We started our second full day in the Peruvian Amazon a bit earlier than yesterday. We boarded our skiffs at 5:45 a.m. to explore Yanallpa Creek and take full advantage of the time of day when birds and other creatures are most active. Also known as Belluda Creek, Yanallpa is a small and narrow tributary of the Ucayali River and part of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. We started with a very interesting visitor from a faraway place, a peregrine falcon that migrated from the Arctic to spend a warm winter feeding on tropical birds. Small groups of red-bellied macaws, the area’s smallest macaw species, flew nearby while several very pretty oriole blackbirds vocalized and displayed as they perched on some snags close to the water. Yanallpa is a very narrow creek, and the water level was fairly low today. Our highly skilled boat drivers managed to navigate around abundant fallen trees, logs, and other obstacles while we kept finding interesting species. Great black hawks, black-collared hawks, and roadside hawks were abundant, as were lesser kiskadees, yellow-headed caracaras, and the gorgeous cocoi heron. A big surprise was the presence of a truly beautiful sunbittern, a timid species that allowed us to watch it very closely for a long time. It searched the shoreline looking for and capturing small creatures to eat, including some worms and one small crab. A bit farther upriver, we found a large green iguana waiting for the sun to show up and a yellow-crowned brush-tailed rat looking at the outside world from the safety of its hole some twelve-feet up in a tree.
After we traveled several miles upriver and enjoyed a few lectures and a couple delicious meals, some adventurous guests went kayaking on El Dorado River, a larger tributary of the Ucayali. El Dorado is home to a great variety of wildlife and fish, and a bit later, we all went exploring by skiff. We observed many interesting species, including red howler monkeys and squirrel monkeys, several three-toed sloths, and a couple gorgeous white-throated toucans. Back on board, a big surprise awaited us after dinner. A band formed by several crew members played live music in the dining room, led by the incredibly talented Pedro Ruiz. This rounded out another wonderful day of exploration in the Peruvian Amazon.