Monday 4 June 2018

Day 63 Ampay Sanctuary - June 2nd 2018

June 2nd, 2018

Rain overnight, rainbows early morning, cloudy with occasional light rain, cool

                Off early to get to Ampay nature sanctuary. The roads are steep and the four mile walk to the reception buildings pass quickly. Sierran Eleanias and Rusty-bellied Brushfinch are in bushes as I arrive. Immediate embarrassment, there is an unexpected thirty Soles, around £7.50, entrance fee and I have thirteen Soles on me!

                They let me in. The forest trees are low with lichen, moss and large airplants on the trees. Birds are sparse and mostly silent. Sierran Eleanias are the most obvious with a gentle sweet call. Sparkling Violetears are perched prominently on Eucalyptus twigs  and a couple of Tufted Tit-tyrants show themselves. Birding is hard. An Apurimac Spinetail is in a bush very close to the path but getting good views of the bird are difficult. Easier to see is a Crowned Chat-tyrant that is hopping by the side of the path and is too close to photograph! It disappears down the slope amongst the vegetation by the time I have altered the ISO of the camera to cope with the gloom. Such a tame bird, surprised me by it's behaviour. It just wasn't concerned about me at all.
                Walking ever higher, step by step on this well maintained steep pathway, a small hawk suddenly glides through the canopy and lands on a branch close by. I carefully, quietly lift my binoculars and get a full eye view of a Sharp-shinned Hawk! A superb looking bird, it just turns it's head around and once again, as with the Chat-tyrant, seems totally unconcerned by my presence. It must have seen me but it doesn't fly away. A British Sparrowhawk would have been off immediately on seeing me. I do remember one bird, a large female bird of prey, that didn't fly off on my approach. That occasion was back in 2010 whilst on my first ever Biking Birder adventure. I was walking up Aber Valley in North Wales, making my way up to the waterfall there. There was very low cloud and as I came around a corner there was what I thought to be a Buzzard in a tree. Lifting my binoculars, I realised that I was looking at and being looked at in return by a female Goshawk. A goosebumps moment, the Gos' just stared at me before slowly lifting herself into the air to disappear in the cloud. The coincidence of that bird was not lost on me as I saw my first ever Goshawks in the same valley back in 1978.

                The Sharp-shinned Hawk eventually moves to another nearby branch and I carry on the climb.
                Other birds call in the trees and either give the briefest of glimpses or no view at all. I reach a bench and a viewpoint and a superb, iridescent blue hummingbird sits on the top-most twig of a nearby bush, a Purple-backed Thornbill, a well named bird. Actually I identified this bird incorrectly and was promptly corrected by none other than the world famous mega-year lister, Arjan Dwarhuis. Thanks Arjan.

                Sitting on the bench I suddenly have some extremely sharp pains in my lower abdomen. I crouch down and hold onto a rail as they get worse. Sorry to say this but I fart and the pain lessens. Maybe that's all I required. Two or three farts and the pain recedes. Alarm over the suddenness of the pain fades and I carry on.
                There are birds but I feel as though I should be seeing more. In fact I am kicking myself at my lack of success here. The forest is mostly silent with just the occasional utterance, usually from a Sierran Eleania. I have had three new birds for the Green Year list but I surely should be seeing or hearing more. Maybe it's the cool weather and light rain. Maybe it's the season. Early June is winter and the dry season after all. I think it's me and I get a bit concerned. We all have off days when we think we should be doing better but there really aren't any birds around to identify and list.

                I reach a small glacial lagoon, Laguna Angasqocha. The lake is surrounded by vertiginous cliffs covered in low bushes and shrubs. Still the area is silent and I sit on a rock to watch for avian appearances and am disappointed not to see one bird in twenty minutes. Moving on to go higher I find a break in the canopy and can see the tops of some trees. A long tailed hummingbird flies by but I don't have a prayer in identifying it. A small conebill species lands on a twig at the top of a tree but looking into the light I can't get much of its details, probably a Cinereous.
                My ascent of the trail has been slow and quiet and the hours have passed by. It is two o'clock in the afternoon and I decide to slowly descend and stop for sit and wait moments at various spots I have found on the way up that I feel might produce birds. A small group of Peruvians, with one young German girl from Aachen, stop and chat. One of the Peruvian girls insists on giving me a chunk of meat and some corn. They leave and almost immediately a mangy-looking dog appears. He is mostly white with a black mask over his left eye and I share the meat with him. A friend for life, Spot follows me for the next hour or so.
                On the way up I had seen a rarely used path that went horizontally across the hillside and I take this to find a spot where I can sit and see what passes. Almost immediately a Cinnamon Flycatcher lands on a branch close to. 

A gorgeous alert, small bird, it looks like a bright version of a Bran-coloured Flycatcher. There are around fifteen or so Band-tailed Pigeons perched on some tall Eucalyptus trees and at least another fifty fly past in a flock. In a bush to my left a small bird with a bright chestnut head appears, an Apurimac Brushfinch. It soon dives into the dense foliage on realising that I am sitting quietly there.
                Returning to the reception centre and then down to the city as darkness falls, a consider the fact that I have had seven new birds for the Green Year list. Seven, should I have had more? The average new birds to list per day figure at 3.35 is just below the target Dorian Anderson set of 3.39. I should be happy with that but somehow I feel I have missed a chance of some really good birds. Maybe I will return to the reserve tomorrow and go higher.

Green Year list :  211 birds                         average new birds to list per day  :  3.35 birds 

altitude : 7,504 feet

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