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.
The Peruvian Sierra-Finch is not a pretty bird. It lacks bright colors and bold distinguishing characteristics. It is a about as plain as a bird can get…rusty brown with a yellowish tint, with a grey hood, just a hint of darker grey around the eye, and chunky silverfish bill. It is also fairly common in its range on the higher, dryer, slopes of the Andes…and, despite its name, it is not even endemic to Peru. It’s range extends into neighboring Bolivia. It’s only claim to fame seems to be that it is the northern most example of the hooded Sierra-Finches…which are not finches at all, but members of the Tanager family. Still, I was happy to see a few foraging on the mountain side above our road-side stop on the highway from Cusco to Paucartambo on the first day of our Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys. If you are counting, that is 6 good birds at this one stop. Bearded Mountaineer Hummingbird, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater, Creamy-crested Spinetail, and the seen-but-not-photographed Giant Hummingbird. Not bad for a single stop along a busy highway. And tomorrow I will be able to move on from this rest stop! Sony RX10iv at 600mm and 1200mm equivalents. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
The Bearded Mountaineer deserves another shot. This was from the same roadside stop on the highway from Cusco to Paucartambo that produced the Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch, the Band-tailed Seedeater, and the Creamy-crested Spinetail. Good stop! I could not catch the gorget of the Bearded Mountaineer in all its colored glory, but you get a hint of the possible richness here. (I do have a fuzzy flight shot that shows the green.) This is a big hummingbird, by any standard (6-6.5 inches)…but it looked small compared to the Giant Hummingbird that was flitting in and out of sight from higher up on the mountain above us. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600 optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
The Creamy-crested Spinetail is a Peruvian endemic. We found this pair foraging in the brush at the same roadside stop as the pervious two birds, along the highway from Cusco to Paucartambo, high on the western dry slopes of the southern Andes in Peru. They were active and flighty, and hard to pin down for a photo, but interesting birds to watch. According to the Birds of Peru, they are locally fairly common in their range. These two are the only ones we saw on the trip, though they also inhabit Cloud Forest where we spent a lot more time than at this road side stop 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr. With Amazon Journeys on the Birding the Manu Road Adventure.
Not the most exciting bird in the world, and widespread even in Peru, this is the Band-tailed Seedeater from the same roadside stop where we saw the Mountain Finch from yesterday’s post, on the highway from Cusco to Paucartambo, Peru. A little digital trickery here to show you two views of the same bird. 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 a assembled in Pixomatic.
I am working back through my photos from my Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys more or less in order. This is from the first day, still on the highway to Purcartambo (where the Manu Road really begins). We pulled off in a “likely spot” on one of the hairpin turns to walk a ways and see what we could see. This is the Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch, a lovely little bird the Birds of Peru guide lists as rare and local throughout its limited range on the mid-range dry slopes of the Andes. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.