On this private trip we birded at different altitudes across Farellones Road, just 40 minutes from Santiago de Chile. Our passenger, Marge took an extra day after her Conference and arranged this journey to look for the birds of the Chilean Matorral (six endemics are possible for the area) and some high altitude specialists such as her most desired species: the Andean Condor. Driving along the single track road on the way up to the most visited ski resorts from the Capital then, even on a Saturday morning in the middle of the snow-activities peak season, we managed to have a great birding and nature experience with the perfect combination of proper birding, great scenery and a chill out in the Andean mountains.
After a 07:30 pick up we headed straight to the east of the city up to the beginning of the Farellones Road at 2800 feet above sea level. We started to climb up by the main road up to Corral Quemado where we took the La Disputada road in order to avoid the first wave of skiers driving up to the mountains.
There we got Moustached Turca and White-throated Tapaculo; both bigsized, distinctive and endemic tapaculos. Once back on the main road we stopped at our Chilean Tinamou stake-out (if that it is possible) and after some trials we were successful in our tinamou hunting (another endemic in the bag!).
At mid-morning we reached Yerba Loca Park, where we birded and enjoyed of some good birds. Striped Woodpecker, Patagonian Tyrant, Long-tailed Meadowlark and one mammal sighting a Culpeo Fox. A special note should be added for the excellent soaring show conducted here by an Andean Condor and a Black-chested Buzzard Eagle. After a tasty lunch at the picnic area of the Park, re-charging batteries with the sound of the flowing river, we came back to the main road and kept driving above the tree-line lo look for some different species.
We were still in the winter so the area was a mix of snowy-covered and clearparts and the bird activity wasn’t good as usual. Despite this we managed to spot some high-altitude species as Mountain Caracara, Gray-flanked Cinclodes, Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. All this at 7200 feet above sea level.
At around 16:00 we started to drive down to the city, saving some time for the latest roadside birding stops. In one of these we had excellent views of 3 individuals of one of the endemics we were missing: the stunning Crag Chilia…a great end to the day !
After this we drove by the highway directly to Santiago Airport, just in time for Marge to proceed with her check-in and long flight home.
Taxonomic order and notes follows South American Classification Committee
Detailed birdlist available at eBird
Chilean Tinamou (Nothoprocta perdicaria)
NEW WORLD VULTURES
Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)
Variable Hawk (Red-backed) (Geranoaetus polyosoma (Red-backed))
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus)
Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata)
Green-backed Firecrown (Sephanoides sephaniodes)
Striped Woodpecker (Veniliornis lignarius)
Mountain Caracara (Phalcoboenus megalopterus)
Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimango)
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Moustached Turca (Pteroptochos megapodius)
White-throated Tapaculo (Scelorchilus albicollis)
Crag Chilia (Ochetorhynchus melanurus)
Gray-flanked Cinclodes (Cinclodes oustaleti)
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail (Leptasthenura aegithaloides)
Tufted Tit-Tyrant (Anairetes parulus)
Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant (Muscisaxicola maclovianus)
Patagonian Tyrant (Colorhamphus parvirostris)
House Wren (Southern) (Troglodytes aedon [musculus Group])
Austral Thrush (Turdus falcklandii)
Chilean Mockingbird (Mimus thenca)
FINCHES & SPARROWS
Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus gayi)
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus unicolor)
Common Diuca-Finch (Diuca diuca)
Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)
Black-chinned Siskin (Spinus barbatus)
Long-tailed Meadowlark (Sturnella loyca)
Austral Blackbird (Curaeus curaeus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)