Previous Tours - SOUTHEAST PERU
Top 10 lists are voted upon by the participants at the completion of
1-19 September 2004
1) SPECTACLED OWL--superb close views from above of the bird we taped into the canopy tower; observed through the scope.
2) Lined Forest-Falcon--taped in near the tower, right above our heads.
3) Musician Wren--the sight and sound experience was phenomenal.
4) Rufous-crested Coquette--daily close views of the male at Amazonia Lodge.
5) King Vulture--the adult bird on the river bank made quite an impression.
6) Band-tailed Manakin--a stunning male at close range, in the scope.
7) Versicolored Barbet--repeated views of males and females, especially at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge.
8) Horned Screamer--we had numerous looks at this impressive bird, with especially good shows on the oxbow lake.
9) Mountain Caracara--many close looks in the first half of the tour.
10) Masked Crimson Tanager--daily groups at the Amazonia feeders.
Mammalian highlights included the Murine Mouse Opossum with babies, TEN species of monkeys, several Tayra, a few Capybara, and 2 Mountain Visacha at Machu Picchu.
1-19 September 2003
1) PALE-WINGED TRUMPETER
2) Sword-billed Hummingbird
3) Black-backed Tody-Flycatcher
4) Crested Owl
5) White-tufted Sunbeam
6) Masked Fruiteater
7) Crested Quetzal
8) Rufescent Screech-Owl
9) American Pygmy Kingfisher
10) Versicolored Barbet
1-19 September 2003
by Mike Haldeman, Co-leader
This year's Bird Treks Southeast Peru Tour took advantage of a slightly adjusted itinerary allowing us to SEE just under 600 species, quite an increase from last year's total.
After our Lima to Cuzco flights we traveled to Huacarpay Lakes for some high Andean waterbirds. We also found the area's two endemic specialties: the beautiful Bearded Mountaineer and the Rusty-fronted Canastero, as well as the difficult Streak-fronted Thornbird.
Early the next morning, we boarded our high-clearance bus and started our journey on the Manu Road. The first few hours took us through the dry west slope where our picnic breakfast yielded excellent looks at the beautiful endemic Chestnut-breasted Mountain- Finch. From there we continued over Ajcanacu Pass and entered the Amazon Basin where a Puna Thistletail welcomed us into the elfin forest. Our first mixed flock gave us looks at the endemic Marcapata Spinetail, Streaked Tuftedcheek, White-browed Hemispingus (recently split from Black-capped), and Chestnut-bellied Mountain- Tanager. Down in the cloud forest we found Golden-headed Quetzal and Maroon- chested Chat-Tyrant and witnessed a possibly undescribed courtship display of the rare Rufous-bellied Bush-Tyrant. By the time evening arrived we were in place for the display flight of the male Lyre-tailed Nightjar and, as if on cue, this amazing bird began calling. A few minutes later it started making passes right over our heads with its two- foot tail streamers in tow. Upon continuing down the road we barely had time to reflect on the spectacle we had witnessed when our driver suddenly stopped the bus and we all noticed the Rufescent Screech-Owl right outside our windows. The richly colored screech-owl sat for a few minutes in the spotlight allowing incredible views--a nice end to our first full day of birding.
The following morning we awoke from our rooms at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge and, not surprisingly, walked the five easy minutes to an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek. Several bright orange males performed their mating ritual in which they make their strange vocalizations hoping to attract one of the all-brown females that occasionally passed by. After a short walk up the road above the lek we were awarded incredible views of a group of three Crested Quetzals. They remained close to the road giving all of us time for extended scope study of both sexes, until we actually decided to walk away from them! A Masked Trogon made a similar bid for our attention that morning and we had great views of a soaring pair of Solitary Eagles. After coaxing a pair of Uniform Antshrikes into view, we made our way back to the lodge clearing where Versicolored Barbet and Paradise, Golden, Spotted, and Orange-eared Tanagers come for fruit and Tayra and Brown Capuchin Monkeys raid the feeding station. Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet, only known to science for the past decade, also made regular appearances near the lodge.
From our base at Cock-of-the-Rock we spent a morning upslope to pick up more cloud forest birds and were rewarded with such specialties as White-throated Hawk, Blue- banded Toucanet, Band-tailed Fruiteater, surprisingly nice views of Ochre-faced Tody- Flycatcher, and looks at the stunning little Rufous-capped Thornbill with its beard of many colors.
Leaving Cock-of-the-Rock we spent the day birding the lower Manu Road where cloud forest gives way to foothill forest. Along this stretch we were able to add Stripe-chested Antwren and White-winged Tanager and we had incredible views of the rare Black- backed Tody-Flycatcher, another bird endemic to this part of southeastern Peru. Arriving at Hacienda Amazonia we immediately began scanning the flowering bushes that surround the lodge. Among the common Golden-tailed Sapphire and Fork-tailed Woodnymph it is easy to spot Violet-headed Hummingbird, Gray-breasted Sabrewing, and the spectacular Rufous-crested Coquette. The night sounds at Amazonia completely envelope you. Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Uniform Crake, Common Potoo, Pauraque, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, and myriad frog species sing from the forest edge, but when we heard the Great Potoo's strange song in the clearing we had to break up our checklist session for some excellent spotlight views.
A marsh only a few minutes walk from the lodge is THE place on the planet to see Blackish Rail, but it would take us two tries until this bird foraged in the open. Luckily a Rufous-sided Crake was there to entertain us on our first attempt. Fine-barred Piculet is a foothill endemic and another specialty of Amazonia. We saw several of these little woodpeckers near the river edge and had scope views of perched endangered Blue- headed Macaws and screaming Red-throated Caracaras. Other highlights on the trails near the lodge included the recently split Black-throated Toucanet and extended views of a close Rusty-belted Tapaculo as it made its way through the open understory parallel to the trail.
One of the premier birding localities on this route is the ridge above Amazonia Lodge. We spent an entire morning there and it paid great dividends. Flocks of tanagers and tyrannulets were everywhere and we picked off the understory antbirds one by one. The spectacular Hairy-crested Antbird was a particular favorite with its slicked-back blond crest and we saw it well. Koepcke's Hermit, another foothill endemic, was also seen by all. But the morning's true highlight was a remarkably calm group of eight Pale-winged Trumpeters that foraged in full view of us only twenty feet away for a full fifteen minutes! They eventually made their way out to the trail where we actually watched one display to another, a spectacle rarely seen.
The seven-hour boat ride downriver to the Manu Wildlife Center was punctuated with Fasciated Tiger-Herons and Horned Screamers as usual, but on the journey we came face to face with a friaje. This unusual storm comes in from the south bringing cold air and rain and as we sat hunched, desperately trying to unfold our tarps, we couldn't seem to stop laughing at the improbability of it all. Here in the Amazonian Lowlands, finally behind flapping tarps set vertically to shield us from the driving rain, we were colder than we had been anywhere thus far on the tour. Sand-colored Nighthawks were plentiful flying over the river, having been disturbed from their sandbar roosts by the weather. When we finally arrived at Manu Wildlife Center hot drinks and hot showers made everything well again.
Our first morning in the lowlands we visited an oxbow lake called Cocha Comungo. The big target here was the extremely rare Pale-eyed Blackbird and we found several of these and hundreds of Hoatzins but not much else due to the continuing friaje. We found Orinoco Goose on the river and had Amazonian Streaked-Antwren, Fasciated Antshrike, and an American Pygmy Kingfisher near the stream by the cabins.
By the next morning the rain had stopped but the cooler weather remained, making our stay in the lowlands unusually comfortable. Our morning at the macaw lick produced hundreds of Blue-headed Parrots and many Mealy and Yellow-crowned Parrots but the Red-and-green Macaws that arrived were taking their time descending to the clay so we left the scene for Cocha Nueva with its large stand of Guadua bamboo. After great looks at a Large-headed Flatbill giving its distinctive "bam-boo" song, we concentrated on the highly localized Rufous-fronted Antthrush. We all eventually saw this rare bird as it crossed a gap in the bamboo in front of us. Manu Antbird and Plain Softtail also showed themselves quite well in the dense bamboo. That afternoon on our way to the tapir lick we encountered five monkey species within the first thirty minutes. And at the tapir lick itself we only waited an hour before hearing the squishing of a large mammal and the spotlight revealed a Brazilian Tapir on the clay below us. On the night walk back we heard seven species of night birds and, after playing tape once for an Amazonian Pygmy- Owl, a Crested Owl zoomed in and landed on a liana (vine) only fifteen feet above us.
A visit to a canopy platform is my favorite part of any trip to the Amazon and our morning at Manu Wildlife Center's tower was a good one. We had multiple flyovers of all five of the common macaw species, scope views of Striolated Puffbird, Curl-crested Aracari, and the brilliant Spangled Cotinga, and great views of the more difficult Casqued and Amazonian Oropendolas. A large canopy flock remained in the vicinity of the tower for about thirty minutes giving us several chances to see Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Chestnut-shouldered Antwren, and Yellow-crested Tanager among many others. It was tough, but we managed to pull ourselves away from the tower with enough time to revisit the tapir lick, but this time for the parakeets that drop into this wallow late in the morning. On our way there we were distracted by Needle-billed Hermit, a White- crested Spadebill with its white crest raised, and several good flocks which included another Chestnut-shouldered Antwren, displaying male Long-winged Antwrens, and several of the difficult foliage-gleaners. When we finally arrived at the tapir collpa we had about five minutes to study, at close range, the remarkably patterned Painted Parakeet (soon to be split--Red-crowned Parakeet?) There were also a few of the rare Black-capped Parakeets in attendance and when these birds departed the diminutive Dusky-billed Parrotlets remained. This forest interior parrotlet is rarely seen well so we made sure to spend adequate time here before retreating to a late lunch. Just before entering the dining room however, a group of Emperor Tamarins appeared and suddenly our hunger was once more forgotten. A small primate with an enormous white moustache, this spectacular mammal was the eighth monkey we'd seen on the tour. A female Pavonine Quetzal in the afternoon completed our quetzal hat trick.
Forced to leave the lowlands one day early because of an error by the local airline, we grabbed final looks at Capped Heron, Pied Lapwing, and Collared Plover on our way to Boca Manu from where we would fly to Cuzco. With a full day to spend in the ancient Inca capital and having already done Huacarpay Lakes, we took the opportunity to see some of the rich culture and history of the area. We boarded a Manu Expeditions bus and toured the ruins of Pisac. The stonework there is amazing and adding Andean Swift to our lists helped. It was a Sunday, so we spent two hours exploring and haggling in Pisac's famous market before seeing a few of the other ruins on the outskirts of Cuzco, and an Andean Hillstar.
By the next morning we were back on schedule and on the train to Machu Picchu. The scenery along the Urubamba River is breathtaking and we all managed to spot a few Torrent Ducks from the train. Upon arriving we made our way to the amazing ridge top ruins where an archaeological tour of this World Heritage Site is a favorite part of the Bird Treks Southeast Peru Tour. After the ruins tour and the buffet at Machu Picchu's restaurant it's back to birding and it usually doesn't take long to find the specialty here-- the endemic Inca Wren. After seeing the wren near the ruins we walked down the Machu Picchu Road where we easily found the other endemic specialty, Green-and-white Hummingbird. These two species, although with very small world ranges, are common here and can be expected. However, the incredible views at eye level of the stunning Masked Fruiteater and catching up with Black-streaked Puffbird, a bird that taunted us daily at Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, were experiences we truly appreciated. Spending that afternoon and the following morning on the lower Machu Picchu Road gave us the opportunity to study Mottle-cheeked, Sclater's, and Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulets, as well as seeing other local specialties such as White-tipped Swifts, Ocellated Piculet, Pale- legged Warbler, and Silver-backed Tanager and getting great looks at a family of Torrent Ducks and several White-capped Dippers sifting through the rapids on the Urubamba.
After a short train ride back to Ollantaytambo we were saying goodbye to Jo and Judy who were to return to Cuzco and on to Indiana while "the boys" spent the last two days of the tour exploring the oxygen-deficient heights of Abra Malaga. Our first day was cold (colder even than the Amazon lowlands had been) as we birded the elfin forest on Abra Malaga's east side. Huw managed to track down a singing Undulated Antpitta fifteen feet into the brush and we all crawled in after him for excellent looks. An "Urubamba" Rufous Antpitta led us through the mud for a while but eventually conceded close views. One large flock containing Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant, Three-striped Hemispingus, Tit-like Dacnis, and many Plushcaps hung on the roadside below us for several minutes but left before we could locate a Parodi's Hemispingus. We saw several Scaled and Tyrian Metaltails and Coppery-naped (Sapphire-vented) Pufflegs and watched an amazing Sword-billed Hummingbird alternately feed among tubular flowers and perch in the open, its enormous bill pointed up, seemingly necessary to maintain its balance. Upon returning over the pass the back of the bus erupted with excitement as a group of nomadic Andean Ibis was spotted foraging at close to 14,000 feet in the puna marshes. In the late afternoon we birded a spot on the west slope briefly and finally caught up with a pair of endemic Creamy-crested Spinetails. We also found White-tufted Sunbeam, another restricted range endemic, easily seeing the huge white chest tuft and the iridescent purple rump in perfect light.
The next day we were dropped off close to 14,000 feet to descend through a patch of Polylepis forest hoping to find all of its special birds. Within minutes of entering the small woodland we had great looks at the endangered Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant. Huw then heard a Royal Cinclodes calling above us. With only 200 left in the world and only three pairs at Abra Malaga we had to go for this bird. We reached the bottom of the cliff where the bird was heard and started scanning. Finally, about seventy feet above us a Royal Cinclodes appeared, picking through moss growing by a Polylepis tree on a ledge. It hopped out from under the tree with a bill full of grasses and flew to a six-inch wide crevice about five feet from the top of the cliff. After another minute we watched it leave the crevice, only to return a minute later with a scrap of Polylepis bark and disappear into the crevice. We all knew nest-building behavior when we saw it but were amazed when Huw mentioned that a Royal Cinclodes nest site had never been described. This is vital information for a highly endangered species whose habitat is vanishing throughout its small range. After Mike and Steve took photos of the nesting area and we got final looks at this rarity, we began looking for White-browed and Tawny Tit-Spinetails. We saw both of these rare birds and watched a Puna Tapaculo scramble mouse-like along the mossy carpet of the hillside, then we dropped down to the valley floor. Rufous-webbed Tyrant showed itself on an old Gynoxys snag and ceaseless scanning of the skies by our dedicated patrons yielded a pair of Aplomado Falcons, many Mountain Caracaras, and a group of six Andean Condors (way to go Steve) soaring above the snow-covered flanks of 18,000-foot Veronica. A Stripe-headed Antpitta was easy to see after we flushed it from the rocks of an old house foundation, and several species of ground-tyrants, a Slender-billed Miner, and a flushed Puna Snipe entertained us on the long walk out to meet the bus. With the long hike behind us and a little time to spare, we drove back up towards the pass and birded the high puna grasslands until we all had nice looks at Junin Canastero perched on a rock--a last minute endemic!
That night we returned to Cuzco and flew Lima in the morning. Since flights to the US don't depart until around midnight we spent the afternoon at the Villa Marshes just south of Lima. Here the elegant Great Grebes and the silky-plumaged Inca Tern and four species of gull helped boost our trip total to 654 with 592 seen by at least one tour participant. What if we hadn't hit the friaje or had not had to leave Manu Wildlife Center a day early...?
Next year's Southeast Peru Tour is scheduled for the same dates, 1-19 September 2004.
1-16 September 2002
1) RED-AND-WHITE ANTPITTA
2) White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant
3) Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
4) Versicolored Barbet
5) Peruvian Recurvebill
6) Amazonian Antpitta
7) Red-and-green Macaw
8) Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail
9) Rufous-crested Coquette
10) Razor-billed Curassow
Non-avian highlights included SEVEN Brazilian Tapirs, a very close Grison (weasel family), and tracks of Jaguar, Puma, and Ocelot. We saw six species of primates, including the incredible Emperor Tamarin, and heard three additional species. Our tour of Machu Picchu was fantastic, as was our 8-hour boat ride to Manu Wildlife Center.
SOUTHEAST PERU TRIP REPORT
by Mike Haldeman
Led by Huw Lloyd, Mike Haldeman & Bob Schutsky
1-16 September 2002
After a night in Lima and a morning flight to Cuzco, we were met by Huw Lloyd of Manu Expeditions who would guide us down the Manu Road. With our afternoon in Cuzco we headed for Huacarpay Lakes. We managed to see the highly localized Rusty-fronted Canastero and several Bearded Mountaineers as well as many more widespread species such as Plumbeous Rail, Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Andean Negrito, and many of the highland ducks.
We spent one night in Cuzco and then set out early to begin descending through the many habitats of the Manu Road. Brief stops on our way up the west slope yielded Andean Hillstar and Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch and the pass gave us our first looks at Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager and a Golden-collared Tanager. We were able to see several nice skulkers before arriving at our tent camp at Pillahuat such as Puna Thistletail, Creamy-crested Spinetail, and Black-throated Tody-Tyrant.
After a pleasant night in our tents, some predawn birding gave us close looks at a beautiful male Swallow-tailed Nightjar. We spent the day descending through the cloud forest encountering our first large tanager and tyrannulet flocks and also turning up such specialties as Scaled Metaltail, Blue-banded Toucanet, Marcapata Spinetail, Inca Flycatcher, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, and White-collared Jay. We had views of single Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager and Yellow-throated Tanager and watched in amazement, through the scope as a male Versicolored Barbet landed on an open branch very near and sang for several minutes. But the day's unchallenged highlight unfolded nicely as an endemic Red-and-white Antpitta began calling close to the road. Huw parted the brush in front of us and played a recording of the bird's voice. As if on cue, the brilliant skulker bounded onto a low branch in the gap and we all had a couple of incredible looks. It would later be voted the number one bird of the tour!
The next day we awoke early and walked the five minutes from Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge to an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek. From our blind we watched as these unique cotingas displayed and emitted their strange sounds. The grounds of the lodge were full of Yungas Manakins and the roving flocks seen from the balcony included Orange-eared, Golden, Saffron-crowned, Spotted, and Blue-necked Tanagers. There always seemed to be a group of the spectacular Paradise Tanagers around the cabins. Solitary Eagle, Highland Motmot, and Gray-mantled Wren also put in appearances near the lodge, as did Brown Capuchin and Common Wooly Monkeys and a pair of Tayra.
We continued birding the Manu Road as we made our way from Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge to Amazonia Lodge. At one point we had stopped along the road to sift through a small flock when some folks noticed rustling in the brush along the road's edge. We kept following the movement of plants thinking we were going to find a small mammal when the culprits revealed themselves as a pair of Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail only twenty feet from us. Other birds seen well along this stretch of road included Bamboo Antshrike, Stripe-chested Antwren, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, and Golden-bellied (Cuzco) Warbler.
Amazonia Lodge sits across the river from the Manu Road at Atalaya, so this is where we left our constant bus support and went on by boat. Several Fasciated Tiger-Herons greeted us along the river and the hummingbirds were waiting for us at the many flowering shrubs at Amazonia. Golden-tailed Sapphire and Blue-tailed Emerald were ever-present and Rufous-crested Coquette and Amethyst Woodstar put in regular appearances. One morning we watched an incredible male Wire-crested Thorntail make the rounds behind our rooms. The endemic Fine-barred Piculet was common along the creek's edge and we watched a Rufous-webbed Brilliant take a quick dip in the creek. The porch at Amazonia provided great opportunities for studying some of the more common lowland birds such as Black-fronted Nunbirds, Red-capped Cardinals, and several species of tanagers.
From Amazonia Lodge we had a seven-hour boat ride downriver to the Manu Wildlife Center. Miles and miles of untouched wilderness flanked both sides of the river as it had the road for days before. Because of the unspoiled terrain and hunting restrictions we were able to see Horned Screamer, Orinoco Goose, and Muscovy on the islands and riverbanks. Other river sightings included nine Jabiru, Black-collared Hawks, Black and Red-throated Caracaras, Pied Lapwing, Sand-colored Nighthawk, Capybara, Spectacled Caiman, and Sideneck Turtle.
Manu Wildlife Center is situated in the heart of lowland Amazonian forest. Within easy reach are terra firme forests, floodplain forests, oxbow lakes, stands of Guadua bamboo, and the Blanquillo Macaw Lick, our first destination. Hundreds of Blue-headed Parrots and Dusky-headed Parakeets were already present and starting to feed on the clay bank. We even managed to pick a Black-capped Parakeet out of the flocks! Tui Parakeets came in later and there were a few Orange-cheeked Parrots with the larger Mealy and Yellow-crowned Parrots. After an hour of watching these birds from our river blind the Red-and-green Macaws began to gather. Only a few of them came down to the clay but we had excellent views of these majestic birds plus a quick fly-by of three Blue-headed Macaws. With daily sightings of Scarlet, Blue-and-yellow, Chestnut-fronted, and Red-bellied, and the two Military Macaws we saw on the Manu Road, our macaw total had reached its peak of seven species! Immediately after the macaw lick we had our first taste of bamboo birding. Immersed in a dense stand of endemic-rich Guadua bamboo we managed good looks at a responsive male Scarlet-hooded Barbet, a pair of Rufous-breasted Piculets, Striated, White-lined, and Goeldi's Antbirds, Large-headed Flatbill, and an unusually cooperative pair of Plain Softtails.
The next morning was spent on the canopy tower, nestled more than 100 feet high in a Kapok tree. Curl-crested Aracaris were the first birds to greet us after our ascent and Sirystes and Bare-necked Fruitcrow kept us company throughout the morning. A brilliant male Plum-throated Cotinga put in an appearance and Huw coaxed a Striolated Puffbird into view. At one point, a bustle of activity just below us produced Spot-winged and Fasciated Antshrikes, Wing-barred Piprites, and Epaulet Oriole. The next morning we visited an oxbow lake named Cocha Comungo. On the short walk to the lake everyone was able to see a Razor-billed Curassow using the trail ahead of us and we all had several scope views of an Amazonian Pygmy-Owl calling from an open Cercropia tree. The lake itself yielded Sungrebe, several Purus Jacamars, the extremely local Pale-eyed Blackbird, and hundreds of Hoatzins. We saw a male Spangled Cotinga from the tower by the lake.
That afternoon most of our group set out on a unique adventure. We began walking from the lodge at 3 PM with packed dinners and birded our way (seeing Bartlett's Tinamou and Casqued Oropendola) two miles to a large platform/blind overlooking a mud wallow surrounded by rainforest. In absolute silence we finished our meals and lay on our prearranged mattresses with blankets and mosquito netting. We were extremely lucky in that, within only two hours, a Brazilian Tapir entered the wallow below us. We watched this amazing mammal drinking from small puddles in the mud and eating the clay for fifteen minutes before it retired into the forest. One hour later another tapir appeared. We had to remain totally silent throughout the night, but luckily spotlights do not bother the animals. Seven tapirs appeared during the night for those that stayed awake for all the action. A Silky-tailed Nightjar also came in very close, but we never saw that elusive bird. The next morning we returned to the lodge (seeing Ringed Antpipit on the way) for breakfast, a shower, and a nap.
More bamboo birding at Cocha Nueva near Manu Wildlife Center gave us amazingly close and long looks at a beautiful White-cheeked Tody-Tyrant. Manu Antbirds were common and we also saw such localized bamboo specialists as Peruvian Recurvebill, Brown-rumped Foliage-Gleaner, Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant, and Dusky-tailed Flatbill. Other highlights from Manu included an Amazonian Antpitta hidden deep in its bamboo lair. We had to do a little crawling and contorting, but all of us eventually got into position to see this incredible bird singing. Finding a Thrushlike Antpitta on a nest also qualifies as a highlight, as does the Emperor Tamarins with their long white moustaches. Troops of these and the more common Saddleback Tamarin leisurely drifted through the lodge grounds during the day.
After our time at Manu we boarded a covered boat and cruised two hours back upriver to Boca Manu where we caught our plane to Cuzco. The rest of this day was free for us to sightsee in Cuzco. The following day we took the train through spectacular mountain scenery to Machu Picchu. We saw Torrent Ducks and White-capped Dippers on the Urubamba River. At the ruins of Machu Picchu we were given a two-hour archaeological tour before spending a little time on the nearby road to see the endemic Inca Wren. We also found the endemic Green-and-white Hummingbird while waiting for the train to take us back to Cuzco.
Since all flights to and from Cuzco must be in the morning due to unpredictable afternoon weather in the mountains, and the fact that most flights from Lima to the US leave around midnight, we had much time to kill our final day in Peru. Rather than waste that time inside another airport, we planned a trip to Pantanos de Villa (Villa Marshes). At the marsh we found three grebe species including Great, two Least Bitterns, and several White-cheeked Pintails. At the coastal section of the reserve Peruvian Boobies, Peruvian Pelicans, and Inca Terns were common over the ocean. We also saw five gull species, but the day's highlight was the large White-chinned Petrel that flew by. This petrel is a common pelagic bird off the Peru coast but this particular bird was so close that it flew right over the breakers in front of us.
On a one-day pre-tour scouting trip, Cathy, Bob, and I visited Lomas de Lachay Nature Preserve. The fog was incredibly dense as expected but we managed to see some nice birds. In the main part of the reserve Peruvian Meadowlarks were everywhere. The drive into the reserve was littered with Least Seedsnipe and we saw a single Peruvian Thick-knee near the road. Variable Hawk and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle were also spotted a few times. At a small side entrance into the cactus-clad xeric region of the reserve we found a group of Grayish Miners and a single Cactus Canastero, both endemic to Peru's dry west slope.
Next year's Peru Tour has been improved (!) just a bit and is scheduled for September 1-19, 2003. We plan to introduce a tour to Central Peru in 2004.