About Me

My photo

I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

City Wildlife Snapshots: Lima

I'm away for May, accompanying a natural history tour to tropical Queensland.
I don't have time to set up full postings for the time I'll be away, but in the hope
of keeping you, my valued readers, while I'm absent, I'm going to post a few brief
perspectives - snapshots perhaps - of some wildlife I've come across in cities.
I
often leave my camera behind when I go out in towns, so I can think of many possible subjects
for this series that I can't offer you.
In particular I can't offer a posting on an Australian city!
(My home town of Canberra doesn't count, as it's known as the Bush Capital, and it'd be too easy...)

Lima, the capital of Peru, is a vast throbbing intimidating metropolis on the Pacific. Its growing population of nearly 10 million lives constantly under the influence of the cold Humboldt Current, with almost no rainfall (less than 50mm, mostly in the form of winter morning misty drizzle) and a persistent fog hanging over the metropolis, especially near the sea. In July the city sees on average less than an hour of sunshine a day. The outskirts in many places comprise seriously squalid slums of poor rural Peruvians hoping for work.
Typical fog, courtesy of the Humboldt Current, over the Lima coast.
No, I'm afraid I wouldn't want to live there, but there are always some birds to be seen too.
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata, Lima.
This is an abundant bird throughout much of South America, and is quite happy in cities including Lima.
Bizarrely to someone from this part of the world, the unfortunate dove supports a major
'sporting' shooting industry in Argentina.

West Peruvian Dove Zenaida meloda, Lima.
Another common urban bird in Lima, also found throughout the Peruvian coastal strip,
overlapping into adjacent Ecuador and Chile.
By the sea to the south of the city is an extensive bleak area of industrial spoil and sometimes polluted swamp land which can be surprisingly rich in birds.
Grey-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus, Lima coastal marshland.
This pretty little gull has a curious distribution, in both Africa and South America.
The seaside suburb of Miraflores is definitely one of the richer, pleasanter and greener areas of Lima, and some less expected urban birds can be found in its parks.
Amazilia Hummingbird Amazilia amazilia, Miraflores park.
This little bird has proved a ready adapter to urban living.
I loved the fact that it was preening in a Callistemon sp., an Australian bottlebrush. This genus of bushes
is common in Australia where it is also widely planted; it has evolved to bird pollination and I'd
be surprised if hummingbirds didn't also avail themselves of it.
Long-tailed Mockingbird Mimus longicaudatus, Miraflores seaside park.
This is a coastal species from Peru and Ecuador and Miraflores is a noted site for it.
My readers in the Americas will doubtless be amused to hear that this was the
first mockingbird I ever saw.
Unlike some of the other cities featured in this mini-series, Lima has many attractions for tourists, though wildlife isn't usually touted among them. That's no reason not to keep your eyes open while you're there though.

BACK NEXT THURSDAY, LIVE!

2 comments:

Flabmeister said...

Wot: no Inca Terns from underneath the restaurant?

Ian Fraser said...

No, sadly I missed them. That's an omission I hope to remedy (not necessarily in Lima) in a couple of months though. Can't wait, has to be one of the most striking terms in the world!