It's hard to believe, but nearly every bit of flora in the Amazon is toxic to nearly all the fauna that lives here. Obviously the animals have developed coping mechanisms, which vary with the species. This morning we took the boat to a clay lick on the side of a hill where parakeets and parrots stop by to eat clay, which contains minerals that neutralize the toxic seeds and fruit they have eaten. Because this special spot is known to predators, the birds have to be very careful as they approach the area to obtain what is essential to keep them alive. If they don't eat clay at least once a week, they will die. The raucous chatter of the birds let us know we were in the right spot, but they swooped passed the clay lick without stopping. The eagle eyes of our guide spotted a boa constrictor laying in the area. So eventually we moved on to a blind near another lick where parakeets were munching away and drinking the clay laden water. They were easily spooked and flew away whenever a stray leaf fell down flashing the blue undersides of this green wings. It was an amazing show.
Otherwise, animal viewing in the Amazon is a huge challenge, much more so than it was in Africa. Even when our guides pointed things out with their laser pointer, we often couldn't really see them. We could not imagine how they could spot the birds and snakes as we went whizzing by in the boat, when we couldn't see them after much pointing and location description. Critters are so well camouflaged and the forest is so thick, that things have to move before we can see them. We stopped in front of a tree trunk ten feet away where nine bats were sleeping. I couldn't see a thing. Occasionally a guide would grab out cameras and take a photo for us. Even then the photo was difficult to decipher. I felt really stupid.
After lunch we took a leisurely canoe ride down a small tributary of the Napo River. At a point where the trees almost touched each other from both sides of the river, squirrel monkeys cavorted back and forth over our heads. They are so agile and energetic they made me think of an Olympic gymnastics team. Further down howler monkeys leapt across the stream over our heads as well, but with much less enthusiasm. Then they started pooping and peeing down from the treetops very near where we were sitting in the canoe. It felt like a personal attack, but I don't think it really was.