Andean Gull ~ Cusco Region, Peru - Feb '17

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Andean Gull ~ Larus serranus

I had convinced myself that this species was going to be fairly straightforward, well it wasn't easy ...

So the plan was that on route to Machu Picchu I would get a taxi to the train station from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and stop at lakes or whenever needed for the species ..

Errrrrr NO that's not what happened !!

I sat out in the sun the previous day and paid the price with sunstroke, up most of the night being sick.
The taxi ride was challenging, I did have an emergency bag in my pocket just in case but managed to sleep for most of it ..
I did see two gulls from the train which boosted my straightforward theory ..

Two days at Machu Picchu was fantastic  but didn't see any gulls even though the River Urubamba flows past Aguas Calientes where I was staying ..

After Machu Picchu I had pre-booked another night in Cusco but I cancelled this for another night at the lake, doubling my chances with the gulls ..
The train ride back and a few more gulls spotted ..
Taxi to the lake $80 yep take me !!

3 hours later and I'm at Lake Huacarpay not a gull in sight !!
But it gets worse the Hotel is closed and has been for 7 months ..
Thanks alot Booking(.)com

I then tried the surrounding area for another hotel but in the end had to return back to Cusco for the two nights.
The whole day wasted and a taxi fare of $160 for nothing ..
At this point my straightforward theory has got a slight crack in it !

Once at the Cusco hotel a car and driver were arranged for the next morning.
06:30am and the first stop is Lake Huaypo a gigantic lake which did have a few gulls but they just never came close ..
Next was Lake Piuray this was a humongous great lake and the tiny white specks never came close ..

My straight forward theory is shattered !!

Time for something to eat so the taxi driver took me to Chinchero an ancient city with ruins, after some food, the taxi driver stopped at the ruins from an elevated vantage point and flying past were two gulls which landed in the valley below ..
I gestured to the driver take me to the Blanco Aves ?
In the midday sun I managed a few shots just before they were flushed.

With one more lake to try we headed off towards Pisaq, the road just kept on going up and reached 3,870m ..
By now all the Inca Kola that I'd been drinking needed to come out so I asked the driver who did a u-turn and stopped outside what looked like a house but was actually a Textiles Shop, as I got out the car I could see a small lake behind the shop so grabbed the bins and looked over the fence, I was immediately rumbled and invited in by the owner.
The bins were dumped in favour of the camera and then I had to get rid of the Inca Kola and into the garden I went ..

I could not believe what I was seeing a pair of Andean Gulls with another circling overhead, I'm glad I got that Kola out or else I would of just wet myself there and then ..!!

The location was Lake Huayllarccocha and it was time to cash in my Karma points ...

I had 15 minutes with the birds and went away happy giving the man some money for letting me in ..

We then went further up the road towards Pisaq but this nagging feeling ate away at me so after 90 minutes it was a return to the small lake which is when all the grass shots took place ..

Another 15 minutes and I gave the man $20 more ...

If you want to just tick n run then any suitable habitat is straight forward ..

But if you want to photograph them keep your fingers crossed and wear your lucky pants !! 


Caspian Gull ~ 1st. W ~ Dungeness, Kent - 12.03.17

Sunday 12 March 2017

Thankfully the gull season is not over yet with the finding of another 1st. winter Caspian Gull which is bird #30.
And also meant that I didn't have to resort to looking at Wheatears at least not yet anyway ..

Franklin's Gull ~ Paracas, Peru - Feb '17

Wednesday 8 March 2017

In early February Franklin's Gull was the most numerous gull of the trip, the power cables along the coast road, mainly near towns  from Lima to Paracas held 1000's of birds so tightly packed shoulder to shoulder that no other birds could fit in.
One outflow that I saw from the road that I drove past must of had 10,000+ birds in a single flock ..
Paracas beaches probably had 1,000 birds spread over them ..

I searched hard for an advanced bird with a full hood but I was a bit to early for that ..