Thursday 5 April 2018

Last Thing I Need! Well Maybe a Blessing in Disguise.

I do so hope that you will enjoy following my adventures. You can do so via this blog and also by my Biking Birder Facebook page and Twitter feed. Also if you want to see all of the photographs I have taken then please go to the Facebook pages linked below.

or via my personal Facebook page :

I am trying to raise money for two charities and obviously I would love you to donate to them.

Birdlife International

Chaskwasi-Manu Children's Project

April 2nd to 4th, 2018


Early morning cloud burnt off by eleven, then hot, 28 Celsius, sunny with very little wind. Westerly. Thick sea fog along beach at Miraflores on the 4th until 2:00 p.m. Then the sun!

April 2nd

A long walk to get my leg muscles better before the long cycle climb to Junin, I left my hotel at around 7:30 a.m. And started the long walk back to Lima. No use of any fossil fuelled transport, I watch people catching the bus, climbing aboard Tuc Tucs (motortaxis) and I watch people driving their cars or jumping into taxis. I plod and whistle. Life is good!

The main road through Chorillos is interminable. After a short incline there is a two miles stretch that ends with an elevated view of the sea and along the spectacular promenade and beaches to Miraflores and way beyond. I descend down to sea level and enter a small harbour where motorised boats aren't used for fishing but small self-oared boats with nets piled high inside and a passenger bird, such as a Snowy, Egret, a Kelp or Belcher's Gull or more usually a Peruvian Pelican that sits sleeping whilst the fisherman rows out to sea.
I am searching for one species, an endemic to Peru called a Surf Cincloides Cinclodes taczanowskii. I don't expect to find one so imagine my thrill when one alights on some rocks just two metres away. Brilliant bird to get for the Green Birding list.

The bird securely photographed and listed, I head for the harbour wall and watch as a group of burly fishermen drag a large dinghy-like fishing boat, tug of war up the beach. 

I also collect plastic in deference to having seen the Cincloides and leave to walk along the beach. A group of three ladies ask me whether I am a photographer and ask me to take their photograph. I politely oblige.

Flocks of gulls on the beach are mostly Belcher's Gulls with a few Kelp and Gray Gulls. I continue to pick up plastic and am thrilled to see at least twenty council workers doing the same with rakes and bin liners. There is a lot of plastic and ever small piece can't be collected. Good to see the effort being made here though.
Five miles later I have walked the beaches and explored the occasional rocky breakwater for Blackish Oystercatchers with no luck. I head inland, up the steep road to Parque Kennedy in Miraflores. I know that a new bird for the year list is waiting for me there.

I can hear them as soon as I enter the park, parakeets, Red-masked Parakeets Psittacara erythrogenys and they are noisily eating figs on a low branch of a tree overhanging a pathway. There are people using their smartphones to photograph them. There are other new birds to list and watch; Pacific Parrotlets Forpus coelesti, the diminutive blue and green birds seem to be more common this time than on previous visits, Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus, the sub-species that lacks a bright white wingbar to the ones seen in Amazonia, Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis, a common but beautifully marked little bird and Southern Beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum, a very small, dull-coloured bird with a slight crest.
Cats! The park has many of them, in fact it is noted for their presence. A cat that leaps to try to catch a passing Monarch butterfly is not my friend.

April 3rd

Birds in the garden of my dear friends, Katia and Mani, include favourites such as Croaking Ground Dove. I love these tiny doves with there fart-like thrup. Eared Doves, Long-tailed Mockingbirds, Amazilia Hummingbirds, Shiny Cowbirds and Southern Beardless Tyrannulets are joined by a few West Peruvian Doves. A new bird for the Green list is a Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina.

I walk to Parque el Olivar which is close by and see Saffron Finches Sicalis flaveola almost immediately. Red-masked Parakeets are on the grass and as I approach one all the water sprinklers start up and I get soaked! LOL!

The reason for being in the park is to meet a friend I met in The Manu last year, whilst staying at Chaskawasi-Manu, Eduardo. He arrives with his girlfrind, a lovely Scottish lass named Tabitha, Tabby for short. Eduardo has a Frank Zappa t-shirt on. Good lad . . . a musical obsession of mine. Both are incredible people and it is a pleasure chatting for over an hour about this and that, mostly that. That is environmental concerns and the Manu. Tabby had met Eduardo when she was working in The Manu, the suave Peruvian chatting up a naive young Scottish lass!

April 4th

Plans and itineraries change as today's route was to have been to start the real cycling tour and head inland. Instead I am sitting in the waiting room of The Good Hope Clinic's dentistry department awaiting a dentist's appointment. A pre-molar in the lower jaw has had a crown fall off and I am here to have the damaged assessed. I hope it can be replaced.
It can't. In fact an x-ray shows that what remains of the tooth is broken in two. Now forty two years ago I was kicked in the face by a group of lads who, just for fun, decided that a long-haired hippy deserves to be beaten up. I lost five teeth that day and it looks like this one had escaped detection and had been in it's broken state ever since. Out it has to come.

Guess who needs the tooth mouse? In Peru, children who have a milk tooth come out, get money for their tooth from the tooth mouse! How cool is that?

One of the best dentist experiences ever, if you can ever say that about having a tooth removed, the hole is stitched up and wadding applied. Instructions over care are google translated for me and I am told to go back home to rest. I go birding!
Slowly, gently, carefully I walk along the Miraflores beach hoping to find Blackish Oystercatcher. There is no chance of any new seabirds as there is thick sea fog preventing seeing any. A rubbish van has men loading the rubbish from some skips and taking edible pieces out of the stuff to feed gulls. I stand and photograph the different ages of Belcher's and Kelp Gulls.

People want their photograph taken. I am stopped by a family of Incan looking people from Chinchero, north of Cusco who ask me to do just that. They talk to me for around twenty minutes as I rest my legs and tooth, or lack there of. A family group of beach lovers ask the same . . . please take our photographs. They call over two young girls who proceed to take their clothes off, luckily only down to their swim costumes. I may be sixty one but in my head I am still only nineteen!

I reach the marina and ask politely (Privado!), humourously (Privado!!) beggingly (PRIVADO!!!) if I can go in to search for the oystercatcher species. No chance. The security guard girl doesn't crack a smile at my antics.
I reach the fishing port and watch as a group of around forty men, all seemingly the same size and similarly costumed, repeatedly run into the sea, dive in and run back out again. All this is done with whoops and shouts. Military? Sports team bonding? I have no idea.

The Surf Cincloides is still here, as are hundreds of Franklin's, Belcher's and Kelp Gulls together with a lot of Peruvian Pelicans and Inca Terns.
I walk slowly back to Mirafloes and am thrilled to see a school of three Bottle-nosed Dolphins out at sea. The fog has now dissipated and the day is beautiful, warm and sunny. I spend sometime photographing the many Rainbow Crabs on the rocks hoping that Blackish Oystercatchers will turn up.

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