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19 June - 30 July 1996

by Larry Dean Simkins & Nancy Gallaugher

My wife, Nancy, and I decided we would try to bird Peru and see the Inca sites independently, without tour companies and tour guides. According to recent reports that we had read and heard about, Peru is much safer than it was several years ago when the Sendero Luminoso was active. We found this to be true and we were not concerned about our safety except for a few moments in Lima with the crazy drivers and the taxis. Unfortunately, after arriving at Iquitos we found out that independent birding on the Amazon River was out of the question, especially if one wants to visit the Amazon Environment Training and Research Center (ACEER) and its renowned canopy walkways. The only way to get there was to hook up with a tour company and pay the costly prices. Our company, Explorama, charged about nine hundred dollars/person for seven days at their various lodges on the Amazon. Of course, the fee also included meals, transportation, and a guide. We were trying to do the trip on a limited budget and the large output of money somewhat chagrined us, but after we started on the trip, we forgot about the money and our budget and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Our first stop was down the Amazon after a two hour trip to the Explorama Inn.

After arriving we immediately began birding.

One of the workers at the Explorama Inn pointed out a Great Potoo roosting in a tree about thirty yards from our cabin, and raucous Russet-backed Oropendolas were flitting about the grounds. In the afternoon our guide took us by motor boat to bird around some islands. We saw the following birds that afternoon (6-19-96):
Striated Heron White-banded Swallow Oriole Blackbird
Road-side Hawk Ringed Kingfisher Purple Honeycreeper
Collared Plover Amazon Kingfisher Buff-throated Saltador
Yellow-billed Tern Swallow-winged Puffbird Chestnut-bellied Seedeater
Ruddy Pigeon Black-capped Donacobius -
White-collared Swift White-shouldered Tanager -

We remained the following day at the Explorama Inn, (6-20) getting up early to bird by boat and getting beat up by Dog Fish . One jumped up out the river and hit me in the side of my face and another hit me in the ribs. We did see the Grey Dolphin and a lot of birds. At 8:30 our guide led us on a walk and bushwhack though a jungle trail, and in the afternoon he took us to a blackish tributary to fish for Piranha. We saw the following birds:
Yellow-headed Caracara White-winged Swallow Giant Cowbird
Black Caracara Brown-chested Martin Lined Seedeater
Black-collared Hawk Silver-beaked Tanager Pygmy Kingfisher
Orange-winged Parrot Coraya Wren Olive-striped Flycatcher
Mealy Parrot Cuvier's Toucan -

Perhaps a word about the birding sources of the upper Amazon would be helpful. Field guides are a perplexity as there is no field guide for Peru. Hilty and Brown's A Guide to the Birds of Columbia is useful, as it covers most of the birds on the upper Amazon. We became acquainted with a married couple from the Netherlands who had cut out and rebound the plates from Ridgely and Tudor's The Birds of South American, Vol. I and Vol. II. This was a good idea. We had contemplated the purchase of those books but the price (ca. $150) and the size deterred us.

Fortunately our Explorama guide was quite knowledgeable about Amazon birds; yet he was not exactly an expert, so we referred to the Hilty guide quite often. Theodore A. Parker, et. al., An Annotated Checklist of Peruvian Birds is also helpful since this book shows what birds are likely to be found on the upper Amazon.

Our third day on the Amazon (6-21) saw us traveling by boat down the Amazon and up the Napo Rivers. The trip took about three hours, and we saw Great Egrets and a White-necked Heron along the way. From Explorama's Napo Lodge we took a small boat on a torturous ride up a creek to ACEER and its famed canopy walk. As we arrived, it started to rain and although this was not the rainy season, one must be prepared for it to rain for hours, nay, even days. It rained the rest of the morning and good part of the afternoon but by late afternoon it had stopped , and we could go to the canopy walkway. We had no trepidations about the walkways. They were perfectly safe even at 30 meters above the ground. The walkway is close to 500 meters in length, consisting of 12 walkways which range between 35 and 100 meters in length. They stand on aluminum ladders and are joined with steel cables. There is nylon netting at the sides for further safety. The best part of it all is that one is up in canopy where the birds are on your eye-level, and they seem to pay little-mind to humans. Almost immediately a flock of Tangaras, euphonias, and manikins appeared. Bursts of color were all over the fruit bearing tree. One could not keep one's attention on a single bird before another caught your eye. Some of the Tangaras came so close that you could have reached out and touched them. The canopy walkway certainly lived up to our expectations!
Birds seen in fruit bearing tree: Other birds in the canopy:
Golden-headed Manakin Black-tailed Trogon
Blue Manakin Violaceous Trogon
Thick-billed Euphonia Black-spotted Barbet
Rufous-bellied Euphonia Golden-collared Toucanet
Paradise Tanager Flame-crested Tanager
Green-and-gold Tanager Masked-crimson Tanager
Green Honeycreeper Chestnut-crowned Becard
Blue Dacnis Ringed Woodpecker
Spix Woodcreeper -

The following day (6-22), we spent the better part of it up in the canopy. Birding was not as good as it had been yesterday afternoon. We spent some time watching the fruit-bearing tree which attracted the mixed flocks of Tangaras. Paradise Tanagers predominated, followed by Green-and-gold and each flock would have one or two of the less common tanagers such as the Bay-headed or Purple Honeycreeper.

New birds seen on 6-22
Bay-headed Tanager
Opal-rumped Tanager
Opal-crowned Tanager
Forest Elaenia
Long-tailed Woodcreeper
Plumbeous Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Our last morning at ACEER (6-23) was spent in the canopy walk. In the afternoon we walked for about a half an hour to the Explorama's Napo lodge. We spent the afternoon exploring a tributary and lakes. The birding was extraordinary. We were especially enjoyed the Hoatzins.
New birds at ACEER's canopy: New birds on the river trip:
Black-faced Dacnis Slate-colored Hawk
Hooded Tanager Laughing Falcon
Pink-throated Becard Tui Parakeet
Black-bellied Cuckoo Black-fronted Nunbird
White-necked Puffbird Chestnut-eared Aracari
White-browed Purpletuft Chestnut Woodpecker
River Warbler Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Painted Tody-Flycatcher Little Woodpecker
Hooded Tanager Lesser Kiskadee
White-shouldered Antbird (not in canopy) Crested Oropendula
- Red-capped Cardinal
- Bare-necked Fruitcrow
- Squirrel Cuckoo
- Hoatzin 
- Greater Ani

June 24, San Juan Day, is an important holiday on the Amazon. Besides being a religious holiday, it marks the symbolic ending of the wet season and the beginning of the dry season. We did not do a lot of birding that day; instead, our guide took us to various families' humble homes where we were invited in and treated as friends. They eat Juani, a dish shaped like a large round ball , which represents the head of John the Baptist, and they drink masato and a deliciously strong cane sugar wine. In the afternoon we traveled a while on the river and saw some birds.

Most of the lodges on the Amazon are fairly Spartan, with outdoor facilities, cold showers, and plain food. One has to be prepared to be wet as it is sticky hot, and the trails in most places are wet and muddy. It is good idea to bring along a pair of rubber boots and good rain gear. Lack of amenities did not bother us since there were great compensations, such as the sounds in the night. Napo Lodge at night is full of sounds such as the Paraque, Tropical Screech Owl and Spectacled Owl, but the best vocalization is the hilarity of the Laughing Frog. We also saw the Boa Constrictor that lives in the roof of the dining hall and comes out at night in search of rodents.

San Juan birds:
Red-eyed Vireo
Chestnut Jacamar
Pied-water Tyrant
Purple Gallinule
Spot-breasted Woodpecker
Purple-throated Cotinga
Lineated Woodpecker

We left Napo Lodge, the next day (6-25), going down the Napo and up the Amazon to a creek which we entered to reach the Explorama Lodge. It was still early enough to do some birding and we saw some good birds right around the lodge. For birders it's great to move from lodge to lodge as you find different habitats and hence different birds. Our best birds that day were a pair of Sunbittern which were seen from a bridge over the creek. We went to a deck by the creek and watched the pair for over a half- hour sunning themselves. We saw the following new birds that day:
White-tailed Trogon Sunbittern
Yellow-ridged Toucan Masked Tityra
Little Cuckoo Pale-legged Hornero
Dark-billed Cuckoo Yellow-headed Parrot
White-chinned Jacamar Velvet-fronted Grackle
Scarlet-crowned Barbet Spangled Cotinga
Dot-winged Antwren Plum-throated Cotinga

In the afternoon we took a boat to an island on the Amazon where we trekked through a lot of mud to a swampy lake or cocha. We did see some good birds such as an Amazonian Umbrellabird, Cream- colored Woodpecker, and the Riverside Tyrant. Early in the morning (6-26) we regrettably returned to Iquitos and we were fortunate to renew an acquaintance with an American biologist who shared our interest in birds. He told us about birding the mudflats of the Amazon in front of Iquitos, and he even offered to guide us on the trek. We saw some good birds, and afterwards we ate a late lunch at the El Mezon which specializes in wild Amazonian game dishes. We saw these new birds on the mudflats:
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Golden-browed Sparrow
Ladder-tailed Nightjar
Bran-colored Flycatcher
Common Tody-Flycatcher
White-headed Marsh-Tyrant
Yellow-hooded Blackbird
Great-billed Tern

Our last day (6-27) in Iquitos would still give us some birding time since our plane would not depart until late afternoon. We were told that a park outside of Iquitos called Quistacocha would be a good place to bird, if we got there early before the crowd that would arrived to picnic and swim in the lake. We took one of Iquitos rickshaw motorcycle taxis , arrived early and saw the following birds:
Yellow-rumped Cacique Short-tailed Swift
Wattled Jacana Fork-tailed Palm-Swift 
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Palm Tanager Smooth-billed Ani
Blue-grey Tanager Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Great Kiskadee Grey-breasted Martin
Lettered Aracari Tropical Kingbird

That afternoon our flight went to Lima where we immediately changed planes and took off to Arequipa, which is Peru's second largest city. It is a beautiful city located high enough to be above the depressing fog and grayness of the coast.

We decided that our first day at Ariquipa (6-28) would be spent trying to see Salinas Lake. The lake according to T. Parker's, et al., An Annotated Checklist of Peruvian Birds, is a great birding location where three species of Flamingos may be found along with many other birds. We paid a taxi driver to take us there and found to our amazement that the lake was bone dry and devoid of avian life. Our introduction to Ariquipa as a birding area was an unhappy one.

One of the biggest problems about independent birding in a third world country is getting around to see the birds. Internal air flights are inexpensive; but once you arrive in a city, one has to rely on bus or taxi. Renting a car in Peru is not recommended. This is possible, but it will be expensive, dangerous, and nerve-racking.

We took a bus tour out of Ariquipa that we would highly recommend - the tour to Colca Canyon. This inexpensive tour picks you up at your lodging at three-thirty in the morning. You will travel one of the most dusty and torturous roads that you have ever traveled. You will stop high up in the mountains to eat an egg sandwich in the freezing cold, and you may get a touch of soroche or mountain sickness. So what is there to recommend about this journey? Well, immediately after you arrive at Colca Canyon at about nine o'clock AM, you should climb down as far out on the cliffs over looking the canyon as possible, so you can see one of the greatest nature shows on earth. At about that time, the giant Andean Condors begin to glide back and forth, up and down the canyon often at your eye level. We were probably the only birders in the fairly large crowd, yet everybody seemed to be awed by this graceful, beautiful spectacle. It was difficult to ascertain the number of condors as we could have been seeing some of the same ones as they swept back and forth, but there must have been a half dozen or more. The show lasted for an hour and at ten o'clock they disappeared. This trip will give you a glimpse of Andean culture as you will eat lunch in an Andean town, see herds of llamas and alpacas, and perhaps be as fortunate as we were to see guanacos. On the way back we hit an avian bonanza. Early in the cold morning we noted some ponds high in the puna that seemed to be frozen. In the afternoon as we returned, passing by them again, we found them full of birds. Birds returning to Ariquipa:
Andean Flamingo Speckled Teal
Andean Gull Ruddy Duck
Andean Goose Mountain Carcara
Andean Swallow Black-winged Ground-Dove
Andean Lapwing White-tipped Swift
Puna Hawk Dark-winged Miner
Puna Ibis White-fronted Ground-Tyrant
Giant Coot -

While in Arequipa, we stayed at an inexpensive hotel, La Casa de mi Abuela. The charming gardens there attracted some good birds such as the Great Thrush, Croaking-ground Dove, Oasis Hummingbird and the beautiful Peruvian Sheartail. Many of these birds will not be found in Hilty's Columbia book; consequently, you should obtain Fjeldsa and Krabbe's The Birds of the Andes High. This tome has several handicaps such as size, cost ($150), and mediocre, crowded bird art. Yet if one wants to independently bird the Peruvian highland, then bring it along. We flew to Cuzco on June 29, spending the next couple of days trying to adjust to the altitude. At 11,000 feet, some recent arrivals find themselves with shortness of breath, headache, and/or upset stomach - symptoms of soroche or mountain sickness. Therefore, it is best to take it easy the first several days, perhaps drinking a cup or so of coca tea which seems to alleviate the effects of the mountains. We found that we did not bring enough warm clothes as the early morning and nights at Cuzco were quite chilly for us desert dwellers. One of the most useful items we did bring was marshmallow-like earplugs which cut out over one-third the noise at the inexpensive hostels that we slept in while at Cuzco. By July 2, we felt acclimated enough to venture out to Lake Huaparcay, a good birding location not far from Cuzco. Taxis drivers are acquainted with the lake and will take you there for ten dollars. We did a lot of walking and found ourselves somewhat taxed by the altitude; so we decided to quit early and come back another day. We saw the Giant Hummingbird and the Bearded Mountaineer and were driven to distraction trying to identify the Ground-Tyrants. The cost of the bus ride back to Cuzco was almost nil, but we paid for it in discomfort by having to stand and be tossed around in a crowded bus. The following birds made the trip worth while:
Silvery Grebe Andean Flicker
Plumbeous Rail Common Miner
Andean Coot Chiguanco Thrush
Bare-faced Ground-Dove Yellow-winged Blackbird
Bearded Mountaineer Puna Ground-Tyrant
Giant Hummingbird Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant
White-browed Chat-Tyrant -

During our adjustment period (6-30/7-1) in Cuzco, we heard of a trip that a Dutch couple had taken to the famed Manu National Park in Peru's southeast Amazonian jungle. They stayed at Pantiacolla Lodge, which was being repaired and not fully operable, located just outside of the reserve area in the park. They saw some wonderful birds and their costs were minimal. We knew about Manu but had written it off as being too expensive. Nevertheless, we inquired about the lodge, negotiated a week at a bargain rate ($750), and so on July 3 we left Cuzco before sunrise on another jungle adventure.

The journey down the Andes to Manu was somewhat harrowing since we spent thirteen hours in a small bus going down a rough dirt road which alternated down one way for a day and one way up the next. Yet a few fools do not mind the rules. We came upon a truck, broken down the night before, which caused a three hour delay, but this gave us an opportunity to bird the cloud forest. This turned out to be frustrating as we had left behind The Birds of the High Andes and the Columbia guide had few of the birds which we were seeing. There is no guide to southeast Peru so we would have many opportunities to see birds with no way to identify them. This is what one might call a veritable Birder's Hell. We did mark down the description of some of them and identified them later, and we had a stoke of luck in that the break down was near the lodge at La Union were the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock nests. Both male and female Cock-of-the- Rocks were common that day as were Cinnamon Flycatchers and Blue-crowned Motmots. Very late in the evening we arrived at Atalaya on the Madre de Dios River where we camped for the night.

Our nation's birthday found us celebrating it by traveling down the river for one hour and half. Along the way we saw Howler Monkeys and many birds. Upon arriving we immediately set about looking for birds around the lodge. These were the birds seen on that memorable day:
Great Heron Emerald Toucanet
Snowy Heron Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
Cattle Egret Tropical Kingbird
Rufescent Tiger-Heron White-winged Swallow
Black Vulture White-banded Swallow
Turkey Vulture Creamy-bellied Thrush
Great Yellow-headed Vulture Crested Oropendula
Neotropic Cormorant Yellow-rumped Cacique
Harpy-Eagle (heard) Paradise Tanager
Plumbeous Kite Yellow-bellied Tanager
Roadside Hawk Silver-beaked Tanager
Andean Guan Black Skimmer
Spix's Guan White-winged Becard
Scarlet Macaw Greater Kiskadee
Chestnut Macaw Short-crested Flycatcher
Fork-tailed Woodnymph Red-headed Manakin
Amazon Kingfisher Fasciated Tiger-Heron
Scarlet-hooded Barbet -

The northern Amazon and the southeast Amazon had some interesting differences. The Madre de Dios River was a rushing mountain-like stream while the Amazon River was so huge that one could not ascertain its extent. Since the southeast Amazon was farther from the equator, it was cooler there; also Manu has the large birds which have been fairly well persecuted to extinction on the upper Amazon. We would have quite a different experience at our Manu site as we would spend five days at the same location and not be able to move around as we did on the upper Amazon. There was not much to do at Pantiacolla Lodge other than hiking the trails and looking for birds. Yet, we enjoyed it immensely. Being the only guests with five workers who were maintaining the place and not being exactly fluent in Spanish made us feel somewhat alone in the jungle. Our only light was candle light, and after the first two days the pump for the sanitary facilities broke down giving us the opportunity to take baths in the rain or in the river. These minor annoyances were small in comparison with the serene beauty of the place and of course the great birds. The vocalizations alone were worth the experience. The beauty of the morning and evening song of the Great Tinamou, the windstorm-like sound of a group of Pale-winged Trumpeters, the outrageous cry of the Screaming Piha, and the "waaaugh" of the Great Potoo at night made our stay worthwhile to us. We had listened to bird tapes before we left the states.This proved to be very helpful. We also read several books about neo-tropical birding . One we would highly recommend, Steven Hilty's Birds of Tropical America. From the lodge three trails go through the jungle toward different directions. Our first full day (7-5) saw us hiking a trail that followed the river until it veered up a small mountain. That day we added these birds to our Manu list:
White-collared Swift Turquoise Tanager
Pale-winged Trumpeter Green and-Gold Tanager
Screaming Piha (heard) Black-faced Dacnis
Lemon-throated Barbet Squirrel Cuckoo
Olive-striped Flycatcher Lineated Woodpecker
Red-eyed Vireo Great Potoo (heard)

We hiked the middle trail our (7-6) second day . It was a narrow, badly maintained , circular trail which gave us a tough time and there was a spell when we believed that we had lost the trail.After four hours of hiking we managed to get back to the lodge. The new birds we listed that day were:
Yellow-billed Tern Dot-winged Antwren
Chestnut-eared Aracari Chestnut-bellied Seedeater
Cuvier's Toucan Blue-and-yellow Macaw
Red-throated Caracara Little Woodpecker
Olive Oropendula Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Russet-backed Oropendula Golden-browed Sparrow
White-flanked Antwren White-eyed Parakeet
White-bearded Hermit -

We spent the third day (7-7) dodging rain showers and hiking the trail toward the north adding these birds to our Manu list:
Hauwell Thrush
Ladder-tailed Nightjar
Slaty Antwren
White-backed Fire-eye
White-browed Manakin
Great Tinamou
Blue-crowned Motmot
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
Military Macaw

The next day (7-8) it rained most of the day and night. A brief break in the rain offered us a remarkable happening. We saw a bare tree full of excited birds. There were Paradise , Green and Gold, Turquoise, and Masked Tanagers, Black-faced Dacnis, several hummingbirds, including a Rufous-crested Coquette, Tody-Flycatchers and Seedeaters. After a while we realized that the excitement was caused by a brown bird in a nearby tree. They were mobbing a Southern Tropical Screech Owl.

The heavens continued to pour on us during our last full day (7-9). It was a wonder that we saw any birds, but we braved the elements for a while and managed to add these birds to our Manu list:
Violaceous Jay
Purplish Jay
Opal-crowned Tanager
Bare-necked Fruitcrow
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Grey-fronted Ground-Dove
Dusky-capped Greenlet
Bluish-fronted Jacamar

The boat arrived about mid-day, taking us up the river on a long, miserable, three hour trip in the rain. The bus ride back up the Andes started at about six o'clock in the evening (7-9), and we would not reach Cuzco until the next evening at the same time. If you can afford it, take the plane back from Manu, a ride that takes only a couple of hours.

Form July 11 to July 13 we took in the sights of Cuzco seeing the archeological wonders of the city and its environs. The center of Cuzco is built upon the foundations of the Inca buildings. These massive walls are amazing. We stayed at the Loreto Inn so we could savor for one night having a real Inca wall as part of our habitation. Sacsayhuaman, the great fortress over looking Cuzco, was an especially impressive site. We did not need much guidance around Cuzco since we had read several books about the Incas and their great empire. John Hemming's Conquest of the Inca Empire was very helpful, instructive, and highly recommended.

The Sunday train (7-14) toward the Urubamba Valley left Cuzco at one o'clock and by four it arrived at Ollantaytambo jammed full of passengers. We determined that the rest of trip would be made in the more expensive tourist train since we could not endure the crush of people. Ollantaytambo is a charming Andean village which retains many Incas features. Rising high over the village is a massive fortress where the Incas fought the Spanish conquistadores and defeated them on one occasion. The area is not very birdy, but we did manage to see the following species:
Black-cowled Saltador
Black-backed Grosbeak
Puna Yellow-finch
Black-tailed Trainbearer
Black Phoebe
Torrent Tyrannulet
White-winged Cinclodes

The Tuesday (7-16) tourist train from Cuzco to Machu Picchu Station which we caught at Ollantaytambo was only three-quarters full so we had ample room, but we had to pay the full fare from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. Just before Machu Picchu Station is the village of Aquas Calientes where a number of cheap hostels and eating places serve the tourists on limited budgets. The access road up to Machu Picchu runs from the village along the Urubamba River. Our walk late in the afternoon along that road garnered a flock of Scarlet-fronted Parakeets, two Torrents Ducks (male and female) and a White-capped Dipper.

Early the next morning we took a bus up to the Machu Picchu ruins. What a grand spectacle! Probably the most beautiful location for human habitation that has ever existed. Yet, one leaves this great site with more questions than answers about it. As for birds there were not many up at the ruins but down in the valley we found the following along the river road on our evening walk:
Red-backed Hawk
White-winged Black-Tyrant
Yellow-scarfed Tanager
Blue-winged Mt.-Tanager
Slate-throated Whitestart
Spectacled Whitestart
Dusky-green Oropendola
Speckled Hummingbird
Slaty Antwren
Streak-necked Flycatcher

The climate was great at this attitude, not hot like the jungle, and the nights were not as cold as the Cuzco highland. So as the birds were abundant, we decided to stick around until we exhausted them or ourselves. Near Aquas Calientes is a first class hotel which we could not afford to stay at but had great habitat for birds. The grounds and the lovely gardens of the Hotel Machu Picchu Pueblo contained an abundance of tanagers, flycatchers, hummingbirds, and other species. We saw the following birds there on June 18:
Golden-headed Quetzal Azara's Spinetail
Saffron-crowned Tanager Brown-capped Vireo
Beryl-spangled Tanager Masked Flower-Piercer
Silvery Tanager Green-and-white Hummingbird
Blue-necked Tanager Black-and-white Seedeater
Blue-and-yellow Tanager Glossy-Black Thrush
Mountain Wren Highland Motmot
Golden-crowned Flycatcher Common Tody-Flycatcher

The following morning we returned to the hotel and again had fair birding success. In the afternoon we hiked the access road along the river. Just below where the road climbs to Machu Picchu we managed to see a female Cock-of -the-Rock. Each day that we were in the Urubamba Valley we saw Torrent Ducks and White-capped Dippers, and this day (7-19) we added these species to our growing list:
Russet-crowned Warbler Slaty Flower-Piercer
Citrine Warbler Yellow-Browed Tyrant
Rust-and -yellow Tanager Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher
Black-and-blue Tanager Golden-winged Tody-Flycatcher
Grey-headed Bush- Tanager Golden-faced Tyrannulet
Slaty Thrush Rufous Spinetail
White-tipped Dove Great Saphirewing

We could have taken the inexpensive local train back to Cuzco, but we saw that train leave one night with so many backpackers and local Peruvians on board that people were actually hanging on the outside of the train, trying to ride on top of it, and entering already stuffed cars through the windows. The tourist train was expensive, but we were glad to pay since we arrived back in Cuzco (7-20) without being squashed to death. The following morning (7-21) a taxi took us out to Lake Huaparcay for another visit, and our return trip in the afternoon was facilitated by the fortunate offer of a ride in the back of a pick- up truck. We saw many of the same species that had been seen on our first visit plus these new ones:
Puna Teal Eared Dove
Andean Duck Bar-winged Cinclodes
Cinereous Harrier Black-tailed Trainbearer
Many-colored Rush-Tyrant -

The flight from Cuzco to Lima took up most of the morning of July 22. After arriving we immediately hired a taxi to the bus station where we took a large comfortable bus south to Pisco and the Paracas Peninsula. You can stay at the expensive resorts at Paracas or you can stay, as we did, in Pisco at the inexpensive hotels and take the public bus out to Paracas. The following day (7-23) we took an early bus to the peninsula . Once you reach the town you can go to the National Park by walking along the shore for about two miles or you could take a taxi and walk back. The main attraction are the Chilean Flamingos. What beautiful birds! There must have been 400 of them. The peninsula itself is barren so you will see few land birds. That day we saw the following birds:
Great Egret Band-tailed Gull
Snowy Egret Gray Gull
Turkey Vulture Kelp Gull
Am. Oystercatcher Peruvian Tern
Black-bellied Plover Elegant Tern
Snowy Plover Peruvian Pelican
Semipalmated Plover Peruvian Booby
Killdeer Neotropical Cormorant
Chilean Flamingo Guanay Cormorant
Lesser Yellowlegs Surf Cinclodes
Greater Yellowlegs Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderlings -

Another great attraction at Paracas are the Ballestas Islands about an hour out by boat. These islands are the breeding grounds for thousands of birds and sea lions; and of course, they are great collectors of guano. The tour is inexpensive ($25), and the tour company will pick you up at your hotel. Unfortunately the fog was heavy on the way out so we could not see the pelagic birds. The islands had hundreds of boobies and cormorants. Especially prized for the birder is the Red-legged Cormorant. One will also see the Blackish Oystercatcher, and the beautiful Inca Terns. We were quite excited to find a Humboldt Penguin along the shore line of a small island. There was no problem identifying the birds on the coast as there is an excellent field guide, Maria Koepcke's The Birds of the Department of Lima, Peru. The guide's one limitation is the art work in line drawings. The lack of color did not give us any problems, and we were elated to have a guide for one part of Peru which was comprehensive.

South of Pisco the coastal highway climbs up higher toward the city of Ica. Believing that the altitude change would bring us some different birds we took the bus to that city. Ica is the center of Peru's wine and brandy industry, and we enjoyed a visit to a winery, but we were disappointed with the lack of birds in the area. In the two days we passed there (7-25,26) we listed these birds:
Peruvian Sheartail White-winged Dove
Amazilia Hummingbird Rufous-collared Sparrow
Peruvian Elaenia House Sparrow
Blacked-necked Flicker Vermilion Flycatcher
Short-tailed Field-Tyrant Long-tailed Mockingbird

Several days were left before we could leave Peru, and we did not have the time nor the inclination to go to other birding hot spots. Neither were we in any hurry to go back to Lima. So we decided to return to the Pisco-Paracas area. It was one of our favorites places in Peru. The ocean is beautiful there, the sea food is great, and we experienced bright sunny days. Our return to Pisco was just in time for the weekend of Peru's national holiday (7-27,29) when there is a big influx of visitors causing hotel prices to raise and celebrations to last late into the night. We continued to do some birdwatching seeing many of our old friends again and tacking these new birds to our Pisco-Paracas list:
White-tufted Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe
Grey-hooded Gull

Our trip to the Ballestas Islands was so much fun we decided to assay another. This time (7-28) the weather was clear so we were able to see some pelagic birds such as Sooty Shearwaters, Sabine Gulls, and White-vented Storm Petrels. On one island we saw two Humbolt Penguins who put on quite a show slipping off their rock into the water.

We returned to Lima the next day and on the last day of July flew back to the United States. Except for the first week, we were able to travel independently, and it was worth it since we improved our Spanish, learned a lot about neo-tropical birds, and did it all fairly inexpensively, less than $100 a day. Peru is wonderful place, and we just got a glimpse of it. We can hardly wait to go there again.