More urban nature

Last week I found this 10cm... moth(?) leaning on the outside of the backyard's door.

Can anyone help id, please??

I had a pretty hard week. Work, health, family, friends. Lot's of not great news, but I'm fighting them all, each problem at a time ;)

I decided to 'cure' my sadness and frustration by going back to the pics either Tommy or I took last year. I found some pics that I never published before, and, as I haven't been able to go out this week, I decided to post them today. They are not great, but are a reminder of great moments, so, to me they are precious.

A female Vermilion Flycatcher a few metres from the house...

... And another one getting closer to a male Vermilion Flycatcher on the neighbour's fence. Fun Fact: Local name is "Turtupilín", trying to copy the sound of the song of this beauty.

A Blue-grey Tanager very high on a tree. Fun fact: In Peru, the local name is "Violinista", which means "violin player", because of the bird's song too.

It is curious how we try to name what we don't know. Both the "Turtupilín" and the "Violinista" after their songs or the sound of them. And other creatures, especially birds, after how they look, the colours they have, the masks, the hoods, the size of legs or tails...

The next bird I couldn't id. First I thought it could be a juvenile Safron Finch, but this one was bigger, and both maxilla and mandible are the same color, plus the whole bill looks bigger, a bit more like a Grassland Yellow-Finch, but I'm not sure. PLEASE, I know that some of you have the awesome "Birds of Peru" guide, so, HELP!!

That's all for now, I'll try to go out tomorrow morning and hopefully find some pretty bugs, flowers or birds to share with you during the next week.


Weekend Birding in the grey city

As you know, I live in Lima (Peru).

Lima is the capital of the country, with over 8 million inhabitants and growing without control. People from all over the country come to this city looking for better oportunities and the need of housing makes it difficult to keep the green spaces.

I am trying to find flora and fauna on weekends. I am opening wider eyes.

I found this snail outside my house. Sloooow but hopefully getting somewhere (Reminds me of the past couple of years of my life!!)

These Rock Doves (Columba livia) were not afraid of me. I found them in a small garden in Miraflores and were BIG! I had just a bit of time to duck as they flew over my head... "These humans are so annoying..."

While walking around the Cemetery in Huachipa a few weeks ago, I felt some movement on a tree to my right. As I got closer I saw a bright bill...

It was a Croaking Ground-Dove (Columbina cruziana) nesting! This beauty stood still while I got closer. Didn't make a sound, didn't move, didn't even blink! It looked like a doll, perfectly still... "Hey, I'm part of the tree, nothing to see here!! Keep walking!!"

The next bird, a beautiful lifer! I found on a light lamp in La Molina last week, it is a male Pacific Parrotlet (Forpus coelestis). This one bird was VERY loud! The species is a permanent resident to the northwest of the country, but a feral population is now in Lima so, I had the chance to see it here!! The size is of about 12 to 13 cm (4-5 in)

Too bad that my camera is not great, click to enlarge.

The last one was taken today, in a hospital's garden in Surco (I was visiting my grandma)

I like how the Amazilia Hummingbird (Amazilia Amazilia) looks perched on that branch.

I'm opening wider eyes on weekends, and there is nothing but nice surprises!


The young and the hurt

Last weekend I told you about a couple of bright and beautiful Saffron Finches that I found half a block away from my house.

I kept seeing Saffron Finches (Sicalis flaveola) in the parks not far from home. Most of them were juveniles and immatures with an occasional adult close by.

They got together in small flocks (no more than 10) and walked around searching for food and little twigs.

I wasn't in the right spot for the next photo, I had the sun almost in front of me. But I wanted to show you this scene that made me laugh a bit. An adult in the middle, on the higher place and two not so grown up on each side. Made me think of a king and his subjects...

I was trying to get a better shot when I felt something flying next to me. I saw something land on the grass a few meters to my left. I looked but couldn't find anything. I walked slowly trying to get a little closer and this is what I found...

He was partially covered with leafs, which explained why I couldn't see him at first. He had both legs up, chest and head down to the ground.

I moved to get a better view, slowly. But the closer I got the more agitated he got. He was breathing heavy and very fast... I think I could see the heart beating, that stressed this little one was.

I tried to get closer to see if I could help, but on my next step he flew away into a bush and I couldn't find him anymore. The flight wasn't on a straight line, it was up and down. I thought that maybe a wing was the problem??

What do you think?? What can you do in these cases?? He looked pretty scared and it was heartbreaking to see him like that.

Update: Thanks to Gunnar Engblom for confirming ID of this hurt bird.


Celeste and Zöövenirs-Perú

This is my friend Celeste Cóndor, yes, like the mighty bird. She is a Biologist and passionate for Environmental Education.

I met her last year, when I was applying to be a part of the Brigada de Fauna Silvestre (Wildlife Brigade) of INRENA, which is a volunteer program to learn and pass on the knowledge of conservation and respect for local wildlife, mostly to kids.

I was able to participate with them in a few events before I started this full time job and had to stop attending the meetings. There was a great one where I had the chance to see Celeste interact with kids and their parents and it was then when I decided I wanted to have her enthusiasm and be 'contagious' like her. If you want to see what we did that day, click here.

A few weeks ago I ran into Celeste and found out she was just beginning a small business. Her project is called Zöövenirs-Perú.

She sells articles that are ready to use and are somehow related to fauna. She handwrites every little information card with details of a particular species.

I got a few, my cell phone now has a hummingbird hanging from it and it looks quite cool!

Anyway, I gave one of these to Diego (7 years old). He's the son of a friend from the office. He asked his mom to thank me and said he really liked reading about the crocodile I sent.

A few days later he came to the office to pick up his mom but I had already left. The next morning I found a surprise on my desk. Yes, I confess, almost made me cry...

He asked his mom for materials to make this, inspired on Celeste's work!! He wouldn't tell his mother what he was doing, he kept saying it was for 'aunt Melissa'...
I sent these pictures to Celeste and she felt just like me! So excited!! This child got her message and reacted in a positive way!
Diego asked me if I had books or information on other animals. Do I??? ;)

GREAT!! He's the example of what we started dreaming of when we met (Celeste and Mel) at the Brigade over a year ago. It CAN happen!! We CAN make a change!! We CAN learn and teach, and help the planet and all its inhabitants in the process.
I am happy. ¡¡GRACIAS DIEGO!!


Urban birding

A few weekends ago, I went to the store that is a few blocks from my house to get some ice cream. It was a sunny day and I took my camera just in case I saw something interesting.

I live in an urban area, but not so grey as the rest of the city. There are still some green patches and small parks to enjoy.

I was walking across one to get to the store when a yellow beauty caught my attention.

A beautiful Saffron Finch (Sicalis Flaveola) was posing for me. But then, a second one flew in!!

The new arrival sang for the other, but the result wasn't exactly what was expected...

- "Told you already, I don't date blondes!!"

- "P-p-p-pleeeease!!"

What do you think these birds are "talking" about??

Leave the dialogue you think suits best in the comments!

BTW, my ice cream was delicious ;)


IATB #91 @ From the Faraway, Nearby

Tim, blogging From the Faraway, Nearby is now hosting IATB # 91.

I've been following his blog for a while. He takes really amazing photographs, but what is great about him is his heart. He's got such a sensibility and caring for all creatures in the world - flora, fauna, human - that you can just see it in his work.

I want to thank him for including me in this edition and for his kind words and constant support.

Muchas gracias Tim, ¡espero verte pronto por aquí!


Stairway to heaven and a celebration of life

I never expected this would be my first post of the year. My uncle passed away on January 1st. Unexpected. Hard to believe.

Today we went to the Cemetery's Crematory to fulfill his wishes. It was such a hot and sunny day. My dear cousins, Victor (25) and Gonzalo (19) were trying not to cry while people crowded around them to give their respects. I could tell they both wanted to get out of there... I wanted to.

We were born into Catholic families, so we first walked into the Chapel. Behind the Altar there was a sculpture. I did some research when I got home and the page I found says it is "an abstract sculpture of an angel". What I saw was totally different.

I saw a giant hummingbird!! The next picture doesn't really show it. You can see the waterfall behind the huge window and then the sculpture. To the right I see the long bill and to the left, a long tail. I think I'm thinking of birds way too much.

At one point, we took a walk while we waited for the process to be completed. What we found helped ease the sorrow.

Nature sorrounding us was perfect to find some peace, and the Amazilia Amazilia dancing around us made us smile for a minute.

I liked the place. Instead of a creepy dark building, it was a green open space. Catholics, as many other beliefs, believe in life after death. This was, I believe, a celebration of life. A reminder that life goes on, and it can be beautiful even in the worst moments.

Rest in peace. Watch over us now.

Descansa en paz.