Saturday 27 January 2018

Planting Trees in Peru . . . Biking Birder 2016 - The Quest for 300 Book

The joy of seeing The Andes Mountain Range on my first visit there in 2013 was soon replaced by dismay at finding almost no native forest. Polylepsis forest, the natural type of forest, was nowhere to be seen as Eucalyptus trees dominated. Eucalyptus being good for firewood, the original had been devastated.

So it a great pleasure to feel that I can do something about this and so can you.
My newly published book, Biking Birder 2016 - The Quest for 300, available at the moment as a Kindle book but soon to be published in paperback, can be bought on Amazon.

Biking Birder 2016 - The Quest for 300 book

Every book sold will mean that a Polylepsis tree will be planted in Peru.

For every book sold I will make the necessary donation to ECOAN - Peru and Greenourplanet.

Check out the projects please . . . . 

Green Our Planet                  and            ECOAN-PERU

All the very best to you all

Gary xx

Friday 26 January 2018

Reflections on the Plastic Epidemic - Preparing for BB2018 - Peru

Birds, birds, birds!

Those first days of the Biking Birder Adventure 2018 - Peru (BB2018-Peru) will be filled with bird spectacle. Tens of thousands of gulls and cormorants will fill the skies at Los Pantanos de Villa, near to Lima and with the birds t be seen around Miraflores and San Isidro, the Green Birding list will be at around 100 by the time the laden bike heads east.

With plastic cleared from the beach after a session with hopefully some of the wonderful Los de Pantanos reserve volunteers and staff, a relaxing seawatch might bring 'extra to expected' birds such as Petrels and Shearwaters.


Five years ago I went on holiday to Luxor, Egypt and was both amazed and disgusted at the quantity of plastic amassed along the banks of the Nile.

Watching a sun setting over the immense river was so beautiful but what was less enamouring was the large hotel ships just tipping all rubbish from bin liners into the waters, leaving a trail of plastic to float towards the sea.

Plastic on the exposed muddy banks was everywhere as friendly children stood waving surrounded by  . . . plastic.

Out in the Sahara to the east of Luxor, what rubbish that was collected was being burnt along a roadside; hundreds of yards of burning plastic with too many pieces blowing away in the wind as the stench and smoke choked the skies.

Biking Birder adventures have allowed me to see how all pervasive plastic is, nowhere more so than on the beaches of all Scottish Islands.

All was epitomised by a plastic bottle found during a beach-cleaning session. Seven years in the sea, a bottle from an earthquake of 2010 that killed tens of thousands of people in Haiti. That bottle, having floated across the Atlantic, was in my hands and in the skip; it's journey to finish in an incinerator on Shetland.

Above it is plastic on the shoreline of North Ronaldsay, Orkney, UK last year.

It is literally on every beach, in every stream, every river, lake, pool.

I don;t want to talk about is anymore. It is too upsetting. Back to the birds . . . tomorrow.

Thursday 25 January 2018

65 Days to Go to BB2018-Peru

Hello everyone, another day closer to the start of Biking Birder 2018 - Peru, the latest Biking Birder adventure.

Yesterday I really enjoyed going through some of my photographs of birds to be seen at Los Pantanos de Villa nature reserve, south of Lima.

To begin birding there will be wonderful and it would be great to see the many young people who work there as staff and volunteers. As with too many places there is a lot of plastic to be found there, especially along the beach and I will spend some time collecting some of it. My way of saying thank you to the birding gods who bring me such incredible bird views.

It is a fabulous, long and sandy beach, with large, noisy rollers that crash down steeply onto the shore. Birds in large numbers are always flying past; Peruvian Boobies and Pelicans, Inca Terns and many gull species. Sometimes tens of thousands of birds perform. Last year around 50,000 Guanay Cormorants were fishing just offshore. 

Another video, too big for on here, shows the scene . . .

Title Guanay Cormorants Passing the Beach, Los Pantanos de Villa, Lima, Peru.

Another time I sat and watched as a huge curtain of around 10,000 Peruvian Boobies curtained down into the fish laden water. Unlike Atlantic Gannets that are individual in their steep arrow-like dive down to catch fish, Peruvian Boobies on occasions coordinate to act like a closing theatre curtain as they cascade down. Both species though retract their wings just before splashdown in order to streamline their bodies for maximum penetration.

The coastal Pacific waters are extremely rich, carrying The Humboldt Current's cold water north and hence birdlife is magnificent at all times of the year.
On the Boxing Day 2014, I visited the reserve and was astounding to find maybe 100,000 birds roosting on the sand. Mostly Franklin's Gulls and Elegant Terns, to sit in awe and watch the spectacle for hours was memorable.

At other times of the year bird numbers are less but always fascinating. Black Skimmer numbers vary from around the hundred to approaching the thousand and beautiful Gray Gulls appear. Waders include American Oystercatchers and crabs appear from their burrows in the sand. Fishermen with their children cast nets to catch masses of small crustaceans, whilst the occasional lizard catches flies on the tideline.

Yet, as well as the birds, a thrill is meeting the people there and seeing school parties of school children who come there. I remember back in July last year seven coach loads of Primary aged children arrived all at once. 

Staff and volunteers soon had them walking in packs around the reserve.
Another time I remember going out onto the reserve to look for Burrowing Owls . . . 

So please, if you visit Peru, visit Los Pantanos de Villa. Have a look at the Facebook page . . .

or how wonderful it would be to meet you there in April.

All the very best and love to you all,


BB 2010 Oops, crash and a motorway Abominable Snowman in Hemel Hempstead January 5th

5 th January                                                            Tragedy                                              The Bee Gees   ...