Tuesday, 2nd October. Spent the morning on a slow drive to the Valdes peninsular and arrived at our hotel – the very nicely appointed Del Nomade, in Puerto Piramides by lunch time. The town, one short street and a collection of houses, cafes and shops with a slight Mexican feel to it, exists for one purpose – to facilitate the viewing of Whales – and facilitate they did!! We booked for the one and a half hour trip, leaving at 3.30 and went for a leisurely lunch. You can see the whales in the bay from the quay side, but we were completely unprepared for the experience that was to follow. The small inflatable boat with about thirty people on board, set out across the bay, taking in the local sea lion colony on route to the whales. The experience of seeing these majestic animals at close quarters was utterly amazing! They didn’t just occasionally pop their heads out of the water for a few seconds and then nothing. No these 15m. long, 45 ton creatures were everywhere! Mothers with their 3 month old calves were swimming alongside the boat for most of the hour we were in their ‘territory’. Turning, twisting, breaching, blowing and moaning – they were terribly ‘up close and personal’!! I’ve read trip reports about the whale watching from Puerto Piramides and always thought the accounts sounded rather exaggerated. Nothing could be further from the truth and I’m truly at a lost to adequately describe the experience. Hopefully a few pictures will capture a sense of it..once I get a good enough connection that is!
…and now with photos!
It’s Tuesday, we’re in Puerto Madryn and the internet is working! This area of Argentina is home to an ancient tribe of Welsh settlers – it’s also the place to come for whales. Southern Right Whales breed here in the austral summer and Killer Whales visit in the autumn to eat the seal cubs! We got our first view of the former species off shore yesterday along with Southern Giant Petrel! Inland, around the Chubut laguna reserve, we saw plenty of Long-tailed Harrier, Buff-breasted Ibis, Brown Pintail and a few other duck and wader species. In the afternoon, a few ‘bush birds’!
On the ‘home front’, we are all well and recovering from our ‘lost night’ between leaving Guapi Assu lodge and arriving in Trelew. Jane is suffering from infected ant bites and ticks – but nothing a sharp knife and Savlon won’t cure (I hope!). Haven’t managed to get any money out of any ATM using any of our various cards, but I’m sure it will happen one day! Just sitting in the lounge of the hotel watching a fantastic sun rise over the Peninsular Valdes – our location for the next couple of days, and enjoying some ‘quiet time’ before the others come down for breakfast.
Thanks for following us and I hope the belated photos are a welcome relief to my poorly edited text.
Pictures to follow…
…and finally, Burrowing Parrots – one of the ‘must sees’ of the entire trip!!
Being Saturday, today was our last full day at Guapi Assu so we decided to stay local and see how many species we could find by ourselves. An early morning stroll before breakfast – it gets light here just after five, produced about forty species with a couple of new ones to get us started, including Pileated Finch & Reddish Hermit. After a leisurely breakfast we ‘hit the road’ to see if we could get a few farmland species that had evaded us thus far – they continued to evade us however and we returned for lunch, having walk 10k in steaming hot weather. In the afternoon we set off to find the canopy hide, which we’d failed to locate on a previous expedition. We found the hide but not so many birds – we did hear another Channel-billed Toucan though, having seen two on the yellow trail in the morning. There then followed something of a ‘purple patch’ just before dusk, where we added a probable Salvadori’s Antwren, Black-capped Donacobius and Limpkin, bringing our total a couple short of 100 for the day!
It’s Monday and we’re in Argentina! 24 hours and three flights later and we’re in the whale watching ‘capital’ of South America – peninsular Valdes. We’ve not seen any yet, but we’ll let you know if we do!
Poor internet connection means no photos at all – oh well….
Brazilian Tanager – nice ‘bird table’ species!
Piculet – a very small woodpecker
…and a big lizard!