Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marcapomacocha and Lima

After leaving Huancayo we headed via bus to a fairly small town called San Mateo, at about 3500m (11,500'), right along the main highway from Lima to the highlands. It was to be our base to bird a place called the Milloc bog, a spot that has some very range resticted and habitat specific birds. Upon arriving in the little town we tried to find a taxi diver to hire for the day to take us to the bog, which is also known as Marcapomacocha for a nearby town. We promptly found someone and gave him a downpayment of 20 soles to assure our commitment. After a night in the comfiest beds so far this trip, at 0515 or so we headed onward and upward.
Our main two target birds were Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, a very unique bird with a tantalizing name, and White-bellied Cinclodes, an incredibly range restricted bird, with only 28 individuals known, but the population is extrapolated to 200 or so from likely habitat that has not been seen by birders. One of the things that these birds share is habitat, they need a certain type of bog that only occurs over 15,000' in the Andes. In order to get to the place to see them we crossed a pass that was over 16,000', the highest I have ever been. The scenery on the rutted dirt road to get to these remote valleys was absolutely spectacular, with fog laying like a blanket in the valleys, snow-capped peaks rising over red, green, and gray colored rolling hills and cliffs, as far as the eye can see.
We got to the bog just as the fog was burning off, great timing, and started walking around at about 15,500', something easier said than done. After about 5 minutes of walking around in this strange terrain, we heard something interesting sing, and the second that Andrew yelled "WHITE-BELLIED CINCLODES!" I had just gotten my binoculars on the singing bird. There was a pair of them, and we followed them around for the better part of an hour, getting photographs of the birds doing a song-display, where they wave their wings while singing from atop a rock, and getting recordings of them singing, possibly the best recordings ever gotten of this species. Some other nice birds in that bog included White-winged Diuca-Finch, Gray-breasted Seedsnipe, and three species of ground-tyrant. But that was only the small bog!
We went further on down the road to the top of this talus slope (talus is kind of like shale, but more sketchy to walk on), and down at the bottom, a few hundred feet, there was an expansive bog, taking up an entire valley between a large mountain and some hills, over a mile long.
We made our way down the slope, and told our taxi driver, surely convinced as all others are that we are certifiable, to wait for us at the other end of the bog, where a different road conveniently transects the valley, so that you never have to walk uphill if you have a driver. Right at the bottom of the slope, only a few hundred feet in, all of a sudden there it was. Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. One of the birds I have wanted most in the world for a very long time, almost since I started birding. We ended up having three individuals, two adults and a juvenile, and we continued the tradition of recording and photographing these as well. We spent a few hours at this bog, and the other most interesting thing that happened didn't involve something rare, but something simply aweing.
We were down at the marshier end of the bog, where water was about ankle-calf deep, and since Andrew only had hiking boots he was hopping from hummock to hummock, while I tromped through mindlessly. I had stopped to photograph a Puna Snipe that had been flushed, and while I was looking through the viewfinder, all of a sudden I saw a blur and the snipe was gone. Then the screaming started. Three Aplomado Falcons had appeared out of nowhere, and one had attacked my snipe, and the snipe narrowly escaped with its life. All three falcons were wheeling around within 30 feet of us, screaming their heads off, periodically diving on Andean Lapwings or Andean Gulls, which were also flying around in a panic, and it was just complete chaos. The falcons seemed completely unaware of us, and they were too close to get the whole bird in the frame of a picture most times. One ended up landing on a small hummock about 40 feet away and hung out there for about 5 minutes while we watched it, and then they disappeared as suddenly as they had arrived. Very cool. We thought we had seen the end of it, but about 15 minutes later we heard the calls again, and this time all three of them were way up in the sky, at least 1/2 mile, and all had their talons locked into some bird, and were spiraling down, screaming at eachother, fighting for the bird. One of them broke off a few hundred meters from the ground, but the last two didn't split until they were within a hundred feet of the ground. The victor flew off and landed with his prize, and proceeded to eat it while the other two went hungry.
From there we headed to a nearby lake, saw some of the same stuff, Giant Coots, over 150 Andean Geese, Chilean Flamingos, etc, and then headed back to San Mateo. On the way back, right at the top of the 16,010' pass, we had to stop and pull entirely off of the road for a giant tractor trailer, which happened to be trailing a tractor. Go figure. I tried to use my Blackberry while I was up there, and something happened to it and the screen dimmed and then went blank, and nothing I could do could turn it back on. I thought that I was a goner, until I managed to get it to work again down here in Lima yesterday, not sure what went wrong, nor how I fixed it, but I'll take it. Once the truck and its cargo had passed, we proceeded on our way, stopping at one place for Junin Canastero, a small brown bird that just happens to occur in Peru and only in Peru in the whole world. While searching for this bird, which we found, another car pulled up, and a birder got out, and he happened to be from Colorado! He and Andrew had a great time talking about birding his part of Colorado, a place which apparently has no birders, and marveled at the chance meeting. Unfortunately he was heading in the other direction, so we wished him luck and continued on our way.
When we got back to San Mateo we decided that we didn't want to spend another night, and despite it being after checkout time, the owner let us go, and we got a bus to Lima. They made us take our backpacks on the bus, and I got stuck in the doorway with mine and had to be helped by the salesman on the bus, haha. A few hours later we were securely back in the Lion Backpackers Bed and Breakfast, a decent enough place that has redeeming qualities such as breakfast and wifi. We went out in the local area to eat, and had great trashy American food, I got some pizza from Pizza Hut and Andrew got some monstrous burger from Burger King. It was glorious.
When I woke up this morning, I was sick again. Great. More food poisioning. And I never get sick at home! Hopefully this isn't a trend that will continue. I've been taking some medicine, and am feeling better now, here is hoping that I'll wake up tomorrow all better.
Today, after being lazy all morning and hanging out on the couches on the internet, we took a break from our laziness and headed to a spot in the city limits of Lima, Pantanos de Villa. It's a marshland with a beach next to it, and we had some nice birds. The best bird that you can get there is Peruvian Thick-Knee, a spectacular shorebird that stands about knee-high. We had two pairs of them, and got very close to one pair. We also had Great Grebes, old hat for Andrew but a coveted bird for me. The gull show was also great, with over a thousand Franklin's Gulls and hundreds of Belcher's and Kelp Gulls, and a smattering of Gray-hooded Gulls, a really gorgeous gull.
Now we are back at the hostal, being lazy on couches with internet like we do when we can. Tonight Chris, the third member of our party, comes into town, and he should arrive here by taxi sometime after midnight. Tomorrow we head over the Andes again to spend the night in Tingo Maria, and then travel to road to Pucallpa the day after, a road that is unsafe at night. Pucallpa is a truly Amazonian town, the first time I will have really been in the Amazon so far this trip. Our goal there is to find the right people to set up a trip to the Cordillera Azul, a very remote place. The target bird there is called Scarlet-banded Barbet, and is one of the more remote birds in South America, if not the world. Only three groups of people have EVER seen this bird, and it is one of the focal points of the trip, hopefully. Its world range is 25 sq kilometers, and only on the peak of one mountain, in one mountain range. It is such a special and gorgeous bird that it, out of all the fantastical birds of Peru, graces the cover of the field guide. If we are able to see it, an expedition that involves 1-2 weeks of hiking and camping, we would be only the fourth group in history. The trouble is finding the right people to contact to get the boat to the trailhead, and then getting the local guides and such. That is our main goal in Pucallpa, and hopefully one that we will succeed in. I should be able to post from Pucallpa before we head to the mountains, but we shall see.

Take it easy,

Friday, November 27, 2009

Satipo Road

The past few days were quite memorable, with many things seen and heard that will be remembered for a long time.
We ended up hiring a pick-up truck for three days, which came with its own driver, and at the end of three days of constant togetherness, we still never knew his name! He was nice, probably thought we were crazy from the music that we played over the radio in the car, via the very modern MP3 hookup for our iPods, not to mention the fact that about every 500m we would yell "STOP!" to get out and run around in the puna grasslands above treeline, looking for some small brown bird with a name like Creamy-breasted Canastero, or something of that ilk. In any case, he drove well enough, helped communicate with the locals, and tolerated us enough. We also paid for his food during our time together, and he was particularly keen about eating as much as possible, as often as possible.
The road itself wasn't that bad, but it was definitely a long haul. We probably spent more than 20 hours in the car during the few days. On our way over we got caught in an epic hailstorm too, only about the size of tic-tacs, but so much that it covered the ground with about two inches of ice pellets. Very cool. The scenery was breathtaking, with knife-edge peaks, plunging river valleys, and cloud enshrouded ridges everywhere you cast your eyes. The birding was also spectacular, with lots of flocks at the temperate forest we birded near the Puente Carrizales, in english the Bamboo Bridge, and a very high endemism rate, as well as some species that just aren't official yet, being discovered so recently.
The first day our goal was to get to what we thought was the town of Carrizales, in order to camp there in preparation for birding the next morning. Well, after asking many locals for directions, and going by the crude maps that the bird finding guide to Peru gives, we ended up driving in the dark, over an hour past the location of the supposed town. Of course, nobody who gave us directions to "Carrizales" thought to tell us that it was just a bridge and a locale, and nobody actually lived there. We ended up staying near the next town down from there, Calabaza, where we ate in a subterranean restaurant, almost completely in the dark, along with about 5 locals and a TV blaring latin american music videos at deafening volume. It was one of the more interesting meals I've ever had. We camped just up the road, and by we I mean Andrew camped on the side of the road and I slept in the trunk of the pickup, diagonally, and not very well. As we drifted off to sleep we were heralded by a screech-owl, which turned out to be a Koepcke's Screech-Owl, a Peruvian endemic, and not the easiest bird to get.
We woke up at about 0430 the next morning, and proceeded to drive an hour or so back up to Puente Carrizales, hearing Chestnut-breasted Wren along the way, along with Andean Solitaires and Glossy-black Thrushes. Once up at the top, the birding commenced for real, and it was quite superb. Some of the highlights included Fire-throated Metaltail, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Paramo Seedeater, Tschudi's Tapaculo (seen), a male Purple-backed Thornbill, both on our list for one of the best birds of these few days, over 35 Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers, Drab Hemispingus, and tons of more common hummingbirds, including Tyrian Metaltail, Violet-throated Starfrontlet, and Amethyst-throated Sunangel. As we proceeded down the road to a lower elevation we hit some more flocks, and at one point a Barred Fruiteater flew by and perched near the road. Playback wouldn't bring it in, but it brought another one in, and we got gorgeous views from about 15 feet away at eye level of a female Barred Fruiteater. Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, a male came in and started FEEDING the female, right in front of us. The light was bad, so the pictures aren't crystal clear, but I managed to get a bunch of pictures of the male feeding her. Sometime soon I need to upload some pictures.
After walking the road we got back in the car and headed to higher elevations, hoping for some of the more local birds, but first we needed a stop for lunch and gas. This involved picking up some Quechua woman from the side of the road, giving her a ride to the town nearby, a town of about 15 buildings, and then her manually pumping gas from a barrel into a metal pitcher, which she then covered with a cloth, because of course it was pouring down rain, and running to the car where our driver was covering the opening to the gas tank with a jacket, and pouring the pitcher of gas in, then repeating. This happened about 5 times, and only amounted to about 1/4 tank. Since the town didn't have a restaurant, we shopped at the little store, which had about 8 items, all of them either canned fish, drinks, or crackers. We got some peach nectar, soda crackers, and for the other two meat-eaters, sardines. It tasted great. After a little more birding in the pouring rain, when we got Tit-like Dacnis, we started the journey to our destination that night, the town of Acobamba, above which reside the incredibly local Black-spectacled Brush-Finch, described to science in 2002, and two yet undescribed species, "Mantaro Thornbird" and "Mantaro Wren". En route, during the 6 hour drive, Andrew pulled out his laptop, saying "I bet this is the last thing that our driver just expected me to get out", and checked spots for the third undescribed species in this area, "Millpo Tapaculo". It turns out that the spot was only a few hundred yards down the road from that point, so just in time! We got out, played the recording once, and boom, a few hundred feet away one responded. Of course it was on the top of a 60' cliff, so we just had to get up there. We went up a sloping pasture that took us to the top, and after some effort and playback, saw the bird out in the open from less than 15 feet away, photographed well, and recorded incredibly well. With that under our belt we headed down into the Mantaro River valley, where Acobamba is located. Gorgeous scenery going down all of it, and Creamy-crested Spinetails were the nicest birds we had. We arrived at Acobamba after dark, and were surprised to see a military checkpoint at the entrance to the town, with a gate and four guys with guns standing around, none of them seemingly older than 25. They checked our passports and let us in, per usual, and it turns out that this town has a large military presence, and an outpost that was just swarming wth cadets. We found out why later. We went to the only restaurant in town, which was owned by the same people that had the only hospedaje in town, and we patronized both that night. The meal was quite nice for $1 per person, a plate with tons of vegetables and rice, and no meat! Might be the only time this trip that happens. While waiting for our food, we could see the military building, and also one of the funniest sights I've ever seen. There were a couple cadets out front, and they took turns posing with their guns in heroic poses, while the other one took their picture with a nice digital camera, and then they would huddle over the camera to check out the picture, and usually take some more. So hilarious. More than just a couple people did it too, we figured it must have been a new shipment of soldiers, straight out of school.
After a night at the hospedaje, which was five beds on the second floor of someones house, accessed by steep stairs in a dark alley, we headed up the mountain directly above Acobamba, to a little town called Chucho Acha, above which are "Mantaro Wren" and Black-spectacled Brush-Finch, or so we hoped. We really had no idea where to go, but after asking the store owner in the three-building "town" where the previous gringos with optics had gone, he took us on a trail further up the mountain to a large patch of bamboo, exactly what we wanted. We only had a 20 sole note to pay him, so he was very grateful, 20 soles being at least twice what we would have paid otherwise, and he headed back down to the village, while we hung around and birded. The bamboo patch turned out to not have much of anything, but we struck paydirt on a trail leading downhill past it. At least three Black-spectacled Brush-Finches were singing, and responded to playback of their song for about 30 minutes, while we had gorgeous looks at this perhaps most beautiful of brush-finches, and continued the trend of photographing and recording it. Now we only needed the wren, but they are a bamboo obligate, and things were looking grim in the bamboo department. We walked a bit further town the trail, and while looking through a small flock, we heard a pair of wrens singing! This was great, because it means we could cut another day at our backup spot for the wren and brush-finch. We eventually managed to get incredibly close to the wrens, a pair and a juvenile, and photographed and recorded them as well, partially in the pouring rain. Joyful at our success, we headed back to the car and proceeded back down to Acobamba. On our way back down we picked up a couple locals to give them a lift back to town, and one of the even spoke a small amount of english! One of the surprises of the day, but not as surprised as we were about to be. Tired of the ominous foreshadowing yet?
On our way back into town we passed a small group of soldiers, and out of curiosity asked the locals what they were here for. They replied "For safety". Safety from what we naturally asked, and got the answer "Terrorists". Turns out after some more questioning, that there is a decent terrorist faction in that area, both for political reasons, drug reasons, and some of them are even leftovers of the Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso. That was slightly sobering.
Glad that we had learned about this on the last day, we started making our way back, with a few stops for the endemic "Mantaro Thornbird", which we finally heard distantly at one place, breaking our streak of photographing and recording every rare species in this area. What can you do. After a lunch of potatoes and rice at a small town, we started the 6 hour drive back to Huancayo. I managed to sleep a bit, but was still awake when we had Giant Hummingbird from the car, and also woke up to take some pictures of the gorgeous vistas. We had one bird that we still wanted to see well, and decided to stop at this likely looking spot for Eye-ringed Thistletail, another endemic to just this area. We almost immediately had one, and eventually got within about 8 feet of this bird, having it singing, walking on the ground, and all in all performing wonderfully for us, and this one caved to the formula of great pictures and recordings. We ended up having a few thistletails at this spot, as well as many "Millpo Tapaculos" and a Fire-throated Metaltail.
The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful, just long. A nice Aplomado Falcon spiced things up at one point, and getting cell service to check my email again was joyous. We made it back to our hotel at about 7pm, and after trying to get charged $70/day for the car instead of $50, we managed to haggle him down to about $20 more than 50 a day. Ah well, we just wanted to get fed and sleep. We went back to the same hotel and restaurant as we did last time we were here, and had a great meal of french fries and salad for me, and fries and steak for Andrew. My parents kindly treated us to this Thanksgiving dinner, and also kindly reminded us of the fact that it was Thanksgiving indeed! Thanks Mom and Dad!
I write this from our hotel room, as we prepare to eat and then head to the Ticlio Pass/Marcapomacocha area to bird tomorrow, hopefully for Diademed Sandpiper-Plover and White-bellied Cinclodes, two very special birds.

Also, as a footnote, here are some things that I didn't cram in the above writings, but deserve mention nonetheless:

A herd of llamas charging down the road towards us, about 35 of them, taking up the entire road.

An old Quechua lady walking calmly down the side of the road, knitting as she went.

A roadblock that was done by three kids that were about 6-8, asking for money. Our driver talked them out of it and let us pass.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Villa Rica and Huancayo

As I write this I am in my bed in our hotel in Huancayo, not to be confused with Huanaco, the last city I updated from. We are currently living in the lap of luxury, and only for a measly 80 soles per night, which equates to $13 per person per night, for a nice hotel with cable TV, hot showers, and wifi in the rooms. Gotta love it.
The past few days were spent in a small town called Villa Rica, which was accessed from Huanaco by a 5 hour bus, a 3 hour collectivo, and another 1.5h collectivo. It's a big country with bad roads. Villa Rica was a surprisingly large town for being in the middle of nowhere, with at least a few thousand people living there. It was also at the lowest altitude that we had stayed at so far, at around 1400m (about 4600'), and the habitat there is more upper foothills and lower subtropics, as opposed to the drier high elevations that we had been at. It was great being at low elevations, no altitude sickness of any sort, but of course I couldn't possibly be well for more than a couple days, so I just had to get food poisoning. The main suspect was a juice I got that was mango with milk. I was a bit tentative about the milk anyways, and now I will avoid it like the plague. Plus it didn't even taste good..!
We had two main target birds while at Villa Rica, namely Creamy-bellied Antwren and Scissor-tailed Nightjar, both birds we had no chance for on the rest of the trip. I'm a huge fan of spectacular nightjars, so I was really hoping to be able to get that bird. We went to the spots at dusk where they are supposed to display, and had no luck. Ah well, some other trip I guess. We were more lucky with the Creamy-bellied Antwren, hearing and seeing that Peruvian endemic, but Andrew was unable to get a recording sadly. There were other good birds around too, many of them Andrew had already had in the south when he was here in Peru two weeks before me, but many were new to me. There was a good tanager show overall, with Turquoise, Paradise, Spotted, Blue-necked, Yellow-throated, Silver-backed, Golden-eared, Saffron-crowned, Flame-faced, and Swallow Tanagers leading the charge, along with many Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers, and a couple Scarlet Tanagers. Who knows, maybe I saw the same Scarlet Tanagers this summer in MA? No way to know. Some other nice birds included White-eared Solitaire, a stunning member of its family, and some great marshbirds at the marsh right near town. The marsh is fairly large, and at 1400m is kind of an interesting habitat. We had great luck there in the late afternoon, SEEING at least 5 Rufous-sided Crakes, hearing Blackish Rail, getting to see Least Grebe in flight, and having an interesting elevational record of two Yellow-billed Terns, normally a bird that hangs out in the Amazonian lowlands.
Of course, when I was sick I had to miss a couple birds that I wanted, but that is just a given. Andrew went out birding the afternoon that I was far gone, and had two birds that I was hoping to get, namely Bicolored Hawk and Lanceolated Monklet, which he had a family group of, four in total, so close that he was unable to focus his binoculars. Ah well, you can't get them all.
It was quite rainy down in the Villa Rica area, where it rained two of the three mornings that we were there, letting us get out for dawn chorus only once.
Yesterday we headed to where we are now, Huancayo, via a 1.5h collectivo and then a four hour bus. Pretty unexciting for the most part, but a juvenile Band-bellied Ow roostingl in a banana plantation between Villa Rica and La Merced was a nice thing to see, and a life bird. Now we are waiting to get a rental car to be able to bird the Satipo Road better than we could be able to if we camped, which was the original plan. The Satipo Road is a very interesting place, with the elevational range from 4500m (about 15,000'), to just a few hundred meters (less than a thousand feet), making it a very diverse and interesting place to bird. So interesting in fact, that there are at least three and maybe four species on this road that have yet to be described to science! They are recognized as seperate species, but someone has yet to study and officially describe them. There are also some local Peruvian endemics, such as Black-spectacled Brush-Finch, Fire-throated Metaltail, Eye-ringed Thistletail, and Koepcke's Screech-Owl, in addition to many other good birds.
I doubt I'll have internet access for the next few days, but when we come back to Huancayo after birding the road for 4-5 days I should be able to update again.

Take it easy,

Friday, November 20, 2009

First few days

The flights went well, I met Andrew at the airport, and after spending a night in Lima, we headed up into the mountains, with our final destination being Lago Junin. The 5 hour bus ride up the Junin was gorgeous, going through gorges with sheer rock faces sometimes thousands of feet high, and the pass over the western side of the Andes, Ticlio Pass (16,000 feet), was surrounded by gorgeous snow-capped mountains. Some of the bird highlights of the bus ride included Andean Goose, Andean Swift, White-winged Cinclodes, and Plain-breasted Earthcreeper. After getting to the town of Junin we walked through town until we got the the 'collectivo' area, the place where taxis hang around and charge a minimal fee to take you to a certain town, but you have to wait for the car to fill all the way up with random people. In this case, 6 of us were in a station wagon, with two people riding in the trunk. Luckily we got the back seat. For this 45 minute ride to Ondores, it cost 3 soles each, or $1. Once at the almost deserted town of Ondores, which is quite close to the Lago de Junin, we made our way to the only hospedaje in town, which cost us 5 soles ($1.66) a night per person.
I had never had any problems with altitude in Ecuador, but I think going from sea level to 13,500 feet, the altitude of Junin, in one day, was just too much for my body. I had a headache basically the entire time we were in the area, wasn't able to sleep, and got short of breath very easily. Our goal bird here at Lago Junin was the Junin Grebe, one of the rarer birds in the world, with only 200-300 left in the world. They are flightless, and only occur on this one lake in the entire world. The normal way of seeing them is hiring a boat, but the office where you do so never opened while we were there. Such is life. However, we managed to find a guy who knew how to walk to the edge of the lake, which was 4 kilometers each way, through mostly shin-deep water, chest high reeds, and mud. I only managed to make it about half of the way out, and by then I was just so spent that I wouldn't have been able to make it back had I continued all the way. I ended up making a small bed out of the reeds, pulled more of them overhead for shade, and slept there for close to an hour. Andrew and our guide continued on to the edge of the lake, and when they got there they still had to walk another kilometer along the edge of the lake until they found a Junin Grebe. But they did, and I'm glad that my infirmity didn't keep Andrew from seeing the bird. After a long walk back all of us were completely exhausted, even our guide. Following a quick lunch, where I actually got a small salad rather than the usual vegetarian fare here: potatoes and rice, we headed back to our room for a nap. When I woke up from the nap I felt completely miserable, and despite wanting to stay around to try for the grebe again in the morning, I really needed to get to a lower elevation. So we packed up, and headed back to the town of Junin, seeing a very cool Short-eared Owl on the way, so different from ours up here. In Junin while waiting for a bus to take us to Huanaco, our lower elevation destination, I had some matte de coca, or tea made from coca leaves, which is the traditional way of curing altitude sickness, at least temporarially. I felt better almost immediately after having it, and that managed to keep me going until the end of the 3 hour bus to Huanaco, which we arrived in at 9:30, not the optimal time to get to a new city. We got a nice hostal right on a nice plaza, and I finally slept, first time since Lima, and now we are at an internet cafe in Huanaco. That pretty much sums up the trip so far!
My phone hadn't been working until now, but after getting some tech support, aka my parents calling the Verizon people and then emailing me the answer, I am back online! Hopefully I'll be able to update this more often now.
We're leaving shortly for Villa Rica, a place that is mostly coffee plantations, but has some really cool birds, including Lanceolated Monklet, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Creamy-bellied Antwren, Cerulean-capped Manakin, and White-bellied Pygmy-Tyrant.
I'll try to post a bird list sometime soon.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Last day in the first world

Well this is it, I just had my last home-cooked dinner for a while, am about to sleep the last night in my bed, and tomorrow night I'll be in a plane, and then in Lima, Peru. It'll be a bit different, but I'm looking forward to it more than just about anything.
As some of you may notice, there is now an option in the upper left-hand corner of this page to subscribe to this blog via email. If that is to your liking, the option is now there!
I also made a map for the places that we will be visiting, and you can see that at this link: map.
I'll try to update as often as I can from down there, I'll be at a place with wifi on the first night, so hopefully I'll post something quickly before I collapse.
In any case, I hope all of you have a great winter, and take it easy.

Good birding,
Ian Davies
Manomet, MA

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Peru primer

Some of you may know, and some of you may not, but in nine days I am going to be going to Peru. For three months. A lot of people may consider that a bit extreme, but after two months in Andean South America last winter, I wish I could go for four! There will be two of us for the entire trip, Andrew Spencer, a friend that I went to Panama with, and myself, and a third guy, Chris Nunes, will be joining us after a couple weeks, and staying for the remaining couple months.
Our goal, per usual, is to see lots of birds. Really imaginative, I know. However, if that is your goal in life, there are few better places than Peru to see hundreds upon hundreds of species of birds. In fact, we expect to see over 1,000 species during our time there, which is to say more than have EVER been seen in continental North America.
I'm hoping to be able to visit a lot of internet cafes while I'm down south, and I also recently got a new phone that will have internet and email capabilities as long as I have cell service down there, so I will be able to update from the field as well!
I will post again soon before leaving, and then hopefully every few days I'll be able to get some blurb on to the internet.

Take it easy,