Southern Peru (Tambopata, Cuzco, Paracas), 9 - 30 April 1999
Birding trip report  -  John van der Woude 

   Part 2 - Tambopata

After the arrival in the morning of Saturday 10 April at Puerto Maldonado airport we had to wait a few minutes before we left with the Explorerís Inn bus. Looking around in the half-open wooded vegetation around the terminal we noted our first trip ticks: Red-capped Cardinal, Social Flycatcher, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Black Vulture, a possible Picui Ground-Dove, Tropical Kingbird, Blue-black Grassquit. At an office on the outskirts of this sleepy town we had a stop and there we saw Plumbeous Hawk, Yellow-browed Sparrow (typical buzzing song), Palm Tanager. Around midday we embarked on the built-up dug-out canoe-boat at the 'harbour' of Pto. Maldonado for the 3-hour ride to Explorer's Inn at -12.836495, -69.294341. We kept awake most of the time enjoying the very tropical scenery and eager to see fresh trip ticks: Pied Lapwing, White-collared Swift (several groups), Pied Water-Tyrant, White-banded Swallow (a colony), a Snowy Egret here and there, one standing next to a Large-billed Tern, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Bat Falcon a few times, mostly in pairs sitting in overhanging trees, Great Black-Hawk in the river bank vegetation, Crested Oropendola, White-winged Swallow two in a snag on a sandbar, Violaceous Jay a few groups, Cattle Egret 4 on a rocky island (photo below), Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, small Chaetura swifts (Grey-rumped here).

Meanwhile we passed some indigenous people now and then, carrying on small dug-outs or even rafts what seemed to be all their belongings (photo below).

After arrival at the lodge (photo below) and some rest we went for a first hike and chose the Laguna Chica trail, still muddy from the foregoing season. We soon had a flock containing Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Bluish-slate Antshrike male and also the nicely coloured female, Plain Xenops, a flatbill, an antwren. Further on we had White-eyed Antwren (sight and sound), Little Tinamou (heard), the first nunbird sounds, Undulated Tinamou (heard). On the crossing with Terrace trail we ticked Black-spotted Bare-eye. Then we were so lucky to spot a group of Cuvier's Toucan in a tree nearby (it is not uncommon but you don't see them so much), and when the dusk started setting in we heard the first of many Blue-crowned Motmot, which we would never actually see, always thought we would see it somewhere else here but we should have gone after them one time. At the clearing of the lodge we saw Spix's Guan in the dusk, and heard a distant wood-quail that may have been Marbled (although even that one is not occurring on the list), but the sound was more like that of the reference sound of Black-fronted (not occurring here at all). The only wood-quail on the list of Explorer's Inn is Starred (which we heard later on), but this one was clearly different. Later that night we had even another sound that should not occur here, an owl sound quite like Striped, but we also heard Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, between the lodge and the river, which is only 100 m away. Still later there was even a clear Spectacled Owl calling. There were no other birders as guest here, so we could be sure that not somebody was playing owl tapesÖ

Sunday 11 April was our first full day Explorer's Inn. While most of the other guests were on excursion to the Cocococha lake, having a hard time walking the muddy Main trail in a fast pace (definitely too fast for birders), we did a reconnaissance of trails nearby. First we ticked another motmot at the lodge, the Broad-billed (heard only as well), and Pauraque fluttering above the path to the river. On the short Sunset Point trail we were at sunrise and saw Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Black-faced Antthrush, and heard Undulated Tinamou, Thrush-like Wren. At Sunset Point, an overlook at the river Tambopata, Grey-capped Flycatchers were scolding and a group of small macaws crossed the river, the sound indicating Chestnut-fronted. Back on the lodge clearing we heard Striolated Puffbird. This is an unmistakable sound, we checked it on the reference collection of bird sounds on our minidisc. Yes this is neotropical forest birding, more birds appear by sound than by sight, although on the long run (we stayed 9 days) you will see most of the birds you initially only hear. Some birders find this frustrating, but for me it adds to the charm of the rain forest. But we saw birds too at the clearing of course, where we added Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Mealy Parrot, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Yellow-rumped Cacique. After breakfast we did Terrace trail, a rather short dry trail that is mostly used as connection with other trails. New species were White-flanked Antwren, Fasciated Antshrike, Black-tailed Trogon, and we had another look at Bluish-slate Antshrike and Bluish-fronted Jacamar. Then we did a bit of the so-called Big Tree trail, and got one of the best birds of the whole trip, a group of five Pale-winged Trumpeters walking the trail where a lot of ripe plum-like fruits had fallen from a tree (not the Big Tree but one very close to the intersection with Terrace trail). It is clear why for this region the name should rather be White-winged Trumpeter: they look like white flashes across the dark forest floor. Then from the Big tree we did some of the Heliconia trail: Paradise Tanager, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill at a tree fall, Black-fronted Nunbird, Black-spotted Barbet, Masked Crimson-Tanager. Now it was 9.15 a.m. and we passed by the overgrown Laguna Chica where we heard Great Antshrike. Further on Heliconia trail we have Syristes, a group of White-browed Antbird, Plain-winged Antshrike, Chestnut-tailed Antbird and a bit further on Scale-backed Antbird, Plain Xenops, White-bearded Hermit. In the Heliconia thickets we saw a new lifer manakin, the Band-tailed, and also White-shouldered Antshrike. Then, at only 300 m or so from the start, there is a small semi-open spot to the right from where you can look into a group of rather bare trees and these revealed Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Greater Ani, Masked Tityra, White-collared Swift. Going back we added Blue-crowned Trogon and along the La Torre trail a female Plain-throated Antwren at only 4 m distance. La Torre trail ends at the lodge, and just before the lodge clearing we met a flock of Black-banded Woodcreeper, Green-and-gold Tanager, Long-winged Antwren (with white tail tip, otherwise it can also be Ihering's), Dusky-tailed Flatbill. On the clearing we saw Dusky-billed Parrotlet. After the really good lunch we took some rest, trying to catch up some sleep from the long journey from Amsterdam, and later watching a bit of the local Sunday football match on the lodge premises (photo below, with one of the pet macaws). But itís hard to relax if you know to be surrounded by untouched rain forest and all the promises it holdsÖ Later in the afternoon we did 1 km or so of the Main trail where we added Screaming Piha on a small lek, Musician Wren (heard only alas), Blue-headed Parrot and the song of Black-billed Thrush. Regularly some Mealy Parrots flew around. It was getting dark when we heard the call of Collared Forest-falcon and the song of Bartlett's Tinamou.

Monday 12 April was our first of two days Colpa, the excursion to the clay lick far into the interior of the Tambopata reserve, to which also the forest around Explorer's Inn belongs. Before leaving we birded a bit on the lodge clearing and the nearby Sunset Point trail and added Drab Water-Tyrant, Swallowwing, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Moustached Wren. Along the trail we had a very close encounter with a 1-m long and beautiful snake, which we later identified as Rainbow Boa (photo right). Back at the lodge everyone had already seen another snake on a small unused trail behind the lodge, a frightening Bushmaster. I still wonder why people came so close in order to take photos, this is a really dangerous animal, it is one of the few snakes that attacks and even chases you when disturbed, quite in contrast to the Rainbow Boa (but we didnít know that yet at the moment we saw that one...). Then from 7.20 a.m. we made the long river trip upstream, and were keen to see birds that we might not see in the reserve around Explorer's Inn. First we saw a Spectacled Cayman, and soon we got groups of small macaws and Aratinga parakeets. Screaming flocks of smaller parrots with short pointed tail were of Cobalt-winged Parrot. The first Blue-and-yellow Macaws stately flew overhead. After GPS10 (my GPS-location measurements, to be listed at the end of the report) the river became a bit wilder, with more sandbars and driftwood. We added Roadside Hawk, Giant Cowbird (a group), Solitary Sandpiper, and saw a group of a dozen coati's in the cecropias on a fresh part of the riverbank. They quietly walked in a queue, ring tails all erect. A Great Black-Hawk was also walking on the riverbank, just between the dead branches that heap up here. Toucans crossed the river now and then, probably Cuvierís, although they seemed smaller at this distance and so made us believe they may be the smaller version of Cuvierís Toucan, the Yellow-ridged Toucan. New species were Great Kiskadee, Red&Green Macaws, Great Egret, White-necked Heron and Orinoco Goose before we entered at GPS12 the inner National Park Zone. From the GPS-measurements I knew that this is 26.7 km from the lodge in a straight line, but because of the wide meanders it seemed much further. Soon we passed the 'small colpa' where indeed some groups of Red&Green Macaw and also some Scarlet Macaws flew around. More snags appeared, with more White-winged Swallow. The river islands became bigger and more scenic, with the typical pattern of shifting pioneer vegetation zones. Another couple of Orinoco Goose stood on the sand here, and a lonely Collared Plover. We stirred a group of Howler Monkeys at the riverbank, where they were eating clay, with the remains around their mouths when they walked away, looking like children who were caught eating pudding with their hands.

At 14.30 h we arrived at the spot (GPS14) where we would camp, right opposite the big colpa across the wide river. We had a short swim in the river, and resident-naturalist zoologist Stephanie pointed out tapir prints on the bare river bank from where we went into the water, and made clear that the chance of seeing a tapir is practically nil. You would have to stay up many many nights. Near our camp a Black Caracara flew around with a tiny fish in his beak all the time as a sort of display flight probably. Then from 16 h we walked a trail nearby (starts at GPS13), cut out by Explorer's Inn staff a while ago, and good for some partly new antbird species (most only heard alas, it is not easy birding on this trail): Goeldi Antbird, Amazon Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, White-throated Antshrike (all four only heard), Black-throated Antbird, Chestnut-tailed Antbird. We saw a large foliage-gleaner near the river, probably Chestnut-crowned. Deeper into the forest were many Black-faced Antthrush, and another foliage-gleaner, Olive-backed according to its sound. Another sound that I picked up from the recordings later on probably belonged to White-necked Puffbird. Walking back to camp across the wide but nearly dry tributary while dusk set in, we saw two Great Horned Owls sitting and calling on top of the trees behind our camp, and a Ladder-tailed Nightjar with its long tail fluttering around us. Sitting on the riverbank with a drink after dinner we heard Starred Wood-quail. This is a great place to be, it is as if you can feel that you are in the heart of the reserve, far from any disturbance. Also, we were lucky with the fine weather, which seems to be important for having many macaws on the clay lick the next morning.
Tuesday 13 April Clay lick day! In the dark, at 5 a.m., we were sitting already on the sandbar (photo below) next to the clay lick, on the lookout for the coming macaws and parrots. The trick is that you will sit here already before they arrive, and this way you can sit rather nearby. The macaws do not always come to exactly the same spot on the 200-m long cliff face, but we were lucky with our position, they would come close by. The first macaws to arrive were the Red-bellied and the Chestnut-fronted in groups of up to 20 individuals. In total we had about 100 Red-bellied. Then the ever magnificent Blue-and-yellow Macaws entered the scene, mostly in pairs, arriving from all directions (a total of may be 60). Mealy Parrots came too, in numbers that you normally don't see (total of 20 at least). Now all species come together, and these included the babbling Yellow-crowned Parrot (20), Blue-headed Parrot (80 at least), Scarlet Macaw (20), the gaudy Orange-cheeked Parrot (6), and White-eyed Parakeet (8). This all with the rising sun in the back, and most of them against the background of the clay cliff, and with all the screaming of different pitches - an unforgettable experience. Still, I got the impression that the eating of clay may not be the main reason for their coming here, how much may have been written about this. By far not all birds came down on the lick proper. Eating clay formed (at least on this day, in this season) only a minor part in the activities of the ara's and parrots. I got more the impression of a social gathering, there was so much talking, and flying from one group to another. Maybe here is the same thing as at night roosts of e.g. starlings. As I understand it, there the birds exchange information about good spots for food (like we do on BirdChat for good spots for birding), albeit only in the form of looking which birds look finest and sound happiest, and following those the next day. Somebody out there who knows more about this?

Many of the macaws sat in the trees on the riverbank, and some of the other birds in those trees were a pair of Muscovy Duck and a pair of Blue-throated Piping-Guan. By 7 a.m. most birds had left, and we left too for our breakfast, and for some subsequent birding on and from the sandbar next to our camping spot: Plain-crowned Spinetail, Dark-breasted Spinetail, King Vulture, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Slate-coloured Seedeater, Dusky-headed Parakeet, House Wren. The latter may be at home in this naturally disturbed fluvial habitat.
On the way back from this heavenly place we added three bird species (American Woodstork, Anhinga and Spotted Sandpiper) and two primates (Squirrel Monkey, a large group, accompanied by two Brown Capuchin Monkeys) before we reached the little colpa again. Now we went on the riverbank here and made a walk through the pioneer forest towards the cliff face above this sand bar. This colpa is better for Red&Green Macaw than the big one of this morning, and Scarlet and Blue-and-yellow occur here as well. Several of these three large species were still hanging around (not eating clay at all now). Other birds in this sandbar forest were a tinamou that we flushed (Undulated probably) and two Roadside Hawks.

Around 15.30 h we were back at the Explorer's Inn and from 16 h we added some species just at the clearing of the lodge: Epaulet Oriole, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Great Tinamou (heard alongside with Little, Undulated and Bartlett's).
On Wednesday 14 April we decided to make the long loop walk to the Katicocha lake (Katicocha trail, KT, and back along Swamp trail, ST) but we found the forest a bit quiet compared to our first experiences on the other trails three days ago, at the trails closer to the lodge. But first we heard Buff-breasted Wren at Laguna Chica and we had a new monkey again, the Dusky Titi monkey, climbing up along a bare tree trunk. At KT700 we had a Screaming Piha lek and further we added Purple-throated Fruitcrow, and now also saw the often-heard Spot-winged Antshrike, a female. We heard Warbling Antbird as well. At KT2850 we had a small flock containing a/o Green-and-gold Tanager and Rufous-rumped Foliage-gleaner. Not far before the Katicocha lake itself is an overlook of the La Torre river with some White-banded Swallow and Drab Water-Tyrant, and along the lake we heard Black-capped Donacobius. While we had a rest on the bench halfway alongside the lake we saw three Hoatzins on a dead tree hanging over the water. Now we were at GPS16 which appears to be only 2.58 km from the lodge (of course our reference GPS-location here), but the walk seems much longer, although the trail is not so muddy as Main trail. On the way back along Swamp trail we ran into a lek of Reddish Hermit at about ST600, where we also had a flock with our first clear Dot-winged Antwren, male and the beautiful female, and also a pair of Ornate Antwren and a pair of Bluish-slate Antshrike.
In the hope to add some more species for the day we did a bit of the muddy Tapir trail in bamboo-rich varzea forest from about 16 h. Collared Trogon female was a new one indeed, as were the sounds of Bamboo Antshrike and of the Speckled Chachalaca. We saw a huge butterfly, a Caligo, the one with one big eye. Generally we see here often two other large butterflies, the all blue Morpho didius and the partially blue Morpho deidamia (photo below, of one of both's underside). A surprise was a rather tame Slate-coloured Hawk, sitting on a branch at 6m height inside the rather dense forest.

Thursday 15 April was our day for the Main trail walk to the Cocococha lake. There was no group going there, so we would have the lake and the boat for ourselves. Very early in the morning I was awake a while and heard another owl, the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. The walk on the often still muddy Main trail took quite a while, not only because of the mud but also because of the birds of course. We started with a group of Red-throated Caracara, we heard the complaining call of Rufous-tailed Flatbill, clearly saw a White-eyed Antwren in the undergrowth at MT1400, and heard Bright-rumped Attila, Scale-backed Antbird, Plumbeous Pigeon, White-eyed Attila and the very rich song of Lawrence's Thrush, imitating all sorts of other birds, especially the Thrushlike Schiffornis that we would hear further on. Now, at 7.25 a.m., we were at the Swamp, a very shallow pool completely overgrown by trees standing in the water (GPS19). From there till the intersection with Quebrada trail we heard several antbirds again and actually saw Bluish-slate Antshrike and finally even also a Screaming Piha. At the start of Quebrada trail was a flock of which we identified Chestnut-winged Hookbill and White-flanked Antwren. There also we had another Reddish Hermit lek, and that Thrushlike Schiffornis/Manakin with its funny whistle. Further on we heard and later managed to see the Nightingale Wren who sings so differently here South of the Amazon. This was one of the few occasions where we applied playback. Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin was an another trip tick before we entered, 200 or so before the intersection with Tapir trail, a huge Screaming Piha lek. They were screaming all around us, not only their usual song in two parts, but also very agitated variations on their second (main) part of the song. Even more agitation was present in a group of ten Plain-brown Woodcreeper, maybe they followed ants that we could not see. Further on a White-faced Nunbird sat right above the trail, and we heard and saw a Plain-throated Antwren.

At 10.30 a.m. we took the canoe at the shore of the Cocococha oxbow lake (photo above). Species here at this lovely place were Yellow-ridged Toucan (heard), Green Heron, Hoatzin of course (several groups in the low bushes of the shore vegetation), Pale-vented Pigeon seen from nearby, Greater Ani, Smooth-billed Ani, Tropical Kingbird, Blue-and-yellow Macaw (in total probably 15), White-winged Swallow several pairs, Short-tailed Swift. Red butterflies (Dryas spec.) regularly came sitting on our canoe or even on us. From the Mauritius palms at the right-hand end of the lake (photo above) we heard a woodcreeper-like lu-lu-lu song that may have been the much sought-after Point-tailed Palmcreeper, but it became too hot to stay long on the open water. We found a shadowy place on the far side of the lake, where we ticked Band-tailed Antbird and saw a group of Long-nosed Bat hanging down a dead tree trunk just above the water.

Back at the 'dock' we had a group of ten very inquisitive monkeys, Saddle-back Tamarins. They stirred two Black-fronted Nunbirds. Walking back from 14.30 h we nearly hit two Bartlett's Tinamou with their nice plumage pattern of stripes and scales. The piha's were still singing, and we heard another Syristes, an easy sound (its own name, with accent on the second syllable). At 16.15 h we witnessed the display of Golden-collared Toucanet, one male and two females, bending their colourful heads all the time while singing their croaking call. This was at GPS 23, at a tiny tree fall clearing, with the calls of a group of White-faced Nunbirds at the background. A bit further on (back towards the Inn) we met a group of capuchin monkeys, trying to impress us by breaking branches and jumping on huge palm fronds making an real scandal that way. Nearly in the same group we had about four Squirrel Monkeys, beautifully lit in the late sunlight. Heading back towards the lodge we heard some Mealy Parrots, and got our fourth monkey species of this trail today, the Red Howler monkey. At MT600, at 17.10 h, we heard the ever-impressing Lawrence's Thrush again. We didn't bother that we were not able to see it, the song alone is unbelievable, you would think that somebody is playing a whole minidisc with reference bird sounds, especially the higher-pitched ones.

The first bird of Friday 16 April was a Least Pygmy-Owl, heard from our room at 5 a.m. At 6.30 we first birded a bit on the lodge clearing and saw three Chestnut-fronted Macaws and two Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers. Then, on the Laguna Chica trail, we got our Needle-billed Hermit (shorter tail, straighter bill), and heard the unmistakable two-tone call of Large-headed Flatbill. From 8 a.m. we were on the Heliconia trail and would add quite some trip ticks there, this is a good trail with all sorts of forest types. We got a brown frog (will try to find out which one) and a flock with a/o Red-crowned Ant-Tanager and Long-winged Antwren at eye-level, and another flock higher up with Rose-throated Becard and Chestnut-shouldered Antwren. At the lookout onto he rather bare trees (see before, and part 1), we saw Streaked Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Golden-green Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tyrant (rather new for the list of Explorer's Inn), Painted Parakeet (a group of 8), Black-tailed Tityra, and Blue-grey Tanager, otherwise so common but not in this heavy forest reserve. We took a shortcut along the bushy Tangile trail, with a group of Saddleback Tamarin monkeys and the beautiful black-blue-and-red butterfly Nessea batesii to the Katicocha trail. There we added Squirrel Cuckoo and two Red-necked Woodpeckers, one of the last large black woodpeckers that we had not yet on our life list. This was at KT50, where we also saw our second Rainbow Boa, this time on the ground in stead of in the tree, and even bigger, about 130 cm long and 7 cm thick. This time we knew that it is not dangerous so we could quietly pass it (the first time we had taken a sprint to pass it). Going back to the lodge we added White-shouldered Tanager.
In the afternoon it rained, the first real rain we got here during daytime, and we stayed around the lodge where we added Grey-fronted Dove (heard), Olivaceous Woodcreeper and Little Woodpecker. At dusk we saw a Ladder-tailed Nightjar at the dock in the river, sallying out every minute or so for a short round over the water. Pauraque was on the boardwalk towards the lodge again. That night a veritable cold wind with rain swept over the area, a so-called friaje, coming from the very South where winter sets in now. Temperature dropped by 10 degrees Centigrade, and we needed the blankets, a thing we would not have believed the foregoing days. At 6 a.m. on Saturday 17 April it was only 15 degrees C in stead of the usual 25. The sky cleared around 7 a.m. and we hoped that some other species would come out. Birding in the rainforest is a matter of slowly adding new species all the time, and maybe this change of weather would give a new impulse for our last two days here. First we birded a bit on the lodge clearing again and ticked Red-stained Woodpecker, the other small woodpecker here. We also finally really saw the Thrushlike Wren that we hear so often but find surprisingly hard to see. We went on the Main trail and soon saw a new antbird, the Black-faced Antbird, a male right in front of us besides the trail. This bird resembles the much more common White-browed Antbird. But after that it was rather quiet, maybe too cold yet! We heard some Cuvier's Toucan and a Dusky-throated Antbird. Right after the Swamp to the right we found a Redheaded Manakin lek (no yellow on he feet). This lek is typically the sort of spots that would have been pointed out by resident naturalists of the lodge if there had been real birders among them. We heard that a birder guide would arrive after we left, but we were happy to discover all these things ourselves, being one of the reasons for doing these trips on our own in stead of in organised tours. Further on that swampy part of the trail we flushed a Sunbittern from the thickets. We met an unusually quiet flock with a/o Black-spotted Barbet (seen this time) and a large woodcreeper. We had the Golden-collared Toucanet again and saw a pair of Black-throated Trogon. Back at the lodge we ticked Grey Antbird on sound.
From 14.30 h we went out again, to try the nearby Capirona trail although that one is not advised in Allenís birdfinding booklet. But who knows, with this strange weather it may be different. This trail makes a loop in a bend of the La Torre river, a tributary of the Tambopata river which is a tributary of the Madre de Dios river that has given this department its name. We saw quite some birds indeed, and we ticked Boat-billed Flycatcher, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, the wish-listed Long-billed Woodcreeper, Blue Dacnis, and Magpie Tanager and finally saw the often-heard Chestnut-tailed Antbird. The woodpecker, woodcreeper and dacnis were in a flock at a heavily fruiting palm tree, together with Green-and-gold Tanager and Chestnut-winged Hookbill. Other birds here included Bluish-fronted Jacamar and Spix's Guan, and White-banded Swallow and Bat Falcon at the La Torre river outlook from Capirona, at GPS24. Late in the afternoon we went on from Capirona to Laguna Chica, in the hope of hearing Ocellated Poorwill there in the dusk, but we instead heard Spix's Woodcreeper, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl and Least Pygmy-Owl. Back at the lodge we repeatedly heard at about 19 h in the darkness a sound that seemed like the start of the song of a Common Potoo, and after checking the reference sound collection we thought that it was the Rufous Potoo! The sound was exactly that of the reference collection. However, I later heard that this reference sound is not correct, and may not be of a bird at all...! 

Sunday 18 April would be our last day Explorer's Inn and we felt that we could easily have birded here for some more days. First we did a bit of the Tapir trail that had been a bit rather neglected by us thus far. In a palm tree we saw and heard a Ringed Woodpecker, of the intriguing genus of Celeus woodpeckers. A group of Dusky Titi-monkeys made a lot of noise. We also heard the clear tones of a Rufous-capped Antthrush. From 8 a.m. we were on the La Torre trail, another one that we had not visited enough in the good time of the day. Here we had another Red-stained Woodpecker, and two Tayra's walked in front of us on the trail. At the river outlook (photo above) we scoped out a Crane Hawk on the other bank (studied it for a long time, it is not often seen here), and in the Heliconia thickets further along the La Torre trail we were surprised by the Pale-legged Hornero that we usually associate with human settlements, but may have a more original habitat here, like that House Wren on the desolated sandbar of the Colpa. In and around this special habitat we also heard Chestnut-crowned Foliage-gleaner. We continued our slow walk on the Heliconia trail again and added Blackbanded Woodcreeper, which seemed to accompany a group of Saddleback Tamarins. At 'our' lookout with the bare trees we had a nice array of species again: Black-tailed Tityra, Magpie Tanager, Lineated Woodcreeper (a trip tick and lifer), Little Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tyrant two now, Paradise Tanager, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Grey-rumped Swift, Dusky-billed Parrotlet, Dusky-headed Parakeet, Swallowwing. We were there in the pleasant company of a couple from Florida, and we were glad to have showed them this rather hidden spot, as this spot is one of the few where you can easily see some canopy species. On the way back, but still on the Heliconia trail, we saw some more goodies, partly thanks to the keen eyes of our company: White-winged Shrike-Tanager male, Collared Trogon male and female, Rufous-tailed Xenops, and yes a male Bare-necked Fruitcrow, quietly sitting high in the trees.
In the late afternoon, from 15.30 h, we went via the quiet Ant trail to the Swamp trail. Along the Ant trail we again had a rather tame Slate-coloured Hawk and at the start of the Swamp trail a nice group of Purple-throated Fruitcrow. Back along the Laguna Chica we heard the sound of a Scale-breasted Woodpecker. Later that night we heard from our room an owl with much slower hoots than the usual Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl.

Monday morning 19 April we left the Explorer's Inn by speedboat, much too fast for a pleasant journey, but it meant an hour later departure than the now usual 4 a.m. At the airport it became apparent that in Holland our flight had been wrongly rebooked, because on Mondays there isn't a flight anymore to Cuzco. Flying via Lima would not help, we would be there too late for a flight to Cuzco either. So we had to stay another night here in the lowlands, and we agreed on being brought to a hotel and later to a taxi boat for a daytrip to the Sandoval lake 1 hour downstream the Madre de Dios. The friendly local staff of Explorerís Inn/Peruvian Safaris at Pto. Maldonado arranged all this. At the airport we first had to wait a while, so we walked around the parking place and ticked our only Double-collared Seedeater, and saw a Collared Plover on the airstrip. From the peki-peki boat on the Madre de Dios we noted Capped Heron and Anhinga. At 10.45 a.m. we started our walk on the beautiful footpath from the river (near GPS26) to the Sandoval lake. This area is also part of the Tambopata reserve, like the Explorer's Inn and the colpa sites are. And see, the forest is different again, more open (disturbed probably), and other sorts of palms I think. Moreover the path is broader and drier than most at Explorer's Inn, so this also facilitates the birding. A wet part in the beginning has a nice long bridge (photo above). It is a 5 km walk to the lake (one way) and we had about 6 hours time, so we had to hurry on a bit and would not stay long at the lake.

New or nice species on the way to the lake were in the beginning Scale-backed Antbird, Musician Wren, White-shouldered Tanager, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Grey Antwren, Dusky-headed Parakeet in good light nearby, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, and we saw several Morpho butterflies. At GPS28  is a small trail to the left that produced Euler's Flycatcher, Plumbeous Antbird, White-browed Antbird, Cinnamon Attila (two fighting), Nightingale Wren and Red-eyed Vireo. Inside a small new shelter was a bat and around this shelter was Black-banded Woodcreeper. Where we crossed a narrow forest stream we saw Amazon Kingfisher and Brown-mandibled Aracari, and further on a White-eyed Attila. At the lake (photo above) was a Fork-tailed Palm-Swift apparently feeding young in the palm right next to the end of the pier, and some Lesser Kiskadee, but not much more.

A woman of the local small lodge at the pier showed us the typical combination of a wasp nest with cacique nests near to it (sort of symbiosis; photo right; the white wasp nest is at the bottom). We went back at 15 h and had Pygmy Kingfisher at a brook at GPS27. Nearby we heard Black-tailed Trogon and further down towards the river Blue-crowned Trogon. A Sunbittern walked besides the long boardwalk near the river, and Cinereous and Little Tinamou started calling. Our boatman came exactly in time (17 h). From the boat we had good views on some birds on the river bank, as the boat has to ride very near to the bank in order to withstand the strong current because we were going upstream now: Grey-necked Woodrail, Bat Falcon, Drab Water-Tyrant, and some seven other species, but no nightjars or nighthawks. We reached of Pto. Maldonado in the darkness after a beautiful 1.5 hour ride on this mighty river. The boatman walked with us to the nearby house of Victor of Peruvian Safaris, and his wife sent her son with us to the main road in order to get a three-wheel moped taxi to our hotel. This unexpected extra day in the lowlands was most welcome, not only for the extra birding in Tambopata, but also to taste a bit of the atmosphere of this small town here. But of course we were curious to see our next main destination, the Andes of Cuzco, with the Abra Malaga and Macchu Picchu, to be described in the next part of this trip report.

From the airplane we had impressive views over the vast jungle, with the meandering rivers and their oxbow lakes (photos above and below).