Pelagic birding in Lima
For once we had great sunshine on the pelagic in July. That is very unusual.
Chilean Skua. All together around 20 seen. This is certainly the highest number ever.
South Polar Skua
South Polar Skua. Two definite and maybe one more seen.
Band-tailed or Belcher’s Gull was common. Most birds this time of year had non-breeding plumage with dark hoods! This one did not. What a beautiful gull this is!
Last week we saw for the first time ever on a Lima pelagic a Chatham Island Albatross. I believe this however is an adult Salvin’s. We id:ed it as such in the field due to the pale forehead. However, the bill does look a bit yellowish.
South American Tern
The above pictures are of two Sterna Terns. Are they South American Terns? Strange having this summer plumage this time of year. Certainly, they are not Arctic Terns with such massive bills. UPDATE: The experts mean they are South American Tern.
On November 26, 2007, I took a series of photos of the coots at Pantanos de Villa. The variation is extreme and I suspect there may be genes in the population from other species. The question is which species?
The background is the strange coot I found at Pantanos de Villa on OCt 15, 2005 which has many traits of Red-gartered Coot Fulica armillata.
NORMAL ANDEAN COOT VARIATIONS
Normal Andean Coots should look more like the ones below
White or Yellow forehead with white
With Chestnut forehead and yellow and white bill
Or Chestnut forehead with almost completely yellow bill
STRANGE COOTS IN VILLA
But these ones are far from normal. Foreheads are less bulbous and orange or red in color.
Red forehead – yellow bill
Orange forehead and Yellow bill
Red forehead with orange margins and completely yellow bill
Orange forhead and yellow and white bill.
South American Tern in summer plumage in the winter!
In 2005 on a pelagic in July from Lima a dark gray bellied breeding plumage Sterna Tern was seen that was tentatively identified as Antarctic Tern, which would be a first for Peru. This one looks quite like the one we saw then, though I recall the bill was shorter than this. The posterior discussion on Birding Peru Yahoo-group confirmed this bird as South American Tern.
Sooty Shearwater identification
Short-tailed Shearwater? Unfortunately not. Scrutinizing the pictures and with comments from Birding Peru yahoo group it is noted that the dark black wedge from the “arm-pit” is a good field mark for Sooty Shearwater.
Sooty Shearwater with one Pink-footed Shearwater in the center.
Northern Giant Petrel new species for Peru
Northern Giant Petrel was recorded for the first time in Peru in 2002 on a Kolibri Expeditions pelagic. It is now a regular on our pelagics of July to September. This is the first time we found a bird that is not completely brown. Can this one be aged?
Here it is with a juvenile.
Buller’s Albatross I only found for the first time in July 2006. This year it has been seen on a number of pelagics in July-September. And even adults and subadults (such as this photo).
Chilean and South Polar Skua in a fight. Great Show
South Polar Skua is quite regular on our pelagics during May-September
Join us on next full day pelagic Nov 17…or on our regular daily whale-watching excursion between November to March.
are three Wilson
‘s concealed in the left bottom corner among all the White-vented Storm-Petrels (Elliot’s)
are in the center
upper left turning
bit more. Note that the White
–vented SP in the top center had yellow webs
I hope someone can forward some discussion on the molt in Wilson‘s and White–vented SP.
Last also a Salvin‘s Albatross seen quite well on this occation. Also in a bit of molt..
Cetaceans and seabirds
Done a few more trips to search for Cetaceans and seabirds the last two months.
On January 19 a full day at sea gave many fantastic observations of Dolphins and one whale.
This may be a Sei whale that has lost its dorsal fin.
Dusky Dolphins come close to the boat.
Common Dolphins were also often seen on this full day trip.
On February 18 we had great observations of a Bryde’s/Sei Whale.
Sei and Bryde’s whale are very similar in appearance. One needs to see the head to be able to separate them. However, since Bryde’s is the most likely this time of year
On February 23 we saw large numbers of Dusky Dolphins. The Inca Terns and Peruvian Boobies follow the moving schools of hunting dolphins is an good way to detect dolphin activity.
Also, far in the distance we saw a immense blow. This was most certainly a Blue Whale. Unfortunately, we had not time to follow up this time and the whale itself was not seen.
Robert Flood – a dedicated seabird watcher had particularily chartered the boat for the trip on February 23. The purpose of the day was to study Storm-Petrels. We had prepared a “chum” consisting of fish bones, heads and intestines, oil and pop-corn. Storm-Petrels have sense of smell and not before long we saw the first Markham’s Storm Petrels.
More majestic were the impressive Waved Albatroses also attracted by the chum.
The Waved Albatross is visiting from Galapagos. It is an almost certain sight all year around.
Next whale/dolphin watching trip is planned for March 3 and April 1. Contact Gunnar at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 273 72 46.
Recently Kolibri Expeditions started more specialized whale and dolphin safaris from Callao. We have since 2000 arranged full day pelagic trips to look for birds and during these trips we have often encountered Cetaceans (whales and doplhins collectively). However, 11-12 hours at sea is a bit too much for those that have the chief interest in watching mammals. Therefore since November 2006 we are arranging these shorter 5 hours trips with a speed boat.
During our long pelagic we are beginning to see patterns. It is quite clear that Humpbacks migrate along the coast Peru and passing Lima in October-November and February-March.
Humpback Whale breaching sequence during migration south. Lima, Nov 10,
2006. Photo: Gunnar Engblom
However, details about the ocurance of other whales in other seasons are still very little known. It is hoped, with these five hours trips on a regular basis, on which we will record position, numbers, species and activities of all cetaceans, that we will learn more about the movements of cetaceans off the coast of Callao.
During the month of January, we have seen many other cetaceans in the past including Sei, Fin and Bryde’s Whale – and the usual three species of dolphins (Common, Bottle-nosed and Dusky Dolphins). During January we be operating 5 hours whale and dolphin watching trips on January 6 and 14. On January 19 there will be a full day pelagic for birdwatchers, but the chance of seeing whales and dolphins on this trip is also a very good since we cover much more ground.
On Nov 30, 2006 we made our last trip.
Once again, we went out to sea trying to spot cetaceans. It was a fine day with good views. The cloud cover soon broke up and we saw the sun. Passing the guano Palomino island of Island we continue straigth out into the deep ocean.
In a distance we see a huge flock of birds. We decide to approach. There are Peruvian Boobies making kamikaze dives from some 30 meters up, lots of Inca Terns and Sooty Shearwaters, as well as a couple of Pelicans and many Gray Gulls.
And now to the left! What is that?
DOLPHINS!!! Lots of them!
All of a sudden there were hundreds of Dusky Dolphins around us.
This close-up of Dusky Dolphin shows the caracteristic absence of bottle-shape beak, the contrasting body pattern, and the falcate dorsal fin that is slightly paler towards the trailing edge.
But the trip was not over yet. We would encounter three such large concentrations of fish, dolphins and seabirds. There were at least 400 dolphins in total through the day.
Many very interesting birds were also seen.
Here is the localized White-vented Storm-Petrel. Other Storm-Petrels seen during the trip were Wedge-rumped and Wilson’s Storm-Petrels.
There were many Pomerine Jaegers about. They are the true pirates of the sea, chasing after other birds, bothering them in all ways possible like grabbing their feathers, untill the victim has to give up that recently caught anchoveta.
One of the most exciting birds according to the birdwatchers onboard was the Swallow-Tailed Gull. In one flock there were 29 individals and one Sabine’s Gull.
Everyone on board were amazed by the large numbers of Waved Albatross that we were seeing. Well over 30 individuals through-out the day. The Waved Albatross basically only breeds on one island in the Galapagos archipelago. There is a small insignificant numbers on La Plata island off the Ecuadorian coast.
But all individuals will pass some time in their life in Peruvian waters either as young birds or in between breeding attempts. Recently, it has been shown that there are less breeding pairs at
Española than some 10 years ago. Apparantly adult mortality away from the colony is very high, so that the species should warrent critical threatened status. It seems that bycatch and intentional killing in Northern Peru is the big problem. See the BirdLife Internationals ongoing discussion
about this species.
This individual was ringed. Click on the picture to see! Also this other picture also shows the same bird.
Back at Isla Palomino we encountered the huge sealion colony. In spite of being in the middle of the day there were surely more than 1000 individuals. In the late afternoon one can see between 5000-8000 sealions here.
On this picture the male is the one with the thick neck. The youngs will be born very shortly and there will be mating taking place almost immediately. The males need to be in a strategic place.
At the islands we encounter the yacht Melusine, which we usually use for our long full day pelagics. We shall run one of these long pelagic trips on January 19. with the Melusine.
Near Palomino island one usually find the most beautiful Cormorant in the world. Here the Red-legged Cormorant is collecting nesting material. This shot was taken a month ago, but we saw many of these cormorants on the trip.
Our circuit has almost come to an end, but before returning to shore we shall check out the penguins.
It is calculated that some 400 Penguins live on San Lorenzo islands. We saw around 100.
Back in the port around 1 PM we found Terns. Here are Elegant Tern and Sandwich Tern.
Finally, the most beautiful of all – Inca Tern.
Birding Peru with Kolibri Expeditions
Condors three hours from Lima in Santa Eulalia Canyon
Who would believe that there are condors only 3 hours from noisy metropolis Lima? Well it is true. Here in Santa Eulalia Canyon, we found on Dec 16, 2006 around 12 condors, close to the village of Huachupampa.
It is quite clear that the steep cliffs make an excellent overnight colony for the condors. Here they can easily find the thermal winds that will ascend them high enough to scan over the area of Santa Eulalia river and over the ridge to the Rimac river.
We know for a fact that there are at least 3-4 overnight cliffs in the canyon so there may be up to 50 condors in the whole area. And in difference from many other areas in Peru, they are doing well here. How do we know? Well, by establishing the ratio adults/juveniles one gets a good idea. When the ratio is >1 or more (more adults than young), the reproduction rate is low or the mortality of young is high and the population is therefore decreasing. When the ratio is 1 the population is more or less stable. When it is less than one (more young than adults) the conditions are either excellent and the population is increasing – or in some cases it can be a sign of adult mortality – but the latter would show in low overall numbers. In Santa Eulalia Canyon the population is certainly increasing. Of the 12 individuals we saw only 3 were adults.
The two individuals on the above photo are young birds
That this area has very good wildlife is indicated by the finding on our excursion of this cat. It is a Pampas Cat Leopardus pajeros. (Thanks to Javier Barrio and Eduardo Ormaeche for pointing in the right direction to its identity.)
Kolibri Expeditions has started a project of condor and wildlife watching in Santa Eulalia Canyon.
San Pedro de Casta village
Santa Eulalia Canyon
Santa Eulalia Canyon is not as famous as Colca, but it has very dramatic features. The drop in this picture is well over 1000m.
Santa Eulalia Canyon – the new Colca?
In 1995-96 when tourism to Peru started recovering around 8-10.000 people made the ardeous 10 hour trip to Chivay in Colca Canyon suffering from a dusty and bumpy road and a pass of over 5000m. In Chivay they stayed overnight at 3700m in basic hotels. Cold to the bones and altitude sickness for sure. Next day they had still a 2 hour trip on an even worse road to Cruz del Condor. But condors were almost 100% certain – and at close range. I personally doubt very much that anyone would have past through all that suffering if it was not for the guaranteed views of condors
In 10 years infrastructure has improved. Now there are first class hotels and part of the road has been sealed. Over 130.000 people visited Colca Canyon in 2006. You ask anyone in Peru, where one should see condors and they will send you to Colca Canyon. Now, one can hope for a development in Santa Eulalia Canyon similar to that of Colca. With eco-tourism the condor population in Peru could thrive and it could bring a very welcome income to the forgotten valleys along the Peruvian Andes
Please contact email@example.com if you want to join us on a general natural history tour to watch for condores. This tour can be arranged at any time. The cost including transport, lodging and all food is only 99 US$/person – with a minimum of 4 people.