Sunday 3 June 2018

Day 60 Up and Over.

May 30th, 2018 

Sunny, cool at altitude, scorchingly hot with strong breeze in valley

                The flat tent is covered in ice in the morning. I suspected as much during the night for I kept wriggling my toes to warm them up! I get up, pack most of the stuff away and place the tent on a large boudler so that it faces the rising Sun and will thaw and dry as I bird. The most magnificent camping spot I have ever had whilst Biking Birding, to tarry a while, to have breakfast and admire the view, well it would be a sin not to.
                I walk down the ridge and disturb an Andean Tinamou that calls loudly as it flies low down the slope. A few Brown-bellied Swallows add variety to the list of birds that reflects yesterday afternoon's species. Seventeen species seen within such a small patch. Most of them have come to me as I have sat still against a large rock; a tactic similar to my woodland birdwatching back when I was a teenager. Then I would sit against a large tree and see what passed. Important to sit in front of the tree and observe, not behind it and poke your face out! Hide your silhouette.

                On the road around nine o'clock, I see eleven Andean Flickers before reaching the first bend. They really are a wonderful bird and reasonably approachable. The same can be said for American Kestrels and one almost dares me to see how close I will come to it perched on a telegraph wire before it flies away.
                The five miles or so to the summit seems to pass quickly enough as I try to photograph fly over raptors using the 'sports' mode on the Canon SX50 bridge camera. I haven't used this before preferring to take single shots of birds instead of a machine gun approach. Maybe the results for these fabulous birds of prey will persuade me to change my approach for flying birds. The results of single shot fly pasts have not been too good in the past. So every so often the long push is interrupted by a Variable Hawk, a Mountain Caracara or an Aplomado Hawk. The latter may be the same pair that I saw so amorously entangled yesterday for they are continuing their passion for each other, this time perched upon a telegraph wire. By staying in the shadows of some fir trees, my approach is slow and the birds allow close views.

                The push up has been delightful because of such frequent bird encounters but it has also been tremendous because of the amazing vista of snow-capped mountains over to the east. How high these peaks must be in order to have such an extensive covering that shine brilliantly in the early morning sunshine. This is by far the most magnificent view on the tour.
                At the summit of the road a large black dog has been walking about fifty yards ahead of me, always keeping ahead despite my offer of a cold egg and chips bap. A police car is parked beside the road and the officer inside gets out and together we try to coax the mangy, half starved animal to come and eat my offer. We chat as we do so and eventually he comes and wolfs down the bap and contents but only after the officer and I have backed off to the car. The officer, I never did ask his name, gets out a bottle and two cups and we enjoy a cold cup of coffee, much appreciated after such a cold night. There isn't a cloud in the sky and the Sun is shining brightly bringing some heat but the air is still cold and I wear a jumper and a RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds,the leading British environmental charity) sweatshirt.
                The descent begins and the road clings to the steep sloped sides of various mountains as it circumnavigates an immense valley. Stopping occasionally to give my hands a rest from the constant braking, I marvel at how quickly the kilometres pass when going down and how rapidly one one gets down. Looking back at the high roads it seems incredible that just a few minutes ago I was there.

                Trees appear again, mostly tall Eucalyptus, and I cycle through small villages. Rounding a corner I come across the area where the large landslide the officers yesterday so kindly warned me about had occurred. There are workmen shovelling and a large digger moving material away but the road is passable. Just before this devastated area there is a long wooden shelter covered with strong blue plastic and as I approach half a dozen women appear, each carrying some sort of food in polystyrene trays. They immediately turn their attention to my companions and one lady insists that I give her Tigger the Pirate. Once more I explain the significance and importance of each of my four friends and I get off the bike and ask whether they have some water. A young man, obviously attached in some way to a young lady in the last compartment of the makeshift shelter, fetches me a large mug of cold, sweet thermal tea and I sit down with them for a chat. I ask whether it would be alright to heat up the omelettes in a two baps bought the day before and I place them into a large frying pan on the clay stove fire. The older lady here adds a few cut Eucalyptus sticks to the fire and places a large piece of breadcrumb-covered chicken into the same pan. Once cooked I give one of the omelettes to her and I buy the chicken piece with six large red potatoes for five Soles, around £1.25. Vehicles stop every so often as I sit eating my lunch and on doing so they are quickly surrounded by all the women asking the driver and occupants whether they want the chicken or trout with potatoes. Six women each carrying a tray of food and each trying to get custom yet here is no friction between them, neither is there any turn taking. There must be some way in which each of the ladies sells their wares and rejection must be so common that their must be a general acceptance of it when it occurs and the unsold food is replaced in a large metal lidded, metal post to stay hot by the fire.

                On reaching one larger villages after saying goodbye to everyone, I ask a police officer standing in the square whether there is a hostal as I would like to bird the rest of the day. He takes me up a steep road past a Primary School and takes me into the back garden of a small hostel. There two ladies tell me that it is all occupied due to the workers on the landslide. The officer tells me that there is another village with a hotel about an hour away. I set off. A wonderful surprise is as I reach the village plaza once more. There are the two police officers that told me about the landslip problem. They stand and salute me as I pass!
                Once more most of the route is downhill and around yet another large valley with stupendous views. This part of the road also has a lot of rock break down areas and I have to be careful to concentrate as I pass rockfall after rockfall. Rather a shame to see so much rocky debris on such a good tarmac road. The road from the village goes around a very deep stream valley and the view back to it after a couple of kilometres reminds me of Rhonda in southern Spain. Back in 1999, my late wife, Karen and I had a week exploring the area of Southern Spain from Malaga to Gibraltar and had been to Rhonda to see it's famous bridge. The view from the other side of the valley of that bridge and the beautiful city was so memorable.

                Two hours or so pass before a final, very steep descent into the village of                            , so steep in fact that I overtake a car on my way down. In fact I see the car, which I admit wasn't going as fast as most cars, and make a sports commentary up in my head as I catch it up. “And here comes the British Green entry and it looks as though he could take the gold medal. Yes! There he goes. He passes the Peruvian carbon car with ease. Here comes the finish line! It's gold for Britain.! You get the idea.
                Walking the bike along the high street a woman calls out hello in English and I stop to talk with her. She is with three other ladies, all sitting in buckets outside a shop. They get me a bucket and I spend an hour talking with her. She translates our conversation for the others and children stop to look at the bike. One young boy has an album of football stickers for the forth-coming World Cup. A group of teenage lads gather around as I look through it and point out the best England players and ask about the Peruvian team. Everyone is so obviously proud and happy over Peru being in the World Cup this year. The English speaking lady, well she intersperses English words amongst a mass of Spanish but I understand well enough, tells me that she learnt English when working hard for an English couple that lived in Miraflores, Lima a few years ago. She, Marcella, insists on telling me how hard the work was for them. Marcella makes it sound like slavery!           

Green Year list :  204 birds                         average new birds to list per day  :  3.40 birds 

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 35.00 miles

elevation : up 5,416 feet,  down 6,434 feet       

altitude : 9495 feet

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