By Carlos Tello
Every year people around the world participate in the Global Big Day (GBD) by registering as many bird species within their country as possible, forming many teams in an attempt to cover all habitats of a region. The GBD is organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology of Cornell University using their eBird platform.
Peru, one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bird biodiversity with more than 1,800 species, participates in GBD by gathering all kinds of people: researchers, bird watchers, and people that simply want to help, in an attempt to reclaim the champion spot that they received for their participation in 2015 and 2016. Rainforest Partnership (RP), knowing the relevance and importance of the GBD for ecotourism in the Colibri Cloud Forest, helped to organize a Bird Workshop in San Antonio through Eusebio Alanya (community-based coordinator for the Colibri region), who told us about his experience. “As a resident of San Antonio, Pampa Hermosa district, it was very interesting to have participated in the first workshop of birds”. On April 15th, this workshop, led by the National Service of Natural Areas Protected (SERNANP) as well as Andinos Association and Municipality of Pampa Hermosa, motivated people to participate in GBD through its three speakers. They trained the crowd to identify birds by their song, in addition to showing some tricks to attract them and how to get good pictures.
Just one day before GBD, three ornithologists came all the way from Ica and Lima to Satipo and then to San Antonio. There they joined Eusebio’s team in order to participate in GBD in the Colibri Cloud Forest region, specifically on the way from Calabaza to San Antonio. They were to support them in the registering of the bird species in the area. For Matthews Carbonel and Wendy Huyhua, this was their first time in Satipo. They said that “It is an amazing and warm city,” and in San Antonio, they were equally grateful. “Eusebio is a very thoughtful and kind person, and all people there, with delicious food…”
The first thing one does in San Antonio is to go to the Andean Cock of the Rock waterfall, so of course they went there. Matthew told us while sharing some beautiful photos of the location that “We discovered why it is called that, we even saw them on the way to the waterfall, a couple of monkeys hanging around.” Together with Matthews and Wendy, Christian Caballero completed the team of ornithologists–he had been in Satipo before, which made his presence very valuable to the team.
On May 4th, GBD had finally arrived, and at 3:00 am, the ornithologists prepared all their equipment to leave to Calabaza together with Eusebio and his team. The plan for the GBD was to evaluate species ranging from Calabaza all the way to San Antonio. Eusebio’s team prepared cameras, cell phones, binoculars, notebooks, pens, books, and water for the day in the forest. Eusebio said, “At dawn you can hear bird songs of different species. We were focusing on them and immediately taking notes and recording the whistles with cell phones, trying to identify species and comparing with the guide book.”
Christian reported the final numbers to us. They had walked a total 28.5 km through the humid montane forest, and had recorded a total of 50 species. This list of sightings included the Crimson-mantled Woodpecker (Colaptes rivolii), Blue-banded Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus coeruleicinctis), Andean Cock of the Rock (Rupicola peruvianus), Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata), and also endemic species such as the Bay Antpitta (Grallaria capitalis) and Rufous-vented Tapaculo (Scytalopus femoralis). Their lists are now on the eBird as part of the routes from Calabaza to San Antonio, and Yuncanvado to Calabaza.
Although they had hoped for even more sightings, the team still had a great experience. “The way from Calabaza to San Antonio is one of the best I have traveled so far–hummingbirds, tanagers, reynitas, euphonias and many more birds … a very tired path, but the birds, the landscape, a huge monkey in the tree, the waterfalls, the river and personally, the Torrent Duck, one of the birds that I have most wanted to see … they were really worth it,” Matthews said. The local team was also grateful for experience. Eusebio commented, “I spotted 19 species, I wish it had been more, but for my first time, it was a good start; we needed powerful cameras but we also learned that our district has many species of birds. This makes me very happy and I am glad to have participated”.
As GBD came to a close, Matthews told us, “We arrived in San Antonio at dusk, very tired. Eusebio offered us a delicious pumpkin porridge, and we were relieved to have one more day to relax after GBD.” The next day, after a soothing rain at night, they went out to observe a little more beautiful birds of the area. In the afternoon, they returned to Satipo and then to Lima. “Without a doubt, we have to return to San Antonio, because there are more things to see, ” Matthews and Wendy thought.
We hope you enjoyed the story of Rainforest Partnership’s GBD experience. For us, it was our first time being actively involved in Global Big Day. As you can read from Eusebio, this event will help us to promote love and care for our fauna, especially birds. RP hopes to continue the tradition of GBD and to incorporate it as part of our ecotourism.