Monday, 4 June 2018

Day 64 "I don't believe it!"

June 3rd, 2018

Heavy rain overnight that continues for the whole day

                I am up in the night a few times. The pain from yesterday has returned but this time is accompanied by diarrhoea. I never suffer diarrhoea. I am very careful over what I eat and drink. I won't have salads. I only have fruit I need to peel. I don't drink the tap water. I never suffer diarrhoea!
                Well I have got it now. The first time I have ever had it whilst visiting Peru. Actually in myself I don;t feel ill. I don't feel feverish or weak. I sleep and get up, do what is required and go back to sleep.
                Daylight arrives and I try to eat some breakfast. I don't eat much. There are two young Swiss girls who have been travelling for five months. Starting at Santiago in Chile, they have been to Paraguay and Brazil and are now heading for Lima. We chat and share experiences for an hour or so, a pleasure to be speaking English again after seven weeks of stunted Spanish conversation with limited variety.
                I make a shopping list and head off for the shops. I was planning to go back to Ampay nature sanctuary. This time I would pay the proper entrance fee for foreigners and the extra owed from yesterday. Well that was the plan but the weather and the tummy problem stops that idea. Instead I go to the internet shop and find that England need just two more wickets to win the cricket. Well that stops my thought that I could spend the day listening to my favourite sport, away from the sport of Green Birding that is.
                For some strange reason I am allowed by Google/Blogger to update my blog so do so. Recently they have sent security messages and blocked me. I then spend some time answering and sending emails and posting all photographs onto my Facebook pages.
                Suddenly I hear football noises from a TV at the other end of the room. I peep around my cubicle to see half a dozen people standing there watching the set. Peru are playing a friendly against Saudi Arabia in Switzerland and have just scored a great goal, a shot from outside the area. I go and stand with everyone and soon Peru score again, a shot that the goalkeeper fumbles and is put in from close range. Half time, I pay my internet bill of three Soles, about seventy five pence and return to the hotel in the rain. A crowd of fifteen or so people are standing outside a television saleroom, watching the game in the rain.
                Back at the hotel and feeling a bit rough I relax, watch the second half in the lounge area with the two Swiss girls from breakfast before going to my room and relaxing in bed. I fall asleep early after watching an Ice Age animation film in Spanish, the best bits of which are of Scrat with his acorn in space.

Green Year list :  211 birds                         average new birds to list per day  :  3.50 birds 

altitude : 7,504 feet

OK, thank you to everyone who has made a donation to Birdlife International and Chaskwasi-Manu over the last week. I really do appreciate it and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Day 63 Ampay Sanctuary - June 2nd 2018

June 2nd, 2018

Rain overnight, rainbows early morning, cloudy with occasional light rain, cool

                Off early to get to Ampay nature sanctuary. The roads are steep and the four mile walk to the reception buildings pass quickly. Sierran Eleanias and Rusty-bellied Brushfinch are in bushes as I arrive. Immediate embarrassment, there is an unexpected thirty Soles, around £7.50, entrance fee and I have thirteen Soles on me!

                They let me in. The forest trees are low with lichen, moss and large airplants on the trees. Birds are sparse and mostly silent. Sierran Eleanias are the most obvious with a gentle sweet call. Sparkling Violetears are perched prominently on Eucalyptus twigs  and a couple of Tufted Tit-tyrants show themselves. Birding is hard. An Apurimac Spinetail is in a bush very close to the path but getting good views of the bird are difficult. Easier to see is a Crowned Chat-tyrant that is hopping by the side of the path and is too close to photograph! It disappears down the slope amongst the vegetation by the time I have altered the ISO of the camera to cope with the gloom. Such a tame bird, surprised me by it's behaviour. It just wasn't concerned about me at all.
                Walking ever higher, step by step on this well maintained steep pathway, a small hawk suddenly glides through the canopy and lands on a branch close by. I carefully, quietly lift my binoculars and get a full eye view of a Shin-tailed Hawk! A superb looking bird, it just turns it's head around and once again, as with the Chat-tyrant, seems totally unconcerned by my presence. It must have seen me but it doesn't fly away. A British Sparrowhawk would have been off immediately on seeing me. I do remember one bird, a large female bird of prey, that didn't fly off on my approach. That occasion was back in 2010 whilst on my first ever Biking Birder adventure. I was walking up Aber Valley in North Wales, making my way up to the waterfall there. There was very low cloud and as I came around a corner there was what I thought to be a Buzzard in a tree. Lifting my binoculars, I realised that I was looking at and being looked at in return by a female Goshawk. A goosebumps moment, the Gos' just stared at me before slowly lifting herself into the air to disappear in the cloud. The coincidence of that bird was not lost on me as I saw my first ever Goshawks in the same valley back in 1978.

                The Shin-tailed Hawk eventually moves to another nearby branch and I carry on the climb.
                Other birds call in the trees and either give the briefest of glimpses or no view at all. I reach a bench and a viewpoint and a superb, iridescent blue hummingbird sits on the top-most twig of a nearby bush, a Purple-backed Thornbill, a well named bird.

                Sitting on the bench I suddenly have some extremely sharp pains in my lower abdomen. I crouch down and hold onto a rail as they get worse. Sorry to say this but I fart and the pain lessens. Maybe that's all I required. Two or three farts and the pain recedes. Alarm over the suddenness of the pain fades and I carry on.
                There are birds but I feel as though I should be seeing more. In fact I am kicking myself at my lack of success here. The forest is mostly silent with just the occasional utterance, usually from a Sierran Eleania. I have had three new birds for the Green Year list but I surely should be seeing or hearing more. Maybe it's the cool weather and light rain. Maybe it's the season. Early June is winter and the dry season after all. I think it's me and I get a bit concerned. We all have off days when we think we should be doing better but there really aren't any birds around to identify and list.

                I reach a small glacial lagoon, Laguna Angasqocha. The lake is surrounded by vertiginous cliffs covered in low bushes and shrubs. Still the area is silent and I sit on a rock to watch for avian appearances and am disappointed not to see one bird in twenty minutes. Moving on to go higher I find a break in the canopy and can see the tops of some trees. A long tailed hummingbird flies by but I don't have a prayer in identifying it. A small conebill species lands on a twig at the top of a tree but looking into the light I can't get much of its details, probably a Cinereous.
                My ascent of the trail has been slow and quiet and the hours have passed by. It is two o'clock in the afternoon and I decide to slowly descend and stop for sit and wait moments at various spots I have found on the way up that I feel might produce birds. A small group of Peruvians, with one young German girl from Aachen, stop and chat. One of the Peruvian girls insists on giving me a chunk of meat and some corn. They leave and almost immediately a mangy-looking dog appears. He is mostly white with a black mask over his left eye and I share the meat with him. A friend for life, Spot follows me for the next hour or so.
                On the way up I had seen a rarely used path that went horizontally across the hillside and I take this to find a spot where I can sit and see what passes. Almost immediately a Cinnamon Flycatcher lands on a branch close to. 

A gorgeous alert, small bird, it looks like a bright version of a Bran-coloured Flycatcher. There are around fifteen or so Band-tailed Pigeons perched on some tall Eucalyptus trees and at least another fifty fly past in a flock. In a bush to my left a small bird with a bright chestnut head appears, an Apurimac Brushfinch. It soon dives into the dense foliage on realising that I am sitting quietly there.
                Returning to the reception centre and then down to the city as darkness falls, a consider the fact that I have had seven new birds for the Green Year list. Seven, should I have had more? The average new birds to list per day figure at 3.35 is just below the target Dorian Anderson set of 3.39. I should be happy with that but somehow I feel I have missed a chance of some really good birds. Maybe I will return to the reserve tomorrow and go higher.

Green Year list :  211 birds                         average new birds to list per day  :  3.35 birds 

altitude : 7,504 feet

Day 62 Abancay. June 1st, 2018

June 1st, 2018

Sunny, scorchingly hot once more

                I am awoken by the loud sound of Disney's It's A Small World tune being played outside! Mind you it is seven o'clock and in Peru that is practically afternoon. Ablutions to do, I am up and soon enjoying the best, hottest shower. In the bathroom mirror I am amazed at how thin I am. I haven't been this skinny for twenty years! A mostly fruit and veg diet with an occasional lapse, is obviously doing me good and the proof that I have enough energy may be seen in the daily elevation, distance and altitude statistics. Incredible that I haven't had to use any inhalers once and, other than in Andahuaylas where the smog affected me, I haven't had any asthmatic or breathing problems at all, even at altitudes of over 14,000 feet. No need for coca tea!
                Showered, time for a have and then clothes washing. I eventually get out of the room at ten past nine, intending to find a computer repair shop. The Wifi adaptor's driver seems to have broken and that might explain why I couldn't access the internet at a few hostels that claimed to have Wifi. Back then it worked intermittently. Now there's zilch. I am greeted at reception by Simeona of Hotel Mica, the lovely lady, who was so helpful with my baggage yesterday when I arrived. Simeona asks me why I haven't come down for breakfast! This is a first, breakfast with the room. I have been used to being in hostels in Lima and Cusco where breakfast comes as standard but hadn't come across this anywhere else and had never thought to ask. Well do I remember the one last year near to the airport that, despite costing around £4 for the night, laid on a fabulous spread of different fruits and for an extra Sole, 25p, one could have a fried egg bap. So coffee, lots of it, bread, margarine and jam and a cup of herbal tea. OK.
                Into town, I need lip balm. No matter how much suncream block I put on my lips they still have gone a light grey colour and feel swollen. What with my pink nose that is peeling and refuses to brown up and my lips I must look a right sight. Yesterday I looked like a terrorist as I pulled my elasticated neck garment, given to me by my friend in Lima, Manuel, over my mouth and nose. It probably helped me by filtering out some of the filthy diesel fumes from the passing vehicles as well. The road over the mountains had been tranquil and mostly traffic free. Once however I had reached the main Lima to Cusco road how that changed! Strange to be on a road that I knew from times before. Cruz del Sur coaches have taken me along this route in both directions. When alone I prefer to go by coach than be carbon profligate and fly.
                I find an internet shop which has twenty or so small wooden cubicles with the usual old computers. For the next three hours I enjoy listening to Test Match Special on the BBC website. England are playing Pakistan and are doing every well. Indeed they have bowled Pakistan out in two sessions for under two hundred runs and I listen as Jennings, a young, new twenty year old is batting with the getting to be veteran Alastair Cook. They put on fifty runs together, which for the way England have played recently is good. Jennings is out for twenty none but the commentators are pleased with the way he has played and feel he has a future in the team. Just before the end of play, Alastair wafts at one going down the leg and it feathers his glove to be caught behind. End of play, England still have eight wickets left and are eighty or so runs behind. I adore Test match cricket and listening to it via TMS whilst sitting in a dingy room full of computers in Peru, is a strange experience. The splendour of the internet, it feels a privilege to be able to hear Geoffrey, Vaughan, Aggers and co.
                Still a problem over my laptop's Wifi drive, I return to the hotel after getting some food at the large market in the city. In it here are the usual mass of small stalls arranged in areas according to produce. All the fruit stalls, which by the way have none of their produce wrapped in layer after layer of nature destroying plastic, are on one floor. The meat stalls, mostly selling whole chickens with yellow skin and dangling legs, are on another floor. I find the hot food section and sit down on a bench with other Peruvians to enjoy a bowl of soup with pasta curls followed by a plate of rice, chicken and tagiatelli. Together with two glasses of juice the cost is fve Soles, around £1.50.
                Late afternoon is spent searching the nearby shoe shops for some suitably sized shoes. I need size 45 or 46, the largest I can find are size 41! It seems my blistered hobbling is going to continue.
Green Year list :  204 birds                         average new birds to list per day  :  3.29 birds 

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 35.00 miles

elevation : up 5,416 feet,  down 6,434 feet       

altitude : 9495 feet