Wednesday 9 May 2018

22nd April 2018 Birding on the Eastern Slopes at Huinco.

April 22nd, 2018

Hot, hazy and sunny day that clouds over mid-afternoon yet again.

Up at 5:30 a.m. again and out early to climb the hill beyond yesterday's cemetery track. Soon at the first flash flood gully, a male Peruvian Sheartail has taken up station on a high twig and is aggressive when another male comes along. The display towards each other involves making their two long tail plumes horizontal at right angles to their bodies. Wonderful to watch, the display is quickly over as the intruder departs and the original male takes up his original position. To think last week I had been worried about seeing this superb tiny hummingbird species. Here there are lots of them. Smashing little birds!

Along to the second flash flood gully and a strange pair of rabbits are sitting on rocks totally ignoring me. Long black whiskers descend vertically from their mouths and they have very long, curly tails. Called a Southern Viscacha, they are beautiful and their fur looks thick and warm, coloured a uniform grey-brown.

White-tipped Doves are in bushes here and they finally give all the features I needed to place them definitely on the Green Bird list. A Peruvian Pygmy Owl is in a bush and, just as elsewhere it's presence is told by a few birds mobbing it. In this case the mobbing birds are Sparkling Violetear hummingbirds and a couple of House Wrens.
Ascending beyond the height of the cemetery, a very curious and relentless horse follows me along what path there is on the ancient terraces and through the bushes. I am getting a bit concerned, animals in Peru are much more free than in the UK, roaming everywhere and to be this close to an unknown animal has me a tad nervous. I lose him by ducking behind some bushes and almost crawling along for twenty yards or so. He goes off thinking I have gone further down the path.

There aren't many birds and I concentrate on butterflies for a while before heading back to Huinco village for some lunch. A strange morning, I really expected some more bird species to be on the list and to be honest I am annoyed at myself at not knowing a couple of species briefly seen in the vegetation but hopefully will see them again this afternoon.

The Biking Birder with his Opticron binoculars


Lunch eaten, more of those delicious potatoes and a bowl of soup, which the seller tried to give me in a polystyrene dish. I refused and asked for a real crockery dish, saying that I would wash it up for her. She went and got one so I asked her how much each polystyrene tray cost, half a Sole. Now the soup cost two Soles. Why waste half a Sole on a throw away tray. Increase your profit and use a proper dish! We both laughed but I can't see this wasteful practise changing anytime soon. What a waste of money and such a shame for the environment.

Up to even greater heights on the eastern slope this afternoon and Mountain Parakeets fly over and land on the other side of a shallow valley. A new hummingbird species lands nearby too but speedily departs when it notices me, a Bronze-tailed Comet. Damn it! I don't like it when I don't get a photograph of a bird as I want full evidence for every bird specie I see.

Once up a very steep and high section with many cacti species, flowers and scrubby bushes, the area levels off into a series of terraces and, although very overgrown, it is possible to scrabble and walk along searching for birds. And birds there are; Great Inca Finches come close, as do Black-necked Woodpeckers.

An Andean Tinamou walks out, spots me and is off. Taking off in front of me, somewhat like a partridge would in Britain, making a loud tuew, tuew, tuew sound, it flies over a nearby ridge edge.
Birds, they have been few and far between until reaching this area, lots of Scrub Blackbirds but just as one gets a flock of one hundred titmice in a woodland, suddenly I am surrounded by birds. They obviously stay together and roam the hillside feeding. The most common birds are Cinereous Conebills and Rusty-bellied Brush Finches, as well as a lot of Collared Warbling Finches.

The flock moves off and I come across two huge rocks precariously sitting on the edge of a cliff. I sit on one, hoping that a sudden earthquake doesn't disturb me and the rock, and look at the fabulous views of the mountains and the valley.

Back down in the village, a lady walking with a toddler in a pushchair asks me to take a photograph of her and her child. I obviously oblige and wonder if I could email the village council to send it to her.

Green Year list : 118 birds average new birds to list per day : 5.36 birds

Distance cycled : 2.38 miles

elevation up : 1,333 feet and down

highest altitude : 6,708 feet

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