Friday, 29 January 2010

Everyone's Allowed to Throw One Wobbler Per Trip?

Maybe it was I didn't sleep too well last night? Or maybe it was the driver taking the piss today and bringing both his children? Or maybe I was left unsure exactly where we were going? Whatever, I felt a little short tempered this morning, to say the least! I had my lap-top tuned into Google Earth, awaiting the arrival of the transport to make sure I wasn't paying good money to go back to the coast. His wife had mentioned the Pacific before we parted company yesterday and although I had stressed 'the mountains' don't you just know how these things can get lost in interpretation? Lagunilla is on the coast, but the misunderstanding came about because we were going to Lagunilla Laguna which is where I needed to go. That sorted we got into the mini-bus (yes, the comfort of a mini-bus today) where his daughter was running up and down the bus, and he started to do his paperwork, I was having none of it. I gestured that the children must be quiet and issued a terse 'vamoose' and we got underway. It was a 3 hour ride to our destination, fortunately on well made roads and on the way we picked up 2 ladies armed with their home made cakes, roasted maize etc to sell to stopped cars at the Toll Booth. It felt very good giving the locals a bit of help and as we had been travelling for over 2 hours now we made a stop at the next village. All I was after was a bottle of orange juice, but was distracted by bird song from a nearby house. The locals looked on in amasement as I found, studied, then photographed Bright-rumped Yellowfinch which I guess they see every day of their lives.

Bright-rumped Yellowfinch

Further down the road the breaks were slammed on, and in what had become common practice, Fernando shouted Mister and pointed to the opposite side of the road. There perched on the soil bank were 3 Andean Flickers, a bird I have encountered before but none the less value for that. My great concern in these circumstances is that I'll find my way under a lorry, due to the combination of sheer delight and the fact they are all driving on the wrong side of the road. Needless to say I survived. Further up the road the vegetation started to get a little more lush, and in a flooded field we found some more Andean Lapwing, which were far to distant to photograph. The image below is from yesterday.

Andea Flicker

Too good a bird for just one shot

Andean Lapwing

We reached the first of 3 lagoons right on the 3 hour mark and a quick scan was enough to determine there were no Andean Gulls close at hand, so Fernando suggested we went to the most distant and work our way back. This was by far the largest of the 3, and when the kids were let out the little girl went a bit ballistic, to her this must have been 'Nuts in May', but not good for birding. I had a quiet word, and have to say under different circumstances would agree that the girl was very well behaved, but I was on a mission so headed off in my own direction leaving them to make as much noise as they liked. I had already seen a couple of Gulls in the distance, and up here they could only be one flavour, so was feeling a little relieved at the prospect of getting some shots. There was a single adult on a sand bar one side of the bridge, and about 8 adults and juvs on the other, but none any nearer than those we encountered yesterday. The one big plus was that they were static, so got some shots. Obligingly a couple of adults also flew in to bathe and as the pictures below show I got them too.

Andean Gull

a few of the best photos

not brilliant, but better than what I had in the archive previously


So fortunately not returning

empty handed.

Arriving at the last of the lagoons, I was getting a little 'traffic weary' as I said this was on a main arterial road and every vehicle that passes sounds their horn, and if they see you camera poised they sound it even more. So once again setting off across the grassland with the kids in tow, I came across 2 passerines which I am sure I'd never seen before, and taking up stalking mode made after them. I had gotten rid of the youngsters, but then the 'final straw' as far as I was concerned. With the whole of Peru, 3 gigantic lakes, enough Flamingos for 2 each the Americans arrived. In what I consider typical British fashion there seems to be this compulsion of crowding your fellow man, and this was what they were about to do. Eight women in full cry decanted from there bus and headed my way. I turned and asked them if they could be quiet as I was trying to see some small birds in a ditch but they were having none of it. That's when I lost the plot, in language I have never used on the 'messdeck' let alone to a woman I let them have it, and for my trouble branded a Grumpy Old Man (wrong on all 3 counts there girls). By now they had flushed the Flamingos and all the Wildfowl, and what became of my 2 little dickie birds is anybodies guess, but that's when they got it 'both barrels', and I had had enough, time to return to Arequipa. Why I had to explain the situation to Fernando I have no idea, but firing a final salvo of obscenities out of the window we started for home. Raptors have been thin on the ground while at elevation, but on the way back mine host spotted no few than 3 species. Only good fortune brings the pair of American Kestrels to these pages as I just had enough time to loose off a couple of shots before being spotted by 2 lorries which let off their shots and flushed the birds. The second was the only 'lifer' of the day as a superb , adult Mountain Caracara flew just a matter of yards in fromt of us, being in no particular hurry to fly away. Finally, I have to do a little work on the third to identify it, fortunately with the aid of photographs of it tearing a plastic bag to pieces.

American Kestrel obviously on traffic duty.

Again, moments before the hooters went off.

And finally another photograph from yesterday - Plumbeous Sierra-Finch