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.
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.
The Sparkling Violetears at the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge gardens, on the Manu Road in the Andes of southern Peru, were attempting to dominate the feeders. They zoomed in from their observation posts whenever another hummingbird dared to approach any feeder. On occasion, they even faced off with each other over the ownership. This shot and the video complication below are examples of that. The other Sparkling Violetear is out of the shot, obviously, up and to the right. The video contains shots of the same bird on two different perches, but in conflict with the same opponent. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr. Video compiled in ImgPlay.
As with yesterday’s White-bellied Woodstar, the Wire-crested Thorntail did not show up until after the cloud forest clouds had begun to drift across the garden at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, late in the afternoon, on the Manu Road in the Andes of southern Peru. And I only saw it that once. We were told it favored the flowers at one end of the deck, but that patch was being guarded by a particularly aggressive Sparkling Violetear. The Thorntail apparently had to wait until the Violetear was off chasing another intruder, well away from the flowers, to risk coming in. Of course it could have come in several other times when I was not looking, but I did keep my eye out for it most of the afternoon. This was a case of turn and shoot, and I got a burst of maybe ten shots off before the hummer disappeared back into the brush and trees around the garden. These are the best. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
As the afternoon progressed at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, along the Manu Road in the Andes of southern Peru, the mist came in. It is the cloud forest, and that afternoon it lived up to its name. That meant that I was shooting through a haze by the time the White-bellied Woodstar showed up. That and the natural fall-off the light limited the photographic possibilities. Still, for the record, here are at least two individuals of White-bellied Woodstar. These diminutive hummingbirds took no guff from the larger hummers at the feeders…often contesting perches with the Violet-fronted Brilliants three times their size. They relied on their speed and maneuverability to swoop in and raid even well-guarded feeders at will. 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.
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! 🙂