Traveling and Birding the Amazon

In early November of 2012, Jane and I traveled to the Amazon. This was not a birding trip, however, we did see 112 new species. We were lucky, our local guide - naturalist turned out to be an ornithologist, who usually leads tours for high end birding companies. Without him, we never would have been able to see as many birds as we did.

Photographing these birds was difficult. Many birds flew by quickly from one side of the river to the other, as our boat navigated the river and its tributaries. The dense foliage made exposures difficult and being on a boat certainly didn’t help. It was quite hot and rained torrentially without warning. In spite of the many discomforts, this was an incredible trip. The density of living things on the Amazon and in the surrounding rainforest was amazing. I’ve included many photos of local culture among the birds.

We traveled approximately 250 miles down the Amazon and into it’s tributaries. We embarked at Iquitos, Peru. Our larger boat traveled the long distances but we spent many hours in a smaller skiff searching for wildlife, birds and local culture. There were difficult hikes through the rainforest, where high temperatures and humidity made walking uncomfortable. One morning we came upon thousands of Neotropical Cormorants feasting on local fish. Some of the birds took off as the skiff approached.

On the right is our ship, The Arapaima. It was not luxurious, but clean and comfortable. The rooms were small and air conditioned. That was really very important, it was very hot and humid all day. There were 22 guests and and a crew of 9. Out on the river we were quite isolated and out of reach of communication, certainly no internet or cellular service. On the left is our skiff. This boat took us through the smaller tributaries and streams where the Arapaima couldn’t navigate. Most of the bird photographs were taken from the skiff.

Our room on The Arapaima.

This was a map in the ship’s dining room. We tracked our course daily.

This is a Jabiru, photographed from the deck of the Arapaima

We saw three species of kingfishers, this is a male Amazon Kingfisher. As we traversed many small creeks and waterways, kingfishers flew from one bank to another. We could probably count 30-40 of them in a two hour excursion.

A beautiful Capped Heron, it has a striking blue face.                                                                            This Black-collared Hawk watched as we               

                                                                                                                                                          floated nearby.

This tiny frog was caught by a local guide, I don’t remember its name. He told us that they used the frogs in making poison darts. He found the frog as we hiked through a densely wooded area one morning. I remember that the heat and humidity that morning left us completely drenched with sweat, as if we had gone swimming with our clothes still on.

This colorful bird is a Red-capped Cardinal.

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