Trip report: Peru: Manu and Machu Picchu (Aug-Sep 2015) by Tropical Birding

Guided by José Illanes.This was a set departure tour.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to visit Peru; a marvelous country that boasts a huge country bird list, which is second only to Colombia. Unlike our usual set departure, we started out with a daylong extension to Lomas de Lachay first, before starting out on the usual itinerary for the main tour. On this extra day we managed to find many extra birds like Peruvian Thick-knee, Least Seedsnipe, Peruvian Sheartail, Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch and the localized Cactus Canastero.

The first site of the main tour was Huacarpay Lake, near the beautiful Andean city of Cusco (accessed after a short flight from Lima). This gave us a few endemic species like Bearded Mountaineer and Rusty-fronted Canastero; along with other less local species like Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Plumbeous Rail, Puna Teal, Andean Negrito and Puna Ibis. The following day we birded along the road towards Manu where we picked up birds like Peruvian Sierra-Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mountain-Finch, Spot-winged Pigeon, and a beautiful Peruvian endemic in the form of Creamy-crested Spinetail. We also saw Yungas Pygmy-Owl, Black-faced Ibis, Hooded and Scarlet-bellied Mountain- Tanagers, Red-crested Cotinga and the gorgeous Grass-green Tanager. Around Wayqecha we found interesting birds like White-collared Jay, Chestnut-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, and on the way down from there to famous Cock-of-the-rock Lodge we got Golden-headed Quetzal, Inca Flycatcher, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Chestnut-tipped Toucanet and a daytime Andean Potoo.

The San Pedro area held Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Dusky-green Oropendola, White-eared Solitaire, Paradise, Golden-eared and Orange-eared Tanagers and great looks at an Andean Motmot. The lower part of the Manu road provided us with Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Yellow-throated Tanager, Red-billed Scythebill, Striped-chested Antwren, and further down still, Broad-billed Motmot, Blue-crowned and Black-tailed Trogons and a daytime Great Potoo. Amazonia Lodge itself brought us the rare Razor-billed Curassow, Blue-headed Macaw, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Bamboo Antshrike, Scarlet-hooded Barbet, White-lined and Goeldi’s Antbirds, Fine-barred Piculet and the enigmatic Rufous-crested Coquette. Manu wildlife Center was very productive, with Pale-winged Trumpeter, Round-tailed and Band-tailed Manakins, and great views of Horned Screamer, Orinoco Goose, Red-and-green Macaw, Pavonine Quetzal and Starred Wood-Quail, among many others. At the close of our time in the Manu area, near Puerto Maldonado, we saw the rare and local White-throated Jacamar, in addition to Barred Antshrike and Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher.

Towards the end of the tour, we visited somewhere very different indeed, the high Andean site of Abra Malaga. At the high pass in this area we found Andean Goose, Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Rufous-webbed Bush-Tyrant, the rare and local Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant and got great views of the wonderful White-tufted Sunbeam. Giant Hummingbird, Inca Wren and Green-and-white Hummingbird were also seen in this area. As well as enjoying the unmissable ancient Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, we also birded at nearby at Aguas Calientes, where we saw Andean Guan, Versicolored Barbet, Ocellated Piculet, Black-streaked Puffbird and Masked Fruiteater. Finally, we closed the tour with some coastal birding at Pucusana and Pantano de Villa for some final easy additions, like Coastal Miner, Surf Cinclodes, Inca Tern, Red-legged Cormorant, Peruvian Booby, and Humboldt Penguin, which rounded out an excellent, and varied tour of some of the very best birding sites in all of Peru.

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