|Tussock grassland at 3,900masl, between the village of Socaire and Laguna Miscanti.|
|Looking out over the plains of the Atacama from where we've climbed.|
This little lake is probably formed by a dam of material left behind by a retreating glacier
after the last glaciation.
|Laguna Miscanti, above and below; to the left is Cerro Miscanti.|
|Andean Gulls Larus (or Chroicocephalus) serranus live only in the high Andes, even breeding up there.|
|Puna Miner Geositta punensis, Laguna Miscanti, one of a group of South American tyrant flycatchers|
which nest in burrows (including those dug by rodents). This species is limited to a small area
of the central Andes above 3000masl.
|Rufous-naped Ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola rufivertex.Another ground-foraging tyrant flycatcher of the high Andes.|
|Culpeo, or Andean Fox, Lycalopex culpaeus, found throughout the entire length of the Andes.|
|Feral Donkeys; their ability to make a living here is remarkable, but one must hope that numbers are low.|
|Salt and mud stretching into the distance; not a promising landscape for life, but it is abundant here.|
|Laguna Chaxa, with the ever-present Andes looming. Flamingos and other wading birds thrive in hyper-saline |
lakes which, counter-intuitively, support numerous microscopic organisms, especially diatoms,
and larger prey such as brine shrimps.
|Puna Plover Charadrius alticola; the species name 'high dweller' says it all. |
It has a very similar central Andean range to the Andean Avocet, living mostly between
3,000 and 4,500 masl.
|Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii on the other hand has a huge range, breeding in the |
Arctic from Greenland to Siberia, and migrating to South America where it can be
found from northern Peru to Tierra del Fuego, from the mountains to the coast.
|I am astounded that a lizard could be so at home in such hyper-saline conditions.|
|Here you get some idea of the abundance of the flies which presumably lead to the abundance|
of the lizards. They keep their distance as the lizards pass by.
|I am assuming that these brightly coloured individuals (above and below)|
are males, but I can't find much information on the species.