Wow, what an experience. Seven days on internet free bliss - and not just internet, no electricity either! The birds were fabulous, over 200 in the week and many others just not identified or, in the case of Antpitta´s just too secretive!

The trip down which was 10 hours on a bumpy unmetalled road wasn´t particularly pleasant but Raul our driver(another one) was good fun. He spoke as much English as I Spanish - we managed to understand each other and shared many jokes! The good thing was that he was used to driving groups of birders down the road so knew all the good spots and even some of the birds.

We stopped off at a good site early into the trip and got the Bearded Mountaineer and Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch that we´d missed the previous days. Several other goodies were seen on the way down as the weather got hotter and more humid. By the time we´d reached the river port of Atalaya (just a few wooden shacks and about 12 boats) things were rather sticky! The boat journey coincided with a rain-forest downpour - our first of many (and it was meant to be the dry season).

Arriving at the entrance to Amazonia we had to scramble up a river bank and walk for fifteen minutes along a jungle trail before the lodge appeared before us. Boy it was hot. Speckle Chachalaca´s, Masked Crimson and Silver-beaked Tanagers frequented the birdtable feeder as did a plethera of hummingbirds. We settled down on the veranda for a long drink of Lemonade and Bernie managed to avoid the giant frog.

Unfortunately, the following day, after the loudest dawn chorus I´ve ever witnessed I wasn ´t too well again. After about 2 hours birding I felt decidedly dodgy and had to retire to bed for the rest of the day. Bernie gripped me off briefly with a self-identified Wire-crested Thorntail (I saw it later).

The following mornings I was OK and managed to do some serious birding that included a pair of Black-capped Tityras which were a first for the Lodge. Blue-headed Parrots and Chestnut-fronted Macaws flew around the lodge and the Oropendolas gave their evocative liquid calls - a typical sound of the jungle. The afternoons were something else entirely as we were witness to two torrential thunderstorms, the latter of which lasted for 14 hours and left two feet of standing water in places - fortunately the lodge is built on stilts and the water soon drained away into the now raging Madre-de-Rios river.

After a couple of days of searching for "Ant-thingies" I was beginning to think that I wouldn´t see any birds with "Ant" in their name (apart from Cormorant - sic). Fortunatley, Bernie has vision like a .......... rat and spotted an Ornate Antwren in the undergrowth - at last! We had loads of good birds at Amazonia but the unexpected White Hawk, Cuviers Toucans and the experience of being up the canopy tower (80 foot high and very wobbly!) and surrounded by a curious pack of Wooly Monkeys are some of the memories well retain.


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