Wild Patagonia & Central Chile: Nov 01—18, 2019
Pumas, Penguins, Condors & More!
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Past Field Lists:
- Nov 02, 2017: Wild Patagonia & Central Chile: PDF (14.5 MB)
- Nov 03, 2016: Wild Patagonia & Central Chile: PDF (3.3 MB)
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Magnificent Andean scenery, Patagonian steppe, towering Valdivian forest, world-famous Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego National Parks, wonderful endemics, Pumas galore, King Penguin colony, and huge condors are hallmarks of this tour to majestic Chile. Outstanding spring weather, blooming flowers, and photographic opportunities.
Chile! Whether exploring wild Patagonia for Pumas against a backdrop of snow-capped spires, or enjoying the antics of a fantastic King Penguin colony in Tierra del Fuego, or observing a hulking Magellanic Woodpecker or colorful tapaculos in a towering Nothofagus beech forest, or simply sipping fine wine in a comfortable lodge, this lovely South American country is destined to captivate you.
On this exciting tour, we will experience the magnificent scenery and abundant birds and other wildlife of Chile, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From Talca in south-central Chile to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego in the far south, we will seek the special birds, mammals, and landscapes for which the country is justly famous. Our visit is timed for the southern spring when the weather is at its best, wildflowers are ablaze, birds are singing and easier to find, and photographic opportunities are at their peak. Perhaps most exciting, we will have the unique opportunity to be certain to view wild Pumas in famed Torres del Paine National Park; we saw 9 on our scouting trip, and 7 and 8 respectively on our last two tours!
We begin with an exciting but relaxed day close to the Chilean capital, exploring the wondrous Andes for many neat endemics, with Andean Condors galore and great photo ops. Then we’ll head south to Talca and the chance to see a colony of Burrowing Parakeets, and then on to Altos de Lircay National Reserve, home to sensational mountain scenery, our lovely lodge, and extensive beech forest—the home to Chestnut-throated Huet-Huet and Rufous-legged Owl—and where Magellanic Woodpeckers are common.
We then migrate south, flying to Puerto Montt, jump-off point for Chiloe Island and exploration of the old-growth beech forests of Alerce Andino National Park. These beautiful forests hold such gems as Black-throated Huet-Huet, Chucao Tapaculo, Green-backed Firecrown, Des Murs’ Wiretail, and rare Chilean Hawk. We’ll take a special boat trip for the recently described Pincoya Storm-Petrel before crossing on the ferry for our stay on the charming island of Chiloe. This crossing should produce sightings of a probably new species of Flightless Steamer-Duck, and attractive Red-legged Cormorant. Exploring Chiloe’s rolling hills and rich estuaries will provide exposure to a profusion of colorful wildflowers, hordes of shorebirds, and specialty Valdivian forest birds, including the endemic Slender-billed Parakeet, rare Pudu, and an exciting visit to a mixed Humboldt and Magellanic penguin colony.
A short flight south takes us to almost the tip of South America, Punta Arenas, gateway to wild Patagonia. Here, the landscape is dominated by the giant granite walls of the Paine massif rising dramatically above the barren Patagonian steppe. We have an action-packed day from Punta Arenas visiting Magdalena Island in the strait of Magellan, home to a 150,000 colony of Magellanic Penguins and South American Sea Lions, as well as birding the rich wetland reserves near town. After an exciting, comfortable ferry crossing in the Magellan Straits, we will explore the famous Tierra del Fuego, the “Land of Fire,” visiting a thriving King Penguin colony. Beyond penguins, these wild barrens hold many other enticing species, with a range of beautiful waterfowl including Silvery Grebe, flamingoes, miners, and ground-tyrants; however, our main target will be the much sought after pink-legged Magellanic Plover (in its own family). We will also enjoy Rufous-chested and Tawny-throated dotterels, Least Seedsnipe, the incredible Chocolate-vented Tyrant, stunning White-bridled (canary-winged) Finches and much more.
For a grand finale we’ll travel to the famed Torres del Paine National Park where breathtaking scenery abounds, with vast glaciers, ice fields, snow-covered mountains, and turquoise lakes providing sensational panoramic scenery at every bend in the road. Amid such splendor we will seek our prime targets: the powerful Puma (almost guaranteed, with 7 in 2016), herds of wild Guanacos, flocks of Darwin’s Rhea, White-throated Caracara, Austral Rail, Band-tailed Earthcreeper, Yellow-bridled Finch, Patagonian Mockingbird, and with luck, the endangered Hooded Grebe (seen on our scouting trip).
An optional extension based in the vicinity of Santiago explores its stunning mountains, rich wetlands and coast with an exceptional pelagic trip (for several species of albatross including Salvin’s, Black-browed, Northern Royal, and Buller’s, plus an assortment of petrels and shearwaters too) for a marvelous suite of other birds not likely on the main tour. These include several neat endemics and localized species such as Chilean Tinamou, Stripe-backed Bittern, Inca Tern, Black-headed Duck, Gray-breasted Seedsnipe, South American Painted Snipe, Black Rail, Striped Woodpecker, Moustached Turca, Dusky Tapaculo, Crag Chilia, Seaside Cinclodes, White-sided Hillstar, Ticking Dorodito, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, and of course, the gorgeous, enigmatic Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, and many more.
Easy birding with accommodations good to excellent; wonderful cuisine and famous Chilean wine; tour moderately paced with a couple of action-packed long driving days with easy walking on varied terrain, but mostly on roadsides and forest trails; Puma excursions can entail optional walks of up to 2–3 kilometers walking on rolling terrain; weather conditions mostly sunny and pleasant to rather cool to cold early AM, and sometimes can be windy in Patagonia.