Monday, 20 August 2012

Tipishca Lodge – The Amazon, Peru

The next morning we left ARCC Lodge at 6.00 am heading downriver to Tipishca Lodge, also owned by Pepe.  We were still hoping for a view of Jaguar, but this was not to be.  We stopped and checked our various bamboo forests but with no Manu Antbird even calling.  Maybe it is the time of year.  Shortly after where the vehicle dropped us on our way to ARCC Lodge, we got off the boat at the stop for Alex’s brother’s lodge.  Almost immediately, we heard Rufous-Fronted Antthrush.  This is an incredibly difficult bird to see.  This individual was no exception and had us following it around the area.  After an hour Lori left us to do some other birding.  We decided to give it another half an hour.  Twenty minutes later Gunnar said that the bird was close in the bush.  We didn’t immediately move to his side as this had happened before and the bird had not shown itself.  Maybe if we kept still it might show itself.  Gunnar then saw the bird move right, so we moved into the position.  Then Chris had the bird hop one way and I saw if hop the other.  Unfortunately, Birdgirl did not get onto it.   After an hour and half of silent effort this would have been hard for anyone to take.  She tried to be brave, but this was tough and it was only a consoling hug from her dad that prevented a few tears.

It was late afternoon when we arrived at Tipishca Lodge, another lovely lodge situated next to am Oxbo lake, with an island in the middle.  There was just enough time to take a trail towards the island, seeing the rare Black-Faced Cotinga.  We came back the way we came but Lori decided to carry on along the trail thinking it would be closer.  As we returned to the lodge we heard Lori shout “hello” from across the lake.  As it was getting dark, Juan took a boat across the lake as a rescue mission.  We could see that the boat was leaking, as Juan was bailing water out.  On his return, Lori was damp all over from a very wet boat.

Black-Faced Cotinga taken by and copyright Gunnar Engblom

At dinner a medium sized shrew type thing with a bushy tail walked along a beam in the dining room.  Chris reassured me that it was not a rat whilst Gunnar was very insistent that it was (I knew it wasn’t but didn’t want to get any closer than I was) and then proceeded to gleefully tell me about his first visit to the Amazon with his wife when rats had come into their room at night and had eaten through a rucksack to get to the biscuits inside.  I am sure that he had read about my self-confessed rodent phobia on this blog.  Very funny Gunnar, Ha, Ha!  I did laugh at the time, but the genuine fear took over and I made Chris come back to the room with me when I took Birdgirl to bed.  He was not very sympathetic.  I was glad to get under my mosquito net, particularly after a loud cricket had flown into my hair, causing me to shriek – all very wussy.  The next morning Lori asked if Birdgirl had been refusing to bath (cold showers are the usual reason for shouting at bedtime) but I had to admit that it was me.

We only had one full day at Tipishca and spent the first morning walking trails, which had been painstakingly cleared of leaf litter, particularly looking for Humaita Antbird.  We heard it twice but briefly and could not relocate it.  Gunnar was trying hard to dig it out, deep in the trees.  It had otherwise been a quiet morning and we were all tired.  I was falling asleep standing up and Birdgirl was exhausted.  Lori was the first to give up, heading back towards the lodge.  Birdgirl said that if Lori was giving up then she could give up and headed back as well.   Then Chris drifted off.  I stood there for a while and then gave Gunnar a shout that we were heading off.  With his group gone, Gunnar had to give up and caught up with us as we all headed back to the lodge.  It was only 11.00am but I was off to bed.

I managed to grab two hours of sleep before and after lunch, which I could not have continued without.  Even Chris and Lori had naps.  Birdgirl spent her time reading her Kindle in a hammock, enjoying the time off.  Gunnar meanwhile skipped lunch and went back and saw the Humaita Antbird, which was a new bird for him.  His energy astounds me, as we were all exhausted.  We agreed that we would go back and look for the Humaita Antbird the next morning and spent the afternoon walking a bamboo trail and the island trail, finding two army ant swarms  Highlights of the day were views of the Black-Faced Cotinga again, Long-Winged Antwren, Banded Antbird, Chestnut-Winged Hookbill and Foliage-Gleaner, White-Chinned, Bar-Bellied and Amazonias Barred, Black-Banded and Lineated Woodcreeper.

I missed the Amazonias Barred-Woodpecker as I was looking into the wrong tree.  Just as Birdgirl explained which tree it was in, Chris pointed at the bird with a laser scaring it off.  Gunnar played the recording for another five minutes and even tried to spot light it with his torch as it was going dark, but to no avail.  After a few minutes of silence he said “I can tell that is going to have a detrimental effect on the harmony index”.  I had to laugh at myself (a bit).

That night I was woken by Chris making some noise in the Bathroom.  I was disorientated and went back to sleep pretty quickly after Chris said it was nothing.  The next morning he admitted that he had lifted the toilet lid and a frog had jumped out of it.  He failed in trying to catch it and had no idea where he had gone.  He thought that if I knew I might start dreaming about rats coming up the sewerage pipes into the bathroom, which was very likely.

After breakfast we looked for the Humaita Anbird which proved really elusive and was only seen by Gunnar and Lori.  I also managed to catch up Amazonias Barred-Woodpecker which was a stroke of good luck.  We were short of time, so headed off by boat back up river, seeing an Ornate Hawk-Eagle on the way. Once back on the road, we spent time looking for Bamboo specialties and Peruvian Palmcreeper with no joy.

Back in Puerto Maldonado we picked up a local guy who works with a Harpy Eagle researcher and had told Gunnar on the phone that he had seen an adult Harpy Eagle close to a nest only a few days earlier.  It was 5.00 pm by the time we reached the nest site and did not see a bird fly into roost.  Birdgirl has been desperate to see a Harpy Eagle since she was 5 years old when she watched a BBC programme where the cameraman climbed up to a nest to place a camera in it and was attacked by one of the adults.  Her disappointment was visible and she whispered to me “are we going to be able to try again tomorrow?”.

Back at the vehicle, the driver had managed to get it stuck in a ditch.  An hour later in the pitch black, after a lot of pushing, directions and manoeuvring we were on our way again.  After a pizza, we were in bed late (again) for Birdgirl. 

We decided that we did not have enough time to try for the Harpy Eagle before our 9.10 am flight.  Hopefully Birdgirl will see one when we go to Brazil in 2014.  So we headed for a bamboo site for the near endemic White-Cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, which we saw. 

It was time to say goodbye to Lori as we caught our flight to Cusco.  He had been great company and an excellent birder.  He had been fun with Birdgirl and you could tell that he worked with children.  She had a brilliant laugh and joke with him.

We would be meeting up with Gunnar in North Peru in a couple of days. At least we could look forward to a couple of days off.

1 comment:

  1. It wasn't a rat...I told you. Siberian Hamster. Special breed... :-)
    Seriously, it wasn't...I just found it so perfect for that Fawlty Towers dialogue with Manuel insisting it was not a rat.