Monday, 20 August 2012

Piedras River - Into the Amazon, Peru

It was great to get a lie in, as our flight to Puerto Maldonado, north east of Cusco and into the Amazon, was not until 11.30 am.  We felt like proper holidaymakers, lounging around at breakfast generally being lazy.  Lori had got an early flight, meeting up with Gunnar to go birding in the morning.  Gunnar had booked us onto a later flight at my request.  I think I had some idea of sightseeing in Cusco, but it was good just to have the time off.

Gunnar was there to meet us at Puerto Maldonado airport.  We then dropped our bags at the hotel, got changed into cooler clothing, met up Lori and went out for lunch.  The restaurant was clearly a hippy hangout with lots of travellers with dreadlocks hanging around.   This was good for us as there was a choice of vegetarian food in the menu.

In the afternoon, we twitched White-Faced Whistling Duck (a Peru tick for Gunnar) and also saw Brazilian Teal, before meeting up with a local guy called Louis who had seen a Zigzag Heron a couple of nights before at his lodge just outside of town.  We waited at dusk but had no luck.  It was worth a try.

That evening we headed back to the same restaurant, but this time we were overcharged for drinks and they tried to charge a ridiculous amount for Birdgirl’s plain spaghetti.  Gunnar had a lengthy discussion with the owner about it and so I doubt we will be going back there!

The next morning was an early start as we were travelling by road then boat along the Piedras River north from Puerto Maldonado to stay at ARCC Lodge for four nights.  We were picked up by Pepe, the owner of the lodge, his driver and cook (who looked a little worse for wear).  We birded in bamboo forest all the way along the road to where we were catching our boat, looking for bamboo specialists.  This area is not birded much and it was pretty late by the time we hit the best patch of bamboo, as we had been checking it all.  We had no sign of Rufous Twistwing or Manu Antbird but we did see Tui Parrot and Long-Crested and White-Bellied Tody-Tyrant and Rusty-Fronted Tody-Flycatcher.  I am sure that if we had another day in Puerto Maldonado we would have had a good chance of the bamboo species driving 1 ½ hours to the best section of bamboo forest for first light.

We had left our 3 hour boat ride until later in the afternoon so that we stood the best chance of seeing Jaguar.  Another group had seen one the previous morning about half an hour from where we were getting on the boat.  We had no such luck but did see Sand-Coloured Nightjar and a group of Razor-Billed Curassow walking along at the edge of the river for quite some time (spotted by Chris). 

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