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Trip Reports
Pelagic Pelagic October 2000
February 12, 2004
Gunnar Engblom

Description: Pelagic off Callao, Lima w Letta some 30 nm from La Punta

Species Seen: 33

Trip data

We arranged the first ever full day whale-watching trip in Peru off Callao.  The weather was overcast until 2.30 or 3 PM and then the sun came out.  Though we did not see any true whales but Common Dolphin (around 20-30) 12º14.360S, 77º35.007 and Dusky Dolphin (around 100) at 12º18.492S, 77º30.078W.

This was not a pelagic trip for birders primarily, most had joined to have the chance to spot some whales. We saw no big whales but dusky and common dolphin. The dusky dolphins put up quite a show as there were about 100 of them all together and they were making high leaps up in the air. The "whale-watchers" were very happy with this experience.

We were to start at 5.30 but actually set off at 6.30.  I wanted to reach some 50 nm to reach waters that were 2000m deep.  However, we only got to 30 nm off the coast, and depth here was about 1000 meters 12º17.100S 77º38.100W.  A lot of seabirds where seen here including Black-browed Albatross and White-chinned Petrel

We were back in Callao at 16.30.  A bit too short.

The birding was great though with a lot of variety of birds.  The air-temperature was quite pleasant.  The sea was a bit shaky but not too bad. Since both Mikko Pyhälä and I were quite novice to sea birding we felt like amateurs trying to straighten out some of the birds. We have included our reasoning for identification in the account below. 

Waved Albatross                      Diomedea irrorata
 1 individual This species breeds on the Galapagos islands and a small island off the Ecuadorian coast (Isla La Plata)

Black-browed Albatross               Diomedea melanophris
 2 at 1000 m depth.

Cape Petrel                          Daption capense
 2 at 1000m depth

White-chinned Petrel                 Procellaria aequinoctialis
 10-20 mostly at 1000m depth

Sooty Shearwater                     Puffinus griseus
 300 more or less

Wilson´s Storm-Petrel                Oceanites oceanicus
 common, the first storm-petrels we saw with very forceful flight and some near the boat going out was this species

White-vented Storm-Petrel             Oceanites gracilis
 Eventually we could distinguish White-vented smaller size, being a more fragile bird, tripping on the water and more erratic flight. On birds close to the boat we could see white bellies on at least 10-15 individuals

Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel            Oceanodroma tethys
 1 seen as we were leaving the harbor. Clearly a very large white area, makes this observation 100% even though short. I have seen this species often in Galapagos.

Peruvian Diving-Petrel                Pelecanoides garnotii
 All in all 20 individual seen. This is the highest number I have ever seen of this threatened species and may be the most note-worthy record of our trip. On the Ballestas circuit close to Paracas I some times see 1-2 individuals when San Gallan island is included.

Blue-footed Booby                     Sula nebouxii
 We saw 30-40 individuals of this species. They were all immatures. A bit surprising that they are still in these water being a more Northern Breeder (Ecuador). Clearly larger than Peruvian Booby and very dark heads and plain upper wings. White spot on the back and upper tail coverts usually easily seen.

Peruvian Booby                        Sula variegata
 very common

Neotropic Cormorant                   Phalacrocorax olivaceus
 2 near port

Guanay Cormorant                      Phalacrocorax bougainvillii
 3 surprisingly low numbers

Red-legged Cormorant                  Phalacrocorax gaimardi
 some 10 seen near Callao (Isla Palomino and Isla San Lorenzo)

Peruvian Pelican                      Pelecanus thagus
 some 50 of this giant with almost prehistoric looks.

Red-necked Phalarope                  Phalaropus lobatus
 One small flock of 5 birds seen

Red Phalarope                         Phalaropus fulicaria
 About a hundred seen total. This were seen as fast flying waders with clear white wing bands. Birds giving clear gray appearance and head and neck whitish gray with a clear black mask.

Band-tailed Gull                      Larus belcheri
 The most common gull

Gray Gull                             Larus modestus

Gray-hooded Gull                   Larus cirrocephalus

Sabine´s Gull                         Xema sabini
 30 We were a bit confused with this species and Swallow-tailed Gull, but we are sure that most of the birds we saw was this species (we saw many brown-backed immatures which are not confusable), except a flock of immature Swallow-tails that laid on the water and lifted as we were going out. It was mostly the adult bird in winter plumage I had problems with, but considering that I see adult birds in Galapagos this time of year that have black hoods, the adult birds here in winter plumage ought to be Sabine´s Gull.

Swallow-tailed Gull                   Creagrus furcatus
 At least a flock of 10 immatures seen in the beginning of the trip. Great confusion in the later part of the trip. I believe most birds we saw later were Sabine´s Gull, as adult Swallow-tails should have black hoods this time of year.

Elegant Tern                          Sterna elegans

Royal Tern                              Sterna maxima
1 seen by Mikko Pyhälä

South American Tern                   Sterna hirundinacea
 Several inshore. Especially when arriving to the yacht club where they were perching in big numbers on the yachts. At see I feel most of the terns seen where. Personally I found the midsize Sterna terns difficult on long distance and on shaky boats. These individuals in the port were seen very close and the blood-red rather heavy and somewhat down-curved bill gives it away.

Common Tern                           Sterna hirundo
 1 seen for sure. But difficult to identify at sea (confusion with South American and Arctic Tern)

Arctic Tern                           Sterna paradisaea
 3 seen sufficiently well to 100 % id. Many unidentified Sternas at sea were probably this species. Wing pattern and buoyant flight (and one birds with long tail) were the details that identified the species. Need to study up on the midsize Terns though.

Peruvian Tern                         Sterna lorata
 3 were seen. This small tern is similar to Least Tern. Small size, agile and grey underparts makes it fairly easy to identify. Also noted the white forehead.

Chilean Skua                          Catharacta chilensis
 8 seen as far as I could see all adults. They looked very dark brown, but the light was not good enough to see any rufous tone.

Pomarine Jaeger                       Stercorarius pomarinus
 3 seen well to identify to species. We noted the heaviness of these birds.  Heavy-bellied and powerful Most Jaegers seen where without the central elongated tail-feathers which made id difficult

Long-tailed Jaeger                    Stercorarius longicaudus
 we identified 2 for certain on slimness and lack of white crescents in the wings. There were other jaegers which probably also were this species or Parasitic Jaeger but we could not tell for sure.

Whimbrel                              Numenius phaeopus
 some 10 on Isla Palomino

Ruddy Turnstone                       Arenaria interpres
 On the shore as we arrived to the harbor

Barn Swallow                          Hirundo rustica
 1 30 nm from shore at the 1000 m depth and big gathering of Seabirds  


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