Los búhos

These guys like to let you know when the dogs get into their territory!

Watchful owls in Uruguay

Watchful owls in Uruguay

Taken with my Panasonic point-and-shoot camera, no tripod.

A lively walk

As we approached the little zoo in Atlántida, a large songbird dive-bombed Benji in the road. Twice (he might well have caught it a third time). This has never happened before. Too quick to get a picture.

A block later, Benji suddenly ran behind a car parked at the zoo, and a goose loudly launched itself into relative safety inside the short chainlink fence. This has never happened before. Too quick to get a picture. (Why are the geese outside their pen?)

On the way back, Benji encountered a dog, but didn’t notice a second one, inside a trash container. This has never happened before. Too quick to get a picture.

Dog just jumped from trash container
But honest, it really happened
So what did I get a picture of? Sticks.

dog throwing sticks on beach

Yes, those sticks from two weeks ago. The crooked one, our favorite, has gone up and down the beach a few times since then.

Isals Ballestas, Paracas, Peru

After the drab weather in Lima, we were promised, as we headed south, that 15 minutes outside of Paracas, we’d be drenched in sunlight. Alas, didn’t happen. Blame El Niño.

Besides the skulls, when in Paracas a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands is a must. On the way, you pass the Paracas Candelabra, a rather remarkable carving on the Paracas Peninsula that barely shows up when there’s no sun, despite intense photo manipulation.

Candelabra, Paracas, Peru

Then on to the islands. And birds.

Ballestas Islands, Paracas Peru

Penguins, Ballestas Islands, Paracas Peru

Not all of them fly.

Pelicans, Ballestas Islands, Paracas Peru

But most do.

Ballestas Islands, Paracas Peru

And they just keep coming, as far as the eye can see.

On the peninsula on the other side of the Candelabra, the scenery is quite spectacular.

Paracus Peninsula, Peru

Paracas Peninsula, Peru

And potentially dangerous.


And — lo and behold — the promised sun makes a return!

Green-barred woodpecker


green-barred woodpecker (caprintero nuca roja)

After shooting the short video, I closed the door and the bird flew away from the car …

green-barred woodpecker, Uruguay

… only to settle on a chair outside my office window (also a favorite of the cat).


Green-barred Woodpecker (Colaptes melanochloros)

French: Pic vert et noir
German: Grünbindenspecht
Spanish: Carpintero Real or Carpintero Nuca Roja (Red-naped Woodpecker)
Other common names: Green-barred Flicker; Golden-breasted Woodpecker (melanolaimus group)

(Thanks to Jim Wiemann for the identification)


A little less tero-torial now

With the camera I have, very difficult to see subject in bright light

Tero-tero nest, Uruguay

I have not spent much time in the campo lately, and was fully expecting to see the baby tero-teros.

Instead, I was not greeted by noise. The teros, near the tajamar (pond), remained quiet until I approached to check the water level.

Here’s the nest. Empty. No eggs, no shells, nothing. I don’t know what transpired, but apparently we won’t be seeing little teros this summer.

Tero-tero nest, Uruguay

Meanwhile, the water level has subsided in the tajamar with our recent suffocating heat. The grasses I planted to the left are high and dry, but hanging in there (and I learned that the second type of mystery floating plants, which I did not add, were put there by my neighbor Mañuel).

I try to keep my blogs short, so that if one is boring, at least, well, it’s short. But since we’re on the subjects of teros and water, I must relate a revelation: an Uruguayan guy about my age told me that when he was a kid, visiting his grandfather’s estancia (big country place), the teros hung around the water, in the thousands. When they took flight, they formed a cloud that blocked out the sun. With the advent of “modern” (i.e., unsustainable) agriculture, they adapted: so now you see them only in pairs, far from water, near streets, even on Avenida Italia in Montevideo. I never dreamed they could exist in a crowd.


Tero-tero nest, Uruguay

A pair of territorial Southern Lapwings, or tero-teros as they’re called here after their raucous call, have created this “nest“ near our tajamar, and, given their aggressive nature, have staked their claim for a significantly larger area. I was able to get close to take this picture (they’re the size of very small chicken eggs) without them dive-bombing me.

When the young hatch, that will not be the case.


As I washed dishes, I noticed something large and unusual in the backyard: a gallineta (ga•zhee•NET•ah). Beautiful bird who wakes us at 6 AM with a chorus of calls that sound like donkeys being answered by owls.

Reminds me that in the campo – a few km inland where we are now the owners of a 5.6 hectare (13.87 acre) farm of sorts – the neighbors call the guinea fowl who come to visit us gallineta. They also have their own word for gate. And who nows how many other things as well.


Gallinetas (pronounced ‘gazhinettas’) are one of my favorite birds here. I’ve only seen them in our yard a few times, though I hear their raucous calls almost every morning. When, this dreary morning, I saw a pair of them in the front yard, I grabbed my camera – to see that one had jumped onto a fence post (behavior I’ve never seen) as though posing. Only then did I realize  I couldn’t shoot through a window screen because of the camera’s auto-focus.

I quietly opened the front door a little bit, expecting the bird to spook. But no, it just stood there. Indeed as if posing.

In Argentina, it’s called Ipacaá; in Brazil, saracuruçu. In English, Giant Wood-Rail.