I was up at 5:30 again just as the sun was rising. It was going to be another beautiful, clear blue sky day, and Nixon and I were once again off in search of birds. We got in the little skiff, started the engine long enough to move us past the dock and then cut the engine and let the current take us down river towards El Chino village. We immediately saw two kingfisher (red and blue birds with long tails) fly past. I have been trying to take a picture of the little buggers, but no luck so far.
As we continued to float along, we saw what we believed were the same pair of small green parrots from the day before. In addition, we saw two turkey vultures high up in a tree with wings fully extended to dry them in the morning sun.
Birds flitted back and forth and the morning songs were out in full force. Suddenly Nixon grabbed my arm and pointed to a tree close to the stairs to the village. I looked and looked again through my binoculars and suddenly I saw it … a tree full of orange cheeked parrots. It was unbelievable. Five of the birds took off in full flight over us and the colours were simply amazing. The longer we sat there floating on the water, the more parrots we saw. Brilliant green body, a yellow spot on either side and bright orange red underside of the wings. It was mesmerizing to watch them.
We finally left the birds alone, and just as we started up the engine Nixon spotted a paradise tattinger. After stopping to admire the gorgeous bird, we headed back to the lodge for breakfast. This morning was my last at the lodge as me and the California family were headed 2 hours up river to the ARC (Amazon Research Center).
I met Nixon at the little skiff at 8:45. We were supposed to leave at 9:30, but I was ready to go so we set off early. We puttered along up river keeping a lookout for monkeys and birds. We had no luck with monkeys, but saw plenty of birds, including a hawk, a number of cuco herons that appeared to be searching for a mid-morning snack and a cavalcade of gorgeous multi-coloured butterflies.
The trip to the “ARC” was wonderful. It was a bright sunny day, not too hot yet, and the birds were serenading us as with morning song as we meandered along the Tayuhao River. Every now and then we would get close to the river bank to find some shade from the mid morning sun. The trip was incredibly relaxing and it unfortunately came to an all to sudden end as we motored around the bend and the ARC came into view.
I really did not know what to expect of the ARC since I had been advised it was much more rustic with a communal bathroom and showers for men and the same for women. In addition, there is supposed to be a greater variety of wildlife in the area.
Fespite the unknown about the ARC, I was very pleasantly surprised. My room was lovely overlooking the river and the dining room had a large bay window also overlooking the river. The entire layout was much more suited to my taste than the lodge and apparently I was not alone as the California family agreed with me.
Anyway, once we arrived, I took a lovely siesta in the hammock room (yay the ARC had a hammock room) and then had lunch. After lunch Nixon and I got into a small canoe and Nixon paddled out to the river and we floated for the next two hours with the current. Our goal was to once again look for monkeys and birds, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be. We only saw a handful of significant birds and zero monkeys. Hell we couldn’t even find the local, resident wooly monkey.
The highlight of the afternoon, besides the very relaxing float down the river through the rainforest, was spotting a black hawk sitting on a branch. Now while seeing the hawk was really nice, the best part was that as I was watching the hawk and Nixon was pushing our canoe away from some overhanging branches, the hawk leaped off the branch to try and snag a little swallow that was flying past. The swallow let out a squawk and managed to get away while the hawk flew off in disgust. It was an incredible sight, but the hawk struck out and the swallow lived to see another day.
After the hawk episode, Nixon steered the canoe towards an offshoot of the river. I had no idea where we were going since there was a massive fallen tree and several branches blocking our access. Nixon seemed undeterred as he grabbed his machete and hacked away at the branches. Once the branches were cleared, Nixon instructed me to lie flat in the canoe and we floated under the log. All I can say is it is a good thing I do not have a large nose because we would not have made it under the log.
Once we passed under the logged we dodged a series of additional branches before arriving at a large lake. Apparently, the lake was where the pink dolphins are normally found when the lake is high enough. However, because it was the dry season and the lake was only a couple meters deep, the dolphins had already left for the Amazon (which we see when just outside the entrance to the Tuhuayo River.
Anyway, we paddled around the lake still finding nothing except an annoying massive bee that refused to leave us alone. It literally followed us around the lake. Finally, I told Nixon I had had enough of the bee and it was time to get back to the river and ditch this bloody bee.
So what that, we went back to the entrance, I laid back down in the canoe and we reversed course under the branches and log and reached the river in time to find a motor boat and driver who was going to tow us upstream back to the lodge.
Nixon was a little bummed that we had not found any animals so he insisted on taking my for a night walk after dinner behind the lodge where we could look for frogs, monkeys and tarantulas. Uh negative on that one – no tarantulas! So Nixon promised me no tarantulas, but we would look for frogs. After some consideration, I decided no. I really did not want some creepy crawling thing jumping out at me in the dark … would give me nightmares for days. So with that, I called it a night and head off to my room to listen to the sound of the jungle and get some much needed rest.