Monday, September 07, 2009

Tenko’d in Yurimaguas - days 13-16

We made a trip 120km from base to Yurimaguas at the confluence of the Rio Haullaga and Rio Paranoura in the Amazon lowlands of the neighbouring region of Loreto. The road from Tarapoto is the only road in – from there further travel is by boat. Colonised since the 1800’s, most of the immediate forest is gone and damp pasture and secondary growth forest dominates. This makes it quite difficult to find decent fragments for Heliconines. Several interesting birds were noted including Red-breasted Blackbird, Pearl Kite, Large-billed Seed-Finch, Snail Kite, Least Grebe, Blue Ground-Dove, Oriole Blackbird, White-eyed Parakeet, Crested Oropendola, Spot-winged Antbird, Wattled Jacana, Yellow-headed Caracara, Pauraque, and Black-bellied Cuckoo. The highlight was watching the amazing display of a male White-bearded Manakin (Manacus manacus expectatus) on the floor of the forest understory. In a tiny clearing in thick undergrowth it jumped at lightning speed between the ground and low plant stems producing the weirdest unbird-like sounds and flashing its striking white plumage. It was the vocalisations that first attracted me to investigate the source of the sound – strange buzzing and zapping as if from a high-voltage wire and a loud mechanical snapping sound! Yurimaguas was unbearably hot and humid at times and it was a relief to get back to a slightly cooler Tarapoto.

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