Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Sow's Ear into Silk Purse!

What could have been an extremely long day today, turned into something of a prefect 'silk purse'. The rumored bus strike was ON and so my latest, Belgian, acquaintance couldn't get to Arequipa and I couldn't get to Huacho. Nevertheless, the taxi had driven along about 5 miles of sea-shore earlier this morning, and that for one had to be worth investigating. There was time for a hearty breakfast, and to say farewell to Benito & Brenda as they endeavored to get a flight to Tacna, just this side of the Chilean border, before I set off myself.

I was advised that there was a steep cliff road and a very busy motorway between the hotel and the beach so a taxi would be the best plan. All of 4 miles and what wouldn't have been a very pleasant walk was a costly £1.40 so I was glad I took the advice. At the shore the 'surfers' had beaten me to the punch, and were already catching some serious waves, but I was undeterred as I saw a whole squadron of birds at the end of the pier so it was game on. Unfortunately, the pier didn't open until noon, and no amount of charm was going to get me past the henchmen guarding the entrance. Fortunately, some of the afore mentioned were flying this way, and in quick time I had the much wanted Belcher's Gull in my sights, along with Inca Tern, Franklin's Gulls aplenty, Neotropic Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher and a single Grey Gull.

Only a few years ago, the coveted Gull came under the heading of Band-tailed Gull along with its east coast cousin, but after the 'split' of these 2 species they were re-named Belcher's and Olrog's respectively. The latter will be the subject of my desires when I get to Bahia Blanca, Argentina in February. For now I was happy to click away at anything that came within range, and a 2 mile walk along the beach turned up 4 age phases of that Gull. By the time I got back the pier was open, and well worth a walk to the end if only to see the superb restaurant there. I took some time to give it the once over and can report the decor, menu and wine list (had there been another day) would have been worth a small indulgence! In addition, the Inca Terns were favouring the roof areas and made for a brilliant and close sight looking through the windows.

So, all in all another splendid day as on the way to find a taxi back I came upon the beautiful Pacific Dove, almost close enough to touch, and although none of today's encounters were 'lifers' there was certainly some quality there. The Belcher's also wasn't strictly an addition to my Gull photo archive, but the 2 35mm snaps I had taken in 2003 couldn't even be described as 'record shots', in addition to which it was still Band-tailed Gull.

Belcher's Gull adult




Belcher's Gull - head detail.

Belcher's Gull - tail detail.

Belcher's Gull, thought to be 'none-breeding adult?

Ditto, head detail.

Belcher's gull, second calander year.


Ditto, head detail.

Belcher's Gull, first winter.


Grey Gull, probably 3rd winter

Same bird

Black Oystercatcher - on the rocks below the pier and almost impossible to see let alone photograph. I stepped on an electrical box, to gain vantage, got a rollocking from security so was only able to get this by leaning over the high fence.

Pacific Dove

The other day I took the liberty of presenting what I think is the most astounding Gull in the World. Today, I do similarly for Terns. Is this a stunner or what?

Inca Tern


Perched on the rocks, they take a 45 degree angle stance then extend their neck towards the sea. Sighting a fish they launch forward and rarely miss.

Shame about the wing-tip.

There, see what I mean?

Taken through the closed window of the restaurant.

The Restaurant at the end of the Pier in all its glory. Click on photo to enlarge, and note the Terns on the Cupola, there were well over 100 on the various roofs.

The Florentina Lighthouse atop the cliff. Not built to the same design as Pisa, just the cameraman with a list to starboard! Think the palm trees look good too.

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