On Tuesday Feb. 26, we flew from Ushuaia to El Calafete. Our itinerary was to view some glaciers near El Calafate and then travel a bit further north to do some hiking. The checklists suggested that Magellanic Plover and Gray-breasted Seedsnipe were a possibility but my realistic targets were Magellanic Woodpecker and Andean Condor.
|Reserva Municipal - Laguna Nimez|
The reserve had higher water levels than normal and some of
the trails and all of the shorebird habitat was under water (so little hope of the Magellanic Plover and seedsnipe). Still, we enjoyed the walk around the lagoon
and, for me, the highlight was a Plumbeous Rail hiding in the reeds – its
metallic-looking bill was spectacular!
We took a bus tour to the national park to view the Perito
Moreno Glacier – in the park we took a boat to within 250 m of the glacier’s
edge and then spent the afternoon on a ridge opposite the glacier. The views were incredible; the birding was
not. However, I did get two lifers – a distant
view of 2 Chilean Flickers and a fly-by of a Magellanic Woodpecker.
The next day, we visited two other glaciers by boat – the Upsala
and Spegazzini glaciers. Once again, the views
were fantastic and the birding non-existent –7 hours on the boat and I did not
see a single bird!
We then journeyed to El Chalten by bus and spent 3 days
hiking in the mountains. Based our first two days in the park, I was resigned to a paucity of
birds. We did hike through some nice forests and saw some birds though not many new ones. Even though we were only at 400
m, Andean Condors were common in the area.
At first, I only had distant views but finally one crossed the valley at
low altitude (perhaps it thought I was dying after a 15 km hike!) and I finally
got a decent look.
The other birding highlight was the Magellanic
Woodpecker. It turned out to be one of
the most common birds in the mountain forests and usually allowed a close
Perhaps the highlight of our Argentina travels (though they
are not yet concluded) was the views we had of Mount Fitz Roy and the
In conclusion, the scenery was great but the birding quiet (perhaps due to the late summer timing?). Still, I managed to find 18 life birds (most at the Laguna Nimez). From Patagonia, our next stop is Iguazu Falls in the
northeast corner of Argentina.
|Perito Moreno Glacier|
|Our group in front of Mount Fitz Roy|