Welcome to Birdquest
Friday 20th November - Friday 11th December 2015
Mark Van Beirs
The Bird of the Trip was the fabulous South American Painted-snipe that we saw so amazingly close up in the pampas. In fact, using our minibus as a hide, we observed no fewer than 15 of these rarely encountered waders for more than half an hour while they were feeding or resting unconcernedly at the edge of a rush marsh. A never to be forgotten experience! Other much appreciated avian marvels included the majestic King Penguin (displaying), the enigmatic White-bellied Seedsnipe (because of the hard work needed to find it in its magnificent alpine habitat on Tierra del Fuego), Magellanic Plover (in its own family and seen displaying and mating), the stunning Magellanic Woodpecker (so brilliantly close and totally unbothered by our presence) and the delightful Spot-winged Falconet (perfect scope studies of this unusual falconid). Other cracking birds that we saw on our wanderings through the southern half of this outstanding country included Chubut Steamer Duck, Ringed Teal, Stripe-backed Bittern, Andean Condor, Austral Rail, Snowy Sheathbill, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Rufous-chested Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Ash-coloured Cuckoo, Red-tailed Comet, White-throated Caracara, Burrowing Parrot, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Crested Gallito, Salinas Monjita, Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Pampas Meadowlark, the exceedingly rare Yellow Cardinal, Yellow-bridled Finch and the scarce Glaucous-blue Grosbeak. Interesting mammal sightings added significantly to our travel experience, as we connected with Larger Hairy Armadillo, the minute Pichi, many elegant Patagonian Maras, Culpeo, Pampas and regular Grey Foxes, tonnes and tonnes of blubbery Southern Elephant Seals, spectacularly breaching Southern Right Whales and many stylish Guanaco. The scenery along the Andes was invariably out of this world with its varied snowy peaks and impressive crags. The incredible spectacle of the dramatic Perito Moreno glacier has to be seen to be believed and we now know how endless Patagonia really is and how very windy… The grasslands and lakes of the famous pampas produced most of the expected specialities and the avifauna of the southern chaco and the nearby ‘calden’ woodlands hold few secrets for us now.