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Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
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Can we turn a heard Harpy Eagle record into a seen?  At dawn we were once again in the forest near the hotel, tramping the trails.  We headed back to the Harpy Eagle nest site and settled in to wait.  Within minutes we were peering up into the canopy trying to pin down a flash of pink, black and white that kept flitting through the branches.  At last it stayed still to show off in full:  Rose-breasted Chat, an extremely pretty bird.  But all thoughts of chats were instantly dismissed when suddenly we heard the distinctive call of a Harpy Eagle, high in the tree tops and close by.  Our problem now was firstly to locate the tree from where the calls were coming, and secondly to get to a position where we could actually see it, not easy in the depths of the forest.  We clambered our way through the dense undergrowth following the direction of the calls.  Every so often we stopped to work out where we would stand the best chance of seeing the bird, trying to peer upwards through a narrow window between the branches and foliage.  Suddenly Alan gave a shout: the eagle.  We all jumped, climbed and scrambled to the same vantage point and looked up.  An incredible sight met our eyes: a massive juvenile Harpy Eagle was sitting on a thick branch soaking up the early morning sunshine!  Our most wanted bird of 2008!  This enormous bird calmly surveyed the scene around him, having seen us far below and decided we were no threat to him so we soaked up the view and took plenty of photos, though none of them do him justice.
Eventually we had to tear ourselves away as it was time to make the transfer to Cristalino Jungle Lodge, but it was hard to leave such a charismatic bird.  An hour’s drive along an extremely bumpy road and a 20 minute boat ride up a broad river saw us arriving at the lodge.  After a quick lunch we headed out into the forest to see what we could find along the trails.  Forest birding is hard: the birds are either skulking down at ground level, or flitting about in branches at a neck-breaking height above you.  Nevertheless, Brad’s expertise ensured that we racked up some great forest birds including Ornate Antwren, Amazonian Royal Flycatcher, Fasciated Antshrike, Striated Antbird, and Spix’s Woodcreeper, while through the occasional break in the canopy we saw Red-throated Caracara, and Kawall’s Amazon flying overhead.   As darkness fell, we made our way back to the lodge by torchlight.  Can’t wait to get going again tomorrow.
Bird species total: 2472
Posted 22nd June, Cristalino Jungle Lodge, Amazon, Brazil


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