Day 8, October 19, 2006 Oct 12—24, 2006

Posted by Peter English


Peter English

Peter English became interested in birds while in the fourth grade. He graduated from Williams College in 1988 and received his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Texa...

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This was one of the best days of birding on our trip. We departed the ship at first light in speedboats bound for Shanklands Lodge. Thirty minutes later we were birding the grounds of the lodge. They were alive with birds including Red-shouldered Macaws, Golden-winged and White-eyed parakeets, Orange-winged Parrots, Black-spotted Barbets, a Marail Guan, Channel-billed and White-throated toucans, Bat Falcons, and many more species. All these were seen perched and in good light with many scope views.

Later in the morning some groups took a zodiac cruise up a small river while others birded the forest. Folks on the zodiac cruise saw Pompadour Cotingas, Crimson Topaz Hummingbird, an Agami Heron, and an Ornate Hawk-Eagle. Groups birding the forest saw Golden-headed Manakins, Black-headed Antbirds, a Red-necked Woodpecker, a pair of Mouse-colored Antshrikes, and other forest birds. Around the clearing we had excellent studies of a troop of yellow-handed tamarin monkeys.

Black-headed Antbird moving through the forest floor

Black-headed Antbird moving through the forest floor — Photo: Peter English

At noon all groups returned to the lodge for a sumptuous buffet lunch. Our lunch was interrupted when one of our participants found a Sunbittern on a nearby stream. Everyone had excellent looks at this beautiful bird for almost an hour, including repeated scope studies.

After lunch some participants returned to the ship, while others relaxed at the lodge. Late in the afternoon several groups that remained at Shanklands went on a zodiac cruise to the same small river that other groups had visited in the morning. En route to the river, we enjoyed superb looks at a pair of Point-tailed Palmcreepers and six perched Red-bellied Macaws.

Point-tailed Palmcreeper high in a Moriche Palm frond

Point-tailed Palmcreeper high in a Moriche Palm frond — Photo: Peter English

Once we began cruising up the small river, we saw a zodiac stopped ahead of us motioning us to join them. They were looking at an adult Harpy Eagle that was perched on a dead snag only 200 feet away. We then radioed the other groups on the river, they passed the message back up to the lodge, and over the next 30 minutes all five of the groups remaining in the field joined us. All the while, the Harpy Eagle sat on its perch in regal splendor. Eventually almost 50 people enjoyed stunning views of the world's most powerful raptor.

Harpy Eagle on a snag. The eagle sat on this perch for over 30 minutes

Harpy Eagle on a snag. The eagle sat on this perch for over 30 minutes — Photo: Peter English

This was an incredible day which left all of us feeling that this was one of those days that we will remember forever. Great parrots, toucans, antbirds, and other tropical species, and then the bird that everyone has always wanted to see—a Harpy Eagle. It was truly phenomenal.