Skip to navigation, or go to main content.

WINGS Birding Tours – Narrative

Argentina: The South - Pampas, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego

2010 Tour Narrative

Some trips have one bird or experience that eclipses all others.  But others seem to offer one highlight after another.  Such was the case with this tour.  Two Horned Coots found on a high Andean lake and a pair of White-bellied Seedsnipe, first calling, then flying in and landing closer and closer until finally they were within easy viewing distance vied for two of the best sightings of the trip.  The scream ‘there it is’ will linger in our minds for a long-time to come and a viewing of Garganta del Diablo at Iguazú falls under an almost full moon may well have been the experience of the tour.  But, back to the beginning….

Our time birding in and around Buenos Aires and to the south of the city where we immersed ourselves into the habitat of the Pampas offered birding for all interest levels – gulls, terns, waders, new families and incredible numbers of birds. Olrog’s Gulls, Greater Rheas, Southern Screamers, Spotted Tinamous were just a few of the ‘most wanted’ that were soon sighted during our time birding around San Clemente. Many-colored Rush-Tyrant charmed us all as did the diminutive Bay-capped Wren-Spinetail that had a way of disappearing before you could say its name. 

The Valdés Peninsula will be remembered for the mammal and bird diversity including our boat trip with Southern Right Whales in the late afternoon, our day-long drive with sea lions, elephant seals and our multiple sightings of Elegant Crested Tinamous, proving that this is not a mythical bird family. Most of us will always associate the Valdez with the scream ‘there it is!’ as a Snowy Sheathbill floated ethereally in front of Bernie then disappeared, never to be seen again that day or on the entire trip. Our time in El Calafate had us experiencing the winds of Patagonia first-hand. Fortunately, Magellanic Plover was seen in the stillness of the first afternoon. But, the following day, holding our binoculars steady enough to see the field features on a Spectacled Duck was a challenge but we did manage it, not only for the duck but for the other sought-after species including Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Magellanic Woodpecker, Chilean Flicker, Chilean Blackbird, and a very confiding Magellanic Tapaculo. 

The beauty of Tierra del Fuego has to be experienced. No superlatives can describe the beauty of the city of Ushuaia with the snow-capped Andes as a backdrop and the Beagle Channel leading to the South Atlantic bordered on each side by southern beech forests. Kelp Geese, Chilean Skuas, Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins, a second sighting of Magellanic Woodpecker were just a few of the birds enjoyed during our stay on the island. And, the cherry for those who did the climb toward the Martial Glacier was the incredible views of a pair of White-bellied Seedsnipe, only the second time this species has been seen on a Sunbird tour.  Austral Canastero, Rufous-breasted and Tawny-throated Dotterals were some of our final sightings around Rio Grande before we flew back to Buenos Aires.   Judy Davis

Updated: April 2011