Record-breaking birds become Peru's most determined tourists

15th Jan 2014

Peru is such a fascinating tourist destination that modern travellers think nothing of jetting thousands of miles to view its magnificent cultural sites and natural wonders.

But the South American country's allure obviously extends to birdlife too.

The determined red-necked phalarope has notched up an amazing 16,000 miles (25,749km) in a round-trip from Shetland to Peru.

It is believed to be the longest journey recorded for a European breeding bird.

This great migration to Peru's warm climate happened despite the birds weighing less than a bag of crisps.

Perhaps it was drawn by the legendary ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the planet's most easily recognisable landmarks. This UNESCO World Heritage Site headed the Travellers' Choice Attractions awards' top 10 World Best Landmarks last year organised by TripAdvisor.

Or it may just have been getting a sneak preview of a comparable, hitherto unheralded attraction just 30 miles away that will be opened up to the world late next year.

The ruined city of Choquequirao, the so-called "Cradle of Gold", has only really been accessible to tourists on trekking holidays willing to make a two-day walk to appreciate its majestic solitude.

But the Peruvian government has approved what will be country's first aerial tramway to bridge the deep canyon of the Apurimac River to make Choquequirao reachable in just 15 minutes from the nearest road.

The RSPB's Malcolm Smith said: "To think this bird … can undertake such an arduous journey and return safely to Shetland is truly extraordinary."

The rare red-necked phalarope was thought to winter in the Arabian sea from its Shetland home.

But a small tracking gadget weighing less than a paperclip and worn like a backpack showed they venture far further.

Mr Smith told BBC Scotland: "We are freezing up here in Shetland and it's quite nice to think of our red-necked phalaropes bobbing about in the warm tropical waters of the Pacific."

Copyright Press Association 2014

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