Sunday, December 6, 2009

Northern Peru birding trip Nov 1-21, 2009

Monday Nov 2, 2009

We arrived in Lima last night at 11:00 PM and got to the Hotel La Castellana in Miraflores at about 12:30 AM. Knowing we were meeting our guide Alejandro at 5:30 AM and that we would only get 4 hours sleep, we went to bed ASAP.

We departed right on time and were surprised to see it was light out already – although very overcast. Our first stop was Pucusana to look for Humbolt Penguins, Inca Terns and Red-legged Cormorants. We were successful with all and got stupendous looks at the gorgeous Inca Terns standing on the edge of cliffs, some tending to young. We also watched a pair of Band Tailed Gulls sitting on a nest.

The steep black rock cliffs offered no guards against falling into the ocean, so we walked carefully amongst the soft ground.

Next it was on to Puerto Viejo, first we stopped at the marshes, a strange site amongst the dessert and spotted a few pairs of Many-colored Rush-Tyrants, Peruvian Meadowlark, so beautifly red, Least Bittern and Wren-like Rushbirds were noisily clicking away in the reeds. Cinnamon Teals and incredibly blue billed Ruddy ducks swam the ponds with the Andean Coots (we learned that the bill colors of the coots vary from white, yellow or red).

Then we walked the beach littered with light orange colored crabs that quickly dove into their holes as we approached. Thousands of Neotropic and Guanay Cormorants were migrating or circling the waters in front of the crescent shaped beach. More Inca Terns were hanging out on the rocks. Lots of Peruvian Boobies passed by as well.

The Peruvian coast is mainly dry dessert and mountains. We walked thru a dusty scrubby land where we came upon 10 Peruvian Thick-knees, 4 Burrowing Owls, an Oasis Hummingbird, and a few Lesser Nighthawks.

Our final stop was at Pantanos de Villa which appeared to be a gated private property beach and marsh area. Hundreds of black vultures were sunning themselves between the marshes and beach along with Grey Headed Gulls. A mix of American Oystercatchers, Whimbrels, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons were patrolling the beach – an odd site to see them at the shoreline trying to avoid the incoming waves. The marsh was filled with Great and Pied billed Grebes, Andean (Ruddy) Ducks, Moorhens with chicks, Coots with chicks, one Skimmer, and Puna Ibis. A quick stop on the way to the airport brought us a cute pair of White-tufted Grebes

We had a 4 PM flight to Piura, but we had to rush at the airport because they require a separate line to pay a departure fee and we almost missed our flight.

Once in Piura a driver picked us and Alan, from London, up. Alan also happens to work at Nokia, but we had never met before and he had happened to visit my office last week, how coincidental! We made the 2 hour drive to Talara to stay at the El Angolo Hotel. We met up with 6 more participants and Gunnar (our guide) and went off to dinner at a small “restaurant” in the back of a convenience store for pizza and lasagna.

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