We were also supposed to see the American Oystercatcher (Ostero Americano), the Inca Tern, (Larosterna inca) which is called the Zarcillo after the earring like marking on it, and the Red-legged Cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi). We probably did see cormorants - if not here, then in other places. I don't think we saw the Tern or the Oystercatcher.
But I wasn't disappointed, since what I came to see was the penguins.
They handed out a little plastic card with information on what we were going to see, but it was all in Spanish. One of the birds we saw was the Peruvian Booby. I took pictures of the birds without really knowing what I was taking a picture of.
I looked them up in Wikipedia afterwards (one of the few places I could find something in English) and it said:
This is an endemic bird of the Peruvian current whose distribution is restricted to the west coast of South America from Punta Pariñas (4.6°S) in Peru to Concepción in Chile (Harrison 1988). It is the second most abundant seabird species that inhabits the Peruvian Coast and the second most important guano-producing seabird. During the mid-twentieth century, the Peruvian Booby population reached 3 million birds. The nest of the Peruvian Booby is made of guano.
Peruvian Boobies breed throughout the year. Main breeding season occurs during the austral spring-summer period (September to March) and most pairs may attempt to breed for a second time during the year depending on food availability. Peruvian Boobies clutch size varies from one to four eggs, but clutches of two or three eggs, pale blue in color, are usually found. Eggs are incubated during approximately 4 to 5 weeks, both adults share the nest attendance. The rearing period lasts about 3 months. Breeding success depends on food availability and is related to colony location, colony size and timing of breeding.
Translating from the Spanish of the information passed around about the birds (photo 2)
He lives on the coasts of Peru and Chile, measured 65 cm and weighs 4.5 kg, need not travel long distances to nest and feed. Both sexes brood eggs in the nest with feathers forming guano and among the rocks near the colony
During the day leave in search of small fish and some adults are caring for chicks and eggs from predators. The pigeons have lead to hair color mudario in youth becomes black and white on the back of the chest. In adulthood have a black band below the neck
Their nests are very well dug burrows in the ground. The female lays two eggs and if there is plenty of food both chicks will survive.
Mining the guano has caused serious damage to their habitats. Today the Humboldt penguin is endangered. There are as few as 10,000 birds in the wild today.
We were in small open boats to view the penguins. There are also bigger boats that come around the island, and there are also little fishing boats. We were surprised by how far out the little fishing boats were and how wild the water was where they were working.
Where there are birds, there is guano. The dry climate preserves the droppings of seabirds like the cormorant, pelican and especially the penguin. Guano is a valuable resource for Peru to use and export. Peru’s government has restricted guano collection to about two islands a year, enabling the droppings to accumulate. There are armed guards at each of the islands to ward off threats to birds, mostly from fisherman. Some of the Isla San Lorenzo is a Naval Base and access is prohibited.
The workers make walls and smooth the ground along the sides of the hills where the birds nest - somewhat like terraces for grape vines in a less arid climate. When there is harvesting going on, workers rise before dawn to scrape the hardened guano with shovels and small pickaxes.
Mining the guano has caused serious damage to their Humbolt penguin habitats.
Isla San Lorenzo has a Naval Base (I think the submarines are based here) and access is prohibited. Caretakers live there to protect the nesting birds.
The island has a reddish cast to it in some areas because of mineral content
I can find no location on VT that seems to correspond to Isla Palominos.
Isla Palominos is off Miraflores, about 5 km (3 mi) south of Isla San Lorenzo, and accessible only by boat. Since I CAN find Isla San Lorenzo, I've put the lighthouse pictures here.
The lighthouse is a round cylindrical masonry tower (I thought it was brick, but I suppose it could just be concrete), painted black with a single orange band. There isn't a lantern at the top - just some kind of metal structure. According to The Lighthouse Directory website, it displays two white flashes every 10 seconds
Fondest memory: Birds - gulls and vultures perched on the lighthouse railings
This lighthouse was named after Grau - Grand Admiral Miguel María Grau Seminario (b. Piura, Peru, July 27, 1834 - d. Punta Angamos, October 8, 1879) who was a renowned Peruvian naval officer and hero of the Naval Battle of Angamos during the War of the Pacific (1879-1884). He was known as the "el Caballero de los Mares" (Spanish for "Knight of the Seas" for his chivalry and is held in high esteem by both colleagues and opponents).
I was also told that it flashed white every ten seconds, and was the highest lighthouse in Peru. Also that it was an important lighthouse for the entrance of ships to Callao.
Fondest memory: It is a round metal tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square base - painted with yellow and black horizontal bands. At first I thought it had orange bands like the one in Salaverry. It was hard to get a picture from a small boat zoomed in so that I could see the lighthouse because it was hard to hold the camera steady. But it was so far up that I had to use the zoom.