Today was a slow start. After a latish breakfast we wandered around the cabanas looking for birds. Seeing very few, Bob and I set off to the town, to secure a hire car. An hour later we discovered all the hire car places were shut and, having been told that they were up at the ‘aeropuerto’ we grabbed a passing taxi and headed off in the direction of the airport. Once there we discovered that all the car hire booths were locked up and the place deserted. With no money for the return taxi ride, we’d just decided to walk back to the cabanas, when a man from Hertz showed up. ‘Have you a car we can hire?’ we ask, ‘No’ says the man, having explained that the car hire office was closed for the weekend. ‘Please, pretty please, por favor’ we pleaded (by this time it’s snowing quite heavily outside!). ‘Well I do have this one that’s waiting for a re-spray’ – ‘We’ll take it’! Two hours after we set off we arrive back at the cabana with a set of wheels!
We decide to make the best of the day by heading off in the direction of the national park of Tierra del Fuego. Just the name of it conjures up images of early explorers, whalers and rounding Cape Horn! We knew that the bird life could be good but difficult to find. After a long drive through the park and lunch by the side of a lake with a back-drop of snow-capped mountains, we set off in pursuit of our quarry – the near mythical Magellanic Woodpecker. After an hour of fruitless searching and me frequently performing the David Attenborough stone-tapping on a rotten tree-stump trick, we’d pretty much given up and I was back in the car park looking for a Caracara when Sue came running up breathlessly proclaiming that Jane had seen a woodpecker. A 200 yd sprint and there it was, a fabulous drumming female Magellanic Woodpecker and close-by, her mate! What a birding moment and another ‘must see’ safely in the bag!
We continued to enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery, in temperatures little above freezing, for the rest of the afternoon, adding a number of new species. The day concluded with us parked up at the side of the municipal rubbish tip, looking for two ‘hard to get’ Caracara species – one of which, the White-throated, falling before the finale of the day, the arrival of two gigantic Andean Condor!
View across the lake from the Visitors Centre, Tierra del Fuego National Park
..but to start the day off, circa 100 Flying Steamer Ducks in Ushuaia harbour
..and later, two exquisite Flightless Steamer Ducks, in the TDF national park
Black-faced Ibis – another ‘trip tick’
The star bird of the afternoon (and possibly Argentina!) – a magnificent male Magellanic Woodpecker!
..and his equally attractive mate
A great days birding was rounded off nicely by the arrival at the local rubbish dump of two Andean Condor…
What a great place this southern tip of South America is proving to be…