Monday, May 24, 2010

Peru, May 5, 2010: My 2000th Bird!

This day marked a big milestone for me, my 2000 species of bird. Unfortunately I didn't know what species it was, or even that I saw it this day. I was a little confused about what I had and hadn't seen on our previous trips to South America. I had a pretty good idea, but thought I had ended the day with 1999. Luckily when we got home and I entered my data I discovered that the 2000 bird was the last bird of the this day! (It was a much better bird for that milestone than Belcher's Gull, which was my first bird of the following day) No, you have to wait until the end of my post to find out what it actually was. Suspense needs to build.

This was a day of some retracing steps. We started the day at the spot where the Rufous-backed Inca Finch had eluded us on the first day. We hiked up, with Alex playing his iPod. Our luck prevailed and within a few minutes we got a decent look. I was thrilled to find a Giant Conebill, a bird I had missed here the first day. Sparkling Violetears zipped around. We also had White-bellied Hummingbirds. Julio, our driver, had breakfast ready for us, so we went down and ate. While we sat there another Inca Finch flew in and perched right by us. It would have been easy to anthropomorphize his behavior and imagine him laughing at us. Ash-breasted Sierra Finches were common at this sight. We had a Blue-and-Yellow Tanager flit through the trees, a bird that was my "tart's tick" a few days before. (Tart's tick is a British birding expression for a bird any decent birder should have seen years before)

To be honest I don't remember a whole lot of this day, until the end. I know we birded along the road, heading up to the Ticlio bog. I do remember eating at a Chifa (South American Chinese restaurant), where one of our group confessed that he was not feeling all that great and wasn't going to eat. There was a stop at Lake Junin, again, where was the Junin Grebes again, along with Common Miner and Bright-rumped Yellow-finches. We drove up and up into the mountains, passing several huge copper and gold mines, which are a bit disconcerting. Its obvious that there is a negative environmental impact, but the economy of Peru depends heavily on the income generated by these mines.

We arrived at the bog mid afternoon. The temperature was quite cold. It began to snow very lightly. We worked our way across the soggy field. We had a distant sighting of White-winged Cinclodes. Then Alex spotted "my bird", a juvenile Diademed Sandpiper Plover! There is a photo of this bird hanging in our apartment. Martin had seen it in Chile years ago. I ached to see one the first time I saw that photo. The bird was hunkered down initially. I got a few poor digiscoped photos with my point and shoot, but I was happy. Even before I realized that this was bird 2000, I was ecstatic.

We started back to the van. One of our group, the member who didn't eat lunch, was walking off quickly, looking for some privacy. When he got back to the van, he did not look well. The combination of his "stomach" problems, the fast walk and the very high altitude seemed to be taking a toll. We got in the van and started back for Lima. Shortly after we left, he was slumping in his seat, seemingly asleep. Then to the alarm of all of us in the van, he fell out of his seat, onto the floor of the van. Martin and one of the other members of the group,  got him back in his seat. He roused a bit, but they had to hold him up. As we descended to a lower altitude he progressively got better. By the time we got down about 2,000 feet lower, he was fine. I had a similar incident in Ecuador several years back. High altitudes can do crazy things. We got back to Lima a couple of hours later and he was joking and acting like he was fine. It was an important reminder to respece the mountains! When we checked into our hotel I was delighted to see our old friend and traveling companion, Dan Peak, was already checked in. He was joining the group for several days.

Here are the photos for the day:

My bird list for the day:
1 Andean Goose

2 Yellow-billed Teal

3 Junin Grebe

4 Great Egret

5 Puna Ibis

6 Variable Hawk

7 Mountain Caracara

8 Slate-colored Coot

9 Andean Lapwing

10 Diademed Sandpiper-Plover

11 Puna Snipe

12 Andean Gull

13 Rock Pigeon

14 Eared Dove

15 Black-winged Ground-Dove

16 Sparkling Violetear

17 White-bellied Hummingbird

18 Andean Hillstar

19 Black-breasted Hillstar

20 Andean Flicker

21 Common Miner

22 Plain-breasted Earthcreeper

23 Bar-winged Cinclodes

24 White-bellied Cinclodes

25 Streak-backed Canastero

26 Junin Canastero- Heard

27 Sierran Elaenia

28 Cinereous Ground-Tyrant

29 White-fronted Ground-Tyrant

30 Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant

31 White-browed Chat-Tyrant

32 Tropical Kingbird

33 Blue-and-white Swallow

34 Brown-bellied Swallow

35 Andean Swallow

36 Great Thrush

37 Chiguanco Thrush

38 Paramo Pipit

39 Giant Conebill

40 Blue-and-yellow Tanager

41 Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch

42 White-winged Diuca-Finch

43 Rufous-backed Inca-Finch

44 Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch

45 Rufous-collared Sparrow

46 Golden-bellied Grosbeak

47 Hooded Siskin

48 Black Siskin

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