FW: antarctic pelagic and southern argentina

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Subject: FW: antarctic pelagic and southern argentina
From: "Dion Hobcroft" <>
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2006 17:49:36 +1100

-----Original Message-----
From: Dion Hobcroft []
Thursday, 2 February 2006 3:50 PM
Subject: antarctic pelagic and southern


I was fortunate to get a contract as an expedition staff member on Le Diamant on a voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula from Ushuaia from Jan 4-16 2006. My fourth voyage to Antarctic and weatherwise undoubtedly the best with almost no wind, light ice conditions, clear skies and almost entirely smooth seas-all a bit too good! It was a different itinerary in many ways as I was able to land at Cape Horn and Puerto Williams in Chile. Pre-voyage birding in Ushuaia provided White-throated Caracara at the new rubbish dump about 3km E of town. Tierra del Fuego National Park provided three Magellanic Woodpeckers near Lago Roca, the inconspicuous White-throated Treerunner whilst the Martial Glacier came through with the striking Yellow-bridled Finch but not surprisingly no sign of the elusive White-bellied Seedsnipe.


Smooth seas made for excellent cetaceans with two outstanding sightings of the striking Straptooth Beaked Whale, great view of a male Southern Bottlenose Whale, one Sei Whale, two groups of Killer Whales including one pod working a Humpback Whale. We found a severely injured Crabeater Seal on an ice floe that had only just escaped a presumed Killer Whale encounter. It was unlikely to survive its injuries.


The major bird rarity was an Emperor Penguin at Booth Island on 9 Jan in amongst the Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstraps. Pelagic species were fairly typical with Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Grey-headed, both Northern and Southern Royal Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Thin-billed and Antarctic Prions, numerous Blue Petrels, Wilson’s and Black-bellied Storm-Petrels, Southern Giant and two Northern Giant-Petrels (my first sighting of this species in the Drake Passage), White-chinned Petrel amongst others. Our return across the Drake allowed Neptune to sharpen up his pitchfork and we rode out uncomfortable 10 metre waves for a good 24 hours.


The landing at Cape Horn was a bonus for me. I spent time searching unsuccessfully for Fuegian Snipe some friends had spotted with chicks a few weeks before. The best sighting was of nesting Magellanic Tapaculo in a cushion plant near the Albatross statue and a Striated Caracara.


At the end of the voyage I flew to Calafate to link up with Argentine birder Santiago Imberti for a trip through southern Patagonia that was reminiscent of outback birding in Australia. It was great! Highlights included three hours of cat and mouse with Austral Rail before it decided to preen in full view, Hooded Grebe at the nest, Patagonian Tinamou, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Magellanic Plover shovelling and spinning in the sand, Andean Condor and Magellanic Horned Owl. The shorebirding was spectacular with display flighting seedsnipes, Wilson’s Phalarope, numerous Baird’s Sandpipers and on my last afternoon scouring 4000 plus White-rumped Sandpipers and 2000 Two banded Plovers for a vagrant Dunlin Santiago had found a few days before. Despite our best efforts we could not relocate it.


A great start to the New Year.


All the best



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