A Travellerspoint blog

January 2020

More Patagonia Photos

Torres del Paine National Park

all seasons in one day

And as promised, here is the post with all of the bird & wildlife photos from Torres del Paine National Park that I couldn’t previously post due to a lack of working Chilean adapters for my camera battery. Let’s start with the common birds from Day 1 of the park: juvenile AUSTRAL THRUSH
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SOUTHERN LAPWING:
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MAGELLANIC OYSTERCATCHER:
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Female AUSTRAL NEGRITO:
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Juvenile GREAT GREBE, awesome-looking!
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FIRE-EYED DIUCON:
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Day 2–
DARK-BELLIED CINCLODES:
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AUSTRAL PARAKEET:
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STRIPED WOODPECKER, hard to find here!
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BLACK-CHINNED SISKIN:
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TORRENT DUCK, my favorite bird in the park!!!! Super uncommon and local species, and just an awesome-looking bird in general! Also very fast moving — difficult for photography.
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Day 3–
WHITE-CRESTED ELAENIA showing off!
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BLACK-CHESTED BUZZARD-EAGLE:
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CINEROUS HARRIER hunting:
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EARED DOVE:
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LONG-TAILED MEADOWLARK:
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SPECTACLED DUCK, life bird!!
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SOUTH AMERICAN TERN:
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RED-GARTERED COOT:
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LAKE DUCK, life bird!
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UPLAND GOOSE:
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Juvenile RUFUOS-COLLARED SPARROW:
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Guanaco:
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BLACK-NECKED & COSCOROBA SWANS:
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CHILOE WIGEONS:
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LESSER RHEA:
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MOURNING SIERRA-FINCH, life bird:
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Amazing lamb tongue salad at the Estancia Tercera Barranca.
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The moon, incredibly large in the sky here in Patagonia:
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Gray Fox:
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Day 4–
SCALE-THROATED EARTHCREEPER, life bird:
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ANDEAN CONDOR:
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BROWN-HOODED GULL:
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RED SHOVELERS:
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GRAY-HOODED SIERRA-FINCH:
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CHILEAN FLAMINGO with BLACK-NECKED SWANS:
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RUFOUS-TAILED PLANTCUTTER, a life bird:
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FLYING STEAMER-DUCK:
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ASHY-HEADED GOOSE:
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Day 5–
gigantic European Hare, an introduced species here:
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PATAGONIAN SIERRA-FINCH:
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All the rest of the photos from the trip have been included in previous posts, available for viewing either by scrolling down or clicking links to them in the panel to the right. Hope you enjoyed!!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1108 Species

Posted by skwclar 16:16 Archived in Chile Comments (3)

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 Comments (1)

Day 23: Tackling the Torres

Patagonia

all seasons in one day 55 °F

12+ mile hike today with 2700+ feet elevation gain. So incredibly tired. But worth it. My camera is still low-battery—

LIFE BIRD?: maybe Patagonian Mockingbird? Anybody know?
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On the way up-
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Amazing views at the top.
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LIFE BIRD: some sort of Tyrant but need help with species ID! let me know in comments :)
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On the way down.
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Shed two layers & hid them under a tree thirty minutes into the hike! Later successfully found them on the way back!
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Incredible, once-in-a-lifetime hike. Bird-of-the-day to my mystery birds. Stay tuned: tomorrow is my last day in Patagonia: I fly back to NYC in the evening!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1108 Species (1-2 pending life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 16:47 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Days 21-22: Trekking through Torres

Patagonia

all seasons in one day 51 °F

Yesterday, we did not have wifi at our accommodation (which was otherwise excellent apart from an extremely remote location), so today’s post is combined for both days. Again, camera battery is at a premium, so unfortunately today’s post consists of back-of-the-camera bird shots and (surprisingly decent) iphone photos.

A shortish hike to a beautiful overlook was yesterday’s main objective, and it started out with a beautiful view of the Cascades del Torres (which apparently is another location for Torrent Ducks, though none were found yesterday).
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And the end result was just stunning.
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The afternoon drive to our accommodation for the evening was highlighted by a diversity of waterfowl, of which two were lifers and both were species that I was hoping to see here: SPECTACLED DUCK, a local and awesome find!
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And LAKE DUCK — cool! This is separated from the Andean because of the clean-ish, horizontal-line transition between the black on the head and the rufous color. This transition would be at more of a diagonal on the otherwise look-alike Andean Duck, I believe.
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Other waterfowl seen included COSCOROBA & BLACK-NECKED SWANS, UPLAND GEESE, SOUTHERN WIGEON, FUEGIAN STEAMER-DUCK, BROWN PINTAIL, SOUTHERN WIGEON, CRESTED DUCK, & RED SHOVELER, as well as a wealth of other waterbirds. So all in all, great diversity!

Later as we approached our hotel for the night in the Sierra Baguales area, I picked up my life bird MOURNING SIERRA-FINCH alongside the road:
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Other notables included COMMON MINER, DARK-BELLIED CINCLODES, ANDEAN FLICKER, LESSER RHEA, several guanaco (wild llama), two Armadilli, and two tiny Gray Foxes which I observed hunting bird nests. And here is the beautiful sunset to which I was treated yesterday:
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Bird-of-the-day yesterday to the Spectacled Duck with runner-up to the Lake Duck: all awards to waterfowl for the day!

Today, we took a driving tour of the park because the weather was extremely windy (too much so for pleasant hiking). We left our hotel, completely packed for our next accommodation tonight, by 11am and I almost immediately picked up a life bird alongside the road: SCALE-THROATED EARTHCREEPER! Awesome — and look at that bill! (and note the low battery indicator)
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Then, we passed through a huge boulder field (for my Idaho friends, somewhat reminiscent of the City of Rocks/Castle Rock area), so we had to stop and climb a few boulders! Can you spot Pearl?
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And, of course, admire the resident sheep skeletons lying underneath the boulders.
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Take a look at Pearl’s face!
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Much of the morning was spent admiring the beautiful countryside just east of Torres del Paine National Park.
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And at one point, we were interrupted by...a battalion of SHEEP!!!! Literally thousands of them! Another Idaho connection — Sun Valley is the only other place I have observed the herding of sheep en masse like this.
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Chilean gauchos and their beautiful sheep, dogs, & horses
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We had a bit of excitement when a park ranger told us a Puma (Mountain Lion) had just been seen up the road, but alas, we arrived just a bit too late. Timing & luck is everything in wildlife watching!

Of course, I took many, many bird photos today — but they are currently unable to reach this blog because I must continue to conserve my ever-dwindling camera batteries. Bird-of-the-day to my one life bird today, the Scale-throated Earthcreeper, with runners-up to some beautiful Lake Ducks & Ashy-headed Geese also seen today.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1108 Species (3 life birds yesterday; 1 life bird today)

Posted by skwclar 13:49 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Day 20: A Mixed Bag

Torres del Paine National Park

semi-overcast 60 °F

Gotta keep this brief. The positives? I saw an incredible glacier today. The negatives? None of my electronic devices (including camera) are charging reliably here. The positives? I got two life birds today! The negatives? I can only include back-of-the-camera photos of the birds here because my dwindling camera battery is at an extreme premium. The positives? A generous Portuguese woman (who miraculously also happens to be a birder) took pity on me and let me borrow her camera adapter for the night.

So, today before my family was to take a boat across Lago Grey to see the glacier, we had to hike through a beautiful ecosystem called a Magellanic Forest, and there I found my life bird STRIPED WOODPECKER! Awesome!
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Additionally, I had three chances to find my target bird for the day: Torrent Duck. My first two chances would be on the hike to and from the boat ride where the trail crosses over the Gray River on an extremely rickety and unstable footbridge. Chances seemed dismal since on the first pass over the bridge, it swung violently every time someone else stepped on the bridge, making scanning up and down the river close to impossible. Dang! Seems like I would have to hire an $80 guide to hike me into the woods to find it later...ugh

All of this aside, the boat trip to the glacier was INCREDIBLE. None of us have ever been blessed with such incredible views today, and this is something I will remember the rest of my life!!!!! The environment here is SO awesome — words & photos can’t even describe.
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Then, miraculously, on the hike back to the car, as soon as I stepped onto that same bridge, a beautiful male TORRENT DUCK swam into view...not even five feet away?!?! Amazing!!!! This was possibly my #1 target species for this national park and it gave incredible, incredible close views AND it saved me five hours & $80, allowing me a delicious afternoon nap.
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I will make one extra post after the trip (once I have fully charged my camera) including my favorite bird photos from this week since the remainder of my daily posts this week will probably consist of iPhone photos and back-of-the-camera snapshots of any lifers I may get.

Bird-of-the-day to the Torrent Duck and runner-up to the Striped Woodpecker. Some quality Patagonian species, regardless of tricky circumstances!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1105 Species (2 life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 13:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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