24 April, 2015

Flying Along the Front Range of Peru

On Thursday, Island Girl continued flying NW across Peru and traveled another 293 km (182 miles) closer to her home. She again migrated past Arequipa, located farther inland and much higher in elevation.
She is moving NW along the foothills and well inland from the ocean. I think it was Christian Gonzalez who first pointed out that the winds move both inland  and upslope here, presumably providing her with good lift and a bit of a free ride.
Of course when I say foothills, I am talking the Andes Mountains here. These foothills can be 7-10,000 feet high.
She is moving through one of the most beautiful areas in the world right now. I have such vivid memories of the area, classic desert, intense sunlight, rock and dirt terrain with the most subtle colors imaginable, shocking in their surprising appeal.
Spartan in the extreme but so open and unencumbered. An ancient place of wind and heat and beauty.
I guess I just love this desert and always will. It just draws you in.
She slept on a dry rocky ridge located at 1721 meters (5,715 feet) elevation approximately 55 km (34 miles) inland.
Consistent with past years, she roosted above a classic agricultural valley, the Valle de Rio Ocona, a dramatic and vast cut snaking down from the glaciers of the high Andes.
These valleys are always centers for agriculture as they are blessed with abundant water. I imagine that people have lived in them since humanity first arrived in South America. They are the life blood of the coastal people.
And, although I have written this many times on this blog, I will say it again. It is these agricultural valleys that sustain huge numbers of birds which feed migrant falcons like Island Girl.
What will happen when the massive Andean glaciers melt and the waters are reduced remains to be seen.

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