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 59 of 95

58 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2017 Birding Trip to Patagonia Park. To arrive there, I took a 25-hour bus ride from El Calafate to San Carlos de Bariloche, and then a two-hour bus ride to the Pampa Linda park headquar- ters. I registered at the ranger station for a two-day hike with an overnight stay at the Otto Meiling Refuge. The trail started through scrubby vegetation before delving into a forest. I crossed a swift, glacier-fed river on a wooden bridge, and thereafter the trail made lazy switchbacks through giant Patagonian cypresses. Then the silence was broken by what sounded like a very large woodpecker. I stopped and scanned for movement … there! High in a cypress, clinging to the main trunk was the black body and fiery-red head of a male Magellanic Woodpecker, a member of the Campephilus genus of grub-loving woodpeckers that includes the extinct Ivory-billed and Imperial woodpeckers. Soon the black-and-white female ap- peared, too; she flew into a tree near me, providing a view of her outrageously long, black, floppy crest. A little later, an upright and jaunty little bird hap- pened across my path—longish legs, orange breast, zebra-striped belly, and an up-cocked tail: a Chucao Tapaculo, minded me of the Japanese woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai and his famous 36 Views of Mount Fuji collection. I hiked on through marshy land. An American Kestrel hunted along a hillside, and an Austral Thrush appeared in a treetop at the edge of the forest. I made it up the final demanding section of switch - backs to my destination: a front-row seat to views of Mount Fitz Roy, Laguna de los Tres, and the saw-toothed ridges that bordered the enormous Southern Patagonian Ice Field. My final adventure occurred in north- ern Patagonia's Nahuel Huapi National a secretive understory bird, often heard but rarely seen. The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote of the chucao's mournful- sounding vocalization: Suddenly the voice of chucao as if nobody existed but that cry of all the solitude united. Now I had come to the steepest sec- tion of the trail, which made tight switchbacks as it climbed out of the forest into the transition zone where stunted vegetation and far-reaching views predominated. I saw innumer- able mountains, the Pampa Linda valley, and the Castaño Overo Glacier with its dozen waterfalls. It was here I started to see condors. First, a couple of juve- niles flew past and then a subadult male with a nascent white collar. The condors made several passes, and then I looked CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: n Rufus-tailed Plantcutter Photo © João Quental n Gray-flanked Cinclodes Photo © Brandon Breen n Black-faced Ibis Photo © Brandon Breen n American Kestrel Photo © Brandon Breen

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