Friday, 22 January 2010

Side by Side - Ornithology & Archaeology

Charles el Taxi was absolutely right when he described Alburfera de Media Mundo as being 'alive with birds'. However, his suggested boat ride to the end of the Laguna and back wasn't all it might have been on a good day. Probably I have got so used to seeing so many birds, and wildlife in general, that when it's a bit quiet I start getting one on? We followed a similar plan as yesterday and drove the full length of the lake and more or less the first species we clapped eyes on was an addition to the trip list, but unlikely to be seen at Radipole, Ruddy Duck. Despite my vast and often travels in all of the America's, this is the first time I have recorded this beautiful little duck outside of the UK. The second was even more welcome as a pair of Red Shoveler past by but too far away for a decent photo. According to the book these would be well to the north of their usual range, and as I've said before it's not the best guide in the world, and I doubt even I could cock-up that bill. This was the only 'lifer' of the day, but there were other additions to the 'trip list' such as Great Grebe, White-tufted Grebe and Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant. Of the latter, so many birders seem to rave over this one, but while it would be wrong to call it dowdy, there are far more spectacular birds in the world deserving of the name.

The 14 years old Oarsman who pulled his little heart out.

Neotropic or Olivacious Cormorant in 'breeding plumage'.

Three shots of

Great Grebe

showing signs of mating.

Most of the birds mentioned above were seen from the rowing boat which took me over a good proportion of the lake, and initially pulled by a wiry, strong looking adult man. However, he only rowed across the lake, which I have to say reminded me so much of rowing across the Fleet, and then handed the oars to a 14 year old lad. This in turn led me to think of my older grandson Lee, who will be 14 this very year. With no disrespect meant I couldn't see him pulling a boat across the Fleet let alone what this child did. For 3 and a half hour, without a stop, he just kept going and didn't even get short of breath, and while I rarely tip anyone, this was an occasion to waive the rule! On the way back, it started to get hard going especially with the wind, on the bow, freshening so I took the opportunity to climb ashore at a convenient slipway. The moment I reach the rough road a Short-eared Owl flew past quartering the reeds in search of prey. Looking beyond that and to the sea, there were literally 1,000's of Pelicans (both Brown and Peruvian) with a whole mix of sea-birds which were next to be investigated.

These were just some of the scenes down at the sea shore, in this picture there are to my knowledge, Semipalmated Sandpiper (you'll have to take my word for that), Hudsonian Whimbrel, American Oystercatcher, Franklin's, Grey and Belcher's Gulls, Royal, Sandwich & Elegant Terns, Black Skimmer and Neotropic Cormorant.

Somebody, no names no pack-drill, stepped a little too close, 'putting up' mainly Franklin's and the Skimmers.

Black Skimmer with damaged wing, it could fly (see below) but only just.


Lists Update


Trip Species Total - 792 Lifers - 523


When was the last time you had a thoroughly interesting afternoon for £4.17p, including an ancient monument older than the Egyptian Pyramids, Chichan Itza and the Great Wall of China? I have just returned from Bandurria, which was in fact £4.20 but you've got to get a bit of discount haven't you? To start with there was a 10Km taxi ride to the site (plus of course the return), no entry fee and a compulsory guide. For years, in fact 4,500, Caral just a few miles north of Huacho was thought to be the oldest settlement not only in Peru, but on the whole Sub-Continent. That is until recently when archeologists started investigating this site, finding clothing, fishing gear and household items thought to well out-date the neighboring village.

By no means on the scale of other ancient sites, this tiny village gave me quite a buzz, as the oldest in the land.

The 'Lagoon', main water supply for the settlement, looking to the north.

Like the Fleet, a watercourse where fresh and salt waters meet, looking south.

Central Colonnade

Plaza Circular. These people who pre-dated the Inca by about 3,000 years were Sol and Lunar worshipers.

Haveing said that, evidence of 'human sacrifice' has been found at this site.

Afternoon at The Plaza

The plinth where once stood one of eight pyramids.