Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART 1

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Rothdigga
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Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART 1

Post by Rothdigga » May 4th, 2012, 10:50 am

A little backstory along with some narration that I will do my best not to get too longwinded on. I guess you can always scroll down and just look at pictures, but I enjoy following along other trip reports so I'm going with that style for this one. Chronological order seems to be the easiest way to do it. Everything found and pictured was in-situ. I didn't want to touch any of the frogs for fear of poisoning them with all the DEET I was rocking, and the snakes I just shot as is.

Back in September of 2011 I booked a trip to Peru for me and my wife for 2 weeks. I knew I wanted to go near/into the Manu National Park area so I booked some award travel tickets early while they were available. While planning this trip (so much of the fun is the planning for me), I was conflicted as to what kind of trip to do there. Manu National Park is a pretty tricky place to get into. There are no roads into the main part of the park, only rivers. There used to be small plane flights in and out but recently gold mining has taken off and therefore priced any tourist flights out of reach. My 2 options were this: book with the tour company that I narrowed it down to (Pantiacolla) on their 9 day trip OR get into the Pantiacolla Lodge and stay there for 7-8 days. It became clear that staying at the lodge would be awesome, but very hard to get back from. Their tours only go 1-way down the river, so getting there is no problem, but returning is quite tricky and could be a real hassle getting back to Cusco. So we decided to suck it up and do the 9-day tour. My wife and I are NOT tour kind of people. We like hiking on our own, no groups, the only "tour" we've ever done was the Galapagos and that's only because you have to do it there. So we were a bit apprehensive as to our experience. You never know what kind of group of people you'll be put with. Getting stuck with one "princess" can pretty much jack your whole trip right there.

We flew LAX-MIA-LIM-CUZ, our layover in Miami was short due to a slight delay, so it was only 50 minutes and I wondered if our checked bag would make the change. But we landed at Gate D3 and our Lima flight was next door at D8, so I figured "no sweat, easy". Well, we arrived in Lima and waited till the carousel stopped, NO BAG. I carry on all of my photo equipment with me (big Dakine bag, flashlights, lenses, important stuff) and my tripod, my wife carried on a regular backpack with a bunch of granola bars and other random stuff, but our checked bag had the goods...hiking boots, clothes, raingear etc. Problem was, our flight from Lima-Cusco was on STAR PERU and we flew in on American Airlines. The AA rep in Lima assured me that our bag would get on the first LAN flight to Cusco in the morning. We were off to Manu at 5:30am the next day. So off we went to our flight to Cusco, which we actually missed and had to pay $400 to catch the next one (American will be reimbursing me for that one for sure). The tour company said they would delay leaving Cusco so we could grab our bag from the 7am arriving flight, but it never came on that one. So we were off to the rainforest with my black denim jeans and the clothes on our backs.

The bus ride from Cusco is 8 hours or so over the Andes and into the Manu basin to the Cloud Forest. Along the way we saw some great scenery, Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley, interesting people and topography, and passed over the lower part of the Andes at about 13,000 ft. Some hightlights of the drive from Cusco to Manu.

The Andean people mainly herd around flocks of sheep, llamas, cattle and whatever high up above the treeline-
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Mountain Caracara
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Our ride to get us over the Manu Road
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Town of Puacartambo, Andean folks are VERY short
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About 8 hours drive and we stopped in the Cloud Forest to stay the night. Mid elevation of about 4000ft or so. It's mostly birding up here, and the birding is pretty much spectacular. Some highlights (I'll probably do a bird specific post in the birding forum later):

White-collared Jay
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Mountain Cacique
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Blue-crowned Motmot
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Andean Cock-of-the-rock at very close range. We saw 5-6 of these very close to us.
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The first night we went on a short night hike. We found a few frogs, I had a hell of a time ID'ing these things during the trip and once I got home. So any help would be appreciated.

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The next morning we did a short bird hike at 5:30am before leaving to go to the river/rainforest.

Paradise Tanager, a true bird highlight
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Golden-headed Quetzal
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Violet-fronted Brilliant Hummingbird
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The road is pretty harsh at times and a little maintenance was needed to get by, but nothing major, but the sheer cliffs on the side make for a fun ride.
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Our new ride for the next 8-ish days or so. These skinny boats can carry a ton of stuff. We basically would work our way further and further down river into the Manu area each day.
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Hoatzin
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Striated Heron with a nice catch
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We arrived at the first lodge, Pantiacolla (where I considered staying the entire trip). Another night hike around the area.

Cane Toad (I always guess Cane toad, please correct if I'm wrong)
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I had never seen one of these before, crazy looking. Amazon Ringed Caecilian
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First big treefrog we found. Map Treefrog?
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Another treefrog I need ID on
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Each day consisted of an early AM hike, then a hike before lunch (when we weren't travelling on the boat), lunch, afternoon hike then we would roll out and hike at night.

Early morning Red Howler Monkey
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and baby Howler
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It's been said on here about how hard it is to find snakes in the rainforest. There's just so many places to look, hide and blend in, it's damn near impossible. The average of .5 snakes/day is what our guides said they get.
6 hours into our first days hike in just prime habitat, I was getting pretty bummed and thought "what if I don't find any snakes at all on this trip". I was also bummed because this was day 3 of having the same damn clothes on since I left LAX.
But...

Can you see anything in the water there-
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A closer look reveals an Aquatic Coral Snake Micrurus surinamensis
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So I wasn't going to get shutout of snakes this trip. I was pretty hyped.

Leaf Litter Frogs abounded on the trail
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Closest I'll probably come to seeing a Tapir is this track, HUGE
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Squirrel Monkeys
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Each night we were able to charge batteries for 3 hours while the generator was on. I plugged my charger in for my Canon battery and 15 minutes later noticed none of the lights were on for anyones chargers. They reset the generator but my charger never would light up again. I realized one of my worst fears, something broke. Power surge blew up my charger. Luckily I had 3 batteries with me, 2 fully charged and at that point 1 at 65%. So i babied them and hoped for the best. No more reviewing photos, editing/deleting blurred shots etc from here on out.

That night hike was pretty epic. My wife KILLED it this trip finding stuff. She was locked in looking for snakes and everything for us. She smoked all of us in finding things.

ID on this frog? Damn, I feel like an idiot. I've got a book and like 2 online guides and I still can't figure most of these out:
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If you like spiders and frogs, Peru is THE place to go. Spiders are everywhere. Mostly huge ones.
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Camo on these frogs is epic-
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Whip Scorpion's kind of creep me out
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My wife found my favorite snake of the trip. Almost all of the snakes we found were between 1-4 ft off the ground, but we looked everywhere for them.

Western Striped Forest Pit Viper Bothriopsis bilineata
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Then, about 20 ft past that viper, my wife found this little guy on the other side of the trail. Barred Forest Racer Dendrophidion vinitor

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More frogs I can't figure out the ID on.
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Amazon Climbing Salamander
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One of my favorite frogs of the trip. When you come up on most of these frogs, they look like this at first, then close up with all the lights on them (or bail).
Monkey Frog Phyllomedusa vaillanti
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This Rhinocerus Beetle walked into the wrong path on the trail and was getting attacked by army ants. Tough break buddy.
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One more visit to the viper on the way back as it was still in the same perch.
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Next day we came up on many groups of White-lipped Peccaries. They travel in huge groups down there, like 400-700. So you need to watch yourself because they will readily attack in such large numbers. Saw one out in the open.
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Emerald Toucanet
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Squirrel Monkey chill time
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Accommodations at Pantiacolla are very nice. Big rooms and private bath/showers.
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We got 2 nights at Pantiacolla then had to bail to the next spot. Lucky for us we joined the people on the 7 day trip (we were on the 9 day trip). The 7-day people brought our bag with them, finally. So it was Saturday and we had been rocking the same gear since Monday. A welcome sight to us. A nice, long boatride to our next spot, YINE Lodge, just outside the Reserved Zone area of the park (basically the most restricted part of the park).

A night hike at Yine produced some nice frogs. But now we had 8 people with us and shooting photos/walking with 8-9 people kind of sucks.

I took a shot at this ID- scinax pedromelinai?
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Another un-ID'd frog for me
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Pale Striped Amazon Poison Frog? Epipedobates hahneli
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Another one I can't figure out
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I liked these dudes, phyllomedusa Palliata
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Lots of little scorps on the leaves. This thing was very tiny
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Look out buddy!
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Juvenile Polka Dot Tree Frog Hypsiboas punctatus
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Amazon Sheep Frog Hamptophryne boliviana
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Un-ID'd frog with Aphid hitch hiker
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Pretty psychec on finding this dude. He bounced away after 1 shot though.
Clown Treefrog Dendropsophus leucophyllatus
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I feel like a broken record, ID?
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We left the next morning to stay in the Reserved Zone at 6am. It started pouring rain on our way to the boat, from 6:30am-4pm it rained probably 1-1.5 inches an hour, more rain than all of Southern California gets in a year, it was absolutely insane. This was also our longest boat ride day, 7 hours or so, raining the whole time.

Jabiru
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That night we went to an Oxbow lake to look for Caimans and things, we had to bail this entire catamaran out by hand. It was quite the process.
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The trail to the lake was fully flooded, like 2+ft deep so you're just straight walking in knee high water for about 2 miles. Slow going, I felt like the people at the back of the line would get taken in by an Anaconda at any moment, but we never saw one, bummer. If Ice Cube was with us he would've been dead.

Found some good stuff on the hike back.
Three-striped Poison Frog Epipedobates trivittatus
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This was the most common frog encountered in this zone. Not that I know the ID, just saw a lot of them.
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Another Three Striped Poison Frog, we found 3-4 of them in this zone
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I finally found a snake before my wife on this hike.
Blunt-headed Tree Snake Imantodes Cenchoa
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This large Black Scorpion was on the path to our sleeping quarters that night.
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I took a shot- Marti's Rain Frog- eleutherodactylus martiae
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This one might already be in here once before, but I still don't know ID
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Found another Blunt Headed Tree Snake (by my wife), is this a different species than the first or still Imantodes Cenchoa
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This was a common site, 2 at a time. Amazon Milk Frog and homie
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Amazon Milk Frog Trachycephalus venulosus
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Also common was having one of these right next to your face while getting in for a frog shot. YIKES!
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We ended up finding 4 of these Blunt-Headed Tree Snakes, awesome.
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I guess I'm going to have to do a part 2 of this thing because it already seems SUPER long after reviewing it. So, part 2 to come soon...

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AndyO'Connor
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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by AndyO'Connor » May 4th, 2012, 11:36 am

Dude that is an awesome start, can't wait for more. I'd go to Peru just for the two venomous snakes ( I have always wanted to find a big aquatic coral, and the striped viper is sweet!) you started with and the Phyllomedusa.

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by rosy-man » May 4th, 2012, 12:30 pm

great stuff

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Dr. Dark » May 4th, 2012, 12:52 pm

Wow, looks like you had an AWESOME trip! Love that coral and the Bothriopsis is GORGEOUS! I think the little brownish snake after the bilineata is a Dendrophidian sp., possibly vinitor. Great post!

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Rothdigga » May 4th, 2012, 1:09 pm

Dr. Dark wrote:Wow, looks like you had an AWESOME trip! Love that coral and the Bothriopsis is GORGEOUS! I think the little brownish snake after the bilineata is a Dendrophidian sp., possibly vinitor. Great post!
Thanks for the help on that snake. After searching flickr for that one it looks like a match.
I'll get up a Part 2 maybe this weekend. Didn't want it to take 2 pages just to get 1 post up. I shoot pretty much every single thing I find if possible.

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by CCarille » May 4th, 2012, 1:34 pm

First off... American Airlines blows! I hate them so much. In one trip they lost a bag of mine, cancelled a flight without notifying me - expecting me to just drive home until I booked another flight, finally got me on a later flight, and made me spend 3 days without anything - not as 6 days, but I hate them.

Enough griping by me. Looks like an absolutely amazing trip! You sure did find a lot of amphibs! The aquatic coral and Striped Forest Viper are stunning! You also took some amazing shots of the avian life. I also saw a paradise tanager in Peru - they really are spectacular aren't they?! Sorry to hear about the battery life being cut short... I had the same issue in Peru with not being able to charge a backup I was depending on. I didn't find out until a night hike when it cut short and I missed shots of several snakes and frogs. The tropics are tough sometimes.

I'll try to help out with some amphib ids soon when I get a chance to sit down with a guide or two. This may help you a little for now:
http://fm2.fieldmuseum.org/plantguides/ ... t=&family=

Dr. Dark is correct I believe. I think it is Dendrophidion, but D. dendrophis.

By the way, great reference to Anaconda! haha I look forward to your follow-up posts!

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Rothdigga » May 4th, 2012, 1:47 pm

I'll try to help out with some amphib ids soon when I get a chance to sit down with a guide or two. This may help you a little for now:
http://fm2.fieldmuseum.org/plantguides/ ... t=&family=

Dr. Dark is correct I believe. I think it is Dendrophidion, but D. dendrophis.

By the way, great reference to Anaconda! haha I look forward to your follow-up posts![/quote]

Thanks man. I actually downloaded those guides to my Ipad and used them while I was down there, but comparing my photos to some of those for ID's still is tricky. I think you sent those off before I left in another post, they're super helpful.
I managed to survive the whole trip without running out of batteries at all. I'm so thankful that I got 1 extra battery about 1 month ago for this trip specifically, and that I had them all fully charged. I was prepared for something I guess. I turned down the LCD screen to super low, turned off the auto sensor cleaner and other things to fully conserve battery life and it all worked.
Thanks for the help when you get around to it. I'll get cracking on trying more ID's myself.

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Sam Bacchini » May 4th, 2012, 2:04 pm

Beautiful shots! The color on those birds is unreal! The Micrurus surinamensis shots are awesome.

Your toad is not a cane toad, but I don't have an alternative ID for you. Cane toads usually have an M shaped ridge over the nose which the toad in your picture lacks.

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by hellihooks » May 4th, 2012, 2:05 pm

WOW... that was EPIC! the birds, monkeys, snakes... :thumb: and that clown treefrog was astounding... :shock: :thumb: jim

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Rothdigga » May 4th, 2012, 2:10 pm

gila-91 wrote:Beautiful shots! The color on those birds is unreal! The Micrurus surinamensis shots are awesome.

Your toad is not a cane toad, but I don't have an alternative ID for you. Cane toads usually have an M shaped ridge over the nose which the toad in your picture lacks.
That's good to know! Everytime I think I found something cool in the toad category, it's a juvie Cane Toad. I'll scope through my guides and see what I can find. While we were wading through the water on the flooded trail, we saw the largest toad I've ever seen in my life in there. Looked like a beach ball.

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by scottriv » May 4th, 2012, 2:35 pm

That was cool!

Aquatic Coral Snakes! What will they think of next :thumb:

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Kevin Price » May 4th, 2012, 3:24 pm

Damn dude, that's awesome! Super entertaining read, that made the post. It's backstory's like this that I like the most. Totally adds to all of the images, and what a great bunch of shots. I love that Blunt Headed Tree Snake the most I think, and you know how I feel about vipers. Maybe because it's so different from anything we have around here. Looking forward to part 2.

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Kevin Price » May 4th, 2012, 3:27 pm

OK, changed my mind. That aquatic coral snake takes the prize!

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by mikemike » May 4th, 2012, 3:34 pm

Looks like an awesome trip, man! Thanks for posting. Looking forward to round 2!

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by SurfinHerp » May 5th, 2012, 8:36 am

Fantastic post Jason! I'm totally jealous :mrgreen:

I've always been fascinated by caecilians. Did you pick that one up? If so, how was it to hold? Like a huge earthworm, or like a slimy snake, or ???

Looking forward to Part 2!

Jeff

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Rothdigga » May 5th, 2012, 8:56 am

SurfinHerp wrote:Fantastic post Jason! I'm totally jealous :mrgreen:

I've always been fascinated by caecilians. Did you pick that one up? If so, how was it to hold? Like a huge earthworm, or like a slimy snake, or ???

Looking forward to Part 2!

Jeff
Jeff,
Funny that you say that. We were with our guide when we saw it, right on the path outside of our living place. I actually asked if I could just touch it to see how sturdy it was and all that, but he wouldn't let me. I didn't want to mangle the thing, I had just showered so I wasn't full of deet at the time either, that's the only reason I considered it. But he was super weary of people touching anything. It seemed pretty stout though, HUGE.

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Porter » May 9th, 2012, 9:56 pm

EXCELLENT :thumb: The Aquatic Coral Snake and Heron with the fish are a couple of many faves... great photog!

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Re: Peru-Madre De Dios (Manu National Park) April 2012 PART

Post by Rothdigga » May 9th, 2012, 10:23 pm

Porter wrote:EXCELLENT :thumb: The Aquatic Coral Snake and Heron with the fish are a couple of many faves... great photog!
Thanks Porter, glad you had a look at it all. I was pretty hyped when we came up on the Coral that first long hike. It really started the trip off well.

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