Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Next Adventure

It's chilly and chuckin' it down with rain, but the flights are booked so probably this is a good time to announce the next trip. Saturday 21st November inst, fly to Bogota, Columbia and Wednesday 24th February 2010 fly home from Buenos Aires. In between, some parts are set in tablets of stone, while most will be a 'suck it and see, backpacking adventure'. The first 3 weeks will be with Birdseekers starting with a couple of days close to the capital and culminating in the Santa Marta Mountains. From there I have an open-jaw booked Bogota / Caracas / Caracas / Quito, and while in Venezuela will spend a week with David Ascanio (a well thought of guide) looking, in the main, for 'endemics' at Coro, Maracay and the Henri Pittier NP before heading for Colonia Tovar and return to Caracas. From here it's solo, though not all in uncharted waters, to Guyana (probably via a stop-over in Port 'o' Spain, Trinidad) then Suriname, French Guiana and onward to Ecuador. Up to now I have been unable to obtain a Suriname visa, (the only county on the whole continent where you have to get one up-front) and some of you have asked for an update on my progress, if indeed there has been any. Well, having downloaded and completed all the forms from the internet, I got stuck with the ambiguous nature of some of the questions. There is no embassy in London, the nearest being Amsterdam where it was suggested by the Honorary Consul to Great Britain, I might send my details and passport. Not flippin' likely! I also drew a blank with the Suriname embassy in Georgetown, Guyana who told me I must obtain the document from my nearest Suriname embassy, so back to square one. Close to a 'last resort' I telephoned TraVisa who advertise being able to source visas for any country. The chap on the other end had never heard of Suriname, so not the best start, but said he would be able to get me one for the princeley sum of £95 + VAT + of course the price of the visa. The upshot was, he couldn't and told me that during his investigations had found that I would have to make an appointment and visit the Honorary Consul in London personally. He in turn would supply the required documents for me to obtain the visa at the countries border. I spoke to Dr Amwed Jethu the SHC who said "just bowl into our embassy in Georgetown, and they'll fix you up". Why didn't they say that in the first place. This missif is from your corespondent banged up in a Paramaribo jail, Suriname.

From here it will be familiar territory as my ex-boss, Mike Hughes and I did most of the following some years ago. Overland from Quito (hopefully coastal) to Guayaquil and fly , return, to Baltra, Galapagos, onward to the Peruvian border, by bus, where last time we were palmed off with US$100 worth of counterfeit Sol. The next town is Tumbes after which a number of bird species are named, so will endeavor to stay longer this time. Next comes Trujillo, arguably the second largest city in Peru. Myquese and I had a whale of a time here being invited, right out of the blue, to be guests of honour and take the salute at the cities annual parade. This we did with great pride and respect and got to meet the President of Peru and his wife at an after parade party. The intent will be to visit the Tourist police armed with the photos of that gig, and see if there's another 'freebee' going. From there, bypass Lima to Paracas and Pisco, springboard for the Balastas Islands, then cross the Andes, adjacent to Santiago, Chile hoping to reach Bahia Blanca, south of Buenos Aries for Olrog's Gull. So, that's the plan, let's hope I make it. I never draw up a wants list but the single species that has captured my imagination is Oilbird, so there will a massive hope for that!

and Representing the Dotterels

The Wader count at Ferry Bridge was little different to yesterday, except Sanderling numbers had increased to 4 and there was a single Curlew (and a Wheatear). Tout to the PBO was, for me, totally devoid of passerine migrants, but there was some good news at the Obs. Shearwaters in the form of Balearic and Sooty were passing through in decent numbers, in fact the best count this season, I was told. There were also a couple of Bonxie adding a little more variety, but my target was Sooty bringing the 'year list' up to 244.

Red-kneed Dotterel - Shady Camp, Mary River, Kakadu, Northern Territory, Australia

Banded Dotterel - Kiakora, South Island, New Zealand

New Zealand Dotterel - Tauranga, South Island, New Zealand

Rufous-chested Dotterel - Gypsy's Cove, East Falkland Island