Thursday, June 14th: We got a very early start today, 4am. The point was to arrive at Lake Junin shortly before sunrise and hunt for Black Rail. On the way, we picked up Tito, who whould later give us a boat ride on Lake Junin. But first, we had to also pick up the motor for the boat. After we did, we headed up the lake to a spot near the overlook we visited yesterday. While Tito prepared the boat, we went in search of the rail. Except for a couple of calls, we had no luck with the rail.
We returned to the bus for breakfast. Then we split into two groups to take the boat out to look for the endangered Junin Grebe, which is a flightless grebe that only lives at Lake Junin, and has a population of perhaps 250-300. I was in group one. As we headed out, we passed various coot flocks, some of which contained Silvery Grebes. We first had to get thorough the reeds separating the boat launch area from the main body of the lake. As we headed to the main reed barrier, I saw Wren-like Rushbird and heard Many-colored Rush Tyrant (we later would get looks at both, from the boat, and from shore).
The water in the reed barrier wasvery shallow, and Tito pushed with an oar while the rest of us pulled on the reeds to get through. Then we went out into the main lake. Eventually, we spotted a couple of long-necked birds. I'm not sure which of us saw them first (me, Dan, or Tito), but it was very close. We motored toward them, and eventually got great looks at the pair of Junin Grebes. Then we returned to shore and group two went out for the grebe.
We had a snack, then walked down to the overlook to search for the hillstar I had found yesterday. Neither Romney nor Carolyn had seen it. We found a couple of mice below the overlook. They might have been Andean Leaf-eared Mice. Then a male Black-breasted Hillstar appeared. It worked over many of the nearby red flowers, allowing us all great looks. Like yesterday's female, it had a lot of red pollen on its forhead.
After starting to walk back, we spotted a canastero, apparently a Streak-backed Canastero. I walked up the hill to see if it could be refound or flushed. As I did this, a Paramo Pipit put in a brief appearance.
We could see the other group working back through the reeds as we walked back to the bus. Once they got back, we had lunch. They had seen Puna Snipe, which we had not, but one of them still hadn't seen the hillstar. We went back to the overlook again, and also tried for some of the upslope birds. A couple of them were seen, and Paramo Pipit was a trip bird for everyone else, but there was nothing more that was new.
It was time to start working our way back to La Oroya. We looked for a Blue-winged Teal that one of our group had seen the day before. It was easily found, but before my scan got to that point, I found a drake Cinnamon Teal. Then I looked at the Blue-winged Teal through the scope. We also encountered another male Black-breasted Hillstar and Puna Snipe. Somewhere in here we also saw a Guinea Pig.
Back on the Central Highway, we made a stop for a herd of Vicuñas. Further down the road, someone spotted a perched raptor. We turned around, and found it and another Aplomado Falcon. My last new bird for the day was Andean Swallow. We stopped for perhaps the same flock that some had noted yesterday.
My species total for today was 49. My trip list increased by 9, including 2 lifers. My current trip total is 255 species, including 80 life birds.
Hotel San Juan, La Oroya