Lomas de Lachay & Home
Saturday, June 16th: We started with a 5:30 breakfast at the hotel, leaving a 6 for drive up the coast to Lomas de Lachay. Our first stop was on the southwest side of the park. A Chestnut-throated Seedeater appeared right beside the road. One its side, there was vegetation. On the other, the side, none.
We walked in about 3/4 miles up into a canyon. The flat part near the road was amazingly dry desert, the northern extension of the Atacama. Once we started to climb up the hills, some life appeared, mainly prostrate catci. A little further along, there were dried up shrubs at the catci got taller. it was here that we started birding. It didn't take long to find a Short-tailed Field Tyrant. Pretty soon we had also located our main target bird, the Cactus Canastero. Some Burrowing Owls were also present.
We then returned to the Panamericana, and drove to the main entrance of Lomas de Lachay. We had been here at the start of our trip, and again stopped in the drier areas to look for Yellowish Pipit. Last time, we had only poor looks, this time one appeared at close range. Other birds such as Least Seedsnipe and Burrowing Owl were also around. This time, we headed deeper into the park, where there is more water and vegetation. The water mainly comes from the coastal fog (garua) that appears in the winter due to the cold Humboldt Current just offshore.
A good number of the red-backed Variable Hawks were present, as were lots of Rufous-collared Sparrows (found every day on the trip). We also found two new trip birds: Thick-billed Miner and Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant. After looking for other species, we had lunch, then returned to the Panamericana and started our drive back to Lima.
We left the main branch of the Panamericana for the Serpentin, the road that winds along the coast partway up the cliffs. We found a nice overlook and started scanning the beach and coast below. We quickly located a number of seabirds: Gray Gull, American Oystercatcher, Blue-footed Booby, Peruvian Booby, Inca Tern, Red-legged Cormorant, Guanay Cormorant, and Blackish Oystercatcher. We stayed for a while hoping for either better views (yes), or something else interesting off the shore (no). A second overlook had a subset of the same species, so we headed on toward Lima.
Our last set of stops was at Ventanilla in the Callo region (the airport is in Callao proper). A failed beachfront development contains some nice flooded parking lots that are great for shorebirds. And did we find the shorebirds! Birds seen included Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Gray-hooded Gulls, a couple of Hudsonian Godwits, small numbers of Stilt Sandpipers Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover, Peruvian Thick-knees in the grass, a Baird's Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope and two Black-bellied Plovers. A walk over the beach to the shore added 3 Black Skimmers. Finally, we got a flyby Whimbrel as we left. We only went a short distance to some coastal marshes we'd passed on the way in. Numerous Cinnamon Teal were present, as was a family of White-cheeked Pintails. Cal spotted a Great Grebe. Some Grassland Yellow-Finches flew over. We tried hard to see the coastal race of Black Rail. One rail responded to the tape, and came quite close, but we were never able to see it.
We returned to our hotel shortly after 5. After repacking for the journey home, it was time for dinner. I had enough time for dinner and farewells, but couldn't tarry because I had the earliest flight out. I couldn't check-in online for reasons that remain obscure. As a result, I had a lengthy wait to get my boarding pass. I had plenty of time, so that didn't matter. It took surprisingly long to take off once we had left the gate. The pilot also said there were unfavorable winds. The net result was that we arrived in Miami at 5:50am, half an hour late. I didn't get much sleep on the flight, so I dropped into bed shortly after getting home.
My species total for today was 72. My trip list increased by 29, including 15 lifers. My final trip total is 292 species, including 100 life birds. If I included the birds I heard but have never seen (such as Black Rail), my trip total would have been 301.