Last night, my mom, Pearl, and I began our first night as a unit of three, spent in Punta Arenas so we could drive to Torres del Paine National Park today.
Our flight yesterday included a one-stop in the Lakes District of Chile, which looks beautiful.
And I picked up a PICUI GROUND-DOVE from the plane (you’ll have to just trust me on this one, lol!):
On the way into town last night and out of town today, we made quick stops at the Punta Arenas Wetlands to see what was there and especially to see if any rare Ruddy-headed Geese were mixed in with the Upland Geese — both species have been known to nest at the location in the past. My photos from this location are from both yesterday & today since both were extremely quick stops (due to impatient family members). Here is a photo of a typical scene here: many birds, especially BLACK-NECKED SWANS & CHILOE WIGEONS which are featured in this photo.
BROWN-HOODED & KELP GULLS:
CHILOE WIGEONS with a female RED SHOVELER and a SILVER TEAL:
UPLAND GEESE. I picked through many of these geese on both visits but failed to find any Ruddy-headed.
The difference between the species is illustrated here on a board at the wetlands — the rarer Rudy-headed have distinctive white eye-crescents, which I did not see on any of the geese, unfortunately.
The striking male AUSTRAL NEGRITO:
Well, no geese but still a good number of birds seen. Then, this morning, it was a three-hour drive through the Patagonian steppe on the Ruta del fin del mondo, the “Road to the end of the world!”
Later on, we stopped at a salina (brackish pond) where we had seen CHILEAN FLAMINGOES with our guide Jürgen last time, and they were even closer this time! What brilliant colors!
There was plenty of other birdlife there also, including RED SHOVELERS:
WHITE-RUMPED & BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS:
LESSER RHEA “kindergarten:” so many juveniles!
TWO-BANDED PLOVER with BAIRD’S SANDPIPERS:
Then, Pearl and I spotted a few ANDEAN CONDORS sailing over the road so of course we had to stop!
In fact, the drive today was full of unplanned birding stops, such as one for these CINEROUS HARRIERS:
Juvenile AUSTRAL THRUSH, similar in appearance to a juvenile a American Robin:
Then, it was time to stop in the town of Puerto Natales for shopping and gas for the car. During the stops, I did find this BLACK-CHNNED SISKIN:
And the town is located on a beautiful waterfront.
That has many KING CORMORANTS!
And a single NEOTROPIC (known around here as “Olivaceous”):
After over six hours, we had made it to the renowned Torres del Paine National Park! Unbelievable!
Then, I had my mom stop the car because I had spotted my first life bird of the day: a beautiful RUFOUS-TAILED PLANTCUTTER!
My second life bird of the day flew by two quickly for photos: CHILEAN FLICKER! Hopefully I will capture an image of this bird later.
Anyway, the views here never, ever disappoint!
My mom pointed out a SOUTHERN CRESTED CARACARA and I was able to lie on the parking lot and grab an image of it in front of Lago Torres!
I saw two Sierra-Finch species today, first the beautiful GRAY-HOODED:
And the equally-stunning PATAGONIAN:
DARK-BELLIED CINCLODES — but what is that in the background?
PLUMBEOUS RAIL! Nice. Hopefully I see it’s rarer cousin here, the AUSTRAL.
A full day of birding Patagonia was rounded off by following a group of “gauchos” with horses, cattle, and herding dogs. Cool!
Bird-of-the-day to my life-bird Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, with runner-up to the Chilean Flicker. STAY TUNED: tomorrow, we take a boat across Lago Gray to the Gray Glacier! My goal species for the day is Torrent Duck, an extremely specialized and beautiful waterfowl species of fast-moving streams in this part of the world.
World Life List: 1103 Species (2 life birds today)