Alto Andino Nature Tours,  Putre Chile

Salar de Surire Ramsar Site #873  Chile: James' Flamingo, Puna Rhea, Polylepis tarapacana, Azorella compacta

Phoenicoparrus jamesii, Puna Flamingo, James' Flamingo
James' Flamingo

A close look at the waterline where the mud has washed off reveals the red legs characteristic of this Phoenicoparrus jamesii, (common names: James' Flamingo,  Puna
Flamingo,  parina chica) encountered in breeding plumage at the Surire Ramsar Site in extreme northern Chile.  This bird has approached the edge of the salar to drink from a fresh-water spring.  
©  Barbara Knapton


Ramsar Site 873 Salar de Surire. 02/12/96; Región I; 15,858 ha; 18º51’S 069º00’W. A saltmarsh and saline lakes subject to seasonal fluctuations set in the High Andean steppe. Vegetation is determined primarily by the relief and the water availability. Numerous non-metallic minerals (calcium and boric salts) are found around the saltmarsh. One of the four most important places in Chile for nesting flamingos. The site supports various high altitude species of flora and fauna which are endangered or rare. Human activities include livestock grazing, borax mining, and tourism. Ramsar site no. 873."

Ramsar Site and Natural Monument Salar de Surire with Azorella compacta in the foregroundThermal baths at Salar de Surire, Chilebark of Polylepis tarapacana.  Many cellophane-like layers help insects stay alive in the nightly freezws in the altiplano, thus providing food for the Giant Conebill. Puna Rhea, Pterocnemia tarapacensis, Salar de Surire, Chile

Above right:  These Puna Rhea (Pterocnemia tarapacensis) were photographed on the Salar de Surire.  There were 22 chicks, and when the adult male whistled an alarm, the chicks ran off in a group except for one that got confused and ran in the opposite direction until the male whistled it back to the group.  As reported in the local  paper, a program was started to take eggs from wild birds and raise the chicks in captivity with the goal being the marketing of the meat, feathers, and skin.  (La Estrella de Arica, 15 December 2002.) From the vantage point of 2010, this program failed miserably with the chicks that survived to immature stage being persecuted/killed by local dogs, and the local farmers ending up feeding lettuce to the last of the captive birds, until they all died.  According to locals, it is impossible to take a "few" eggs from a nest of up to 20-40 eggs, the male rhea will stomp on and destroy the remaining eggs in the nest.    

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