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SOUTHERN & CENTRAL ARGENTINA

Wednesday 19th November - Tuesday 9th December 2014

Mark Pearman

Hooded Grebe (John Hopkins)

Hooded Grebe (John Hopkins)

An absolutely scorching close-up pair of displaying Hooded Grebes raising their crests, with synchronized neck twists and water paddling at THE glorious eleventh hour was the golden moment of the tour. We count ourselves very lucky and for many it was a lifetime experience. This came nicely off the back of an almost perfect string of goodies starting in Córdoba with Cordoba and Olrog’s Cinclodes, as well as Spot-winged Falconet, Blue-tufted Starthroat and the wonderful endemic Salinas Monjita, before birding the Pampas southwards. Top birds there included the outrageous Straight-billed Reedhaunter, unbelievable walk-about views of both Red-and-white and Dot-winged Crakes (as in 2013), dozens of wonderful South American Painted Snipe flying from our feet, not to mention the declining Pampas Meadowlark and other quality Pampas birds such as Hudson’s Canastero, Bearded Tachuri and Pampas Pipit. Moving south, a bunch of Argentine endemic breeders, some with erratic austral migrations, can prove tricky, but this year we had no problems in obtaining point blank views of Hudson’s Black-Tyrant, White-throated Cacholote, Sandy Gallito (displaying!), Cinnamon Warbling-Finch, Carbonated Sierra-Finch, Patagonian Canastero and Straneck’s Tyrannulet. The Southern Right Whales were yet another highlight as we soaked up the atmosphere of the Valdes Peninsula, along with the endemic Patagonian Mara, Band-tailed Earthcreeper and the endemic Rusty-backed Monjita and nearby local endemic Chubut Steamer-Duck. Further south after being awestruck by the vast Perito Moreno Glacier, the major highlights of the Santa Cruz circuit included Patagonian Tinamou, Ruddy-headed Goose, Spectacled Duck, Magellanic Plover, Lesser Horned Owl, Magellanic Woodpecker and White-bridled Finch, plus all of the more regular Patagonian specialties commonly found in both the forest and steppe. Mammals were another highlight with 19 species seen; unusually including five write-ins, among which perhaps Yellow-sided Opossum was quite a find, not to mention daylight views of Magellanic Tuco Tuco.

The extension was also a great success with 15 additional species seen, including the highlight of point blank walk-away views of White-bellied Seedsnipe, a variety of seabirds and seaducks, plus a superb adult King Penguin in a breeding colony of Gentoos.

In all, some 336 species were seen by a great group who really knew how to enjoy this wilderness experience.

White-bellied Seedsnipe (Mark Pearman)

White-bellied Seedsnipe (Mark Pearman)