Lima's Coastal Marshes and Humboldt Seabird Colonies Jul 09—11, 2016

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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Lima is a premier birding destination with its mega-rich coastal wetlands of Pantanos de Ville Reserve and the coastal seas so close by. This is primarily because of one of the world’s richest currents just offshore, offering extremely rich pickings to a wealth of wildlife!

Inca Terns

Inca Terns— Photo: Andrew Whittaker

 

We began our exciting day birding on the outskirts of the town at the impressive Pantanos de Ville Nature Reserve with its rich wetlands, beaches, and observation towers before traveling south through the bleak Atacama Desert to the delightful seaside resort and harbor of Pucasana. As always, the marshes were full of life and the sea just teeming with an estimated 100,000 Sooty Shearwaters (probably caused by the strong El Nino year as the cold current has returned), thousands of Peruvian Boobies and cormorants, and wave after wave of Peruvian Pelicans. Gray Gulls were present and are unique amongst gulls, nesting in the desert! We also had several Andean Gull austral migrants to this part, as were the Black Skimmers (that fly over the Andes from the Amazon) to feed in this rich area!

Humboldt Penguin

Humboldt Penguin— Photo: Andrew Whittaker

 

The marshes and pools produced the crowd pleasing and stunning Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Plumbeous Rail (with its brightly multicolored bill), too brief looks at a Black Rail, Long-tailed Mockingbird, and odd-sounding Wren-like Rushbird. Water birds were low with very few Great Grebe, Cinnamon Teal, and Andean Duck, both night-heron species, Puna Ibis, and, despite looking, we unfortunately could not locate the resident thick-knees. On to the quaint fishing harbor at Pucusana and our exciting short boat trip where we were delighted by nesting Inca Terns (by far the most beautiful tern in the world), close Belcher’s Gulls, stunning Red-Legged and Guanay cormorants, the massive Peruvian Pelican, and Peruvian Booby. Searching paid off, and we found several endemic Surf Cinclodes, Blackish Oystercatcher, and the darling Humboldt Penguin. Late afternoon we drove back to our comfortable hotel and had a superb farewell dinner for those returning home. The rest of us recharged our batteries for the exciting Cloud Forest Endemics trip to begin the next day.