This is one of the coolest, most beautiful and interesting places I have ever visited.
Photo: One of the many colourful Cerros of Valparaiso
Yesterday I booked a coastal and wetland bird tour through Birdwatching Chile (www.birdwatchingchile.com). I have never been on a birdwatching tour before, so I was interested to see how it would go. Well, I can officially say it was great, and I would do it again!
Throughout the day we visited several different habitats. We started by checking out various rocky islands/islets close to shore, and then checked out the river mouth of the Aconcagua River. From here we stopped at a few wetlands/reservoirs, and finally to the cute city of Cachagua. I was able to add several near-endemic species, as they are specifically tied to the Humboldt Current ecosystem.
Photo: The coast off of Vina Del Mar
In Cachagua we visited a special island, where resting on the rocks were lots of HUMBOLDT PENGUINS! I was looking at WILD penguins! It was fantastic. This is one of the few accessible breeding colonies for this threatened species. They were close to shore, providing great views. As an added bonus there were lot’s of SOOTY SHEARWATERS offshore, and we were super lucky to have a PERUVIAN DIVING PETREL fly by us, probably no more than 50-100 meters offshore.
Photos: HUMBOLDT PENGUINS!
The last stop of the day was in a bizarre looking dune ecosystem that is found right along the coast, and next to the city on Concon. Here in this little patch of threatened habitat was a special breeder. Rodrigo pointed out a pair of BURROWING OWLS! I couldn’t believe it! I never would have guessed they would be here. It was a great way to end the day.
Photos: BURROWING OWLS!
In total we saw 75 species, of which 43 were lifers! Several of there were near-endemic species, so I won’t be seeing them anywhere else in the world.
The days bird list:
WHITE-TUFTED GREBE, Pied-billed Grebe, GREAT GREBE, SOOTY SHEARWATER, PERUVIAN DIVING-PETREL, HUMBOLDT PENGUIN, Peruvian Booby, Peruvian Pelican, RED-LEGGED CORMORANT, GUANAY CORMORANT, Neotropic Cormorant, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, COCOI HERON, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, COSCOROBA SWAN, YELLOW-BILLED TEAL, CHILOE WIGEON, CINNAMON TEAL, RED SHOVELER, LAKE DUCK, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, VARIABLE HAWK, Chimango Caracara, American Kestrel, PLUMBEOUS RAIL, SPOT-FLANKED GALLINULE, WHITE-WINGED COOT, RED-GARTERED COOT, RED-FRONTED COOT, Southern Lapwing, WHITE-BACKED STILT, COLLARED PLOVER, American Golden Plover, Blackish Oystercatcher, American Oystercatcher, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Surfbird, Sanderling, Kelp Gull, GREY GULL, Franklin’s Gull, BROWN-HOODED GULL, INCA TERN, Elegant Tern, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Eared Dove, PICUI GROUND-DOVE, BURROWING OWL, GREEN-BACKED FIRECROWN (heard only), CHILEAN SEASIDE CINCLODES, PLAIN-MANTLED TIT-SPINETAIL, DUSKY TAPACULO (heard only), AUSTRAL NEGRITO, FIRE-EYED DIUCON, MANY-COLOURED RUSH-TYRANT, TUFTED TIT-TYRANT, CHILEAN SWALLOW, Southern House Wren, RUFOUS-TAILED PLANTCUTTER, Austral Thrush, CHILEAN MOCKINGBIRD, AUSTRAL BLACKBIRD, YELLOW-WINGED BLACKBIRD, LONG-TAILED MEADOWLARK, COMMON DIUCA-FINCH, Rufous-collared Sparrow, House Sparrow, BLACK-CHINNED SISKIN.