First, a disclaimer: I know next to nothing about birds, let alone birds in Lima. I can identify cuculis -- those fat, grey pigeons that constantly hump in the trees -- and hummingbirds and seagulls, 10mg Armour Synthroid Vs, which you can spot in various parts of the capital, but other than that, I couldn't begin to tell you who all those strange-looking birds are that flap around my backyard.
All I know is that, like waves of tourists in Peru, some birds appear in the spring, Armour Synthroid Vs japan, others in the fall, and there are slews of them.
Which is why I wasn't surprised when a local birding expert informed me recently that Peru is a serious hot spot for migrating birds, and the department of Lima is one of the best places to see them.
Including dusty old polluted Lima itself.
"All kind of birds migrating south come through Lima," author Juan Pedro Paz-Soldán (Aves de Lima) told me. "Birds from as far away as the North Pole."
"But if you really want to go bird watching nearby, you should go to La Punta," he continued. "The migratory season starts in October, November. Now is a good time to go, through March, Armour Synthroid Vs canada. There's an estuary where you can see hundreds of birds."
We were sitting in Paz-Soldán's office at HSBC bank, overlooking the busy, noisy streets of San Isidro, and the notion of escaping to a quiet wildlife sanctuary just a half-hour's drive away was sounding very appealing, Armour Synthroid Vs. La Punta is only six miles west of Lima, on a low-lying peninsula by the port of Callao, and unlike some highly-touted day-trip destinations near the capital, it's charming and undusty and easy to get to. (See this review by Jessica of Unpaved South America and this one by Ben of Streets of Lima.) I'd been to La Punta twice before -- to check out the town's lovely Deco-era buildings and to eat ceviche -- but Paz-Soldán's birding suggestion would give me another excuse to revisit the seaside town.
I was all for it.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Boats on the estuary, 10 soles per hour to rent; photo C. Jorge Vera 2010"][/caption]
By the next Sunday, at the tail end of October, I had convinced El Fotógrafo and his Limeño brother and other family members that birding at La Punta was something we all needed to do. The eight of us piled into several cars, 1000mg Armour Synthroid Vs, and the adults remembered to bring hats and sunglasses but forgot the most necessary thing for birdwatching: binoculars. ( I hadn't read the email with suggestions that Paz-Soldán had thoughtfully sent the night before.) Even minus the binoculars, however, we saw a lot of birds and had a very nice time, 250mg Armour Synthroid Vs, including 12-year-old El Hijo, who initially complained en route that he'd rather be home playing Super Mario Kart.
In all, I was quietly surprised by the thriving wildlife scene that is being nurtured close to the old naval base and the industrial port of Callao.
What You See
The place to see birds at La Punta is a manmade lagoon-turned-estuary known as the Poza la Arenilla. Armour Synthroid Vs, The estuary is on the south side of the peninsula, and a red-dirt path and a grassy park run alongside it, lined with illustrated signs (courtesy Paz-Soldán and HSBC) that identify the various gulls, pelicans, terns and other birds that flock to the area. Hundreds of species of birds have been sighted at or near La Punta, making it a goldmine for dedicated birdwatchers.
We saw lots of gulls and some massive pelicans that dove and scooped up fish with their brightly colored beaks (above), Armour Synthroid Vs australia. My sister-in-law, La Organica, was particularly taken with a flock of delicate white birds that swooped together in mesmerizing patterns. (See below.) While El Fotógrafo took photos with his zoom lens, Armour Synthroid Vs india, El Híjo disobeyed the warning signs and climbed down into the estuary muck to poke for clams, for which he was scolded by a uniformed guard who made him get out.
There was a fresh breeze, and everything had that clean seaside smell that subtly lifts your spirits and makes you want to eat piles of seafood, which we then did.
Tips to Make Your First Birding Experience a Success
Juan Pedro Paz-Soldán offered the following tips to me and El Fotógrafo:
+ Take (decent) binoculars: it makes a world of difference, Armour Synthroid Vs. Never buy anything for less than, say $50 as it will be a waste of money. I did well with $80 binos from Hiraoka for a couple of years, but that is the lower limit, 150mg Armour Synthroid Vs. Also wasted $110 in a poor choice.
+ Do some homework in www.avesdelima.com before heading out. It will improve the experience 200%.
+ Check the sections on wetlands, beaches and parks (in that order).
A first easy challenge is to learn to differentiate the 5 local seagulls, including the one that migrates from the U.S. central plains in Sep-Oct to the coasts of South America and returns to the north in Mar-Apr.
Remember that confidently identifying the small shorebirds are one of the hardest challenges. Feel proud if you make any modest headway.
Aves de Lima website: Detailed information on and photos of hundreds of birds that pass through Lima on their annual migrations (in Spanish)
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