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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Into the Jungle

December 1st, 2013 · No Comments

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After traveling up the Amazon River on the riverboat Queen Violeta to the confluence of the Marañón and Ucayali rivers, we reached the Pacaya–Samiria National Reserve. The largest reserve in Peru — equal in size to Israel or the state of New Jersey — it called to us to hike the land, and we obliged. While we made several hikes, we weren’t able to see all of it on this trip.

When we disembarked on a sandy beach early one morning, this shorebird was waiting for us. Collared plovers live in a large range between Mexico to the north and Chile and Argentina to the south.

This Collared Plover Reminded Me of the Many Killdeer in Colorado, Which Have Double Black Breast Bands

This Collared Plover Reminded Me of the Many Killdeer in Colorado, Which Have Double Black Breast Bands

Click on the picture above to enlarge

As we hiked further into the interior we came across a flock of black birds with striking yellow heads. Uncommon and found only in Amazonia, Colombia, and Venezuela, yellow-hooded blackbirds belong to the same family as the more common yellow-headed blackbirds of inland North America.

A Male Yellow-hooded Blackbird Has Less Yellow than Our Yellow-headed Blackbirds

A Male Yellow-hooded Blackbird Has Less Yellow than Our Yellow-headed Blackbirds

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After returning to the ship for a hearty and well-deserved breakfast, we headed out of another hike. This time we took what our guides said would be “a short walk in the rainforest.” It turned out to be a long hike by way of a minimal path up into higher country than we had previously seen. And rather than rainforest, this was full-fledged jungle if “land overgrown with tangled vegetation at ground level” is the proper definition of jungle. Our guides had to cut vines that had grown up since the last time people had trekked there.

The announced purpose of the visit was to see some colorful manakins. But the only bird worth photographing was a rufescent tiger-heron that Kevin, the owner of Wildside Nature Tours, somehow spotted and pointed out to me in the dense vegetation. Uncommon to rare through most of its range in northern South America, this solitary bird would have been impossible for me to photograph if it didn’t stand stock-still while I tried shot after shot.

The Rufescent Tiger-Heron Does Remind Me of a Tiger or a Leopard

The Rufescent Tiger-Heron Does Remind Me of a Tiger or a Leopard

Click on the picture above to enlarge

In the jungle we saw beautiful flowers, mushrooms, a termite trail, lizards, ants, frogs, and butterflies. My roommate on the ship, Don Hahn, is a specialist in reptiles and amphibians. He is the co-author of The Herpetofauna of the Islas de la Bahia, Honduras (1973), so handling this little amphibian seemed to come naturally for him.

My Roommate, Don Hahn, Holds a Flint-nosed Frog

My Roommate, Don Hahn, Holds a Flint-nosed Frog

Click on the picture above to enlarge
Edison Buenaño, the Tour’s Leading Guide to the Birds of South America, Likes Butterflies Too

Edison Buenaño, the Tour’s Leading Guide to the Birds of South America, Likes Butterflies Too

Click on the picture above to enlarge

We had a couple of good hikes, much better than the rainforest hike a couple of days earlier that gave us a soaking. I was glad to get into the jungle. But taking a skiff up narrow creeks proved to be more productive — as well as an easier — way to see the birds of the Amazon. In the afternoon we returned to a creek.

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Posted in: Amazon, Peru

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