Readers’ wildlife photos (and videos)

Reader Lou Jost has some spectacular photos and videos from a recent foray into the rain forest. There will be several parts of this trip spread over the next week. Lou’s notes are indented:

Tambopata Research Center Part 1: Clay licks


Scarlet and Red-and-green Macaws on Rio Tambopata Clay Lick

Scarlet and Red-and-green Macaws on Rio Tambopata Clay Lick

I’ve just come back from a visit to a remote part of the Peruvian Amazon, which humans have not yet messed up too badly (though they are trying hard). Big animals and birds that are rare and shy near humans are abundant and unafraid here.

The best places to find these animals are the clay licks along certain rivers. Large numbers of parrots, macaws, and some herbivorous mammals visit these exposed banks of soil every day. Researchers speculate that they come either for sodium or because the clay neutralizes toxic substances in the plants they eat.

Blue-headed and Orange-cheeked Parrots

Blue-headed and Orange-cheeked Parrots

About 12 species of psittacids (parrots, macaws, parakeets, and parrotlets) come to these clay banks. The ones we saw most often were Blue-headed Parrots (Pionus menstruus), Mealy Amazons (Amazona farinosa), Orange-cheeked Parrots (Pyrilia barrabandi), Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao), Blue-and-yellow Macaws (Ara ararauna), and the very large-headed Red-and-green Macaws (Ara chloroptera), known locally as “Cabezon” (“Big Head”). The Red-and-green Macaws were a special treat to see in such numbers. Back in 1990 I sometimes saw them at Rio Napo clay licks in Amazonian Ecuador, but they had disappeared there by 1995.They seem especially vulnerable to human encroachment.
Blue-and-yellow Macaws

Blue-and-yellow Macaws



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Great pictures. They do make a lot of racket.

  2. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Great images of a wonderful wildlife spectacle, Lou! I hope that its destruction can be avoided and that humans don’t manage to mess up that bit of the Amazonian rainforest. Too much has been lost already.

  3. Christopher
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink


    I cannot even begin to imagine that anyone could see such a spectacle and think “gee, what this place really needs is some chainsaws, bulldozers, mining equipment, and some crappy houses to really spruce things up. You know, Progress!” but alas, they do.

    • Posted September 23, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      The problem here is gold mining. A Peruvian apparently can find up to $1000/wk of gold, working hard removing all vegetation and churning up the soil and washing it and pouring mercury through it. To put that amount of money in perspective, the average monthly earnings for a Peruvian elsewhere are about $300. And there are millions of impoverished highland Peruvians trying to survive on less— so they come to the Amazon. They hate and fear the jungle. But poverty pushes them into it. You can see the results from space: go to Puerto Maldonado, Peru in Google Earth and see for yourself what I saw from my plane.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Absolutely beautiful. I could not get the videos to play, but you are lucky to see such wonders.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted September 23, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Nevermind, I got them to play.

    • Posted September 23, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Mark, I can’t think why they wouldn’t work for you. They are ordinary YouTube videos that play for me and I haven’t heard of others having problems. What happens if you go directly to YouTube and try them?

      • Posted September 23, 2016 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        Oops our comments crossed. Glad they worked.

  5. Posted September 23, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Astonishing colours! Until the caption I couldn’t figure out what on earth it could be!

  6. rickflick
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink


    Note: When I played the videos they defaulted to 360p, which looks soft. Be sure to click on the little gear-shapped thingy and make sure it’s on 720p.

    • Posted September 23, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Darn, I wonder why. I used the “yt:quality=high” tag which is supposed to make the resolution default to high quality. The original videos are 4k and sharp!

      • rickflick
        Posted September 23, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        The default could have been my own doing. Sometimes I lower it if reception is poor. Maybe it gets stuck at the lower setting.

        4K probably won’t be noticeably better, I wouldn’t think, on a computer monitor, unless maybe you allow for download of the 4K version which then can be played on a higher resolution display.

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous! You’re surrounded by so much beauty Lou. It’s lovely to get the opportunity to see some of it. Thank you. 🙂

  8. Posted September 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Holy cow, so beautiful! Great shots!

  9. Mike
    Posted September 24, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Beautiful shots of magnificent creatures.

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