Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge

The weather had got decidedly cooler and the birds were consequently much quieter on the day we left Amazonia Lodge for the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, 3000 ft higher back up the Manu Road and into the Cloud Forest. This still didn't stop the new birds from appearing including two lovely Swallow-tailed Kites circling endlessly over a hillside. A Long-billed Starthroat was an unexpected find just beyond Atalaya. A medium sized black cat - a Jaguarundi - ran across the road in front of us near Patria.
Just before we got to the lodge we came across our first major Tanager flocks - all sorts of brightly coloured birds (and some more inconspicuous ones). Orange eared Tanager has to be one of the best with this bright green plumage shining out. Blue naped Chloroponia was another stunner along with Golden Tanagers, Orange-breasted Euphonias and so on.

A couple of Lemon-browed Flycatchers sat huddled together outside the lodge gate as we arrived (never to be seen again!). We dumped our bags in the room and made our way up to the COTR lek to see "the" birds. This must surely be one of the most guarenteed birds in the world - you could hear the grunting and scolding as we approached the fence. Going through to the blind there was about 5 males all parading their stuff - a fantastic show.



The night in the Lodge was rather cool. The showers were gas powered and hot but there was no electricity at all - just candle light. The meal on the first night was good - lots of freshly made popcorn to munch on before-hand.

The next day we were up with the Violet fronted Hummingbirds (as well as the Many-spotted and Booted Racket-tail) and made our way up the road coming across more flocks and new birds in every one - we passed my target 300 mark with ease that day. We finally got an Antshrike - Uniform Antshrike it seemed from the Peru guide and a check of the call with the Ecuadorian guide confirmed the ID. I've got to say that the Peru guide is not good. I've heard people say "Shred it" but it did have its uses for most of the journey. The two main problems were the non-publication of vocalisations and the use of different artistic styles in the same family of birds, most notable the hummingbirds and the flycatchers. I basically gave up on the latter as the written text was neither use nor ornament either.

Anyway, more birds followed including the lovely Versicoloured Barbet, Rust & Yellow Tanager and Yngas Manakin. A male Long-tailed Sylph added to the hummingbird list of over 30 species. That afternoon the rain came down and down and down - in fact all night and all morning. We spent our morning with a couple of Australian birders (who were doing a 50 day trip) on the veranda birding in the dry whilst the birds, monkeys and other animals came to the garden. the rain started to get lighter and the birds suddenly appeared - Yellow-throated and Golden-naped Tanagers, Andean Slaty Thrush, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Antshrike and Bronze-green Euphonia. A walk around the trail in the drizzle added Highland Motmot and Spotted Barbtail. That evening we made our way up to the mirador and had good views of the Lyre-tailed Nightjars with one particular flypast brushing Bernie with the gynormous tail!

The final day was fine so we started back up the road to Cuzco - yet more birds including Montane Woodcreeper, Anathyst-throated Sunangel, Barred Becard, Marcapata Spinetail and Red-crested Cotinga. However at 10:30, just as we'd got past Pillahuata, the cloud rolled in and we could harly see 10 meters. We therefore missed birding the top of the road - a habitat we hadn't been particularly fortunate with on this trip - cloud/snow/altitude - just something we'll have to go back for! We crawled our way back up the road (believe me, you don't want to do this at any sort of speed due to the state of the road and the sheer drops!). As we cleared the top at Acjanaco, the cloud dissipated and everything was clear again - we could see all the Rufous-collared Sparrows again (delight - sic).

Back at Cusco, we said farewell to Raul who'd been great for the eight days and had a loveley meal before settling back into the hotel. An early start for the flight to Lima but as we were knackered we decided to rest that day - Amazilia Hummingbird in the garden of the B&B was my last of the 353 species seen on the trip (336 lifers). We set off on our long journey home the following morning.

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