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 61 of 95

Birding Trip to Patagonia 60 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2017 toward Paso de los Nubes (Pass of the Clouds) and saw what appeared to be a swarm of gnats but in fact were faraway Andean Condors, about 30 of them cir- cling together. I continued hiking to the refuge: a ba- sic structure with a weatherworn charm. The second floor was one large bed- room where each night mattresses were laid side by side to accommodate how- ever many travelers showed up. Mount Tronador (the "Thunderer"), an old vol- cano, loomed over the refuge, and a gla- cier came down the mountain on either side of the refuge. The refuge staff served goulash for dinner that night, and the at - mosphere was warm and festive as peo- ple traded stories and freely poured each other's wine. Later, a few of us walked out into the cold, clear night. I had several times read about stars so close you could touch them, but this was my first night when the stars appeared within reach. There was Orion, the Southern Cross, and the Magellanic Clouds: two dwarf galaxies visible from the southern hemisphere. Despite the clear sky, there came the sound of thun - der. But this was not the thunder of light and searing heat, it was the thunder of ice. The Alerce Glacier had calved, sending forth a resounding grumble that reached two communal gatherings: one of ragged human travelers in awe of Patagonia, the other a roost of Andean Condors to which the entire world was Patagonia. n LEFT: The ramshackle Otto Meiling Refuge, with Cerro Tronador behind. Photo © Brandon Breen n BACKGROUND: Río de las Vueltas Photo © Brandon Breen

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