Sunday, 1 April 2018

Exploring Villages near to Mala.



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Chaskwasi-Manu Children's Project


OK! The adventure starts on Sunday next at Los Pantanos de Villa nature reserve, south of Lima, Peru. After the day spent there birding with friends, the adventure of my lifetime is ahead; six months of cycling, packrafting and birding. Six months to experience oceanic coastline, desert, mountains and rainforest. Six months to try and see more than 618 bird species, the incredible Green Birding list that is the current World Green Birding Year list record held by Dorian Anderson of the USA.


30th March 2018 – Mala Part 2

Up early, around five, I walk around the compound as daylight grows and the sunrise approaches from over high hills to the east. The compound is made of half a dozen or so bungalows of various expensive design with large gardens around each. All enclosed from the rest of the area by a high fence and thick hedge, our bungalow has it's own fence and hedge with a tall wooden gate.
Once outside this birds are soon to be heard if not seen in the half-light. Pacific Parrotlets are somewhere near, as are Long-tailed Mockingbirds. I reach a security tower near an area of two plots of dirt for sale and climb to sit on the top step and watch.


The sky brightens and sunrise! I always love that moment, the second that the Sun appears and the sharp, bright light sparkles above a ridge of mountain. In the past I have seen sunrises on so many holidays and sitting here I go through some special sunrise moments in my memory. From the northern tip of The Formentor Peninsula on Majorca looking towards Menorca as the Sun appeared whilst I sat on the edge of a high limestone cliff. Watching the golden ball set sail above the ocean horizon from a vantage point on a Tenerifian hill, Gran Canaria close by the the left. One memory involved two astrophysicists from France. In the Gredos Mountains of Spain together we had watched The Perseide meteorite shower on a warm August night in 2009. I joked that I wanted to see the following sunrise from atop a nearby mountain. Next morning in darkness I followed a path leading to a rocky scrabble over scree to get to a summit, arriving just in time to the majestic sunrise. Wolves howled their delight at the coming day. Well so I thought at the time as the haunting howl filled the valleys. It turned out to be a group of six large huskies at a nearby mountain refuge, seen as I descended to new friends.
Sunrise from a hot air balloon over the Nile in a hot air balloon, sunrise over The Atlantic from a beach near Cape Canaveral with the Space Shuttle in an upright position, I have been so lucky to have such wonderful memories and fortunate indeed that sunrise watching opportunities still are a feature of my travels.


A Burrowing Owl is head spinning on a nearby chimney, alert in the early sunlight. A small party of Pacific Parrotlets land on flower heads upon a bush near the base of the ladder to the tower and I watch and photograph them carefully trying not to move over much. A very small female hummingbird hovers going from flower to flower, a Peruvian Sheartail. 


So much smaller than an Amazilian Hummingbird and just to prove that to me one of the latter comes and displays at me from less than metre away! A goosebump moment as the hummingbird performs in front of my face, going from side to side hovering so close I could touch it if I stretched my arm out. It eventually lands on a nearby twig and I slowly photograph it.

Other birds come close and as if to prove that I am reasonably well concealed, a House Wren lands on the netting next to my face, centimetres from my left eye. A split second mistake as it immediately leaves to land on a nearby fencepost.



The fence line proves useful as other birds land on it, Croaking Ground Doves and the occasional Blue-black Grassquit are outshone by a brilliant red Vermilion Flycatcher.
After breakfast Mani, Katia, Nicholas and Katia's 'bestie', Christina and I head off to explore nearby villages. A pecan nut cluster covered in sugary icing is reminiscent of the sugar mice Mum bought for we kids after the ordeal of a haircut and a long walk through St Steven's Park in Stourbridge, a stop on the river view ridge. 

An icy, slushy juice called Cremolada, mine flavoured with pulped Lucuma brings the next stop in the village of Azpitia.
Hot now with no cloud and not a breath of wind, I fall asleep as we travel up a long valley overlooked by dusty, high sedimentary hills seemingly made of rock layers and a fine clay-like material. I awake when the car stops, finding us in a village called Calango . We go into a Catholic church to find all the statues and altar art work covered in sheets to show that this is Good Friday, the crucifixion day of Christ. 




Outside again, we walk along a street to a huge anciently decorated rock enclosed with gates and a high wall covered with explanatory murals, Coyllur Sayana.
Back to the bungalow for a large lunchtime meal, Peruvians really know their food and the quality is so much better than English supermarkets would ever allow. Table tennis with Nicholas, football with the girls and then a two hour siesta is disturbed by the girls wanting me to see the three peacocks that have entered our garden.


Moonrise just after the sunset, a full moon so beautifully photographed by Mani. Peruvian Thicknees fly over noisily and a few tiny bats flycatch. Eat the mozzies lads!
An evening is spent quietly laying in a hammock listening to gentle songs sung by Jack Johnson, beautiful reflections of simple yet special moments, 'Do you remember?' Malu, Fabian and Fernando's nine year old daughter has beautifully coloured in a phoenix-like bird for me. I will place it on my personal Facebook page as a profile picture once I return to the Wifi world.



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