Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Bolivia – the final numbers of birds

Saying goodbye to Herman and Sandro

Birdgirl waiting for the flight and glued to her Kindle - as ever!

The final count, 645 birds seen on the trip plus 28 species heard only, giving a total of 673 recorded by one of us.  Of these, Birdgirl saw 342 new birds, 287 for me and 286 for Chris.  At present, there are 15 official endemics for Bolivia counted by the SACC.  One is extinct (or at least not seen for over 100 years) and we have seen all the remaining 14.  This is a pretty successful trip even if we did miss a couple of “soon to be” or “potential” spits like Palkachupa Cotinga and Rufous Antpitta.

The birding has been far less physically demanding than Colombia and having one local guide and the same driver/cook/administrator throughout has meant great food tailored for us, better relationship building for Birdgirl and lots more Spanish leant.  Herman has gone out of his way to ensure that Birdgirl’s fussy diet was catered for with an endless supply of pasta, olives, popcorn, crisps and chocolate biscuits.  He has always had a smile on his face and we have had many jokes with our pigeon Spanish.  Sandro has entertained us with his “English” dry sense of humour and educated us with his knowledge of indigenous culture and history and natural history.   His gentle ways have kept us calm (most of the time!) and his ability to ignore my strops (when missing birds) has meant that we can all move on quickly.  Maybe we have just relaxed more, but we have all been less “on a mission” to see every bird during this trip.  Let’s hope it continues.

The trip has been brilliantly organised by Ruth and Bennett of Bird Bolivia/Armonia with all profits going to Armonia (Bolivia’s bird conservation organisation).

I would highly recommend Bolivia for a holiday, birding or otherwise.  It’s beauty is staggering and immensely diverse and seems to have been overlooked.  By staying in the community lodges, you would be contributing directly to the environment as eco-tourism is the only financial alternative to logging and the use of natural resources.  It is likely that there are many other endemics to be described in Bolivia, but no resource for the research.  By coming to Bolivia birding, as well as seeing lots of new birds (it is interesting that Chris saw 90 more lifers in Bolivia than Colombia in the same amount of time) you will be helping to kick-start a funding interest in Bolivia that would make a difference.  The habitats are still here at present, but are quickly going to be cut down.  Armonia could still buy crucial land for reserves pretty cheaply and make a difference before it is too late.  It takes a long time to drive between areas because the county is so big but outside of the rainy season, the roads are not bad at all.  The mountain roads are dangerous and I would not recommend driving at night or when tired, but that is the same the world over.

1 comment: