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Friday 27 February 2015

Hen Harrier at Venus Pool

This female Hen Harrier performed superbly at Venus Pool   

  A Hen Harrier has been hanging around in the top fields SW to Venus Pool for a week now. Just before 12.00 I arrived in the car park where I caught up Jim. With the sun out, I guess he had the same idea and we made are way along the path bordering the field. For the next two hours, we were entertained by some 100+Yellowhammer, 40+Reed Bunting and 5 Corn Bunting. Then at about 02.30, I gave the shout as I glimpsed it come up and down on the brow of the hill. A wait and then it was in view for all the birders present. For the next few hours, the harrier showed on and off quartering the field at very close range, scattering the buntings all over the shop and catching a Reed Bunting.
  I had a great afternoon and it depends who you talk to, but according to a birder that we were talking to, he told us that he had the harrier two weeks ago. While we were still conversation with him, another guy arrived and said, 'yes, you do know that I had it three weeks ago!' You had to be there, but I cracked up and Jim lost it to. A couple approached us and I was waiting for them to say that they had it last year! They had twitched it all the way from Dudley and went away very happy with having cracking views of the harrier.

Eli of 'Last of the Summer Wine' as usual, hadn't got a clue what was going on around him or in this case, behind him. Here he's been watching a kids kite for over an hour mistaking it for the harrier 

Everyone present got cracking views, except for Eli.

Up to 5 Corn Bunting were seen

Female Reed Bunting

Two days ago this 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull roosted at Trench Pool

Image result for eli last of the summer wine
And here's Eli smiling after getting cracking views of the kids kite, I mean the harrier.

Johnny Cash would of been 83 yesterday and Joe Strummer would of been 63 in December. These two covered an amazing song by the one and only Bob Marley just before Strummer's death. I was so lucky to meet and talk to Johnny Cash nearly 25 years ago!  

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Hummingbirds at Manu Learning Centre, Peru

female Green-tailed Trainbearer at Ollantaytambo, Cusco

 I returned back home from the Peruvain Rainforest nearly a month ago and have been meaning to write up an account of my experience working at the Manu Leaning Centre. For the six weeks that I worked out there, I could not get internet on my computer and electricity was very limited. Because my blood was boiling since getting back, all I've done so far is an article on McDonald's destroying the rainforest that I witnessed at first hand. I knew about this nearly 25 years ago and since that day, I've never put my foot in McDonald's again! It's just a shame more people don't do the same, although I have had a great response from the article that I did and those who did not know anything about what McDonald's were doing, as a result are no longer eating at there outlets anymore. You can read the article here

  I'm way behind and there is just not enough time to write up my experience of working in the rainforest. So I'll just show the highlights whenever I can starting with the hummingbirds. These just blew me away and I spent a lot of time with them in the Manu Leaning Centre garden and identified a new species to the area. Wire-tailed Thorntail
 What I discovered at the MLC, is that the bird recorder (intern) that had been there a few months and was studying the birds in both the garden and the reserve, was not recording or observing the birds in the way that everyone does it. The recorder would go out first light every morning, weather dependent, and would record every bird on her iphone that she hears. Then she would return to the MLC and then listen and try to work out which song or call belongs to which bird out of the 600+species that she has on her laptop. Now this is a very hard task for anyone, but it's even harder for someone who is not a birder and does not know the sound of the 100's of birds in the Manu area! As a result, understandably, she was well behind on trying to identify each bird she had recorded. But how do expect anyone to record birds in the rainforest when they have never birded in their life until a few months ago! I questioned, that when she would go out, why don't you ever take any binoculars? Her answer was, because they were recording the birds they heard and didn't feel like she needed bins. I can't get my head around that one. There were a number of bins available in the project room. As you can imagine, the birds are overlooked and under recorded. I'm not having ago at the bird recorder, because this is how she is shown how to record the birds in the reserve. There has got to be a better way of recording birds than this and there is! You get someone who has got experience and knows how to be a birder, is keen and uses bins at all times.
  I was going through the Birds of Peru with the bird recorder of the MLC and she pointed out a few birds from the book that she would like to see. I looked up and said, there's one in the garden and there's the other if you want to see it. Her response was, 'No way!?' She had no idea, but why would she? She wasn't real concerned in looking at them. Now you might think I'm being harsh on someone whose just learning, but even when I said to her lets go and have a look at them, she couldn't be bothered. How are you going to learn anything if you don't at least make the effort? At the same time, like a small percentage of the interns, they showed no interest in the unique wildlife on offer in the rainforest, unless it was the species they were studying like mammals, reptile, amphibians or butterflies. It was very frustrating for someone like me who wanted to observe and learn everything that I experienced in the reserve.

Shinning Sunbeam

Female Violet-throated Starfrontlet

During the 12 hour drive along the Manu Road to our destination, we had a lunch break in the high Andes and got these two hummingbirds, Also, Giant hummingbirds were all over the shop. While staying overnight at the Paradise Lodge, a mile from the famous Andean Cock of the Rock lek, there were Booted Racketail feeding on the feeders in the garden.

This is the MLC garden where the hummingbirds feed and spend most of there time being aggressive and chasing each other all over the shop

Golden-tailed Sapphire

Sapphire-spangled Emerald

Male Rufus-crested Coquette

Female Rufus-crested Coquette

Male Rufus-crested Coquette just about to be knocked off by the larger Blue-chinned Sapphire

Violet-headed Hummingbird

White-chinned Sapphire

All the above species were common in the garden and seen on daily.

This Pale-tailed Barbthroat was only seen twice in the garden

The White-browed Hermit was observed on the outskirts of the garden, but this was the only time I saw it perched. 

Male Blue-chinned Sapphire

Blue-tailed Emerald 

This male White-necked Jacobin only occasionally made visits to the garden and when it did, it was very brief. This was the case with the similar looking Black-eared Fairy that came in for a few seconds before moving on.

This male Amethyst Woodstar was a first for the garden and was only present for two days. Although later on I got a record shot of a better looking male that was present for just a few minutes before disappearing. That's what I thought when I saw it. When I returned home and started looking at the net, I discovered that it was'nt one. The colour of the throat is too red for a Amethyst Woodstar or any other similar looking hummingbird.

And here is a record shot of the hummingbird in question. Any ideas?

This female Wire-tailed Thorntail was also a first for the garden and was gone after two hours. However it was feeding on the same flowers at the same time as the Amethyst Woodstar.

Other species of hummingbird that I observed in the garden, but did not get photos of included, Gould's Jewelfront,  Black-eared Fairy, Black-throated Mango and Grey-breasted Sabrewing. All together I recorded 17 species just in the garden.  

The day after leaving Manu I made a visit to Machu Picchu where I saw more species of hummingbird including this female Green-tailed Trainbearer. I was next to the main road while waiting for this bird to return and a local came along and started to have a pee on the otherside of the small bush! Ten minutes later, this was repeated by another guy in exactly the same spot! I stayed well clear of that area.

Unfortunately I could only get a record shot of this male Green-tailed Trainbearer before it flew off

 This Sparkling Violetear is the reason why the tranbearer didn't stick around. I spotted a violetear feeding in a very expensive hotel garden as I walked up the road after getting off the train from Machu Picchu. After settling in my digs, I returned to the hotel and asked if I could wounder around the very large garden to take some photos. No problem they said and they were very helpful telling me that I could anywhere I like. So I took a bath in one of the rooms and ate all the biscults!

This White-bellied Hummingbird was also in the garden

Along with this Green and white Hummingbird

Been listening to Parov Stelar today and this particular song is not his usual stuff but I repeated it a few times. Marcus Füreder (born November 27, 1974 in Linz, Upper Austria) better known by his stage name Parov Stelar, is an Austrian musician, producer and DJ. His musical style is based in a combination of jazzhouseelectro and breakbeat. He is known as one of the pioneers of electroswing.