16 Mar 2018

16 Mar 18 - Chile: Halfway to Everest (Lauca National Park): Part 1 The Lower Park

I decided to wait for breakfast which was about thirty minutes after first light. It was going to be cold outside, given I was at 3500 metres & therefore, the Birding would probably be slow to get going. So, I might as well stock up on food, given I had already paid for it. Breakfast over, I checked out & headed off for the forty five minute journey to Lauca National Park. The road in the park goes up to 4500 metres which is half the height of Mt Everest. The air is thin, but many of the Birding areas are visible from the road. Therefore, you don't have to walk around too much, which is good if you aren't acclimatised to the altitude. Near the park entrance, there is a pull in on the left-hand side, by a good-looking bog. This can be a good place to see a Diademed Sandpiper-plover, but despite a lot of looking I couldn't find any here. I returned later in the day. On the third visit before I left, I had a walk around the edge to the far end of the bog, in case one was skulking out of view from the road: it wasn't.
The first bog
Another animal road sign
Beyond this first bog, the ground flattened out to areas of dry Altiplano, but there were a number of bogs & small lakes.
The drier Altiplano
The wetter Altiplano
Lauca National Park: The road from the park entrance as far as Parinacota are the best areas
A few of the lower peaks: Before the clouds arrived, there were good views of the peaks, especially the high ones
Volcan Parinacota: This lies on the border with Bolivia & is around 1.8 million years old. Fortunately, it hasn't erupted for
2600 years. The summit is 6348 metres high
There was a good selection of species around the first bog & for the first few miles after the first bog, along the road leading to the small settlement of Parinacota.
Andean Flicker: This is the nominate rupicola subspecies which occurs in Bolivia, Northern Chile & NW Argentina. Other subspecies occur in the Andes as far North as Southern Ecuador
Andean Flicker: There are no trees this high, so they feed in the ground just as my local Dorset Green Woodpeckers do
Andean Flicker: Apparently, they nest in holes in cliffs or road cuttings
Common Miner: A couple of uncooperative Common Miners. This is the titicacae subspecies which is one of the Altiplano group which occurs from Lake Titicaca in Southern Peru to the extreme North of Chile & NW Argentina
Common Miner: Sharper, but still uncooperative
Cordilleran Canastero
Andean Negrito: This delightful species occurs in the Andes from Peru to North Chile & Argentina 
Puna Ground-tyrant: Puna Ground-tyrants prefer the boggier Altiplano. Note, the pale eyebrow, darker line through the eye & wings not reaching the tail (easier to see in the next photo). They are similar to Rufous-naped Ground-tyrants, but prefer the boggier Altiplano. They are also browner on the upperparts than Rufous-naped Ground-tyrants & have a rufous crown patch than can be difficult to see
Puna Ground-tyrant: They occur on the boggier Altiplano from central Peru to North Chile & NW Argentina
Ochre-naped Ground-tyrant: This is another large Ground-tyrant, although not as large as White-fronted Ground-tyrant. The wings reach to the tip of the tail & it doesn't have the strong wing panel of White-fronted Ground-tyrant. It also has a pale ochre nape. This was taken with the SX60 so the colours are not as accurate as the other Ground-tyrant photos
Ochre-naped Ground-tyrant: This is the nominate flavinucha subspecies which occurs in the Andes of Chile & Argentina & winters North to Peru
White-fronted Ground-tyrant: This is a large, pale Ground-tyrant with a pale forehead with a pale wing panel & wings that extend to the end of the tail. They stick to the Altiplano bogs. They occur from central Peru to Bolivia & Northern Chile
White-fronted Ground-tyrant: A better view of the pale forehead
White-winged Diuca-finch: No sooner had this White-winged Diuca-finch stopped preening, it flew off. The white moustachial separates this from the similar-looking White-throated Sierra-finch. I saw seven White-winged Diuca-finches & a single White-throated Sierra-finch
White-winged Diuca-finch: A more cooperative individual
There were plenty of other species seen at Lauca, but I'll leave those to the next Post.