High Altitude Wetlands

10:58 AM

From Arequipa we ventured north west to visit the Colca Canyon.  En-route we stopped at a high elevation wetland.  We didn't have a whole lot of time there so I basically ran around snapping as many photos as I could as quickly as I could.  All of the wetlands birds were quite far from our viewing spot (out of reach of my lens); as a result the photos aren't very good but they give you an idea of what birds we saw up there. 

Yareta (Azorella compacta)
This high elevation plant, Yareta (Azorella compacta), grows at a rate of 1.5 cm per year and many are over 3,000 years old!!!  Amazing.

Crested Ducks
Andean Gull
Andean Geese
We spotted about 50 pairs of Andean Geese.  They are typically found above 3,000 meters in elevation.  They are quite distinct and easy to spot due to their large size, white colour and the flat highland habitats where they are found.  These geese were believed to once have been domesticated and which were let loose.  The feral geese eventually lead to this species becomming completely wild.  These geese rarely swim and spend most of their time walking and eating vegetation.

Giant Coot on nest
Giant Coots were another common sight.  If you have seen an American Coot, the size of these coots will blow you away.  They are huge!

Giant Coot
Giant Coot
Some additional species observed at the wetland and in the surrounding areas included: 
  • Yellow-billed Teal (Anas flavirostris)
  • Puna Teal (Anas puna)
  • Puna Ibis (Plegadis ridgwayi)
  • Mountain Caracara (Phalcoboenus megalopterus)
  • Andean Lapwing (Vanellus resplendens)
  • Andean Flickers (Colaptes rupicola)
  • White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus)

Good birding!

~ Kristen Martyn

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