Tag Archives: Birding in Peru

Anaconda Walk

An Interview with… Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin (part 2)

In our second interview with the incredible Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin, we talk about his thoughts about the future of ecotourism in Peru. 

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After visiting more than 80 countries, which place is closer to your views on ecotourism and sustainable development?

It is difficult to name one place, but Australia, Kenya, Costa Rica and (in some regions) Peru stand out in terms of ecotourism and sustainable development.

What is your opinion about tourism in Peru?

There is no doubt that Peru has one of the world’s greatest potentials for ecotourism, due to its astonishing biological, cultural and landscape megadiversity. One example is bird-watching. Peru is second place on Earth with the largest number of bird species (1,879 species), 139 of which are endemic. We know that bird watching represents the widest and most outreached segment of ecotourism on a global scale: in the United States in 2011, 71.8 million people observed, fed and/or photographed birds and fauna in their natural habitat. These people spent US$54.9 billion on wildlife observation trips (including birds), as well as gear and other related aspects. Bird watching is the most popular outdoor activity in the US, and it is even more popular than sport fishing, sport hunting and golf.  On the other hand, the Inca ruins in Peru are an extraordinary attraction for tourists all around the world.

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From an environmental architect’s standpoint, what are your views on Inkaterra’s design and its conservation projects?

Inkaterra’s eco-friendly architecture is at the world’s highest level. In Tambopata and Machu Picchu, architectural forms and native building materials have been successfully applied to achieve harmony with the natural environment. At Inkaterra La Casona, in Cusco, a brilliant remodeling of Spanish colonial architecture has been achieved. I am very impressed with the outstanding work on conservation that Inkaterra is developing, especially in Machu Picchu and Tambopata, which can be seen in activities such as observation of native orchids, birds and Andean bears. The work that biologist Carmen Soto does at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel is truly remarkable. The World Birding Rally organised by ITA, MINCETUR and PromPerú across the country’s Nor Amazon region, was a great success and should be replicated throughout all regions of Peru. The concept of developing an ITA field station within the grounds of Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is both necessary and urgent.

During this visit to Peru, have you added a lifer to your 3793-bird life list?

In my case, that number of 3793  is already out of date! I have reached 4,366 lifers (bird species in their natural habitat, observed for the first time by a birdwatcher). In the last five years, I had the pleasure of adding five visits to Peru (I have been 10 times in this amazing country) and from my 4,366 birds, I have registered 219 of these in Peru. Actually, in early June I was able to add 4 to my list while bird watching at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, with the assistance of Braulio Puma, the skillful Inkaterra Explorer Guide.

Birding at Inkaterra

José Koechlin argues that a bird migration route should be promoted by the countries that belong to the Pacific Alliance. Do you think this proposal would be beneficial?

I think José’s proposal is excellent. As we know, the Pacific Alliance is an initiative for regional integration. Its purposes are political, commercial, economic and social, though an ecological component should be added. If natural resources from the world’s greatest ocean are not adequately conserved, it is evident that the objectives proposed by the Pacific Alliance will not be achieved. There are many  bird species that endure transoceanic migration routes, and it is urgent that we develop more specialised studies and conservation projects in this area, and that the Pacific Alliance participate in an active way. This would bring great benefits to the participating countries and their habitants.

So, right now are you working in a new publication?

Yes, I am researching and gathering material for a publication on the world’s best ecolodges, describing their aspects on environmental architecture and their standards on ecotouristic sustainability. Watch this space!

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Update from The World Birding Rally 2014

Surbound Expeditions team

The World Birding Rally is in full swing! From the Pacific Ocean, across the northern Andes and into the foothills above the Amazon basin, the teams will likely see nearly 900 species of birds during the Rally as they drive from sandy desert scrub up to cloud forest and down into rainforest. The Rally celebrates Peru’s bird diversity (at some 1,800 species, second highest in the world, after Colombia)—as well as its uniqueness, as evidenced by the country’s roughly 100 endemic species.

The World Birding Rally Teams

The World Birding Rally kicked off on Wednesday with great expectations from all the teams. The highlight of the day was definitely the White-winged Guan, a Peruvian endemic restricted to very few areas in the Northwest dry forest of the country, thought to be extinct for 100 years! In the lead on day 1 was the Sunbird wings (UK/US) team spotting over 130 species.

The White-winged Guan

The White-winged Guan

An intense second day at the World Birding Rally followed, as teams left Chiclayo in coastal Lambayeque and headed to Cajamarca region in the Andean highlands, at 2600 meters above sea level.  The Sunbird Wings (UK/US) were still in the lead at the end of day 2 with 181 species.

The South African team spotted a highly pelagic bird: the Pink-footed shearwater (Puffinus creatopus)

The South African team spotted a highly pelagic bird: the Pink-footed shearwater (Puffinus creatopus)

The Golden-bellied grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysogaster), a colorful bird observed on the road to Cajamarca

The Golden-bellied grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysogaster), a colorful bird observed on the road to Cajamarca

The World Birding Rally kept moving and the teams were overwhelmed on Day 3 by the large number of endemic birds observed in the surroundings of Cajamarca. Final total at the end of day 3 was 293 species spotted, with Sunbird wings (UK/US) currently in 1st place, followed by the field guides (US – 222 species spotted), Surbound (US – 204 species spotted) and Birding Ecotours coming in 4th place (South Africa – 198 species spotted).

An amazing photo of the Grey-bellied Comet, a Peruvian endemic geographically restricted to very few areas in the northern Andes

An amazing photo of the Grey-bellied Comet, a Peruvian endemic geographically restricted to very few areas in the northern Andes

Stay tuned on our channels and on the World Birding Rally Facebook page for updates from the ground in Peru.

Barry Walker and Tom Schulenberg try to spot some Peruvian Terns in Puerto Eten in company of David Fisher, founder of Sunbird Tours

Barry Walker and Tom Schulenberg try to spot some Peruvian Terns in Puerto Eten in company of David Fisher, founder of Sunbird Tours

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World Birding Rally 2014

Birding Rally Challenge

It’s that time again! From May 12th to 20th, the fourth edition of the World Birding Rally will take place in Peru. Four teams of renowned birdwatchers from United States, South Africa and United Kingdom will be part of a unique competition due to its non-stop modality. They will travel the Nor Amazon route in search of the bird species that habit this search area.

Route 2014

On this occasion, the World Birding Rally will cover a 1503-km itinerary through twelve life zones and four regions of Peru that will showcase the Pacific coastline, the Andes and the Amazon rainforest: Lambayeque, Cajamarca, Amazonas and San Martín. It is the second time that the World Birding Rally follows this enthralling route, which allowed last year’s teams register a total of 864 bird species (10% of the world’s total species), with 34 endemics among them.

Organized by our team at the NGO Inkaterra Asociación and the Peruvian Tourism Board (PromPerú), the World Birding Rally is part of a strategy to promote Peru as a top destination for bird watching. It is worth mentioning that it is the third country with the largest number of bird species throughout the world (1816 species, 120 of which are endemics). The competition also aims to raise awareness on the environment, and contributes on creating added value in rural areas trough sustainable tourism. Keep up-to-date with the upcoming challenge on Twitter and Facebook with hashtag #BirdingRallyChallenge

 

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Our Inkaterra January 2014 Workshops

2014 has kicked off to a busy start here at Inkaterra with  several successful workshops for our local community, all with the aim of promoting sustainability and ecotourism here in Peru. So far, there have been events for our Inkaterra guides, the local children and for disabled people around the Machu Picchu area. You can read more about each of our events below.

Birding at Inkaterra

Peru is renowned for its birdlife, and the area around Machu Picchu is particularly spectacular in birding terms. We are keen to promote the area as a birdwatching hotspot, and to really allow visitors to really test their binoculars, the Inkaterra Asociación organised a training course for local guides from both Cusco and Machu Picchu. The seminars were led by Manuel Bryce, Fernando Ángulo and Barry Walker, all experts on ecotourism, conservation and birdwatching. Held over four (very rainy) days, participants were taken on field excursions and attended lectures on guiding techniques, conservation ethics and virtual tools for birdwatching. The aim of the training course was to strengthen and empower the local guides to increase Machu Picchu’s presence on the global birdwatching stage, promoting it as the birdwatching destination.

Another session has already been arranged for March showing how committed the local guides are in these conservation projects.

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As part of our commitment to social responsibility, the Inkaterra Asociación organised a creative finger painting workshop for disabled citizens from the region around Machu Picchu. In conjunction with OMAPED, the government office for the disabled, the workshop was held in the Ministry of Culture’s offices. Participants spent the day getting their hands dirty painting pictures of animals that live in and around the cloud forests of Machu Picchu.

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Our Inkaterra Asociación ran a series of children’s workshops during the summer vacations this January to educate children aged 5 to 12 on the importance of ecotourism and conservation. Through games, experiments and seminars the children were taught key messages on themes such as recycling, climate change and natural sciences, both locally in Peru and internationally. The workshops were run by our team of explorer guides, biologists, anthropologists and volunteers from the Inkaterra Asociación, and will help to raise awareness and respect to the local environment.

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We are proud to support local initiatives, and these are the first of many workshops and seminars that will take place for 2014. Stay tuned right here on our blog and on our social media channels for details on the other social initiatives that we will be running throughout the year.

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Inkaterra Birdwatching Tours 2014

Peru is renowned for its bird life, being home to a total of 1836 species – that’s 20% of the world’s registered bird species. The changing ecosystems throughout the country, from tropical rainforests to the Andean mountains, makes  it  the perfect environment for both visiting migrators and endemic species.

To  celebrate Peru’s status as one of the best birdwatching countries in the world, Inkaterra Hotels is launching two birdwatching itineraries to showcase the best ornithological gems Peru has to offer.

On the first 2 night itinerary guests have the chance to spot some of the 207 registered species that live in the Cloud Forest surrounding the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. Guided tours and walks will give keen birdwatchers some of the best opportunities to spot particularly elusive species, and the area surrounding the Inca Citadel is a favourite for the Inca Wren.

Inca Wren

Further to this, the gardens of the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel itself house the world’s largest collection of native orchid species, with 372 found within the gardens. Here hummingbirds, tanagears and the iconic Cock of the Rock can be found flitting around the picturesque setting.

The second bird-watching trip is a totally different experience, with three nights in the Amazon Rainforest of Southern Peru, in the Madre de Dios-Tambopata region. Here there are 540 bird species waiting to be discovered, together with other creatures like monkeys, three toed sloths, black caymans and the rare giant river otter.

Guided trails through the rainforest can help to reveal these natural treasures which are so often camouflaged against the surroundings. Staying at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica and journeying across Lake Valencia, the Madre de Dios river or high above the treetops on the Inkaterra canopy walkway, guests have plenty of opportunity to spot the amazing birdlife for which theses forests are home.

Both these tours run over four days , which give ample opportunity to explore the area and catch a glimpse of some of those exclusive creatures. For more information and booking, take a look at our website at inkaterra.com

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Birding Rally Challenge – Southern Peru – The Winners Are Crowned

After one of the closest competitions that we have seen, we are proud to announce that the winners of the final Birding Rally Challenge Southern Peru 2013 are the Field Guides from the USA, after spotting a grand total of 457 species. Just two species behind with 455, and tied for second place are Sunbird (UK) and Surbound (US).

Third place is awarded to the team from South Africa, Birding Ecotours, who counted 389 species. It has been an incredible Birding Rally Challenge for us to help host, and it is remarkable that the teams managed to identify 619 species, that is 7% of the world’s total species.

Green and White Hummingbird

Here is a breakdown of the Birding Rally Challenge results in full:

FIELD GUIDES (USA) – Total: 457

SUNBIRD (UK) – Total: 455

SURBOUND (USA) – Total: 455

BIRDING ECOTOURS (South Africa) – Total 389

AVIATUR (Colombia) – Total 350

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We would like to offer our congratulations to all the teams that have taken part. The support that they have lent to ecotourism and sustainable development in Peru is immeasurable. We look forward to seeing our friends again for the next Birding Rally Challenge  BRC – Nor Amazónica in May 2014.

The challenge has definitely intensified.

There is nothing like a bit of international rivalry between the UK and the USA teams!

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Day 2 of The Birding Rally Challenge 2013

The teams in the 2013 BRC

The Birding Rally Challenge has set off to a flying start here in Peru. Already on our 2nd day, the UK Sunbird’s showed great promise coming in first place for their day 1 sightings, but have now been knocked off the top spot by US team Surbound. Combating a merciless sun, the teams did a great job on the Rally’s second day.

Our Founder and Chairman, Jose Koechlin, at the opening of the BRC 2013 with PromPeru

Our Chairman & CEO, José Koechlin, at the opening of the BRC 2013 with PromPeru

Both US teams, Surbound and Field guides were sent to Valencia Lake at the beginning of Day 2. Leader’s Surbound ticked off White-chested Swift’ and ‘Plain soft tail’ near Gamitana creek from their checklist, and a magnificent ‘Black Hawk Eagle’ perched low on the Madre de Dios riverside caught their eye. Meanwhile, Field Guides found a ‘Long-crested Pygmy Tyrant’, due to Dan Lane’s privileged sense for bird calls. A ‘Chimney Swift’ and an extremely hard-to-find ‘Sungrebe’ were Field Guides’ other picks.

Spotted at the BRC on day 2

The UK team Sunbird’s, now in second place, walked around the surroundings of Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, where they spotted a ‘Pavonine Cuckoo’ (very rare for the area) and the impressive long-beaked ‘Purus Jacamar’. On the same route, South African Birding Ecotours found two colourful species from the tropics; an ‘Ivory-billed Aracari’ and a ‘Curl-Crested Aracari’.

South Africa Birding Ecotours

Aviatur (Colombia team), led by Alba Milena Ayala –the first woman to participate at the rally– was the only one to travel by the Inkaterra Hacienda Concepcion and Lake Sandoval route, where they spotted a ‘Long-billed woodcreeper’, a ‘White-throated Jacamar’ and an ‘Agami Heron’.

Spotted in action at the BRC

Barred Antshrike

It’s been a successful few days here in the Amazon for the beginning of the Birding Rally. Tomorrow see’s the last day at Tambopata, after which all teams will be heading to Puerto Maldonado. Check out the full itinerary for the rally here. Stay tuned for updates on both our Twitter and Facebook and right here on our blog, as well as on the official BirdingRally Challenge.com website.

Birding Rally Challenge

The Rutland Birdfair

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Last weekend, bird fans from all over the UK flocked to the 25th Birdfair, held at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve from 16-18 August. Over the three days, 350 exhibitors and thousands of visitors were welcomed through its gates, including celebrities such as TV favourite Bill Oddie, to peruse the stands and enjoy an extensive program of lectures.

Guy Kirwan

Speaking at this year’s event was ornithologist Guy Kirwan, who participated in the inaugural Birding Rally Challenge in Peru last autumn. This multi-day bird spotting competition was organised by Inkaterra Association and brought together 24 of the world’s top birders in six international teams, who travelled from Tambopata in southern Peru, to the biodiverse cloud forest of Machu Picchu.

The BRC 2012

Guy gave an inspiring presentation about his experiences in Peru to an audience of over 100 keen birders. He spoke knowledgeably and enthusiastically about the birds that his UK team, ‘The Forest Falcons’, spotted in the Amazon Rainforest while staying at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica and Inkaterrra Hacienda Concepcion. He also included details about the Spectacled Bears that were spotted on the final day while the teams were staying at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.photo

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Over its 25 years, Birdfair has raised more than £3million to support international conservation initiatives, resulting in the establishment of many new national parks and reserves globally. www.birdfair.org.uk

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The Birding Rally Challenge 2013

The Birders in action

This June brings the second Birding Rally Challenge to Peru. Peru is already well known to birders as a “must visit” destination – it has an almost unparalleled species diversity, on the richest continent for birds. In November 2012, Peru hosted the first Birding Rally Challenge, the only event of its kind in the world, for its non-stop modality, bringing together the most renowned birding teams from North America (e-birders and LSU), Great Britain (Forest Falcons), South Africa (Zululanders), Spain (Tramuntana) and Brazil (Ararajubas). The Rally is organised and run by the Inkaterra Association (ITA), Promperu and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR).

BRC Totals as of Day 3

The second Rally kicked off on Sunday 9th June with the teams arriving in Lima to an opening ceremony and press conference. The competition officially began on Tuesday in Lambayeque, with the teams waking up at 4am.

The BRC Route

This time, the Birding Rally Challenge covers Northern Peru, crossing the below landmarks:

Northern Peru Highlights

Timetable of events

Opening ceremony and press conference

Day 1: 11th June – Lambayeque

Day 2: 12th June – Lambayeque to Cajamarca

Day 3: 13th June – Cajamarca

Day 4: 14th June – Cajamarca to Leymebamba

Day 5: 15th June – Leymebamba to Amazonas

Day 6: 16th June – Amazonas

Day 7: 17th June – San Martin

Day 8: 18th June – Tarapoto

Cocktails and closing ceremony  

The birders in action at the BRC 2013

After three days, each team has already obtained incredible results. The highlight for many came on day 3 when Dan Lane of the e-birders spotted the Grey-Bellied comet in the Cañón Sangal region. Other top sightings include a Buff Bridled Inca Finch on the road to San Marcos, spotted by the UK’s Forest Falcons, a White Capped-Dipper near Chonta River, spotted by the Zululanders and the Tramuntana team saw the Great Horned Owl near Lake Sulluscocha. The current total numbers of different bird species spotted is at 315!

Grey Bellied Comet (Photo Ernesto Benavides)

Birding Highlights of Day 3

Catch up with all the latest updates from the Birding Rally Challenge by following @InkaterraHotels and @BirdingRallyPe on Twitter or follow hashtag #BirdingRallyChallenge.

8 days of adventure at the BRC 2013