Birder's Guide

MAR 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/799689

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51 March 2017 | Birder's Guide to Travel under a bright southern sky. The glacier- fed waters of Lago Argentino glowed ee- rily and beautifully nearby. After a cheap meal of empanadas, I explored the town. I quickly discovered that El Calafate was a place I could live. Tiny, brightly- painted homes with window flowerbeds lined quiet streets. When I started to no - tice signs featuring hand-painted flamin- gos that pointed the way to the Laguna Nimez Reserve, I followed them. The Laguna Nimez Reserve, just a short walk from downtown El Calafate, is a peaceful site with excellent birding. Modest in size, the reserve contains two large ponds and a 1.5-mile-long walking trail. The reserve was awash in blooms. Tall grasses, featuring the first exhibitions from autumn's palette, undulated in the wind. A group of ten Chilean Flamingos stood in the placid waters of the main pond. As the sun headed for the horizon, the light in the reserve grew steadily richer. A pair of Coscoroba Swans with bright red bills circled the reserve and then landed on the pond, joining Crested Ducks, Ruddy Ducks, Chiloé Wigeon, and Red Shovelers. As I followed the trail through some tall shrubs, out popped a small, black bird with contrasting yellow beak and eye-rings: a Spectacled Tyrant. Next, a Chimango Caracara alighted on a fence post and stood on one leg. The birds of Laguna Nimez showed little fear of people, much like the birds of the Galápagos, Mauritius, and other places where birds evolved without regular human contact. One of my best moments at Nimez involved an intrep- id Plumbeous Rail. This plump, gray- and-brown marsh bird emerged from a clump of reeds and cocked his head a few times to better see me through merlot-red eyes. I sat down in the trail. The rail approached to within a few feet of me, lingered for a while, and then walked off in measured steps. An impressive feature of Laguna Nimez was its handmade signs. One wooden sign featured the flamboyant outline of the Tufted Tit-Tyrant, a diminutive fly - catcher with two curved feather tufts on its crown and hence the nickname of "little bull". A colorful mural of local n Patagonian Sierra-finch Photo © Brandon Breen n Patagonia, shared by Chile and Argentina, is the southernmost portion of South America. Map © Rad Smith

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