16 Mar 2018

16 Mar 18 - Chile: Halfway to Everest (Lauca National Park): Part 2 Parinacota

The previous Post had covered many of the Landbirds at Lauca National Park. This Post covers the Waterbirds. There were a number of scattered large pools & lakes near the small settlement of Parinacota. Many were distance & realistically I could only scan from the road. I could see good numbers of Andean Geese & other Waterfowl on these lakes or the wet bogs near them. There were many youngsters & I didn't fancy walking out as it was likely to disturb them. I spent a lot of time slowly scanning the whole area hoping I would see a Diameded Sandpiper-plover, but couldn't find any. I reckoned I could spend a long time walking about around the lakes trying to find a DSP. In the end, I hoped retracing my route to the first bog before returning to Parinacota again might be a more successful use of my limited time. It probably was, but it didn't produce a DSP. But there were a few new Waterbirds & Waders to photograph.
Silvery Grebe
Speckled Teal
Giant Coot: Juvenile
American Golden Plover
Andean Lapwing
Grey-breasted Seedsnipe: Male
Grey-breasted Seedsnipe: Male. It is a pity about the wire fence
Least Sandpiper
There were also a couple of Mammals around Parinacota: Vicunas & the bizarre Southern Viscacha.
Vicuna
Southern Viscacha: Although, this looks like a large Hare, it is actually a large Rodent. The body is around 16 inches long & the heaviest Southern Viscachas have been 3 Kg
Southern Viscacha: They like these rocky moist slopes at elevations over 2500 metres & occur from Southern Peru to Western Bolivia, Northern & Central Chile & Western Argentina
Southern Viscacha: This looks to be a perfect life for a Southern Viscacha
Southern Viscacha
By mid-afternoon, I had been up & down the road in Lauca National Park twice & spent a lot of time scanning all the bogs. I had failed to find any Diademed Sandpiper-plovers. It had been a good day in the park. It had clouded over & become a lot colder. So, I decided to head back to Putre & spend an hour or two checking one of the other dry valleys. However, by the time I reached Putre, cold steady rain had set in & I ditched the Birding plan. After a visit to the cafe for a very late lunch, I left for the coast as I was booked into a hotel in Arica that evening. My original plan for the North had been for two nights at Putre. Having seen the hotel, I wasn't worried I had revised the plan back in Jan to only spent a single night there. After I had booked all the flights & sorted the hotels, I heard I could get a morning's pelagic out of Arica & it was planned for the following morning: hence my early departure for the coast. I had cut my time at Putre & Lauca for the pelagic. I reached Arica just after dark, found my hotel & checked in. Then I headed out again to look for the departure point for the Pelagic. We were leaving just as it got light & I needed to ensure I knew where I was going in the morning. Departure point sorted, it was time to get an early night as it was going to be an early start in the morning.

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