Sunday 7 October 2018

Homeward Bound . . . .

Buenas Dias!

The last day in Peru this year. I will be back. I adore the country and it's people.

I look forward to returning and that will hopefully be next year sometime with the intention of buying some land in The Manu. I have a few ideas for a project there.

When I do get home I have so many people to thank I am going to be very busy. I have been so lucky in having such amazing friends in Peru and in having met so many fabulous, friendly people.

Vamos Peru!

The most important thing though when I get home is to see my two children, Joshua and Rebecca.

Joshua has been excelling at university where he is training to become a nurse.

Rebecca has just completed her PhD studies.

So proud of them both!

Anyway, . . .
For those who may be new to my blog I know that today is October the seventh but due to a number of factors, mostly a lack of internet within The Manu national Park, I could not keep up the daily blog describing my adventures.

To those who read yesterday's blog and the blog from the day before etc, I once more humbly apologise for starting in the same vein!

You know I survived the six month Biking Birder Peruvian adventure over The Andes by bicycle and along the Madre de Dios river by packraft!

What follows over the next 72 days, well to Christmas anyway, will be a daily update as though we are back together in July of this year. Day by day I will post my diary as though it is still happening. Together we will share the thrills, the splendour of nature and the terrors. Oh yes, there were days of terror but those few moments were outshone by days of such magnificence that dark clouds were obliterated by nature's beauty.

So please read and imagine . . . .

Oh, and please, PLEASE if you could make a donation to Birdlife International as you read I would be more over the Moon than I already am! Neil, I am coming to see you. 

Yesterday it was wonderful to receive a donation from a superb French opera singer, Annick de Grom and her husband.

Thank you Annick and Jean Francois. Vous etes tres gentil!

And of course . . .  

Thank you and love to you all,

Be Green.

Gary xxx

4th July, 2018

Very sunny morning, cloud forest cloud develops during the day- seems to be a pattern here!

Awake in my luxurious room, I look out of the window and can only see a misty carpet of clouds over which there are a thousand stars. Sunrise is still two hours away but the comfort of this large bed, the stars and the sound of a toddler, one year old, next door is keeping me from sleeping. He cries and pleads. Many years ago my youngest step-daughter, Sarah, did the same, night after night. The piercing dry cry of “juice” would permeate my dreaming hours and automaton-like I would rise, go downstairs and fill a bottle with blackcurrant juice. Two or three times a night for a couple of years this went on for and now a child in the adjacent bungalow was extorting his parents to do the same.
Maybe it was the noise from next door but more likely it was the strange dream that I had been having that had awoken me. Chris Packham had been questioning me on the BBC TV programme, Springwatch, showing me photograph after photograph of rabbits! A procession of rabbits coming at me from all directions!
I look out of the window and watch the stars. Back in 2010, in the month of August, I slept upon the roof of a RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) visitor's centre at Insh Marshes in Scotland. The small wooden building had a viewpoint terrace on the roof and sleeping there afforded me views of a similar nature; stars and mist. Being positioned on a ridge overlooking the extensive marshes I remember the feeling of floating on a magic carpet as the stars shone brightly in a sky lacking any form of light pollution. Different stars here in the Southern Hemisphere but same effect. Magical.
Out for a walk two hours later, a Great Thrush is on the path and a couple of Black-faced Brush-finches are in the nearby flower bed; the recently split from Rufous-naped. The Collared Inca and Amethyst Sunangel are joined by a Tyrian Metaltail hummingbird at the feeders and Hooded Mountain Tanagers are in the canopy of the trees.
After breakfast I walk with the three girls from England to the canopy walkway, seeing but hearing more Mountain Wrens on the way. Scaly-naped Parrots, four of them flying in two pairs, call as they pass over heading down the valley. The weather is beautiful and the trail to the walkway passes through densely vegetated areas yet occasionally affording views down to the river far below.
The canopy walkway is an amazing structure with solid aluminium girders and bars supporting a net-like, narrow and difficult to walk on pathway that sways as one proceeds. It goes over a deep valley through which a small brook descends through ferns and palms with trees nearby covered in epiphites and bromeliads. It is wonderful and great fun. Large Glasswing butterflies flutter around one as you stop to watch.
At the far end of the walkway is a huge green sheet, the size of an IMAX film screen. This is designed to prevent cloud reaching a section of the forest. Behind the screen there are a large number of different experimants and data-logging stations set up, collating information of humidity, temperature, light, leaf fall, soil moisture, wind direction and speed, solar radiation, rainfall and numerous other things so that the scientists and geographers can assess the effect of Climate Change on the area. Models have already shown that there are inevitable changes on the way and this project is vital for creating management plans for the future. Cloud Exclusion Net Project [Aberg]
It all reminds me of the DVDs that David Attenborough produced in the early 2,000s on the subject of Climate Change. Two programmes had David talking about what problems lay ahead and many people were concerned and it seemed back then that people would unite to fight the problem. Time went on and people found other things to be concerned about and Climate Change, thanks to the denial tactics by certain political figures, is sadly ignored by the powerful. Scientists know the facts and one can only hope that some of the direst predictions do turn out to have been overstated. This year, 2018, has seen an increase in the public awareness of the all pervading problem of plastic, especially thanks to David Attenborough's BBC series, Blue Planet 2. I hope that the same fall off of interest in solving the problem of plastic doesn't happen as it did with David's Climate Change programmes but it will. Plastic use will increase as ever and the world's oceans will fill.
John, the manager of Weyqecha has suggested that I walk the longest trail, named after the one time when a Peruvian Spectacled Bear was seen on it. It is an eight kilometre trek that initially descends through a quite open, well canopied forest section. Andean Guans are in the trees and beautiful White-collared Jays that noisily fly off through the trees.
Mostly the path is bird free with occasional butterfly and dragonfly and the occasional bird squeak, tchek and tsip. Suddenly though a large, round-winged creature flies low in front of me. I scribble down some details but feel that the chance has gone to be fully confident in it's identification. Fortunately as I come around the corner I can see that less than ten metres away there are a pair of large, dark eyes staring at me. They belong to an owl that looks like a British Tawny Owl, a Rufous-banded Owl. It doesn't fly away and I take a photograph with a four times zoom Olympus camera that Alice has kindly lent me on hearing of the demise of my camera. The bird even sits on it's branch when I duck down nervously beneath it. I have visions of Eric Hosking's encounter with a Tawny owl many years ago. The famous late bird photographer was photographing a Tawny at the nest when the female bird ripped one of his eyes out! It is sadi that Eric went back to continue the photo shoot of the same bird a week later.
A hundred yards or so later after this wonderful encounter, another superb bird is sitting motionless on a branch, a Masked Trogon. A female bird, I have seen a lot of male Trogons on the past but I think that this might be my first female. Another great bird goes onto my list.
A flock and the usual panic as birds fleetingly appear and speedily move on. Grass-green Tanagers are easy to see, large and verdant green. Spectacled Redstarts are the same, showing themselves as readily as do their cousins, the Slate-throated Redstarts. I am also confident in the identification of a Black-throated Tody-tyrant. Other birds go into my notebook as brief phrases of key features but won't be going onto the bird list as I am not sure 100% of their identity.
The narrow pathway continues and I am really enjoying my lonely day. The occasional blocking of the way by a fallen piece of bamboo, a rockfall or a decaying tree trunk makes it almost feel that I am a pioneering explorer. When I come to a sign that states that there is another trail that heads steeply down toeards the valley floor where I can hear a fast water river flowing, I instead continue on my own trail and head back up hill, hoping that it will take me to the Manu Road and eventually back to the Research Station. The way becomes very overgrown and obstacles become more frequent. It feels that no one has been down this way for a long time.
Suddenly I hear and then see a small group of Gray-breasted Mountain Toucans moving around in a high tree top. One performs upon a dead branch a sort of dance as I loves it's brilliantly shaped 'Guinness' bill from side to side. With their fabulous arrangement of colours from the blue-grey breast to the red vent and yellow rump, with it's long, curved bill of red and yellow protruding from their dark faces, they are impressive birds and their gutteral utterances don't seem to fit the beauty of the moment.
After a section where the path has been completely wiped out by a section of eroded hillside, where water in the recent past has washed away trees, bushes and taken mud and rocks down a steep hill side, I come across an abandoned wooden house and from it there is just a short walk up through thick bamboo to the road.
Three kilometres later I am back at the Research Station and enjoying the company of one and all over the evening meal. A young couple from Texas are new and as they are both very keen birders I sit with them and listen as they tell me of their own Peruvian adventures.

Green Year list : 296 birds

average new birds to list per day : 3.12 birds

altitude : 9,580 feet

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