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Tuesday 28 March 2017

Lake Titicaca, Peru

100's and 100's of Wilson's Phalarope were feeding on Lake Titicaca At 3812 mts, it is the highest lake in world with a shore length of 699 miles on the border of Peru and Bolivia!

 So from Cusco, we made the ten hour bus ride on the Bolivian Hop and arrived in Puno at about 07.30. The double-decker is a 100 times better than National Express over in the UK! We had booked a tour to go on a barge on Lake Titicaca to meet the indigenous people (Uros) who live out on the 42 floating islands hiding in the reeds. The tour included breakfast with very loud rock music! The speakers were shaking but the tour leader must of been def because he turned it up! After taking cotton wool out my ears, we made our ways onto the boat with another ten punters. Here we were told about the lake and the tribe that live on it. I noticed that a few of the tour fell asleep but when it was all over we were allowed on top to look over at the lake while we were closing in on the islands.
  On one of the islands we had a very warm welcome by the locals and then we had a talk about the way the tribe lives and how the man-made islands work. We were allowed to see how they live in their homes and I was surprised to see a TV, a very old one, in the corner of the hut. Two hours of electricity is how long it can last in one go all run on solar power. We were all asked for 10 sols each (2.50) if we would like to go on one of their transitional boats to another island. Anna and I were the only ones that took up the offer and in the twenty minute crossing, two little girls came up to us and started singing. When we got to other side, for 1 sol we could have are passport stamped!
  Returning to Puno, we observed 100's and 100's, if not 1000's of Wilson's Phalarope spinning around on the lake

The Uros tribe welcome us as we arrive on their floating Island

Inside one of the thatched houses where they live

In all there are up to 60 self-fashioned floating Islands made from reeds (totora) on the western side corner of the lake and every week different islands play football against each other. It must be a drag fishing out the football from the lake all the time. I guess it's a bit like the old Shrewsbury ground, Gay Meadow, when they had to go and net the football from the River Seven.

Yellow-winged Blackbird

Two Uros girls from the floating islands came up to join us as we were rowed to another island and they started singing for us in Spanish. It was so sweet and they sang five songs. 

Looking towards the city of Puno

Puna Teal

100's if not 1000's of Wilson's Phalarope spinning around on the lake

 The following morning I made the twenty minute walk from our digs to the Titicaca. There was a small boating lake cut off from the main lake and here it was covered in birds. I spent a good two hours in the area and some of the birds included Stilt sandpiper, Puna Ibis, Chilean Flamingo, Yellow-billed Pintail, Speckled Teal, Andean and Brown-bellied Swallow.

Andean Coot

Pair of Andean Ruddy Duck

Plumbeous Rail

Eared Dove

Spot-winged Pigeon

Pair of Cinnamon Teal

White-backed Stilt

Wilson's Phalarope

Puna Teal

Many-coloured Rush-tyrant

In the center of Puna

I've been into Ben Harper since he first came on the music scene some 25 years ago! This man is class and here he's doing a cracking version of his own song 'Jah Work' as a tribute to Lewis Marnell. A professional skateboarder. 

Sunday 26 March 2017

Alpine Swift over Star Castle

This Female Garganey was at Lower Moors on the day I returned home, 22nd, after traveling for five months and it was still present on Shooters Pool two days later

  This morning at 11.00, I had just finished talking to Tony and Cath at the entrance of Star Castle, turned around to climb the steps and as always. looked up to see if Dave was sitting on one of the guardhouses. At the top of my lungs I shouted 'Alpine swift!' to get Tony's intention. The bird zoomed through just above me. Lower than the castle, just above the ramparts heading east. Brief but cracking view of it's underparts. We both observed it fly south towards the campsite being blowing all over the shop by the strong easterlies climbing higher until it disappeared. There was no sign of it all day but Will Scott went and found a Vagrant Emperor at Carreh Dhu. The first of many hopefully as there are 1000's on the North African coast ready to hit our shores pushed up by the southerlies in the next few days. I dipped out on the dragonfly but got my first Comma of the year and at Bants Carn I also had a Painted Lady.
  A brief visit to Porth Hellick produced 15 Sand Martin, lots of chiffchaff and a single Willow Warbler. 

My first Painted Lady of the year was at Bants carn

Male Stonechat

Herring Gull with rather long deformed bill

Wood Pigeon

Male Gadwall

Female Garganey

Male Peregrine

Martyn Bennett (17 February 1971 – 30 January 2005) was a Canadian-Scottish musician who was influential in the evolution of modern Celtic fusion, a blending of traditional Celtic and modern music. He was a piper, violinist, composer and producer. He was an innovator and his compositions crossed musical and cultural divides. Sporting dreadlocks at the height of his performing career, his energetic displays led to descriptions such as "the techno piper". Diagnosis of serious illness at the age of thirty curtailed his live performances, although he completed a further two albums in the studio. He died fifteen months after release of his fifth album Grit.

Friday 24 March 2017

Rainbow Mountain, Peru

We saw up to 8 Black-faced Ibis on our ways up to Rainbow Mountain 

 In Cusco we booked a day trek for the following day to go and see Rainbow Mountain in the Augangate Region. The locals who live in the area knew about this colourful mountain but it was only discovered last year by a trekker. He put the word out about his kinda of discovery and now 100's of visitors a day make the climb of over 40000 mtrs to the top to see this amazing spectacle!


It can be hard life living in the City of Cusco!

  In the earlier hours of the next morning, 03.00, we were picked up from our digs and joined  folks on the same tour in a wagon. 100 km south east of Cusco later we arrived at a very small village called Cordillera Vilcanota, at the foot of the mountains and were ready for breakfast. An hour later we were back on the road and near to our destination, I pointed out the 8 Andean Ibis that were feeding close to the roadside!

Black-faced Ibis

The village where we had our breakfast

  Twenty minutes into our trek and we were told that we could go on horseback to Rainbow Mountain if we paid extra money. Anna and I at over 3000 mts were already dieing with the other folk from just walking a few minutes We took advantage of the horse and started making our ways to the main mountain.
  I worked with horses for nine years, and I'm talking somethin like 150 horses a day and this was my first time I've ever got in the saddle! I worked at one of the biggest stud farms in Europe and many times I was involved in foaling and braking them, but my main task was working in the fields However, I was working with racing horses and I didn't like what I saw. I'm not goin to go into great detail but horse racing is a very cruel sport, if you can call it a sport. Believe me it's all to do with money and not the welfare of the animal. We had a lot of 'celebrities' horses and this included the parasites, The Royal Family! They really don't give a danm about their horse unless it was making money for them!
  For Anna, she's used to getting on a horse and both of us made our ways through the mountains. The sun was warm and it was simply stunning as we went deeper into the valley!

I worked with horses for 9 years and never even attempted to get on one until now! I was working with racing horses and I can tell you that it was one of cruelest sports around, if you can call it a sport. It's all to do with money and not the welfare of the animal!!  I was a bit rusty in the saddle.....

While Anna was a natural!

White-winged Diuca Finch

On our ways up to Rainbow Mountain taking the Ausangate Trek with snow-capped peaks

  We had almost made it when we were told to get off the horse as the horse could not go any further. The few meters we had to walk to the top took us a good 30 minutes! I would take a couple of steps and then stop and get my breath back. We were at over 5000 mts and the air was getting thinner and thinner in every step we took. For me it felt like being back up near to the peak of the tenth highest mountain in the world, Annapurna South in the Himalayas, Nepal where I struggled to get my breath back. Like now, I was struggling but we made it to the point with 60 to 70 people and when the mist cleared, it was truly amazing site to see this painted landscape!

Unfortunately the sun had gone in on Rainbow Mountain

Making our ways back down where the breathing became a lot easier

  The horse ride back took nearly two hours and in the wagon we were returned to the same village mid-afternoon where we had our lunch and it was top notch! We followed a river cutting through the mountains where there were Torrent Ducks at close range and on the grass, more Andean Ibis. We were very very tired when we returned to Cusco at 20.00. We had no time to rest as we were catching the over-night double-decker at 22.00 on the Bolivian Hop!

Hiss Golden Messenger is an American folk music band, originating from Durham, North Carolina, led by MC Taylor.[1] For the various recordings he is joined by a number of guest musicians.[2] After releasing his earlier material on his own label, Taylor signed with Merge Records in 2014. In 2016 he released the album Heart Like a Levee and embarked on an international tour.