A long vigil at the clay lick

We didn’t travel all the way to Peru’s remote Manu National Park area to miss visiting a clay lick. Even though parrots and macaws are found in other places around the world, it is only in the Amazon Basin where they come to the licks to eat clay – and sometimes in great numbers.

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We took the motorized canoe upriver at dawn and then hiked the short distance to the Blanquillo clay lick. (Photo taken at 6:40AM.)

We had a wonderful buffet “picnic” breakfast on the observation platform while we waited – and then waited some more.

What comfort in this jungle setting! A large open pavilion with seating faced a clay bank rising up from the river.

What comfort in this jungle setting! A large open pavilion with seating faced a clay bank rising up from the river.

Our guide and boat driver, Danny and Jose, waited and watched. Birds started to gather, but stayed high in the trees.

Our guide and boat driver, Danny and Jose, waited and watched. Birds started to gather, but stayed high in the trees.

Cousin Tom monitored the gathering birds in hour three of our wait.

Cousin Tom monitored the gathering birds in hour three of our wait.

Why would the birds gather high in the trees and not fly down to the clay lick? Danny explained they sensed danger. While we waited, we spotted other birds from our observation point – smooth-billed ani, chestnut-eared aracari, lineated woodpecker, red-capped cardinals, and more.

As the 4th hour of waiting approached, red and green macaws moved lower in the trees. We thought that any minute they would swoop down to the clay, but still, they were tentative.

As the 4th hour of waiting approached, red and green macaws moved lower in the trees.

We thought that any minute they would swoop down to the clay, but still, they were tentative.

Success after 5 ½ hours of waiting! One flew down and within seconds, all moved down to the lick. The red and green macaws gathered clay and then flew higher up in the trees to eat the clay.

Success after 5 ½ hours of waiting! One flew down and within seconds, all moved down to the lick. The red and green macaws gathered clay and then flew higher up in the trees to eat it.

Why do parrots and macaws eat clay in Peru and nowhere else? The latest studies suggest it’s due to a sodium-poor diet.

It was a long vigil, but we all celebrated a successful outing to Blanquillo clay lick. After all – for us – it was a once-in-a-lifetime show.

 

July 2016

Note: Before our visit to Peru, we did lots of research and chose Manu Expeditions’ 9-day “THE COMPLETE MANU BIOSPHERE RESERVE EXPERIENCE.”   http://www.ManuExpeditions.com

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Peru, South America - 2016 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A long vigil at the clay lick

  1. utkarsh7668 says:

    lovely love it love it love it……………. love the parrots

  2. Meg (Peggy) Gardner Fletcher says:

    Hi, Beth—
    I missed seeing you at the reunion, but heard about your travel posts and knew I had to check them out. I did today and I was glad I had. Your photo of the parrots at the clay lick is amazing!
    I look forward to checking out your earlier posts too.
    Meg (Peggy) Gardner Fletcher

  3. Impressive gathering – I would never have thought so many would fit into a photo!

  4. leggypeggy says:

    Patience rewarded!

  5. It was really worth the wait to see this. Aren’t the birds beautiful!

  6. Cliff Mail says:

    I think that a bit of Maccaw training by the Peru tourist authorities is required.

  7. Amazing photo of the parrots at the clay lick! I hope I get to see that on my Peru trip. Happy travelling!

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