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Military Macaws on patrol

Military Macaws on patrol

In November 2021 I travelled to Bolivia. After having enjoyed the beautiful Red-fronted Macaws my stay in Bolivia was almost over. Only one weekend was left. Of course I also wanted to spend it in a nice spot and I found it in the Refugio Los Volcanos: a lodge in the Amboro National Park. The location of the lodge gives the impression that it was specially designed for this purpose. A more perfect location is hard to imagine: a flat lawn surrounded by red mountain peaks. This location therefore appeared also to be popular among the local models on Instagram. The lawn was gratefully used to take many selfies. However beautiful the surroundings might be: I am of course mostly interested in the animals that live here!

Few lodges are so perfectly situated as Refugio Los Volcanos!

My main target species is the Military Macaw. Of course I won’t pass on the chance to see a beautiful new macaw! This macaw is mainly green in color and therefore looks a bit like the Red-fronted Macaw that I had seen so well just a day ago. My guide Saúl who had helped me to see the Red-fronted Macaws also gave me a tip where I could best see the macaws. There is a place called ‘Mirador de Loro’ which means something like: ‘parrot viewpoint’. According to my guide, that was also the place to see macaws passing by. So the name should be correct!

I arrived at the lodge around two in the afternoon. Because it says on the map of the lodge that the viewpoint is an hour and a half walking, I leave quite shortly afterwards, assuming that I will arrive there around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. So I’m on my way. Along the way I enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

I also hear the hoarse call of a macaw, but I cannot see it through the dense canopy. It turns out to be only half an hour’s walk and then I’m at the viewpoint. There is a bench there, but there is no roof above it! The means that the sun is burning fully on me while I have run out of sunscreen. My Deet is also all gone and there are also quite a few insects. So I take refuge a bit further down where there is at least some shade. There I try as best as I can to keep the mosquitoes and gadflies off my body, but that doesn’t work very well. Fortunately I also see some nice birds and a troop of Hooded Capuchins passes by. That makes the wait a bit more bearable!

Guira Tanager

Green-cheeked Parakeet

House Wren

Hooded Capuchin

Around four o’clock I go to the viewpoint anyway. It is still very warm, but slowly it is becoming more bearable. The view is also beautiful here with the red-colored rocks that stick out of the green jungle.

Waiting with a view!

A good bunch of White-collared Swifts pass by and that’s a nice sight.

White-collared Swift

I can also see how a Turkey Vulture floats up next to my vantage point on the thermals.

Turkey Vulture

However, I see no trace of the macaws. Still, Mitred Parakeets regularly pass by. That is also a beautiful bird species.

Mitred Parakeet

I can actually go for a more artistic shot when one flies up the rock face!

Mitred Parakeet

So I’m having a good time, but my target species just doesn’t want to be seen! Meanwhile time is passing. It’s almost six o’clock and then the sun goes down. In the beautiful evening light I walk down from the viewpoint to photograph a sitting Mitred Parakeet.

Mitred Parakeet

Then suddenly I hear a hoarse cry! I start running back to the lookout point because that’s the Military Macaws! I don’t quite make it because then suddenly two Military Macaws fly over me! They fly so high that the photo would not have been very good even had I made it to the viewpoint.

Military Macaw

I am certainly happy to be able to add a new species, but I am not satisfied with the photos yet! The light is really disappearing now so I’m packing my backpack. Then I suddenly see some movement next to me: silently a Military Macaw comes sailing back! Just as silently, I take a hundred photos in a few seconds because my Canon R5 was on the electronic shutter. After a hundred photos it has trouble processing the images, but luckily there are a few good ones!

Military Macaw

That’s more like it! I put my backpack on my back, assuming that it will really be over now. Then suddenly I hear the call of the Military Macaw again! A pair flies out of the forest and passes beautifully in front of the red rock face. I take a lot of pictures. Eventually they turn nicely in front of me and disappear from sight. I am very happy with my photos now. Especially the beautiful surroundings certainly give them something extra!

Military Macaw

I walk back in the dark. The next day I try to photograph the macaws again, but that doesn’t work out as well as the previous evening. I also do my best to find the local specialty Bolivian Recurvebill, but I don’t succeed. On my last morning I walk up four kilometers at night, trying to see nocturnal animals along the way. I can’t do that, but my goal of photographing the beautiful surroundings at sunrise succeeds: very well I might say!

Refugio Los Volcanos

Want to see more of Bolivia?

See here the images of that other macaw: the Red-fronted Macaw!

I also saw a new cat and a very special one: the Jaguarundi!

And on one day almost everything worked out! See more about it here!

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