Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A few more birds

It's almost midnight, and tomorrow I am going back out of Cusco, this time to try and see some mid-elevation jungle. Choquequireao was unbelievable. here are a few birds, as a meek attempt to catch up:

Eared dove, Zenaida auriculata:

Wilson's phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor:

White-winged cinclodes, Cinclodes atacamensis:

Bright-rumped yellow-finch, Sicalis uropygialis:

Puna teal, Anas puna:

Speckled teal, Anas flavirostris oxyptera:

Otherwise, I've been lucky enough to see everything from weird hummngbirds to the Andean condor, passing through the Andean cock-of-the-rock and many more, and birds are only one percent of the cool things of the trip.
Happy New year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hello from Cusco!

Hello! This is where I was today, at some Inca ruins near the town of Pisac, which had impressive terrassed land:

The walk up the muntain from the town's marketplace was great, but the best is the time I spent across from the top, on the side of a steep cliff, harvesting plants with some fun local women. The view was great, and after coming down the mountain we went and had chicha in some awful bar. So far, I hae been enjoying the fields and local people, more than any kind of ruins and birds. Of course, ruins and birds are what I will be taking pictures of:

The Andean gull, larus serranus:

A sailboat on Lake Titicaca:

Peruvian flag outside a school on a touristy reed island:

An aplomado falcon Falco femoralis, on Isla Amantani in lake Titicaca:

On the same reed island as the Andean gull, a Puna ibis Plegadis ridgwayi:


Thursday, December 18, 2008

A quick hello from Puno, Peru.

So far, I've only seen one Peruvian town: Puno, on Lake Titicaca, where I have been for the past five days. It has been amazing, and in fact I am already thinking about going back. Just like anyplace, the region around Puno is one that only reluctantly allows tourists to experience its best aspects. So far, i have only scratched the surface. Here are two photos from a group of really touristy islands that we went to (more about them later).

An adult Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax (tame and injured bird), called huacana by the locals:

And an adult male yellow-winged blackbird Agelasticus thilius, called Ch'enko by the Aymara people:

The internet connection here is really slow, so I'll put up more pictures when I am in Cuzco, starting tomorrow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quickly catching up on Mexico

Hello! I promised I'd write more, so here it is. So far the trip has been fantastic, to the point that I wanted to spend more time in every town I visited. Swimming and hiking were great in and around Puerto Vallarta (especially around El Tuito), and I then spent time in Guadalajara where there was an international book fair and lots of fun college students who had come to listen to the speakers (I got to hear Arturo Pérez-Reverte talk about La Reina del Sur, that I had read, and saw Elena Poniatowska, whose book La Piel del Cielo I was reading at the time). Here is Arturo Pérez-Reverte singing an old narco-corrida with the Tigres del Norte:

I then went to Zacatecas, which is always fun and was even better this time since there was a very interesting movie festival (theme: borders and migrations). I saw about five feature-length movies and heard some actors and directors comment on two of them.

Otherwise, get ready for landscapes and birds!

Cacti of all shapes and sizes:

A tiny cactus camouflaged in the rocks:

Fascinating masks in Zacatecas:

La hasteca, near Monterrey, where I have to go back and spend more time:

The Cerro de las Mitras, behind which my friend Ricardo and his family live in Monterrey:

La Huasteca, again:

A gadwall, Anas strepera:

A male Great-tailed grackle Quiscalus mexicanus:

And a female:

And an eastern fox squirrel Scirus niger:

I am now in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just a quick hello

As often happens, I am falling behind on this blog, so here is just a message to say hello, and that all is fine so far. I am spending one day in Austin, Texas, where I have so far ran into nothing but nice people. In fact, I could probably say that of almost the entire trip except for an obnoxious US border agent who questioned my citizenship. Austin is apparently one of those places where pro-American flag waving is seen as compatible with Civil War whitewashing. Their state capitol has this Confederate armed forces memorial, and another one to Texas Rangers who served the Confederate Army.

The birders among you may have spotted a little gray thing in front of the monument. Here it is: a northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos:

Not far from there, I found a male Cooper's hawk Accipiter cooperii, that was having another bird (a pigeon?) for breakfast: