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
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.
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.