Birding Southern Peru by Malcolm Rymer
Erratic wasp-like flight, a wispy, wiry crest – reference to the diminutive sought-after hummer – Wire-crested Thorntail – just one of scores of birds featured in this two-hour long birding travelogue, which includes highlights from the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, Machu Picchu, the Manu National Park and the seabird colonies of the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas peninsular. Featured species include the Cock-of-the-rock, hummers including Gould’s Inca, five kinds of macaw, quetzals, pelicans, penguins, trogons, aracaris, Solitary Eagle, potoos and Inca Tern delight the eye and trigger salivation in the birder like a bell for Pavlov’s dogs.
The film takes the birder on a species-rich tour, starting at the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, exploring a diversity of wetland and high altitude habitats and also taking in historical sites such as Machu Picchu. From Cusco the group traverses the Andean highlands and valleys by road, entering the Manu National Park. They bird on descending the cloud forests of the Eastern Andean Slope breaking the journey at ‘Cock of the Rock Lodge’, allowing ample time to discover the wildlife richness of these productive cloud forests. It continues the descent reaching the humid Amazonian rainforests home to a thousand species of birds, travelling along the Rio Madre de Dios, basing themselves at the world-famous Manu Wildlife Centre. In sharp contrast the film concludes by birding the coastal habitats of the Paracas Peninsula and the spectacular seabird colonies of the Ballestas Islands. It has a running time of 2 hours all filmed, presented and produced by Malcolm Rymer.Regular readers of these reviews will know that I have always rated Malcolm’s filming and this doesn’t disappoint except when it reflects the reality of birding, sometimes the views are too distant or fleeting to make it to the film and, no doubt, they just flash on the inward eye of those lucky enough to have travelled these high altitude tracks and brave the narrow unfenced roads that wind through the hills and mountains of this truly spectacular country.
The film has much to recommend it, I’m even getting used to Malcolm’s pedant’s voice and sing song delivery and, I fear, I will have to settle for this second-hand birding experience. Peru’s high altitude tracks look beyond my limited mobility and the precipitous roadsides sufficient to scare the binoculars off me!
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