March 1, 2015, Los Amigos Biological Station, Peru — I’ve been looking forward to this day ever since I talked to Jeff Woodman, who works with the Amazon Conservation Association, several months ago. Jeff was excited about my big year and its potential to highlight bird conservation efforts, and helped me plan a visit to Los Amigos Biological Station (also called CICRA, a Spanish acronym) in southeast Peru.
Los Amigos is set in primary lowland rainforest along the Madre de Dios (“Mother of God”) river, and you have to be motivated to get here. Gunnar (who rejoined us yesterday from Lima), Glenn, and I took an overnight bus last night from Cusco to a town called Puerto Maldonado, then transferred to a boat for the four-hour trip upriver. Puerto Maldonado has the feel of a frontier town, with “I Buy Gold” signs outside of dark shops. On the boat trip we passed several gold miners sluicing big piles of river gravel, and saw lots of mining activity evidence.
By the time we reached Los Amigos, though, the forest felt untouched. Blue-and-yellow Macaws knifed overhead, and when we walked around the station, we found tapir tracks on its muddy trails. The station has been here for 14 years but has been used mainly by researchers and students (now it’s the quiet, rainy season, and the only researcher here is studying monkeys). Only in the past year or so has the manager placed a greater emphasis on attracting birders to Los Amigos, and they are developing a map and materials specifically for birdwatchers. I’ve heard this almost everywhere I’ve been so far in South America: In the past several years, birding has become recognized as a serious pursuit.
Anyway, we will spend two nights here, which means tomorrow we’ll have the full day on foot! It will be nice to spend the whole day birding, with nowhere to go. Tawny-bellied Screech-Owls and Ocellated Poorwills are calling outside my cabin… Life is good.
New birds today: 15
Year list: 1405