The ubiquitos Rufous-collared Sparrow, this one is of the wide-spread southern race – australis
We’ve just returned home from an eighteen day trip to see our son and daughter-in-law in Santiago, Chile and bird three specific areas of that beautiful country, the Atacama desert and nearby altiplano, the Central region from the Andes to the coast and Tierra del Fuego, in the far south. There’ll be separate blogs, covering each of these areas, coming soon. We were accompanied, on this occasion, by Neil, my oldest friend and compatriot birder – this was his first experience of South America. We flew with Iberia and stayed at a variety of places from budget hostels and cabanas to swanky hotels. Various car rentals were courtesy of Econorent, Hertz and Avis. Apart from the pelagic out of Quintero, the trip was entirely self-guided. We found just over two hundred species and I added 31 new birds to my Chile list – not too shabby an outcome! For an annotated check-list, covering all the species, follow this link.
Details of our itinerary were as follows:
28th October – departed Heathrow for Santiago, via Madrid – Iberia airlines
29th October – arrived in Santiago, established ‘base camp’ in Las Condes and birded around the ski resorts of Farellones and El Colorado in the afternoon.
30th October – am, another abortive attempt to find any wetlands at Lampa, near Santiago airport, before flying north to Calama and driving to San Pedro – staying at the perfectly adequate Casa Ancestral cabanas
1st November – Early morning visit to Laguna Chaxa for flamingos and later driving to the lagunas of Miscanti and Meniques, at a height of over 4,000m. Birding the village and adjacent gullies of Socaire on our return descent
2nd November – followed Route 27 to Jama, on the Argentine border, looking for altiplano specialities, passing Tara, Pujsa and Aguas Calientes saline lagoons on the way. Evening birding around the tamarugo woods at Tombillo
3rd November – Visited the historic settlement of Chui Chui am, before our return flight to Santiago. Drove to Olmue for a couple of nights in the Refugios Rukararayen cabanas
4th November – due to public workers strike, an abortive attempt to visit La Campana NP. Visited Embalse Llilliu am and the hills around Olmue in the afternoon, as an alternative.
5th November – Successful but brief visit to La Campana am, followed by a drive to the coast, birding from Algarrabo to the Maipo delta, via El Peral (which was also closed due to the strike!)
6th November – visited the excellent private wildlife reserve of Tricao, south of Santo Domingo before following the coast north to Quintero and Renaca. Overnight at the picturescue cabanas at Pirates Rock.
7th November – a day visiting various birding sites north of Quintero, including the infamous Sulphurico Acido plant, La Laguna estuary and Penguin Rock at Cachagua
8th November – excellent morning pelagic, out of Quintero, organised by Rodrigo Reyes of Birdwatching Chile, followed by local birding
9th November – drove to Santiago and a return visit to the ski resort of Farallones and Valle Nervado
10th November – early morning flight to Punta Arenas, followed by the long drive to Cerro Sombreo, Tierra del Fuego, via the ferry at Punta Delgado, and including the approach track to Pali-Aike
11th November – drove to Penguino Rey NP, on the Bahia Inutil, for King Penguin, returning to Porvenir. Visit to Laguna Verde and Lago Serrano, late afternoon for Magellanic Plover. Stayed at the excellent Yendegaia House – where David Couve, our host, provided excellent birding information and advice
12th November – returned to Punta Arenas birding the area south of the city, pm
13th November – morning visit to Magallanes NP prior to return flight to Santiago
14th November – flight home to London via Madrid
First blog, covering the Atacama desert and altiplano, will follow shortly!