The Comeback

Photo: Saffron Finches by Melissa Gold

The past couple of weeks I've been a bit busy. Boss is on vacation and work has been crazy. I've been sick, my mom has been hospitalized for a few days too (she's doing better now) and one of my best friends is [hopefully] recovering from a serious health issue.

But, in between such bad events there was one that helped to keep on smiling... my love and nature/birding sidekick Tommy is back!!! After six months away he's back in town :)

Photo: Saffron Finch by Tommy Pérez

We haven't been able to go birding yet due to the events I wrote before, but still managed to squeeze in a walk around the house, where we found a few Saffron Finches.

Photo: Saffron Finch by Tommy Pérez

I hope to be able to post soon with better news and nice bird stories, now that my birding partner is here once more. To the ones following Tommy's blog (Unnaturally Natural), please note that he changed the blog address. You can now find it here. I recommend a visit, as he will have some birding time on his own while I'm at work, and therefore more experiences and birds to share with you :)

Photo: Saffron Finch by Tommy Pérez


How cool is that???

If you read my post "Unexpected Pelagic Birding" a few days ago, then you know what this post is about.

I made a comment on that post about an idea I got from the birds that day that could make a cool Birdorable t-shirt for my non-Peruvian fiancee: "I love Peruvian Boobies" just seemed perfect!

Guess what, I just got a mail from Amy @ Birdorable saying: "Your wish is our command and we have added the Peruvian Booby to Birdorable. We've even added a couple of Boobies designs, too! Let me know what you think of them. :o)"

OMG, are you kidding me??? I clicked on the link she sent and found this. How cool is that???

I have to say that they made a great job. Here is a picture of some of these birds (adults and juveniles) at Ballestas Islands (Paracas, Peru) that Tommy took in January 2007.

Now I have lots of alternatives to choose from, feel free to suggest any!


The Owl Lady

Last week I met my friend Paquita after 3 years or so. We've known each other for about a decade now, and even though there are a couple of decades between us, you can never tell the difference when you talk to her.

I can't remember when we met exactly but it was at my old school. My mother was a pre-school teacher there and Paquita was the "Book's Lady".

Oh, well, I love books, it's only natural that we met in the Library, right?

When we meet, even after years of not talking or meeting, it is as if we just continued yesterday's conversation. It is so natural, we talk about everything, we laugh a lot and dream a lot.

That sunny day last week, after our huge ice creams, we walked to her appartment. Did I mention that she likes Owls? She collects them in any form. I forgot about that until we started walking towards her place. I asked how many she had, she said she lost count when she hit the 400 mark.

I could stare on them for hours, they are all different, made with all sorts of materials and collected from all over. They are gifts from friends and family, and the product of many years of searching for new birds.

The next pic shows my thumb nail, just to give you an idea of the size of some of these guys...

Paquita has all sort of owl items...

This girl holds the door open in the owl room...

And this guy stares at you from the shower door!

It's always nice to meet Paquita, I hope the next time it doesn't take us 3 years to meet again!


Unexpected pelagic birding!

Photo: Belcher's Gull (Band-tailed Gull) by Melissa Gold

A friend from school invited me on an excursion with some of her family and other friends last Sunday. The excursion was around some islands on the coasts of Callao. Are you kidding me??? I was first on the line! I thought I would turn that friend's invitation into a pelagic birding adventure.

Photo: Milagros watching "birdies" by Melissa Gold

I managed to convince the two five year old on board to see the "pajaritos" (birdies). Bins were the coolest "toy" ever and I'm pretty sure I got them curious about birds..."that bird has something yellow on its face!", "the water looks close as if it was on my knees", "I like birds better than boats"... YES!! thank you girls!

Photo: Turkey Vulture waiting for sea lion snack by Melissa Gold

We were around a few islands, like "El Camotal", once part of the old port-city of El Callao, currently covered by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, as a result of the 1746 Earthquake. On low-tide days people say you can see some remains of the old city.

"San Lorenzo Island", is 8 km long by 2,5 km wide. It had many uses in time: religious centers in pre-Columbian times, cemetery for pirates and corsairs during the Colony, research place for men of science (including Charles Darwin!!) and it is currently a military zone.

"El Fronton Island" was an old Penitentiary, like Alcatraz...

"Cavinzas Islands" are a group of islands and islets with plenty of natural caves and caverns; it is the last guano harvesting site. The next pic shows the "facilities" where the "guardian" of the island lives. If you click to enlarge, you maybe able to see him on the window to the left.

Photo: Cavinzas Island by Melissa Gold

"Palomino Islands" have turned into a refugee for sea lions. There are 3 main islets with defined areas: the family area, the maternity and the hospital (as the captain explains to us), family area is where the strong male live with their 13 or so female party; maternity, where the male with no females live (some of them castrated on fights for power) and then the hospital, where they retire to die (if you saw the pic of the Turkey Vulture few paragraphs up here, by now you should know where it was taken...)

Photo: Palomino Cathedral by Melissa Gold

The rocky formations are stunning, too bad that my camera's zoom is not good enough to show you all the beauty. Here you can see Peruvian Pelicans, Guanay Cormorants, Inca Terns, and some Gulls that were too far for me to id properly.

Photo: Sea birds by Melissa Gold

It was fun to be close to the sea lions, most of the group jumped into the ocean to swim with them. No, I didn't, I'm waiting for my sidekick to go together ;)

Photo: Sea lions by Melissa Gold

It was fun both on the Pacific Ocean and on shore. I found lots of beautiful birds that made me forget about the weeks of not being able to do some birding.

A few days ago, Birdfreak posted about a product sold by Birdorable, they have some fun t-shits, and the next pic made me think of one for my lovely non Peruvian fiancee to wear in honour of her Peruvian girl... Is the phrase "I love Peruvian Boobies" too much to wear at a family meeting?? LOL

Photo: Peruvian Booby on the flight by Melissa Gold

Also a few days ago, I got a comment by Laurent, who suggested trying some "digi-binning". Well, I did, couldn't try more because the rest of the group were not birders or birder wanna-bes like me, and they were busy walking away!

Anyway, here's my try: first one, regular shot with no zoom...

Photo: Platform with Cormorants, Inca Terns, Gulls, etc by Melissa Gold

And the second one thru bins, as you can see with the shadow to the right. To be my first try ever, I think it came up pretty good. I will practice, it wasn't easy to get an image with my shaky pulse!

Photo: Same platform thru bins by Melissa Gold

This Franklin's gull was waiting for us when we arrived. It was great to get a shot where I could see the tail.

Photo: Franklin's Gull by Melissa Gold

And the Inca Terns were all lined up to say hello. I like the way they look, so elegant and proud.

Photo: Inca Terns by Melissa Gold

I like these two, I wonder what they are chatting about... ("these humans never get tired of us... ah, well, beauties we are...")

Photo: Inca Terns by Melissa Gold

The last birds I'm not sure about. I have no idea if this is some sort of Turnstone or Sandpiper. Can anyone help id?? My bird guide shows WAY too many possibilities.

Photo by Melissa Gold

It was a fun and different morning, and I hope to be able to do it again soon!

UPDATE 03/03/09
Thanks to Patrick and Gunnar for making a definite id for the last birds: Ruddy Turnstone... LIFER!! yippiiiiee!!