Southern Peru

25th November-14th December 2008

Huacarpay Lake

The high Andean lakes and marshes at Huacarpay lie only a 30 minute drive away from the city of Cuzco.

Flooded fields at the edge of Huacarpay Lake

A good variety of waterbirds reside here (mostly too distant for photography) and it is the best place to see a spectacular endemic hummingbird with one of the most ridiculous common names in the world: the Bearded Mountaineer. It conjured up all kinds of amusing images in my mind when Steve told me I would have a chance to shoot a Bearded Mountaineer...

Bearded Mountaineer (Oreonympha nobilis)

Sure enough, we found a beautiful male of this large hummingbird who performed fantastically for us in quite windy conditions.

Bearded Mountaineer (Oreonympha nobilis)

Black-throated Flowerpiercers have a different strategy for feeding on the nectar of tubular flowers. Because their bills are too short to reach the nectar stores, they pierce the base of the flowers with their specially adapted beak and steal the nectar directly, bypassing the plant's pollination mechanisms.

Black-throated Flowerpiercer (Diglossa brunneiventris)

Black-throated Flowerpiercer
(Diglossa brunneiventris)

female Giant Hummingbird
(Patagona giga)

Around the marshy ground surrounding the lake, wading birds such as Puna Ibis can be seen...

Puna Ibis (Plegadis ridgwayi)

The reedbeds at the northern edge of the main pond are a good place to see some reedbed specialists, such as Wren-like Rushbird...

Wren-like Rushbird (Phleocryptes melanops)

...and the spectacularly beautiful Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant.

Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant (Tachuris rubrigastra)

Most of the more water-associated birds, such as Wilson's Phalarope and White-tufted Grebe, were too distant for photography, but a couple of species ventured close enough for some half-decent photos.

Andean Coot (Fulica ardesiaca)

Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)

Andean Gull (Larus serranus)

Cuzco is the former Inca capital, and standing at an altitude of 3400m (11,150ft) above sea-level is one of the highest cities in the world.

Cuzco main plaza

Cuzco main plaza

After conquering the city, the spanish built a new city on top of the existing incan palaces. Many of these old inca-built walls were re-exposed after a major earthquake in 1950, and can now be seen in many places in the city centre, such as the street below.

Inca walls along a Cuzco street

Colca Canyon Back to map Manu Road