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Day 10 |
Nov 06, 2011

Isla Lobos de Tierra, Peru 

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Botanist

Co-ordinates: 06° 24`S, 80° 50`W
Weather: overcast
Air Temperature: 18°C

From far away one could notice that we were near the Isla Lobos de Tierra, because since 6 in the morning Blue Footed Boobies, Peruvian Pelicans and South American Sea Lions were flying or swimming near the ship. We reached our final anchor position around 7 o’clock. Soon afterwards the scout boat went out to check the conditions for landing and the walking tour. Two employees of the Agriculture Ministry of Peru were awaiting us on the beach, and explained to us that one of them had to go with us on the walk. We assigned him to the first group together with my colleague Patricia.

Right at the landing site Blue footed Boobies and Peruvian Boobies had their colonies. We had to be very careful to walk through them, as they show no shyness at all. It was just amazing seeing these beautiful birds so close.

The walk took us first through the colonies of the boobies and then out into the dry landscape of the island. The history of Lobos de Tierra is closely related to the history of Guano. A precious fertilizer that was heavily mined here in the 19th century and exported to the countries that were on their way towards becoming industrialized nations. Shortly after leaving the buildings from that epoch behind, our guests could observe the first chicks of Peruvian Pelicans. Pelicans tend to have one to three chicks, which when they are very young stay in the nest on the ground with one of their parents. As they get older, both parents have to go out into the ocean to look for food. At this stage the young huddle together in so-called crèches, and this was exactly what we saw today.

Of course, as the walk continued, we were able to observe a lot of these groups of youngsters at different ages. During the hike we also saw some Thorny tail Lizard, and the information that our local guide gave us is that these lizards were introduced here on the island to fight the plague of ticks that were affecting the birds some 15 years ago. The lizards seemed to reproduce very well because you could find them all around the island and, as with the birds, they showed no fear at all.

The walk took two and a half hours in this paradise for birders. The groups reached the landing site again and the Zodiacs brought the guests back to the ship for lunch.

After a short lunch break, the guests were back again on tour, this time a Zodiac tour along the coast of the island. Right at the beginning of the tour, South American Sea Lions were swimming around the Zodiac. Big males having a glimpse at us checking out what this strange thing in the water is. The coast of the island is rough although not very steep. Going along the small bays of the coastline, we were very lucky and saw Humboldt Penguins, Red footed Cormorants, Neotropical Cormorants, Guanay Cormorants and Kelp Gulls. This island, although at first impression seemed very barren without any vegetation, has proven to be a natural haven for birds.

Back on board the Silver Explorer, the break for our guests was again not too long. At five in the afternoon I started my lecture entitled “Biodiversity – Counting Life on Earth”. The presentation is an introduction into the richness of life on this planet, a good opportunity to talk about after this wonderful day out in the field.

In the Recap & Briefing our Expedition Leader Robin West talked about our activities in Salaverry tomorrow, and my colleagues Patricia and Juan gave a short recap on different topics regarding today’s activities shoreside and Claire spoke in her about the Huaca del Brujo, which we will visit on our tour in Salaverry.

In the evening our guests enjoyed a delicious dinner in The Restaurant, looking out on the Pacific Ocean. 
 

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