Peru - Ite Wetlands; a BirdLife International IBA - Part 1

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5 years 4 months ago - 3 weeks 3 days ago #77288 by
created the topic: Peru - Ite Wetlands; a BirdLife International IBA - Part 1
I spent Sunday at the Ite Wetlands in Peru, on the coast 25km SE of the port city of Ilo and just 80km from the Chilean border. It is a remarkable place, showing what can be done to turn around a site of unbelievable pollution. Until 1996 two large copper mines were pumping their tailings straight into the sea, but then a major environmental rehabiliation programme was launched. They have created a wetland almost 10km long and 2km wide, bounded on the inland side by cliffs, the east by the river Locumba estuary, the south by beach and rocks, and to the west by the Playa Arena Blanca (White Sand Beach - as opposed to the black and orange sands of the formerly polluted area). The eastern sector contains active evaporation ponds and saltmarsh, and is home in the summer to thousands or boreal migrant waders. The western sector contains more typical wetland lagoons and reedbeds, home to the waterfowl. The beach and rocks support their own particular variety of species.

First, the eastern sector. The photo below is looking west from the Locumba River along the coast. The bluff in the distance marks the end of the wetlands.

This view looks inland across the saltmarsh to the cliffs from the evaporation pans.

The wetland boasts a mouthwatering list of potential waders, some resident but many are boreal migrants that are only just starting to arrive so I might just have been a couple of weeks too early. Nevertheless several lifers were seen and photographed.

First was the resident Killdeer sub-species peruvianus, a Three-banded Plover lookalike, but nearly twice the size.

My second lifer, also a plover, the Semipalmated Plover

Then the sandpipers. I do not have any references other than a field guide to the birds of Peru. When you consider that Peru boasts 1850 species the descriptions of each species are necessarily concise. So these two sandpipers might have been mis-identified. Anyone with a handy waders reference might care to comment.

This I think is a Baird's Sandpiper. (Now confirmed) The only other small sandpiper with a primary wing projection beyond the tip of the tail is the White-rumped Sandpiper, which is supposedly much more uncommon here and a late arriver. The bill and legs are black, but coated in the yellow gunk from one of the pans.

The second is most likely a Semipalmated Sandpiper. (Now confirmed) The only one likely to cause confusion is the Western Sandpiper, also common here in the austral summer. However it has a slight droop to the tip of the bill and if still showing some of the breeding plumage like this one is, should have some rufous in the back and wings. The other look-alike the Least Sandpiper has yellow legs.

The third, of whose identity I am more certain, is a Spotted Sandpiper, still sporting a few fading spots from the breeding plumage on the belly.

all of these amidst the obvious evidence of the former copper tailings life of the area

Ever present along this arid coastal belt of northern Chile and southern Peru is the Turkey Vulture sub-species jota

Last Edit: 3 weeks 3 days ago by nkgray. Reason: Updating image links

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5 years 4 months ago #77375 by docandy
docandy replied the topic: Re: Peru - Ite Wetlands; a BirdLife International IBA - Part
Stunnng! :D

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