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Villa Marshes – Ramsar site 884

Posted by Carmen Maria Guevara Protzel on Feb 8, 2017 9:55:27 AM


The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that... 

provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Each year since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat has provided materials so that government agencies, non-governmental organizations, conservation organizations, and groups of citizens can help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands and one of the site is :

Zona Reservada Los Pantanos de Villa  was declared  Ramsar site no. 884 on January 20, 1997 and the National legal designation is Nature Reserve.

Located within the municipal limits of the city of Lima, this site is a coastal lagoon with brackish water and abundant emergent vegetation. The wetland is situated in the desert and the main source of water is of underground origin. It is a habitat for waterfowl typical of coastal Peru and 17 species of migratory shorebirds.

Matt Denton, one of our experts wrote a report on the day trip he made to the site that we are pleased to share :

“Pantanos de Villa Rerserve Zone stretches for three kilometers on either side of the Panamerican highway and occupies 396 hectares. It has formally been declared a RAMSAR site (wetland of international importance). Despite being surrounded by development, the reserve maintains important populations of the coastal flora and fauna. An endemic amphibian to the area, Colostethus littoralis, had been considered extinct until its rediscovery at Pantanos in 1993. The coastal lagoons of the reserve are important for birds, especially coastal waterfowl, Humboldt current species and 17 species of migratory shorebirds. The brackish water and emergent vegetaion stand in stark contrast to the surrounding desert and the water is of underground origin. Due to its proximity to Lima, the reserve acts as an important environmental education site.

This was my first trip to the marsh and joining me on the trip was Enrique Castillo. After a short 15 minute ride from Miraflores, we arrived at the marsh to begin our observations on the beach. Hundreds of Franklin's Gulls floated on the rather calm sea, while numerous Peruvian Booby, Peruvian Pelican and Band-tailed Gull patrolled the coast from above.  Two large groups of Sanderlings rested at the edge of the surf along with a few Elegant Terns.  Neotropical Cormorants were also quite abundant as we stood watching for anything unusual and discussing our birding experiences.

We then walked up the sandy beach to a nice view of one of the lakes. A pair of Many-colored Rush Tyrants were out of the reeds, hopping about on the ground and foraging for arthropods in the dry lake bed. There were around 25 Common Moorhens scattered about and then Enrique spotted a pair of Plumbeous Rails skulking in the lakeside vegetation. In plain view were two separate nests with adult White-tufted Grebe sitting on them. We also observed Andean Coot, Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper. Here we could see the result of eutrophication in the marsh from sewage runoff by the abundant aquatic vegetation (Lemna. spp.).

Next we moved onto a different lake with neighboring trails that lead to two comfortable roofed observation platforms. From the first platform we immediately had scope views of a pair of Great Grebes and a pair of Andean Coot with chicks. I was surprised to see a very large green Iguana swimming across the lake with ease. These herbivores were introduced to the reserve along with the Tillapia fish prevalent in the lakes. The marsh was alive with bird activity. Groups of a hundred Franklin's Gull came and went with a few Gray-headed Gull and Band-tailed Gull mixed in. Pacific Doves, Croaking Ground-Doves, Peruvian Meadowlark, Vermillion Flycatcher, Wren-like Rushbirds  and Scrub Blackbirds were calling around us and observed. Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Tropical Kingbird, and Blue and White Swallow were also seen. On a distant radio tower we spotted a perched Harris Hawk around the same time we noticed an Osprey soaring about. We observed yet another breeding species, a Black-crowned Night-Heron on its hidden nest in the tall lakeside vegetation.

Walking on the next tower we noted the introduced species to the area; Washingtonia palms, Casuarina trees along with several grass species. A large growth of a seaside succulent type plant, Salicornia, was interesting.  A mix of tall grasses and reeds from several genera dominated the area; Typha, Torulinium, Scirpus, Phragmites and Cladium. I was also able to identify some of the smaller reeds such as Cyperus and Scirpus.

Continuing along the path we encountered a Striated Heron, hunting in the shallow water close to the path. We also encountered another pair of Many-colored Rush Tyrants. From the second path we observed a group of Greater Yellowlegs with one Lesser Yellowlegs along for great comparison. From a group of a twenty Band-tailed Gulls, I was able to pick out a single Kelp Gull. A lone Pied-billed Grebe foraged on the other side of the lake while below us an Andean Coot cared for its young. I enjoyed watching some rather passive Gray-headed Gulls resting in the grass when suddenly one awoke and decided to pass directly in front of the platform.

By midday we walked back to the car to return to Lima. As one leaves the reserve on the Panamerican another of the reserve's lakes requires attention. The shallow water of this lake attracts quite a few species. We observed Black-necked Stilts, White-cheeked Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, Little Blue Heron, Greater Yellowlegs, and Vermillion Flycatcher. On a nearby dead sapling we had scope views of many perched swallows including three rare Chestnut-collared Swallow along with the more common Barn Swallow, Bank Swallow, and Blue and White Swallow. The swallow sightings made a nice ending to our trip and with that we returned to Lima”.

We suggest to make this experience a full day trip that will include :

  • Private tourist van Lima – Pantanos de Villa – Lima
  • Private guide
  • Entrance fee to Pantanos de Villa Nature Reserve
  • 1 bottle of water per person
  • Boxed Lunch and snacks for the day

If you want to visit it we have the program Birding in Lima, specially designed  for you



Carmen Maria Guevara Protzel

Topics: Lima

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