I have just returned from a fantastic birding trip to Chile. I had a
target list of 98 life species, of which I managed 94. I enthusiastically
thank the guides we had in two locations: Michele Salaberry in Santiago,
and Ricardo Matus in Punta Arenas. Both did an excellent job, and I can
supply contact details. I'll be doing a detailed trip report, giving
precise locations and numbers for all species. If you'd like a copy, let
me know and I'll email it as an attachment.
We started out with a trip to Embolso El Yeso. On the way up we had great
looks at the endemic Dusky-tailed Canastero. The highlight was three
Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers at El Yeso. They were right in front of the
turn-around area on the side road to the boggy section. One adult plus
runner, and the other adult was on the rocks at the end of the turn-around
area. Another great lifer was Crag Chilia. We had stunning views of 6.
Other notable sightings: 3 White-sided Hillstar, 4 Rufous-backed Miner, 3
Sacle-throated Earthcreepers, 6 Dark-bellied Cinclodes, 6 Grey-flanked
Cinclodes, 3 Lesser Canastero (at the HQ), 5 Moustached Turca, and 1 nice
Magellanic Tapaculo among the rocks around ther endge of the bog at
YesoLots of Ground-Tyrants (10 White-browed, 1 Ochre-naped, 1
Black-fronted), 10 Greater Yellowfinch at the HQ, and lots of Sierra
Finches, including the lifer Grey-hooded (20 seen).
The next day we headed to some small lakes at Leyda near the coast. Good
birds included 20 Lake Duck, Red Shovellers including two with ducklings, 2
South American Snipe, 40 Southern Wigeon, many with young, 100s of
Red-gartered Coots, 4 White-winged Coots, 10 Spot-flanked Gallinule and 4
Black-necked Swan. In reeds near the Maipu River Mount we had nice looks
at male Spectacled Tyrant, and along the shore we had our first Least
Seedsnipe and 2 Black-chinned Siskin.At El Tabo, we added 2 White-tipped
Grebe. 40 Inca Tern at Santo Domingo, and then in a gorge near Cordova: 3
Fire-eyed Diucon, 1 White-throated Tapaculo (plus 2 H),1 Des Murs Wiretail
(at the ectreme northern edge of its range here), 4 Thorn-tailed Rayaditos,
1 Dusky Tapaculo and another Dusky-tailed Canastero.
Day three took us first to P.N.Rio Las Cipreses. We flushed 2 Chilean
Tinamou, and saw 3 Chilean Pigeon, 18 Burrowing Parrot (race byroni), 1
Austral Pygmy Owl and 1 Striped Woodpecker. Later at a sewage farm near
Batuco, we had 20 Silvery Grebe, 2 Black-headed Duck (male and female), 2
Rosy-billed Pochard, 100s of Lake Duck, thousands of Red Shovelers,100s of
Souther Wigeon and Speckled Teal. On leaving I saw 10 Grassland (= Misto)
We flew to Arica, and found Pacific Doves to be common around town. I did
not find Seaside Cinclodes on the Alicran Peninsula, despite four viosits,
probably my worst miss.In the Azapa Valley, we had 1 Oasis Hummingbird at
the Museo Archelogica,together with a Burrowing Owl; 2 Chilean Woodstar in
the Vivero on the left in Azapa, 2 Peruvian Sheartail (male and female) in
lantana on the road to the right. Mark Pearman's book says Slender-biled
Finch is common in the mixed Citrus and Olive Groves on the east side of
Azapa. We could find no sign of the Finch there (just 100s of
Rufous-collared Sparrows), and no citrus trees. We finally had 1
Slender-billed Finch perch on the wire near the lantana site. Along the
road to Putre, we saw 2 Straight-billed Earthcreepers, 2 Plain-mantled
Tit-Spinetails, 2 Spot-billed ground-Tyrants and 2 Greenish Yellow-Finches.
In the valley to the north of Putre, we found 6 Giant Hummingbird, 6
Andean Hillstars, and 2 Rufous-tailed Plantcutters.20 Bare-faced
Ground-Dove, 1 Golden-billed Saltator, 3 Mountain Parakeet,10 Yellow-rumped
Siskin and 1 Band-tailed Sierra-Finch. Early the next morning, I found
Greyish Miner around the outskirts of Putre in in the valley of the creek
crossing the road into Putre, 1 Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant.
On the drive up to Lauca, and well as hundreds of Vicuna, we saw 30
White-winged Diuca-Finch, 20 Andean Geese, 2 Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, 1
Puna Miner and 1 White-winged Cinclodes near Parinocota. Lake Chungara
produced 100s of Giant Coot, 100s of Specked Teal, 80 Puna Teal, 6 Puna
Ibis plus Andean Negrito and some 400 Chilean Flamingo. Back in Putre we
added 1 Chiguanco Thrush, and 6 Bright-rumped Yellowfinch. Back to Lauca
the next day, and we found a male Lesser (Puna) Rhea with 14 chicks, 3
Red-backed Hawks, 10 Cordilleran Canastero, and along the dirt road from
Chocuyo to Parinacota 1 White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant. The Upper Lluta Valley
yielded plenty of Chestnut-throated Seedeaters, 3 Slender-biled Finch and 8
Groove-billed Ani, but despite diligent searching no Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant.
We next flew to Calama and drove to San Pedro de Atacama: nice but
something of a tourist trap. Our goal here was Horned Coot at Laguna
Miscanti. This is a long drive, paved for aboiut half its length and you
do need at least a high-clearance vehicle to get in to the lakes. There
were no coot on Miscanti but we found some 40 within telescope view on
Munique and had lunch with 2 adults feeding 3 young not more than 15 yards
away. Pearman's book says Rock Earthcreeper is fairly common around
Socaire, but though both of us searched the rocky slopes around the village
for several hours we found none.
We flew to Punta Arenas, and Ricardo took us straight away south of the
town. This gave 100 Upland Geese, 22 Ashy-headed Geese, 4 Crested Duck,
Austral Negrito, many Dophin Gull, hundreds of Black-faced Ibis, 3
Magellanic Oystercatcher, many Rock Shag, male and female Flightless
Steamer-Duck, 1 Southern Fulmar, 30 Ruddy-headed Geese, including a pair
with 5 young and 2 Austral Parakeet. The next day we headed north. A long
search for Magellenic Plover at Laguna de los Palos failed, although we did
find 6 Two-banded Plover. The we headed to the ferry crossing at First
Narrow and then along the road to Pali-ake. Birds seen included: 100s of
Lesser (Darwin's) Rhea, 2 adult Coscoroba Swan with 6 cygnets 4 Flying
Steamer-Duck, 3 Least Seedsnipe, 300-odd White-rumped Sandpiper, 200
Baird's, 5 Tawny-throated Dotterel, 2 Cinereous Harrier, 1 Chocolate-vented
Tyrant, 5 Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant, 3 Common Miner, 2 Patagonian
Yellow-Finch; and along the Pali-Ake road 2 stunning Rufous-chested
Dotterel, and 10 Canary-winged (aka Black-throated) Finch. We found a
beautiful pair of the Pallid form of Peregrine near Posesion, and finally
Austral Canastero near Buquequemado. We also saw 2 Commerson's Dolphin at
the Ferry Crossing.
The next day we took the ferry across the Strait of Magellan to Porvenir
and Tierra del Fuego. On the way across we had 10 Magellanic Diving-Petrel
and some 250 Imperial Shag. We went first to Laguna de los Gisnes, and
near the elevated pathway leading to the airport's shed, we had excellent
views of 2 Magellanic Plover. As well, we saw 6 Short-biled Miner and 2
Flying Steamer-Duck with chicks. Driving south along the road to Armonia,
we had excellent views of a male Magellanic Owl (a split from Great Horned
Owl, with a different habitat and call) with the rear half of a juvenile
Grey Fox in its beak.
On our last morning with Ricardo, we decied to try for Magellanic
Woodpecker and headed south to San Juan again. We found a male and female
Magellanic Woodpecker, plus 2 Patagonian Sierra-Finch and our first
White-throated Treehunter. The next day we headed off to P.N.Torres del
Paine. Ricardo had found Yellow-bridled Finch along the road to Las
Cumbres. We had no luck with this species but did find 8 Andean Condor ( 4
adults and 4 immatures) on a cliff face, a lifer for my wife.
The next day we found the road to the southern entrance to the park closed,
and had to drive back to the marsh near the southern entrance. We had a
long and vocal interaction with an Austral Rail, but could not lure the
bird from its dense reeds.
Next we flew to Puerto Montt and headed down to Ancud on Chiloe. Pearman's
map of this area is plain wrong and of little use. In the general areas
that Pearman listed as good for Chucao Tapaculo we heard nothing, in
contrast to their omnipresence in P.N.Puyehue, our next stop. We
immediately had staggering views of a pair of Black-throated Huet-huet.
The next day I walked early around the Aguas Calientes lodge, where
Green-backed Firecrown proved to be common. Then we drove slowly up to
Antillanca and after lunch drove up to the Ruehhwen Crater where I looked
in vain for Yellow-bridled Finch. We had good looks at Chucao Tapaculo on
the way up, and 4 more Patagonian Sierra-Finch around Antillanca.In the
crater we found 5 Puna Ground-Tyrant and 1 Puna Miner. The highlight of the
drive up on our last morning were 2 Rufous-tailed Hawks.
On to Concepcion, where we first visited Laguna Las Lajos. This is the
only site listed by Pearman for Chestnut-throated Huethuet, but we found
the habitat in all three suggested locations completely wrong. Highlights
of this park were staggering views of my life Great Shrike-Tyrant right at
the top just before the lake, and at last, a distant view of a single
Yellow-bridled Finch high on a scree slope in the same area. 2 Aplomado
Falcons were nice on the way down.
Our second-last stop was P.N.Nahabutl, where we stayed in Angol. The road
in is very bad and I recommend 4WD for visiting this. Highlights here were
12 Slender-billed Parakeet, a magnificant male Magellanic Woodpecker
close-up on the Pichinahuel Track.I also had Ochre-flanked Tapaculo in
bamboo along the same track. We were also lucky enough to have a
Rufous-legged Owl fly across the track directly in front of our car.
We finally headed to the Las Truncas road east of Chillan in search of
Chestnut-throated Huethuet. I heard three but found them completely
unresponsive. Lady luck finally smiled on me when, as we were driving back
along the Las Truncas road, we found one standing in low plants beside the
Altogether a great trip.
Best wihses of the season,
Associate Professor John M. Penhallurick<>
Phone BH( 61 2) 6201 2346 AH (61 2) 62585428
FAX (61 2) 6258 0426 Mobile 0408 585 428
Snail Mail Division of Communication and Education,
University of Canberra,A.C.T.2601, AUSTRALIA
OR (Private) PO Box 3469, BMDC, BELCONNEN, ACT 2617, AUSTRALIA
"I'd rather be birding!"
"Vivat,crescat,floreat Ornithologia" Hartert,Vog.pal.Fauna,p.2016.
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