The The Lomas de Lachay Challenge: To See All The Endemic Birds in One Visit
A visit to Lomas de Lachay is an experience in itself. But if you go with a goal in mind the experience can be highly rewarding. Even if you have already seen all or some of the endemic species and regional specialties, the challenge of seeing them all in one day makes for a day’s birding challenge; even better if you do this challenge with friends.
Lomas de Lachay supports a relatively high percentage of Peruvian and Regional endemic birds. The number of endemic plants is also remarkable.
An endemic plant or animal is one native and restricted to a certain area, region, or country.
As you work your way towards the locations where the endemics are likely to be found, you will be rewarded with seeing an array of hummingbirds, sierra-finches, furnariids, sparrows in the backdrop of “Lomas” habitat. Below I show you where to find Thick-billed and Coastal miners, Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch and the recently proposed near endemic Peruvian Pipit.
The Lomas de Lachay National Reserve is an oasis in the Atacama Desert. The “Lomas” habitat happens in places with specific geographic features along the coast of Peru and extreme northern Chile. The highly seasonal and localized Lomas goes through dramatic transformations ranging from lush green, wet, and full of life during the months of June through November to brown hues, quiet, and dry during the months of December through May.
Thick-billed Miner (Geositta crassirostris)
Two Thick-billed Miners photographed in Lomas de Lachay.
Coastal Miner (Geositta peruviana)
The Coastal Miner is lighter brown in color, more slender, and favors flat terrain.
Cactus Canastero (Pseudasthenes cactorum)
The Cactus Canastero if often seen perched atop of columnar cacti.
Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch (Sicalis raimondii)
The Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch is almost always in flocks. Males have yellow parts while females are mostly brown.
Peruvian (Yellowish) Pipit (Anthus lutescens peruvianus)
The Yellowish Pipit is being proposed for a taxonomic split that would recognize this population as a near-endemic bird for Peru.
Getting to Lomas de Lachay
View of the Lomas de Lachay showing the route from Lima (red dotted line) and route to access the Cactus Canastero area (blue dotted line). The coordinates for point (1) on the map (entrance point) are Latitude -11.41037, Longitude -77.38866.
Lomas de Lachay is located approximately 105 km north of Lima on the Panamerican Highway toward the city of Huacho. The entrance to the reserve has a big sign.
The road to the reserve leads to a checkpoint where a park ranger will collect the entrance fee. Further into the reserve, the single road splits into two. The road to the right goes down to the interpretation center and campground. The road to the left road leads to another campground and picnic area.
Where to Find Them
The entrance road is the best area to find the Coastal Miner. Scan the ground alongside the road for a small pale brown passerine walking on the ground. If you are lucky one will fly across and land near the road. The entrance road is also the best are to spot the Least Seedsnipe and with some luck a pair or two of the Tawny-throated Dotterel. There are several Burrowing Owls pairs along the road, which are often sitting near their burrows. The Coastal Miner and Least Seedsnipe perform courtship displays at the beginning of the wet season. Look for a bird that flies up to the air and then glides down while vocalizing.
The Thick-billed Miner can be seen along the trails inside the reserve. Look for rocky outcrops at various points along the trails. The trail from the interpretation center to the waterhole is particularly good for the Thick-billed Miner. The Waterhole area has tall scrub and trees around it. Birds are attracted to the water and the vegetation cover at the waterhole area, particularly during the dry season. The Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch frequents the waterhole.
Detour to the Cactus Canastero area. This is a round-about where the detour to Sayan starts. The coordinates for point (2) are Latitude -11.41559, Longitude -77.372134.
Detour to the Cactus Canastero area. This is the point to get onto the dirt road to leading to the rocky-cactus area a the end of the road. The coordinates for point (3) are Latitude -11.35352, Longitude -77.33183.
The Cactus Canastero is restricted to the drier eastern slope of Lomas de Lachay. The rocky slope interspersed with cactus and scrub. The bulky nests of the Canasteros are readily seen tucked in clumps of columnar Opuntia sp. cactus. The Canasteros should be around even when the birds are not using the nests. To get the spot where Ccanasteros are likely to be found follow one of the trails leading to the east side of the reserve or take an alternative route to drive to this spot indicated above.
Research studies have shown that people who walk for at least an hour in nature were less associated with activities commonly linked to anxiety and depression. People who routinely spend time in the outdoors focused less on the negative aspects of themselves and overall showed more positive emotions. The physiological benefits of physical exercise and an exposure to nature are also well documented.
Having a sense of purpose is sure to enhance your next nature experience. So, break away from the computer, call your friends, or gather your kids and see if you can meet the challenge of seeing all of these birds on a single visit to Lomas de Lachay.
Bird Vocalizations from Xeno-Canto:
Cactus Canastero – Pseudasthenes cactorum, Xeno-Canto XC44466, by Andrew spencer.
Coastal Miner – Geositta peruviana, Xeno-Canto XC47839, by Andrew Spencer.
Raimondi’s Yellow Finch – Sicalis raimondii, Xeno-Canto XC333299, by Josh Beck. Huarochiri.
Thick-billed Miner – Geositta crassirostris, Xeno-Canto XC262775, by Daniel Lane.
Yellowish Pipit – Anthus lutescens peruvianus, Xeno-Canto XC218642, by Peter Boesman.