Friday 16 March 2018

Nine Days to Go Before Setting off For Peru . . . . but . . . .

When one is feeling anxious yet excited over the coming adventure despite running a temperature and a face full of rubbish, how fabulous to see that a donation has come in for Birdlife International!

Thank you Mark Ballamy. What a thrill to see your kind donation. 4% of my target achieved. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you also to the Basingstoke RSPB local group and the Northants Bird Club for their donations too. Wonderful.

This morning : 9:45 a.m.

Sitting on railway station platform, awaiting the train to London Victoria, having just been dropped off here by Kerry Reynolds, mother of the wonderful young man, Dominik Reynolds and thinking of Peru.

Nine days to go before a flight to Lima, carbon-offset of course. Nine days to get rid of my third bout of sinusitis and with my head aching and with a temperature I know that a visit to the doctor's is necessary next week. Not the most perfect preparation for the trials ahead.

Lima . . . Peru. I love the place and the country but what I particularly love are the people. Let's have a positive outlook and remember that the best thing about Biking Birding adventures is meeting so many amazing people.

Ahead of me the next Biking Birder adventure, Biking Birder IV – Peru 2018 or BB2018-Peru for short. Ahead of me 1,200 miles of cycling from Lima and up and over The Andes, reaching altitudes of over 15,000 feet, down to The Manu National Park, via Machu Picchu.

Ahead of me a four hundred mile packraft adventure along the Madre de Dios, Mother of God, and Manu rivers; both are tributaries of the mighty Amazon.

Ahead of me, nine days hence.

Reasons to be cheerful :

Part 1.

Life back on the road, back on the bike I love, my trusty and not too rusty Claude Butler Black Diamond. With brand new panniers for the back rack and nine new cuddly toy friends, we are going to look interesting as together we climb the mountain roads. That wonderful sense of freedom and challenge.

The route from Lima may take me north along the coast or directly inland to Junin. The choice will be made on assessment of both my health at the time and what birds are possible on route. Cactus Canestero? Possible and useful.

Part 2.

The start date is decided upon and fixed, April the first, All Fool's Day! The start place is decided upon and fixed, Los Pantanos de Villa nature reserve south of Lima. The birds there are fantastic and with around sixty species assured on that first day, a good start to the Green Birding list is assured.

Black Vultures will be atop tatty Palm Trees to start the list. Ducks, Great and Pied-billed Grebes, Neotropic Cormorants perched on the diagonal supporting ropes of the tall radio masts, Multi-coloured Rush Tyrants, herons and egrets of many species; Their names will soon be written down on the virgin paper of a brand new notebook. Walking round the tall reedbed-lined lagoons, climbing the bird viewing platforms and watching the hundreds of birds present will be as superb as ever. Doves, Purple Gallinules and seedeaters, the weather may be misty yet it will be warm and windless. Black and White Swallows will be skimming the lagoon surfaces or chasing flies over the marsh.

With my permit bought from the portacabin visitor's centre and having passed a security gate, it is to the sandy, scrubby areas adjacent to an access road for beach lovers and residents, past the large, white water tower, Vermilion Flycatchers, families of Groove-billed Anis, Long-tailed Mockingbirds, Peruvian Meadowlarks and American Kestrels will be seen and maybe Burrowing Owls and Peruvian Thicknees will be there too.

Across dry, dessicated grass and shrub areas, to arrive hopefully at some wet and shallow pools where on past visits there have been a variety of waders; peeps, those delightful small and quite difficult birds to identify. Lesser and Semi-palmated Sandpipers may have other sandpiper species scampering the margins with them. Bairds would be nice.

Both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs have been here before and Wilson's Phalaropes. Black-necked Stilts will be as stately as ever walking on those preposterously long legs whilst dipping their sharp, black bills to probe for a small mollusc.

Puna Ibis, Common Moorhen and Killdeer; all should be added to the growing day list.

Over short grassed grazed by tethered horses to a long sandbank, a wall of protection for the day a tsunami may arrive, and views over tall reeds. Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Wren-like Rushbird and House Wrens will be there and by heading south the first coastal lagoons may be viewed.

Masses of Black Skimmers and gulls, a few Slate-coloured Coot, gulls of many species and duck, such as White-cheeked Pintail and Cinnamon Ducks will be there with Spotted Sandpipers and Whimbrel walking along the shoreline. There may be Willets too.

To the sea and the surge of the waves hitting the steep sandy shore. Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets and American Oystercatchers will be obtaining food items as Peruvian Pelicans, Peruvian Boobies and Inca Terns pass, heading north. Flocks of terns will be resting on the beach. Further out masses of Guanay Cormorants will be fishing.

Back to the visitor's centre late afternoon to watch as hundreds of Cattle Egrets arrive to roost for the night.

Time to peruse the day list of possibly sixty different birds and reflect on another visit to a surprisingly favourite Peruvian nature reserve. Maybe it is my love of a nature reserve with a proximity to a major urban sprawl and therefore the opportunity for thousands to enjoy nature first hand. Whatever it may be, I find hat I can ignore the rubbish, the vehicle noise and the views inland of massed Favellas and instead enjoy the differing natural habitats and the thousands of birds present. There are also a few insects there too; the occasional dragonfly and butterfly is to be found.

Reflections about the first day and the first bird place to be visited transport me through my train journey north; a train journey to my daughter, Rebecca. A final weekend with my little girl . . . . .

Six months of the toughest Biking Birder challenge will be ahead of me; oceanic Pacific, shoreline, desert, mountain and finally the deepest, most remote of rainforests to be explored and marvelled at.

And all of this is for two reasons. As usual I am trying to raise money for charities; namely Birdlife International and Chaskawasi-Manu. The former a huge international charity of immense depth and influence in the bird conservation world, the latter a parochial, locally-based charity in the Manu National Park.

My target for Birdlife International is £5,000. A start has been made but how lovely it would be for you to make a donation via the Birdlife International – Just Giving page link.

Thank you so much everyone. Your messages of support are wonderful.

Love to you all, Gary xx

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

5 th January                                                            Tragedy                                              The Bee Gees   ...