Did I see a Wandering Albatross without seeing it?
Looking through my pics from the last pelagic,while preparing for a blog post, I find this:
Wandering Albatross - I wonder? Click for a large image. Photo: Gunnar Engblom.
I took the photograph at 11:29 on June 27. Only one shot. I was shooting a lot of birds as they came by. With these proportionally extremely slender wings, completely dark body and a pale face with a dark eye – it fits perfectly to juvenile of the Wandering Albatross group. The only negative thing is that all forms of Wandering Albatross show this pattern and therefore it is not possible to give the origin of this bird.
There were plenty of photographers on board, hopefully someone else has got more detailed photos.
If this can be 100% confirmed from this picture it would be the first record for Peru. Let’s see what the seabird experts say.
UPDATE: The experts spoke. First out was Alvaro Jaramillo on the Birding Peru listserv. He noted that I had totally misjudged the features of the bird. The white is not the face, but rather the bill and the dark spot is not the eye but a feature on the bill.
The pale area is the bill, and you are seeing some of the dark division between the naricorn and the culminicorn, as well as the nostrils head on (the round dark area).
Alvaro first suggested a Giant Petrel.
Sergio Nolazco was fast to suggest it was a Procellaria Petrel and suggested either Westland or Parkinson – both that have dark tips of the bill. Alvaro agreed, but suggested White-chinned Petrel instead, as it is not the tip that is dark.
Meanwhile the discussion is hot on my Facebook page and the Seabird-News and Pelagics lists.
Chris Savigny also suggests that the bird is flying my way.
Detail - bill and head of procellaria head on.
I see, it is an optical illusion! When I first looked at the picture, it seemed to me that the bird was flying away, but it is actually flying towards the camera, and I am looking straight into the tube of the tubenose!
Four contendants are up in the semi-final White-chinned Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, Westland Petrel and Parkinson’s Petrel and there are contributions on the ID also from Phil Hansbro, Gyorgy Szimuly, Benjamin Coulter, Brian Patteson, Juan Mazar Barnett, Alan Henry, Chris Benesh, Doug Hanna, Richard Baxter, Chris Gaskin, Joseph Morlan, Tim Reid and Trevor Hardaker. What a fine set of pelagic birders.
George Armistead hit the nail on the head by highlighting again that bird is flying towards the camera and providing this link of a White-chinned Petrel of almost the same angle of the head.
All of a sudden it is all clear.
White-chinned Petrel looks like the most logical answer. What is more…it was the only one of the semi-finalists that all onboard agreed on having seen. In fact we saw plenty White-chinned Petrels and none of the others.
For those interested I have started a group on Facebook for pelagic birding. This discussion could have taken place there.
Thanks to Zenbirdfeeder for posting a tweet about the film. Later I saw that she had also posted on her blog. Well, well. How many newspapers around the world do not cover the same story headline story? Shouldn’t upset anyone if two bird bloggers deal with the same topic.
I am really getting into this Twitter-thingee. It is a great way to spread the word of the things that really matter to you. So what matters to birders? Birds of course.
Yesterday, I posted a post called What is #ecomonday?. Now it is time for the birders to step forwards and promote both our hobby and share it with other birders on #birdsaturday.
This is how it works.
On Saturdays, the day of the week when many birders get out in the field and see good birds and with time to tell others where to see specific birds or where to go birding on Sunday. Thus, post bird sightings and localities to visit on Sunday. Also, promote your local birding walks and bird talks on #birdsaturday.
Furthermore, let’s start a Retweet Club on Saturdays. This is the day of the week when we make a cooperative effort to promote each others blogs or specific bird related web-pages. Only one rule. Choose blog posts and links that have a broad topic as possible as your contributions to be re-tweeted . Particularly links that have the possibility to transcend also to non-birders or give useful tips for birders to connect with each other.
Thirdly, yes why not use it as a followbirder day on twitter as well. Therefore, if you are not recommending birders to follow on Fridays, do it on Saturdays.
Last but not least. Retweet, retweet, retweet. Both for the retweet club as well as sightings, birding activities and locality tips
If you send your post at 9 AM someone logging on at noon will probably not see it. Use the retweet function for the stuff you like most and always promise yourself and your fellow birders that on Saturdays you shall commit to retweet at least 10 posts throughout the day.
Let’s try to make some more birders out of the no-birders out there. The more we are the stronger we become for habitat and species conservation.
I have been submitting to many blog carnivals this past week. The idea is to increase traffic to the blog and to get more backlinks. So far I am not too impressed with the results in terms of visitors to the blog. Does anyone actually read these carnivals except the people that are participating? And do you click through to check out the blogs participating? Hand on the heart! Please comment below.
Digital Philanthropy is a new blog carnival that promotes charity and non profit involvement for the sake of doing good. Sounds like an excellent idea. But why only four participants? I have read the other participants contributions. Sure some heartworthy projects. I am thinking how maybe similar ideas can be put into action here in Peru. There is so much need and it needs to channeled into good sustainable projects.
Hope the carnival gets some traffic so more people can learn about good causes to take part in.
Bay-vented Cotinga can usually be seen at Bosque Unchog, where it will sit on the tree-tops.
Taczanowski’s Brush-Finch, soon to be split from Slaty Brush-Finch of Ecuador, is endemic to Central Peru.
This is a Thistletail with personallity. A fantastically cool bird found in the bamboo in the upper part of the Satipo road. This is practically the only place where it can be seen.
Obscure Antpitta (Grallaria rufula obscura)
I call him Obcure Antpitta due to its scientific name. It is absolutely clear that this subspecies Grallaria rufula obscura should be split out from Rufous Antpittas. Just listen to these recordings! Obscure Antpitta vs Rufous Antpitta ssp rufula.
The problem is what to do with the other subspecies and define exactly where the limits are. Rufous Antpitta most likely contain up to 7 or 8 species!!
Diademed Sandpiper Plover
Not exactly an endemic (it occurs also in Chile), and a bit too particular to be called a Little Brown Job. This is one of the most wanted birds by the birders that come to Peru. Why? I think the fact that it is something in between a plover and sandpiper, and lives at 4600m above sealevel. How is that for a Shorebird (sic!).
It can’t be acccused of being a little brown job, but I include it anyway, because it is the most wanted bird on the route. It can be seen at Bosque Unchog. If you are looking for some last minute travelling, the trip starts on May 17. And is offered with a 20% discount.
All photos by Gunnar Engblom under creative commons license. You may use the photos as long as you link to this source. Recordings by Willem-Pier Velinga and Nick Athenas under creative commons license at https://Xeno-canto.org
It was difficult wasn’t it to identify my willets yesterday?
Alright! I give you some hints. Here are the best identification articles for Willet subspecies. You ought to pay more attention to these since they are bound to be split very soon.
The pelagic was cancelled last Saturday, so instead we started the morning at Pozo Arenillas at La Punta.
I got some pics of Willets. Since they are likely in for a split. I would like to invite the readers of this blog to help me identify them. Of great use is “The Shorebird Guide” by Michael O’Brian, Richard Crossley and Kevin Karlson.
I could do it myself but leaving for Huanuco in 10 minutes, so I’d thought I’d send you a quiz – instead of an ordinary blog post.
Birdwatching is a specialized hobby. The birdwatchers aim to see hundreds of birds during a holiday in Peru. However, there are certain birds that transcend to more normal tourists. Some birds that you don’t have to be a birdwatcher to appreciate. Those birds that will leave an impact on anyone who lays eyes on them. These kinds of birds become banner species and tourist attractions and could be decisive to turn a non-birder into a birder. They are also important for conserving habitat and supporting local small scale businesses which often give direct revenue to local communities. I hereby present the 11 most important birds in Peru as tourism attractions.
Emblematic bird of the Andes. 100.000 people travel yearly to Colca Canyon near Arequipa to see the mighty Condor. Kolibri Expeditions have found a good viable population in Santa Eulalia canyon only 3 hours from Lima, which also is a good place to see this majestic bird. You’d be surprised to learn that most tourists that come to Peru, those that do not visit Colca or Santa Eulalia Canyon, will not see a condor in spite it being such a tremendously important symbol of Peru and the Andes. The closest they will get is hearing “Condor pasa” – the Peruvian song Simon and Garfunkel made world famous. At every little coffee shop to every fine restaurant in Cusco you will hear it played with panpipes and charrango. You cannot avoid it – not escape it!
Strangely enough Peru has yet to raise the awareness of the importance of the species for eco-tourism in other rural areas. As such it may become an important cash cow for communities. This would change the present situation in many places where the species is persecuted and seriously threatened.
There are two major macaw-licks in SE Peru where these giant parrots descend on sunny clay river cliffs to ingest the clay with thousands of other parrots. The best one that attracts 5 species of macaws is situated in the Tambopata area near Tambopata Research Center. There is extremely important Macaw research going on here and you can help as a participant volunteer. See Tambopata Macaw Project. The other important one is downriver from Manu at Blanquillo near in vicinity of several lodges.
Wow! Exclamation mark is necessary! This surreal member of the Cotinga family has a wide distribution from Venezuela to Bolivia. It is one of the most colorful birds of the Andes. The males gather in “lek” – displays – where the perform ritual dances and make noisy grunts and shrieks. In many places leks have become tourism attractions. The most famous is perhaps next to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, but there are several places in Central and Northern Peru where leks also can be seen. Locally, it has become good incentives to conserve forest. Since the cock-of-the-rock is also un-officially national bird of Peru kids all over the country learn to appreciate it. Only five years ago, when traveling in Central Peru inquiring where I could see it, I was directed to the zoo or a man that allegedly had stuffed ones for sale! Things have changed now.
Its coral red bill and feet, and yellow and white waxy mustache on a slaty blackish body makes the Inca Tern the most beautiful Tern of the world. This specialty of the Humboldt Current is not difficult to see in large numbers. In many places it can be approached for a photograph. A spectacular event on the Lima pelagics is when the fish scrap leftover that is used to attract seabirds at the high sea is thrown out after the boat and up to a thousand Inca Terns come in to the stern.
Peru has yet to develop more places with hummingbird feeders, but the ones available are truly spectacular. My favorites are the following.
Amazonia Lodge at the bottom of Manu road, with specialties such as the rare Rufous-crested Coquette, Koepcke’s Hermit and Gould’s Jewelfront and another dozen of more common hummers such as White-necked Jacobin, Blue Emerald, Gray-breasted Sabrewing and Black-eared Fairy come to the garden with feeders and blue vervain in front of the ample porch of the main building..
Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel the luxurious hotel with precious subtropical gardens decorated with orchids and bromeliads at the foot of Machu Picchu next to Aguas Calientes village. The hotel also have dozens of well maintained hummingbird feeders spread out in the compound open only to its guests. The specialties include Gould’s Inca, White-bellied Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Chestnut-breasted Coronet and Booted Racket-tail.
Cock-of the-Rock Lodge on the Manu road, has a open veranda dining room looking out to the garden where tanagers are fed and Blue Vervain and feeders attract the hummingbirds. The specialties include Violet-fronted Brilliant, Many-spotted Hummingbird, Wire-crested Thorn-tail, Booted Racket-tail and many more.
If I should choose just one hummingbird species in Peru this would be the one. It is the most spectacular Hummingbird in Peru. The male has long streamers ending in blue rackets. It may not yet be a large tourist attraction since it occurs only in Amazonas department and a bit off the beaten track for most general tourists coming to Peru, but it is certainly on the birdwatcher’s radar on the Northern Birding Circuit and the principle attraction. Kolibri Expeditions has initiated a project here together with local farmer Santos Montenegro obtaining funds through our clients allowing Santos to buy some land from his neighbors. The idea is to turn the small reserve to a Hummingbird information center.
Flamingos are big tourist attractions all over the world, and the Chilean Flamingo in Peru is not an exception, especially since legend has that the flamingos San Martin saw in Paracas before leading the liberation from Spain, inspired to the design of the Peruvian flag. There is not a person in Peru, that is not familiar with this story. Unfortunately, many flamingo colonies are well off the beaten track, except that of wintering flamingos still present at the Paracas bay. One may hope however those remote flamingo colonies could be integrated in sustainable tourism packages and this way supply income to local communities at the same time protecting the colonies. The practice common is the past to scare the colony to take flight for a photograph, is fortunately no longer carried out. It seems to me that Peruvian awareness for the well being of the natural attractions has increased in recent years.
Without being a particularly rare bird, the Hoatzin inhabits lake sides. It prehistoric looks, similar to the Archaeopteryx and the fact that the young have claws in the wings, make it a tantalizing. The hisses it makes add to its pre-historic image. It occurs in colonies and is mostly not hunted because its meat is smelly and not good. It has constantly bad breath as its digest is completely leaves which are fermented in the crop. Hoatzin can be seen in many places in the Amazon. Most photogenic perhaps at Amazonia Lodge.
Paracas has been the traditional place where many tourists come in contact with the species for the first time while visiting the sea-lion colonies at Ballestas Islands. In recent years however trips have been arranged to sea-lion colony at Islas Palomino from Callao, Lima, where also the Penguins occur and this is a time effective alternative to Paracas. Recent studies show that Humboldt Penguins are very sensitive to disturbance – much more so – than its close relative Magellanic Penguin that occurs in Patagonia and with colonies that attracts tens of thousands of visitors. Fortunately, there are no colonies in Peru that are accessible to tourists to walk around in. The large colony at Punta San Juan near Nazca is closed to the public.
Other places where one can see Humboldt Penguin include Pucusana and the new San Fernando reserve close to Nazca.
A highly dimorphic beautiful duck specialized living its life in streaming water and fascinating to watch. One of the best place to see them is at Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu. In fact, they can often be seen looking out the window from the train to Machu Picchu.
In spite of being a bird breeding on the Galapagos, practically all individuals of the species will spend considerable time in Peruvian Waters in its lifetime when not breeding. The pelagic birdwatching and whale-watching trips from Lima has made it possible for larger numbers of people to see an albatross at relative ease. Waved Albatross is critically threatened due to high adult mortality in recent years. In spite of being one of the smaller albatrosses, with 2.30m wingspan it is still impressive and a highlight for anyone venturing to sea to see it.
This article was brought to you by Kolibri Expeditions. Kolibri Expeditions runs tours everywhere in Peru and can take you to all these birds, providing a full-fledged birding holiday or a holiday to culture and nature on a more general level.
Special thanks to Tim Ryan of The faraway, nearby blog, for letting me use his Macaw pictures from Tambopata. All other pictures by Gunnar Engblom and Alex Duran (Rufous-crested Coquette and Torrent Duck). GE´s and AD´s pictures may be used under creative commons license. Link and acknowledge this page. Thanks.
Who says I only do Social Media on my blog? Carajo!
Luciana is both too young to use binoculars or a camera. But she can check the screen!
Maybe someone who actually regularly reads my blog can enter a vote and write a review for this blog on Nature Blog Network. I got a grade 2 of 5. I haven’t done so poorly in any task since I got a 2 (Swedish 5 grade mark system in schools) in 2nd grade primary school at age 8 in Christianity, cause I did not like that the teacher made the fairy tales told sound like it was the truth! (Christianity later became Religion studies – an overview of all the worlds religions – in which I did very well), Anyway, my pride has been hurt and I am set to bore my readers with some extremely common birds in the Lima parks in this post just to put the birds of Peru back into the blog. It will be sort of a follow-up to my previous two posts on preferring digital camera instead binoculars for a beginner birder