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PERU: FROM THE CUSCO ANDES TO THE MANU

Wednesday 26th July - Saturday 12th August 2017

Pete Morris

Royal Cinclodes (Pete Morris)

Royal Cinclodes (Pete Morris)

This brand new itinerary really was a tour of two halves! For the first half of the tour we really were up on the roof of the world, exploring the Andes that surround Cusco up to altitudes in excess of 4000m. Cold clear air and fantastic snow-clad peaks were the order of the day here as we went about our task of seeking out a number of scarce, localized and seldom-seen endemics. For the second half of the tour we plunged down off of the mountains and took the long snaking Manu Road, right down to the Amazon basin. Here we traded the mountainous peaks for vistas of forest that stretched as far as the eye could see in one of the planet’s most diverse regions. Here, the temperatures rose in line with our ever growing list of sightings! In all, we amassed a grand total of 537 species of birds, including 36 which provided audio encounters only! As we all know though, it’s not necessarily the shear number of species that counts, but more the quality, and we found many high quality species. New species for the Birdquest life list included Apurimac Spinetail, Vilcabamba Thistletail, Ampay (still to be described) and Vilcabamba Tapaculos and Apurimac Brushfinch, whilst other montane goodies included the stunning Bearded Mountaineer, White-tufted Sunbeam the critically endangered Royal Cinclodes, the delightful Stripe-headed Antpitta, Giant Conebill and many more. The temperate and lowland forests of the Manu Road provided a whole new set of birds dominated by antbirds and tanagers. Here highlights included confiding Brown Tinamous, the shy Razor-billed Curassow, Solitary and Black-and-chestnut Eagles, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, a skittish Rufous-vented Ground Cuckoo, gorgeous Blue-headed Macaws, amazing Swallow-tailed and Lyre-tailed Nightjars, Lanceolated Monklet, Rusty-breasted, Amazonian and brilliant endemic Red-and-white Antpittas, the uncommon Cerulean-capped Manakin, colourful Andean Cocks-of-the-Rock at a lek, and Amazonian Umbrellabird to name but a few! We also noted a few smart mammals including several species of monkeys, a Tayra, Capybara and even a Brazilian Tapir for one lucky person! All in all a pretty good haul for just over two weeks, and that’s only scratching the surface!

Red-and-white Antpitta (Pete Morris)

Red-and-white Antpitta (Pete Morris)