Colourful Peru

1 August, 2019

Hi everyone! Today I´m going to tell you about the Ballestas islands.

Ballestas Islands - Islas Ballestas Paracas

The Ballestas islands are located in Ica department, 250 kilometers south of Lima in the Guano Islands, Isles and Capes National Reserve System that was recently created to preserve the biological diversity from the ecosystems of the Humboldt Current’s cold sea.

This place is home to 18 bird species and 3 mammal species.

Because of its diversity this is a visit point that bird watchers from all over the world shouldn’t miss. Different fauna species stop in the islands to rest and eat during migration. It is also a key spot for marine fauna.

Ballestas Islands - Islas Ballestas ParacasThe Peruvian or Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) is among the different species we can find in the Ballestas islands. Its population is decreasing every year due to the shortage of nesting places and food, human predation and at a larger scale due to the climate changes occurring worldwide.

The islands are also home to the Peruvian pelican, also known as alcatraz (Pelecanus thagus). This bird’s population has been affected because of the food shortage caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

Ballestas Islands - Islas Ballestas ParacasWe can find other bird species that live in the Peruvian coast all year round: Peruvian boobies (Sula variegata), belcher’s gulls (Larus belcheri), red-legged cormorants or chuitas (Phalacrocorax gaimardi), guanay cormorants (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii), inca terns (Larosterna inca), kelp gulls (Larus dominicanus). Among the migratory species we can find the ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) that nests in Canada between May and August and migrates to the west coast of South America between October and April. The surfbird (Aphriza virgata) that visits us between October and April. The Franklin’s gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan), that can also be seen between October and April. The grey gull (Leucophaeus Ballestas Islands - Islas Ballestas Paracasmodestus) that comes from Chile between spring and summer and the surf cinclodes (Cinclodes taczanowskii), that are from Peru, but can only be seen on the Ballestas islands occasionally.

Among the mammal species we can find a few marine otters or marine cats (Lontra felina). These are a kind of otter that can be found in larger amounts from Chimbote, in Ancash department to Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Argentina. We can find bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and a larger amount of South American sea lions (Otaria flavescens) as well.

We can also find crabs, starfish and sea spiders.

The excursion takes half a day and then you can visit the Paracas National Reserve. I’m telling you more about it on my next article.

Until next time!

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