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THE MANU

Saturday 10th October - Sunday 1st November 2009

Matt Denton

The Manu is unique in South America in offering birders the most accessible and diverse example of contiguous Andean east slope together with western Amazonia forest, a protected area harbouring over 1000 species. Our detailed coverage of this incredible altitudinal transect includes a visit into the wilds of actual Manu National Park where our journey up the Manu River provides the rare experience of a truly wild, lowland rainforest completely unaltered by man. The Manu 2009 reaped many great rewards with a total of 689 species recorded including memorable sightings of many of the south-eastern Peru specialties: Blue-headed Macaws in lovely morning light, feeding Amazonian Parrotlets, Black-capped Parakeets at rest, lekking Peruvian Piedtails, the localized White-throated Jacamar, two separate White-cheeked Tody-Tyrants, Unadorned Flycatcher on territory, a nesting Semicollared Puffbird, a male Scarlet-hooded Barbet point-blank, the secretive Rufous-fronted Antthrush and a pair of Black-faced Cotingas to name just a few. Each day brought an enticing selection of new birds providing many other spectacular highlights worth mentioning. A pair of Razor-billed Curassows spied in the subcanopy, a Pale-winged Trumpeter that came charging up to us, a covey of Starred Wood-Quails at our feet and a nesting pair of Solitary Eagle. We had stunning views of a male Pavonine Quetzal, an extremely brazen Amazonian Antpitta, and an Olive Finch that likewise gave us fine views. Some of the nightbirds we saw included Andean Potoo, a Silky-tailed Nightjar on the trail at dusk, a male Swallow-tailed Nightjar just overhead, a gold medal performance by a displaying male Lyre-tailed Nightjar and for some a Crested Owl. In the cloud forests we enjoyed the bizarre displays of Andean Cock-of-the-Rock at their lek and colourful tanager flocks included such gems as Golden-collared and Yellow-throated Tanagers and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers. In Manu National Park we enjoyed a superb sighting of a Lowland Tapir walking in the shallows of the Manu River by day, the family of Giant Otters crowned our catamaran experience on the always-superb Cocha Salvador, and the many troops of monkeys included the impressive Common Woolly and Peruvian Spider Monkeys. The mountains and rainforest of Manu never ceased to surprise us with something new each day along the lodge trails or even in the garden just outside our chalet doors. A trip that leaves behind roads and cities for comfortable lodges, pleasant boat travel, candlelight meals and pisco sours, white sand beaches, riots of colourful macaws, and a steady procession of new birds.