Monday 25 June 2018

Day 78 Choquechaca Ruins.

June 17th, 2018

Cold first thing with frost once again, sunny and maybe a little warmer than of late. Cloud buit up in the afternoon but quickly dissipated once darkness fell leaving the sky with a mass of stars.

With my feet rather sore after the walk back to Ollantaytambo from Aguas Calientes, I know that I haven't got it in me to get up Abra Malaga, the next large valley north of Ollantaytambo. There are supposedly bird species there that I will not get anywhere else but I am extremely tired. Abra Malaga has deep snow but that only means that the birds will be lower down, or so I am told. Instead, after breakfast with a wonderful family of four from near Tahoe, California, USA, I head for my usual favourite valley that heads east from the village. My intention is to try and find similar habitat to that that I would enjoy at Abra.
Through the village with the early morning sunshine melting away a thin layer of frost, I go along the dirt road as I did yesterday and see practically the same birds as yesterday. It is noticeable though that there are far fewer of them than when it was raining here last week. 

Reaching the conservation sanctuary of Choquechaca, I pay the ten Soles and continue up the road. It twists and turns and goes higher and higher but I cannot see over a high ridge to discern what the habitat is. I can see that a valley branching off towards Abra Malaga has polylepsis and I am hoping that that is what I find once I reach the top of the road.

No polylepsis, instead there is a set of ruins that crest a rise. As interesting as these are when I explore them, I feel disappointed as it was the special habitat that I wanted to find and hence get some different birds for the Green Birding year list. It has taken all morning to get up here and it would take another few hours to reach the valley that I saw before. I just don't have the time to do so. I start the long walk back to the village.

Along the road I find one of the small shrines to someone unnamed. Within the chamber there are pieces of human skull and a lower jaw but nothing more. How strange.
Back at the hostel the Californians are there with their two amazing children playing soccer on the lawn. What can an ageing ex-soccer player do other than join in and after an hour or so of laughter and fun, Mum joins in as well. This wonderful family ask me whether I would like to join them for dinner at a beautiful organic restaurant, Chuncho, in the village square. Hence the rest of the evening is spent in their fabulous company eaing superb food. Well, superb that is except for the guinea pig morsel that I don't enjoy!

Green Year list : 274 birds

average new birds to list per day : 3.57 birds

altitude : 9,321 feet

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