Thursday, 19 July 2012

A search for a hummingbird in Peru

From Junin, we then continued our journey south towards Lima. We stopped at a Chinese for lunch (what else?) and then at Ticlio Bog again, at 4,900m. Andy needed to catch up with the birds there and Birdgirl and I wanted to try and see the nomadic Olivaceous Thornbill, a large plain coloured hummingbird. Chris had seen one when we had stopped on our way out, but had not realised it was anything special he says because Alejandro had not mentioned that it was a target bird. It was only later when he spoke to Gunnar that he realised what his mystery hummer must have been. I was annoyed at missing the bird (as always!).

After an hour at the bog, Andy had seen the two other target birds and Alex tried to get us in the car to leave.  I was not happy to be leaving so early when I had a bird to still see.  The Alex let slip that he had seen one distantly a little while before.  I was even more determined that we were not leaving until we had given it a proper search.  Alex said that it was going to be late when we got to Lima, but could see from the look on my face that I did not care.  Who cares about getting to bed late if you get an extra lifer? He therefore gave in and went to look for the Thornbill, in what seemed a bit of a strop (what could else could I expect?).   Chris re-emphasised that the Thornbill was rare and nomadic and there wasn’t any good area for them, it was a case of keeping a lookout, which Alex would have been doing the whole time we were there.  When I am on a mission, do I listen?

We spent the next 45 minutes, spread out over the bog, searching on little flowers for the hummer.  At this point I decided that we had given it a good go and was prepared to leave, however Alex was looking some distance away and was determined to ignore my shouts.  Maybe he was just determined to find me the bird.  The rest of us gathered together waiting for Alex to return and Chris headed off to another area of flowers 100m away.  I carried out a last despondent search and suddenly saw a bulky bird that flew like a hummer but then it started feeding on the ground and I thought I must be mistaken and it must be a pipit type thing.  Then it flew again and I knew it was the Thornbill.  I gave a shout and Birdgirl was by my side and onto the bird within a second.  Next Andy got onto the bird, feeding on some flowers.  We decided to walk forward a little but by the time we walked a few meters, the Thornbill was gone.  It was a good job that Chris had already seen one, as we could not relocate it. 

I was very pleased with myself for picking up the hummer myself and proving to Alex that it was worth looking for an extra hour.  He was just glad we saw the bird and wasn’t as childish as me.

Next stop was 45 minutes down the mountain, in Santa Maria, where we were dropping Andy for his extra day in the Santa Eulalia Canyon, which we had visited at the start of our tour.  Andy thought Alejandro might be arriving the next morning but did not know what the exact plan was yet.  However, when we pulled up into the hotel car park, Alejandro and Julio his driver were already waiting in Gunnar’s 4x4, which was now fixed.  We were able to say “hola” to Alejandro again and meet Julio, who was going to be our guide in the last section of our tour.  The organisation was all very impressive.

We said goodbye to Andy and hoped to meet up again during the next week or two, when we thought our paths might cross.  If not, we would definitely keep in touch.  Birdgirl shared a few jokes and gleefully told him that her behaviour in the last week was her on “good behaviour” and that she couldn’t be good for than a week.  Andy laughed, clearly having enjoyed her company and said that Lorand didn’t know what he had in store for him!

In Lima, it was a quick Pot Noodle before bed at 9pm.  I did have a few guilty pangs about how late it was, as Alex had to be up at 4.00am to catch his flight.  I do find it hard to know when it stop.  However, it was going to be lovely to have a lie in the next morning…

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