On Thursday, Island Girl flew into Peru once again and started to speed up en route south. She flew 239 km (149 miles) while still following the foothills route across the dry Piura region. She is already at -8 degrees south latitude.
She is now experiencing that dramatic change in habitat. She is also starting to "turn the corner". She is flying around the westernmost part of Peru and veering southeast towards her winter range in Chile. She has flown this route many times before and, like many of the other tagged birds we have followed in years past, likes to "cut the corner" here instead of flying along the coastline past Tumbes, Mancora and Talara.
I had often wondered about this route. Why do they choose to go inland here? Last April, I found out why. The area inland from the coastline is extremely dry, quite flat and covered in a thorny forest. It does not appear to offer much attraction for a migrant peregrine.
By taking the Andean foothill route, peregrines can use the onshore wind flows up the foothills for lift and cooler temperatures. If they are doing this, you can bet that other species of birds are too.
The inland route also saves time, energy and distance by "cutting the corner" at Piura.
She slept at 526 meters (1,727'), high up in the Andean foothills in a typical Sechuran Desert roost site about 100 km from the coast.
Definitely back in the desert now.