Rio Madeira: Novo Aripuanã to Borba

Wednesday, August 12th: We started the day moored at Novo Aripuanã at the mouth of the Aripuanã. During breakfast, we moved out into the Madeira and crossed over to the other (i.e., left) bank. Then we got in the canoes and headed up a creek.

São Sebastião (left bank Madeira, 5° 5' S, 60° 23' W)

We started out with Snowy Egret and our first Bat Falcon for the day. A Great Black Hawk was a nice sight, and Dusky-headed Parakeet was heard. We found Ringed, Green, and Amazon Kingfishers on the creek. My first lifer of the day was a flock of Tui Parakeets that flew over. We would see a lot more of them, both flying and perched, before the day was done. There were several Striated Herons along the creek. We got a brief look at Solitary Black Cacique. Several Black-capped Donacobiuses were rummaging in the low vegetation along the creekside. A couple of Chestnut-fronted Macaws flew over. We also saw Glossy Antshrike, Plain Softtail, and Wing-barred Seedeater (split from Variable). A Black-collared Hawk was a nice treat. It's a beautiful hawk. Our path was impeded by a log that blocked the creek. We managed to get one canoe over with difficulty, but the other canoe (which I was in) was more heavily laden and could not make it. The first canoe was able to return over the log without extra effort and we headed back toward the mouth of the creek. We saw Pale-vented Pigeon on the way. A bunch more or simultaneously noticed an immature Wattled Jacana in the low vegetation beside the canoe a little farther on. Then we reached the small community of São Sebastião and went ashore.

We were something of a phenonenon there, and some of the younger women wanted their pictures taken with us. A couple of the men showed us the trail along the creek and we went birding there. Pretty soon, we came upon a nest being built by a pair of Plain Softtails. Much of the action occured in this area. For one, a Streak-throated Hermit came up and raided the softtail nest for nesting material. By watching it several times, we were able to find its nest too! At one point, it grabbed some spider web, which it proceeded to wrap around its nest by quickly flying in a spiral around the nest.

We also found Bar-breasted Piculets and Silver-beaked Tanagers. There were conebills present, at first most of us only got on the Bicolored Conebill. There were also more Wing-barred Seedeaters. We saw both Zimmer's and Olivaceous Woodcreepers, and called in some Thrush-like Wrens. Moving along a bit, we got good looks at a Chestnut-crowned Becard. A couple of Cocoi Heron flew over. Then we managed a scope view of both Black-tailed Trogon and Bluish-fronted Jacamar at the same time! I got an improved look at Yellow-crowned Elaenia. We finally caught up with the Pearly-breasted Conebill, which specializes in Cecropia. Although I had heard it before on the trip, I didn't see Chivi (Red-eyed) Vireo until today. The first of a few Swallow-tailed Kites over, and a stunning Masked Crimson Tanager foraged in the trees. Another kite appeared, this time a Slender-billed Kite. We also added Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher. A Plumbeous Kite brought our kite total to 3. Then we found a nice Chestnut-capped Puffbird. A Slate-colored Hawk and Roadside Hawk were in the kettle overhead. We also found Cinereous Becard and Black-crowned Tityra. At some point we returned to the nest area, where a Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher was now raiding the nest.

Back at the village, we added Great Kiskadee and Hooded Tanager. Some Yellow-browed Sparrow were chasing along the ground. A Lesser Hornero came up the creekside. After a bit, we took the canoe back to the boat.

We saw a Black Caracara from the canoe, then were called back to where the other canoe had a perched Hook-billed Kite, our 4th kite of the day. Then we returned to the boat.

Island off Novo Aripuanã (5° 5½' S, 60° 22' W)

We went over to the island in the Madeira off Novo Aripuana. A flowering tree next to the beach was being visited by several Blue-chinned Sapphires a couple of Olive-spotted Hummingbirds and a small flock of Tui Parakeets. We took a trail into the interior. We found a nice area that provided both open viewing and enough cover that the birds would approach. We called in aBlack-and-white Antbird, then Castelnau's Antshrike. The female here had a rather unusual appearance. It was basically a dull version of the male. Further west, the female is black without any white in the wing, while further east (as close as Borba), the female has chestnut tones underneath and in the back, and lacks white in the wings.

Still in the same spot, I got a close view of a Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, a bird I had missed the other day. A Pale-legged Hornero came in, and we got good looks at it took. Bret continued to call in birds. We added Ash-breasted Antbird, Cinnamon Attila, and Leaden Antwren. A Yellow-crowned Elaenia was a volunteer (we didn't play it's song).

Then we moved along into a more open area along an ecotone, where we found the island form of Streaked Flycatcher (sometimes called Island Streaked Flycatcher) and Little Woodpecker in the same scope view. After this, we returned to the boat and headed upriver.

On to Borba

We saw the usual species on the Madeira (terns, skimmers, etc) as well as a flock of Olive Oropendolas. At one point when we were close to shore, we saw an Orange-backed Troupial. We tied up overnight near Borba.

I ended the day with 69 bird species including 13 lifers. This brings the trip total to 319, including 85 lifers.

Aboard Tumbira, near Borba (4° 21½' S, 59° 36' W)