Saturday, June 25, 2011: We left the hotel at 6:15, planning to take an 8:20 flight to Cusco. The flight was delayed for about an hour, but we made it to Cusco ok. Our local guide and bus were waiting. We picked up our picnic lunches and had some coca tea at the hotel we will stay in later. Then we headed off to Huacarpay Lakes.
As we approached the lakes, we started to spot some interesting birds. The birds that looked like Glossy Ibises were really Puna Ibises, a blackbird flashing its epaulets over the marsh was a Yellow-winged Blackbird, the coots were Slate-colored (Andean) Coot. Some of us on the right side of the bus saw a flicker go by: Andean Flicker. However, the gallinule/moorhen was just our regular Common Gallinule.
We stopped to eat our picnic lunches at a little restaurant overlooking the lakes. Chiguanco Thrushes were pretty evident as we walked up, and Rufous-collared Sparrow was easily found. A number of White-crested Elaenias worked the trees (including a type of Schinus), as did a Southern House-Wren. The elaenias may be split from the race I had previously seen in Ecuador. Finally, a couple of Bare-faced Ground-Doves were at the top of the cliff (we saw one more later on ground).
After finishing lunch, a Blue-and-yellow Tanager was spotted in a tree. I didn't see it at first, but ID'd a White-browed Chat-Tyrant that flew into the same tree. Then I got the Blue-and-yellow Tanager. We saw lots more sparrows and another ground-dove, then started to walk down the road.
Pretty soon, we added American Kestrel and Variable Hawk. Several Band-tailed Seedeaters were in the shrubby vegetation. Then Dan heard a Plumbeous Rail, which he soon called out into the open (we saw more later). We were searching for Rusty-fronted Canastero and Streak-fronted Thornbird, but got only glimpses. A lot of work finally gave us good looks at the canastero later. A flock of Greenish Yellow-Finches provided some color, which could not be said for the Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch. Two Mountain Caracaras wheeled overhead as we continued to work the area. A cute Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant was our last new bird here before moving down the lake a bit.
A number of Andean Gulls came in the lake, and we spotted a Yellow-billed Teal flying by (later we got better looks). Two Black-tailed Trainbearers whizzed by, then responded to playback, allowing us to compare male and female. A little farther down we found Puna Teal, Cinnamon Teal, and Yellow-billed Pintail.
We then drove back along the road a bit, stopping at an area that had Snowy Egret, Andean Lapwing, and Lesser Yellowlegs, as well as a number of ducks. In fact, it had a surprising White-cheeked Pintail (not supposed to be up here!). A search turned up a few Andean Negritos. Then a hawk flew in with a prey item. The hawk was an immature Black-and-chestnut Eagle, carrying a recently deceased Common Gallinule. By now, it was near 4pm, and time to go.
We drove along a river. Most of the birds were saw were Andean Gulls, but a couple of Spot-winged Pigeons flew down to a rocky beach. We saw another Mountain Caracara, but the swifts or swallows up with it were too far to ID.
The mountain scenery as we headed for Ollantaytambo was just incredible. Two of the highlights included fluted cliffs with spanish moss hanging off them and at Pisaq, some very high terraces next to several obvious slide areas. Besides this, it was just continual mountain scenery. It's hard to beat the Andes for that!
It was after dark when we arrived at Ollantaytambo. We checked in, had dinner, and now I'm finishing my day's report.
My bird total for the day was 38 species, including 21 lifers. The trip total increased by 35 to 42 species, with 23 lifers.
Hotel Pakaritampu, Ollantaytambo