Monday 28 May 2018

Day 41 Another Descent, a New Village to Explore and New Birds For The Green List

May 11th, 2018

Hot, sunny, cloud builds for afternoon thunderstorm down the valley

I think I must have been tired last night for I wake at 6:30 a.m. And find that I have slept solid for ten hours! It is noisy outside my little room. A loudspeaker is distantly rattling on incessantly about something, car horns toot, cows are mooing, dogs are barking and various vehicles are passing through the village. None of this cacophony is loud though and I relax in my little bed and write up . . . this.
My plan for the day is to descend further to the next large village, Izcuchaca, find hopefully some sort of accommodation and bird the rest of the day. And that is exactly what I do. I pack, tidy my little room, am let out of the hotel compound by a toothless and very tiny, old Inca lady and cycle downhill. Well, with the way the road is, beautiful tarmac and steep descent, I plummet, just like the flying sheep in Monty Python's Flying Circus.
A first stop to admire the magnificent view brings a new bird for the year list as two noisy Streaked Tit-spinetails come into a close by bush. Looking down the steep slope I can see the road meandering hundreds of feet below. This is going to be in total contrast to yesterday's day of pushing.
The road traverses a large valley as it goes down and down and eventually comes to be adjacent to a fast flowing white water river. Following the river closely, the way suddenly comes opposite a thermal waterfall with cascading hot water that is leaving behind a creamy coloured deposit on the cliff. To the left of this, around one hundred or so yards, there is a large white cliff of calcium carbonate strands that look superb and bright. They have their counterpart in Turkey at Pammakule. In Turkey the whole area of white deposits with their beautiful round hot water pools are bigger by far but this is impressive enough to stop me and wish I could get across the river for a closer view. I can't. There is no bridge. I have a quick drink and carry on. Back in 2011 I went to Pammakule as part of a two week tour in a hire car around Anatolia. One of my favourite ever photographs that I have taken was of a laughing group of South Koreans splashing in the hot water there one morning.
The village I am aiming for, Izcuchaca, is reached within a few miles of this stop and after marching the bike over a large metal girder bridge and after stopping to photograph the unused medieval bridge of stone, I find a hotel and book in.
Soon out, there is a disused railway track running through the village and I take this to head north and bird the valley. The concrete supports for the tracks are just a little to close together and stepping from one to another is awkward. There are stones between them and along the track and walking on them is worse. There aren't many birds in the heat but after stopping for breakfast in a building beside the village's cemetery and after having walked for a couple of kilometres or so, I come across some tall orange flowers that I have seen hummingbirds enjoying before and see three small White-bellied Hummingbirds competing with each other for dominance of the flowers. Actually when perched up they do look like White-bellied Hummers but a photograph I take of one hovering as it feeds shows the tail pattern of the endemic Green & White Hummingbird, the v-shaped white of the undertail coverts and the surround dark tail feathers look great for that species I will have to check these tiny hummers.
I return to the village and relax in my room, take a siesta like and decide to stay another day. My aim over the month of May is to manage a fifteen miles a day average and having done forty five miles in two days I am on course even if I do take an eBird day. The fact that my football team, Aston Villa, back in the UK are playing tomorrow in the first leg of the Championship's play off, and that the hotel I am in, St Eugenia, has internet, has not influenced my decision . . . much!
I wander into the village square in the late afternoon and buy some soft bread rolls from an old lady. I refuse the plastic bag she wants to place them in and am delighted when she puts them inside a paper bag. Why doesn't she use paper all the time?

Green Year list : 187 birds average new birds to list per day : 4.56 birds

altitude : 9,547 feet

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