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.

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Page 56 of 95

55 March 2017 | Birder's Guide to Travel sedately on plank-like wings in a world accessible to a privileged few. I set out on the boardwalk and soon disappeared into the forest. The beech trees, which grew to only a modest height, possessed a wizened, welcoming appearance: moss-covered trunks, dainty leaves, and gently curving limbs that had never known haste. From within the for- est came the soft, pleasing trills of Thorn- tailed Rayaditos: small, chickadee-like birds with large black-and-buffy heads and spiny tails. Up ahead, squatting idly on the boardwalk, was a medium-sized brown bird: a Chilean Flicker, looking professorial in its subdued wardrobe. The boardwalk emerged from the for- est at intervals to spectacular views of the glacier. Craggy ice peaks, glowing in pale shades of blue, jutted out of the glacier's frontal wall; below, ice chunks floated and bobbed in steely, stippled waters; and the glacier itself extended back in sweeping contours to inhospitable high - lands. Then, an anomalous, tropical sound: the squeaky, screechy flight calls of … parrots? Soon a group of 10 or so Austral Parakeets—the most southerly occurring parrot species in the world— flew past at speed, their long, burnt-red - dish tails trailing behind green bodies. The next day I undertook a more am- bitious outing: a day hike to Laguna de los Tres to view the granite peaks of Fitz Roy, Poincenot, and Saint-Exupéry. In the morning, I hopped on a bus for a three-hour ride north to the small tour- ist town of El Chaltén; en route, we passed a few pairs of Lesser Rheas, a large Patagonian gray fox, a Red-backed Hawk, and several groups of llama-like guanacos. The bus dropped me off at 11 a.m. and my return bus departed at 5 p.m., giving me exactly six hours to complete the 15-mile round-trip hike with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. I start - ed toward the trailhead on the opposite n TOP LEFT: Austral Pygmy-Owl Photo © Brandon Breen n TOP RIGHT: Spectacled Tyrant Photo © Norton Santos n BOTTOM: Waterfalls from Castaño Overo Glacier Photo © Brandon Breen

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