Friday 6 April 2018

Day 5, Biking Birder IV - Peru 2018. Miraflores, Day 6 LOST!

I do so hope that you will enjoy following my adventures. You can do so via this blog and also by my Biking Birder Facebook page and Twitter feed. Also if you want to see all of the photographs I have taken then please go to the Facebook pages linked below.

or via my personal Facebook page :

I am trying to raise money for two charities and obviously I would love you to donate to them.


Birdlife International

Chaskwasi-Manu Children's Project

April 5th

Hot, 28 Celsius, sunny with very little wind. Westerly.


Breakfast, watching seedeaters, very small plain brown birds, in the garden. I just don't like them as I find them difficult to sort out.

Blue-black Grassquits?

Bicycle packing and checking in the morning is followed by meeting a lovely Peruvian lady in Kennedy Park for a catch up chat. Having passed once more the superb pyramid, Huanca Pulluana, I get to the park. 

Paola I met back in 2014 when we stayed at the same hostel in Miraflores and we have been in touch via Facebook ever since. She is an incredibly brave lady who suffers from a variety of conditions, such as Fybromyalgia.
Despite the fact we hadn't seen each other for over three years we immediately recognise each other at the Blue Bull rendezvous spot. We sit in the shade to help Paola and talk for over an hour before retiring to a cafe for juice. Her courage through such horrific suffering is incredible and as with all one meets who are suffering, one can't help thinking how can I help?
The best news though during all of Paola's talk of illness and job problems occurs when she shyly says that she has a boyfriend! Fantastic. I hope that Roberto will be the sort of loving partner she deserves.

Late in the afternoon I wonder down to the beautiful blue pier of Miraflores Beach once more, more in hope than expectation that Blackish Oystercatchers will be there. All week the sea has been extremely rough, with large waves, so good for the surfers here, crashing the rocks and providing no place for the birds to feed.
The view is better today though for when I arrive I see a much calmer ocean and hopes are raised. Good job too because as I scan the rocks to the north of the entrance to the pier, there they are, two Blackish Oystercatchers! Timing things to perfection, they don't stay long before they ehad off out to sea. Not before I have the evidence though, photographs and a couple of videos.

April 6th

At a birthday party a couple of nights ago, Fernando, the wonderful Peruvian husband of Fabian, a lovely French lady and father of the brilliant eight year old daughter, Malu (!!!xx), told me that birdwatching in the grounds of a university on the eastern edge of the city of Lima. Fernando kindly sent me three extensive papers detailing bird studies carried out in the grounds. I read through them and make a list of the bird species, adding English names from the list of Latin and Spanish names. Some interesting species are possible.

Three hours after leaving the house I am lost. Everything was going fine. The Liman roads, although busy of course, are safe enough as drivers seem to care more about cyclists than each other. For me they make way, wave me through, smile and say “buenos dios.” To each other they are brutal but non responsive and not abusive at all. They may cut each other up, sneak through the tiniest gap and pip there horn at the slightest hold up but to cyclists they are wonderful.

I do find a university and after security guards help me chain my bike to the railings I find that not only am I not allowed into the grounds but that it is the wrong university! I leave here and head to the nearby dusty hills. I am trying to get near to them hoping for new bird species but there is no way to them. Every road has gates and Privado signs. I look at the height of these hills and realise that the actual university is on the other side of them. Having to do some emails to various organisations and phone calls to contact my bank over a slight problem; a cashpoint wouldn't give me any money yesterday despite my account having a healthy balance, I head for home.

Thursday 5 April 2018

Last Thing I Need! Well Maybe a Blessing in Disguise.

I do so hope that you will enjoy following my adventures. You can do so via this blog and also by my Biking Birder Facebook page and Twitter feed. Also if you want to see all of the photographs I have taken then please go to the Facebook pages linked below.

or via my personal Facebook page :

I am trying to raise money for two charities and obviously I would love you to donate to them.

Birdlife International

Chaskwasi-Manu Children's Project

April 2nd to 4th, 2018


Early morning cloud burnt off by eleven, then hot, 28 Celsius, sunny with very little wind. Westerly. Thick sea fog along beach at Miraflores on the 4th until 2:00 p.m. Then the sun!

April 2nd

A long walk to get my leg muscles better before the long cycle climb to Junin, I left my hotel at around 7:30 a.m. And started the long walk back to Lima. No use of any fossil fuelled transport, I watch people catching the bus, climbing aboard Tuc Tucs (motortaxis) and I watch people driving their cars or jumping into taxis. I plod and whistle. Life is good!

The main road through Chorillos is interminable. After a short incline there is a two miles stretch that ends with an elevated view of the sea and along the spectacular promenade and beaches to Miraflores and way beyond. I descend down to sea level and enter a small harbour where motorised boats aren't used for fishing but small self-oared boats with nets piled high inside and a passenger bird, such as a Snowy, Egret, a Kelp or Belcher's Gull or more usually a Peruvian Pelican that sits sleeping whilst the fisherman rows out to sea.
I am searching for one species, an endemic to Peru called a Surf Cincloides Cinclodes taczanowskii. I don't expect to find one so imagine my thrill when one alights on some rocks just two metres away. Brilliant bird to get for the Green Birding list.

The bird securely photographed and listed, I head for the harbour wall and watch as a group of burly fishermen drag a large dinghy-like fishing boat, tug of war up the beach. 

I also collect plastic in deference to having seen the Cincloides and leave to walk along the beach. A group of three ladies ask me whether I am a photographer and ask me to take their photograph. I politely oblige.

Flocks of gulls on the beach are mostly Belcher's Gulls with a few Kelp and Gray Gulls. I continue to pick up plastic and am thrilled to see at least twenty council workers doing the same with rakes and bin liners. There is a lot of plastic and ever small piece can't be collected. Good to see the effort being made here though.
Five miles later I have walked the beaches and explored the occasional rocky breakwater for Blackish Oystercatchers with no luck. I head inland, up the steep road to Parque Kennedy in Miraflores. I know that a new bird for the year list is waiting for me there.

I can hear them as soon as I enter the park, parakeets, Red-masked Parakeets Psittacara erythrogenys and they are noisily eating figs on a low branch of a tree overhanging a pathway. There are people using their smartphones to photograph them. There are other new birds to list and watch; Pacific Parrotlets Forpus coelesti, the diminutive blue and green birds seem to be more common this time than on previous visits, Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus, the sub-species that lacks a bright white wingbar to the ones seen in Amazonia, Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis, a common but beautifully marked little bird and Southern Beardless Tyrannulet Camptostoma obsoletum, a very small, dull-coloured bird with a slight crest.
Cats! The park has many of them, in fact it is noted for their presence. A cat that leaps to try to catch a passing Monarch butterfly is not my friend.

April 3rd

Birds in the garden of my dear friends, Katia and Mani, include favourites such as Croaking Ground Dove. I love these tiny doves with there fart-like thrup. Eared Doves, Long-tailed Mockingbirds, Amazilia Hummingbirds, Shiny Cowbirds and Southern Beardless Tyrannulets are joined by a few West Peruvian Doves. A new bird for the Green list is a Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina.

I walk to Parque el Olivar which is close by and see Saffron Finches Sicalis flaveola almost immediately. Red-masked Parakeets are on the grass and as I approach one all the water sprinklers start up and I get soaked! LOL!

The reason for being in the park is to meet a friend I met in The Manu last year, whilst staying at Chaskawasi-Manu, Eduardo. He arrives with his girlfrind, a lovely Scottish lass named Tabitha, Tabby for short. Eduardo has a Frank Zappa t-shirt on. Good lad . . . a musical obsession of mine. Both are incredible people and it is a pleasure chatting for over an hour about this and that, mostly that. That is environmental concerns and the Manu. Tabby had met Eduardo when she was working in The Manu, the suave Peruvian chatting up a naive young Scottish lass!

April 4th

Plans and itineraries change as today's route was to have been to start the real cycling tour and head inland. Instead I am sitting in the waiting room of The Good Hope Clinic's dentistry department awaiting a dentist's appointment. A pre-molar in the lower jaw has had a crown fall off and I am here to have the damaged assessed. I hope it can be replaced.
It can't. In fact an x-ray shows that what remains of the tooth is broken in two. Now forty two years ago I was kicked in the face by a group of lads who, just for fun, decided that a long-haired hippy deserves to be beaten up. I lost five teeth that day and it looks like this one had escaped detection and had been in it's broken state ever since. Out it has to come.

Guess who needs the tooth mouse? In Peru, children who have a milk tooth come out, get money for their tooth from the tooth mouse! How cool is that?

One of the best dentist experiences ever, if you can ever say that about having a tooth removed, the hole is stitched up and wadding applied. Instructions over care are google translated for me and I am told to go back home to rest. I go birding!
Slowly, gently, carefully I walk along the Miraflores beach hoping to find Blackish Oystercatcher. There is no chance of any new seabirds as there is thick sea fog preventing seeing any. A rubbish van has men loading the rubbish from some skips and taking edible pieces out of the stuff to feed gulls. I stand and photograph the different ages of Belcher's and Kelp Gulls.

People want their photograph taken. I am stopped by a family of Incan looking people from Chinchero, north of Cusco who ask me to do just that. They talk to me for around twenty minutes as I rest my legs and tooth, or lack there of. A family group of beach lovers ask the same . . . please take our photographs. They call over two young girls who proceed to take their clothes off, luckily only down to their swim costumes. I may be sixty one but in my head I am still only nineteen!

I reach the marina and ask politely (Privado!), humourously (Privado!!) beggingly (PRIVADO!!!) if I can go in to search for the oystercatcher species. No chance. The security guard girl doesn't crack a smile at my antics.
I reach the fishing port and watch as a group of around forty men, all seemingly the same size and similarly costumed, repeatedly run into the sea, dive in and run back out again. All this is done with whoops and shouts. Military? Sports team bonding? I have no idea.

The Surf Cincloides is still here, as are hundreds of Franklin's, Belcher's and Kelp Gulls together with a lot of Peruvian Pelicans and Inca Terns.
I walk slowly back to Mirafloes and am thrilled to see a school of three Bottle-nosed Dolphins out at sea. The fog has now dissipated and the day is beautiful, warm and sunny. I spend sometime photographing the many Rainbow Crabs on the rocks hoping that Blackish Oystercatchers will turn up.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

An Unused Article for ABA - Bit of Background to Biking Birder

Back early in 2016, I sent an article to ABA, the American Birding Association trying to promote my BIGBY (Big Green Big Year). I don't think it was ever published by them but I feel that it may fill in any gaps any of you have over reasons to be a Biking Birder.

What do the names Jim Royer, Scott Robinson, Ted Parker and particularly Dorian Anderson mean to you? Four Great Americans, pioneers in a relatively new birding field, Big Green Big Year listing.
Jim Royer back in 2010, saw 302 bird species in just one county, San Lui Obispo County, California using no gas
Scott Robinson a scientist from the Florida Museum of Natural History, together with Ted Parker, saw 331 bird species whilst doing a Big Green Day back in 1982 in Peru.
Then we come to Dorian Anderson. In 2014 Dorian didn't just break the North American Birding Big Green Big Year (BIGBY) record as take it into the stratosphere. Before 2014 various American birders had seen around the 300 mark doing a BIGBY. No one could have imagined that Dorian would end up seeing 618. Phenomenal Green Bird listing, this is also the World record. 

Dorian Anderson, a true American World champion, is the ultimate Green birder.
In Europe people have said that I, Gary Prescott, am the most famous Green Birder. Yet I am not the European BIGBY record holder. I was back in 2010. In that year I cycled around Great Britain seeing 252 birds whilst raising money for British bird charities, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and The Wildfowl & Wetland Trust (WWT). I visited every one of both societies nature reserves adding to the challenge.
Chris Mills of Norfolk County had held the record until 2010 when he challenged Simon Woolley of Hampshire County to a Green Year list competition. Chris won with 251.
Disaster hit my record number when the British Birds and Rarities Committee took a bird from my list, deeming that a red-breasted goose was an escaped bird. Obviously escaped birds don't count and I was therefore back to parity with Chris on 251.
251 was the European Big Green Big Year record at the time. What happened next upped the stakes. Ponc Feliu, a young, handsome Catalonian from Spain saw 304 birds in 2013. So whilst out in Peru for a lot of 2014 I planned my assault. I must get the record back for Britain.
Back in 2010 I had visited all of the said nature reserves and also given talks to schools and colleges, visited cathedrals, museums and ancient prehistoric sites. I had climbed the five highest peaks and swam in each of it's oceans and seas. In other words 2010 had been a relaxed extended exploration of Britain. Things would have to be very different in 2015 if I was to have a chance of beating Ponc.
I would still visit all of the RSPB and WWT nature reserves, all 242 of them; after all I wanted to raise money for these two incredible charities. Away from that though it would be a year of where is the bird and how can I get to see it.
The year went well, the weather was mostly benign, unlike the weather in 2010 when Britain experienced the two worst winters since the Big Freeze of 1963, and I ended the year on 289. A massive increase, in relative terms on the previous 251 but sixteen short on the record held by Ponc. I, The Biking Birder, would have to do it all again in 2016.
The Biking Birder. I have been birding since the age of nine but only seriously Green Birding since 2010 when I first dig a BIGBY. My passion developed after college when I found out that there were many other people who loved birds as much as I did. I had a patch near Wolverhampton, UK and became a High School teacher of biology on a large working class housing estate. Here I organised a bird watching club which at its peak had over one hundred members. My thrill at the time wasn't so much the birds but in seeing children develop their own passion for nature. Even now after thrity years and more a lot of those children, now in their forties go birding. Four of us meet up every year on Shetland to celebrate our mutual love of birds.
So here I am. It is 2016. The route this time doesn't include all of those out of the way nature reserves. There will be no three weeks spent in Northern Ireland, no three weeks spent in Wales. I will be cycling along the south coast, along the east coast and visiting both Shetland and the magical, remote Fair Isle. This time I will have 305 on my Big Green Big Year list. I will beat Ponc and regain the European crown.
And I will do all of this to raise money for charity. Every bird I see will mean more will go to the four charities; to the RSPB and to the WWT. I am also supporting Asthma UK. Maybe surprisingly but I suffer from the condition and have to regularly take my inhalers in order to cycle every day. Finally, after my time in the Manu Biosphere in Peru I am supporting the Chaskawasi-Manu Project. Beside the beautiful Madre de Dios river there is a very small village called Salvacion where a Spanish organisation is working to give indigenous children a home from which they can go to school and get an education. The tribal leaders of the indigenous communities very deep in the Manu, a fully protected rainforest national park of over a three million acres, understand the need for a few of their children to be educated in worldly ways. The hope is that these children will become ambassadors for their tribes. The Manu is reputed to be have the world's richest biodiversity yet it is under pressure from the oil industry, mineral extraction and tree logging.

Green Birding is a way in which nature lovers, particularly birders can contribute to negating the challenges presented by Global Warming and Climate Change. A Big Green Big Year is mentally, spiritually and physically challenging but what a ride!

The Biking Birder 2016 – The Quest for 300 blog

Have a fabulous year, consider Green Birding for yourself and . . . go find it.

Gary, The Biking Birder Prescott

Tuesday 3 April 2018

So It Begins . . . Biking Birder IV - Peru 2018. An Attempt at the Green Birding Big Year list record.

Los Pantanos de Villa, looking north

I do so hope that you will enjoy following my adventures. You can do so via this blog and also by my Biking Birder Facebook page and Twitter feed. Also if you want to see all of the photographs I have taken then please go to the Facebook pages linked below.

or via my personal Facebook page :

I am trying to raise money for two charities and obviously I would love you to donate to them.

Birdlife International

Chaskwasi-Manu Children's Project

April 1st, 2018

Los Pantanos de Villa

Early morning cloud burnt off by eleven, then hot, 28 Celsius, sunny with very little wind. Westerly.

And so the great Green Birding adventure begins, Biking Birder IV-Peru2018. Manuel and I are at Los Pantanos de Villa, a wonderful nature reserve south of Lima. Ever since we met back in 2014 at a lodge, Chuncho Lodge, in Tambopata National Park near Puerto Maldonado, Manuel and his wife Katia, together with their two boys, Luis-Fernando and Nicholas, not forgetting their three dogs, have been close friends. No visit to Peru would be the same without seeing them. Manuel, Mani for short, is a keen nature photographer and eager to learn more about birds. We are in the right place. There will be thousands but, more importantly for the World Green Birding record attempt, how many bird species will we see. My worry is that the waders that spend the Austral Summer in South America, before migrating north for the breeding season, will have already gone. Otherwise I know what to expect at Los Pantanos. I have been here many times before. This fact becomes apparent when the girl behind the desk in the reception cabin greets me like a long lost friend. “Gary!” Grecia shouts and introduces me to her co-worker, Nick.

Permits bought, ten soles each, birding we go. Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis are on the fence, Black Vultures Coragyps atratus are atop every palmtree with more flying overhead. West Peruvian Doves Zenaida meloda are cooing whilst sitting on telegraph wires as skeins of Neotropic Cormorants Phalacrocorax brasilianus fly towards the northern lagoons. Franklin's Gulls Leucophaeus pipixcan seem to be everywhere in the sky with a huge chimney of hundreds of them riding a thermal.
Mani and I cross the road and enter the northern area through high metal gates, passing the four bins for rubbish and recycling. The pathway towards the largest of the lagoons is squashy, made of cut reeds and dragonflies of three species are common, as are a skipper-like butterfly.


Two Harris Hawks Parabuteo unicinctus take off from their palmtree perches and head off over the road towards large reedbeds. Blue & White swallows Pygochelidon cyanoleuca are hawking the insects. Eared Doves Zenaida auriculata are in the only substantial tree adjacent to the path. Crossing over bridges, we look into the shallow water of narrow dykes and see lots of fish. Two small stripey fish are beautiful and small long-tailed fish are feeding on algae on floating sticks. Larger fish appear including one around twenty five centimetres long with broad horizontal stripes, some sort of perch species.

We reach the lagoon and watch as Great Grebes Podiceps major dive to catch fish. Superb grebes with tall, elegant necks and smooth gliding action over the water followed by a gentle submergence. Scanning around brings a variety of egrets; both Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night Herons
Nyctanassa violacea and Nycticorax nycticorax, Great and Snowy Egrets Ardea alba and Egretta thula, Striated Heron Butorides striata and a lone Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis. Past experience tells me there will be a lot more later at roost time. Moorhens. as I know them, or Common Gallinules Gallinula galeata, those ubiquitous rails with their around the globe distribution, are present in numbers and there are a few Cinnamon Teal Spatula cyanoptera. Out on the water there are a couple of Grey-hooded Gulls Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus with a larger party of bathing Franklin's Gulls. A Many-coloured Rush Tyrant
Tachuris rubrigastra flies past but lands out of sight amongst the tall reeds. Nine colours or ten, a spectacular small bird that is so difficult to photograph. Now do I call the next bird species seen Andean Coot or Slate-coloured Coot Fulica ardesiaca? I prefer the former but most lists name it as the latter. No matter, down onto the list it goes.

A walk around the lagoon via the long pathway ends with a tall observation tower of very sturdy construction. It is near to the busy dual carriageway but the reserve is inaccessible here unless one wants to wade through a deep and wide dyke.
From the tower's platform, how I wish there were seats, we look over the reedbeds and lagoon and see hundreds of Neotropic Cormorants on islands of cleared reed. A single Puna Ibis Plegadis ridgwayi is walking along one of the island's edges. Way over at the back of the lagoon a couple of Ruddy Ducks Oxyura jamaicensis are easy to see, despite the distance, as the male's bright blue bill shines out in the strong sunlight. A couple of Belcher's Gulls Larus belcheri fly over.A heron strides across one of the furthest islands and I write down Coqui. Reflect, check . . . no it isn't but what is a Black-crowned Night Heron doing out in the open in broad daylight? My mistake.
Back the reception area, we pass it and follow a circular path around a mostly hidden lagoon where one can take a motorised boat ride. I can't. Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps adults are feeding two youngsters small fish and a Wren-like Rushbird Phleocryptes melanops reveals itself briefly. 

On crossing a small bridge, where a dyke is almost filled by verdant green water plants, we can see a nearby Great Egret wading and Mani spots a Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius. As we both photograph it a Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus flies out and is soon lost amongst the taller reeds. I see another one a little bit later as it to quickly scuttles into the deeper recesses.
Back to the road, Mani and I chat as we head for the sea. Vermilion Flycatchers Pyrocephalus rubinus of differing ages and plumages are in the trees by houses we pass and two American Kestrels Falco sparverius seem to be unconcerned as we pass near to where they perch. Back in Britain I would wait to count Rock Dove Columba livia until I had seen true birds on Outer Hebridean islands of West Scotland. Here I am not so fussy and write down the name onto the growing Green Birding list. A few Groove-billed Anis Crotophaga sulcirostris are in hiding in thick bushes beside the road.
What on earth is that?! A brilliant green, yellow and blue bird of some size is a bush then a shrubby tree. What is a Green Jay Cyanocorax yncas doing here? It must be an escaped bird. How sad to think that there is a trade in captured Green Jays. It doesn't go onto the list but is lovely to see and so unexpected.
Near to the end of the hedgerow bushes, just before the extensive sea-locked lagoon near the beach, Bananaquits Coereba flaveola and Yellow-hooded Blackbirds Chrysomus icterocephalus
are calling, singing and occasionally showing themselves.

The lagoon, my favourite area with thousands of birds. This lagoon will either have lots of American-bound waders or not. A small rocky island is covered with birds. Mainly Ruddy Turnstones Arenaria interpres, there are also Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca and Tringa flavipes, Stilt Sandpipers Calidris himantopus, American Oystercatchers Haematopus palliatus, Spotted Sandpipers and six Least Sandpipers Calidris minutilla! The waders are here. Nearer to us, on a muddy and well vegetated bank are more Lesser yellowlegs and Stilt Sandpipers with a Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos as well. Brilliant. Mani walks away to photograph nearby Yellow-headed Blackbirds and finds a Killdeer Charadrius vociferus. Meanwhile, on the stony island, a Common Tern Sterna hirundo lands. On a post bill structure points to the bird being a Cabot Tern Thalasseus acuflavidus.

Along the lagoon there are small headlands that triangulate out into the deeper water. These are all covered in birds; the nearer ones have hundreds of Franklin's Gulls but the further ones have around a thousand Black Skimmers Rhynchops niger. There are few more bizarre birds than a Black Skimmer. The lower mandible of the large red and black bill is a lot longer than the upper. The bill can be so heavy that the poor bird has to sometimes lie prostrate on the sand to rest it's head! With bill open, the Black Skimmer flies along a waterway dragging the lower mandible in the water. On feeling contact with a surface feeding fish the mandible snaps shut and hence a food item is taken. Seeing Skimmers skimming is an avian treat. Seeing them en masse like this is likewise a true thrill. Mani tells me that the Spanish name for them is Rayador americano, the American Streaker!

In the haze of the distant inland bank of the lagoon we see a Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea and some Black-necked Stilts Himantopus mexicanus, together with some White-cheeked Pintails Anas bahamensis. Still at the north end of the lagoon we find House Wrens Troglodytes aedon and Mani shouts as he finds a superb male Peruvian Meadowlark Sturnella bellicosa on a tall brick wall.
We walk along the beach, looking along the lagoon's closest edges and see a small group of Willets Tringa semipalmata just as a flock of twenty eight Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus fly over. Out at sea it is a huge surprise to see practically nothing. The usual massed ranks of boobies, cormorants and pelicans aren't to be seen and it takes some time to see even the common seabirds. Eventually though Peruvian Boobies Sula variegata, Inca Terns Larosterna inca, Peruvian Pelicans Pelecanus thagus, Guanay Cormorants Phalacrocorax bougainvillii and Royal terns Thalasseus maximus are added. Last year, with Jason Oliver, we estimated the Guanay Cormorant flock to be around 50,000! Today the number is less than ten. Amazing. On previous visits I have seen massed curtains of Peruvian Boobies diving in a synchronised wave into the sea but not today. Every visit is different. Part of the charm of the place, how I would love to be able to visit more regularly.
Walking the beach, Mani photographs a Snowy Egret in the sudsy surf as I watch a couple of Gray Gulls Leucophaeus modestus, another bird I have seen here in their hundreds before today. I can't complain though, the waders are here.
Up on the highest area of sandy beach I am heading to the south end of the lagoon as Mani continues to photographs birds along the tideline. Suddenly I hear a plaintive call and turn around to find an American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica quite close by sitting on some twigs and rubbish. Brilliant to see one so close and unconcerned instead of amongst a huge flock of European Golden Plover.

Going to the inland side of the lagoon, Mani and I conceal ourselves behind large reeds and get astounding views of a few Yellow-crowned Night Herons. Eyeball to eyeball with these birds is a wonderful experience as dozens of Blue & White Swallows hawk around us, picking off just a few of the millions of small flies. Masses of spiders' webs take some more of them but they hum as we walk through them.

Along the sandbank, more Mul
ti-coloured Rush Tyrants show themselves and the views towards the favellas is incredible. Over a wooden bridge and along a stream, we pass two waders that allow great comparison between the two closely related species, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs.

Heading for an area where in the past there have been a number of bird-filled shallow scrapes and pools, Mani and I find it mostly dry except for a small amount of marshy mud. This has birds, not many but amongst the Lesser Yellowlegs is a Pectoral Sandpiper and a couple of Semi-palmated Sandpipers Calidris pusilla. Three Peruvian Meadowlarks are here too as well as a Striated Heron and Little Blue Heron. Fascinating to watch numbers of Blue & White Swallows coming down to take a drink from the stream.
Back to the road with time approaching five p.m. Mani and I search for and find a Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia almost totally concealed in long grass. Two Scrub Blackbirds Dives warczewiczi are noisily calling and the American Kestrels are still on the same palmtree.

At the visitor's reception two guinea pig-like animals scuttle across the path and it is time for Mani to leave for Lima. It has been a truly magnificent birding day and having Mani share all the wonderful moments has been terrific. Mani leaves in a car. I start to walk for my overnight hotel in Chorillos. Walking along the very busy dual-carriageway towards Chorillos I count the Cattle Egrets coming into roost. I count around 650 before I have passed the roost site. Crossing the road to view a couple of very dirty pools, there are more Franklin's Gulls, Coots, Neotropic Cormorants, Black-necked Stilts and Lesser Yellowlegs and another Plumbeous Rail is out in the open. By the time I get my camera out of my rucksack it has gone.

Later, in my hotel room, I open my notebook and see the number 64. Sixty four bird species on day one, I feel content that this is a reasonable start.

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

5 th January                                                            Tragedy                                              The Bee Gees   ...