Posts in Category: nature

Band-tailed Seedeater

Not the most exciting bird in the world, and widespread even in Peru, this is the Band-tailed Seedeater from the same roadside stop where we saw the Mountain Finch from yesterday’s post, on the highway from Cusco to Paucartambo, Peru. A little digital trickery here to show you two views of the same bird. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and a assembled in Pixomatic.

Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch

I am working back through my photos from my Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys more or less in order. This is from the first day, still on the highway to Purcartambo (where the Manu Road really begins). We pulled off in a “likely spot” on one of the hairpin turns to walk a ways and see what we could see. This is the Chestnut-breasted Mountain Finch, a lovely little bird the Birds of Peru guide lists as rare and local throughout its limited range on the mid-range dry slopes of the Andes. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.

What you missed from Peru

On my Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys and Pepe Rojas, we had very limited wifi, and I only posted a few images to Facebook. So here is a recap of what you missed.

Long-tailed Sylph, Wayqecha Lodge, Peru. One of my target birds for sure!
Masked (Mountain) Trogon, downslope from Wayqecha Lodge, on the Manu Road in Peru.
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge on the Manu Road, Peru
Hooded Mountain Tanager, perhaps my favorite Tanager, from along the Manu Road at Cloud Forest elevation.
We worked hard to find the Hoatzin, an ancient and unique species, in an oxbow off the Amazon in Northern Peru. They were yard birds at Villa Carmin Biological Station at foothill level on the Manu Road in southern Peru.
Barred Fruiteater, the largest of the Fruiteaters, along the Manu Road at Cloud Forest elevation.
Sapphire-spangled Emerald on the grounds of Villa Carmin Biological Station on the Manu Road in southern Peru.
Blue and Yellow Macaw, resident on the grounds of Villa Carmin Biological Station on the Manu Road.
Bearded Mountaineer Hummingbird, from dry western slopes of the Andes on my first day, still on the way to Manu Road.
Mass of butterflies where a sugary drink was spilled on the Manu Road. I only recognize the Blue Doctor (or equivalent).
And finally, just to prove I did it, a selfie at Machu Picchu.

Bare-faced Ground-Dove

Along the west side of Haucarpay Lake east of Cusco, Peru, in the scrubby landscape between the town and lake, we discovered this Bare-faced Ground-Dove, a common bird of the area. It almost got away from me over a little rise in the ground. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr. I was on the Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys.

The Generous Eye: Love Locks, Machu Picchu, Peru. Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

This is a pedestrian bridge over the small stream that bisects Machu Picchu Pueblo at the foot of Machu Picchu mountain in Peru. Machu Picchu is a major tourist destination, so I suspect these Love Locks come from all over the world. Each had the name of the couple inscribed in magic marker. Some were still legible despite having survived a few rainy seasons in the high Andes. I don’t know where the tradition of Love Locks started, but I have seen it several times now in my travels in romantic locations through Central and South America (and in Santa Fe, New Mexico), so it must be well established. It is an interesting concept…that we can “lock up” our love and make it eternal. There is song by Mercy Me…really just a song fragment…a single verse with music…in which the singer lists off the things he could do for his love. Bart Millard is a master with words and images and deserves quoting here.

I can be there for you when it can’t get much harder
I can cover your head when life starts to rain
I can hold on tight when you feel like you’re falling
I can bread crumb the path when you’ve lost your way
I can make you laugh when the whole world is crying
I can build you up when you’re broken in shame
But if all that we do is absent of Jesus, then this so called love is completely in vain…

When I listen to those words I am always moved, but at the end I always want to say, “No Bart, you have it wrong. It is impossible that any of us could do any of that, absent of Jesus. All love, true love, can only be accomplished by the divine in us, by Jesus living and loving through us. We, in the absence of Jesus, are incapable of any meaningful expression of love.”

So, the fact that Bart, or anyone, could “be there for another when life can’t get much harder” is evidence of God’s love for us, expressed from one Child of God to another. It is evidence of the presence of Jesus.

Love Locks…eternal love for one human being for another. It is a romantic idea. But more, it is a reflection of the need we feel, in our spirits, for eternal love…the love of God…the true love that is possible between two Children of God. Putting a lock on a fence or bridge does not make it so…but knowing yourself in Jesus, living with another in the spirit of the generous eye, can, and does.

I missed my wife Carol’s birthday traveling to Machu Picchu. I took this photo the day before. So this is by way of a birthday present for her. My own Love Lock hanging on a bridge in some romantic destination, just for her. One Child of God’s declaration of love for another. Happy Birthday Carol.

And may all your loves be evidence of God’s love, the presence of Jesus, today. Happy Sunday!

Hooded Siskin

Sorry about the gap here, but I find it difficult to post while traveling with limited wifi. I have been in Peru for 10 days, on the Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys and then in Machu Picchu on an overnight from Cusco. I will post a catch up post featuring the images I managed to post from the road soon. For now, on our way out of Cusco on the first day, we stopped at Huacarpay Lake, a typical high altitude lake on the east slope of the Andes, in hopes of some water birds. Along the shore as we were leaving, we encountered a large and busy flock of Hooded Siskins feeding in brush in an empty lot. The Hooded Siskin is a lot like our American Goldfinch, in both looks and behavior. This shot shows both males and females. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600mm optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.

Coral Hairstreak and Wood Lily revisited

I posted another in this sequence of images the other day. I was delighted to watch this Coral Hairstreak working a Wood Lily on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in Southern Maine. As this panel shows, and I tried to describe in the previous post, the butterfly worked its way across the flower and then back again as I watched. Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent, plus enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.

The Generous Eye: Going deep… Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

I walked out the door the day before yesterday, on my way to the bank to get funds for my trip to Peru (which starts tomorrow) and was arrested by a Canada Tiger Swallowtail in our yellow Day Lilies right in front of me. I had to go back inside for my camera, and by the time I got back in position the butterfly was in flight on its way to another stand of lilies under the Cherry tree. These are more the common orange lily that we call, mistakenly, Tiger Lily here in Southern Maine. They are in full bloom in all the yards less than half a mile inland from us, but just coming into bloom in our well shaded and tide cooled yard. I got the best shots I could of the butterfly, but it was buried deep in the flower, and only sat there a moment, before rising and sailing out over the tall unblossomed lilies along our drive and on across the road into the forest.

Looking with a generous eye this morning, I have to admire the way the Swallowtail dove right into that flower…going deep…drawn by the promise of whatever nectar had collected in the cup of the petals. It was certainly at its most vulnerable, head down, busy, going after what it wanted, or what it needed in the moment. And I take that, with the light within me, as a metaphor this morning for our quest for the spirit. We are born, I believe, with the inner certainty, that there is more to life than nectar in a cup, sweet as it might be…that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Oh yes, you can explain that feeling away…make it into a weakness instead of a strength…but to me it has always been evidence of our calling as the Children of God, meant to live out of the spirit of Creative Love that animates the universe. The light within. I remember the feeling of vulnerability when I had to admit that what I wanted, what I needed, might be found deep within the experience, the reality, of Jesus. Sometimes you just have to dive right in…go deep…and let consequences take care of themselves…like the Tiger Swallowtail on the Tiger Lily. With a generous eye, you just might find a satisfaction that will fill you with light, and send you sailing on over unopened flowers into the future. Happy Sunday!

Calico Pennant

Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa), Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, Kennebunk Maine, USA.

Yesterday’s post featured my first Halloween Pennant for the season. The Calico Pennant, featured here, is the other Pennant on the wing in Southern Maine right now. I have been seeing Calicos for about a week and half. These individuals were around the pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, and are particularly dark red, for whatever reason. I was also, just after my encounter with the Halloween, struck anew by how small they are. There were lots of Slaty and Spangled Skimmers around, and the Calicos were almost tiny by comparison. Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical plus enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.

Halloween Pennant

I found my first of the season Halloween Pennant the day before yesterday. I stopped at the parking lot for the new Wild Forever Sanctuary on Rt 99 going out of Kennebunk toward the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area and spent some time chasing Monarchs in the overgrown field. There was just this one female Holloween Pennant perching on the tallest grasses. I managed to get several angles on it. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent with enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.