Central Highway

Wednesday, June 13th: We started our drive to La Oroya at about 6am. We got on the Central Highway and headed south. We left the highway at Huaniaca and drove up a short distance for a convenient roadside stop for breakfast with a view of the Rio Huallaga.

We added Golden-billed Saltator here, and saw several species we'd seen before including Tufted Tit-Tyrant and Brown-flanked Tanager. We also found a couple of unusually colored White-browed Chat-Tyrants, with a yellowish wash underneath.

We stopped to look for birds at La Quinua, but had little success. Two birds were added to the day list, a pair of Red-crested Cotingas and some Tufted Tit-Tyrants.

Our third stop was the stone garden of Bosque de Piedras, near Lake Junin. This area features many stone pinnacles. It reminded me somewhat of Chiricahua National Monument. It was scenic, but had few bird species.

Things picked up near the town of Vicco, which lies in Pasco region, just north of Lake Junin. We saw Common Miners there, as well as a number of new birds for the day list. These included Variable Hawk (puna form), Mountain Caracara, Andean Flicker, Plain-breasted Earthcreeper, Andean Negrito, Cinereous Ground-Tyrant, Taczanowski's Ground-Tyrant, and Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant.

We crossed over into the Junin region, and drove the SW side of Lake Junin. We immediately started seeing bunches of water birds, including Chilean Flamingo, Puna and Yellow-billed Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Ruddy (Andean) Duck, Crested Duck, Silvery Grebe, and especially Slate-colored (Andean) Coot. Birds such as Cream-winged Cinclodes, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch, and Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch were also common.

We also found Dark-winged Miner. Some of these birds were seen from the overlook (Mirador). At some point I noticed a female hummer in a bush. I pointed it out to Dan, who identified it as a Black-breasted Hillstar. Unfortunately, it left after being harassed by a Southern House-Wren, and several of the group did not see it. A few minutes later, Carolyn noticed a Plumbeous Rail.

Eventually, we had to leave. As we headed down the road, we added Common Gallinule and Cinereous Harrier. A Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle was also notable. Back on the Central Highway, we encountered a surprise Laughing Gull. Although its quite unusual in Peru, I've see it on both of my trips there. Finally, we saw a number of herds of Vicuñas from the main road. Unfortunately, we were unable to stop due to traffic.

The hotel is not exciting, but there are no good hotels anywhere near Lake Junin. Dan said it was the best they could find. It's kind of run down, but at least seems clean.

My species total for today was 52. My trip list increased by 8, including 3 lifers. My current trip total is 246 species, including 78 life birds.

Hotel San Juan, La Oroya