Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Un hijo del sol

In the cool limeño morning the moneyed folk of Miraflores don fluorescent T-shirts and take to the extensively - expensively - paved and gardened cliff-tops to run. With them go their glossy-coated power pets: weimaraners, beagles, apsos, a swift-footed Brittany spaniel and - odd-looking even here at home - a Peruvian hairless dog. No mutts, no curs, no Heinz are welcome in this flowery suburb. The old, the fit, the young, the Inca chaskis, all pound pavements past the perfect beds of scarlet Salvia, of flaming Canna and zinging Zinnia. Birds though are few. Doves, yes, eared and West Peruvian, are everywhere, singing, displaying, building nests and raising chicks, and all along the shore are gulls and terns; but of small birds there are precious few. Each cliff-top park has a family of strident scrub blackbirds and here and there a pair of long-tailed mockingbirds hops velociraptorially. In bushes of Hibiscus and Abutilon the sharp chip of bananaquits is heard, but for South America this city has impressively few birds.

As I reach the farthest point of my first-light walk - a tennis club with ocean views - I realise I may see no new birds for my list today. No new birds on my second day in South America! Then in the court-side bushes someone moves. A flycatcher, red-crowned, red-vented, streaky grey, a young male vermilion. Each winter these precious birds would visit our garden in Santa Cruz, their too-red feathers warming us against the austral winds.

For this in Bolivia is hijo del sol, the son of the sun.

At a tennis club this morning


vermilion flycatcher
Pyrocephalus rubinus

2012 Totals
Mammals: 61
Birds: 492
Reptiles: 14
Amphibians: 6
Fish: 6

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