Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 Peru Trip Day 8 (Macaw Salt Lick)

Friday, July 11, 2008
Scheduled to meet at 5:10 AM to board the boat for the half hour ride to the Tambopata Blanquillo Macaw Lick.
Watched the sun rise, shining on the tree tops.
Sunrise on treetops
Hiked through a private plantation of banana (four types) and plantain (two types) trees, ice cream bean trees, and breadfruit trees.
Brynne in the plantation
Saw a tapir hoof print.
We passed a catamaran blind which used to float on the river in front of the clay lick, but now it was high and dry at a spot where the opposite riverbank used to be. We still had a short walk to the present blind, built across a field from a narrow stream along the clay cliffs.
Old blind
View from the current blind
We sat in swivel chairs at a counter, and could eat our breakfast as we waited for the birds to come to the lick.
In the viewing blind
The flies and bees loved the syrup and hot chocolate,
Bee in the hot chocolate
Breakfast buffet table in the back of the blind
and we soon learned to leave the food in the back of the blind, so that the flies didn’t bother us. There was even a pair of toilets here, the only thing is you had to fill a bucket with water to flush. Jan tried the far toilet which had a view over one side of the blind, since it wasn’t closed in!
Hundreds of Blue-headed Parrots (800-1,000) were flying around in a big circle,
Blue-headed Parrot swarm
settling on treetops,
Blue-headed Parrots
and then flying off again,
Parrots flying off
to settle back in the top branches of the surrounding trees. Bit by bit they made their way to lower branches and closer to the clay cliffs. They were described as nervous, and any little disturbance could send them flying off to settle in the topmost branches again. We did see Red Howlers in a far off tree, and other birds including Blue and Yellow Macaws. A few pairs of Red and Green Macaws appeared in top branches. We used the scope to check out the birds, and tried some digi-scoping (putting our cameras up to the scope to take photos). Percy had scoped the red howlers for us, and another woman was using our (Rob’s!) scope to take photos of the howlers. Then the woman’s guide took the scope and said she would focus on the macaws.
Huh! Never did get to see the howlers on scope.
The Blue-headed Parrots finally gave up and left in one huge swoosh.
Parrots speeding by
One Orange-cheeked Parrot stood out when the Blue-headed Parrot flock he was in flew by.
More Red and Green Macaws arrived and they began the same system of flying off in an arc, then settling on the topmost branches, then at mid-height,
Red and Green Macaws
then on the lower branches in the trees.
Getting closer
Finally they were just above the clay cliffs, but no one wanted to be the first to land on the lick!
Just above the clay cliff
But once one did, then suddenly half the macaws were on the clay cliff.
Macaws on the cliff
Photo by Rob
One of the pair always keeps watch. They use their tongues to lick the clay.
On the clay cliff
They continued for about seven minutes, then one of the macaws gave a warning cry, and they all flew off.
Macaws flying off
They started slowly coming back, but after another half hour, we packed up and returned to the Manu Wildlife Center.
Metal-mark butterfly
We had plenty of time before lunch to check out the crafts for sale in the dining hall.
Indigenous pattern
The unique patterns seen on the curtains in our bungalows could be purchased on pillow coverings and in framed art. There were lucky seed jewelry and small etched gourds used as rattles. Many things were made with appliqu├ęd-designed fabric showing macaws and indigenous people, scenery, etc. You could get frame-able pieces, pillowcases, eyeglass or cell phone cases. There were also t-shirts. Profits benefit the local communities.
After lunch most of us had a siesta, but I borrowed Percy’s plant guide to try to identify plants of which I had taken photos. At 3:00 PM, all of us except Brynne met to bird around the Manu Wildlife Center, then to start on the trail to the canopy tower. There was a brief shower, but by the time we reached the tower, the sun had come out. We waited for the group on the tower to descend the spiral staircase,
Canopy tower staircase
Canopy tower is a tree!
then we headed up.
The platform had two levels in the upper branches of a tree, and branches reached up around us.
View from the upper platform
View down
Really a feeling of being in the canopy with gorgeous views all around. Plus bird sightings. Squirrel Cuckoo (?), Paradise Jacamars, Channel-billed/Yellow-ridged Toucans, and Euphonias.
Tamiko at the lower platform
Moth caterpiullar
We shared the tower with one fellow and his guide. Jan was telling me a story in German, and the other guide came up to us to make comments in German! Every time he saw us afterwards, he always greeted us in German.
Returned to the Wildlife Center before it got dark.
Caught up on the bird list before dinner. Our dessert today was the traditional chicha morada, a sweet pudding made from purple corn with apples and cinnamon.
Next: Day 9 Sacred Valley.

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