But getting to the start of that nice, moist forest requires quite a drive, and we had a full buffet breakfast at 4:30, departing the hotel at 5:00. And not to waste any of the best hours of birding, we made several stops as we passed through the dry, high interior Andes to the north of Cusco.
Our first stop after about an hour and a half was in the outskirts of the town Huancaraní. Typical of the highlands, much exotic eucalyptus and pine have been planted, which mostly does not do the native birds any good.
Other birds common here were Rufous-collared Sparrow and Black-throated Flowerpiercer.
Other birds in this area were Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, and Rufous-webbed Tyrant.
After crossing over the Cordillera de Urubamba we skirted the upper ends of several valleys and then rose to the top of the Cordillera de Paucartambo where we had our picnic lunch. This marks the limit of Manu National Park.
The habitat was abruptly different here, with frequent mist and fog creating a lush, dense growth, interspersed with tussocky grass. Luckily we had sun, so some interesting butterflies were out, such as this Cloud-forest Firetip, Metardaris cosinga, on a Baccharis.
Many other flowers also caught my attention:
A Fuchsia, one of many species
In the late afternoon, we arrived at our lodging for one night, the Wayqecha Biological Station. Here we met two young Americans working as biotechnicians on a study of nesting birds. And we walked up the road at dusk to have a fantastic experience with Swallow-tailed Nightjar. The male flew over us in a display flight like a giant mayfly in the cloud forest sky. Other bird highlights from today were Creamy-crested Spinetail, Golden-collared Tanager, Puna Thistletail, and Rufous-capped Thornbill.