Happy Holidays!!!

Been gone for ages but will come back strong in 2011!!! Have a great holiday season, I miss you and promise to be back reloaded when the new year hits!


Soon to see!

I've been working from Monday to Sunday for some time now, I will do until my birthday in a couple of weeks.

I haven't been able to go birding, but my lovely husband had some spare time last week, and guess what? He went birding (what I miss terribly) not far from home, to a mountain near some Incan ruins.

He found this handsome hummingbird, an absolutely beautiful Green-tailed Trainbearer.

This is a very low quality pic (print screen when he wasn't looking, hehe), the original is so awesome! The glittering green and that long long long tail are just amazing.

I'm planning a short hike to try finding this birdie as soon as my shifts are back to "normal" and I get a full free day.

Hopefully I'll be able to see a few other birds that my hubbie managed to find on his own.

So, wish me luck! In a couple of weeks I might be back to birding and hopefully to blogging, to bore you again ;)

Miss you all!


Birds on hats

It's been quite a while since my last post. It's been a month and a half since dad died and I'm still getting used to the idea, and to this new city. I've been working and haven't been able to go birding, but I wanted to share with you a bit of the birds I actually saw.

June is a month of celebration in this city, starts with Corpus Christi and goes on and on until Inti Raymi (Festivital of the Sun) arrives.

This is a curious city, it mixes Christian/Catholic rites with Incan Festivities. It's a wild time with lots of people on the streets and groups of dancers performing for the crowd, the saints, the sun and God.

I loved these guys:

With white masks and whips (personifying the Spaniards that came to "colonize" centuries ago), but dressed up with all sorts of symbols from the Andean world (rainbow colours, nature representations embroderied on their hats called "monteras", Andean camelids, etc.)

They "fight", although it is more like a duel to show who's best with the whip.

They look proud and beautiful.

The Ukukus are also great. Ukuku means "bear" in Quechua, the language of the Incas. These Ukukus wear black masks and usually tease the dancers and the audiences, they are funny and get lot of cheering from the crowds. These ones were pulling a small truck while dancing freely on the streets.

Andean people respect nature, they represent it in many ways...

... like in these "montera", mountains, dolphins, sun...

... or this butterfly...

... others prefer birds...

... which helped with my need for birds!

Colourful parrots and patterns brightening up my day!!!

And even a Cock-of-the-rock to cheer me up :)

This is a new city (to me!), with traditions that I used to read about but never experienced myself...

... new experiences that make me smile (like these birdies here, or is it just me??)

I'm getting used to this city, letting the excitement and the colour invade my soul (at least until I can go birding for real birds!)

It's not easy, but it helps.

I plan to go birding this Sunday, wish me good luck!


Will miss you

Dad and just born Mel - 1977

Saturday 5am. Call from mom. Dad's heart stopped beating at 3:15am. He was 58.
Chaos, no flights available to Lima. At the airport by 8am, begging to airlines for some help. Was lucky enough to find a nice airport official to help out, by noon I was "home".

The night before mom called to say how great he was doing, better and better every day, even though he was still at the hospital.

It was incredible to see so many people at the funeral, we counted over 40 flower arrangements, at least a couple of hundred people visiting us.

We put a photo of him killing a crocodile, a photo that I took back in 1997... it captures his personality perfectly. People looked at it and smiled, saying that they will always remember him like that.

It was sad, but so peaceful. I can't describe the amount of love I felt in that room, the truly caring hugs and kisses.

I knew that he was very loved, but never imagined the impact he had in so many lives. I wasn't aware of the amount of people who cared about us all... school friends, my first grade teacher! teachers from secondary school (high school), former bosses, neighbours, people who worked with dad over 20 years ago!

I can't describe the feeling of having so many people saying to me how much they learned from dad, how good he was, how fun and caring, how deep he touched their lives, so many people trying to help us in every way. So many anecdotes, people laughing instead of crying, colourful flowers all over. WOW. I hope that I can leave such a good mark when it is my time to go.

He was a good example of an honest man. He had so many chances to take advantage of others, and he chose honour over money. He took care of grandma until the last day he could, even after his chemotherapies he went to visit her and cheer her up. He worked in pain for over 10 years, and almost never complained. He never owed money to anyone, the little we have is ours. He was always proud of our achievements, even though he didn't always show it. He gave us everything he had and more, always worried about us.

I wish he stayed a little longer, I'm going to miss our talks.

Te quiero mucho papito, cuídanos desde el cielo.



I've been meaning to post for a while.

Dad has been extremely bad, I had to fly back for a week as it seemed like he was not going to make it. Being away makes me very nervous. It is frustrating not to be able to help, all I can do for now is wait and keep up the hope. I send letters to mom and she reads them to him when she manages to sneak into the Intensive Care Unit at the Hospital.

A couple of Sundays ago, Tommy and I decided to find out how to get to Huacarpay, a birding spot that we were told we couldn't miss. It was way too late for proper birding, but we decided to go anyway, just to find out exactly how to get there on our own.

Huacarpay was recently hit by nature, heavy rains and floodings left a lot of people homeless, and the town is slowly recovering.

It felt strange to know that and see large patches of soil like this:

The Andean marshes of Huacarpay were beautiful, we didn't manage to spend a lot of time there, but the time we were there was worth it! We couldn't find the endemic hummingbird of the area, the Bearded Mountaineer or the Giant Hummingbird (I wished so much to find it that maybe I scared it away with my obsessive thoughts! hehe)

The next pic doesn't really show what we saw, can you see the horizontal rainbow in front of the mountain? It was a first for me, and it was espectacular!

After a while we found some sort of observation cabin, too bad that we were so far away of most birds, even with the binoculars it wasn't easy, it was raining earlier and at first it seemed that we were not going to find much.

But after a while, all sorts of beauties started to appear. We managed to photograph only the ones that were closer to us.

Speckled Teal / Yellow-billed Teal

It was one of those totally unplanned trips, and we found so many new birds! We expected to see a couple of new birds, as we did not prepare in advance (remember we just wanted to figure out how to get there and get familiar with the area)

Andean Gull

We went back home when it started to get dark, with new birds to talk and learn about, super tired and hungry (we never had lunch!) but sooo excited about our unexpected adventure.

This is the list of what we managed to id so far, I guess that following trips will help us id a couple of birds that were too elusive even to let us take a few notes:

Yellow-billed Pintail
Hooded Siskin
Yellow-winged Blackbird
Rufous-collared Sparrow
Blue-and-yellow Tanager (lifer!)
Cinereous Ground Tyrant (lifer!)
Western Great Egret (lifer!)
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle (lifer!)
Plumbeous Rail (lifer!)
Cinnamon Teal (lifer!)
Andean Coot (lifer!)
Sparkling Violet-ear (lifer!)
Band-tailed Seedeater
Andean Gull (lifer!)
Puna Yellow Finch (lifer!)
Puna Teal (lifer!)
Plumbeous Pigeon (lifer!)
Puna Ibis (lifer!)
Speckled Teal / Yellow-billed Teal (lifer!)


New birders!

A friend from school, Marisol, moved to Cusco with her kid some time ago.

Last Sunday she asked us if we wanted to take a walk with her, her boy and the dog. Of course we accepted and met early for breakfast together before climbing up to get around Sacsayhuaman.

It took us around an hour and it was worth it!

Rufous-collared Sparrow

On the way up we found new birds, a couple of them with pending id and sadly with no pic to help us (guess we have to go back some time soon hehe)

We didn't get into Sacsayhuaman, an important Incan Fortress, but walked around before heading to Q'enqo chico, a small set of ruins in a spot that gives you an amazing view of the city.

Mel-bird(er) at Q'enqo chico ruins

It was hot and sunny, they were tons of Rufous-collared Sparrows singing and the idea of not doing anything but stare at the blue sky, green mountains and pretty birds was so great!

Rufous-collared Sparrow

One of the highlights of the walk was the fact that we gained a couple of new birders to the cause! hahaha... both my friend and her 8 year old Santiago were amazed about how close they could see the birds with the binoculars (the four of us took turns to see) and the boy was so excited he kept asking about the birds and asking for the binoculars over and over again.

Santiago and the party's binoculars

It was so great to spend a nice day with friends and to have been able to share a bit of our love for nature and birds with them. By the way, can anyone recommend binoculars for kids that can be found on this side of the world?? Can't let Santiago escape!!

Band-tailed Seedeater

We saw:
Great Thrush (lifer!)
Great Sapphirewing (lifer!)
Band-tailed Seedeater (lifer!)
Black-hooded Siskins
Rufous-collared Sparrows (way too many of them)
A hummingbird that we were not able to id or photograph
A hawk waaay too far to id
Some sort of wren that was too fast

Might sound like a little list, but it was our first Sunday in the city, and we went out with a kid and a dog, not very bird-friendly ;)

Band-tailed Seedeater

I hope that soon we'll be able to go back there again and learn more about the birds on the area, it is fun to be out!