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Day 24: Last day in South America!

semi-overcast 54 °F

In addition to battling a cold and recovering from an incredibly steep hike, LATAM Airlines threw us a “unique” turn of events last night: my flight to Santiago had been pushed back by almost 90 minutes, resulting in an impossibly tight connection for my connecting flight to Houston. So instead of calling LATAM and demanding a rebooking onto the earlier flight, my Mom just bit the bullet and bought me a ticket on the early flight since we didn’t have time to negotiate with the airline via phone. Thanks, Mom! Side note: LATAM Airlines has been problematic: as well as this annoying change in schedule, the flight attendants didn’t offer water or other drinks on every flight I have been on with them — ridiculous!

Also, I figured out that my two “mystery birds” from last post were Fire-eyed Diucon and these DARK-FACED GROUND-TYRANTS. Bummer: I had seen these species before. But the flip side is that I was able to upload some of my photos from my camera so I have photos from both yesterday & today for this post!
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THORN-TAILED RAYADITO from yesterday. You can see it is appropriately named!
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So today, we were back in the car headed for Punta Arenas by 9am. Luckily, we ended up padding enough time onto our travels to make some birding stops along the way! Closer to Punta Arenas, we stopped at what we now call the “Flamingo pond” as all four times we have passed this pond, it has been populated with these elegant CHILEAN FLAMINGOES. Never take a flamingo for granted!
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Young Upland Goose? Or is this an Ashy-headed?
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RED SHOVELERS & SILVER TEAL were present:
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And the striking TWO-BANDED PLOVER!!
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Like usual, many WILSON’S PHALAROPES were present, swirling about to disturb aquatic bugs:
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WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS:
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Look-alike BAIRD’S SANDPIPER — distinguished from the White-rumped by completely clean underparts. Bird identification is all about the details.
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COSCOROBA:
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A nice plethora of waterbirds, a typical view at this pond: UPLAND GEESE, COSCOROBA, CHILEAN FLAMINGOES, and sandpipers.
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LESSER RHEA — a common sight on the Patagonian Steppe that never fails to disappoint.
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Before I knew it, it was time to bid farewell to my mom and my sister, and to Patagonia. As usual, my mom cried.
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They will fly out tomorrow to spend a week’s time in the Lakes District of Chile, while I am currently on my Punta Arenas - Santiago - Houston - Newark journey. I was booked in seat 34C on the flight to Santiago, but upon the door’s closing, I upgraded myself to 29A: a window seat in an empty row. Not to worry, this is a common sight on this airline — a flight attendant even winked at me for doing so, hahahaha!
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Bird-of-the-day to the lovely Two-banded Plover and runner-up to all those Chilean Flamingoes, whom I will surely miss back in snowy New York.
Bird-of-the-trip is a tie, I just can’t make up my mind: Sooty Albatross, Snowy Sheathbill, Andean Condor, Magellanic Woodpecker, and Torrent Duck are all up there. I am so blessed — huge thanks to my parents for this epic opportunity, to Pearl for being the sassiest, funniest sister out there, and to my birding friends who helped me so much on this trip: Aidan, Dermot, Joe, Jim, Billy, Tom, Esteban, and Jürgen.

So that is it for my travels to Antarctica and Patagonia. I am posting this from the Santiago airport! Time for a new semester at the Manhattan School of Music to begin, but you know that my crazy birding adventures never stop! I may or may not be going on a day pelagic trip out of Queens in February — I’ll keep you updated. Until next time, South America! (next time hopefully will be Colombia, Ecuador, or Peru ;)

Please note: one more post with additional photos from Torres del Paine is headed your way!

Good birding!
Henry
World Life List: 1108 Species (138 life birds on this trip)

Posted by skwclar 16:09 Archived in Chile

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I hope your 2nd semester continues to go as well as your first! Looking forward to following your school highlights as well as birding in NY!

by Susie

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