Lima's Coastal Marshes and Humboldt Seabird Colonies Jul 03—05, 2014

Posted by Andrew Whittaker

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Andrew Whittaker

Andrew Whittaker was born in England but considers himself to be Brazilian, having moved to this biodiverse country in 1987 to work for the Smithsonian Institution, banding...

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We had a great day of birding at the Pantanos de Villa reserve beach area and, after traveling south through the Atacama Desert, at the delightful seaside resort and harbor at Pucasana. The marshes were full of birds including an estimated 1,000 Gray Gulls (interesting, as they are absent other times of the year); these are unique amongst gulls, as they nest in the desert!

Inca Terns

Inca Terns— Photo: Andrew Whittaker

We were able to study our waterbirds well, with a backdrop of huge waves crashing on the beach, until a local policeman came to warn us of the danger (a Peruvian birder had been washed off the beach the previous day, losing his camera, etc.). We even found a rare Nazca Booby washed up dead on the beach! The marshes produced the crowd pleasing and stunning Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Plumbeous Rail (with its bright, multicolored bill), and the odd-sounding Wren-like Rushbird. Unfortunately, we could not locate the thick-knees.

On to the quaint fishing harbor at Pucusana (which was closed due to the massive storm the previous day), we were delighted by nesting Inca Terns, close Belcher’s Gulls, Red-Legged and Guanay cormorants, massive Peruvian Pelicans, and Peruvian Booby. Searching off the cliffs and at the blow hole, we found the endemic Surf Cinclodes and swimming Humboldt Penguin, with Sooty Shearwater farther out. Late afternoon we drove back to our lovely hotel and had a superb dinner.