Sunday, September 23, 2018

Peru Birding Trip Day 5 - July 12, 2018

If you want to catch up on previous posts about this trip, go to the following links:

Peru Trip Day 1
Peru Trip Day 2
Peru Trip Day 3
Peru Trip Day 4

We spent our last day at Waqanki Lodge by first going, once more, to the tower where there was a nice view of the surrounding hills and forest.
Waqanki Lodge view from tower

Of course the usual, common hummingbirds were still around, and I couldn't resist taking a few more photos of the Rufous-crested Coquette (only males here, which I thought was odd), and Golden-tailed Sapphire.
Rufous-crested Coquette

Golden-tailed Sapphire

And the locally rare Black-eared Fairy made her daily appearance too. This hummingbird is a little unusual in that the female has a longer tail than the male. It can be a challenge to see the small purple spot behind the black ear patch.
Black-eared Fairy

There were other interesting birds in the surrounding trees this morning. The large Boat-billed Flycatcher is a fairly common tropical species, and one was calling from the top of a tree about 50 yards away from the tower. Click here to hear a recording of its most common, and strange song from the Xeno-Canto collection.
Boat-billed Flycatcher

They get their name from the rather thick (for a flycatcher) bill.
Boat-billed Flycatcher

At the other end of the size scale was the tiny (kinglet-sized) Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, which is usually very difficult to see unless you are up in the canopy with them!
Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher

This one was in the same tree as the Boat-billed Flycatcher. Compare the size of the bird with the size of the leaves of the tree in the two photos above.
Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher

Offsetting the difficulty of seeing some of these flycatchers is their distinctive if sometimes unremarkable songs. I ended up not doing any audio recording on this trip. It was just too much stuff to do, so this Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher recording also comes from the Xeno-Canto collection. Click here to hear it.

The only thrush species we noted in the area was the Black-billed Thrush, and one came into a nearby tree and sang briefly for us.
Black-billed Thrush

A Thick-billed Euphonia, distinguished from the common Purple-throated we'd been seeing by its yellow throat, came by briefly to feed in a nearby fruiting tree. Euphonias used to be classified with the tanagers, but have been moved into the same family as siskins and goldfinches. Some of their calls are similar.
Thick-billed Euphonia

A true tanager, and one we'd hoped to see and photograph, the Paradise Tanager made a brief appearance this morning giving us the best (but not great) photo opportunities of the trip.
Paradise Tanager

Our guide, Fernando, had heard from some of the staff at the lodge that there was a day roost of the Band-bellied Owls that we had been hearing the last couple nights behind our cabins. This was a life bird for me, so I was definitely willing to try to see it, no matter how tough it might be. It turned out that it was not too bad to get to, just a couple hundred yards from the tower, but on a very narrow and muddy trail. Only two of us at a time could fit into the precarious "perch" where the owls were clearly visible, so Pat and I got to go first since we were not as likely to take as long as the other more "serious" photographers in the group.
Band-bellied Owls

Their calls were very similar to the Spectacled Owl, which I'd seen and heard many times before in the tropics, but they looked very different.
Band-bellied Owl

Band-bellied Owl

After viewing these wonderful owls, I went back down and did some birding and butterflying in the gardens of the lodge. A quick stop at the feeders revealed that they were a bit more active with fewer people around, so I got to enjoy great views of Purple-throated Euphonias, which were among the first to arrive at the bananas that had been put out for them.
Purple-throated Euphonia

Blue-gray Tanagers were next to come in.
Blue-gray Tanager

But the species I really wanted to see well was the Peruvian endemic, Black-bellied Tanager. We had seen some on the road to the lodge a few days ago, and some females had made furtive appearances in the trees near the tower, but the feeder would potentially provide good photos. A female arrived first. All tanagers in this genus (Ramphocelus) have bright blue-white on their bills, and females can be quite similar. The only other species in the area, Silver-beaked, is almost entirely black in this part of their range. So the fact that the female Black-bellied does not have a black belly is actually a good field mark!
Black-bellied Tanager, female

But the male does have a black belly, and I finally got my desired photos.
Black-bellied Tanager, male

Black-bellied Tanager, male

Black-bellied Tanager, male

Black-bellied Tanager, male

As the bananas begin to ferment, they attract other things, like butterflies. All butterfly identifications below are subject to correction as I am far from being a tropical butterfly expert! This One-spotted Prepona was drinking deeply from a feeder near the cabins, and like many tropical species, did not show its colorful upper wings, but instead just its camouflaged underside.
One-spotted Prepona (Archaeoprepona demophon)

Several other butterflies were seen in the gardens, including the 88 Butterfly that showed both its distinctive under wings, and its equally colorful and very different upper side.
88 (89?) Butterfly (Diathria clymena)

88 Butterfly (Diathria clymena)

This species in the family Satyridae was perhaps the commonest butterfly at Waqanki, but I am not able to get its identification any closer than to genus (and even that might not be correct).
Euptychoides sp. (Satyridae)

A more colorful species was this Acraea Mimic, which resembled some Heliconias but is in a different subfamily, the more widespread Nymphalinae.
Acraea Mimic (Castilia perilla)

Representing the family of whites, yellows, and sulphurs (Pieridae), was this Large Orange Sulphur.
Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe)

There are many colorful tropical species in the family Riodinidae, also called Metalmarks because some species have silvery metallic markings on their wings. Only a few species reach North America, and they are among the less colorful of the family. The one in the gardens today was also one of these less colorful types, the Cramer's Midget. If you look carefully, you can see silvery spots near the outer edges of the wings.
Cramer's Midget (Charis anius)

Skippers are often small and confusing, making identifications difficult. This skipper was a bit easier (if I've identified it correctly) as it is one of the white tropical species, the Orcus Checkered Skipper.
Orcus Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus orcus)

Orcus Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus orcus)

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the trip was encountering Monarch butterflies, not just one, and not just at one location, but several. Thanks to Chris Rickards for pointing me to this reference about Southern Monarchs which are apparently considered a separate species, though some information I've seen classifies them as a subspecies. To me they appear nearly identical to our North American Monarchs, being perhaps a bit darker, which would be consistent for populations adapted to more humid environments.
Southern Monarch (Danaus erippus)

Southern Monarch (Danaus erippus)

Also surprising was this colorful species in the grass that turned out to be a day-flying moth. If you look closely, you can see the feathery antennae, characteristic of moths.
Day-flying moth sp.

A large wasp that was seen chewing on a fence post was almost certainly some species of paper wasp.
Paper Wasp sp.

Under a gazebo in the middle of the garden, we had been looking at a strange structure that seemed to be made entirely out of cottony plant fibers and feathers. Last night, we looked up into it and saw the occupants; a pair of Blue-and-white Swallows. What a strange nest.
Blue-and-white Swallow nest (occupants not visible)

Some of the common residents of the garden were more easily photographed today, including a family of Ruddy Ground-Doves.
Ruddy Ground-Dove, juvenile

Ruddy Ground-Dove, adult

The Rufous-collared Sparrow is a common montane species from Central America to the southern tip of South America. This is the lowest elevation that I have seen this species.
Rufous-collared Sparrow

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Rufous-collared Sparrow

The most colorful bird in the garden is a species I've seen before, but never this low in the trees, a male Black-faced Dacnis feeding on small fruits. The warbler-sized dacnises and honeycreepers are a distinct group that have for the time being been classified with the tanagers. Notice how many photos it takes before he eats the single berry that is right next to him!
Black-faced Dacnis, male

Black-faced Dacnis, male

Black-faced Dacnis, male

Black-faced Dacnis, male

Black-faced Dacnis, male

With the hard-core photographers in the group preferring to once again stay at the tower to photograph hummingbirds, two of us went with Fernando to hike a trail to higher elevations and into denser forest. There were lots of antbirds and flycatchers in this area, including many that would be life birds for me, but we did not have much time to look for them, so this walk was a welcome change from staring at feeders and feeder birds that we had done a lot of so far.
Mountains near Waqanki Lodge

One of only a couple species of antbird I was able to photograph, and one of few seen or heard, was this White-flanked Antwren.
White-flanked Antwren

We saw some species of small flycatcher, and some additional tanagers, high in the trees and in situations that made photography difficult. But that was OK, as I was interested in seeing birds at least as much as photographing them! The Streaked Flycatcher is a fairly common tropical species that was somewhat cooperative for photos along this trail.
Streaked Flycatcher

 The small critters, including butterflies and this small spider, made a good showing.
Possible Gasteracantha species

At a small stream crossing there were several butterfly species, including this Hubner's Glasswing.
Hubner's Glasswing (Scada reckia)

Two other species I've seen in the tropics before were this Common Redring...
Common Redring (Pyrrhogyra otalais)

...and this very colorful Frosted Dartwhite.
Frosted Dartwhite (Catasticta hegemon)

After lunch...yes, everything described up to this point was in the morning, we got into the van to make a short trip to a different area and habitat. This Eunomia Numberwing followed us into the van, so not the most interesting background for the photo.
Eunomina Numberwing (Callicore eunomia)

We soon got the butterfly out of the van and back into the garden where it belonged, and we were on our way to the rice fields near Posic, about an hour southwest of Waqanki.
Posic rice fields

Our goal was to see some open country and waterbirds. A common species throughout tropical lowlands is the Social Flycatcher. This one perched very close by in what appeared to be corn stubble.
Social Flycatcher

Social Flycatcher

Social Flycatcher

Social Flycatcher

A small flock of Black-necked Stilts flushed from one of the rice fields. The subspecies in this area is sometimes considered a separate species, the "White-backed" Stilt. They hybridize, or intergrade, with Black-necked, so they may never be considered a full species.
Black-necked (White-backed) Stilts

White-backed is not a good name, as all stilts have a white back. But this one has a small white band across the back of the neck, and also a distinctive white cap that can be seen in the photo below if you look hard enough.
Black-necked (White-backed) Stilt

Another distant flyover was this flock of Comb Ducks, all appearing to be immatures. The Comb Duck is a fairly rare species in this area.
Comb Ducks

Although not as distant, the hazy lighting conditions did not allow for particularly good photos of the small groups of Red-bellied Macaws that flew over.
Red-bellied Macaws

Red-bellied Macaws

Red-bellied Macaws

Looking like a gigantic oriole, this grackle-sized Oriole Blackbird was in a row of palm trees across a wet rice field, so not very approachable.
Oriole Blackbird

Oriole Blackbird

Although some species of toucan and aracari are found in open areas, I have always associated the Lettered Aracari with denser rainforest. Unfortunately, like most of the birds in this area, they were fairly distant. But luckily for the birdwatchers in the group, our guide had a spotting scope so we had good views.
Lettered Aracari

Lettered Aracari

This small woodpecker is appropriately named the Little Woodpecker!
Little Woodpecker

Another species that I have always associated with taller, dense forest, is Tamarins (monkeys). These Andean Saddleback Tamarins (formerly a subspecies of Saddleback Tamarin but now considered a separate species endemic to northern Peru), were in a very open tree on the back side of a rice field.
Andean Saddleback Tamarin (Sanguinus leucogenys)

As we were leaving the area, we encountered this immature Snail Kite right next to the road. It was very tame and allowed numerous photos. The long-lens crowd was very happy.
Snail Kite, imm.

Snail Kite, imm.

Snail Kite, imm.

Snail Kite, imm.

We returned to the lodge for our last night there, and after dinner I checked one more time for moths and other interesting insects on the walls of our cabins.
Moth sp.

 One species was in a family that has a distinctive wing shape, the Apatelodidae.
Apatelodidae sp.

Another species was iridescent, which is characteristic of more than one family of tropical moths.
Moth sp.

This weird insect is a Mantis Fly, and was a bit larger and more colorful than the species I've seen in the U.S. It is actually a fly, not a mantis.
Mantis Fly sp.

Tomorrow, we leave Waqanki and spend the day at another habitat, different feeders, and different birds, on our way up to higher elevations.