Category Archives: x-posted

Cross-posts from other blogs.

Cock of the Rock, the national bird of Peru

All photos: Copyright (c) 2015 by Mark Justice Hinton. All Rights Reserved.

Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru

First photo of male Cock of the Rock (above)

I first heard of the Cock of the Rock years ago, after Merri led an impromptu expedition in Ecuador in search of the bird described as both showy and shy.

Last November, we were riding in a van for hours along miles of dirt road that skirt an edge of the Manu jungle region of Peru. Much of that day consisted of riding, stopping, getting out, standing by the road to look for birds while other vehicles roared pass. As we slowed for a turn before crossing a beautiful wide stream, the first Cock of the Rock male I’d ever seen landed on a branch, perhaps not 6 feet from my window (photo above). Snap! Be ready for your opportunities.

(The first female Cock of the Rock I saw was barely visible on a nest in shadow under an overhang above the Urubamba river in Aguas Caliente, near Machu Picchu. Dave Mehlman and I were wandering when a bus driver asked, “have you seen the Cock of the Rock on the nest?” Well, no actually.)

To me, the Cock of the Rock is simultaneously beautiful and ugly. The shape of the head defies logic. Look closely for the beak barely protruding from the feathers. The stark eyes are fish-like, or like the eyes pasted on stuffed animals. Yet the power of the intense red contrasting with the dapper grey and black is undeniable.

The next day, our group drove to a roadside viewing area adjacent to a lek, the competitive breeding grounds for Cocks of the Rock. Plastic tarps formed a wall to minimize dust and noise from passing vehicles. A local guardian kept the key to a locked gate that blocked the steep steps down to a narrow uneven path a dozen paces to a viewing stand, not a blind, but a rickety porch without other attachment, directly behind the plastic tarps. This viewing area looked down a hill that was dense jungle.

At the worst time, more than a dozen people jostled quietly on this platform for a chance to see and photograph one of the half a dozen or so Cocks of the Rock, mostly showy males. Viewing was very challenging through the tangle, though it’s easy to scan green for brilliant red. The loud sore-throat croak of the males also helps you find them.

Photographs required manual focus. There were just too many points to distract autofocus, but automatic exposure settings worked fine. Though the jungle was dim, these birds don’t move very fast.

Eventually, the flock of birders moved on, leaving just 3 of us to watch longer. During this time, the birds moved closer, still not as close as that first bird. It was a delightful moment.

Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru
Cock of the Rock males in Manu, Peru

More photos from Peru (about 170)

All photos: Copyright (c) 2015 by Mark Justice Hinton. All Rights Reserved.

Our Trip to Peru, November 2015

We went to Peru in November, 2015. We traveled with a small group of friends, under arrangements made by Dave Mehlman, birdman extraordinaire. In the course of 2 full weeks, from Lima, to Cusco, to Machu Picchu, to the jungle of Manu, I took too many photos. In the 2 months since, I have taken too long to pull out these. I hope you enjoy them.

Each photo is a link to the album of 179 photos. Be sure to look at the 263 photos by Merri Rudd, as well.

(User’s guide: Follow the link to a page of photos. Select any photo for a large version with caption. You can step through photos or use the Slide Show option at the top of any one photo.)

Mockingbird (lucky timing)IMG_2559IMG_2745IMG_2895IMG_3214IMG_3328IMG_3676IMG_3813IMG_3990WP_20151111_09_17_55_ProIMG_4361IMG_5338WP_20151114_11_25_09_ProIMG_6487IMG_7974IMG_7988IMG_8175

Find your quest

Find your quest | Ah, Wilderness!  (cross posted)

“Being here makes me realize I haven’t accomplished anything.”

We watched a great film about a most extraordinary man, Dayton O. Hyde, cowboy, writer, conservationist. After years as a rancher and cowboy, he turned his considerable force of will toward providing sanctuary — paradise — for wild horses otherwise doomed to slaughter or neglect. He shaped a chunk of the Black Hill of South Dakota into heaven on earth for these beautiful creatures. His wish is that when he returns as a horse, he’ll run among them.

They truly don’t make people like this anymore. However, he serves as an inspiration. Find your quest. Save your space from the profiteers. Love, listen to, honor nature , the land and everything on it.

Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde (2013) is a great documentary, weaving old movies and photos into the story. Just when you think you know the rest of the story, it proves you wrong, more than once. As one old friend says of Hyde, “he is a holy man.” It’s streaming on Netflix for two more days — see it NOW.

Find your quest | Ah, Wilderness!

Ban traps everywhere

What kind of person supports trapping? How can Congress consider EXPANDING this barbaric act instead of outlawing it?

Bill seeks to make trapping a legal hunt | Albuquerque Journal News By Nicole Paquette, Vice President Of Wildlife Protection / Humane Society Of The United States PUBLISHED: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 12:05 am

One of the children recounted what happened next:

“[The younger child] got a closer look at him and started screaming, ‘it’s a trap.’ And there was a snare trap that was tied around his neck that had suffocated them. My other St. Bernard, 10 feet away, we look at him and he’s caught in another trap. And so we both rush over there to try to break the wire free that was tied around his neck, but he was fighting us and was trying to fight to get loose, and the wire just got too tight; and we both, there was nothing we could do … . Later that night, we found Brooklyn, the dog who originally went missing, and we found her in a trap as well.”

Sadly Brooklyn, Jax and Barkley’s story is far from unique. Every year, trappers kill at least six million target animals and millions more non-target animals, including family pets, and threatened and endangered species. By including trapping in its definition of hunting, the Sportsmen’s Act would dramatically expand this cruel practice. Whether it’s a steel-jawed leghold trap, a Conibear trap or a cable snare, these traps are simply inhumane.

Bill seeks to make trapping a legal hunt | Albuquerque Journal News

The Game Commission must go – fire every one of them

This is the second time in a week that the Albuquerque Journal has opposed Game Commission actions. (Previously, it was the approval of mountain lion traps that any decent human being would oppose.)

This is the same Game Commission whose head participated in the slaughter of a cornered mountain lion by a disgustingly privileged Texas attorney for a wheel barrel full of cash. These spoiled frat boys need to go. Fire them. Chase them down the street with sticks. Find someone with heart and sense to serve on the commission.

Editorial: Game board unfairly takes aim at gray wolf protector | Albuquerque Journal News

Unlike the Bill Richardson administration, which supported the program, Gov. Susana Martinez has not been friendly to it – even though it has been popular with many New Mexicans. A 2008 survey by Research & Polling found 69 percent either strongly supported or somewhat supported the program. In 2011, the governor-appointed Game Commission suspended state participation.

Editorial: Game board unfairly takes aim at gray wolf protector | Albuquerque Journal News