03 February 2013

3 February 2013

The flight from San Francisco departed on-time, and over the course of the next 9.5 hours I would watch three movies, eat some lame food, have a kid shine his flashlight in my eyes while attempted to get what roughly worked out to 2 hours of broken and interrupted sleep. When we finally landed, a Korean woman persistently pushed me forward, as if I could go anywhere being in the 38th row and 37 rows worth of people lined up in front of me, also wanting to get off.

So there I was in Lima, Peru...my first visit ever, and its pitch black and nothing to see. For midnight, the airport was remarkable busy, with the departure board being full of flights leaving between midnight and 4am. I managed to lay down across three seats and get a bit of sleep. It was noisy, and I woke occasionally, but I'm sure there was at least one solid hour in there, and another hour of broken sleep. At 4:00am I lifted from the makeshift bed in a daze, went and brushed my teeth, and browsed the gift shops. I then went for breakfast - pre-fab eggs with ham with two slices of toast that could have been mistaken for crackers.

5:00am has finally rolled around and its time to board the plane for the last leg of the journey. A full 2.5 hours from Lima to Quito, and I'm quite sure I slept for most of it, but interrupted occasionally. I was one of the last people off, and apparently slept through the part where they handed out customs forms. I had to stay behind and complete one, while everyone else passed me by. By the time I got to the customs agents, I was 4th from last in line...but it didn't really matter, it was only 8:45am and I had to wait until 10:00am to get a car. I passed the time having some lunch, which would seem weird at 9:00am, if it weren't for having breakfast at 4:00am.

First bird of the Ecuador trip? Chestnut-collared Sparrow. That was followed quickly by Eared Dove and Great Thrush. After receiving my vehicle I headed straight to Puluahua Crater in homes of picking up a few lifers and good number of birds. Uh-oh. Fog! Can't see a damn thing, and the road is narrow and surprisingly busy. There were very few opportunities to pull over, but when I did I would inevitably have one or more vehicles pass. My first 'good' bird was Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch, followed two Black-crested Warblers. Later I had Slate-throated Redstart, Speckled Hummingbird, Capped Conebill, Rufous-chested Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, Sparkling Violetear, White-winged Brush-Finch, Masked Flowerpiercer, Hooded Siskin and Golden-bellied Grosbeak.

On the way back, just as I was about to rejoin the highway, a decided to pull over and scan some adjacent fields. As I was preparing to get out of the car, a small bird perched atop a shrub. It was definitely a sierra-finch, but which type. I took detailed notes: light brown, fine streaks on back and breast, no eye ring, greysih bill, black eye, no markings on tail, dull legs...and it was gone. At the time, I wasn't sure exactly what I had, but after consulting Robin Restall's Birds of Northern South America, I knew I had seen a female Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch! My first lifer for the trip.

By 3:00pm it was drizzling and the fog was thicker. I decided to head back to town, check-in to the hotel, get an excellent nights rest, and start afresh tomorrow at Yanacocha. I sure hope I get a good sleep - it's not exactly quiet in the room, and sounds like the window is open. Actually, it may as well be; the soundproof seal has long since passed its effective date.

Total species today: 21
Total cumulative species for the trip: 21
Total lifers today: 1
Total cumulative lifers for the trip: 1