Showing posts from August, 2006

Home again and a Red-necked Grebe

After a long trip away, It's good to be at home for a bit - missed the garden birds. The Blackbirds are having a feast on the Rowan berries at the bottom of the garden. The surprise bird of the day was a juvenile Red-necked Grebe on nearby Fishmoor Reservoir; there's been an amazing series of records for this species this year from all over east Lancashire.

Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge

The weather had got decidedly cooler and the birds were consequently much quieter on the day we left Amazonia Lodge for the Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, 3000 ft higher back up the Manu Road and into the Cloud Forest. This still didn't stop the new birds from appearing including two lovely Swallow-tailed Kites circling endlessly over a hillside. A Long-billed Starthroat was an unexpected find just beyond Atalaya. A medium sized black cat - a Jaguarundi - ran across the road in front of us near Patria.
Just before we got to the lodge we came across our first major Tanager flocks - all sorts of brightly coloured birds (and some more inconspicuous ones). Orange eared Tanager has to be one of the best with this bright green plumage shining out. Blue naped Chloroponia was another stunner along with Golden Tanagers, Orange-breasted Euphonias and so on.
A couple of Lemon-browed Flycatchers sat huddled together outside the lodge gate as we arrived (never to be seen again!). We dumped our bags in …


Wow, what an experience. Seven days on internet free bliss - and not just internet, no electricity either! The birds were fabulous, over 200 in the week and many others just not identified or, in the case of Antpitta´s just too secretive!

The trip down which was 10 hours on a bumpy unmetalled road wasn´t particularly pleasant but Raul our driver(another one) was good fun. He spoke as much English as I Spanish - we managed to understand each other and shared many jokes! The good thing was that he was used to driving groups of birders down the road so knew all the good spots and even some of the birds.
We stopped off at a good site early into the trip and got the Bearded Mountaineer and Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch that we´d missed the previous days. Several other goodies were seen on the way down as the weather got hotter and more humid. By the time we´d reached the river port of Atalaya (just a few wooden shacks and about 12 boats) things were rather sticky! The boat journey coincid…

A view of Peru from Cuzco

We´ve been in Peru for just under two weeks now and we´re having a fabulous time. We´ve spent the last two days (semi-) chilling in the beautiful city of Cuzco, certainly a city that is set up for the tourist trade but not in such an ostentatious way. The Plaza de Armas is a wonderful centre-piece and the small streets off it are lovely. Our hotel is quiet and comfortable and only one block away from the centre and you can get up onto the roof and view Cuzco (as well as Blue and Yellow Tanagers and the ubiquitous Rufous-collared Sparrows).

We´ve seen plenty of footy shirts on the locals, but all have been Peruvian, except one - yes, he was wearing a Blackburn Rovers shirt!

On reflection, Lima was a bit of a dissapointment, there is certainly a lot of poverty there but as with all big cities, it draws many poorer people in from the country in search of better things - well for me there are MUCH better things in other parts of Peru (though not perhaps Juliaca!). Arequipa was lovely in the…

Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

I awoke early on the Thursday in the hope of new birds in the grounds of El Albergue. I wasn´t dissapointed - a beatiful Black-tailed Trainbearer greeted me and the dawn. We took the 8am train to Aguas Calientes, the town near the ruins of Machu Picchu, quickly got on one of the buses and arrived at the site at around 10am.

What a place! I looked at Bernie and we couldn´t really believe we had got there. It was a beautiful day - we spent a good threee hours touring the site but didn´t climb the big one! The setting is incredible and no end of photographs could convey the situation.

We made our way back to the town and managed to sneak into the grounds of the very expensive hotel (cos we looked like guests) . This place was filled with hummingbirds and tanagers. Some exquisite birds - we managed to see the endemic Green & White Hummingbird as well as Saffron Crowned Tanager and loads of other goodies in half an hour before we felt we may well be sussed by the hotel security people!


Train from Puno to Cusco

We spent our last full day in Puno at a Hacienda where we wandered the grounds, walked through a Cactus forest, rode horses out onto the marsh at the edge of Lake Titicaca and had a most stupendous lunch. Riding over the rail tracks was a bit hairy but we managed it without trampling on the Andean Lapwings, Flickers and flocks of finches.

The next day we travelled first Class on the Orient Express from Puno to Cuzco. "Express" isn´t the word I would use as it took 10 hours through some fantastic scenery and though I wasn´t expecting any birds, some Andean Ibis were most unexpected.

I´ve worked out that we´ve seen 117 species so far with 104 lifers. Not bad for the "non-birding" bit.

Our arrival in the dark at Cuzco was followed by a Colin McRae taxi drive to Ollantaytambo (virtually an internet desert).

Titicaca and Sillustani

Doing the tourist bit today, but with a private tour of the Uros islands, we managed an extension to get a view of Short-winged (flighless) Grebe. The Islands were amazing but the Lake itself is fantastic.Loads of waterbirds everywhere you look. Even our trip to the funeral towers at Sillustani was enhanced with Aplomado Falcon and Burrowing Owl. We´re just a bit sunburnt today! Now that we´re getting a little more aclimatised to the lack of Oxygen, we should be able to sleep better and eat a little more. Still keep drinking the water and taking those Coca sweet things.

From Colca to Titicaca

We set off from Arequipa early on Saturday morning, visiting a nearby valley which contained lots of new and lovely birds - four species of Hummingbird, two Canasteros including an out-of-normal-range Canyon Canastero (our guide was even more excited that I!), several Sierra-finches, Golden-billed Saltator (great bird) and many more. I could have stayed at this spot all day as it was full of birds but we had to make tracks to the high Andes. Our trip up to the plateau was interrupted by several productive stops... and not just for birds - herds of Vicunas, Alpaca and Llama as well as some stunning scenery (including a smoking volcano). On the rough track to Chivay we saw plenty of water birds and birds typical of that high altitude, Bright-rumped and Puna Yellow Finches were bonny, Andean Flicker, Bar-winged and White-throated Cinclodes, White-fronted Grount Tyrant, Giant Coot, Grey Seedsnipe to name but a few. Then Raul announced that there was a chance of Diademed Sandpiper Plover a…


Well it was all going too well. I´ve had a tummy bug that pole-axed me for the last 24 hours. Fortunatley (for me) this wasn´t a birding day but I haven´t managed to see much of the beautiful city of Arequipa - Bernie has!

At least I´m feeling a lot better now. The place we´ve stayed at (Casa Arequipa) is beautiful and the staff so very helpful - I´d recommend this place to anyone coming to this city.

Our first days in Peru

After a 24hr journey via Paris and Caracas, we finally arrived in Lima. Our hotel in Barranco overlooks the Pacific and is in a quiet neighbourhood.
First birds were Black Vutures (they're everywhere), Pacific Doves and many seabirds including Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian Booby, Inca Tern and Band-tailed gulls. A dark phase Vermillion Flycatcher partolled the garden.

Our first trip was to Pantanos de Villa where there was a splendid selection of birds including the much hoped for Many-coloured Rush-tyrant. All the expected waterbirds were present including lots of Puna Ibis, a flock of Black-necked stilts, White cheeked Pintail, etc. We then visited Pacachamac, a large Inka site to the south of Lima and samples the local chicharrones.
We finished off at Pucusana where we hired a boat and visited the seabird colonies - good views of Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes, Red-legged Cormorant, Grey Gull, more Inka Terns, Blackish Oystercatcher but sadly no penguins. :-(