Manaus, Brazil: Amazon Rainforest & River Islands Sep 04—17, 2017

Posted by Andrew Whittaker


Andrew Whittaker

Andrew Whittaker, a senior member of the VENT staff, has led VENT tours since 1993 throughout Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Europe,...

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Manaus, Brazil has to be one of the world’s major birding crossroads, smack in the middle of the enormous Amazon rainforest, at 5,500,000 km2 (2,123,562 sq mi) the richest biome on our planet! We joyfully immersed ourselves into this mega birding and natural history bonanza, managing a record-breaking 415 bird species due to this year’s very sharp-eyed group. We had an endless blast exploring the Amazon’s immense waterways, bird-rich river islands, and varied and exuberant rainforest habitats, thoroughly enjoying all of their stunning, unique avian species. At fruiting trees we were delighted by a feast of colorful cotingas, parrots, macaws, toucans, manakins, and barbets, while exciting night excursions produced the much wanted and mythical White-winged Potoo, as well as Great and Common potoos. Other trip highlights included a majestic pair of Black Curassows crossing the road at our lodge; a quick encounter with Gray-winged Trumpeter; flushing a rarely seen migrant Paint-billed Crake; close encounters with magnificent male Green-throated Mangos and a wondrous male Crimson Topaz (displaying) on our lodge grounds; and the rare Dotted Tanager found by Leon. However, the icing on the cake has to have been our exceptional cotingas! In-your-face views of some of the world’s great glamour birds, from the magnificent lekking Guianan Cocks-of-the-rock; male Purple-breasted, Spangled, and Pompadour cotingas; a very confiding Guianan Red-Cotinga; and I’m sure none of you will ever forget the extremely odd chainsaw-sounding and equally odd-looking Capuchinbirds we were privileged to see!

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock— Photo: Andrew Whittaker


We also managed superlative views of some rarely seen mammals, including the endemic not so cute looking Pied Tamarin;  a trip first with a very confiding Giant Otter; the ever so cute group of Spix’s Night Monkeys (at their house); Golden-backed Squirrel Monkeys; and, of course, the incredible Pink River Dolphins—nobody could ask for much more! 

Experiencing the wonders of two of the world’s mightiest rivers (the Amazon and Negro) was so much fun; we explored each of their different avian riches, white versus black water river islands. Engulfing the vast Amazonian waterways was the surrounding vast Amazon rainforest, which enchanted us all as we experienced its exotic life from as many angles as possible—in the canopy (from a couple of superb canopy towers) and exploring along secluded forest trails or remote dirt roads amongst towering emergent trees brimming with life and producing an incredible non-stop highlight of colorful birds and skulkers to keep us all happy. Not to mention all those unique sounds, amazingly pleasant scented evening flowers, and learning just some of this rainforest’s fascinating intricate web of life.

Read Andrew’s full report in his Field List.