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Prepping for Peru

posted by Tim Avery at
on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 

Trying to decide where to go on a vacation this year, my wife and I had been looking for months.  We looked at possibly returning to Costa Rica, or visiting any number of islands in the Bahamas.  We checked out Nicaragua, Belize, Hawaii, and even staying state side and in Florida.  Then by chance we saw a deal for a trip to Peru--and almost instantly we were both hooked.  We talked about it for several days, looked into flights, accommodations, things to do, and in the end decided we would go to Peru this fall.

So now with about 5 months till we plan on leaving it means learning the birds, and learning them fast.  But Peru is a whole other story.  Costa Rica had over 800 species, and I thought that was quite a task to learn the majority of the birds I might see.  But 800 is just a drop in the bucket in Peru.  How about 1,800 species?  That's right, one-thousand eight-hundred plus species of birds.  Granted in a 10 or 12 day trip you couldn't possibly come anywhere near seeing all those birds.  You could likely make a dozen trips all over the country and you still wouldn't come close.  But there has to be a number, a reasonable number worth shooting for... So what is it?

I picked up the Birds of Peru: Revised and Updated Edition on Amazon last week and have spent a great deal of my free time going through it, looking at the species, reading accounts, and trying to understand the maps, habitats, and ranges.  It is like no other bird book I have--being that there are just so many species and so much to learn.

We have basically figured out where we are going and how long we are spending and that has given me a rough idea of what is possible.  We will have a couple days on the coast in Lima, followed by a couple days over 11,000' in Cusco.  After that we are going into the far western edge of what is called Amazonia--giving us a taste of the birds of the Amazon.  After a couple days there we are returning to Cusco and spending 3 of the next 4 days just north of there in the Sacred Valley.   The other day will be spent deep in the mountains at the treasure of the Incan Empire--Machu Pichu.

Thsi trip will be similar to Costa Rica in that I won't be birding the entire time, and will pass a lot of places where I should go birding but just won't have time.  Unlike Costa Rica I probably won't be going back to Peru any time soon as it is pricey to get there.  In any event I have done the math and my preliminary research puts the realm of possibility in the 700-800 species range.  But I know better and based off what I learned in researching for Costa Rica.  350-500 species are either common, fairly common, or uncommon--and provide the sweet spot to shoot for.  My goal is to hit somewhere between 300-400 species while there.

In the coming weeks I will be writing a series of lead up posts including my Top 10 Species to See, my Top 10 Endemics to See, more information on the research, the birds, the places, etc.  This truly is the trip of a life time and the birds will be a major highlight.

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Anonymous Tom said...

You've barely talked about Peru and already I'm jealous. I never would have thought much about birding in Peru, but 1800 species? I'll have to check the book out. Looking forward to more posts about this.

March 14, 2012 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Stephanie Greenwood said...

O.M.G. It's going to be spectacular! I don't know how you would be able to not be birding the entire time! :)

March 14, 2012 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

@Tom: I can't wait to go--everything looks amazing on paper, so I'll just have to wait and see.

@Stephanie: I should have phrased that differently I guess--because I am always birding. But my non-birding better half wouldn't have too much fun spending 10 days chasing foliage-gleaners, wrens, miners, and cinclodes around the Andes. A balance makes for an enjoyable time--plus concentrating on the really spectacular birds (wait for my next post for a glimpse into my top picks) makes it easy to keep any non-birder interested.

March 15, 2012 at 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hear more about this. Peru has always been one of the places I have wanted to travel to. Thanks for sharing :)

March 15, 2012 at 10:13 AM  

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