Regular visitor

This guy is visiting us several times a day. I looked for it in my guide and couldn't find it, the head is greyish/brownish, white around the eyes and throat going down in the chest until it meets yellow around the belly and all the way to the tail. In the chest and belly some brownish spots, dark legs and beak. I'll just keep on googling trying to find out the name of this guy.

Pictures are not great, as we have just a regular camera with simple zoom and this guy is fast! But Tommy managed to take a couple :)

Every time it visits, picks between the palm tree on the corner, the top of the brick wall or the patio furniture. It stays there until something catches its eye, usually a moth, and flies trying to get it. We've seen it a couple of times actually capturing something while flying and it was amazing!

Some other days it just sits on the patio furniture, goes down to the grass, picks something and flies back to where it was to eat or look again.
We are planning on naming this fellow as it is the most frecuent visitor these days, any suggestions?


At grandma's garden

Yesterday I spent the evening at grandma's house. It was a sunny and hot day (34.5°C), great to enjoy some cold drinks and a bbq.

My grandma used to be a very strong, smart, independant woman. She joined volunteer groups and did charity work, spent a lot of time in her once very large garden working in her trees and flowers, did patchwork and handcrafts for the whole family and friends, listened to tons of cds, went to the movies and read a few books a week. She was always a laugh because of her witty remarks and the amazing stories from her childhood. She enjoyed travelling, driving around and creating new delicious dishes.

That's how I remember grandma. Yesterday it was so sad and heart breaking to see her so upset and lonely. She lost her sight and most of her hearing, and although she's finding ways to keep on doing some of her handcrafts and cooking, she has lost her independance and confidence.

Her old house was sold and she lives in a house built in what was left of her once beautiful garden. Her memory is going away and her laughter is not as strong and constant as before. Her eyes look sad and the sparks are gone.

I walked around the garden and found just a few flowers and trees, nothing like the huge paradise I used to play at when I was a kid, pretending to be in the jungle or in an Indiana Jones adventure, hanging from the trees and running away from huge spiders and bees.
Even with all the changes I found a few lonely birds (they must visit her for a reason) and a tortoise that turned out to be of one of my cousins.

It was eating rat poison when I found it, alone behind some bushes. Got some papaya from grandma's house to feed it, I'm sure it was hungry and thirsty because it ate as if it was the most delicious thing on earth, super fast and to the last bit of it.

I'll try to go visit my grandma more often, I like it when I'm able to make her laugh and she recovers some of her 'wittyness'. I'll make sure to bring some papaya with me for that other lonely fellow, wondering around the garden.


Saturday Morning - Parque de la Amistad (Friendship Park)

Saturday morning, hooot weather but refreshing experience. The BFS (Brigada de Fauna Silvestre), Wildlife Brigade, got together in one of the most beautiful parks in Lima to teach children, teens and adults about fauna and conservation.

It was an amazing experience for kids and parents, for brigade members, and for me, as I am still a wanna-be brigadist :)

When we got to the park, some brigade members were already there, Celeste and Leslie were sitting on the 'second table'...

Carlos was the 'star teacher', he got the attention of the kids talking about the importance of leaving wildlife in their habitats, not taking them to domestic environments, etc.

We even had a celebrity! ¿Recognize Mr. Spiderman here paying attention to Kelly's speech?

That's me talking to the kitty...

After learning some cool facts, the kids moved to the second table to leave their 'marks'.
As a symbol of their commitment to share what they learnt and be ambassadores of nature, they painted their palms and left an impresion of their hands.

The kids were so excited! Is there something better than seeing a bunch of kids with the biggest smiles?

They signed commitment letters to keep on learning, teaching others and taking care of wildlife, and took them home to remember.

We spent there a little over 3 hours, but the brigade stayed until 5pm. I had a few teachers that motning: brigade members and kids like Alexis, who shared their experiences and what they knew about animals. UN FOR GET ABLE!


Hummingbird's Restaurant

It's been a few times now. I keep hearing noises in the garden... I look out of the window just to find a couple of hummingbirds (too far too id, sorry!) flying around a palm tree we have in a corner of the backyard's garden.

The last time I saw them, they were 'fighting' with a flycatcher over this place that has become some sort of 'drive-thru' (or should I say 'fly-thru'?) for small fellows that I can't get pictured! (but I'll keep on trying).

As I couldn't post any pics of the guys who visit this special place, I decided to photograph the 'restaurant' and show it to you. I know nothing about plants, so it would be great if someone can help me find out more about it.


Beautiful book (in every way)

A few days ago I attended a seminar about water and its conservation. Besides the regular lectures, facts and figures, something caught my attention: A book.

Fact: you can't get good quality books unless you pay what in local currency is a fortune (3 times more if you compare it to Argentina, for example) or some private company 'committed' with culture decides to do a 'good deed' and releases something decent.

That particular book was something else, good material, great printing quality, illustrations and writing not usual.
It is called “Mitos y Leyendas del Agua en el Perú” (something like Peruvian Myths and Leyends of Water), with stories related to water, collected by school kids from all over the country! The stories were oral local myths or leyends that these kids collected to preserve them for future generations. The illustrations are peruvian andean iconography and are just amazing!

Kids, teachers and parents from Pacucha with one of the winners of the
contest, Rony, who's story is part of the book

I asked about it and they said it was not for sale, it was a limited edition printed by the World Bank and the ones they had were to be given as prizes for a raffle they were making at the end of the event. My bad luck is internationally known (friends abroad know about stuff that often happens to me, haha), so I got sad right away... But guess what!!! Yes!!! At the end of the event, 50 books were given and I was number 49!!!

Yesterday I wrote to the organizers to congratulate them for the event and to ask about the book, as some people were already asking me where to get it I thought maybe they would have some in storage for people willing to pay for it... The answer was the same, nothing for sale, and then something else that made me feel good: they called me a 'water ambassador', chosen by Yacu (the spirit of water in the Andean Cultures) and Pachamama (Mother Earth in Andean Cultures) to spread their message... I felt important! hahaha... So, every now and then I'll try to do so, maybe translate some of the stories and share with you the magic of ancient and popular myths and leyends from my country, from cultures that revered water as a god and preserved it for the future.

Kids from Callao get books as prizes for a contest


The pics!

After a few more tries, I finally made it... (Slow like this snail)

Pictures are not perfect but it is what we've got, what are these guys? I bet the one staring at us is way ahead identifying 'us'. (Click on them to enlarge)

On the way back from the park, we found this on our street, taking care of the feathers...

And then sitting quiet, planning the next move. I think this is an Amazilia Hummingbird (Amazilia amazilia), known here as 'Amazilia costeña' or 'Colibrí de vientre rufo'.
For those of you who don't speak Spanish, 'colibrí' means hummingbird. Please, feel free to send your comments and if you think I'm right with this one!


Around my neighbourhood

Two days ago, Tommy and I decided to take a walk and go to a park a few blocks away to watch some birds.

It was around 4:30 pm when we got there and found just a few birds, there were a few LOUD kids running around and it made it harder!

We managed to take a few pics, once again, FAR AWAY ones, found a few birds, some I have no clue of the name, they were not in my book...

Anyway, I've been trying to upload pictures for two days now and for some reason it won't happen, so, I decided to post just these few lines until this page lets me (I'll just keep trying so you can see the pics and help me id them, please!)

Thanks =D


Yellow fellows

4:00 p.m. Just getting back home when we spotted these guys in the backyard...

I must apologize again for my poor camera and the quality of the pictures, I think you can click on the pictures to enlarge them and see them better, the birds are between 10 to 12 cm long, so, it wasn't easy to get the pics with a simple sony cybershot 7.1! (thanks Tommy for your help!)

Two Saffron Finch (Sicalis Flaveola) were 'walking' around, looking for food in the garden. Over here we call that bird Chirigüe Azafranado or Botón de Oro (something like 'Button of Gold'). It might not show properly in the pictures but these guys are very bright.

If you enlarge the next picture you will find it ready to eat, to capture something that got its attention...

This picture helped me check out the feathers and the tail...

Last picture before leaving, with a twig in the beak, I wonder where are they nesting! I sooo want to find out!


Feliz día del amor y la amistad


Museum Morning

Yesterday morning I went to the Natural History Museum of San Marcos University in Lima, with the Wildlife Brigade to start my 'training'.

A big part of the brigade's work is related to education, passing on what we learn on conservation, wildlife, environment, etc.

Raúl, President of BFS teaching

The Museum started a program for kids called 'Guardianes Ambientales' (Environmental Guardians), it is a summer program that teaches them about natural resourses, conservation, pollution, recycling, wildlife, etc. They have activities and field trips to help the kids understand the importance of taking good care of what surrounds them.

Yolanda, BFS member, explaining about their responsibilities

The BFS (Brigada de Fauna Silvestre) - Wildlife Brigade - was invited twice to teach about wildlife and its importance, the risks of having a wild animal at home and to encourage the kids to teach their families and friends.

Yesterday was the last day of the program and the Museum, once more, invited the brigade to give a final lecture. At the end, the kids received a certificate and signed a personal commitment with their own ideas on what to do to preserve nature and to share their new knowledge with everyone around them.

Mel, lady in pink, with Alejandra, first kid!

After the kids left, we were allowed to walk around the museum. I was amazed. I haven't been there since I was a kid and went there with my classmates, back then it looked so big and new. Yesterday it was sad to realize it was a tiny museum, well kept by the university, but with such small funds that animals on display were in bad shape. Birds had feathers off, faded colours and strange shapes. We asked about it and they said that even though they tried to keep them in good shape, resourses were not enough.

We walked sad out of there, but then Yolanda reminded us of what we saw earlier, just before the activities: Sitting quiet, like waiting for us, was a 'turtupilín' (vermilion flycatcher-pyrocephalus rubinus), it sat still while Tommy took this picture with my camera (remember that it is as simple as a digital camera can be). It looked at us, sang and flew away.
So, after all, with the kids, the nice people from the museum and the turtupilín, it was quite a good morning!


It's in our country logo

The Peru logo has three elements that identify our country: Ancient history, archeologycal sites and natural riches, represented with four specific elements: The 12 angle stone in Cusco, the Nasca lines, the gold and a bird.

The Inka Empire is represented by the gold letters and the 12 angle stone. The 12 angle stone is located at the Archbishop's House in Cusco. This Vice-royal building with Arabic influence was raised on the foundations of the palace of Inca Roca. Presently, it is the main centre of the Museum of Religious Art. On Hatunrumiyoc Street, you can see an old Inca wall that was part of the Inca Roca palace and demonstrates the admirable construction skill of the Inca in terms of polished and perfectly placed stones. The most remarkable part is this stone, famous for the perfect work and assembling of its angles, keep in mind that stones are just placed one on top of the other, without any sort of cement...

The Nasca Lines is a vast network of lines and drawings of animals and plants credited to the Nasca, culture covering an area of approximately 350 km2 /135 miles2. Some of the best drawn figures are the hummingbird, the dog, the monkey, and the long-tailed mockingbird.The German, Maria Reiche, devoted 50 years of her life to studying and researching the area and came to the conclusion that it was an astronomical calendar. From a 12 meter / 39 feet lookout, you can partially observe the shapes of the hand and the tree. However, in order to appreciate the drawings fully, it is recommended to fly over the area in a small airplane. The Nasca Lines were placed on the World Cultural Heritage List in 1994.

And finally the representation of a bird, the idea of the colourful variety not only of birds, but of exotic fauna that you could find in the Amazon Rainforest. The bird seems to be coming to life, free from the stone, leaving a shape as the ancient peruvians saw it...

Did you know about these elements and why they were placed in our logo? What do you think about it?


I'm trying to become a member!

I've been attending meetings as a guest for over a month, and I finally begun the process to become a member.

But, what is this?

BFS (Brigada de Fauna Silvestre) would translate very much like 'Wildlife Brigade' and it is a group of young people, students and professionals, volunteering their time, hands, brains and talents to both learn and teach the community about the importance of conservation and issues related to our native natural wonders. The group has people with different backgrounds and studies and that makes the meetings extraordinary, diversity is the perfect word to define it. Its first anniversary will be on February 13th.

The main objective is EDUCATION, to learn and grow as a person and a professional, and to teach others later on... And I can't wait to get started!

In the following days I'll be going out with them to watch them in action, mostly with kids and teens, and start learning the million things I need and want to know. We'll be going to museums and parks with our big smiles and teaching material. I'm sooo excited!!!

I have to pass a series of tests: knowledge, public speaking, interaction with kids and teens, etc, and the final one: I have to create educational materials for kids (ages still unknown) based on peruvian flora/fauna! I'm shaaaking! hahaha, but also happy, it is a fun challenge and it will not only get me into the group, but my contribution will help spread their amazing work!

And that is not all, even if I don't become a member, I am already involved in a project with native communities in our Amazon jungle (will tell you more about it in the future, because it is BIG)

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know about this group and how happy I am to be able to join them!


My very first!

Yesss! I'm sooo happy! This is my very first guide to identify birds in my city!

I got it last night after long discussions with my wallet! hahaha... I spent a couple of hours past midnight checking it out, and I love it! It is perfect for me, super beginner, very clear and simple, with good pictures and simple explanations on how to identify the birds, their habitats, habits, nesting, etc

I'll go out this weekend with it and my little good-for-not-much camera to try to find a few!

A curious note on this: The bookstore I walked into had it in the middle of the room, in exhibition with other bird related books... that's SO unusual here! They usually have the bestseller or the kid's book or something strange, but this time it was the place for BIRDS! and I was lucky to see that for a change! Saw a lot of books I wish I had, but waaay too expensive, even some of the paperback editions, but, hey, I've got my first guide!!! I'll get them eventualy, hehehe.

I have to go now to keep writing on my neverending thesis (with my mind on a little weekend fieldtrip), lalalá... 100 Aves de Lima... lalalá


Tomorrow's Celebration

Yes, it is time to celebrate! What's the ocasion? Tomorrow is February 2nd... World Wetlands Day!

On February 2nd, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea, an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources was signed. There are presently 157 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1678 wetland sites, totaling 150 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community use this opportunity to create actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

From 1997 to 2007, the Convention’s Web site has posted reports from more than 95 countries of WWD activities of all sizes and shapes: lectures, seminars, nature walks, children’s art contests, community clean-up days, photography contests, radio and tv interviews, letters to newspapers, etc.

Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People is the theme for World Wetlands Day 2008, and I got a few emails about activities that were going to take Place in Peru: today, INRENA has a series of open to the public seminars regarding health and water, conservation of wetlands, species at wetlands, etc. There's also a photography contest open for nature lovers that only requests that pictures are related to Amazonas wetlands, with the object of educating citizens from the region and around it.

There are activities developing all over the world these days, it's going to be an interesting weekend! Here are some ideas of what people is doing or going to do in...

... Argentina: Art exhibit with 'water' as the main 'character'

... Australia: Do it yourself material (create turtles for example), posters and fact sheets for kids and adults

... Botswana: Conferences and activities

... Cameroon: Designated new RAMSAR zones

... South Africa: Rivers clean ups, walks and talks

... Colombia, Paraguay, Lebanon, Morroco, Pakistan, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the list goes on and on and on.

It would be nice if people shouldn't have to 'wait' for a particular day to actually do more, actions like these should be done on regular basis and spread like a virus...

Awareness virus... Care to spread it?