Central and North of Chile - February 2019

Published by Albatross Birding & Nature Tours In Chile (contact AT albatross-birding.com)

Participants: Albatross Birding in Chile


This was my second trip with Mark. The previous time we had traveled south of Santiago in a nice one day birding trip.
This time, also in company of his wife Shelley, we had the chance to enjoy an excellent pelagic trip, a day in the central coast of Chile, and then to explore the extreme north of Chile, with many new birds, very good food and incredible landscapes.

Day 1 - 9th February

We set sail early from the Port of Valparaiso, to enjoy the Humbold Current and all the great amount of wild life that it has.

We begin observing some Inca Tern and Red-legged Cormorant at the port exit. While we were taking more distance from the coast, a large group of Sooty Shearwater interspersed with Pink-footed Shearwater.

After almost 2 hours of navigation we decided to start throwing the bait and a large number of birds began to approach the boat. Four different species of Albatross that included: Southern and Northern Royal, Black-browed and Salvin's. Also some species of petrels that included: Southern and Northern, White-chinned and Westland petrels. But some surprises were still waiting for us; two unusual species of shearwater were spotted: Buller's and Manx Shearwater, to finish a beautiful day in the Pacific Ocean.

After lunch where we enjoyed seafood, we decided to look for some other birds. We drove north to a large colony of South American Sea Lions where it was possible to spot: Red-legged and Guanay Cormorant, Inca Tern, Humboldt Penguin and the endemic Seaside Cinclodes, finishing this way an excellent day.

Day 2 - 10th February

We started early driving straight to Algarrobo looking for the elusive Stripe-backed Bittern. With the first rays of the sun we were able to enjoy 1 individual in this small wetland. In the same place we added to our list: Spot-flanked Gallinule, Chiloe Wigeon and Yellow-billed Teal.

Then we decided to explore a small creek in search of some interesting bush birds that´s included: Striped Woodpecker, Des Murs s Wiretail, Thorn-tailed Rayadito and two endemic the little Duky Tapaculo and Dusky-Tailed Canastero.

After this we moved to the largest wetland in the Central zone of Chile, the mouth of the Maipo River, that always delivers a large number and diversity of birds. This time it was not different and we added to our list of birds: Black-necked Swan, Lake Duck, Grey Plover, a huge flok of Sanderling and some Semipalmed Sandpiper on the sandy area.

In the reed it was possible to see the beautiful Many-colored Rush Tyrant as well as Sedge Wren and the Wren-like Rushbird.

After had lunch on a beautiful terrace in front of the Pacific Ocean and enjoy nice seafood, and from where we could observe Peruvian Boobie and Peruvian Pelicans, we headed to El Peral Lagoon. This one is a beautiful lagoon full of birds and an excellent way to finish our day. In it we could observe: Coscoroba Swan, unusual record of Silver Teal, Black-headed duck, Silver Grebe, Giant Hummingbird and Cocoi Heron among other.

After these two successful days of birding in the central zone of Chile, it was time to move north.

Day 3 - 11th February

We flew early from Santiago to Arica and started by birding in the most important wetland in the northern zone of Chile, the mouth of the Lluta River. Although the rains of the altiplanic winter had modified the landscape a lot, it was possible to see: White-cheeked Pintail, Grey Gull, Belcher's Gull, Peruvian Meadowlark and Cinereus Conebill among other.

Then we had to drive for almost two hours through the desert to Chaca Valley. This is the last place where you can find the threatened Chilean Woodstar. With no more than 300 individuals this is one of the few places where it still reproduces. In the same area we also found the small Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant, finishing this way our first day in the north.

Day 4 - 12th February

During this day we had to drive to Putre located at more than 3000 meters above sea level. But before, we decided to do another quickly visit to the Lluta River wetland to be completely sure we do not missed any bird. In this occasion we add: Black Skimer, Andean Gull, Elegant Tern and Sandwinch Tern.

Also we decided to stop and search some other birds on the way. We start at the locality of Molino, about 60 kms from Arica. In this fertile valley, we found Andean Swift, Great Horned Owl, Bran-coloured and Vermilion Flycatcher and Blue-black Grassquit.

Already in Putre we decided to rest during the afternoon for the next day.

Day 5 - 13th February

We started the day driving from Putre through the old route that leaves the town. We spend there around two hours and we were able to see a large number of birds, among them: Ornate Tinamou, Andean Hillstar, Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Cream-winged Cinclodes, Ash-breasted and Mourning Sierra-Finch. Before returning to the main road, a small group of Northen deer grazed peacefully among the crops of the local people.

We continued driving in to the altiplano, to enter the Lauca National Park. We stopped in a sector known as Las Cuevas. Here, and after a short hike, we got very good sightings of: Andean Goose, Crested Duck, Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, Andean Flicker, White-winged Cinclodes and a small family group of the beautiful Diademed Sandpiper-Plover.

Our final destination was the impressive Chungará Lake, but we made some intermediate stops. This time in the Chucullo`s locality where we got excellent birds like: Puna Teal, Andean and Chilean Flamingo, Giant Coot, Andean Avocet, Puna Ibis and Puna Rhea.
Finally we arrived at Chungará Lake. With an impressive scenery at 4500 msnm and with the beautiful Parinacota and Pomerape volcanoes, it was the place where we decided to have lunch before looking for the next group of birds.

On the shores of the lake we started looking for some birds that included: Andean Duck, Silvery Grebe, Slate-coloured Coot, Puna Plover and White-fronted and Puna Ground-Tyrant.
The clouds were threatening a heavy rain, but we decided to make one last stop in the picturesque town of Parinacota. In its surroundings a beautiful wetland was the place to find the last species of the day: Crested Duck, Puna Teal, Andean Flickr, Puna Miner, Hooded and Black Siskin.

Day 6 - 14th February

Our last day in the high plateau of northern Chile we went to explore a beautiful creek located next to our accommodation. We left walking from our cabins and after a short walk we found the first species: Spot-winged Pigeon, Bare-faced and Black-winged Ground-Dove; White-throated Earthcreeper, Creamy-breasted and Cayon Canastero; Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Black-throated Flowerpiercer and Band-tailed Seedeater.

Before going back to the city of Arica, we drove by a secondary route that took us through the high altitude forests. In between the queñoas or Polylepis trees we found the last birds of height that included: Andean Condor, Straight-billed Earthcreeper and Thick-billed Siskin.

Finally we returned to our hotel in Arica, and while we enjoyed the sunset many birds came to rest in the nearby rocks, among them we managed to add to our list: Blackish and American Oystercatcher; Ruddy Turnstone, Surfbird, Willet, Elegant and a single individual of Common Tern.

Day 7 - 15th February

This was the last morning in the northern Chile, but we decided to make the most of it.
We drove through the Azapa Valley towards a small lagoon known as Sobraya. In this small oasis with water in the middle of the desert it was possible to observe some new species such as: Wilson's Phalarope, Spotted Sandpiper and Cinnamon Teal.

Finally, our last stop was in a small but beautiful garden full of flowers, which is home of two species of hummingbirds: Oasis Hummingbird and Peruvian Sheartail.

This way we end the trip with nearly 200 birds, 44 families and 98 lifers for Mark.

Species Lists

RHEAS (Rheidae)
Puna (Lesser) Rhea Pterocnemia pennata tarapacensis

TINAMOUS (Tinamidae)
Ornate Tinamou Nothoprocta ornata

DUCKS (Anatidae)
Black-necked Swan Cygnus melancoryphus
Coscoroba Swan Coscoroba coscoroba
Andean Goose Oressochen melanopterus
Crested Duck Lophonetta specularioides
Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix
Yellow-billed Teal (flavirostris) Anas flavirostris flavirostris
Yellow-billed Teal (oxyptera) Anas flavirostris oxyptera
Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica
White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis
Puna Teal Anas puna
Silver Teal Anas versicolor
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera
Red Shoveler Anas platalea
Black-headed Duck Heteronetta atricapilla
Andean (Ruddy) Duck Oxyura jamaicensis ferruginea
Lake Duck Oxyura vittata

NEW WORLD QUAIL (Odontophoridae)
California Quail Callipepla californica

GREBES (Podicipedidae)
White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
Andean (Silvery) Grebe Podiceps occipitalis juninensis
Patagonian (Silvery) Grebe Podiceps occipitalis occipitalis

FLAMINGOS (Phoenicopteridae)
Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis
Andean Flamingo Phoenicoparrus andinus

PENGUINS (Spheniscidae)
Humboldt Penguin Spheniscus humboldti

ALBATROSSES (Diomedeidae)
Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora epomophora
Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora sanfordi
Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris
Salvin's Albatross Thalassarche salvini

SHEARWATERS (Procellariidae)
Southern Giant-Petrel Macronectes giganteus
Northern Giant-Petrel Macronectes halli
White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis
Westland Petrel Procellaria westlandica
Buller's Shearwater Ardenna bulleri
Sooty Shearwater Ardenna grisea
Pink-footed Shearwater Ardenna creatopus

DIVING-PETRELS (Procellariidae)
Peruvian Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides garnotii

STORM-PETRELS (Hydrobatidae)
Fuegian (Wilson's) Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus chilensis

BOOBIES (Sulidae)
Peruvian Booby Sula variegata

CORMORANTS (Phalacrocoracidae)
Red-legged Cormorant Phalacrocorax gaimardi
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Guanay Cormorant Phalacrocorax bougainvillii

PELICANS (Pelecanidae)
Peruvian Pelican Pelecanus thagus

HERONS (Ardeidae)
Stripe-backed Bittern Ixobrychus involucris
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Cocoi Heron Ardea cocoi
Great Egret Ardea alba
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea

IBISES (Threskiornithidae)
Puna Ibis Plegadis ridgwayi

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Andean Condor Vultur gryphus

HAWKS (Accipitridae)
White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus
Harris's Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus
Variable Hawk Geranoaetus polyosoma
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus

RAILS (Rallidae)
Spot-flanked Gallinule Porphyriops melanops
Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus
Common Gallinule (Moorhen) Gallinula galeata
Red-gartered Coot Fulica armillata
Giant Coot Fulica gigantea
Andean (Slate-colored) Coot Fulica ardesiaca
White-winged Coot Fulica leucoptera

PLOVERS (Charadriidae)
American Golden-Plover Pluvialis dominica
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus
Puna Plover Charadrius alticola
Diademed Sandpiper-Plover Phegornis mitchellii

OYSTERCATCHERS (Haematopodidae)
American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus
Blackish Oystercatcher Haematopus ater

AVOCETS and STILTS (Recurvirostridae)
White-backed (Black-necked) Stilt Himantopus mexicanus melanurus
Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina

SANDPIPERS (Scolopacidae)
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Surfbird Calidris virgata
Sanderling Calidris alba
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
Willet Tringa semipalmata
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes

SEEDSNIPES (Thinocoridae)
Gray-breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus

GULLS (Laridae)
Andean Gull Chroicocephalus serranus
Brown-hooded Gull Chroicocephalus maculipennis
Gray Gull Leucophaeus modestus
Franklin's Gull Leucophaeus pipixcan
Belcher's (Band-tailed) Gull Larus belcheri
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus
Inca Tern Larosterna inca
South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea
Elegant Tern Thalasseus elegans
Common Tern

SKIMMERS (Rynchopidae)
Black Skimmer Rynchops niger

PIGEONS (Columbidae)
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Spot-winged Pigeon Patagioenas maculosa
West Peruvian Dove Zenaida meloda
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata
Picui Ground Dove Columbina picui
Croaking Ground Dove Columbina cruziana
Bare-faced Ground Dove Metriopelia ceciliae
Black-winged Ground Dove Metriopelia melanoptera

CUCKOOS (Cuculidae)
Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris

OWLS (Strigidae)
Magellanic (Great) Horned Owl Bubo virginianus magellanicus
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia

SWIFTS (Apodidae)
Andean Swift Aeronautes andecolus

HUMMINGBIRDS (Trochilidae)
Andean Hillstar Oreotrochilus estella
Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas gigas
Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas peruviana
Chilean Woodstar Eulidia yarrellii
Oasis Hummingbird Rhodopis vesper
Peruvian Sheartail Thaumastura cora

Chilean Flicker Colaptes pitius
Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola

FALCONS (Falconidae)
Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis

TAPACULOS (Rhinocryptidae)
Dusky Tapaculo Scytalopus fuscus

OVENBIRDS (Furnariidae)
Puna Miner Geositta punensis
Straight-billed Earthcreeper Ochetorhynchus ruficaudus
Band-tailed Earthcreeper Ochetorhynchus phoenicurus
Crag Chilia Ochetorhynchus melanurus
Wren-like Rushbird Phleocryptes melanops
Patagonian Forest Earthcreeper Upucerthia saturatior
Scale-throated Earthcreeper Upucerthia dumetaria
White-throated Earthcreeper Upucerthia albigula
Buff-breasted Earthcreeper Upucerthia validirostris
Buff-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus
Cream-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes albiventris
Gray-flanked (Oustalet's) Cinclodes Cinclodes oustaleti
White-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes atacamensis
Dark-bellied Cinclodes Cinclodes patagonicus
Seaside Cinclodes Cinclodes nigrofumosus
Thorn-tailed Rayadito Aphrastura spinicauda
Des Murs's Wiretail Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail (Central Chile) Leptasthenura aegithaloides aegithaloides
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail (Patagonia) Leptasthenura aegithaloides pallida
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail (Altiplano) Leptasthenura aegithaloides berlepschi
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail (Coastal N Chile) Leptasthenura aegithaloides grisescens
Streaked Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura striata
Dark-winged (Creamy-breasted) Canastero Asthenes dorbignyi arequipae
Austral Canastero Asthenes anthoides
Cordilleran Canastero Asthenes modesta
Sharp-billed Canastero Asthenes pyrrholeuca
Canyon Canastero Asthenes pudibunda
Dusky-tailed Canastero Pseudasthenes humicola

Chilean (White-crested) Elaenia Elaenia albiceps chilensis
Peruvian (White-crested) Elaenia Elaenia albiceps modesta
Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant Anairetes flavirostris
Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus
Ticking Doradito Pseudocolopteryx citreola
Many-colored Rush Tyrant Tachuris rubrigastra
Rufescent (Bran-colored) Flycatcher Myiophobus fasciatus rufescens
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
Austral Negrito Lessonia rufa
Andean Negrito Lessonia oreas
Spectacled Tyrant Hymenops perspicillatus
Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola maculirostris
Puna Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola juninensis
Cinereous Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola cinereus
White-fronted Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albifrons
Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola flavinucha
Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola rufivertex
Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola maclovianus
White-browed Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albilora
Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola capistratus
Black-fronted Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola frontalis
Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis montanus
White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis albicauda
Great Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis lividus
Gray-bellied Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis micropterus
Fire-eyed Diucon Xolmis pyrope
Chocolate-vented Tyrant Neoxolmis rufiventris
d'Orbigny's Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca oenanthoides
White-browed Chat-Tyrant Ochthoeca leucophrys
Patagonian Tyrant Colorhamphus parvirostris

COTINGAS (Cotingidae)
Rufous-tailed Plantcutter Phytotoma rara

SWALLOWS (Hirundinidae)
Blue-and-white Swallow Pygochelidon cyanoleuca
Andean Swallow Orochelidon andecola
Peruvian Martin Progne murphyi
Chilean Swallow Tachycineta meyeni
Bank Swallow Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

WRENS (Troglodytidae)
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Austral (Sedge) Wren Cistothorus platensis hornensis

THRUSHES (Turdidae)
Austral Thrush Turdus falcklandii
Chiguanco Thrush Turdus chiguanco

Chilean Mockingbird Mimus thenca
Patagonian Mockingbird Mimus patagonicus

PIPITS (Motacillidae)
Peruvian (Yellowish) Pipit Anthus lutescens peruvianus
Correndera Pipit Anthus correndera
Hellmayr's Pipit Anthus hellmayri

TANAGERS (Thraupidae)
Blue-and-yellow Tanager Pipraeidea bonariensis
Cinereous Conebill Conirostrum cinereum
Tamarugo Conebill Conirostrum tamarugense
Giant Conebill Oreomanes fraseri
Black-throated Flowerpiercer Diglossa brunneiventris
Black-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus atriceps
Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus gayi
Patagonian Sierra-Finch Phrygilus patagonicus
Mourning Sierra-Finch Phrygilus fruticeti
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Phrygilus unicolor
Red-backed Sierra-Finch Phrygilus dorsalis
White-throated Sierra-Finch Phrygilus erythronotus
Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch Phrygilus plebejus
Band-tailed Sierra-Finch Phrygilus alaudinus
White-winged Diuca-Finch Diuca speculifera
Common Diuca-Finch Diuca diuca
Fuegian (White-bridled) Finch Melanodera melanodera princetoniana
White-tailed (Yellow-bridled) Finch Melanodera xanthogramma barrosi
Yellow-tailed (Yellow-bridled) Finch Melanodera xanthogramma xanthogramma
Slender-billed Finch Xenospingus concolor
Puna Yellow-Finch Sicalis lutea
Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch Sicalis uropygialis
Greater Yellow-Finch Sicalis auriventris
Greenish Yellow-Finch Sicalis olivascens
Patagonian Yellow-Finch Sicalis lebruni
Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola
Grassland Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteola
Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
Chestnut-throated Seedeater Sporophila telasco
Band-tailed Seedeater Catamenia analis
Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris

SPARROWS (Emberizidae)
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis

BLACKBIRDS (Icteridae)
Austral Blackbird Curaeus curaeus
Yellow-winged Blackbird Agelasticus thilius
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis
Screaming Cowbird Molothrus rufoaxillaris
Peruvian Meadowlark Sturnella bellicosa
Long-tailed Meadowlark Sturnella loyca

FINCHES (Fringillidae)
Thick-billed Siskin Spinus crassirostris
Hooded Siskin Spinus magellanicus
Black Siskin Spinus atratus
Yellow-rumped Siskin Spinus uropygialis
Black-chinned Siskin Spinus barbatus

House Sparrow Passer domesticus