Birding trip report N Chile Oct 2000   -   a side trip from Bolivia

Part 2. Pictures of sites

John van der Woude    -   See also part 1

View of the little town Putre at c. 3400 m in the shrubby transition zone from semi-desert lower down to puna grasslands higher up. Seen from the road from Arica (N Chile) to Lauca National Park at the border with Bolivia. You enter Putre from the right. The small straight gorge immediately bordering town at the back is the birding site of the next photo.

The birding site in the gorge behind Putre, as pointed out on the previous photo. Most birds seen at this spot and especially a bit left of the photo, where a smaller side-gorge forks off near a lone small group of eucalyptus trees. Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Andean Hillstar, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, Dark-winged Canastero, Straight-billed, Plain-throated and the range-restricted White-throated Earthcreeper, and others.

Vicuņas in the shrubby/bunchgrass high altitude near Putre.

Parinacota vulcano, and its twin vulcano left, in Lauca National Park at the border with Bolivia. Salt lakes and grasslands in the basin below, at 4300 m above sea level. The photo is taken from the road through the puna hills before entering the basin, and coming from Putre.

The salty grass plain pointed out on the previous photo, in Lauca NP. Wild vicuņas graze here in small herds, and a Lesser Rhea accompanied them at the left back on the photo. On this plain, esp. near some pools (some salt, some fresher) we had many good bird species, like all three flamingoes (Puna, Andean, Chilean).

The Parinacota vulcano dominates most of Lauca NP along the main road, which is asphalted all the way now. The vicuņas are not particularly shy, and neither were the vizcachas (big rabbit) and the big round mice running around. Hunting must have been abolished here long ago. In general, human impact seems comparatively low in this beautiful national park.

Church in Parinacota.

Another view of the Parinacota volcano.

Andean Goose on the bog along the lower side road to Parinacota village at the foot of the vulcano of the previous photo. These bogs were also good for White-fronted Ground-Tyrant, Puna Snipe, Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, Puna Teal, and others.

Chungara lake at 4500 m above sea level, in Lauca National Park. Viewing towards the eastern end near the border with Bolivia. The last km there is good for waders and esp. Andean Avocet (a breeding colony of about 30 adults when we were there). Giant Coot, Crested Duck and Silvery Grebe numerous along the lake border in front.

A broad-bodied lizard of about 30 cm long, at a bog near Parinacota village. What species?

The scenery a while below Putre but still at 3300 m above sea level, in the transition zone to the semi-desert further down. Streaked Tit-Spinetail, Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch, Greenish Yellow-Finch. This is at c. Km 105. Also a presumed Rock Earthcreeper but this seems hardly known from this region.

Candalabra cactus at c. 2600 m above sea level, about halfway Putre and the coastal plain part of the Atacama desert. Very few birds here.

The green Lluta valley piercing through the absolute desert of the Atacama, which is mountainous here and slopes down to the equally barren coastal plain. The Lluta river is fed by the melting water from the snowcapped vulcanoes of Lauca NP. The irrigated valley floor has a diverse habitat of arable fields, meadows and woods: Slender-billed Finch, Peruvian Pygmy-Owl, Chestnut-throated Seedeater, etc.

Nearing the ocean, but still mountainous desert.

Tip of the Alacran peninsula at the coast of the Pacific Ocean near Arica, with (probably sick) Peruvian Booby.