Of course I prefer not to photograph hummingbirds at feeders, but sometimes, in the limited time available in some exotic location, that is all you can get. I had only one afternoon, a few hours really, overlooking the gardens at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge on the Manu Road in the Andes of Peru, between lunch and our appointment at the Cock-of-the-Rock lek, so I took what I could get. This is the Violet-fronted Brilliant and I never caught it perched away from the feeders. I think I have two males (or the same male twice) and a female. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2X Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr. If I were to do this trip again, I would want at least 2 nights at Cock-of-the-Rock, as well as time at both at the lodges at Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station higher up and Villa Carmin Biological Station lower down. But then I am greedy! 🙂
Almost the first hummingbird I saw at the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge feeders, on the Manu Road in southern Peru, and certainly the first hummingbird I really looked at that afternoon, was the Booted Racket-tail. It is, of course, a hummingbird I have wanted to see for years, spectacular in every way, but I was really surprised by how small it is. In the guides you see that great long tail and I somehow assumed that it was a much bigger bird. Without the tail it is not much bigger than a Ruby-throat and certainly not as big as an Annas, at least by impression. I did not have one in the hand to measure. It was certainly small compared to many of the other hummers at Cock-of-the-Rock, including the dominant Sparkling Violetear. After my first shots of the bird at the feeder, showing off both its color and its booties very nicely, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to catch one away from the feeders. Not easy! Wherever they perched when not feeding, it was well out of sight from the porch of the lodge, and they only came swooping in for seconds at a time. Pepe, my guide on the Amazon Journeys Birding the Manu Road adventure, said that they are “submissive at the feeders.” Only when we were leaving, waiting up by the road for our driver to finish a pick-up soccer match at the staff quarters up the hill, did I find a Booted Racket-tail feeding in the flowers of the upper garden, and managed a decent set of shots. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2X Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
On our way down from Wayqecha Lodge at 9500 feet on the Manu Road on the eastern slopes of the Andes in southern Peru, we stopped at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge at 5200 feet for lunch, and to wait out the afternoon until our 4PM appointment at the Cock-of-the-Rock lek just up the road. Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge and the lek there are currently THE place to go to see Andean Cock-of-the-Rock along the Manu Road, but more on that when I post my Cock-of-the-Rock photos 🙂 Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge also has a well established garden with lots of hummingbird plants and feeders, so it is a great place to spend an afternoon. The Sparkling Violetear Hummingbird tends to dominate feeders, and each feeder at Cock-of-the-Rock had it’s own guardian Violetear. They perch away from the feeder and swoop in whenever another hummer approaches. The beginning of the afternoon was sunny, though clouds came in before our Cock-of-the-Rock appointment, and I caught this Sparkling Violetear in all its glory as it guarded its feeder. This is one showy bird! Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2X Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I began chasing butterflies on my very first day in Peru, walking my first section of the Manu Road. Turns out there are lots of butterflies on the east slope of the Andes, in the run down from the Elfin Forest above Wayqecha Lodge to the emerging Rainforest around Villa Carmin. Butterflies were everywhere, but the easiest place to see (and certainly to photograph) them was where something sweet had been spilled, or something rich in minerals was seeping out into the road or into a roadside ditch. These were gathered at the entrance to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge where, I can only assume, runoff from the staff quarters moistened the dirt. Still, what an assembly! If I am right in my identifications, they are Pink-banded Sister, Blue Perisama, Manu Perisama, and Rusty-tipped Page, all within a few square feet. Though they all look the same size in my collage, the Rusty-tipped Page is 3 times the size of the Blue Perisama, and a third again as big as the Pink-banded Sister. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
This is the resident Manu Road Andean Potoo. Most Potoos are faithful to a perch over several years, and this one is no exception. It has been sitting on this dead branch daily for enough years so that every birding driver, and every birding guide, who works the Manu Road between Wayqecha Lodge and Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge knows just where to find it. There is a little pull out just above the tree. You stop, walk down the road a few dozen yards, look up, and, once your eyes adjust to the cryptic plumage, there it is. This might, however, be the first Potoo I have seen with its eyes open in daylight. It was an accident. Omar, our excellent driver, spotted what turned out to be a Black and Chestnut Eagle soaring against the mountain across from us, and Pepe, my guide played an eagle call to try to draw it closer. The Potoo sat right up for that! From the oblique angle, looking up, you can not see the yellow of the eyes, but you can see the bulge of that big light collecting lens 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr. And here, for your further enjoyment is a distant shot of the Black and Chestnut Eagle, again at 1200mm equivalent and heavily cropped.
There are only a few possible Toucans at the elevations where we spent most of our time on the Manu Road on the eastern slope of the Andes in Peru. This is, in my experience, the most common of them. We had 4 separate encounters with Blue-banded Toucanets. According to The Birds of Peru, the blue band is hard to see in the field, and we certainly never saw one like the band in the illustrations, but we did pick up hints. These birds were all between Wayqecha Lodge (9500 feet) and Cock-of-the-Rock (5200 feet), seen from the Manu Road. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Tanagers are to the tropics what Warblers are to North America…except for the migrant part 🙂 That is probably truer than I think, since they seem to fill a similar niche and they are certainly as bright and various and present as the Warblers in our woods. These are just 4 of the many different species I saw along the Manu Road in Peru, walking between Wayqecha Lodge at the high end of the cloud forest (9500 feet) and Cock of the Rock Lodge near the bottom of the cloud forest (at 5200 feet). They are, reading right and down, The Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, the Grass-green Tanager, the Golden Collared Tanager, and the Golden-napped Tanager (inca variety, the northern amabilis variety has the golden nape of the name). I have more, but I will save them for another post. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
The Rufous-capped Thornbill is listed as uncommon and rare over its whole range on the east slopes of the Andes from Columbia to Bolivia, but it is probably not so much rare as “rarely seen”. Pepe Rojas-Moscoso, my guide to Birding the Manu Road with Amazon Journeys, was certainly surprised to see both a female, on the trail out from the Wayqecha Cloud-Forest Biological Station’s Canopy Bridge, and, the next day and further down the road, a male sitting up and posing nicely for us. The female only sat for the 30 seconds it took me to fire off a burst, but the male sat long enough for me to get a whole sequence of poses. These kinds of hummingbird experiences, well away from any feeders, are rare enough in themselves to be pretty special, but on the Manu Road we had several every day. Not as rare as the Rufous-capped Thornbill, but each one special in its own way. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
One last shot of the “star of the show” at Wayqecha Lodge’s feeders: the Long-tailed Sylth. The Swordbilled Hummingbird that was coming to flowers near the feeders might have been the star, or at least shared top billing, but it never showed up while I was watching. Not that I was not delighted to see the Long-tailed Sylth, a truly impressive hummer! And I was very happy that it favored a perch away from the feeders. And while I am finishing up with Wayqecha hummingbirds, I will share a really not to great photo of a Tyrain Metaltail…the only shot I got of this bird…taken after supper as the light failed and after the clouds had begun to roll in over Wayqecha.
Still, it is the bird, and you can tell it is the bird, so I am not totally complaining.
Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). The Tyrain Metaltail is also at ISO 2500, which explains somewhat the quality of the shot…but the light we have is the light we have. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
The Collared Inca is one of the most variable species of hummingbirds that I am aware of. Within Peru it has at least 5 color variations, each of which is distinct enough so that the uninformed birder might be forgiven for thinking each was a separate species. But no, the taxonomists say they are all the same species. This one, photographed at Wayqecha Biological Station and Birding Lodge high on the eastern slopes of the Andes on the Manu Road is distinct enough to have its own name: Gould’s Inca. But it is still, apparently, a Collard Inca. Go figure. I would have loved to have a day just to sit and watch the few feeders at Wayqecha, and to take a lot more photographs. As it was I only got to photograph hummingbirds on my way to and from meals at the dinning hall…I think I may have gotten photographs of all but one species that was being seen in July, but I would have loved to have gotten them in better light and better poses…etc…if you photograph birds, especially hummingbirds, you know what I mean. 🙂 And the bird I missed was the Swordbill…one of my most wanted hummers! (I did see one in flight from the Manu Road while walking, but no photograph!) Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.