Inca Tern - Paracas National Park


Paracas National Park
Peru 2005 
2-16 July 2005
by Henry Detwiler

We spent the last few days of our Peru adventure along the coast, visiting Paracas National Park and the Ballestas Islands.

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.   

We took a long bus ride from Lima to Paracas to spend a couple of days along the Pacific coastline.  Here the cold Humboldt current provides nutrient-rich water, on which numerous species of marine mammals and birds thrive. We stayed at the Hotel Paracas--here's our group just before dinner.

Dinner at Hotel Paracas

Guanay Cormorants & Peruvian Pelicans
Paracas National Park
From the beachfront hotel we saw numerous birds--Guanay & Neotropical Cormorants, Peruvian Pelicans, Gray & Kelp Gulls, a variety of shorebirds, Amazilia Hummingbirds, and Smooth-billed Anis on the well-manicured lawn.

Neotropical Cormorants - Paracas


On Friday morning we took a boat trip out to the Ballestas Islands.  We saw the "Candelabra" on the shoreline of Paracas National Park--a great intaglio gouged into the surface of the desert.  As we motored out to the Ballestas Islands, about 15 minutes off the coast, we saw Southern Sea Lions and scattered Sooty Shearwaters.

The Candelabra - Paracas National Park

Humboldt Penguins - Ballestas Islands

One of the most sought-after birds of the Peru coast is the Humboldt Penguin.  We were fortunate to see quite a few of these "tropical" penguins from our boat as we circled the Ballestas Islands, about 15 minutes from shore.  Perhaps the most beautiful bird we saw, both on our boat trip and off the beach, was the Inca Tern--a nice "flight" photo is a the top of the page.

Blackish Oystercatchers - Paracas National Park

We took a guided tour of the Paracas National Park on Saturday morning, and were happy to find a pair of Blackish Oystercatchers among the dozens of wintering American Oystercatchers.

American Oystercatchers - Paracas

Along the beach in front of the Hotel Paracas was this pair of obliging American Oystercatchers.

Coastal Miner - Paracas National Park


Both along the coastline north of Paracas, and then again next to the Paracas National Park museum we encountered several of these drab Coastal Miners.  They reminded me of worn pipits.


There were three species of gulls around the park and the beach, Gray, Band-tailed, & Kelp.  The prettiest (and the smallest) were the Gray Gulls, which were most common along the shoreline of the national park.


Gray Gull - Paracas National Park

Snowy Plover - Paracas National Park

During the Peruvian summer, the beaches teem with northern shorebirds--during July there were breeding birds and only a few very early migrants.  One bird familiar to us was this Snowy Plover--we saw only one pair as we drove around.

Peruvian Boobies vied with the Guanay Cormorants as being the biggest colonizers of the Ballestas Islands.  Vast rookeries covered the rocky islands, and they all seemed to be raising families.  Many of them were still on eggs, but we also saw lots of chicks.  Another treat was Red-legged Cormorant--we saw only a few of those.  Our boat trip was over far too soon, but I definitely want to return!

Peruvian Boobies - Ballestas Islands

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Photos Henry Detwiler