Some time at the Zoo

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I had a week off work after Easter and after that it has been a bit harder to catch up.

On my first day of 'vacations', Tommy and I met some friends to go to the Parque Zoológico Huachipa, a small zoo about 45 minutes from home. Tommy already wrote about it and posted some cool pics here.

It was a hot day but a bit cloudy. We got there early, and it seemed that some residents were not completely awake yet...

We don't like to see animals in cages or in spaces were they can't leave, but this was an opportunity to at least SEE animals and to learn about them.

Festive Parrot

We found a zone with a few parrots and macaws. The Blue-and-yellow Macaw of the next picture was enjoying the scratching very much. When I took the picture it reminded me of one of those 'oh yes, he got me the biggest rock he could find, isn't my ring gorgeous??' comments...

Blue-and-yellow Macaw

After that we saw a few residents that came a long way...

... one of them gave us the 'I'm-watching-you-you-better-be-careful' look...

And then we got in what became my favourite spot of the whole place: El Bosque de Aves (The forest of birds). There were some really nice but hard to get in camera birds. I've never seen them before, and I won't be able to see them in the wild anytime soon, so, I'm glad we had the chance. Tommy got some pretty good shots, and I just managed to get these...

Speckled Chachalaca

... And this HUGE Jabiru, which I swear was taller than me! It was awesome to see it soo close, and to be able to walk around a place where new-to-us birds could fly around us. Too bad that there were not good signs to actually help you id the species.


When we got out of the forest of birds, we found a small pond where the residents had to share the food with some visitors...

Black-crowned Night-heron

We stayed close to see the Humboldt Penguins in detail. They were all swimming together, all but one. One of them was very close to where we were, and was trying to get something. When we got closer, we found out that this guy was trying to get a plastic bottle cap! He dived many times to get it, splashing around... I think I got it when he just grabbed it :)

Humboldt Penguin

So, what do you think the caption should be for the next one? 'I think I'm adopted' comes to mind...

We spent a few hours in that zoo, saw some really beautiful creatures, but we left with a bitter sweet smile, knowing that those beauties were staying there...


A big small surprise on the way home

A few days ago, Tommy and I were walking back home after a very long day and decided to stop by the park a few blocks from the house because the chorus of birds was amazing.

It was 5:44pm and was getting dark when we walked into the park to find what at first looked like an extra chunk of wood on one of the exercise logs on the 'gym' part of the park.

I was about 20 metres from it, with poor light, but still decided to try a pic of it (mostly to see what it was) I took one photo and tried to get closer. The thing sitting there flew!

It was a bird!! We rushed to the house as it was very hard to see the dark screen with such poor light. When we downloaded the camera's memory, we found this (click to enlarge)

It was a Peruvian Pygmy Owl, also known as Pacific Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium peruanum)

Do I REALLY have to tell you how excited we were?? A LIFER! By total chance, after a very long exhausting day... What a surprise!!

This Pygmy Owl is between 16.5 and 18 centimeters (6.5 to 7 inches) Apparently it is fairly common in dry woods, riparian forest, scrub and gardens. If you ask me, I've NEVER seen it before! It is also similar to the Andean Pygmy Owl, but found on drier woods. It is typically a grayer shade of brown and has white spots on scapulars and barring on remiges.

The songs on the Pacific slope are (according to the marvellous Birds of Peru guide) rapid rising hoots: "poop'poop'poop'poop..." To be honest, we didn't hear the song :(

The next day we were close to the park at about the same time, hoping to find it again, but we had no luck. Now that we know that this bird is a visitor on the route to the house, we don't hate the hill on the way home as much!


Sunday at La Arenilla

Last Sunday I went to La Arenilla (Callao, Peru) I've been there once before a few months ago. I posted about that here.

This time I went with my sidekick Tommy and another friend hoping to find some nice seashore birds and at least find a lifer to add to our very poor list.

I tried some 'digibinning', as we were about 30 to 50 metres from the birds.

If you click on the next pic to enlarge it, you'll see a couple of Blackish Oystercatchers (lifer!) on top of the rocks. These birds were the furthest from where we were, and they were spotted by a couple of US birders that were there too. They were kind enough to share the finding with us.

Blackish Oystercatchers

We found a lot of Gulls, but not as many as we expected. The migrating season's peak passed some time ago, however, it was great to find lots of birds on reproductive plumage.

Franklin's Gulls and a very relaxed Kelp Gull

A couple of Kelp Gull's were sitting peacefully while a bunch of much smaller Franklin's Gulls were VERY loud.

A bit later, further down, we spotted a few Whimbrels and beautiful Terns. The Whimbrels were standing on one leg, head almost hidden, while the Terns stared at them.

Whimbrels and Terns

A few Peruvian Pelicans (HUGE - wingspan 228cm/90in!!!) came to visit too. I find the next picture a bit funny, as they all have different poses before landing on the water to join the ones already there.

Peruvian Pelicans

Some movement closer to us caught our eye... a few Semipalmated Plovers were walking around. They are so small and fast!

Semipalmated Plover

And just before we left, another lifer! A Spotted Sandpiper wobbling the tail up and down. Can you see the spots of its alternate plumage?

Spotted Sandpiper

It was a fine day after all. The birds seen:

- Peruvian Pelican (Pelecanus thagus)
- Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
- Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
- Blackish Oystercatcher - LIFER (Haematopus ater)
- Black-bellied Plover - LIFER (Pluvialis squatarola)
- Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
- Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
- Spotted Sandpiper - LIFER (Actitis macularius)
- Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus)
- Belcher's Gull/Band-tailed Gull (Larus belcheri)
- Franklin's Gull (Larus pipixcan)
- Gray-hooded Gull (Larus cirrocephalus)
- Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans)
- Sandwich Tern - LIFER (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
- Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

If you want to see a few more pictures of this birding morning, visit Tommy.