Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lomas de Asia
A new birding hotspot south of Lima




By Wilson Diaz
www.greentours.com.pe

There is not doubt that the tropics are full of surprises for bird lovers, and Peru is not the exception. This July I met a few friends in Lima for a pelagic trip, unfortunately the weather conditions at sea were not good at all and we had to cancel the pelagic expedition. Yes, I was quite disappointed, but nature lovers always keep an ace up our sleeves, and someone proposed to visit a new site he recently discovered a few months ago. So, we decide to spend the day exploring a particular coastal habitat south of Lima known as "Lomas de Asia".

To get to Lomas de Asia we drove for about two hours south of Lima along the Panamerican highway, then we took a dirty road eastwards into the hills of Asia (a Lima district). The members of the local community have organized themselves to preserve the area for deforestation, and they charge a small entrance fee to all visitors to collect funds for the maintenance of the reserve.

If you want to see all the interesting bird species in the area you will have to make a quite exhausting hike all the way up the mountains for about two hours, the elevation difference between the entrance gate and the top of the hills is around 700 meters (starts at 200 and ends at 900 meters).

Common birds in the area are West Peruvian and Eared Doves, Cinereous Conebill, Band-tailed Sierra-Finch, Collared Warbling-Finch, Peruvian Meadowlark, just to mention a few. Some interesting sights were a female Variable Hawk perched on a cliff high above the trail, and a Harris's Hawk flying above our heads.

As soon as we started our walk up the trail we heard the characteristic calls of the Thick-billed Miner, a Peruvian endemic that is not easy to find but appears to be very common in this area during the austral winter.


Thick-billed Miner, a Peruvian endemic easy to find in Lomas de Asia during the winter.

After enjoying the magnificent miner we continued our walk up the trail when we found a couple of Southern Viscacha (Lagidium viscacia) trying to warm up despite the cold, misty day. They were very cooperative and allow us to get very close for photographs.






Another surprise awaited for us a little bit later. When we stopped a few minutes to catch up our breath, a couple of hunting Burrowing Owls came very close to us, making "jumps" behind a rock.





It was around 11:00 am when we realized we were still half the way from the top of the hill, then we started to walk without stopping till we get to the end of the trail, at 900 meters of elevation. The walk is tough but really worth it. At the summit the vegetation is quite different, dominated by cacti and short bushes, the perfect habitat for another Peruvian specialty: the Cactus Canastero.


Cactus Canastero at its nest.
Cactus Canasteros are not easy to find because they're very shy birds, and are active only early in the morning. This time we were lucky enough to find a couple of birds building a nest, the birds weren't disturbed by our presence (we were not too close actually) and allowed to make good photos and video.



I couldn't been happier after making this video, this is probably the only footage in the world of this species building its nest.

After this superb experience we walk back down the trail to our car and hit the road back to Lima. Weather was fantastic for the hike, birds showed very well.... what else could we asked for !!!!!

Currently we are not included Lomas the Asia in out set itineraries, but if you are interested in a private tour send us an email to info@greentours.com.pe and ask for a quotation.

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