Wednesday, 27 January 2010

800 Without a Brush with Billy Grosso

Well, I made it but only by the skin of my teeth and no way down to careful planing. The overnight journey was nowhere as bad as I thought it might be with the hour and a half, as it turned out, to Ica passing very quickly, and the 2 hour wait filled with a trip to a most well appointed Supermarket. The second leg kicked off at 21-30, with the (mandatory) TV volume down to a tolerable level, no screaming kids and little mobile phone activity - Paradise. Unaware a meal was served, I'd already eaten some roast pork and a couple of apples , while the stewardess was having some difficulty with the menu as far as language is concerned. I have one simple rule when eating in foreign parts, "order what you like, and eat what you get". So, when she offered me Pollo (chicken) the same as the man before I simply said "Si, anything will do". My little adage hasn't accounted for what I got, NADA, I didn't see her again until breakfast! Arriving Arequipa at 09-30, the last part of the trip in daylight gave an opportunity to see the terrain, which in the main was 'moon-scape' punctuated with crop production in fertile valleys, plus I had managed half a dozen hour sleep.

There are several Tourist Information desks at the terminal, and not wanting the bother of going from hotel to hotel, I let the lady in charge do the work. A nice little billet on the edge of the city square, she also fixed me up with a 4 wheel drive and driver for my intended trip to the Parque Nacianal Salinas tomorrow and buses to get me into Chile in 3 days time. I have checked with a couple of tour operators that Andean Gull does occur there, so I have high hopes but will leave it at that. Also, while sussing this part of the trip, via Field Guides and the Internet, it's come to light that 3 species of Flamingo (Chilean, Andean and what I have only ever known as Puna) can be found there. Some web sites are even making comparisons with Africa where only 2 can be seen. Anyway, to the point, it seems some authorities are now calling the latter Jamse's Flamingo, a new one on me but not surprising as the latin name is Phoenicoparrus jamesi.

Soon checked in and business above sorted I was off to the Parque Ecological, just on the edge of town and a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Unfortunately, it was closed. Seems it's only open 3 days a week the rest of the time, today included, they lay aside for irrigation and strimming, and to be fair there is a lot of water flying around, so we wouldn't want anyone getting wet would we? However, it was perfectly fine walking around the perimeters of what is effectively one park cut in half, and not long before finding a pair of Spot-winged Pigeons. Already on my World List I was content knowing just 2 more would bring the Trip Total to 800. That was soon accomplished as 2 'lifers' quickly fell to the log, and both initially overlooked. The first, in flight, was thought to be a Great Thrush and the second 2 Croaking Ground Doves perched in a tree, neither of which according to the book, occur in this part of South America. Closer inspection revealed the true identity as per the updated list. In addition to these, a Sparrow size passerine and a Hummingbird remain unidentified, the latter could have been Andean Hillstar but a bit of a ragged female/juvenile type - lost! That's when the Police turned up. Concerned I was in this area alone, they advised Billigrosso (muggers) were about and I'd do well to head back to the city center. As ALWAYS enquiries were made with both tourist lady and hotel staff on the likelyhood of encountering the afore mentioned Senor Grosso, and they had assured me all would be well. Needless to say I think, I headed for the concrete jungle happy that I had reached this total unscathed.

Trip Numbers Update


Trip Total Species - 800
World 'Lifers' - 526
While 'Endemics remain at - 57

Spot-winged Pigeon, either roosting or preening didn't make for a very good subject.

Chiguanco Thrush (adult female)

Chiguanco Thrush (juvenile)

Chiguanco Thrush (adult female feeding juvenile)