Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day 8 in SE Peru: Pantiacolla Lodge's Monk Saki Trail

This is the 8th in a series of blogs covering my most recent tour down the Kosñipata Road and the Madre de Dios River in SE Peru from October 25-November 7. I left off last with Susanne’s and my arrival at Pantiacolla Lodge for our first of 3 nights. Today we decided to walk a nearby trail very slowly, bringing a sack lunch from the lodge and taking all day to walk the 2.8-mile loop of the Monk Saki Trail. The whole trail is lowland Amazonian Rainforest, but it isn't totally flat, crossing several small streams adding some diversity to the habitats.

I knew the are was going to be good for birds when not far down the trail I heard a distant Banded Antbird. With some judicious playback and whistled imitations, I managed to bring the bird right in.

This Curl-crested Aracari was right over the trail.

Even a non-backlit Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin would fail to make a stunning photo, but here one is anyway. And the video does give you an idea of how small this thing is. Most sources mention this as the primary song, and it is often what you hear throughout Amazonia, often when no other birds are singing. But the real song and display take place as a spectacular looping flight high above the 50-meter forest canopy, with the bird landing in the tops of the tallest trees and giving a repeated chatter. This can be seen only from canopy towers like those at Cristalino Jungle Lodge.

This Purple-throated Fruitcrow was one of two that came in to my whistled imitations.

We sat down for lunch on a log by a dense thicket over a stream, and a Scaly-breasted Wren began singing nearby. I played just a little bit of song, and the bird flew in immediately, almost landing on my lap. But it saw us and disappeared into the thicket, minutes later reappearing just a few feet away and singing its most enchanting song.

What's that deep humming sound coming from down trail? Is there something in the dark forest understory? Pale-winged Trumpeters on the trail! We actually ran into at least 3 different groups of these amazing jungle cranes.

The streams were fantastic for odonates. This red-eyed damselfly is probably a dancer in the genus Argia.

This Polythore species is in the New World family Polythoridae, which includes some our most ornately patterned and colored damselflies.

This is an amberwing dragonfly, Perithemis thais.

This clubtail dragonfly is Epigomphus obtusus, with rather striking appendages.

This is either Mnesarete devillei or M. hauxwelli, a damselfly closely related to our rubyspots.

This damsel is a close match for Heteragrion inca in the family Megapodagrionidae.

I was so intent on getting a good shot of this gorgeous damselfly that I didn't notice that it had chosen a leg of a huge walking stick as a perch until Susanne pointed it out to me.

There were lots of fascinating insects and other arthropods along the trail. This planthopper is in the family Dictyopharidae, not that different from Fulgoridae.

This Ellipticus sp. is clearly the most common pleasing fungus beetle in the region. We had seen it on previous days and had several this day.

Another pleasing fungus beetle (family Erotylidae), this one is a Gibbifer species, similar to the one we have in Arizona.

This one is very distinctive, almost surely Scaphidiomorphus bosci.

This gorgeous flare-shouldered Sundarus sp. Is a leaf-footed bug in the same family as our giant mesquite bugs (Coreidae).

This tiny Eumastacid (monkey grasshopper) was surely the smallest one I've ever seen.

And this Trechaleidae water hunting spider was one of the largest ones I've ever seen.

There were a few nice butterflies, even though the forest understory isn't the best place to see a big diversity. This metalmark is the Pirene Grayler, Calospila pirene.

Susanne spotted this stunning Black-barred Cross-streak, Panthiades phaleros, perched on my tripod.

This is another one of those nearly impossible hairstreaks, but it looks close enough to the one I posted a couple days ago to mostly likely be the Malta Groundstreak, Calycopis malta.

Most whites are in open sunny areas; this Dimorphic White, Perrhybris pamela, is called this because the females are strikingly different from the males, looking more like a tigerwing.

This satyr is one of my favorites and hard to get good photos of in the dark understory. Safely known as Cithaerias pireta, it has many common names; I like Blushing Phantom the most.

This Brazilian Bluewing, Myscelia capenas, was a new one for me, and I didn't even recognize the genus when in the field.

I was impressed when Susanne picked out this bit of anomalous pattern in the leaf litter.

Following the body along, we found it belonged to a Brown Sipo, Chironius fuscus. It lay in this position, completely motionless for at least 10 minutes while we were busy photographing bugs and mushrooms nearby.

This flowering shrub in the family Rubicaceae is Palicourea guianensis and is attractive to a few hummingbirds in the understory, probably including a Gould's Jewelfront that we saw nearby.

This melastome is in the genus Tococa, recognized by the swollen bases to the leaves, known as domatia, homes to ants that help protect the plant from herbivores.

And yes, of course there were mushrooms. Lots. This polypore is often called Artist's Conch, as demonstrated here by Susanne. Update: Ganoderma sp.

Some grow in grotesque, odd shapes, but this one was so coincidentally turtle-like to startle both of us.

This may look like a typical wood-ear in the genus Auricularia, but turning it over reveals a surprisingly different structure. Update from Susanne: Auricularia delicata

This is yet another Favolaschia (see the blog from a couple days ago), a tiny but beautiful mushroom. The other ones we saw were on dead bamboo, so this one might be another species.

Finally, as-of-yet unidentified (because Susanne hasn't seen my photos yet) is this elegant, tiny crimson gem of a mushroom. It is possibly a Marasmius sp. Update from Susanne: this is a Mycena sp.

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