We left Cock of the Rock Lodge and drove to the Atalaya port, where we would board a boat to take us down the Madre de Dios River to our next destination, the Amazonia Lodge.
We made one stop on the way to Atalaya to buy rubber boots for all of us so the many insects that live in the grass in the jungle can't get up our pantlegs. Good thinking, Steve!
We met up with our private chef Cesar Cusihuaman and loaded up the boat with what seemed to be enough food to feed an army. We were going to be staying at the Amazonia Lodge for four nights and it appears that we are going to be eating very well.
This disturbing sign was prominently placed at the Atalaya dock. Basically it says that if you encounter indigenous people, don't engage them and don't point a camera at them. They might think it is a weapon. And I was worried about snakes. It didn't occur to me that I could be hit with an arrow!
Amazonia Lodge is located within the Manu Reserve and is reached by a 20 minute boat ride from Atalaya. The property is in the transition zone between the Andes foothills and the tropical lowland rainforest, right on the banks of the Alto Madre de Dios River.
The lodge was closed for the rainy season, but since Steve is friends with the owner, we had the property to ourselves. This is why we needed to bring Cesar and all the food with us.
The grounds of the lodge are beautiful and are planted with lots and lots of nectar producing flowers. There were many hummingbirds here that I had previously photographed, but I had never seen the female Violet-headed or the female Blue-tailed Emerald. Here I was able to get great photos of both. I was also able to get better pics of the male Blue-tailed Emerald than I had before.
Click on the name to go to the gallery for that bird.
I spent the better part of two days trying to photograph a hermit. There are Long-tailed, Koepke's, Bearded, Reddish and White-browed Hermits in this part of Peru, and I have never photographed the latter three. They don't generally come to the feeders, so we had to watch for them and stake out their flowers.
Steve and William took a hike to try to find some flowers they liked and they cleared the brush from around some delicious Heliconia plants. The hope was to get some spectacular photos of the birds on these plants.
Thank goodness for the boots. Here are William and I sitting by the muddy path in front of the Heliconia. These plants are burned indelibly into my brain, because we sat there and stared at them for hours. A Long-tailed Hermit briefly showed up, but he shunned the plants. Other hermits could be heard buzzing around for very brief moments, but they did not seem to want to drink from the Heliconia we were staking out.
I spent the next day staking out flowers all over the Amazonia grounds and I did get some great photos, but the hermits were hiding from me. There was one little guy who would appear occasionally and William finally saw where he seemed to appear more often than any other place.
Another stake-out. I missed a chance to go on a hike with Steve and William to see the fabulous Hoazin (Opisthocomus hoazin) , a bird that probably every birder in the world wants to see. It's not a hummingbird, so I decided to stay planted and wait for the hermit. Hours went by. I put down my camera and decided to take a video. Wouldn't you know it - the little hermit appeared when I didn't have my camera in my hands. Maybe you can spot the little guy on this video. He's fast.
My persistence finally paid off and I was able to photograph a new species for me. The little hermit I was chasing turned out to be a White-browed Hermit. I had to get a picture in order to identify it. I wouldn't be surprised if I spent eight hours trying to get this one shot.