As we drove on we emerged up onto the wide open grassy plateau, where usually there is a dramatic backdrop provided by the volcanic cone of the mighty Antisana Volcano, towering some 5700m+ above. Sadly though a low swathe of cloud engulfed the volcano, with just hints of it appearing here and there. So we set about photographing the birds up there instead (I had hoped to try out my newish landscape lens on the mountain). Soon enough masses of Carunculated Caracaras were evident, scratching for food on the grass-laden ground.
The carpet of caracaras was interspersed with flocks of "grazing" Andean Lapwings and Andean Gulls. The lapwings were a major photo target for the day, although these annoyingly abundant, though significantly skittish, birds led us a merry dance in trying to get them onto our memory cards. No matter if we approached slowly by car or on foot, they took off before we could get in range.
Checking out a large lagoon produced flocks of high Andean waterfowl dominated by Andean Coot, Andean Ruddy Duck, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Teal and a good scattering of Silvery Grebes. The bushes around the lake held a Sedge Wren that did its very best to avoid me getting a shot off (yes, the same species as the US apparently), and down below a Stout-billed Cinclodes used its stout bill to probe in the bright green moss for food.
One more final update from the high Andean splendor provided by Antisana to come...