Woke early this morning, ready for our long day touring the central region of Tierra del Fuego. Looked out of the window to discover that the cabana was covered in snow, with a stiff south westerly wind blowing – bringing temperatures done to around zero. We had a leisurely breakfast and eventually set off to see what conditions were like outside the town. The road north to Rio Grande crosses a mountain range before descending to the patagonian steppe country, which was our intended destination. We got as far as the ski centre, about 30k from Ushuaia, before the build-up of slush in the road finally persuaded us to turn back! The chance of adding more steppe species gone, we focused our mind on a less ambitious day of ‘local’ birding. We decided to pay the rubbish tip our respects, before becoming distracted by the rough track which leaves Ushuaia east, along the coast. This afforded us good views of the Beagle Channel and added three species we’d pretty much written off, once we’d decided not to take the boat to Haberton – Chilean Skua, Brown Skua and Southern Fulmar. The tip failed to produce anything new and with heavy snow continuing to fall we headed for a hot drink and lunch at the cabana.
After lunch we headed to the local golf course and steam railway attraction – the only area of open pasture in the immediate area ( well it would have been pasture if it weren’t covered in thick snow!) – we still managed to add Grey-flanked Cinclodes for the trip. A trip out to the airport gave us close views of Ochre-naped Ground Tyrant but little else of note. The anxiety of seeing the airport being snow bound was palpable!
We retired to the warmth of the cabana and a bottle of the local Malbec, with an Argentinian bird list just short of the ton – what we lacked in quantity being amply compensated for by quality, not forgetting the spectacular scenery. Tomorrow, fingers and toes crossed, we depart for Peru – we have no plan B. Nor are we likely to have anything like the quality of internet connection, which has been better here at the ‘end of the world’ than it is at home!
A snowy landscape…
Two of six Andean Condors seen together, east of Ushuaia. Look at the tootsies on that gisker!
Black-crowned Night Heron – a bird with circumpolar distribution but still a surprise here in the deep south
Only one flight managed to land today…!
Patagonian Sierra Finch – a rare bit of colour in an otherwise ‘white out’ kind of a day
Train to ‘the end of the world’..
…and to finish with, the rather understated but delightful Ochre-naped Ground Tyrant
That’s all from Argentina, our second South American country . Next blog, internet permitting, from Cusco, Peru. I only hope it’s warmer there! Bye for now and thank you for following our Big World Birding Adventure.