Argentina & Chile

Sun 2 - Mon 17 Nov 2003 (Iguazú ext to Thu Nov 20)

Luis Segura - Birding Argentina in Patagonia

Miguel Castelino - Birding Argentina in Iguazú

and a team of local guides and drivers in every destination visited.


We've been running this trip in conjunction with The Travelling Naturalist since 1999. It is certainly one of the most comprehensive itineraries ever designed and one of the few in the nature travel market visiting both Argentina and Chile. From the waters of the South Atlantic Ocean at the Valdes Peninsula, home of the Southern Right Whale, to the magnificence of the Southern Beech Forests where the Magellanic Woodpecker reigns, this journey gave us the chance to explore the pristine wilderness of Patagonia, the land where you can see for ever. To the members of the group goes my deepest acknowledgment for sharing this tour through my native land... I know that memories of Patagonia will get back to you every time the wind blows and a whale breaches. Hope we meet again soon and that we can share another travel adventure in the near future.

Luis Segura

Puerto Madryn, November 2003


Tuesday November 4th, 2003

It was a long but not less rewarding day. All tour members were received by Germán in Buenos Aires on arrival from Europe, after they had been delayed by a flight cancellation in Madrid. As they had a full day there, a tour to Otamendi Nature Reserve was organized, so as to have an introduction to the birds of Argentina. Otamendi is located in the Pampas of Argentina, and the diversity of birds there is enormous. In one single day the group was able to see 65 species.

After such a great birding day, the group took a flight to Trelew, where we met in the evening.

We drove around two hours to Puerto Piramides, the only village that exists inside the Valdes Peninsula, where we spent the night. A group of secondary school children were having dinner in the same restaurant as our group, so at first it was very noisy. After a while, they all left and having finished our meal, we also headed to our rooms. It was a clear night and not too windy, so it was possible to hear from our rooms the distant sound of the whales blowing near the shore, only 300 meters away from the hotel.

Wednesday November 5th, 2003

The weather was lovely today. There was a soft breeze from the south-east, which produced a very pleasant and cool journey. The average temperature was around 20° Celsius.

Early in the morning, before breakfast, some of the members of the group went for a little walk just outside the hotel. The sea was calm and Southern Right Whales were easily spotted in the Bay of Puerto Pirámides. They were everywhere, and it was possible to see them breaching and playing very close to the shore.

After breakfast we started our journey to the south-easternmost point of the Valdes Peninsula, where we visited Estancia Rincón Chico. On the way there we stopped for some birding, and we had the chance to see our first Argentine endemic birds: Patagonian Canastero and the Rusty-Backed Monjita.

As we continued our way towards Rincón Chico, across the Patagonian semi-desert, we passed two salt flats. The first one, called Salina Grande, is the second lowest depression of South America, being 42 meters below sea level. As we were crossing the second one, Salina Chica, we had the chance to see Burrowing Owls. Lesser Rheas, Elegant-crested Tinamous, Long Tailed Meadowlarks, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetails, Common Miners, Mourning Sierra-Finches and Common Diuca-Finches were among the various species of birds seen along the way.

Tito our driver spotted a group of Maras, (Patagonian Cavies), a pair with two babies, and just before arriving to the Estancia we saw other 12 individuals!

On arrival to Rincón Chico, we met Agustin, the manager of the place, who came with us to the private beach of the Estancia, where we had the chance to see a colony of Southern Elephant Seals. As we were walking down, we saw a flock of around 50 Southern Giant Petrels spread out on the beach, some of them sitting on the water.

Being the end of the breeding season for the Elephant Seals, there were not too many "beach- masters" left in the area, but we could see some, and also several mothers nursing their calves. There were many 'whiners' on the sand, just left behind by their mothers after ending their three week nursing period. It was great to have the entire beach only for our group. We decided to go for a walk along the shoreline and after a while we found a nest of an American Oystercatcher with two spotted eggs inside.

After visiting the beach, we returned to the "casco" (main house of an Estancia). Since the weather was excellent, our meal was served outside, near a small Eucalyptus and other introduced trees. We had the chance to enjoy a lamb barbecue and salads, as we relaxed after a wonderful morning.

We returned to Puerto Pirámides, where we had an appointment with the Southern Right Whales.

The afternoon light was illuminating the cliffs along the shores of the Nuevo Gulf, and the sea was flat calm, so before arriving to town, we decided to go visiting a lookout located right above the Sea Lion colony of Punta Pirámides.

It was still too early in the season to find any of these marine mammals breeding, but anyway we had the chance to see several species of sea-birds and shore-birds, as well as many whales playing around. Among other species, we saw Blackish Oystercatchers, a nesting colony of Kelp Gulls and our first Magellanic Penguins!

On arrival to Puerto Pirámides, captain Jorge Schmid was waiting for us, and off we went for a private boat tour to get a close up view of the Southern Right Whales. As I mentioned the captain that our group was interested in birds too, he gave us a special surprise by taking us to an area where we could see the first pair of Southern Sea Lions of the season, and also a nesting colony of Rock Cormorants. Right when we thought that we were heading back to the beach, the captain gave us another extra by going to a roosting colony of sea birds, where we could see three species of cormorants, (Olivaceous, Rock and Imperial), and three species of terns; South American, Cayenne and Royal.

After such an exciting day, we finally drove back to Puerto Madryn, where we stayed for the following two nights.

Thursday November 6th, 2003

Perhaps some of the most famous attractions for a naturalist in Patagonia are the nesting colonies of penguins, and this day, we went visiting the biggest of all colonies of Magellanic Penguins in the world: Punta Tombo, where 208,000 pairs go nesting every year.

We headed south of Puerto Madryn, following the National Highway number 3, which is the eastern branch of the Panamerican Highway in Argentina. After 80 kilometres, we arrived to Trelew, where we went visiting the "Laguna del Ornitólogo", a series of artificial lagoons surrounded by some grasslands and marshlands.

Here we were able to see enormous flocks of Chilean Flamingos, certainly more than 500 individuals, as well as flocks of several species of ducks, coots, swans and grebes. Some of the species seen were: Southern Wigeon, Red Shoveler, Lake Duck, White-tufted Grebe, Silvery Grebe, Red-gartered Coot, Coscoroba Swan and Black-necked Swan.

As we were walking along an area covered with reed beds, we hared the call of one of the most beautiful birds in Argentina; the Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant, which we saw soon after, perching on a reed few meters away from our group.

After visiting this place and crossing the Lower Valley of the Chubut River, we took the Provincial Road number 1, a gravel one that leads to Punta Tombo.

On the way there, we went visiting a solitary beach called "Isla Escondida", where we had our picnic lunch. As we were having our meal, a pair of endemic White-headed Steamer-Ducks were feeding in a little bay in front of us.

We planned our arrival to Punta Tombo for after mid-day, knowing that most of the other tours were going to be there in the morning, so when we entered the reserve, there was only one other group and ourselves at the tourist trail.

In early November, penguins are still sitting on the eggs, and we could see several nests with one or two white eggs being cared by one of the parents. Hatching season starts exactly at this time of the year, but we were not fortunate enough to see the first chicks this time.

Just before leaving the trail, we found an active nest of Scaly-throated Earthcreeper. We put the telescope on it and had plenty of time to see the pair going in and out of the nest several times.

We returned to Puerto Madryn where we arrived in the evening.

Friday November 7th, 2003

In the morning some of the members of the group decided to stay at the hotel, while we went visiting a very curious site near Puerto Madryn; the rubbish dump!

Normally one does not expect to be taken to such a place when visiting a foreign country, but for some reason birds seem to like dumps, so we knew that chances were going to be good for spotting some species still missing.

I have a "secret place", right after passing the entrance of the dump, where there's a nesting colony of Burrowing Parrots, and of course a welcome committee of more that 30 individuals were waiting for us there. Perhaps the most unexpected bird there was Darwin's Nothura. One crossed the road as we were driving towards my secret place, and soon after, we found another one dead at the side of the road.

After visiting the dump, we returned to the hotel for checking out, since later in the afternoon we had to take a flight to Ushuaia. We had a pizza lunch next door and after our meal we went visiting a colony of Sea Lions called Punta Loma, which is located 16 kilometres south of the city.

Since the weather was very warm, we decided to make a stop in a local ice-cream shop, where we all got a cone of home made Italian ice-cream!

Once in Punta Loma, we could see not only the Southern Sea Lions, but also a nesting colony of Rock Cormorants, and other species of birds, such as the Snowy Sheathbill.

From Punta Loma, we headed straight to Trelew City Airport, for taking our flight to the southernmost city of the world.

After a two-hour flight, we landed in Ushuaia, where Marcelo, our local guide, was waiting for us. Only a few minutes were necessary to drive from the airport to our hotel, and we had dinner there, enjoying the magnificent view of the Beagle Channel from the restaurant.

Saturday November 8th, 2003

After breakfast we had some time to go birding in front of the hotel before setting off for Tierra del Fuego National Park. Since the hotel is located on the shores of the Beagle Channel, we had the chance to see several species of water birds, such as Dolphin Gull, Flightless and Flying Steamer-Ducks, Crested Ducks, Upland and Ashy-headed Geese, Magellanic and Blackish Oystercatchers among others.

It was hard to believe that we were in the same country as yesterday, firstly because of the landscape, all surrounded by mountains and forests, and secondly for the weather. The day was really cold, and we had to wear layers of cloth to go on our tour. It was rainy at first, and in the afternoon it started to snow.

Today we had our first chance to see one of the most spectacular birds in Patagonia, the Magellanic Woodpecker. For this, Marcelo took as straight to "Lago Roca", where he had seen a pair some days before.

We went for a walk through the Southern Beech Forest, and after a while, we hared the unmistakable sound of a Woodpecker hammering against a tree. Marcelo played a tape, and soon after a pair of Magellanic Woodpeckers stood no more than 5 meters away from us. This was certainly the highlight of the day! As we were walking back towards the bus, we noticed that "someone" was following us. We turned around to look, and great was our surprise when noticed that the follower was a beautiful Patagonian Red Fox, which is an endemic species to Patagonia, but introduced in the Island of Tierra del Fuego.

The weather started to get worse, but anyway we continued birding in search of other species, despite the rain and the snow later. We could see Dark-bellied Cinclodes, Bar-Winged Cinclodes, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Austral Negrito and Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant among other species.

Around noon we visited "Bahía Lapataia", where we were saw a sign announcing that this was the southernmost end of the Panamerican Highway, 17,000 kilometres south of Alaska, where it starts running.

By the time we arrived there, it was snowing continuously. We had a picnic lunch with us, but there was no other choice than having it on the bus.

As we were driving to "Bahía Ensenada", we passed a Beaver dam, and we could see one of these introduced rodents standing on the shore of a little pond.

At Bahía Ensenada, there is a post office, and all the group members got their passport stamped in the southernmost post office of the continent.

We returned to the hotel in the afternoon, and stayed there for the rest of the day, since it was very cold and snowy.

Sunday November 9th, 2003

The morning was as cold and snowy as the day before, and we were surprised to see Ushuaia covered by a layer of fresh snow. It was also very windy, and Marcelo told us that the weather forecast was not too good.

Assuming that there was nothing we could do to change the weather conditions, we got plenty of warm cloth and jumped on the bus to go to the port, for taking our catamaran tour along the Beagle Channel up to Estancia Harberton.

It was a nice surprise to get on the catamaran and find that there were only other two passengers besides our group. This situation certainly gave us the chance to enjoy watching birds and landscape from inside the catamaran, since there wasn't anyone else standing outside to block our view.

Shortly after leaving the pier, we started to see lots of sea-birds. Two species of skuas were present; Antarctic and Chilean. Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, South American Tern, Imperial Cormorant, Dolphin and Kelp Gulls were all common sightings. We also spotted many Diving-Petrels, which turned out to be all Common.

There is a group of islands very close to Ushuaia, known as "Les Eau Clairer". There are colonies of Cormorants and Sea-Lions here, and we saw Imperial and Rock Cormorants nesting. In one of the islands there's a colony of Southern Sea-Lions. Southern Fur-Seals are also present in this one, but for some reason we couldn't spot any. When we were about to leave this island, one male Southern Fur-Seal finally passed swimming in front of the catamaran.

As we were watching a colony of cormorants in "Despard Island", we noticed the presence of a small flock of Snowy Sheathbills and also two pairs of Kelp Geese. Suddenly we saw a Caracara. At first and from the distance, we thought that is was just another Crested, our good old friend, but as we approached the bird we found that it was an adult Striated Caracara, a bird commonly seen in the Falklands, but almost never found in Argentina. Marcelo our guide said that this is probably one of the first records for the bird on the Argentine side of the Beagle Channel!

We continued eastwards on the Beagle Channel, and lunch was served on the catamaran. Shortly before landing in Harberton we went visiting "Isla Martillo", to see the existent nesting colony of Magellanic Penguins. It was really windy and snowy there, and we realised how lucky we were having the chance to see the birds from inside the catamaran in this weather conditions. Anyway, we thought that a short visit to the upper deck of the catamaran was well worthy, and as we were watching toward the colony from up there, we were able to spot eight Gentoo Penguins, which are also nesting among the Magellanics.

We docked in Harberton and went for a guided tour of the Estancia. Harberton use to have the biggest of all shearing sheds in Patagonia, and it was a functional Estancia until the 1970s. They stopped breeding sheep some years ago, and at the present they do receive day tours, and actually have a small lodge for those who want to stay overnight. The owner's wife, Mrs. Natalie Goodall, a North American biologist, has been researching Marine Mammals since 30 years ago. She has recently opened a museum at the estancia, which we had the chance to go visiting. Natalie guided us in person, so all the information received was first class! Natalie receives volunteers from all over the world, and lots of the facts we know nowadays about several species of whales and dolphins from the southern seas, comes from here.

We left Harberton in the afternoon and headed back to Ushuaia Port, where we arrived around 7:30 PM, in time to be transferred to our hotel for having dinner.

Monday November 10th, 2003

After breakfast we went downtown, where the group spent some time shopping. Luckily it was not snowing this morning and there was almost no wind, but unfortunately, there was lots of snow accumulated in the area of "Le Martial" glacier, where we were planning to go in the afternoon before taking the flight to Calafate.

We had lunch in town, and since going to Le Martial was virtually impossible, Marcelo took us to the easternmost limit of the city, where we went for a walk through the woods near the road to "Estancia Remolino".

On the way there, and having noticed before how productive on bird species can dumps be, of course we decided to stop at the local one. Just before entering to this one, we found our first surprise, a Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle gliding slowly above our bus. Of course there were many scavengers, such as Turkey Vultures, Kelp Gulls, Skuas, Chimango and Crested Caracaras, but the star of the place was the White-throated Caracara. We saw 2 juveniles and 2 adults here.

On arrival to the entrance of the trail to Estancia Remolino, we had a great view of the Beagle Channel and part of Ushuaia City. The walk was a very pleasant one, and we were surrounded by White-crested Elaenias, House Wrens, Thorn-tailed Rayaditos and Patagonian Sierra-Finches while walking through an Evergreen and Tall Deciduous Beech Forest.

We set off for the airport in time for taking our afternoon flight to Calafate. On arrival at the airport and as we were checking in, we found that all of our group was upgraded to business class because the plane was full! I thought that since we were going to get the jackpot, we also deserved first class check-in, so I asked for the airport's VIP room, which is reserved for business passengers, and we were able to enjoy ourselves sitting in comfortable sofas and having a scotch, while waiting to be called for our flight... after all, one doesn't fly first class every day!

Cesar our driver was waiting for us at Calafate Airport, and we went straight to Estancia Alice, where we were going to spend the following three nights. This estancia is located west of Calafate on the shores of the "Lago (Lake) Argentino". There's a wonderful view of the lake from the restaurant. They also have a small bird reserve inside their property, with a small lagoon and some reed beds. Lots of aquatic birds go nesting in here, including Black-faced Ibis, Upland Goose, and several species of ducks.

Tuesday November 11th, 2003

Today we went visiting "Los Glaciares National Park". The weather was back to what we could considerate normal for this time of the year, meaning few clouds, temperature around the 20° Celsius and little wind.

The drive from Estancia Alice to the National Park is very interesting, since one has the chance to see the transition between the Patagonian Steppe and the Sub-Antarctic Andean Forests. Driving west and towards the park, the first landscape seen is a flat shrubby plain with no trees, running at the bottom of a "U" shaped valley, with the Andean Range in the background. It was here that we saw the first Andean Condors flying high above the valley.

Getting closer to the entrance of the park, the vegetation starts changing and the first Beech Trees start popping-up at the sides of the road. Birds here are different to those of the steppe, and shortly after entering the park, we could see several flocks of Austral Parakeets flying over us and roosting on the trees. As we were driving towards the Moreno Glacier, we had the chance to stop several times for birding. Some of the species seen here were Fire-eyed Diucon, Austral Blackbird, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Black-chinned Siskin, Chilean Swallow and Austral Thrush.

There is one species of duck that is particularly difficult to find, but very beautiful, the Spectacled Duck. I mentioned Cesar that we were looking for that one, and he said that few days earlier he saw one on the way to the Moreno Glacier, so we stopped in the place he indicated, and there it was, just waiting for our group. I know a place where a pair of these ducks have been nesting since many years ago, so we decided to stop there before going for lunch. Luckily the pair was there and they had six ducklings, so we had great views of them! As we were watching the ducks, we heard a woodpecker, which turned out to be a male Magellanic, the second time we saw this species during the trip!

After lunch, we went down to the beach behind the restaurant, which overlooks the eastern wall of the Moreno Glacier, so the group was able to take the first good photos of it. Birds were also present here, and we saw Austral Negrito, Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, Dark-bellied and Bar-winged Cinclodes.

We drove to the visitors' area overlooking the Moreno, and here the group had the chance to walk along the trails and enjoy watching the glacier carving and the view of the lake, the woods and mountains around it.

We returned to Estancia Alice in the afternoon. On the way back, an Austral Pygmy-Owl passed flying fast in front of our bus, being chased by a flock of perching birds. We stopped and found that the bird was nesting in a nearby Beech Tree. A few minutes of patience gave us the chance to see not only the one that entered the nest, but also its mate.

On arrival to Estancia Alice, we decided to go for a walk down to their private bird reserve. The whole area of the lagoon and marshland is fenced, and visitors are not allowed inside, so birds are to be seen from the outside. Thanks to this policy, the population of nesting and resident birds is in very good shape. We were able to see among other species Black-necked Swans and Andean Ruddy Duck with chicks, Upland Goose, Southern Wigeon, Speckled Teals, Red Shovelers and one male Cinnamon Teal. Black-faced Ibises were nesting there too and we saw a Magellanic Oystercatcher and a lovely male Spectacled Tyrant outside the fenced area.

Wednesday November 12th, 2003

The weather was just perfect this morning. No wind or clouds at all and temperatures were around 20° C at mid-day, just what we needed for a full day catamaran tour along Argentino Lake up to "Upsala Glacier" and "Bahía Onelli".

We left Alice after breakfast for Puerto de la Cruz in Punta Bandera, few kilometres away from the Estancia. On the way there, we stopped at a lagoon to do some birding and we found a pair of Flying Steamer-Ducks with six chicks and other birds.

On arrival at the port, we noticed that the pier was completely decorated with Spanish and Argentine flags. We didn't know it, but the President of Argentina and the King of Spain with their families were going to visit the area that day. Of course they got their private vessel and took a different itinerary than the one made by the catamarans. We were also surprised for the number of other tours waiting to go on board the catamarans. There were literally hundreds of people this morning, and we were the very last group arriving to the port. The catamarans are very big here, the one that we were using can take 300 passengers at the time and they do not have assigned seats; not a very good start for a scenic boat tour, was it?

Despite the panorama, I was not concerned at all, since I had a little surprise waiting for our group. The catamaran has a first class upper deck cabin for only 24 passengers, and I was able to put our group on that one, which we had to share with only other 4 passengers. So there was plenty of room, (since in total we were 11 people in first class), the view was spectacular and best of all, we did not even have to wear warm clothing to see everything since our cabin was heated.

The tour was very pleasant since the lake was flat calm all the time. Condors were spotted several times and the scenery was really spectacular. The first glacier we went visiting was Spegazzini, and the captain got quite close to this one. Icebergs surrounded us all over this area. Their shapes and colour patterns were spectacular and our group enjoyed taking photos of them.

After having our box-lunch on board the catamaran, we landed in the area of Bahía Onelli, where we had the chance to go for a 2 hours walk through the woods. Thorn-tailed Rayaditos were very common here and they were nesting all over the place. We were surprised by the number of Austral Thrushes; they were really abundant, juveniles and adults in equal numbers.

As we were walking through the forest, we hared what at this stage was a "familiar sound" for all tour members: a Magellanic Woodpecker. I played a tape, and soon after, a pair came to "flight the intruder out". It was the third time we saw this bird during the journey; was it going to be the last?

When we got to the end of the trail, we arrived to a beach on the bay, (Onelli), itself, and we had the chance to get a great view of Onelli and Agazzis Glaciers.

Back on the catamaran at mid-afternoon, we got ready for setting off for the biggest glacier in the park: the Upsala. After around one and a half hour we got there, and had the chance to see the biggest and more spectacular icebergs to be found in Argentino Lake, with the view of the Upsala in the background, meandering down to the lake from top of the mountains.

We arrived back at the port late in the evening and from there back to Alice, in time for dinner.

Thursday November 13th, 2003

With a long driving day ahead, we left Estancia Alice early in the morning for Torres del Paine National Park. It was cloudy and a breeze was blowing, but the temperature was warm enough to allow another pleasant birding morning.

On our way to the border, we stopped in Calafate, where we went visiting "Laguna Nimez". This is an excellent birding spot, and soon as we arrived there, we spotted a big flock of Ashy-headed and Upland Geese all together. As we were driving down towards the easternmost limit of the lagoon, we stopped for watching some Lake Ducks, and we noticed that there was a pair on Austral Negritos sitting on a bush very close to our group. They looked worried for something, and were not whiling to go away, so we thought that their nest could be close. We looked around and soon noticed that we were standing less than one foot away from it. There were two tiny chicks waiting to be fed inside, so we decided to leave right away and continue birding somewhere else.

On the easternmost limit of the lagoon there's a short trail that leads to the shores of Argentino Lake. We stepped off the bus so as to take this trail down to the beach. Right at the entrance there's a reed bed, where we saw three pairs of Cinereous Harriers nesting. There were also other birds, including a Long-tailed Meadowlark and a Patagonian Mockingbird singing on top of a fence post.

Once we got down to the sandy beach of Argentino Lake, we noticed that there were many waders feeding there. We set our scopes down and started to check what species were present. Most of them were Baird's and White-rumped Sandpipers, but among them all, there were three Magellanic Plovers, certainly the bird we all wanted to see in this place.

As we left behind Calafate, we headed east, and started to climb up to the Patagonian High Plateau. There's a lookout in an area called "Bajada de Miguez", where a gorgeous view of the Andean Range and the Santa Cruz River can be enjoyed. We made a short photo stop there, and continued our way towards the border with Chile. After a few minutes, we started to see some short round bushes, locally called "Mata Guanaco", (Guanaco Bush). They were all blooming, and their flowers are deep red, giving a touch of colour to the otherwise greyish brown landscape.

As we were watching and photographing the flowers, we noticed that there was a flock of Rufous-collared Sparrows flying low and close to a nearby fence, all playing an alarm call. We looked with our binoculars, and noticed that besides the Sparrows, there were also some Chocolate-vented Tyrants there. We didn't think that the sparrows were alarmed by the presence of the tyrants, so there had to be something else. Suddenly, a small Patagonian Grey Fox walks out of the bushes, being escorted by all the birds as it was crossing the paved road trying to get rid of these annoying persecutors.

As we got closer to the border, and already on the gravel road towards "Tapi-Aike", we found some lagoons. They all looked full of birds, so we decided to stop and use our telescopes to see what was waiting for us there. It was incredible; in no more than 15 minutes we saw White-tufted Grebe, Chilean Flamingo, Black-necked Swan, Lake Duck, Coscoroba Swan, Southern Wigeon, Red Shoveler, Rosy-billed Pochard, Two-banded Plover, Least Seedsnipe, Common Miner and others. Lesser Rheas were particularly abundant between Calafate and here.

Crossing the border between Argentina and Chile takes some time, since we have to stop in both the Argentine and Chilean sides of it, so as to get out passports stamped and fill up some forms required by both immigration offices.

We arrived at the Chilean side of the border at midday, a village called Cerro Castillo, where we had lunch.

After lunch we continued towards Torres del Paine National Park, where we were going to stay for two nights at "Hostería Las Torres". The day was very cloudy and we couldn't have a very good view of the towers entering the park. Anyway we could see them well for a moment and people could take some good photos of them.

One of the most remarkable inhabitants of Torres del Paine is the Guanaco, a wild camel native to South America, which is particularly abundant and tame here. We saw hundreds of these as we were approaching the park and of course everyone had the chance to take as many photos as they wanted of the Guanacos which seemed to be posing for the cameras.

Before arriving to "Laguna Amarga", one of the gates of the park, and having some free time left, we decided to go visiting the "Cascadas del Río Paine". This is one of the places where the sometimes elusive Torrent Duck can be found. At first look we couldn't find any, but knowing that the birds might be there, we went for a little walk and finally found a pair roosting on a rocky beach.

As we were heading back to the park gate, Cesar our driver spotted a Patagonian Skunk, standing on a side of the road. It didn't stay very long, and soon as we stopped the bus, it ran towards a nearby gully. Luckily all the group members could see it well before it disappeared.

On arrival to Laguna Amarga, a shuttle van was waiting for us to transfer the group to Hostería Las Torres. There is a very narrow bridge to cross and buses like Cesar's one are too big to go over it. Therefore a smaller vehicle has to be used for covering this distance.

Friday November 14th, 2003

Excellent weather conditions in the morning for us to enjoy a full day visiting the park. Few clouds, almost no wind and mild temperatures.

After breakfast we requested our transfer to Laguna Amarga, where we took our bus to go visiting the rest of Torres del Paine National Park. As we were heading south we crossed several ponds, some of which were covered with vegetation. It became a little cloudier as we got close to the lookout on Lake Nordeskjold, and actually we had a little rain there as we were watching the Horns of Paine. A small flock of Austral Blackbirds singing added a little music to the magnificent scenery around us.

We continued our way towards "Salto Grande", and before getting there, we were lucky enough to see a Condor perching on top of a rock not so high up. So we put our telescopes on it and could see every detail of this juvenile female.

Once in Salto Grande we went for a walk and people enjoyed taking photos of this waterfall and Lake Pehoe in the background. We decided to have our picnic lunch in a campsite on the southern shore of Lake Pehoe, since there's a spectacular view of the Horns of Paine there. As we were having our meal, a Chilean Flicker perched on an outer branch of a nearby Beech Tree, allowing our group to see it very well.

After lunch we continued towards Lago Grey. As we passed the administration of the park, there was a great view of the Paine Massif, including both the Towers and the Horns, a picture that will certainly remain in everyone's mind for ever.

Once at Lago Grey, we took the trail that leads down to the shore of the lake crossing the Pingo River and a Beech forest. As we finished crossing the bridge on the Pingo River, we noticed that most of the trees had been pecked by woodpeckers, and some of the holes were fresh. A second after, one female Magellanic perched on a Beech Tree some meters away: the fourth sighting of the species during the trip!

Once we got to the beach on Lake Grey, we decided to go for a walk to see the icebergs on the shore. The view was outstanding there. It is always cold and very windy in this place, but knowing it in advance, we brought our windbreakers and were able to enjoy our walk without any problem.

From Lago Grey we started our way back to Las Torres, where we arrived in the evening.

Saturday November 15th, 2003

This day we went back to Calafate, where the group was taking a flight to Buenos Aires.

We started our journey early in the morning, so as to have some time to have lunch together, since I was staying in Calafate to finally return home to Puerto Madryn the day after. We were fortunate not having any delays at the border, and Cesar's driving skills took as back to Calafate safely and in time for lunch in town before going to the airport.

The group took an early afternoon flight, and I had to say good-bye to them at Calafate City Airport. Some of the members of the group returned home the day after, and others went to Iguazú, where they were guided by my partner Miguel.

For me it was a pleasure sharing these days with such fine travel companions and certainly it was not easy to say good bye...


Provided by Germán Pugnali

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus

White-necked Heron Ardea cocoi

Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix

Great Egret Egretta alba

Snowy Egret Egretta thula

Striated Heron Butorides striatus

Maguari Stork Ciconia maguari

Bare-faced Ibis Phimosus infuscatus

White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi

Coscoroba Swan Coscoroba coscoroba

Black-necked Swan Cygnus melanocorypha

Ringed Teal Callonetta leucophrys

Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis

Long-winged Harrier Circus buffoni

Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris

Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango

Limpkin Aramus guarauna

Giant Wood-Rail Aramides ypecaha

South American Stilt Himantopus melanurus

Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis

Brown-hooded Gull Chroicocephalus maculipennis

Picazuro Pigeon Columba picazuro

Rock Pigeon Columba livia

Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata

Picui Ground-Dove Columbina picui

Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monacha

Guira Cuckoo Guira guira

Glittering-bellied Emerald Chlorostilbon aureoventris

Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana

Green-barred Woodpecker Colaptes melanochloros

Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus

Curve-billed Reedhaunter Limnornis curvirostris

Chicli Spinetail Synallaxis spixi

Spectacled Tyrant Hymenops perspicillata

Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus

Cattle Tyrant Machetornis rixosus

Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus

Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus

Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus

Warbling Doradito Pseudocolopteryx flaviventris

Small-billed Elaenia Elaenia parvirostris

Brown-chested Martin Phaeoprogne tapera

White-rumped Swallow Tachycineta leucorrhoa

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Chalk-browed Mockingbird Mimus saturninus

Creamy-bellied Thrush Turdus amaurochalinus

Rufous-bellied Thrush Turdus rufiventris

Correndera Pipit Anthus correndera

Masked Gnatcatcher Polioptila dumicola

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

European Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Masked Yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis

Sayaca Tanager Thraupis sayaca

Greyish Saltator Saltator coerulescens

Grassland Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteola

Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis

Black-and-Rufous Warbling-Finch Poospiza nigrorufa

Great Pampa-Finch Embernagra platensis

Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanica

Epaulet Oriole Icterus cayanensis

Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis

Yellow-winged Blackbird Agelaius (Chrysomus) thilius

Brown-and-Yellow Marshbird Pseudoleistes virescens

Scarlet-headed Blackbird Amblyramphus holosericeus


Data of: Luis Horacio Segura Date: 20-11-03

Lesser Rhea Pterocnemia pennata

Darwin's Nothura Nothura darwinii

Elegant-crested Tinamou Eudromia elegans

Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua

Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus

White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland

Great Grebe Podiceps major

Silvery Grebe Podiceps occipitalis

Black-browed Albatross Diomedea melanophris

Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus

Common Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax olivaceus

Rock Shag Phalacrocorax magellanicus

Imperial Shag Phalacrocorax atriceps

Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Black-faced Ibis Theristicus melanopis

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

Black-necked Swan Cygnus melanocorypha

Coscoroba Swan Coscoroba coscoroba

Upland Goose Chloephaga picta

Kelp Goose Chloephaga hybrida

Ashy-headed Goose Chloephaga poliocephala

Flying Steamerduck Tachyeres patachonicus

Magellanic Steamerduck Tachyeres pteneres

White-headed Steamerduck Tachyeres leucocephalus

Torrent Duck Merganetta armata

Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix

Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris

Spectacled Duck Anas specularis

Crested Duck Anas specularioides

Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica

Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera

Red Shoveler Anas platalea

Rosy-billed Pochard Netta peposaca

Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis

Argentine Blue-billed Duck Oxyura vittata

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Andean Condor Vultur gryphus

Cinereous Harrier Circus cinereus

Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus

Red-backed Hawk Buteo polyosoma

White-throated Caracara Phalcoboenus albogularis

Striated Caracara Phalcoboenus australis

Crested Caracara Polyborus plancus

Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis

Red-gartered Coot Fulica armillata

Red-fronted Coot Fulica rufifrons

Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus

Blackish Oystercatcher Haematopus ater

American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis

Two-banded Plover Charadrius falklandicus

Tawny-throated Dotterel Oreopholus ruficollis

Magellanic Plover Pluvianellus socialis

South American Snipe Gallinago paraguaiae

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes

White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis

Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii

Wilson's Phalarope Steganopus tricolor

Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

Pale-faced Sheathbill Chionis alba

Chilean Skua Catharacta chilensis

Brown Skua Catharacta antarctica

Dolphin Gull Leucophaeus scoresbii

Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus

Brown-hooded Gull Larus maculipennis

Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis

Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

Rock Dove Columba livia

Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata

Burrowing Parrot Cyanoliseus patagonus

Austral Parakeet Enicognathus ferrugineus

Austral Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium nanum

Burrowing Owl Speotyto cunicularia

Chilean Flicker Colaptes pitius

Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus

Common Miner Geositta cunicularia

Scale-throated Earthcreeper Upucerthia dumetaria

Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus

Dark-bellied Cinclodes Cinclodes patagonicus

Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus

Thorn-tailed Rayadito Aphrastura spinicauda

Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura aegithaloides

Lesser Canastero Asthenes pyrrholeuca

Patagonian Canastero Asthenes patagonica

Rufous-tailed Plantcutter Phytotoma rara

White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps

Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus

Many-colored Rush-Tyrant Tachuris rubrigastra

Fire-eyed Diucon Xolmis pyrope

Rusty-backed Monjita Xolmis rubetra

Chocolate-vented Tyrant Neoxolmis rufiventris

Gray-bellied Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis microptera

Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola macloviana

Austral Negrito Lessonia rufa

White-winged Black-Tyrant Knipolegus aterrimus

Spectacled Tyrant Hymenops perspicillatus

Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus

Austral Thrush Turdus falcklandii

Patagonian Mockingbird Mimus patagonicus

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Chilean Swallow Tachycineta meyeni

Southern Martin Progne modesta

Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Correndera Pipit Anthus correndera

Short-billed Pipit Anthus furcatus

Hellmayr's Pipit Anthus hellmayri

Black-chinned Siskin Carduelis barbata

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis

Patagonian Sierra-Finch Phrygilus patagonicus

Mourning Sierra-Finch Phrygilus fruticeti

Common Diuca-Finch Diuca diuca

Patagonian Yellow-Finch Sicalis lebruni

Grassland Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteola

Yellow-winged Blackbird Agelaius thilius

Long-tailed Meadowlark Sturnella loyca

Austral Blackbird Curaeus curaeus

Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis



Data of: Miguel Castelino Date: 16-18 Nov 03.

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax olivaceus

Anhinga Anhinga anhinga

Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Snowy Egret Egretta thula

Great Egret Ardea alba

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Striated Heron Butorides striatus

Black Vulture Coragyps atratus

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis

Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea

Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus

Crested Caracara Polyborus plancus

Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima

Limpkin Aramus guarauna

Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis

Picazuro Pigeon Columba picazuro

Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis

Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata

Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti

Scaly-headed Parrot Pionus maximiliani

Greater Ani Crotophaga major

Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani

Great Dusky Swift Cypseloides senex

Scale-throated Hermit Phaethornis eurynome

Black-throated Mango Anthracothorax nigricollis

Glittering-bellied Emerald Chlorostilbon aureoventris

Violet-capped Woodnymph Thalurania glaucopis

Gilded Sapphire Hylocharis chrysura

Versicolored Emerald Amazilia versicolor

Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata

Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco

Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus

Long-tailed Tyrant Colonia colonus

Cattle Tyrant Machetornis rixosus

Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus

Fork-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus savana

Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus

Plush-crested Jay Cyanocorax chrysops

Rufous-bellied Thrush Turdus rufiventris

Pale-breasted Thrush Turdus leucomelas

Chalk-browed Mockingbird Mimus saturninus

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

White-winged Swallow Tachycineta albiventer

Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea

Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis

Yellow-billed Cardinal Paroaria capitata

Bananaquit Coereba flaveola

Purple-throated Euphonia Euphonia chlorotica

Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana

Swallow-Tanager Tersina viridis

Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola

Red-rumped Cacique Cacicus haemorrhous

Epaulet Oriole Icterus cayanensis

Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis

Giant Cowbird Scaphidura oryzivora


© The Travelling Naturalist 2003