03 - 19 November 2001
by Chris Goodie
Before travelling, we obtained the following, (most useful for our itinerary are marked *)
Birding Trip to Chile, Aug 12-Sept 20th, 87: Barry McCarthy *
Birds Seen in Chile, 8 Nov-11 Dec 92: Steve Howell + Sophie Webb *
Birding in Northern and Central Chile, 20 Feb-6th March 91 Guy Kirwan and Alan Eardley*
Chile: Nov 96, Alvaro Jaramillo.
Chile, 1st Sept-21st Sept 96: Gibbins and Sykes *
Chile, Jan 24-Feb 14 98: Van der Laan, Wiringa *
Chile, October 12-21, 98: Mark, Augustine, Shen
Chile, 7 Nov - 5 Dec 98: Barry Wright *
Chile/Bolivia, Aug. 99, Mølgaard, Meedom, Andersen
Chile, 30 Oct - 20 Nov 99, Browne and Spoel
Chile/Argentina, 7 Oct – 26 Nov 2000: Jon Hornbuckle *
A few of the above were purchased from FBRIS, Steve Whitehouse, (6 Skipton Crescent, Berkeley Pendesham, Worcester, WR4 0LG, UK. Tel: UK+(0)1905-454541,) but most were culled from the growing number of reports now available free on the web, eg Blake Maybank’s site at
We also used:
The Essential Guide to Birding in Chile: Pearman- is indeed essential. A few errors on the maps and some information a little dated already but still very useful. *
Collins Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica- de la Peña and Rumboll. Most useful field guide for carrying in the field- includes almost all species likely to be encountered, (except some at Lauca, since Peruvian species are not included,) in colour- very useful, although the illustrations aren’t great. *
The Birds of South America Volume 1- The Oscine passerines. Tudor and Ridgely, 1989 *
The Birds of South America Volume II- The Suboscine
passerines. Tudor and Ridgely, 1994. *
Both volumes are an essential reference, especially Vol II. I took colour copies of a few plates from both volumes to carry into the field, since both are heavy hardbacks.
Birds of the High Andes: Jon Fjeldsa + Niels Krabbe: 1990 (Apollo Books, Denmark) Very useful reference but again too heavy for field use. *
The Birds of Chile, A Field Guide: Braulio Araya + Sharon Chester 1993/Birds of Chile Illustrated in Color: Sharon Chester 1995. Not great, but the small colour booklet is useful if space is tight.
Lonely Planet Guide to Chile and Easter Island: extremely useful for hotels, restaurants, logistics, background etc. *
The combination of the above provides enough information to get to pretty much any known site, and to find the key areas when you get there. This report is intended as an update on Pearman et al; hence you will need at least some of the above/other reports if you require full information. If you find this report useful, please send me your own sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our trip was planned following a number of very short previous trips to Chile 1996-2000, mostly squeezed in around work obligations. I had also birded S. Argentina before, so this trip was designed to ‘mop up’ species missed before, and to combine birding with the most scenic locations, (not hard to find in Chile,) for the benefit of my non-birding girlfriend. Hence we didn’t worry about padding our list with Central Chilean species I had seen a number of times before- if you birded dawn to dusk on a 3-week trip 230+ species should easily be possible.
Why Chile?: There’s no tropical rain forest in Chile, hence the species list is smaller than many other Latin American countries. However, there are nine endemics, (plus c65 near-endemics shared only with neighbouring Argentina,) a number of sought-after species e.g. Diademed Sandpiper-Plover that are relatively easy to find here, a great range of altitudinal faunal zones, (sea level to 5000m+,) stunning scenery, good infrastructure, very friendly people, and it’s very safe and easy to travel around. Costs are lower than the UK but higher than many other Latin American countries.
Getting There, Timing: Most flights arrive in Santiago, we flew from Gatwick via Buenos Aires with British Airways. Cheaper tickets are often available if you also fly via e.g. Madrid. We chose November, as it’s the Austral Spring, hence reasonable weather, birds singing on territory, (the Tapaculos were a particular target this trip,) etc. Certain species were a little difficult this late- e.g. Magellanic Woodpeckers aren’t calling much as they are already breeding, but going earlier you run the risk of late snow in the North etc.
Weather: very cold early morning in the South/Lakes, dress for an English Winter. Poured with rain overnight at Puyuhue and snowed for a few hours, sleet-rain showers next day, but it was still possible to bird inside the forest even in fairly heavy rain. Otherwise most days were sunny, (especially in the North,) but often still cold. The South was extremely windy on 2 of our 3 days, also at Torres del Paine, making birding very challenging at times.
Visas: UK passport holders do not require a visa for stays of 90 days or less- passports should have at least 6 months left before expiry.
Language: Spanish is spoken everywhere, (and German in some places in the South,) and speaking some Spanish is a great help although you could get by without- many people speak a little English in the major towns.
Car Hire: I had a UK license and an out of date IDP (International Driver’s permit) with the date page removed…I was only asked for an International license in Arica. Pearman says you need an International license, and although this no longer seems to be the case in many places, at least for UK license holders, it’s best to have an IDP or International license to be sure. A credit card is necessary when collecting the car. We hired basic cars in each location, (Santiago Airport, P. Arenas, Puerto Montt Airport, Arica Airport, Santiago Airport,) through Avis and Hertz, (the latter for P. Arenas and Arica.) Doubtless local companies would be cheaper, (we paid £80-£200 per location,) but we wanted to pre-book to be on the safe side as time was relatively short. NB A number of the companies do not have staff full-time at their airport offices unless you pre-book, (in which case they will come out to meet your flight.) Public transport is generally good- see other reports- but a hire car is better for many locations unless you have a lot of time, especially so at Lauca and in the South where traffic is very infrequent. We drove a total of c3000kms in 17 days. The distances from North to South are large, (tip to top is 4,300kms…) so we took internal flights from Santiago-Punta Arenas (via Puerto Montt,) P. Arenas-Puerto Montt, P. Montt (via Santiago and Iquique) to Arica, and Arica back (via Iquique) to Santiago.
All roads were easily passable by standard 2-wheel vehicles, 4X4 is very expensive, necessary only for e.g. PN Nahuelbuta which we didn’t have time to visit, may also be necessary elsewhere at other times of year? We had no problems other than one puncture in Puerto Montt. All rental cars seem to steer to the right in Chile! NB in the South and North there are very few petrol stations outside the major towns so fill up whenever possible. It’s necessary to carry an additional 20 litre can of petrol (‘un bidon’ in Spanish) when driving to Lauca, so ask the car rental agency to provide one; we had to go to the Hertz office in Arica to collect one but it’s worthwhile, although it may sometimes be possible to buy petrol at the Supermercado Cali in Putre.) The extra 20 litres will give you enough petrol to allow the trip from Arica-Putre-Parinacota-Chungara, and back to Arica with birding diversions along the way. At Torres del Paine it’s only just possible to make it on one tank of fuel from e.g. Puerto Natales-Lago Grey-Hosteria Las Torres-Lago Grey-P. Natales. They usually have gas at the Hosteria las Torres but had run out of sin plomo (lead free) when we tried, the ONLY other option is Villa Cerro Castillo which is 1 hour out of the park on the way back to P. Natales. Petrol stations are all manned, gasolina is either unleaded, (which comes in 93, (novienta tres,) 95 or 97 flavours,) or diesel. ‘A full tank of unleaded please’ in Spanish is “lleno sin plomo por favor.” Tolls (300-3000 pesos) are fairly frequent on major roads in C. Chile, so keep pesos handy.
Roads are generally very good in central Chile, with a few potholes, all major routes are paved, minor roads are all rutas de ripio ie dirt roads, but generally in very good condition often allowing travel at 80kms with care even in a standard vehicle. Most roads in the South are good but unpaved, and a 4 x 4 will allows faster travel over the relatively large distances, however you can get by with a standard cheap vehicle as we did. Note that all rental cars in the South are relatively expensive, (almost as bad as Argentina,) but unlimited kilometre deals seemed to be easy to get, definitely the way to go since distances are reasonably high.
Maps: We used the basic map given to us by the car hire co., plus we bought Nelles Chile 1:2,500,000 in England which was small scale but OK-there aren’t that many roads in most birding areas anyway, it’s easy to navigate.
Health: Water is safe to drink in most of Chile, but be careful in rural areas, many people prefer to stick to mineral water which is widely available. There are few if any bugs, snakes etc, although insect repellent is useful in the Azapa valley.
The main danger to be aware of is altitude sickness, which is a real threat at Lauca. It is not advisable to ascend from Arica (sea level) to Parinacota (over 4000m) in the same day, much better to stay at Putre (3,500m) and acclimatise for a day/night there, there’s enough good birding at Putre in any case. We did ascend directly to Parinacota during the course of our first day, but descended to Putre to sleep. We suffered headaches, mild dizziness and found it difficult to sleep but otherwise had no problem, and were fine by the end of the second day. However, even moderate exercise at 4500m+ made us very breathless on day #3; it’s vital to take things easy at these altitudes, and be prepared to descend immediately if serious symptoms should occur. Avoid alcohol and smoking until acclimatised. Also be aware that it’s extremely easy to suffer major sunburn at these altitudes, even if you are already tanned- wear total sunblock on exposed skin and a hat at all times.
Food etc: A wide variety of food to suit all tastes and budgets is available, but the more remote sites require food to be taken in. Most of the sites we visited had restaurants or cafes close by, but those in the National Parks are relatively expensive, (although still cheaper than the UK,) so if on a budget it’s still worth carrying food in. Seafood and fish (e.g. King Crab, Conger Eel, Salmon,) are excellent in Chile for obvious reasons, as are the wines; $6-10 US will buy you an excellent bottle in a restaurant. The Celestino pancakes are also irresistible. Supermarkets are to be found in all towns, although for some strange reason it’s hard to buy bread in Putre if you’re not a local! Empañadas (like a Cornish pasty but better…) are widely available as a snack- the winner of our 16-day ‘best Empañada in Chile’ competition was a local bakery in Arica.
Money/Security: The currency is the Chilean Peso. US dollars (cash) are accepted in many hotels, restaurants etc, travellers cheques can be changed at some airports, US $ are much more useful than UK £’s in all cases, the latter are often impossible to change except at airports/in major cities. The rate varied from Chilean Peso 680-720 = $1 US during our stay. ATM’s are widely available in the larger towns throughout the country. The country as a whole is very safe, although the usual precautions apply.
Tapes: very useful for certain species, especially Tapaculos, Austral Rail, Giant Conebill. The Rail is basically impossible to see unless you have tape, and many Tapaculos, Huet-Huets, Wiretail etc are very difficult without.
Needless to say, use tapes sensibly, especially at busy/well-known sites. Remember that many species will be breeding in the Austral Spring, and should not be disturbed to the detriment of breeding success.
I had transferred material to a single Mini Disc, which worked very well as usual. MD’s are quicker to access in the field than cassette, hold up to 150 species on one small disc etc. However they can become corrupted; I took the precaution of packing a back-up disc, which turned out to be a wise precaution as one disk failed in the rain at Puyuhue, losing a number of my own recordings in the process. The MD recorder I use is a Sony MZ-R55 MD recorder/player (2 x AA battery) and an AKG ATR55 shotgun condenser mic. (requires 1 x AA battery) allowing easy playback and recording in the field. Playback is via a battery-powered mini speaker, (Walkman remote speaker type affair,) from a hi-fi store, 6 x AA batteries add to the weight, need replacing every 3-4 days if using heavily, but overall compact and useable. I’d definitely recommend Audio specialists HHB in London if you want to kit yourself out, contact Tim Shaxson Tel +44-(0)208-962-5000/ E-mail: email@example.com. I recorded and played back in mono. Any recording MD player will do, just make sure you can set the record level manually.
I also invested in a ‘5 pocket tool pouch’ ie builder’s belt (“Town + Country” brand from Thomas Bros. at Archway roundabout, London N1, c£12.99) which was indispensable, and enabled me to carry, hands-free, the MD player, mic., speaker, cables, note book etc (all carried on one hip.) I also ‘digi-scoped’ using an Olympus 3.3mega pixel digital camera held up to my scope, which yielded some very good results.
Birding Guides: We employed the services of Fantastico Sur for a day in the South, (who are indeed, both Fantastico and Sur…) as I had met Claudio Vidal at the UK’s Bird Fair in 1999. They charge $150 US per day, including a vehicle, (and NB car hire is not cheap in Punta Arenas,) less if you have your own transport. Contact details are: Fantastico Sur - Birding & Nature, P.O. Box 455, Punta Arenas – CHILE Tel/Fax +56 61 226054 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.chilebirding.com Claudio speaks excellent English and Enrique is also pretty fluent. They can arrange tours to suit any itinerary throughout Chile and beyond, have all the local info., know their birds, and are highly recommended. They can also help arrange pelagics off Viña/Quintero in Central Chile.
For guiding in the far North contact Barbara Knapton of Birding Altoandino, see below. Barbara is an Alaskan ex-pat now resident in Putre and is the local bird guide. NB she now only accepts bookings for guiding and accommodation months in advance so plan ahead if you require her services.
Fri 2 Nov dep 2140 Hrs Gatwick Arr Buenos Aires 0815 Hrs 3 Nov.
Sat 3 Nov dep 1045 Hrs Arr Santiago 1255 Hrs. Night Viña del Mar: O’Higgins, Plaza Vergara, Viña.
Mon 5 Nov 1300 Hrs dep Santiago Lan Chile arr Punta Arenas 1720 Hrs via P. Montt. Nights Punta Arenas: Hostería Yaganes 00-56-61-211600. located 5 km from downtown, near Tres Puentes on the old road to Rio Seco. The only hotel on the coast, 3000 pesos taxi into town, good seawatching location.
Nights Torres Del Paine: Hosteria Lago Grey (Tel: 00-56-61-410-220 but you must book thru agency 00-56-61-229-512, or via a US agent e.g. Maria@gotolatintours.com.) In fact the hotel seemed to employ a whole team of sales prevention specialists, but once we had finally managed to book the hotel was excellent. That said, from a birding perspective it’s probably better to stay at the Hosteria Torres del Paine end of the park, Lago Grey is an hour’s drive (c54kms) further into the park itself and further away from a number of the specialities, notably Magellanic Horned Owl. Neither location is cheap.
Last night in Punta Arenas after T. del Paine: Best Western Finis Terrae near the main square. (The Hotel Tierra del Fuego next door is probably as good and is cheaper but was full.)
Sat 10 Nov dep P. Arenas 1355 Hrs Lan Chile arr P. Montt 1605 Hrs.
Nights Puyuhue: Antillanca Ski Lodge (c2.5 hrs drive from P. Montt,) Tel: 00-56-64-235-114. 30 mins. drive up winding dirt road from the lower forest, but a great place- we were the only guests, 50% discount for low season as it’s a ski resort! There are plenty of cabañas outside the park, or a hotel and hosterias lower down.
Last night in the Lakes at Puerto Montt: Hotel Viento Sur, Ejercito 200 Tel: 65-258-701, on the hill just East of town, good views, beautiful wooden interior, friendly, they even speak English.
Tues 13 Nov dep P. Montt 1035 Hrs Lan Chile arr Santiago 1210 Hrs
Tues 13 Nov dep Santiago 1450 Hrs arr Arica 1815 Hrs Lan Chile via Iquique. Night Arica: Hotel Savona On Yungay at the S. edge of town, near the Morro outcrop.
Putre: We stayed at Las Vicuñas Hotel, their rate includes dinner and breakfast but as the only large-scale hotel in town they are somewhat overpriced. Other options include Barbara Knapton’s Birding Altoandino, (Casa Barbarita, Baquedano 299, voicemail: 00-56-58-300-013 fax 00-56-58-222-735, allow 1 week at least for replies as there are no phones in Putre so a reply requires a trip to Arica! http://birdingaltoandino.com/guide.htm) or Hostal Cali across from La Paloma.
Last night in Arica: Hotel Azapa Inn, Azapa Valley.
Sat 17 Nov dep Arica 1855 Hrs Lan Chile arr Santiago 2205 Hrs via Iquique. Nights Santiago: Hotel Gallerias, St Antonio.
Mon 19 Nov 1040 Hrs Arr Buenos Aires 1235 Hrs
Dep BA 1415 Hrs arr Gatwick 0610 Hrs Tues 20 Nov.
In order to maximise the number of species seen, it’s necessary to cover at least some of the sites in the far South, (including Tierra del Fuego (‘Isla Grande’) if possible,) Central Chile, and the far North. We chose to focus on the following sites: PN La Campana, Punta Arenas/continental side of the far South, PN Torres Del Paine, PN Puyuhue, Arica, Putre, PN Lauca.
These were chosen to maximise our potential for our target species, (I had birded a number of weekends in Chile whilst working so didn’t need all the endemics, nor Diademed Sandpiper-Plover/ most of the common central Chilean species,) but also to include sites which are scenically attractive for the non-birding half of our duo. If planning a purely-birding itinerary focussing particularly on the endemics as a three-week trip, it would probably be better to include:
- a 2 or 3 day ‘loop visit’ from Punta Arenas
to Tierra del Fuego via the two ferry routes, (Porvenir and Punta Delgado,
pre-book space on the ferry in P. Arenas if taking a vehicle.)
- a pelagic trip out from Viña, Valparaiso or Quintero, (Fantastico Sur can arrange this for you in advance)
- a visit to PN Laguna Del Laja in the Lakes for Chestnut-throated Huet-Huet.
- more time in central Chile to cover eg El Yeso, El Peral etc.
- an extra day in the North.
Our itinerary fitted comfortably into 17 days incl. travel, but only because we hired cars in all locations; if using public transport a minimum of 3 weeks would be required.
We stayed in mid-/upscale hotels for the most part, these averaged $25-$70 US each including breakfast. (Note that tourists can often pay a net rate without tax if they present their immigration slip- you usually have to ask for this but it’s worth it as it’s an additional c18% (?) discount.) It’s easy to find budget hotels in almost all locations which range from $5-$25, although if you don’t have your own transport, camping would be the best option at some sites. NB it can be very cold at night in the mountains, the far North, and the far South.
Thanks to: All those cited above whose trip reports we used, Jon Hornbuckle for his advice and Tapaculo tapes at short notice, Enrique and Claudio at Fantastico Sur in Punta Arenas for their help and expertise, Barbara Knapton in Putre for her Andean Flamingo/other info.
Sat 3rd - arrived on time in Santiago via Buenos Aires, picked up rental car and drove the 1.5 hrs to Viña del Mar on Chile’s central coast, stopping en route at a small laguna just E. of Lago Penuelas which held Red-gartered Coot, Lake Duck, White-tufted Grebe etc. In the evening sea-watched from Pte Concon just N. of Reñaca, c8kms N. of Viña. Light was bad, (seawatching much better in the morning here,) but saw 3 Southern Fulmar, 8 Inca Tern, 3 Humboldt Penguin, 2 Chilean Seaside Cinclodes, a couple of distant Peruvian Diving Petrels, and 000’s distant Shearwaters, probably mostly/all Sooty.
Sun 4th - Drove to PN La Campana, c1 hour’s drive East of Viña. arriving pre- dawn ie 6-15am. Parked at the edge of the road by the gate and walked in, trying for Rufous-legged Owl but no joy. Then birded the main dirt road, finding Moustached Turcas easily- very vocal and come out in the open fairly often, run around in a demented fashion etc. Taped for White-throated Tapaculo but no sight nor sound, but Dusky Tapaculo did eventually come in to tape, giving fabulous views down to a few feet whilst singing- the inside of the mouth is strikingly pale! On the way back down added little except a 2nd Dusky Tapaculo and 5 Chilean Pigeon.
Spent the afternoon around Valparaiso, then drove South to the resort development of Laguna Verde which is not very developed as yet! The Laguna was in a poor state, but did hold our only Spot-flanked Gallinule of the trip, plus we had a few Grey Gulls and 4 hudsonicus Whimbrel on the beach.
Another evening seawatch off Pte Concon produced species similar to yesterday, plus 1 imm. Southern Giant Petrel, a distant flock of Phalarope spp., and 5+ Albatross spp., all extremely distant, sadly not identifiable down to species level even with a 60x Kowa ‘scope.
Mon 5th - La Campana again at dawn.
Taped for Wh.-thr. Tapaculo again, and finally got a response, c200m along
the broad ridge trail that leads off to the right of the main dirt road
c300m above the upper gate/campsite/parking area.
The bird came in and sang, but stayed in cover and frustratingly refused to show. (The tape I have featured only the higher-pitched song, not the slower, low ‘wow..wow…wow….wow’ which was the only response I heard at any time.) Not much else either, just one female Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, 2 Striped Woodpecker, 2 Chilean Mockingbird, and 3 more Turcas.
Drove back to Viña for breakfast then to the airport, lots of roadworks meant we only just made our 1300Hrs Lan Chile flight to Punta Arenas.
Arrived on time at P. Arenas and took a taxi to the Hosteria Vaganes, (access via dirt road opposite small pool on the left of the main road if heading N. out of P. Arenas, signed right to Rio Seco.) Put on 3 extra layers of clothes, and walked along the beach, seeing our first Black-browed Albatrosses, Dolphin Gulls, Dark-bellied Cinclodes, plus 4 Magellanic Diving Petrel offshore.
Sun 6th - Birded the shore again from 0545Hrs, and the nearby pool on the main road, seeing Speckled Teal, Chiloe Wigeon, Yellow-billed Pintail etc. Drank coffee to warm up from 7-45, until Enrique from Fantastico Sur arrived at 8am, and then headed North and latterly East along the Southern edge of the continental mainland towards Monte Aymond, birding the Gallegos Chico and PN Pali Aike roads. In the morning we spent two hours at a small laguna searching for Magellanic Plover without any success, perhaps because of the extremely strong wind blowing; at times it was difficult to stay on your feet. Highlights of a great afternoon included 3+ Black-throated Finch on the Pali Aike road, Red-chested Dotterel at the same location, 2 Tawny-throated Dotterel, 4 Cinnamon-bellied Ground Tyrants (both species on the track to Laguna Ana further into the park,) 1 Chocolate-vented Tyrant on the GC road, and 3 Ruddy-headed Goose on the main Monte Aymond road.
Luckily, on a return visit to this morning’s laguna at 6pm en route back from Pali Aike one Magellanic Plover was present, much to my delight since I’d missed the species in Argentina in 1998. The bird was feeding along the near edge of the laguna, and I was able to lie in the grass ahead of it and get a few digital photos as it pirouetted past, the perfect end to an excellent day’s birding. We celebrated in town with a great meal at Sotito’s Bar, expensive at $18US including wine…
Weds 7th - Walked North up the dirt road from the Hosteria at dawn seeing nothing new except one Magellanic Snipe and a few Eared Doves. Highlight was a sign advertising “Gran Bingo,” 1st prize, a crate of chickens- now that’s what I call Bingo. We took a taxi into town and picked up the rental car, then started out on the drive to PN Torres del Paine, via the Rio Verde loop road and Puerto Natales. Highlights en route included 15 Andean Condor, (Southern half of the loop road,) and 7 Cinereous Harrier, all males.
We arrived early evening at the Hosteria Lago Grey, (having stopped for the obligatory Guanaco photos first,) and then walked the Guarderia Lago Grey woodland searching unsuccessfully for Magellanic Woodpecker, seeing only Austral Parakeets. The wind was blowing almost as strongly as it had at Punta Arenas, which meant long periods without seeing or hearing a single bird. However, we were lucky enough to see a young female Huemul (an endangered species of deer) at close range.
Thurs 8th - Walked the Rio Pingo trail from the hotel, still incredibly windy and birding very quiet as a result. I finally managed to get a Magellanic Tapaculo to respond to tape and it then came in silently, giving brief, very close views. Other birds responded briefly further up the trail but wouldn’t show; I suspect they are high density here and would be relatively easy to see in better conditions. The only other bird of note was a male Torrent Duck on the Rio Pingo, just beyond the sheer-sided canyon section of the river, approx. 1km from the trail-head.
Breakfasted watching parakeets shoot by with the glacier as an unlikely backdrop, and then drove slowly back through the park, stopping at likely spots. Highlights included a pair of Spectacled Duck with 5 chicks on a lagunita on the left, c8kms S. of Lago Grey, and 6 White-browed Ground Tyrant nearby.
We then walked the first part of the trail that leads from just E. of Hosteria las Torres to Cerron, again dipping on Mag. Woodpecker despite finding lots of evidence of their presence, good habitat etc. White-browed Ground-Tyrants were common in the open areas, Rufous-tailed Plantcutters sang from the red flowering bushes, and we had lunch watching Magellanic Snipe singing from an exposed perch on the ground.
The drive back provided a pair of Silvery Grebes, but an evening walk through the Guarderia again failed to produce much, the wind remaining depressingly strong.
Fri 9th - Walked the Rio Pingo trail
as far as the Refugio Pingo but nothing new, recorded Magellanic Tapaculo
but still no further views. Continued smacking hollow trees with rocks
to try to elicit a response from a Magellanic Woodpecker, but no sight
nor sound. Drove back to Punta Arenas via petrol and supermarket in P.
Natales. Birds en route included Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Chilean Flamingo,
Lake Duck, Two-banded Plover etc. Got back in time to check the shore South
of Punta Arenas in last ditch attempt for Flightless Steamer-Duck, and
after checking a few Flying S-D’s finally found a single male Flightless
S-D paired with a female Flying S-D, along the dirt road that runs on the
coastal side of the woodland block 20 kms S. of P. Arenas. Seabirds seemed
to be closer inshore here too, great views of S. Giant Petrel, Black-browed
Albatross, better views of Diving Petrels etc.
Sat 10th - Tried the block of woodland 20 kms S. of town at dawn- bloody freezing and nothing new of note- then drove most of the way to Fuerte Bulnes but same story. Headed back in time to dump the rental car at the airport as arranged, (no extra charge,) and catch the 1.5hr flight North to Puerto Montt, where we picked up the next rental car, (also steered to the right…) and drove the 2 hours to Puyuhue through torrential rain. On the way in we stopped to check the ploughed fields 12kms beyond Entre Lagos for Slender-billed Parakeet. No sign of any feeding Parakeets, but a single Enicognathus did fly over as we were leaving. Checked in to the deserted hotel by friendly staff, (anyone seen the movie “The Shining”…?) and had dinner in an empty dining room to the sound of the rain lashing onto the tin roof above.
Sun 11th - Woke up in our wooden room to discover that a couple of inches of snow had fallen, and that the sound of running water was melting snow cascading off the roof. Thankfully the rain had finally stopped, so I drove down the hill to the camp-site, then walked the Pionero trail up towards the Mirador (lookout.) Chucao Tapaculos were giving their explosive call everywhere, and I soon succeeded in taping one into view at the start of the trail- what a stunner! The bird crept along the edge of the road calling, the force of its call making its head bounce up and down like a jack in the box. I walked further up the trail into pristine mature Nothofagus with dense Chusquea bamboo cover, and soon caught a brief glimpse of a Black-throated Huet-Huet disappearing into the bamboo.
Twenty minutes later I played tape further up the trail and a pair came in calling and posed in lighter bamboo cover close to the trail for a full minute, scratching the earth; surreal birds, their big, bright eye-rings and small heads making them look weirdly alien. Heavy rain had started again by 8am, but not as torrential as yesterday, and birding under the forest canopy from the trail was still OK.
On the way back down the trail I paused to check out a movement in the bamboo, and once stopped, became aware of a distinct gentle tapping above. After 30 secs of frantic scanning I finally located the source of the sound- a female Magellanic Woodpecker. I watched the bird for c30 secs. until it flew off- finally, after hours of fruitless searching at Torres del Paine, an Argentina/Chile bogey laid to rest.
After breakfast at the deserted Antillanca ski lodge, 2 Grey-flanked Cinclodes and a pair of White-throated Treerunners performed nicely, and whilst walking back to the room a second Magellanic Woodpecker flew over.
We walked the Mirador trail again, this time in full, and heard 3 Magellanic Tapaculos calling but none close enough to call in, saw another Huet-Huet briefly, and Max. (my other half) had a male Magellanic Woodpecker in the same place as my earlier female, c800m up the trail. I dipped, but heard the characteristic ‘bu-doom’ double strike of the bird just before it flew. Back at the Lago Encanto we taped in a pair of Ochre-flanked Tapaculos, which finally gave amazing views, (yellow feet first…) in a hole in the bamboo.
We drove back to the spot we’d had the fly-over parakeet the day before, and took dirt roads to the North and South looking for flocks of parakeets in the direction the bird had flown from/to. Finally we found a few very distant birds on the North side of the road, and 6 eventually flew towards us, perching close enough to identify as Slender-billed. We checked out the wooded edges East of the park, hearing Austral Pygmy Owl and Des Murs’ Wiretail, (both c12kms East of the park entrance, opposite the large field on the left after crossing Puente Gol Gol #1,) but seeing neither. Returning to Lago Encanto we heard and recorded another Des Murs’ Wiretail but still failed to see the bird as it came in.
Mon 12th - I drove down to the campsite and birded the bamboo areas between there and the start of the Mirador trail at first light, finally taping in a Des Murs’ Wiretail whilst lying in a patch of dense bamboo just off the trail, after 2 hours of hearing birds without a glimpse. A little higher up, just below Lago Encanto, I whistled in an Austral Pygmy Owl, whilst Black-throated Huet-Huet and Chucao Tapaculos both showed very well in roadside vegetation. We drove back down the hill, and of course two separate Des Murs’ Wiretails flew across the road right in front of the car giving Max. great views, (‘they’re easy to see, aren’t they…?’) then walked the Lago Espuje trail which held a 2nd Austral Pygmy Owl.
We had a last walk down to the restaurant at the campsite, finally finding the elusive Patagonian Tyrant on the way , and then drove slowly back to Puerto Montt seeing many Black-faced Ibis en route, and birded the PM shoreline early evening, seeing only a few hudsonicus Whimbrel and a lone Snowy Egret. Dinner at the excellent Balzac restaurant to celebrate the Huet-Huet and Woodpecker; fresh Ceviche and the world’s largest Caipirinha ensured a good time was had by all.
Tues 13th - I scoped the seafront
at P. Montt at first light for Snowy-crowned Terns but no joy, only Brown-hooded-
and Kelp- Gulls and a single Peruvian Booby. We caught a morning flight
to Santiago and then connected to our Arica flight via Iquique, arriving
late afternoon. The view on arrival is much like Lima, Peru on a tiny scale-
an isolated city in the middle of a barren moonscape. Picked up the car,
checked in to the hotel, and wandered round Arica, bustling with small
traders, to find dinner etc.
Weds 14th - I drove out to km11 in the Azapa Valley early and found Pearman’s road off to the right that leads to the ‘dry river bed’, (distinctly wet,) then walked East along the river. Slender-billed Finch was very common in the olive groves, and Chestnut-throated Seedeaters sang from every wire and bush. Cinereous Conebills were everywhere, but a search of the olive groves for Peruvian Thick-Knee failed to locate any birds. The few flowering Eucalypt bushes held many Oasis Hummingbirds, and 2 male and one female Peruvian Sheartail, but 3 hours of scanning for Chilean Woodstar produced nothing. After breakfast we drove up the relatively lush Lluta Valley, seeing fluorescent Peruvian Meadowlarks, a flock of 15 Andean Swift, 2 Southern Martin, and a single Sand Martin, (Bank Swallow.) Gaining altitude, we passed through the arid expanses of the Northern edge of the Atacama, seeing only occasional Greenish Yellow-finches, and a solitary pair of Grayish Miners in the rolling stony hills below Zapahuira.
We diverted off the road to Socoroma and had lunch in the tiny square, (delicious Empañadas bought in Arica,) finding a flock of Black-winged Ground-Doves, then headed on up to Putre.
Having checked into Las Vicuñas Hotel in Putre, we decided to brave the altitude and head up to look for Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, 20 kms up from the turn off to Putre. Within a minute of starting to check the bofedales cushion plant bog we had located a bird feeding incredibly close to the road, which posed for some great photographs- all too easy, and a real contrast to the slog through melt-water rivers that we had to go through to find the El Yeso birds a few years earlier. We continued on as far as Parinacota, seeing a host of birds, including Andean Geese, Andean Avocet, Giant Coots galore, Puna Ibis, White-fronted- and Spot-billed Ground-Tyrants and 2 Andean Hillstar, the 4000m+ altitude bringing a completely new set of species to those encountered previously. By 6pm we were starting to feel the effects of the height and breathlessly descended to Putre to eat and sleep at a relatively sane 3,500m. Even at this altitude you can certainly feel the effects, and exertions need to be kept to be a minimum.
Thurs 15th - After a sporadic night’s sleep, I birded the upper valley at Putre, finding a single Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Dark-winged Canasteros, good numbers of Giant Hummingbirds, and 4 Blue-and-Yellow Tanagers, but no Golden-billed Saltators. After breakfast we were pleased to find a White-throated Earthcreeper just beyond the dry valley below Putre, and then headed up to Lake Chungara via the km20 bog, the D S-P again showing well, more distant than yesterday but still easily located by scanning from the road with a scope. Lagunas en route to Chungara produced a Puna Plover, plus most of yesterday’s birds again.
Arriving at Chungara, having paused at just below 5000m en route to take a few pictures of the stunning altiplano scenery, we ate lunch opposite the imposing Vulcan Parinacota, marvelling at the breeding raft of 2,000+ Silvery Grebes, good numbers of Puna Teal and finally discovering a single imm. Puna (James’s) Flamingo. A small group of Black Siskin bounced by, whilst a brief stop at Chucuyo en route back produced 3 Golden-spotted Ground-Doves, a Puna Hawk, 2 Bright-rumped Yellow-Finches, and our first group of White-throated Sierra-Finches.
Having dropped the less bird-interested half of our duo back at Las Vicuñas, I returned to the bog opposite/just below the km20 Diademed bog, and scanned for Seedsnipe. A few Gray-breasted showed well, but after 30 mins I discovered the real prize- a group of 8 or so Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe in the wetter part of the bog, visible in the open as they came to drink. I took a few photos and watched them for 45 mins in fabulous early evening sunshine, a moment to savour. The drive back down to Putre was again enlivened by good numbers of Ornate Tinamou sprinting for cover off the road as the car approached. By now we had acclimatised enough to enjoy a $4 bottle of wine with dinner and a Cusqueña beer in the friendly pub on Baquedano in Putre.
Fri 16th - Dawn found me skirting the upper edge of the lower valley at Putre, carefully checking 3 Shrike-Tyrants that proved to be only an adult and 2 juvenile Black-billed-, the latter showing clear yellowish lower mandibles, and all showing large amounts of white in the outer tail, but none with the heavy bill/heavy throat streaking, overall tan colour, nor dark iris of White-tailed. Trying the other half of the valley across the road I flushed 2 Mountain Parakeets, and scoped an obliging White-browed Chat-Tyrant, finishing the pre-breakfast birding with a pair of Plain-breasted Earthcreepers prospecting a nest hole in the sandy cliffs.
We dropped in at Birding Altoandino on Baquedano, (the main drag in Putre,) to say Hi to Barabara Knapton and pass on our sightings of the Seedsnipe etc. Following her suggestion we headed back up to Chucuyo to look for a mixed Flamingo flock, finding a lone Puna Rhea on the way, and soon found the small flock just down from Chucuyo, containing all 3 Flamingo species. A search nearby for White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant was unsuccessful, but did turn up 3 Puna Tinamou, scurrying through the sparse altiplano vegetation.
Reluctantly we headed back down towards Arica, stopping at Steve Howell’s Valley 14kms down from the Putre turn, (note, well above, not at Zapahuira!) to look for Giant Conebill, (not a sniff, but the birds may well still be present as there’s still enough Polylepis cover in the valleys, and we didn’t have a tape,) finding only a second White-browed Chat-Tyrant, the 2 Hummingbirds, and good numbers of commoner species flocking around the water in the river valley. Arriving back in the lower Lluta Valley at 6pm we stopped at a few likely-looking spots to scan for Peruvian Thick-knees, eventually finding a single bird in a large ploughed field with good edge cover at the KM14 marker.
Sat 17th - I returned to the Azapa valley for dawn, but a cooler, more cloudy day meant that there was little Hummingbird activity, a few Oasis Hummers, but no Sheartails and more crucially, no Chilean Woodstar. A calling Peruvian Pygmy-Owl was some compensation, posing for ‘scope views. Back at the Azapa Inn we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before walking the grounds checking flowering tress and bushes, eventually delighted to find a female Chilean Woodstar perching up in a flowering tree just behind the reception block, as well as another female Peruvian Sheartail.
We spent a pleasant day driving the coast S. of Arica, getting burnt though factor 25 sun-cream on the beaches and checking shorebird roosts along the way. The tidal roosts on rocky outcrops produced Surfbirds, Willet, and 100’s of Elegant Terns, and a brief Seawatch from the Alacran Peninsula off Arica produced 2 Wilson’s Petrels and a few Inca Terns, 2 Humboldt Penguins, and our only Arctic Skua of the trip. On the way back to the airport we drove the coast road N. of Arica, (which skirts the camachaca coastal vegetation produced by the regular garua sea mist,) and found another pair of Peruvian Thick-knees, just inland of Playa Chinchorro, North of the pier.
Sun 18th - Our final day was spent walking around Santiago, enjoying the ambience of the Barrio Bellavista, an area to which we returned in the evening for a fabulous Peruvian meal at the El Otro Sitio restaurant at Antonio Lopez de Bello 53. Birding highlight, Rufous-crowned Sparrow…
Mon 19th - Caught our BA flight to Buenos Aires and back to the Winter drizzle of London Gatwick.
CENTRE: Viña Del Mar and Environs- MAP #1
Access: Viña is on the central coast, approx. 110kms West from Santiago, and takes only 1.5 hrs by car, (toll en route to pay for the large tunnels.) From Santiago, take Bdo O’Higgins West and then follow signs.
The best sea-watching sites are to the North of Viña. To get to them, follow the coast rd (Avenida St Martin) N.W. of Viña’s central river, which you can join by heading North through Viña on any of the “Poinientes” (can’t remember which allow you travel N. along them- most if not all are one-way, either N. or S.) Turn left (almost any street will do,) once you reach the N. outskirts of town, then turn right at the coast to head N. (Avenida St Martin is one-way (South) as it approaches Viña, hence the need to detour.) Head for the suburban resort of Costa Brava, (N. of Reñaca, S. of Concon,) approx. 12kms N. of Viña, and look for a small ornamental rockery on a crag that sticks out c50m into the ocean on the left. This is Pte Concon; the rock itself has a small walkway around it, has a couple of stalls selling drinks etc.
I had reasonable sea-watching from here, although most species are distant - a 40x or higher mag. scope is a must, and a pelagic out of Valparaiso or Quintero, (c25kms further North,) definitely the best option. For other sites in the area see Pearman. Viña is a good centre for La Campana, Laguna El Peral, Quintero, Valparaiso pelagics etc if you have your own transport.
CENTRE: PN La Campana- MAP #2
The park is easy to reach, located c1 hour’s drive
East of Vîna through Quilpes, Limache, Olmue, Granizo, public buses
also run to within 1km of the park, see Pearman or Lonely Planet for details.
If driving, keep left at the major fork in Limache, and when leaving the
town, turn right at the obvious traffic lights signed to Olmue, at the
1st t-junction turn left, then immediately right signed Granizo. Follow
this road to the end, taking the left fork at the lower park entrance and
the right fork at the 2nd sign. Park by the gate and walk in if there early,
gates open at 8am.
I didn’t have huge success here, dipped White-throated Tapaculo, despite taping a bird in and having it call for 10 mins very close on my second visit.
SOUTH: Punta Arenas/The Far South- MAP #3
c3.5 hrs flight South of Santiago, flights are via Puerto Montt. We birded around Punta Arenas itself, (mostly just North around the Rio Seco area,) the road South from PA to Fuerte Bulnes, and (with Fantastico Sur) up to 150kms to the NE, on the continental side of the Magellanic Straits/Gallego Chico road/PN Pali Aike. The pools just. N. of town are worth checking for commoner ducks, geese, waders, and the sea-coast N. and S. of town, is also good for seabirds, steamer-ducks, gulls etc.
SOUTH: PN Torres del Paine- MAP #4
The park is situated 5 hrs/c350kms drive North of Punta Arenas, (2 hrs, 112 kms N of P. Natales.) The road is paved and excellent to Puerto Natales, and unpaved but still very good from there to the park. We also included the W. loop via Rio Verde, accessed off Route 9 from a left turn as you head North, just S. of the main Route 9/Route 255 junction,) which is a c50km loop of very good unpaved road. Great scenery, excellent for Condors, Flying Steamer Duck etc, (although these are also easy to find in Torres Del Paine too.)
Roads inside the park are also good though unpaved, the road to Hosteria las Torres is roughest but still easily passable with care in a standard vehicle.
LAKES: PN Puyuhue, The Lake District- MAP #5
Half way between Punta Arenas and Santiago. I’m still not sure how to pronounce Puyuhue, (“poo-yuy-uway” seems closest?) One of my favourite sites; gorgeous Nothofagus Beech forest, high bird densities, 4 species of Tapaculo + Black-throated Huet-Huet, Magellanic Woodpecker, Slender-billed Parakeet just outside the park, plus other good stuff. We accessed by flying to Puerto Montt, then drove from there via Osorno on excellent roads, 2 hours total. You can also fly to Osorno in which case it’s an hour’s drive. Can be accessed by bus from Puerto Montt which is a major centre for travel connections.
The ploughed fields between Entre Lagos and Puyuhue referred to by Jon Hornbuckle in his ‘99 report are no longer ploughed, but Slender-billed Parakeet is still present in the same area as follows; heading East towards Puyuhue from Osorno, take the dirt road off to the left, 12kms E. of the last house in Entre Lagos. The dirt road is signed to “Club Naval Las Salinas”, and the birds were feeding at the back, (lake side) of the mature/dead woodland 1km down, on the right hand side of this road. The dead forest itself can be seen from the main road, but the birds were at the back ie hidden from the main road. NB the lay-by/waterfall marked 2kms East of the park entrance on Pearman’s map doesn’t exist- it is presumably the one at v. approx. 20kms ie 4kms short of the Argentine border? The other Lakes sites are further North, see Pearman et al.
NORTH: Azapa/Lluta Valleys, Arica- MAP #6
Azapa is very easy to get to from Arica, a 10-15 min drive, or 20-25 mins by collectivo from Lynch/Maipu intersection in Arica. If driving, take 18 de Septiembre out of Arica to the large roundabout c2kms out of town, turn left (3rd exit) here, and then almost immediately right (1st exit) at the 2nd large roundabout, signed for Azapa. The best areas of flowering shrubs are c11kms up this road, look out for the minor road off to the right after c11kms signed to Maitas which leads to the dry river bed after 300m. The Museum with further flowering shrubs is 0.5kms further along the main Azapa road on the left hand (opposite) side, others have also found the garden centre in between the side road/Museum good for hummers. There are also flowering bushes on the right from km 8 onwards, and any hotel grounds/larger gardens along the valley may hold hummers, e.g. we had all 3 species within the Azapa Inn grounds, (in the Azapa valley at approx. km1 on the right heading away from Arica.)
The Lluta valley is accessed as a right turn off the main Arica/Airport road as you head North, (this is also the road to Putre.) If you want to find Chilean rarities this is one of the best places to do it, as it represents the Southern limit of suitable habitat for a number of Peruvian species. Better for Peruvian Meadowlark, hirundines etc than the Azapa, but nowhere near as good for hummers.
NORTH: Putre/Parinacota/Lauca- MAP #7
Putre is 140km E. of Arica, Parinacota is 50kms further on, the whole distance is now an easy but steep and winding drive up to the altiplano. The road is now paved all the way to the altiplano and beyond to Bolivia, but be careful birding along the main road which can be relatively busy at certain times of day- 6000 trucks per month now travel from the Bolivian border through Lauca to Arica and beyond….There’s no need to rent a 4 x 4, a standard vehicle is fine for all the essential roads, except the track from the back of Parinacota to Cotocotani which was impassable in a standard vehicle.
I have referred to Pearman et al’s two valleys
at Putre simply as the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’, ‘upper’ being the valley adjacent
to the village, accessible from a number of places on the North side of
the village centre, and ‘lower’ being the river valley, 1.4kms from Putre
village, the first valley that you come to as you head away from Putre
along the 4km road that joins Putre to the main Arica-Chucuyo road. We
birded mostly around Putre, 20kms up from the Putre turn, around Parinacota,
around Chucuyo and at Lago Chungara, but also stopped at random spots when
something interesting turned up.
Systematic List of species
(Chilean endemic species are underlined.)
Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata pennata
Common in the South, max 100/day.
Puna Rhea Rhea pennata tarapacensis
1 seen to the left of the road just below the huge, multi-coloured pan pipes sculpture at Lauca. Some authorities split Puna- from Lesser- Rhea.
Humboldt Penguin Spheniscus humboldti
3 off Pte Concon, 2 off Arica.
Magellanic Penguin Sphenicus magellanicus
A few in the S., max 4/day e.g. offshore Rio Seco just N. of town, and the road to Fuerte Bulnes S. of Punta Arenas.
Ornate Tinamou Nothoprocta ornata
5 on 14/11 c7-30pm on the road in zone 10-15kms above the Putre turn, and 9 in the same area the following evening, never seen during the day.
Puna Tinamou Tinamotis pentlandii
3 in puna vegetation above the final bend just below Chucuyo, 16/11.
Pied-Billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
1 just E. of Lago Penuelas, 1 Laguna Verde S. of Valparaiso.
White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland
1 on the lake just E. of Lago Penuelas, a few in Torres del Paine, max 8/day.
Silvery Grebe Podilymbus occipitalis
2 at Torres del Paine, (occipitalis) 2000+ on Lago Chungara where nesting on weed rafts, and smaller number elsewhere at Lauca, (juninensis.)
Great Grebe Podilymbus major
Small numbers off Viña, also just East of Lago Penuelas, 3, 8kms S. of Lago Grey, Torres del Paine.
Black-Browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris
Common offshore at Punta Arenas, max. 30/day, closest on road to Fuerte Bulnes, S. of town.
5 off Pte Concon N. of Viña were too distant to be specifically identified.
Antarctic (Southern) Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus
1 off Pte Concon, 4/11. Common off Punta Arenas, especially off road South to Fuerte Bulnes.
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus
All shearwaters specifically identified off Viña and Arica were this species, '000's more distant birds were also probably Sooties.
Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus
2 off Alacran Peninsula, Arica, 17/11.
Peruvian Diving-Petrel Pelacanoides garnotii
2 distantly off Pte Concon, 4/11.
Magellanic Diving-Petrel Pelacanoides magellani
Fairly common, but usually distant, off Punta Arenas, max 10/day. Both species are relatively easy to find at long range as their sudden kamikaze, mid-flight splash-dives give them away.
Peruvian Booby Sula variegata
Common in all coastal areas, especially in the North.
Peruvian Pelican Pelacanus thagus
Common in all C. and N. coastal areas.
Southern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialoides
3 off Pte Concon 3/11, 1 there the following evening, fairly common off Punta Arenas, and road S. of Punta Arenas.
Neotropic (Olivaceous) Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Very common at Arica, 3 at Puyuhue, a few in the S.
Rock Shag Phalacrocorax magellanicus
A few in the S., max 3/day, probably under-recorded.
Imperial ('King', 'Blue-eyed') Shag Phalacrocorax atriceps
60, Puerto Natales lake-front, common in the South, the only birds I subspecifically identified were nominate atriceps ('Blue-eyed) as opposed to abiventer ('King.') Formerly regarded as separate species, these are now lumped by most authorities.
Guanay Cormorant Phalacrocorax bougainvillii
Small numbers off Pte Concon.
Red-legged Cormorant Phalacrocorax gaimardi
Small numbers off Pte Concon.
Great Egret Casmerodius alba
1 seen on a river next to the main Santiago/Viña road
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
1 at Puerto Montt, 8 on sewage lagoon opposite museum, Azapa valley.
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
2 Viña, 1 Punta Arenas, 2 Arica.
Puna Ibis Plegadis ridgwayi
Fairly common at Lauca, especially around Parinacota, max 10/day.
Black-faced Ibis Theristicus melanopis
Common in the South, e.g. 100+ Rio Verde loop road, and especially in the lakes e.g. between Puerto Montt and Puyuhue, max 200/day.
Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis
15 on a lago off Gallego Chico rd, 2 on the way in to Torres del Paine and c14 on the way out, (lago off to the right as you exit the park, towards Villa Cerro Castillo, common at Lauca. 400+ very distant Flamingos on Cotocotani, 15/11 were probably mostly this species.
Andean Flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus
8 , on the lagoons just below Chucuyo with the other 2 species. Leg and bill colour is obvious in breeding plumage, extent of black of bill less so at distance.
Puna (James's) Flamingo Phoenicopterus jamesi
1 imm, Lago Chungara, 15/11. 7 adults, on lago just below Chucuyo with the other 2 species, 16/11. 3 probable adults with prob. Chilean Flamingoes on Cotocotani, 15/11. Much smaller than the other two species, whitish colouration means birds can be confused with immatures of other species at long range. Chileans were aggressive towards the lone Chungara imm., occasionally snapping at it to move it on when feeding close by.
Coscoroba Swan Coscoroba coscoroba
3 on the Rio Verde loop road, 6 Torres del Paine.
Black-necked Swan Cygnus melanocorypha
15 at Puerto Natales lake-front, a few at Torres del Paine.
Upland Goose Chloephaga picta
Commonest of the Chloephaga geese in the South, breeding pairs often seen whilst driving, e.g. 200+, Rio Verde loop road.
Ashy-headed Goose Chloephaga poliocephala
Common in the S., but outnumbered 10:1 by Upland Goose.
Andean Goose Chloephaga melanoptera
Common at Lauca above 4000m.
Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps
3, by the road v. approx. 100kms NE of Punta Arenas on the road to Monte Aymond. Now probably only a few hundred pairs remaining?
Puna Teal Anas puna
Only seen at Lago Chungara, where 100+. Formerly regarded as a race of Silver Teal A. versicolor.
Andean Ruddy Duck Oxyura ferruginea
A few at Lauca e.g. Parinacota Lake and Chungara, max. 6/day
Lake Duck Oxyura vittata
Small numbers E. of Lago Penuelas, and up to 10/day, Torres del Paine.
Flying Steamer-Duck Tachyeres petachonicus
Fairly common in the S., up to 15/day.
Flightless Steamer-Duck Tachyeres pteneres
Only one male seen, 9/11, paired with a female Flying Steamer Duck, offshore c500m down the coastal dirt road that forks left off the main road to Fuerte Bulnes, 19.5kms S. of Punta Arenas.
Torrent Duck Merganetta armata
2 males 8/11, along the Rio Pingo, Lago Grey, Torres del Paine, just beyond the steep-sided canyon section of river c1km up from Guarderia Lago Grey, and 1 there the following day. Birds in the South are of the race armata. Coolest duck in the world after Harlequin.
Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix
Small numbers on most suitable waters in the C. and S.
Crested Duck Anas specularoides
Commonest duck, seen throughout, even in the high Andes.
Spectacled Duck Anas specularis
1 pair seen with 5 young, on lagunita on the left c8kms S. of Lago Grey, Torres del Paine, 8/11.
Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris
A few on pools around Punta Arenas, common at Lauca.
Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica
A few on pools around Punta Arenas.
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Small numbers C. e.g. between Santiago and Viña, and 2 in the large field beyond Puente Gol Gol #1, East of Puyuhue entrance.
Turkey Vulture Catharates aura
Very common in the N., max 100/day, lower numbers elsewhere.
Andean Condor Vultur gryphus
Fairly common in the S., especially Rio Verde loop road S. of Puerto Natales, where 15 on 7/11. Seen daily in Torres del Paine, max 6/day. Not seen at Lauca, although they are there.
Cinereous Harrier Circus cinereus
2 PN Pali Aike, 1 on pool 2kms N. of Punta Arenas, 7 Rio Verde loop road en route to Torres del Paine, 1 at woodland 20kms S. of Punta Arenas, 1 en route to Puyuhue. 100% of birds seen were males, females at this time of year are perhaps all on the nest?
Black-Chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus
Up to 3 daily in Torres del Paine.
Variable (Red-backed) Hawk Buteo polyosoma
1 Socoroma, 2 Putre, 1 5kms above Putre.
Puna Hawk Buteo poecilochrous
1 over Chucuyo, 15/11 was the only bird seen.
Mountain Caracara Phalcoboenus carunculatus
Only 2 pairs seen in Lauca, 2 over the lower valley at Putre 16/11, 2 just below Chucuyo later the same day.
Crested Caracara Polyborus plancus
Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango
Very common, easily the commonest caracara. 1 seen at Chucuyo at c4,200m was very high.
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Fairly common in the North, max 5/day, a few elsewhere.
Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis
A pair at Socoroma, 1 at Parinacota.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
1 over the Azapa Inn, Arica, 17/11.
California Quail Callipepla californica
Introduced. Common at La Campana, max 20/day.
Spot-flanked Gallinule Gallinula melanops
1 on Laguna Verde, just S. of Valparaiso.
Common Moorhen (Common Gallinule) Gallinula chloropus
5 on sewage lagoon opposite museum, Azapa Valley 14/11 but not present 17/11. A scarce bird this far SW/this low?
Red-Gartered Coot Fulica armillata
A few just E. of Lago Penuelas.
White-Winged Coot Fulica leucoptera
A few on pools just N. of Punta Arenas.
Slate-Coloured (Andean-) Coot Fulica ardesiaca
Scarce at Lauca, a few on Parinacota lake.
Giant Coot Fulica gigantea
Common at Lauca. About as inspiring as coots get.
Peruvian Thick-Knee Burhinus superciliaris
1 km14 Lluta valley, and a pair on the camachaca coastal vegetation inland of Chinchorro beach, N. of Arica.
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis
Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens
Small numbers above 4000m at Lauca eg lakes around Parinacota. Rather quiet and inconspicuous.
Puna Plover Charadrius alticola
Only 4 seen in total at Lauca, (Lago Chungara, lake next to the road before the police checkpoint etc.)
Two-banded Plover Charadrius falklandicus
Up to 30/day E. of Punta Arenas, on grassland roadsides, 5 between Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales, others scattered elsewhere in the South.
Grey (Black-bellied) Plover Pluvialis squatarola
9 Chinchorro beach, c500m N. of pier, 17/11.
Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus
3 on the way in to PN Pali Aike NE of Punta Arenas. Tough to find on the continental side, especially in the windy conditions we experienced- the birds retreat into the tussock grass cover.
Tawny-throated Dotterel Oreopholus ruficollis
2 just off the grassy track leading to Laguna Ana, PN Pali Aike, 6/11. A beautiful, elusive wader.
Diademed Sandpiper-Plover Phegornis mitchellii
1 seen two days in succession at Lauca, 20 kms up from the Putre turn-off, on the last section of bog to the right of the road, before the Las Cuevas building, which is c2kms before a right turn to the (now abandoned) mine. There is a sign at the bog depicting a Viscacha, (looks like a cross between a rabbit and a kangaroo,) and a 2nd sign with the text "Zona de Viscachas, Laagadium Viscacia. Conduzca con precaucion" etc. This is at the KM146 marker. Please DO NOT walk out on to this vulnerable site; the road is raised a little above the bog, so it's easy to scan the whole bog with a scope and find the birds from the road. BK advises that there are also other birds on the many similar bogs in the area, (they favour the wet bofedales bogs and can often be found less than 10 mins. walk from the road, although there appear to be no birds on the bogs around Parinacota any more, probably due to the density of Llamas- the success of the Vicuñas, it seems, is directly opposed to Diademed breeding success for obvious reasons, (eggs getting trodden on,) so the DSP's are best looked for on bogs where there are few Llamas present. Hence the older reports that have birds seen e.g. on the football pitch at Parinacota etc are now out of date.
Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina
Fairly common at Lauca, max 6/day.
Magellanic Plover Pluvianellus socialis
Intense searching at a laguna well to the NE of Punta Arenas on the morning of 6/11 produced a blank. However a return visit early evening finally turned up a single feeding bird which proceeded to give fabulous views, pose for photographs etc. Less common than in former years, and now very scarce on the continental side of the Mag. Straits according to Enrique, the reasons for which are not yet understood. There are perhaps less than 1,000 pairs left now? To maximise your chances of seeing this bizarre monotypic wader, include Tierra del Fuego on your itinerary- we certainly wouldn't have found this species without the help of Fantastico Sur.
Magellanic Oystercatcher Haemotopus leucopodus
A few in the S. around Punta Arenas, max 10/day.
Blackish Oystercatcher Haemotopus ater
Only seen on the rocky shore, 2-8kms S. of Arica.
American Oystercatcher Haemotopus palliatus
Small numbers, rocky coastline, C. and N.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus
Small numbers on the coast, max 50 S. of Arica. 4 at Puerto Montt.
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
30, at the main tidal wader roost on rocky coastline c3kms S. of Arica just N. of La Lisera beach.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
15, at the same roost on rocky coastline S. of Arica.
Surfbird Aphriza virgata
70, at the same roost on rocky coastline S. of Arica.
White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis
200+ on a lago next to the Gallegos Chico road, smaller numbers on lagoons elsewhere in the S.
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii
200+ on a lago next to Gallegos Chico road, the commonest wader throughout, found on almost all inland waters.
Magellan (-ic) Snipe Gallinago paraguaiae magellanica
1 on pool by Rio Seco loop road c500m N. of Hosteria Vaganes, 1 on grassland just behind Hosteria Lago Grey, 1 on the trail to Cerron at Torres del Paine was calling from a display mound, a repetitive, nasal "ihnk ankh, inkh ankh", 2 displaying, (a bizarre accelerating and decelerating whistling of projected tail feathers) at a site v. approx. 25kms down the Fuerte Bulnes rd S. of Punta Arenas. (Fjeldsa and Krabbe name this Gallinago m. magellanica)
Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor
300+ on a lago next to the Gallegos Chico road.
Phalarope sp. Phalaropus sp.
Flock of c30 distantly off Pte Concon, 4/11.
Grey-breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus
Total of c10 seen at Lauca, commonest on the bog opposite/200m below the km20 bog, (left hand side of the road, heading up to Parinacota 20km up from Putre turn.)
Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus
5 in the S., around lago off the Gallegos Chico road, and in PN Pali Aike, on the grassy track to Lago Ana.
Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis gayi
10+ on the bog opposite/200m below the km20 bog, (left hand side of the road, heading up to Parinacota, 20km up from Putre turn.) Call very different from Grey-breasted when flushed, a loud, Sandgrouse-like "quoi-quoi-quoi-quoi." Big and beautiful.
Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger) Stercorarius parasiticus
1 single off the Alacran Peninsula, Arica was the only bird seen.
Chilean Skua Catharacta chilensis
Up to 8/day in the S., and singles off Arica.
Band-tailed (Belcher's) Gull Larus belcheri
A few along the coast, especially at Arica, probably under-recorded.
Grey Gull Larus modestus
Fairly common off Viña, very common off Arica, max 700/day.
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus
Very common, all coastal areas.
Brown-hooded Gull Larus maculipennis
Fairly common in the S.
Andean Gull Larus serranus
A few scattered around at Lauca, and large numbers at Lago Chungara.
Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan
Common all coastal areas. 5000+ at fish factory S. of Arica, 17/11.
Dolphin Gull Larus scoresbii
Fairly common off Punta Arenas, especially opposite the Hosteria Vaganes, Rio Seco, max 20/day.
South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea
30+, Pte Concon, 10 in the S., en route to PN Pali Aike, 15, 20kms S. of Punta Arenas.
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
1 off Pte Concon, 3/11.
Elegant Tern Sterna elegans
Common along the foreshore S. of Arica, c300 total.
Inca Tern Larosterna inca
Fairly common off Pte Concon and Arica, max. 15/day.
Rock Dove Columba livia
Common in cities.
Chilean Pigeon Columba araucana
5 at la Campana 4/11, 5 at Puyuhue 11/11, and a few the next day. Not difficult to find.
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata
Fairly common in the S., max 20/day eg Rio Verde loop rd.
(Peruvian) White-winged Dove Zenaida meloda
Very common in the N., fairly common in C. areas. Song 'ooo-woolp-woolp, ooo-woolp-woolp' 1st 'ooo' syllable lower, sounds like a recorder played badly. As Steve Howell noted, they sound nothing like US birds.
Croaking Ground-Dove Columbina cruziana
Common Azapa valley and Putre, max 15/day. Amazing quiet, rasping 'wow' call.
Picui Ground-Dove Columbina picui
A few in C. Chile.
Bare-faced Ground-Dove Metropelia ceciliae
Common at Putre and above, max 20/day.
Black-winged Ground-Dove Metropelia melanoptera
A group of c8 above Socoroma were the only birds seen.
Golden-spotted Ground-Dove Metropelia aymara
3 on bare open ground beside the road, opposite Chucuyo. (Others have seen them in the stone-walled animal enclosures here.)
Austral Parakeet Enicognathus ferrugineus
Easy to see around Torres del Paine; at Hosteria Lago Grey, at Guarderia Lago Grey, along the Rio Pingo trail etc, max. 10/day. 4 also seen opposite Lago Encanto, Puyuhue.
Mountain Parakeet Psilopsiagon aurifrons
2 flushed from the lower Putre valley, 16/11, flew off calling.
Slender-billed Parakeet Enicognathus leptorynchus
1 fly-over by the roadside 12kms E. of Entre Lagos was probably this species. 6 the following day on N. side of mature dead woodland c1km N. of there, see site details. Note that Austral Parakeet is also present at Puyuhue.
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia
Common in the Azapa valley, max 6/day.
Peruvian Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium peruanum
1 in the Azapa valley, 17/11, in the only large (15m high?) tree on the right hand side of the road as you head away from Arica, at approx. km10?
Austral Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium nanum
1 heard c12kms East of the park entrance, on the edge of the large field on the left after crossing Puente Gol Gol #1.) 1 heard and seen next morning, in roadside trees below Lago Encanto where fields start to appear on W. side of road, and a 2nd bird on the Lago Espuje trail in the first open section. Very much a bird of woodland edges with adjacent open space it seems.
Andean Swift Aeronautes andecolus
c15 seen well up the Lluta valley on the way up to Putre, 1 on the way down. Race here is parvulus.
Andean Hillstar Oreotrochilus estella
Fairly common around Putre e.g. both upper and lower valleys. Also in valley 14kms below Putre.
Oasis Hummingbird Rhodopis vesper
Common at flowering trees and bushes in the Azapa valley, max 10/day.
Peruvian Sheartail Thaumastura cora
Two males and one female at flowering trees and bushes in the Azapa valley, 2 in flowering tree on the far side of the dry river bed.
Chilean Woodstar Eulidia yarrellii
1 female found after 6 hours searching in the Azapa valley, in a flowering tree just behind the reception block in the gardens of the Azapa Inn at the Arica end of the valley at approx. km1.
Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas
1 La Campana 1st visit, common upper valley above Putre, 1 valley 14kms S. of Putre.
Green-backed Firecrown Sephanoides sephanoides
Fairly common at La Campana.
Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata stellata
1 on wires over the first river immediately East of Puyuhue entrance,
Striped Woodpecker Picoides lignarius
2 each visit, La Campana.
Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus
1 female seen c800m up the Pionero Mirador trail at Puyuhue, and a male heard and seen there later same day (latter MV only.) 1 also seen in flight over the Antillanca ski lodge. No sight nor sound at Torres del Paine despite much searching at Guarderia Lago Grey and Hosteria las Torres, and the trail from there to Cerron. Enrique of Fantastico Sur suggests it's useful to make noise when searching for them since they are curious birds and will come in to check out the source of the noise.
Chilean Flicker Colaptes pitius
Fairly common at La Campana.
Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola
Common and conspicuous around Parinacota, max 10/day.
Common Miner Geositta cunicularia
Fairly common in the South, max 10/day.
Puna Miner Geositta punensis
Common at Lauca.
Grayish Miner Geositta maritima
Only 2 seen, in rocky desert hills below Zapahuira, on the way up to Putre.
Scale-throated Earthcreeper Upucerthia dumeteria
Fairly common at/en route to Torres del Paine, max 3/day. Also seen on the Rio Verde loop road en route.
White-throated Earthcreeper Upucerthia albigula
1 on the road to Putre c1km from junction with main road was the only bird definitely identified.
Plain-breasted Earthcreeper Upucerthia jelskii
2 prospecting a nest hole in a sandy cliff in the lower valley at Putre.
Straight-billed Earthcreeper Upucerthia ruficauda
Common around Putre, especially around main Arica road just above Putre turn off.
Chilean Seaside Cinclodes Cinclodes nigrofumosus
2 Pte Concon both days. 1 at last accessible beach c8kms S. of Arica. Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes taczanowksii occurs as far S. as Tacna in S. Peru, so it may be worth checking birds at Arica?
Dark-bellied Cinclodes Cinclodes patagonicus
1 feeding young on cliffs above beach by Hosteria Vaganes, Punta Arenas. 1 on the river by the camp-site at Puyuhue.
Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus
Fairly common at Putre, Lauca, (f. albiventris.)
White-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes atacamensis
A few at Lauca, max 3/day. (Beware confusion here with the (commoner) N. Andean race of Bar-winged Cinclodes C. fuscus albiventris, which is pale below and also shows off-white wing-bars, but is smaller, much less rufous above, (birds at Lauca are all nominate a. atacamensis so strikingly rufous above,) has buff in the supercilia, and never shows blazing white tail corners as White-winged does.)
Grey-flanked Cinclodes Cinclodes oustaleti
2 behind Antillanca ski lodge, Puyuhue, 11/11, (nominate oustaleti.)
Thorn-tailed Rayadito Aphrastura spinicauda
Common in the S. and at Puyuhue, respond very vigorously to Pygmy Owl impressions! Max 8/day.
Des Murs' Wiretail Sylviothorhynchus desmursii
Unfamiliarity with the call meant I didn't 'tune in' to this species at Puyuhue until the end of the first day. Heard and recorded in large bamboo bank c12kms East of the park entrance, opposite large field on the left after crossing Puente Gol Gol #1. A concerted effort to tape one out the following morning eventually resulted in views after crawling to the edge of a dense bamboo thicket alongside the edge of the lower part of the Mirador trail. Needless to say, 2 then flew across the road in front of the car on the way down from Antillanca after breakfast, and a 4th bird seen briefly in response to tape on the Lago Espuje trail an hour later. The song is distinctive- a rollicking "csapeedi- capeedi- capeedi- capeedi- capeet" sometimes preceded by several faint husky notes 'zhree-zhree zhree.' Luck is needed to see the species without tape, (and a fair amount even with tape- most if not all birds occur in large stands of dense bamboo, and usually come in under cover/do not show themselves.)
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura aegithaloides
1 at La Campana was the only bird seen, under-recorded for sure.
Dark-winged Canastero Asthenes arequipae
Seen in the upper valley at Putre, and elsewhere around the village, the commoner Canastero here. 1 bird seen briefly at the valley 14km below the Putre turn off also thought to be this species, (although this is a little low?) Formerly Creamy-breasted Canastero with Pale-tailed Canastero huancavelicae of Central and South-Central Peru.
Cordilleran Canastero Asthenes modesta
1 at CONAF centre, Lago Chungara, Lauca, 15/11 was the only bird seen.
White-throated Treerunner Pygarrhichas albogularis
2 behind Antillanca ski lodge, 2 Lago Espuje trail, Puyuhue.
Moustached Turca Pteroptochos megapodius
3 seen + at least 3 more heard at La Campana 4/11, 2 there the following day. Easily seen, even without tape. The song is a rapid, far-carrying, decelerating, descending "oorwk.. oorwk… oorwk…. oorwk….. oorwk….. oorwk" or a rapid, explosive decelerating 'wok-wok-wok-wok-wok-wok.'
Black-throated Huet-Huet Pteroptochos tarnii
Fairly common at Puyuhue, 4 seen 11/11 and a further 4 the following day, with 10+ others heard each day, from the camp-site up to the Antillanca lodge. First and most easily seen on the Pionero Mirador trail that leads off to the left as you head uphill toward Antillanca, commonest in higher reaches with dense bamboo, also seen at the roadside below Lago Encanto, and lower down towards the Mirador trail. Also flushed from the road when driving down from Antillanca at dawn. Not particularly responsive to tape, but 2 birds did come in close and then fed close to the trail in light cover, giving excellent views. One bird on the second day also responded strongly, perching up and calling. The low, loud, decelerating descending 'wook..wook…wook….wook…..wook' call was heard far more often than the sharp 'huet-huet.' (latter sounds incredibly like an excited Yorkshire Terrier.)
Chucao Tapaculo Scelorchilus rubecula
Very common, (from camp-site up to the snow-line,) and noisy at Puyuhue, (a very explosive 'wor..chuh-chuh-chuh-chuckaow' etc) and relatively easy to see in response to tape. We saw 6+, 11/11, hearing 30+ others, and saw a further 2 the next day. Also responded to Huet-Huet tape. Gorgeous birds.
Ochre-flanked Tapaculo Eugralla paradoxa
2 taped in, in dense bamboo at the roadside directly opposite Lago Encanto, Puyuhue, seen by sticking head into a hole in the bamboo- showed very well at extremely close range. A 3rd bird heard lower down the road, and 2 more heard the following day on the Lago Espuje trail. Song is a squeaky, decelerating, 'eek..erk..erk…erk…er-de-erk…er-de-erk" or rapid, stacatto, slightly decelerating 'tup-dup-dup-dup-derp-derp.derp..derp.'
Magellanic Tapaculo Scytalopus magellanicus
3 heard c0.5km along the Rio Pingo trail, 8/11, 1 seen briefly at close range after taping attempts in very windy conditions. 2 heard the following morning, 1 recorded, but no views. The birds seemed to prefer areas of isolated trees/bushes with ground cover near water. Birds heard 5+ times at Puyuhue but none showed despite taping. Song distinctive and repetitive 'ter-wip, ter-wip, ter-wip" endlessly, like an old foot-driven sewing machine, emphasis strongly on the 2nd note of each phrase. Rio Pingo birds only sang in short infrequent bursts, maybe because of strong winds? (Formerly Andean Tapaculo griseicollis which is now split into Andean, (not in Chile,) Dusky and Magellanic. The songs certainly differ markedly.
Dusky Tapaculo Scytalopus fuscus
2, La Campana, came in to tape and showed very well, 4/11. Also responded to other Tapaculo tape. Song is an endless, grating "aurritt.. aurrit..aurritt." No natural vocalisations were heard, solely in response to tape.
White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps chilensis
Very common in woodland throughout, max 40/day.
Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anaietes parulus
A few, La Campana.
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
Males seen as follows: 1 Azapa valley, 1 Lluta valley, 2 edge of camachaca coastal vegetation N. of Chinchorro beach. Another species at the SW limit of its range.
Fire-eyed Diucon Xolmis pyrope
Common in the S.
Chocolate-vented Tyrant Neoxolmis rufiventris
Only 1 seen, alongside the Gallegos Chico road, NE of Punta Arenas, 6/11.
Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis montana intermedia
3, ad. And 2 juvs., lower valley at Putre. See note on White-tailed in 'birds not seen by us" section below.
Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola macloviana
1 along the Rio Pingo trail, (c1.5kms up, near the refugio,) Torres del Paine, was the only bird seen.
White-browed Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albilora
6 on the final section of the road to Hosteria Lago Grey 8/11, 8+ later the same day, on the trail from Hosteria las Torres to Cerron, 7 on short grassy areas on approach to Hosteria las Torres.
Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola maculirostris
Only 2 birds seen; together near Parinacota.
Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola capistrata
4, PN Pali Aike in the S., most around the start of the track leading to Laguna Ana.
Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola rufivertex
Only one seen, in the Upper valley at Putre, 15/11.
Puna Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola juninensis
Common at Lauca.
White-fronted Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albifrons
Common at Lauca. Conspicuously large.
White-browed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca leucophrys
Only 2 seen; 1 in stunted trees in the lower valley at Putre, (off to the right of the road when heading into Putre,) 1 in the valley 14kms below the Putre turn. The race here is leucometopa.
Patagonian Tyrant Colorhamphus parvirostris
Only one found despite searching, seen in mature Nothofagus, c500m above the point at which the Mirador trail crosses the main road at Puyuhue. The call heard was not that distinctive, a sad, descending, 'peeuu,' distinguishable from Wh-cr. Elaenia, but not obvious. (Fjeldsa and Krabbe name this Patagonian Chat-Tyrant, Ochthoeca parvirostris)
Austral (Rufous-backed-) Negrito Lessonia rufa
Abundant in the South.
(White-winged-) Andean Negrito Lessonia oreas
A few at Lauca, max 5/day. Formerly lumped with Austral as Rufous-backed Negrito.
Rufous-tailed Plantcutter Phytotoma rara
1 female at La Campana 5/11, and in Torres del Paine, 4 male, 1 female, in bright red bushes along 1st section of trail from Hosteria las Torres to Cerron, and a pair near Lago Pehoe.
Chilean Swallow Tachycineta meyeni
Common, especially in the South, where outnumbered Blue-and-White.
Blue-and-White Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
Common throughout. Small numbers even high up in the Andes.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
A few in the Lluta valley and 2 in the Azapa valley.
Andean Swallow Hirundo andecola
A few at Lauca, max. 6/day.
Southern Martin Progne modesta murphyi
2 adults well up the Lluta valley, (c5kms before the start of the desert zone) on the way up to Putre. 2 similarly-sized birds seen at the same location with brown upperparts/dingy white underparts may have been imms? Fjeldsa and Krabbe list this species as 'accidental in Arica n Chile' but status now appears to be a scarce resident in small numbers?
Sand Martin (Bank Swallow) Riparia riparia
1 well up the Lluta valley on the way up to Putre, with Barn Swallows and the previous species, 14/11.
(Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
Small numbers seen at Buenos Aires airport, Argentina, en route to Chile)
Southern House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Chiguanco Thrush Turdus chiguanco
Fairly common around Putre and at Lauca, max. 6/day.
Austral Thrush Turdus falklandii
Very common in the South, max 100/day.
Chilean Mockingbird Mimus thenca
2 at La Campana.
Correndera Pipit Anthus correndera
A few in the South eg Torres del Paine, Punta Arenas etc. (chilensis.)
Cinereous Conebill Conirostrum cinereum littorale
Common in the Azapa valley, max 30/day.
Blue-and-Yellow Tanager Thraupis bonariensis
4 in the upper valley at Putre, 15/11.
Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis
Only 1 seen, a male in the upper valley at Putre, 15/11.
Chestnut-throated Seedeater Sporophila telasco
Common in the Azapa valley.
Blue-Black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
1 male 1st Azapa valley visit, 1 male and 2 imms. 2nd visit.
Patagonian Yellow-Finch Sicalis lebruni
Only 1 seen, a male on the way in to PN Pali Aike in the S. Restricted to Magallanes and S. Argentina.
Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch Sicalis uropygialis
A few at Lauca.
Greenish Yellow-Finch Sicalis olivascens
Small numbers in the upper Atacama below Zapahuira, around Putre, and at Lauca.
Slender-billed Finch Xenospingus concolor
Common in the Azapa valley, especially in the olive groves on the far side of the dry river bed.
Grey-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus gayi
Fairly common in the C. and S.
Patagonian Sierra-Finch Phrygilus patagonicus
A few pairs scattered through the South eg Torres del Paine, (Garderia Lago Grey) Puyuhue, (behind Antillanca Ski Lodge) etc.
Mourning Sierra-Finch Phrygilus fructiceti
A few in the S., very common at Lauca.
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Phrygilus unicolor
Fairly common at Lauca, max 15/day.
Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrigilus plebujus
Fairly common at Lauca, max 6/day.
Black-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus atriceps
Common at Lauca, max 15/day.
Red-backed Sierra-Finch Phrigilus dorsalis
1 intergrade seen, at the bog 20kms above Putre turn, with upperparts showing rufous feathers admixed with grey; almost solid rufous scapulars, but mostly grey mantle with odd admixed rufous feathers.
A second bird seen the following day c1km lower had almost wholly rufous mantle, and wholly rufous scapulars, but a small area of the upper central mantle showed predominantly grey feathers, hence possibly also an intergrade rather than a pure dorsalis. BK advises that such mixed pairs are common at Lauca, with rufous birds ('Red-backed') regularly being seen paired with a grey bird, ('White-throated' erythronotus.) It seems that the argument for Red-backed being a distinct species, rather than a colour morph of erythronotus, may be far from over?
White-throated Sierra-Finch Phrigilus erythronotus
Uncommon at Lauca, max. 5/day, most seen between Putre and Parinacota. Very restricted disjunct range in S. Peru, N. Chile, W. Bolivia.
White-winged Diuca-Finch Diuca speculifera
Fairly common at Lauca, max 10/day, easy to see around the bog 20kms above Putre turning.
Common Diuca-Finch Diuca diuca
Scattered singles in C. areas.
Canary-winged- (Black-throated-) Finch Melanodera melanodera
6+ birds seen next to the road into Pali Aike, amazing, especially in flight, "Canary-winged" is definitely the best name for it. Scoped together with Rufous-chested Dotterel!
Black-throated Flowerpiercer Diglossa brunneiventris
Only 1 seen, in upper valley at Putre, 15/11. Just creeps into N. Chile, here at the extreme SW. end of the species' range. Formerly conspecific with Gray-bellied Flowerpiercer, D. carbonaria.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Small numbers in all urban areas, but always easily outnumbered by Rufous-collared.
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
Abundant almost everywhere. Southern subspecies australis lacks black lateral crown stripes.
Austral Blackbird Curaeus curaeus
Fairly common in the C. and S.
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis
A few in the Azapa valley.
Long-tailed Meadowlark Sturnella loyca
Common C. and S.
Peruvian Meadowlark Sturnella bellicosa albipes
Common in the Lluta valley, 1 dry river bed, Azapa Valley. Smaller and brighter than loyca.
Hooded Siskin Carduelis magellanica
Fairly common at Lauca, (urubambensis) max 8/day.
Black-Chinned Siskin Carduelis barbata
Very common in the South, max 100/day.
Black Siskin Carduelis atrata
2 birds at E. end of Lago Chungara were the only birds seen.
Yellow-rumped Siskin Carduelis uropygialis
3 in valley 14kms below Putre turn off.
Birds not seen by us:
Chilean Tinamou Nothoprocta perdicaria
No sign at La Campana.
Magellanic Horned Owl Bubo magellanicus
No sign in the South. This now seems to be a generally-accepted split from Great Horned Owl, B. virginianus.
We didn't have exact info. to try for the birds which are still present at Hosteria las Torres in PN Torres del Paine.
White-throated Caracara Phalcoboenus albogularis
We didn't visit Las Cumbres, East of PN Torres del Paine, which is the only site I know.
Rufous-legged Owl Strix rufipes
No response in brief dawn tape-effort at La Campana
Sparkling Violet-Ear Colibri coruscans
Still in the Upper Valley at Putre, but had been driven further down the valley by Giant Hummers the week we visited hence no longer in the Eucalyptus plantation.
Chestnut-throated Huet Huet Pteroptochos castaneus
Sites not visited.
White-throated Tapaculo Scelorchilus albicollis
Heard but not seen at La Campana, see species list above. Song I had on tape was a Mr Punch like, 'er-ooh, er-er-ooh, er-er-ooh er-er-ooh' but more commonly heard at la Campana was the low, soft, decelerating 'woh-woh-woh-woh-woh'
Dusky-tailed Canastero Asthenes humicola
No sign at Campana in two visits. My unfamiliarity with the song was doubtless a factor.
Pied Crested Tit-Tyrant Anairetes reguloides
Lower Valley at Putre- searched but no joy, BK has only seen this species once in the area, so they are obviously scarce.
Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant Anairetes flavirostris
Didn't search much suitable habitat below Putre. A Tit-Tyrant sp. Seen briefly at the valley 14kms below Putre was almost certainly this species.
Tamarugo Conebill Conirostrum tamarugense
None in the Azapa valley. Terry Witt's site further South not visited. Can be seen around Putre in the Austral Winter according to BK.
Giant Conebill Oreomanes fraseri
Tried Steve Howell's '92 site, a valley on the Putre-Arica road, c14kms below Putre turn. The valley is almost directly opposite a failed "Cacterium" park set up by CONAF, c100m back towards Putre from the Cacterium sign, the valley is on the left hand side of the road heading away from Putre.
White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis andicola
Very scarce/restricted range species around Putre, Parinacota etc. We tried a couple of sites without success. Seems to be extinction-bound due to the spread of the dominant Black-billed? NB the local race of Black-billed, intermedia, also shows much white in the tail.
Great Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis livida
See Pearman, other reports, we didn't visit the Rio Aconcagua etc
Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris
Upper Valley, Putre. Not seen during my one visit, I'd seen the species before so didn't try later.
Yellow-bridled Finch Melanodera xanthogramma
Possible but difficult at Torres del Paine, eg mouth of the Rio Paine,
we didn't have time to visit the specific site.
Mammals and Cetaceans
Huemul Hippocmeles antisensis
1 female, Garderia Lago Grey eve 7/11 and dawn 8/11.
Guanaco Lama guanicoe
Common at Torres del Paine
Vicuña Vicugna vicugna
Common at Lauca
Alpaca Lama pacos
Common around Parinacota and other altiplano areas. Domesticated.
Llama Lama glama
Common around Parinacota and other altiplano areas. Domesticated.
Viscacha Lagidium viscacha
7 on the bog 20kms up from Putre turn-off, eve 15/11. Bizarre- a wild Andean version of the Chinchilla, they are 2-3 feet long and look like a mouse crossed with a kangaroo.
South American Grey Fox Dusicyon griseus
A few seen on roads around Punta Arenas, 1 at Torres del Paine.
Common in Torres del Paine, a few elsewhere in the S.
4+ offshore from road to Fuerte Bulnes, c15kms S. of Punta Arenas, 10/11. Large with long dorsal fin curving backward, appeared unmarked greyish, perhaps Dusky Dophin, Lagenorhynchus obscurus?
Southern Sealion Otaria byronia
1 young animal basking on rock c18kms S. of Punta Arenas, 2 off Arica.