Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The 1000th bird on my life Llanganuco Lodge in Peru

Ken, Sadie, and Alan watch an Andean Flicker near Llanganuco Lodge

Eager to hit a variety of habitats while visiting Peru, my birding family planned a stop at Llanganuco Lodge following advice from friends in Iquitos and Huaraz, Peru. What a great decision! The lodge is located in the Andes, just between the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra, at an altitude of almost 12,000 feet. The location offers easy access to just what we were looking for – Polylepis forest, puna grassland, pastureland, sheer cliffs, mountain lakes, and churning streams.

Sadie examines a piece of bark from the unique high-altitude Polylepis trees (pictured)

By happenstance, birding the area around the Llanganuco Lodge coincided with my approach to the 1000th bird on my life list. How lucky I was to be staring up at Mount HuascarĂ¡n (highest tropical peak in the world) instead of looking out my bedroom window back home in North Carolina at this special moment! It had taken me 42 years to get to this point and I wanted number 1000 to be special. As it turned out, that bird turned out to be one that Charlie Good (the owner of Llanganuco Llodge) told us about just minutes after our arrival, the Giant Hummingbird – the largest hummingbird species in the world – one definitely worth the honor. My son and I were following a rushing stream as we birded up the glacial valley leading toward Mount Huandoy. The hummingbird was so large that it looked like a swift, darting up and down the river, sweeping low to feed on insects near the water’s surface - enthralling acrobatics and behavior that I won’t forget. Number 1001 was noteworthy as well – a White-capped Dipper feeding in and along the stream margin.

We missed an Andean Condor that made an appearance for Charlie while we were there, but other birds of note were Andean Lapwing, Silvery Grebe, Puna Ibis, and Puna Teal on the lake next to the lodge, Andean Goose at Lake Llanganuco and Aplomado Falcon on the trek from Lake Llanganuco back to the lodge. Andean Flickers peppered the pastureland around the lodge, and mixed-species flocks of ground-tyrants provided an identification challenge.

I remember quoting the movie Field of Dreams when talking with Charlie, in reference to both his lodge and the nature that surrounded us – “If you build it, they will come.” Come see what nature’s built around the lodge that Charlie’s built, and you’ll enjoy a wonderful set of birds that come right to your doorstep.

By Ken Kneidel, PhD

Our more detailed post about our trip to the Peruvian Andes and Llanganuco Lodge:

Roasted guinea pig: trekking at 12,000 ft

Additional posts on this blog about our travels in Peru:

Careening through the Andes

Deep in the Amazon: the wildlife delivery crew

Rainforest in need: here's how to help

Keywords:: birding Peru birding Andes Charlie Good Llanganuco Lodge birds of the Andes birds of Peru Lake Llanganuco

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