Sunday 13 May 2018

30th April, 2018. Last day of the First Month of BIKING BIRDER IV

April 30th, 2018

Early morning fog due to low cloud and rain gave way to a glorious sunny day. Two thunder storms passed in the afternoon but I was between them and only had half an hour of hail and rain.

Breakfast on the last day of the first month of The Biking Birder Adventure IV – Peru, almost the same as yesterday, an addition of fried bananas, all for the same price. Hose, Elizabeth, Carmen and Lee, I thank you. The same lads as yesterday are here and they have plates of potatoes and rice.

Outside, ready for a long walk to some mountains to the north, Doug, the very friendly dog won't stop following me and even introduces me to another friendly dog. It is only when I have pretended to be angry a couple of hundred yards outside the village that I get them to STAY! I feel like Karl from the Pixar film, Up. Doug in the film and the dog with me now, is very similar. I wonder if this Doug will speak Spanish?
The weather is beautiful and the surrounding mountains are bathed in sunlight, accentuating each different rock form, shape and colour. South of Cusco is the famous Rainbow Mountain made of stripes of many coloured rock. They have smaller versions here with reds, creams and shades of grey.

A farmer is stretching barbed wire and nailing it to posts. I offer him various food items that I don't want to carry when I continue on my way tomorrow, packets of water crackers and biscuits. The farmer, Hernando, gratefully receives them. I am grateful for him to take them and that he understands my need to reduce the weight on my bike.
I follow the road that circumnavigates the lake to the north and find a large rock to stop and sit for a while. The view is incredible and amazing to think that just a couple of hours ago one could hardly see any distance at all due to the rain and fog. The sunshine has brought out more flies, luckily not biting ones and eight Andean Swallows are hawking around feeding on them. One swallow lands nearby luckily.

Walking about a mile further up the road, breaking off to climb the steep grassy slope, on reaching the top of a long ridge there is a view of yet another large lake called Laguna Runtacocha. It isn't as big as Marcopomacocha's main lake but still impressive as it is surrounded by high mountains on three sides giving a magnificent view in the sunshine. An hour or so later I am searching the boggy pools and streams at the far end of the lake, looking for my target bird of the day, the famed Diademed Sandpiper. Every small, shallow pool is searched, every small stream is likewise but no trace of the sandpiper, not even any footprints. There are half a dozen White-winged Cinclides and a couple of Taczanowski's Ground-Tyrants, which are new for the adventure.

Via a short cliff scramble to get around to another area similar to this, with meandering, bubbling streams, small pools and boggy, mossy areas and despite another careful search, no luck with the sandpiper. At the far end there is a small waterfall, I love the word cascade, and I carefully climb up the sandy slope that has some tufted grass. On reaching the top there is yet another lake, quite small so I guess I am now in a corrie. For those of you reading this in the UK this is the best sort of corrie! Stunningly beautiful with high cliffs of the mountains that rise to peaks thousands of feet above, giving it a feeling of wonderful and favourite site I have been fortunate enough to visit a few times in the Pyrenees in France, La Cirque de Gavarnie. There is even a waterfall here, not Europe's highest cascade as at Gavarnie yet impressive enough. On one side of the corrie the slope is yet more of the sandy habitat with tall grasses set about in thick, two foot high tufts. A bird flies out and quickly disappears again, a bird with a widely rounded, rufous tail, small in size and obviously a canestero of some kind. It gives very short views as it runs between grassy clumps. A very frustrating bird to try and get a decent view of, especially as it means climbing the slope where every step is breath-taking, literally at this altitude. The bird reminds me of Dupont's Larks on the sierra's of Belchite in Spain, similar jizz with the speedy spurts between the grass that is available in both habitats. The tail is the give away, a warm, rufous colour and so I scribble Streak-backed Canestero in my notes.
Around the small lake to the waterfall, I sadly find a dead mouse. I wonder how the small thing died. Back down to the larger lakeside and after lunch of a couple of roast banana sandwiches and mandarins it is time to make my way back to the village. Thunder clouds are brewing to the south west and are heading this way.

Roast banana, more memories of times past, a song sung at Rock festivals in the Seventies. My memory tells of an almost never ending roast banana song which went like this :

And he would peddle, peddle, peddle
Fake Marijuana.
He would peddle, peddle, peddle
Some roast banana
He would make a lot of bread,
Impersonate a FED,
Roll a joint, roll a joint,
Get smashed right off his head

So he would peddle, peddle, peddle
A little further, until the man got caught.
So they came in a van
He said, “I'm the wrong man!”
And so he'd peddle, peddle, peddle.

One more time!

And everyone did. Thousands of hippy-styled people, including myself with Afghan coat, massed necklaces of various fruit pips (!) around my neck dangling to my waist, a 'Kiss-me-Quick' hat from Blackpool bedecked with dozens of enamel badges of my favourite Rock Music groups, elasticated denim jeans that were skin tight and almost impossible to get in and out of with holes and patches giving more names of Rock groups giving me a Max Wall legs appearance and long, dark brown hair that reached down my back that was occasionally plaited into a hundred strands with beads. I wasn't alone in 1976 with such a look. “Everyone wears a uniform,” as Frank Zappa used to say.
I changed the words to the 'Peddle, peddle, peddle' song during my UK Biking Birder adventures to be about The Biking Birder. The lyrics to that song and many other bird related tunes are available in my book. The link to buy it is on the right of this page! 400 wonderful pages for £10 . . . what amazing value. Inspirational!!!
Walking back along the lake side hail and rain fall but not too bad. I can see that the village is being really hit by the thunderstorm and the sky that way is dark and threatening. Thunder echoes around the valley. By the time I get back to the road the sun is back out and the rest of the day is once more beautiful sunshine, the sky having those lovely white fluffy Cumulus clouds.
In the evening, in the hotel restaurant, the lads from the morning, who have spent the day forking the nearby village football pitch and removing stones from it, play their version of Pool – Snooker on the large table with an sexagenarian from Britain. Fabulous fun and we sit together for dinner. My dinner consists of rice, potatoes, vegetable stew and a beautiful, orange-fleshed trout caught that day from the lake. I share half of it with the lads.
Hose is busy around the corner chopping and sawing up a whole skinned sheep! The four lady cooks are in the kitchen and Junior, one of the lads, takes photographs of everyone. Wonderful people.

So the first of the six month adventure comes to an end. From Lima to Marcopomacocha, from sea level to 15,000 feet, there have been a couple of unfortunate events but the overall impression has been of one of incredibly friendly people, magnificent landscapes, fabulous birds and birding and the sort of difficult physical challenge that I love and all is Green about the adventure. The power for a mobile and a small laptop, the carbon used to cook the very occasional warm meal and a light bulb. Not much of a carbon footprint, I think I will call this Green Birding!

Green Year list : 180 birds average new birds to list per day : 6.00 birds

Distance walked : 6.70 miles

elevation : up 1,040 feet, down 1,040 feet

altitude : 14,521 feet

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