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Sunday 30 November 2014

Cusco, Peru

  Yesterday morning, I left Heathrow and as the plane flew towards Miami, it flew directly over my home on Scilly. At Miami, I got a plane to Lima, Peru and after 23 hours of flying, finally I arrived at my destination, Cusco. It was 07.00 and I dropped my bags off at my digs and then made my way up a hill where I could see the only trees in the area. It was steep climbing and Cusco is already 3400ft above sea level. So the higher I went, then the breathing was coming a little harder. What I couldn't help but notice, was how many stray dogs roamed the streets. They almost outnumbered the folks! I also noticed the building work or the lack of it. Safety issues were thrown out of the window and scaffolding was all wooden.

There were some cracking dogs around

I think they deserted this plot when they realized that they were building on a cliff face!

After all my effort, I discovered that the trees were on the other side of the ravine and decided to make my way back to my digs. It wasn't long till I was out in the burning sun again. This time I made my way up to one of the main tourist attractions, Saksaywaman. Another steep hill to climb and on my ways I came across Cusco Football, with Spanish pop music coming out of their cars at full volume. at the same time they were shouting and cheering. I spoke to a few of them, including the manager, and asked if they were short of a player? Unfortunately they weren't, but later on, I got a kick around with some of the locals. I had been steadily climbing for firthteen minutes, when out of the blue, some mad man started commentating on the football match that had begun, further down in the vally. It was so loud that you could hear him on the moon! He was commentating in the Brazilian style and when Cusco scored, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!

Cusco Football team working themselves up before they start to play

Like the dogs, some of the alpacas were free to do what they wanted. Here we see one in the church grounds with a wedding taking place behind

  I made it Sacsaywaman and had only seen maybe two species of bird on my way up! Graham Gorden told me that there are no birds to see in the city of Cusco. He was right. However, to avoid the crowds that were gathering to go to the ruins of Sacsaywaman, I went around the back  of the buildings where they were so no one could see me. Here I made my way through the bushes and got some new species including, Blue and Yellow Tanager and Rufus-rumped Foliage Cleaner until I came out into the wide open off Sacsaywaman. It was a big area and on the short turf there was a amazing Andean Flicker!. While I taking pics, there was an old man waving a stick behind me and shouting in Spanish. 'Everything ok?' He didn't understand and replied 'Si' In fact it didn't matter what I said he always replied with si. He was beckoning me to follow him back towards the building. 'Am I in trouble or something?' 'Si' Was that a yes or a no? At the main building a lady with good english asked me if I had a ticket? I had no idea that you had to pay for something so big as Sacsaywaman. She believed me and told me that I could on there if I paid. I had seen it and taken pics already and later I discovered later that it was 70 soles! That's over 20 pounds! So I found myself making my way down the dangerous road that I had just come up.

Male Andean Flicker What an amazing bird!

2 male American Kestrel were seen on the way down

Small numbers of Hooded Siskin were in the area including this female

Golden-billed Saltater

Black-throated Flowerpiercer

Eared Dove

Rufus-collard Sparrow are all over the shop

Peru is a very unsafe country to drive

On the same road, taking a alpaca for a walk

small plaza in town

Michael Davis Pratt (born March 10, 1957) known professionally as Jim White, is a Southern American singer-songwriter and guitarist. White's music can be loosely described as alternative country, but veers off in different, sometimes experimental directions with occasional nods to Tom Waits and the literary narratives of Flannery O'ConnorCormac McCarthy, and Harry Crews.

Saturday 29 November 2014

90 years of the League Against Cruel Sports. 50 years of the Hunt Saboteurs Association

  On Boxing Day, 1963, four people sabbed the South Devon hunt in what was the first official act of sabotage by the Hunt Saboteurs Association. The 18th January, 2014, over 100 hunt saboteurs from across Southern England and Wales descended on Dartmoor National Park to sabotage the same hunt to mark their 50th year.
  A few days ago was also the 90th year anniversary of the League Against Cruel Sports.

  I've supported the charity since my early teens in anyway I can. I bought T-shirts, badges, pens, mugs, etc. I went around the school trying to sell merchandise out of the LACS catalog and was very successful. One of the teachers bought two videos for the school! While another teacher screamed at me and told me to get out of her sight. I discovered later that she went on hunts. After this, she treated me so bad and on one occasion she slapped me in the face in front of the rest of the cookery class! Very humiliating and I tried not to cry. I got my own back by sewing two hounds ripping apart a fox on my oven gloves. She hated me! I also turned vegetarian from the age of nine till eighteen. This came about when I saw a program called 'Nature', hosted by Micheal Buerk. It showed geese being force fed in France and while they were still alive, the french turn them upside down and slit their throats to let the blood drip. immediately after seeing that, on came the Pilot Whales being hacked to death in the Faroe Isles. So disturbing and upsetting. Finally they showed birds being trapped in France just for the hell of it. One French hunter extracted a Skylark out of the jap net, and with his thumb he pressed hard on the chest till the poor thing could no longer breathe! What the hell!!? Others were just left in the nets to die. This got to me and I joined some organization against killing birds in Europe. I was only 10 and I starting raising money for the organization and making people more aware of what was happening to the Robins that visited their garden. I remember a male Blackcap upside down hanging from a glued stick on one of the leaflets.

  How fitting it was that I went and worked on one of the top ten stud farms in Europe the day after leaving school! I'm so glad I did, because I discovered about the hunting business. There are so many disturbing things that happened at the farm and elsewhere that I witnessed. I loved my job and after eight years I had to move on, because I couldn't stop speaking my mind towards some of the folks who visited the farm. I'll save that for another blog. Out of working there, no one can say that I don't know nothing about hunting. I probably know more about hunting than most. All my family live in the countryside. My nan was born out in the sticks at Black Hill, Clun. They've come across many hunts and not one supports them and are totally against it.

  As for the League Against Cruel Sports, they've done a amazing job for the last 90 years protecting our wildlife here and abroad. Below are recent stories of how the LACS and hunt saboteurs have to protect their selves from hunters and politicians. That's one thing I do regret. Not being a hunt saboteur. The first incident is about a hunt monitor being shot in the head by a hunt supporter.
Monica Smallwood, a hunt monitor was shot in the head! How can anyone point a air rifle at someone and shot? Knowing that it's going to cause horrific injures if they hit the target, especially in the head and face. If they don't give a danm about shotting at people, then they sure ain't going to give a damn about shooting wild animals. 

 20 July 2012  BBC NEWS A South Pembrokeshire Hunt supporter, arrested but not charged after a protester claimed she had been shot in the head, has been jailed for firearms offences.

Steven Barrett, 66, of St Clears, Carmarthenshire, had a sawn-off rifle and ammunition inside his van, Swansea Crown Court was told. He admitted several fire arms offences. Due to his poor health, he was given a three-and-a-half year jail term instead of the minimum of five years. Janet Gedrych, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court how on 19 October last year the hunt gathered in a clearing in a wood near Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire. There were also several supporters, travelling in vehicles, and protesters. Both groups, she said, were "well known to each other".
An argument took place and one of the protesters, Dr Adrian Smallwood, began to film the scene. His wife, Monica, then said she had been shot in the head and blood could be seen coming from her forehead. Miss Gedrych said the police were called and, after viewing the film footage, identified several vehicles. Barrett was stopped as he returned home in his van. Under the front passenger seat officers found a gun that has been illegally modified. Miss Gedrych said it was originally a 0.22 rimfire rifle but when officers found it it was more like a single shot handgun. Barrett had shortened the barrel and replaced the stock with a pistol grip. Officers also found 10 live rounds of 0.22 ammunition designed to expand on impact. 
His home was searched and 10 air rifles and six air pistols were found. Barrett told police he had put the gun and ammunition into his car because he had been under the impression that a nearby farmer would ask him to shoot a fox. But he would not say who the farmer was. Miss Gedrych said police made a thorough search of the clearing and could find no evidence of anyone being shot. Barrett was not charged in relation to the alleged shooting. James Hartson, defending, said Barrett, was a former gamekeeper and now a semi-retired farmer. Mr Justice Spencer said he had given the matter "anxious consideration". He added that Parliament had laid down a five year minimum sentence for such offences for a good reason and Barrett could avoid it only if there were exceptional circumstances. He ruled that because of his age and his poor health he could reduce the sentence to three and a half years, but no lower. He said Barrett admitted he had left the gun and the ammunition in his vehicle overnight and had run the risk of the weapon falling into the wrong hands. Barrett admitted possessing a rifle with a shortened barrel, illegal ammunition and an overpowered air rifle.          

3-9-14   Daily Mail   Hunt member arrested after he 'deliberately trampled female protester with his horse leaving her with seven broken ribs and suspected punctured lung' - Woman, 42, seriously injured after being 'hit by ridden horse during hunt' - Taken to Yeovil District Hospital with seven broken ribs and punctured lung - Police said man 'fled the scene of incident' but later attended police station - He was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and bailed. The Hunts Saboteurs Association said the woman was with another protester 'on a public road' when
BlackmoreFHRiddendownsabbeingtreated8-14.jpg she was hit from behind and dragged along the ground. The joint master of the hunt, Mike Felton, said members were 'very upset and deeply concerned' that she was injured while the hunt was out. He said: 'We as a hunt and as individuals deeply regret any accident or incident that happens to anyone who is hurt. There is a police investigation so I can't say much about it.' 
Well as you see in the videos below, what Mike Felton said is not case at all. Most huntsman enjoy beating women with their horse whips.

Violence from hunt supporters to hunt saboteurs during the last day of legal hunting at the Chiddingfold hunt, Sussex, England Feb. 05 Watch the woman hunt saboteurs being beaten by a huntman on a horse! What is wrong with these people. Warning bad language right from the beginning by the hunt supporters.

This helpless animal is still alive at the mercy of some thugs hand

LACS banned from attending Conservative Party Conference

29-9-14 LACS PR  Animal welfare charity barred from Conservative Party Conference    Officials from the League Against Cruel Sports have been denied a pass to this week’s Conservative Party Conference. Three members of the charity’s staff including its CEO had intended to attend to offer ideas to the Tories for their manifesto for the next general election but were told in a letter from Conservative Party Chairman JoeDuckworthLACS.jpgGrant Shapps that "the Conservative Party reserves the right to refuse admission to any person without ascribing any reason hereto."
League CEO, Joe Duckworth [left] said he was disappointed and surprised by the Tories’ snub. "The League Against Cruel Sports is a registered charity. As such, we campaign for animal welfare with all of the major political parties without any political bias. We have been allowed to attend every political party conference this year apart from the Tories and each of the other parties have allowed us to promote our animal welfare policies in the lead-up to the general election. We wanted to put our positive policies for the next election to the Conservative Party including defending the Hunting Act, a ban on snares, a review of the commercial shooting industry, an end to EU subsidies for bullfighting in Spain and action on the growing problem of illegal dogfighting but they have told us we are not welcome. We have been forced to conduct a fringe meeting on our Animals Matter policy document outside the conference secure area. It is quite extraordinary for a charity organisation to be treated this way."

28-9-14   Sunday Express    Tory MP Elizabeth Truss says scrap fox hunting ban    ENVIRONMENT Secretary Elizabeth Truss [right] reopened the fox hunting row last night by calling for the ban to be scrapped. Elizabeth Truss who last night called for Fox Hunting ban to be lifted. Ms Truss said the Hunting Act had been a "mistake". The Coalition promised a free vote on overturning the Hunting Act when parliamentary time allows. However, she indicated there would be no chance toLizTrussDEFRASec.jpg repeal the Act prior to next year's election, partly because there is little chance of success.
Asked whether the party is likely to delay the vote until after the election, when it would stand a greater chance of success if more Tory MPs are elected, she said "yes".... "I personally would vote in favour of allowing fox hunting. I think it was a mistake... and I would vote for a repeal. We need to make sure that we have the votes to be able to do that. We have said we will put it before Parliament when time allows."
David Cameron has been given a stern warning by countryside groups that rural voters will be less inclined to support the Conservatives next year if a pledge to repeal the ban is not included in the party's manifesto. Some pro-hunting groups already feel let down because a promise to lift the ban in the 2010 manifesto has not been honoured. Last month Sir Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance, warned that the party risks losing half a million votes if it fails to include a pledge to repeal the ban on fox hunting in its manifesto. Sir Barney said the Alliance "wants and expects" a pledge from the Conservatives as they go into next year's general election. The fear for the Tories is that Ukip might begin to draw off its support in the countryside.
A poll of Countryside Alliance members held last year found that 13 per cent were planning to vote for Nigel Farage's party at the election. Ukip is pledging to introduce referendums on fox hunting to give people in the countryside the power to decide for themselves.

Nigel Farage
Please don't vote for UK Independence leader - mad man, Nigel Farage. Not only is he supporting hunting, but for hundreds of other reasons. Redditch councillor for UKIP, Dave Small referred to gay people as perverts and African immigrants as scroungers. The list continues...

It's not all bad news. A survey conducted recently noted that over 80% of the UK public living in rural and urban areas are totally against hunting and would expect political leaders to give heed to what they think. 
  If it wasn't for the League Against Cruel Sports and the hunt saboteurs, then who would protect our wildlife from these thugs? 

Join the LACS  

Have a look at their Youtube videos. It also shows their involvement in trying to put a stop to bullfighting, greyhound racing and the shooting of birds in Malta. 

If your totally against hunting and you want to do something about it and get involved. Then join the hunt Saboteurs Association

Monica Smallwood being shot by hunt supporters. What is wrong with these people!?

Thursday 27 November 2014

Long-tailed Duck at Trench Pool, Shropshire

1st winter male Long-tailed Duck at Trench Pool

I arrived in Telford late last night and first thing this morning, I went to look at the 1st winter male Long-tailed Duck at Trench Pool that turned up over two weeks ago. I used to look at part of the pool, every morning, from my bedroom window when I was a kid. From the wooden jetty I immediately found the duck on the far side diving close to the bank. I sprinted down road and the duck was showing down to a few meters! Although Trench Pool is only up the road from my house, I only started watching it when I left home at sixteen. I had 22 Black Tern on there once and found Scaups, YL Gulls and more recently, Glaucous Gull.

This was my forth Shropshire Long-tailed Duck. I found one that wintered at Colemere, 100 years ago! Geoff Holmes discovered one at Crosmere and before these two records, an individual wintered on the Sailing Lake, Venus Pool. I hope this duck sticks around for a while so I can return on a brighter day. 

  However, the best bird I discovered on Trench Pool was a Shropshire mega! On Christmas day I walked our dog, Sam, around the pool. All I had was me bins and in the center I spotted a SHAG on a floating platform!! As there had never been a twitchable Shag in Shropshire before, everyone needed a Shag for the county! I raced home, and went straight to the phone in the hallway. As I came through the door, mum said, dinners ready. As I was dialing the first number, god it seemed to be forever as you watched and waited for the dial to come back, I shouted, I can't, I've just had a Shag on Trench Pool. I didn't even think of what I was saying and I could hear my mum starting to giggle. That's how I said it to the 10+birders that I rang. 'Geoff, get to Trench Pool as quick as you can. I've just had a Shag!' or 'Lathem, You won't believe this, but I've just had a Shag on Trench Pool! Can you believe it!?' Not one of them laughed, proving that they ain't got a sense of humour. No, they reacted like any other birder would of. 'Shit! I can't go today. It's Christmas Day!' But I have just had a Shag!
  Boxing Day morning and a small convoy of cars left my house to go to Trench Pool, as some of them didn't know how to get to Trench Pool. I was so relieved when we all got a Shag on Trench Pool!
  This is still the only Shag twitched in Shropshire and I believe that there has only been one record after this sighting. Correct me if I'm wrong though. And I don't want any silly, immature comments like 'No it's not, I'm sure I saw one last night as I passed a lay by next to Wrekin'

Founded by Iowa natives David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey, indie-roots band The Pines surprisingly actually met in Arizona, where they both lived in a Mexican barrio and first began playing together. Forming The Pines, they returned to the Midwest, moving to Minneapolis, a city that has launched many folk and rock acts from Bob Dylan to The Replacements to The Jayhawks. Like these Twin Cities legends, The Pines weave together many musical styles to create their own unique sound that is hip and haunting. 

Monday 24 November 2014

Dusky Warbler on Tresco

2 black-necked Grebe just off Carn Near, Tresco

  An unusual sight was waking up to frost. I mean outside, not in me room! Anyways, a 10 minute look at Porth Hellick and I heard Firecrest and Siberian Chiffchaff. Then it was time to start work and at the airport there were over 70 redwing on the airfield, but no sign of the 1st winter Ring-billed Gull. However, later in the afternoon, news came out of a 1st winter RB Gull at Sennen.

Heavy frost first thing this morning at Porth Hellick

Siberian Chiffchaff found by call at Porth Hellick

  It was turning out to be a cracking morning and I had the rest of the day off and decided to go to Tresco again. I was hoping to see the Dusky Warbler that I didn't really see yesterday, except in silhouette. When I arrived, there were again, lots of Chiffchaff around the Abbey Pool and with them were 2 Siberian 'type' Chiffchaff. I didn't hear any of them call. On the lawn, the Lesser Canada Goose (probably parvipes) was still present and I could hear 2 Reed Bunting nearby.

While waiting for the rib, this Shag was fishing just off the quay

Although I didn't hear it call, this chiff showed all the features for a classic Siberian Chiffchaff

Higgo told me that there has only been 5 Canada's throughout. It seems that the Lesser Canada might of arrived with the Canada Goose that it associates with all the time. 

  I went looking for the Dusky warbler along Pool Road, but when I got to the area, all I could hear were Chiffchaffs, including 2 Siberian Chiffchaff. An hour had gone and no sign of the Dusky or the 2 Northern Willow Warbler from yesterday. With the clear skies overnight, I thought maybe they had all moved out. I made my way to the Swarovski hide and heard another Reed Bunting in the reeds. Then Higgo called to say that he has heard the Dusky Warbler with Ren. The way he said it gave me visions of the Dusky Warbler calling from the undergrowth with Ren nearby hiding also calling, making noises and being elusive and mobile. I got that out my head and when I joined them, the warbler was calling on and off for the next hour. However, it remained very elusive and mobile and only flight views was the best that we could manage. We had enough of chasing the damn thing and Joe Pender picked us up from Carn Near and with the rib, we all got cracking views of the 2 Black-necked Grebe nearby.

Another 2 Siberian Chiffchaff were along Pool Road and both birds were calling

Up to 60 Chiffchaff were also along Pool Road with another 10 at the Abbey Pool. Only 5 Blackcap and 4 Goldcrest were seen this time though.

With the rib, we got pretty close to the 2 Black-necked Grebe just off Carn Near that Joe discovered yesterday 

Higgo asked me if I was hungry and asked if I wanted a biscuit. It was mid-afternoon and all I had was breakfast. I was peckish and said politely, yes please and with a chuckle, Higgo pulled out of his pocket, a dog biscuit!

Looking from crow sound towards Annet and the Bishop lighthouse

Martin's a marvelous songwriter, effortlessly drawing out fully-fleshed stories and lush natural metaphors from a simple folk music structure. He's an incredibly rare find among today's glut of singer-songwriters: a songwriter whose songs are immediately affecting. These are the kind of songs that can change you.