds, this just smaller then an American Robin, but they come between the Kingfishers and the Puffbirds. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
This is another shot of the American Bald Eagle that posed so nicely for our digiscoping group during the Yellowstone Forever Institute ZEISS Digiscoping workshop in Yellowstone National Park. Taken with the ZEISS Harpia 85mm spotting scope and the Sony a6500 camera with the Sony E20mm f2.8 lens and the ZEISS Harpia M49 adapter. (It sounds harder than it is. Camera in Program mode, autofocus for final focus…touch to place the focus on the bird’s head.) Processed in Polarr.
The Red-breasted Nuthatches on the Upper Terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park seemed somehow “brighter” or “higher contrast” than the ones that come to our feeders in Maine. Maybe it is the clear light and thin atmosphere. Maybe it is the birds themselves. This specimen was actively feeding on the pine cones along one of the boardwalks at the Hot Spring. Sony RX10iv at something over the 600mm optical equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We left an hour early from the the Lamar Buffalo Ranch on our last day in Yellowstone, headed for the airport in Bozeman, but chasing a Wolf working its way up the valley that we saw from the Bunkhouse window after breakfast. We caught up with the wolf, still quite distant, but then had an extra hour…so we went to the upper terrace of Mammoth Hot Springs. Melissa had never seen the springs and I cajoled her into at least a short hike among the thermal pools. It was a special treat to find so many birds there…from the parking lot and around the pools. This Clark’s Nutcracker was very obliging…working the cones in a pine just off the boardwalk. We saw it from a distance, and were able to approach quite close. Sony RX10iv at something over 600mm optical and into Clear Image Zoom. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
On our first morning of the ZEISS Digiscoping workshop with the Yellowstone Forever Institute in Yellowstone National Park, when everyone was still getting their sea legs with the digiscoping rigs, we stopped for this American Bald Eagle that posed in perfect light for as long as we wanted to work with it. As we watched, a pair of Magpies came to harass it. The Eagle was not about to budge, even when the Magpies pulled its tail, but it made for some interesting photo ops. 🙂 Sony a6500 with 20mm f2.8 behind the eyepiece of the ZEISS Harpia with the zoom set to about 2.5. That would compute to about 50x on the scope and about a 1000mm equivalent focal length. Program mode on the Sony. Processed in Polarr.
Villa Carmen Biological Station also has a feeding area and blind where several species of Tinamous come in. This is the Undulated Tinamou, the only one we saw during our visit. But then, any clear sighting of a Tinamou is to be treasured. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Anti-motion Blur Mode. Processed in Polarr.
One of the highlights of the Manu Road on the eastern slopes of the Andes in southern Peru has to be the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. The Cock-of-the-Rock is a member of the Cotinga family of birds, found at cloud forest levels in the Andes from Columbia to Bolivia. It is at least unofficially the national bird of Peru, and certainly emblematic among the birds of South America and the Andes. It is the must-see bird in any visit to the Manu Road. Fortunately, Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks are leking birds…the males gather twice a day in favored patches of forest to display. During mating season, which varies depending on how far south you go, the males are attempting to attract females and the displays are both energetic and spectacular. The rest of the year, they are just showing off for each other. The leking seems to be tied to the level of the light…and the males gather in early morning and late afternoon…later on dark mornings and earlier on dark afternoons. I am told that the best of the leks along the Manu Road was lost to a landslide several years ago, so almost everyone who sees the Cock-of-the-Rock in the Manu region sees it at the lek just above Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge. You can make a reservation to visit the hide (or blind) in the morning or afternoon. Our reservation was for the afternoon, at 4PM. We arrived at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge at lunch time, and I watched as the clouds moved in, with a light rain, by 3PM. I was concerned that it was going to be too dark and too wet for photography, and we talked about canceling and coming back another day. We consulted with the keeper of the lek. He did not hold out much hope for better light on any day in our time-frame on the Manu Road, so, in the end, we kept our appointment. The hide at the lek is covered, which is a good thing, and it actually stopped raining by 3:30. The light levels were low, but I set the Sony RX10iv for Anti-motion Blur mode…designed for just such situations…and hoped for the best. Perhaps due to the weather, there were only a handful of other people in the blind that afternoon. The first male arrived only moments after we got in position, and over the next hour or so a few more came in to challenge him. We did not see any face to face displays, at least where you could see both birds, and the males stayed pretty much deep in the foliage, but it was still one of those experiences were I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. I could have, perhaps, gotten better shots on another day…but I am happy with what I got. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Anti-motion Blur Mode. Processed in Polarr.
By the time we left the Cock-of-the-Rock lek above Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge on the Manu Road in the Andes of southern Peru, it was already early evening. As I remember it, we were still walking down to the van, which was parked several hundred yards from the entrance to the lek, down the road at a little pull-out, when Pepe, my guide, called out Umbrellabird! The Umbrellabird is one of the Cotingas, closely related to the Cock-of-the-Rock, and the male, when in breeding plumage and displaying, is just as spectacular in its own way. The umbrella is truly impressive. Not that I would know from personal experience. This is a female. Still, Umbrellabird is listed as uncommon in the foothills and flood plains of the Amazon, more common in the north than in the south, and “most often seen in flight, crossing rivers” so I am happy to have seen this perched bird at all! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Anti-motion Blur mode. (The camera takes 3-4 exposures and intelligently stacks them.) Processed in Polarr.