What we really did

Trip Start Jul 09, 2006
1
Trip End Aug 31, 2006


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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, September 7, 2006

There was a reason for being in the National Reserve of Paracas. Censors. It felt very privileged to be included in doing such important work. On a patrol, along the coast, from the main center, i'd count the Flamingoes. I returned one day with a count of 82, the highest I'd seen, and was then told that three years ago, there used to be 800 in the bay alone. And still no one can say why they haven't come back. Maybe it's the streetlights in the nearby village of Chaco, as they make it more tourist friendly. Or the speedboats that come into the waters of the reserve and water ski close to the shoreline. Maybe it´s the kite surfers who follow the same path of the skiers. Soon, they're going to place buoys in the bay so people who sail can see why they need to stay out. But how can they leave a sign for the Flamingoes to tell them it's ok to come back. hmmmmm

We'd spend days cleaning beaches from the plastic bottles and plastic bags, engine oil containers and more, from the fisherman, or the local restaurants. Each week we'd collect 20 plus bags of rubbish from the same beach. In the south of the reserve in Laguna Grande, it took three of us to clean 100 meters of beach in 3 hours , 18 bin bags of rubbish and a fraction of the beach was clean. But what is rewarding, is that the next day, the birds where enjoying a clean expanse of beach. That was visibly clear and great to see. Eagrets, herons, blue herons, ruddy turnstones and a variety of turns. But the hardest part is the correlation of rubbish to dead wildlife. On the same beach/bay, we counted 25 dead pelicans, 153 jellyfish, 18 Booby´s, 35 sea lions, 8 cormorants, 72 birds we couldn't identify. 15 turtle shells, 8 penguins and twelve dolphin skulls. The wardens have left rubbish bins, by the small jetty, where the fishermen unload there catch of the day, before relaxing and going out again the next day. but these bins are ignored, and the plastic just gets thrown overboard or worse still, the bins get emptied into the sea at nighttime. It's difficult to watch, as the restaurants have been there longer than the reserve, so say they have the right to do as they wish. And we're not exactly on the round of the local bin men. So, we keep cleaning. It´s the way life is here. A long educationally process with the kids in schools, families of fisherman and havingto see that everyone is trying to earn some money because the poverty here is hard to describe.

But the big surveys are fun. Out on the boat at four in the morning, to tour the islands, where the tourist boats are banned, which they adhere to. We count penguins a 174, sea lions 13824 and a rarer type of sea lion called Lobo Fino. 106. Other days we will do a total bird census. 47306 Peruvian Booby's. 8362 Inca Turns. 1099 Grey gulls. 517 Cormorants. 2311 Pelicans. 73 Red Legged Shags. 23879 Guanay.378 Penguin.39 Turkey Vultures. 5 black oystercatchers and 2 very rare black billed, black oystercatchers. But no partridge in a pear tree. There´s more to the list!!! Our eyes go blood shot from the counting as the boat rocks in the swells of the sea. "Tuyo" is an excellent captain, and gets us a close as we can, but finding Penguins half way up a cliff face will still amaze me every time I see it. Looking for Red lagged shags was like needles in a haystack. Breakfast is bread and a slice of cheese. Mango juice and gradually the sunrises and we become warm. And if we're really lucky, we pass a fisherman who'll give us some of his catch. And if I'm really unlucky, it's my turn to gut them.

We ate like kings in the south of the reserve, at Laguna Grande. Fresh crab, scallops, and fish. Fresh fish for breakfast. All you can hear at the breakfast table are five people sucking the bones of the fish.

When at the main post, in the visitor's center, we'd start the day sweeping out the sand and cleaning the place. To sweep the sand out the next day and clean the place and yep, clean the same sand out of the center and.... It becomes very therapeutic. And peaceful. Toilet duty was" take one step backwards". But riding the motorbike on patrol was a high to remember. Never ridden on sand or pebbles before, with another warden on the back. And then I had to go down the cliff with Tenelly, to have a chat with a fisherman, who shouldn't really have been there. 25m down a cliff holding a rope pegged into cliff face. I thought he was joking when he said go down. And getting up, well, it wasn't difficult at all. Though I did scream for you "no estoy gringo" when at the top. Great fun.

So now to the North and a school with kids wanting to learn English, Black Country Style. I've even brought two footballs with me, donated by Wolverhampton Football Club. Of all the English clubs they could be converted to, it's Wolves. Poor critters!! Ah, they'll survive.

Off to buy a new camera now as some kind stole nicked it in my last week. It happens.

Love to you all
Ian
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