Thursday 9 January 2020 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).
And the end result was just stunning.
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!
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.
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:
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:
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)
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?
And, of course, admire the resident sheep skeletons lying underneath the boulders.
Take a look at Pearl’s face!
Much of the morning was spent admiring the beautiful countryside just east of Torres del Paine National Park.
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.
Chilean gauchos and their beautiful sheep, dogs, & horses
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.
World Life List: 1108 Species (3 life birds yesterday; 1 life bird today)