July 09, 2022


Story and photos by Campbell Plowden, Executive Director, Amazon Ecology

Tulio and I took the boat from Padre Cocha to Nanay looking forward to a meal at one of the many places that offers distinct Peruvian Amazon food like suri - the grilled larva of a large beetle found in the rotting fallen trunks of aguaje palm trees. We settled into a restaurant with a deck overlooking a patch of marsh filled with flowering water hyacinth bordering the Nanay River.

Purple gallinule on hyacinth leaves near Nanay River

We ordered and while Tulio caught up on social media, I happily watched and took some great pictures of the birds foraging in the wetland below. These were mostly lone purple gallinules (“unchalas”), wattled jacanas (“tuqui tuqui”), and small flocks of yellow-hooded blackbirds.

Wattled jacana on hyacinth leaves near Nanay River

It was fascinating to see that the gallinule dominated this lush aquatic environment. Whenever one walked over to a spot where a jacana or blackbird group was feeding, they quickly yielded to the more aggressive gallinule and flew away. I only got glimpses of one red and white spinetail that mostly stayed hidden behind clumps of hyacinth leaves.

Yellow hooded blackbird on hyacinth leaves near Nanay River

I laid aside my bird watching when our food arrived. I thoroughly enjoyed my large tender piece of grilled caiman (relative of the American alligator often called “cocodrilo” by local people) with fried yucca and fresh camu camu juice.

 Red and white spinetail on hyacinth leaves near Nanay River

We finally headed home on Tulio’s motorcycle. We were bringing back some neat dream catchers and memories from our day-long adventure in Padre Cocha on the Nanay.


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