Unexpected pelagic birding!

Photo: Belcher's Gull (Band-tailed Gull) by Melissa Gold

A friend from school invited me on an excursion with some of her family and other friends last Sunday. The excursion was around some islands on the coasts of Callao. Are you kidding me??? I was first on the line! I thought I would turn that friend's invitation into a pelagic birding adventure.

Photo: Milagros watching "birdies" by Melissa Gold

I managed to convince the two five year old on board to see the "pajaritos" (birdies). Bins were the coolest "toy" ever and I'm pretty sure I got them curious about birds..."that bird has something yellow on its face!", "the water looks close as if it was on my knees", "I like birds better than boats"... YES!! thank you girls!

Photo: Turkey Vulture waiting for sea lion snack by Melissa Gold

We were around a few islands, like "El Camotal", once part of the old port-city of El Callao, currently covered by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, as a result of the 1746 Earthquake. On low-tide days people say you can see some remains of the old city.

"San Lorenzo Island", is 8 km long by 2,5 km wide. It had many uses in time: religious centers in pre-Columbian times, cemetery for pirates and corsairs during the Colony, research place for men of science (including Charles Darwin!!) and it is currently a military zone.

"El Fronton Island" was an old Penitentiary, like Alcatraz...

"Cavinzas Islands" are a group of islands and islets with plenty of natural caves and caverns; it is the last guano harvesting site. The next pic shows the "facilities" where the "guardian" of the island lives. If you click to enlarge, you maybe able to see him on the window to the left.

Photo: Cavinzas Island by Melissa Gold

"Palomino Islands" have turned into a refugee for sea lions. There are 3 main islets with defined areas: the family area, the maternity and the hospital (as the captain explains to us), family area is where the strong male live with their 13 or so female party; maternity, where the male with no females live (some of them castrated on fights for power) and then the hospital, where they retire to die (if you saw the pic of the Turkey Vulture few paragraphs up here, by now you should know where it was taken...)

Photo: Palomino Cathedral by Melissa Gold

The rocky formations are stunning, too bad that my camera's zoom is not good enough to show you all the beauty. Here you can see Peruvian Pelicans, Guanay Cormorants, Inca Terns, and some Gulls that were too far for me to id properly.

Photo: Sea birds by Melissa Gold

It was fun to be close to the sea lions, most of the group jumped into the ocean to swim with them. No, I didn't, I'm waiting for my sidekick to go together ;)

Photo: Sea lions by Melissa Gold

It was fun both on the Pacific Ocean and on shore. I found lots of beautiful birds that made me forget about the weeks of not being able to do some birding.

A few days ago, Birdfreak posted about a product sold by Birdorable, they have some fun t-shits, and the next pic made me think of one for my lovely non Peruvian fiancee to wear in honour of her Peruvian girl... Is the phrase "I love Peruvian Boobies" too much to wear at a family meeting?? LOL

Photo: Peruvian Booby on the flight by Melissa Gold

Also a few days ago, I got a comment by Laurent, who suggested trying some "digi-binning". Well, I did, couldn't try more because the rest of the group were not birders or birder wanna-bes like me, and they were busy walking away!

Anyway, here's my try: first one, regular shot with no zoom...

Photo: Platform with Cormorants, Inca Terns, Gulls, etc by Melissa Gold

And the second one thru bins, as you can see with the shadow to the right. To be my first try ever, I think it came up pretty good. I will practice, it wasn't easy to get an image with my shaky pulse!

Photo: Same platform thru bins by Melissa Gold

This Franklin's gull was waiting for us when we arrived. It was great to get a shot where I could see the tail.

Photo: Franklin's Gull by Melissa Gold

And the Inca Terns were all lined up to say hello. I like the way they look, so elegant and proud.

Photo: Inca Terns by Melissa Gold

I like these two, I wonder what they are chatting about... ("these humans never get tired of us... ah, well, beauties we are...")

Photo: Inca Terns by Melissa Gold

The last birds I'm not sure about. I have no idea if this is some sort of Turnstone or Sandpiper. Can anyone help id?? My bird guide shows WAY too many possibilities.

Photo by Melissa Gold

It was a fun and different morning, and I hope to be able to do it again soon!

UPDATE 03/03/09
Thanks to Patrick and Gunnar for making a definite id for the last birds: Ruddy Turnstone... LIFER!! yippiiiiee!!


Patrick Belardo said...

Definitely Ruddy Turnstones.

I love those Inca Terns. I saw them once at the Bronx Zoo in New York.

Bob and Cynthia Kaufman said...

That was a nice trip you had, Mel. Those Inca Terns are beautiful!! Your first attempt at dig-binning is quite good.

"I love Peruvian boobies" made me laugh. I think it would make a nice t-shirt.

PSYL said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us! Makes me feel I was part of the crew too.

That's a pretty good try of digiscoping. It will certainly make your birding more fun seeing them up close.

And them Inca Terns are amazing! I love their white mustache.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Looks like you had a wonderful trip! *pajaritos - sounds cute )) writes it down to vocabulary*
Inca Terns look amazing - I've never seen such birds before not even on pictures.
Jumping in the ocean is fun! On my vacations in Spain and Greece I jumped off a ship to the sea a couple of times. A breathtaking experience!!

Lynne said...

Those Inca Terns are so beautiful.
I love your idea for the T-shirt for Tommy!! LOL!!
It's wonderful that you were able to spark the little kids' curiosity about birds and their surroundings with the binoculars.

What a wonderful pelagic! I hope you had a great time Mel.

Lynne said...

I forgot to comment on the digi-binning.


RuthieJ said...

Wow, Melissa, looks like you had a really fun adventure & how great to share with those little girls too. You got some really nice pictures of interesting sights all around those islands and I'm glad you shared them and the stories with us.
P.S. I think you definitely need one of those t-shirts too!

Anonymous said...

Lovely photos, looks like it was lot of fun.

We would guess it is a possible adult Ruddy Turnstone in nonbreeding plumage.

Mel said...

Hola a todos :)

Thanks for the id! You just confirmed me a lifer!!

Dear Kaufmans,
Inca Terns are beautiful and they know it! lol, digi-binning was fun, but I still need to practice on that. Do you think I'll manage to get that t-shirt??

You made me laugh with the 'mustache' comment, lol

I'm glad you liked it :)
Pajaritos is a cute word, I like it. It's good that you are taking notes, I owe you a fat e-mail, sorry!

Well, those bins will be used wisely and by MANY, trust me, they will do good! And the digi-binning has a great future, hahaha
Do you think Tommy would like a shirt like that?? lol
I can imagine my brother's face!

It was a fun morning, after so many days of work and doctors. I need more of those days sooooooon!!

Mike & Lizette,
Thanks for the id!

Meggie said...

Thanks for taking us along on your trip, Mel! The photos were lovely. Yes, birding is contagious. So glad you are passing along your enthusiasm with the younger ones.

Susan Gets Native said...

GOOD job on your first attempt at digi-binning! My binocular lenses are too messed up for me to do it myself.
What a trip! I'm thrilled for you, all those birds! Yippee!

Laurent said...

Nice digibinning attempt!!!!! The two quite obvious way to improve your pictures is quite obviously to find a stable support for your bins/camera (anything is good, a wall, a tree, or maybe just your knee), and maybe increase the zoom of your camera at max to avoid vignetting. But your camera seems to work great with your bins, so you will have a lot of fun!!!

Amy said...

I'm with Susan - great job on digi-binning. And I can confirm, Birdorable is on the case of the boobies. You'll hear from us soon(ish)! Thanks for letting me know about your blog - you have another subscriber. :o)

Mel said...

Hola a todos :)

It's always fun to be around kids, I like the ones around 5 and 7 especially, they are like little grown ups, fun to talk to and very curious, gread adventure companions!

It was fun! But I'm jealous of YOUR birds, I want raptors on my lissssst!!

THANK YOU for the inspiration and the advice. It was kind of hard to try on a boat that moved A LOT and made half of the 'crew' seasick, lol

What can I say? I adore Birdorable ;)
Will find a way to make my first purchase soon! Thanks for the 'Booby Job' lol

Q said...

Dear Mel,
I so loved this trip. I never knew about digi-photgrpahy with binoculars...very cool idea.
Makes a huge difference for iding.
I bet Tommy misses you as much (or more) as you do him.
Seeing your birds is exciting...they are beautiful!

Mel said...

Hola Sherry,
I got the binoculars recently, so, I had no idea that it could be done!
I have to practice a lot, it is not very easy and my shaky pulse is not exactly helping :S
Take care!

Marly said...

Hooola Mel !!
Te acuerdas de mi? Fuimos con Gunnar a la Arenilla esa vez.
Que buen pelagico , se nota que lo disfrutaste muuucho.. y cuantas aves has visto y fotografiado! Ya tienes el Birds of Peru? ... Super!, yo estoy juntando para adquirirlo tambien =D. Me alegro que tengas un binocular, todo se ve diferente a través de él! Te lo digo porque llegue a conseguir uno y es... emocionante!... No dejes de contranos tus experiencias en tu blog, te estare leyendo y si hay por ahi otro bird trip con Gunnar.. pasame la voz. Estamos en contacto!

Mel said...

Hola Marly!!!
Qué gusto saber de ti!!!
Mi amorcito vuelve en 15 días, así que si te interesa podríamos ir a pajarear por el Olivar en unas semanas :)
Sería excelente vernos otras vez y empezar a pajarear más seguido!

S.C.E. said...

Hey Mel you're starting to get some nice bird pictures. Those Inca Terns are great.

And it's always nice to see pictures of boobies (nudge nudge wink wink).

Mel said...

Hi Stuart!
The Inca Terns are beautiful birds, plus, they stay there quiet waitibg for you to photograph them!
Proud birds they are!
Will try to get some more booby pics, lol