John and Bronwen were down from their room and ready to go 20 minutes before the meeting time. So we started early and it would be a good long day of birdwatching on the central coast of Chile. While it was still dark we drove along the road that would take us to the mouth of the Maipo river, one of the most important wetlands in central Chile. We arrived just as the sun began to light up and the birds slowly began to move around the coastline.
We started walking down the path that runs through the scrub, finding a good selection of birds that included Long tailed Meadowlark, Grassland Yellow-finch, Tufted Tit-Tyrant and a newly split species: Patagonian Forest Earthcreeper.
We stopped at the beginning of the cattails and although it was to quick for our cameras, we listened to and had great views of that lovely little endemic the Dusky Tapaculo.
Later, we took it more slowly to find and photograph the specialist reed birds that included: the jewel like Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Sedge Wren and Wren-like Rushbird.
Finally and at very low tide, we could see some shorebirds including Black-necked Stilt, Grey Plover, Whimbrel, and Hudsonian Godwit. There were also some gulls and terns: Grey Gull, Kelp Gull, Brown-hooded Gull and South American Tern.
After a short stop just north of San Antonio, we observed the 3 possible cormorants that you can find in the central region of Chile: Neotropic Cormorant, Guanay Cormorant and a nice flock of beautiful Red-legged Cormorant. Before our next stop a couple of Inca Tern and Sooty Shearwater some would be the last species foundon the way.
The Cartagena Lagoon is always a good stop. The local community has done an incredible job to keep this lagoon alive thanks to donations from visitors and we had very good views of a good selection of lake birds including Black-necked and Coscoroba Swan, Chiloe Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal and Lake Duck. The group of divers was also well represented with White-tufted Grebe, Great Grebe (Juvenile) and Silvery Grebe.
The lunch was a success. Installed in a comfortable terrace overlooking the sea John and Bronwen enjoyed a delicious fish meal and got very good pictures of Peruvian Booby and the endemic Seaside Cinclodes without leaving their chair (literally ¡!).
Our last stop took us to Algarrobo where a strong wind began to blow but did not stop us completing all species of grebes and coots that can be seen in the central area of Chile adding to our list: Pied-billed Grebe, Red-gartered, White-winged and Red-fronted Coot. In the inner valley and hampered by the same wind conditions we still managed to see new species; Rufous-tailed Plantcutter and Chilean Pigeon which is a beautiful bird more often found in the more southerly forests of southern Chile and not very common to see in the central region.
On the way back to Santiago, after a long but very entertaining day of birdwatching, we stopped only once for a pair of Black-chested Buzzard Eagle.
At 1730 we left our most welcome guests from New Zealand tired but happy in their hotel in having had a good selection of the birds of Chile and, we hope, some very pleasant memories.
New World Quails
New World Vultures
South American Tern
Patagonian Forest Earthcreeper
Many-colored Rush Tyrant
Old World Sparrows