Friday 1 November 2013

A full set of avocets!

After the frustration of missing Andean Avocet in Peru, Elis and I couldn't believe our luck when we saw up to 30 of them at our first birding stop in Chile.
Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina: Laguna Chaxa, Chile.

Into the bargain we also saw Puna Plover which we had also missed in Peru, and all within five minutes of getting the bins dusted off.
Puna Plover Charadrius alticola: Laguna Chaxa, Chile.

There were few other birds around in this very particular environment, that is a salt lake high in the mountains.
Laguna Chaxa in the Chilean Andes with 50% of the WQ team.

However, probably the most abundant species present was Baird's Sandpiper a bird that we have previously had to work hard to get looks at let alone photographs.
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii: Laguna Chaxa, Chile.

Elis also found a single Wilson's Phalarope.
Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor: Laguna Chaxa, Chile.

The same 50% of WQ watching the phalarope.

I felt sorry for the birds in one respect, and that is that they are surrounded by food, in this case flies on the surface of the water, but as they walk and move along the flies stay just out of reach, it must be a bit like being surrounded by mobile peanut butter sandwiches that remain just beyond arms length!
A whole new meaning to fast food... you have to be quick to catch it!
We seemed to be a bit of a curiosity and many people stopped to see what we were looking at. One Chilean couple asked us what we were waiting for. I launched into the Wader Quest theme and quickly told them why we were there, pointing to an Andean Avocet. The lady said that she thought it looked like a 'seagull', until that is that I showed it to her in the telescope, after gasping at the sheer beauty of the bird, with its absurdly upturned bill and ruby-red eye, she apologised to me, the bird and the world in general for making such an error of judgement. This led us on to be able to talk more about what is behind our project and hopefully they will now follow our blogs too.
Such grace and beauty!

We also were approached by some coincidence by a group of Brazilians, who were curious about the plovers we were looking at. Again I got the chance to discuss Wader Quest and its aims and was delighted to hear that this was one of Brazil's more enlightened land owners who was trying to make corridors of natural habitat across his own and his neighbour's land, we wish him the best of luck, there should be more people like him in this world.
Puna Plover and Chick.

Close up of the rather cute chick.

Same bird having a bit of a stretch.
On the way out of the laguna area we came across five Least Seedsnipe by the side of the road.
Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus: Near Laguna Chaxa, Chile.

After this we went higher up in the mountains and reached a height of 4,822m according to our GPS, Elis was just a little slow and the photo she took was just as we passed the highpoint in the road.
Don't be alarmed, we were firmly on the tarmac at the time!
There were some residual snow drifts that had been cut by the wind into strange formations.
The WQ team with trusty motor and strange wind-hewn snow drift pinnacles.

One the way beck down the mountain we stopped so that I could remove my jacket and stopped at exactly the point at which a Tawny-throated Dotterel had decided to feed, talk about luck. I'm not sure that we would necessarily have noticed it if we hadn't stopped and caused it to move away a little!
Tawny-throated Dotterel Oreopholus ruficollis: along ruta 27 north of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

I think that this day will be one of the top 5 when all is taken into account, not only did we easily see our two target species which we had missed before making their finding all the sweeter, we got some great photos of them and other species and bumped into another target by sheer chance!

Our first view of the avocets.

Puna Plover.

Baird's Sandpiper.

Laguna Chaxa with Andean and Chilean Flamingos.

Andean Avocet imitating a Wrybill.

Least Seedsnipe.
If only every day could be like this!


  1. Since you seem unwilling to answer my question about your environmental footprint do you at least have a financial statement upon which I can base my decision whether to contribute or not?

  2. Hi David. Not unwilling at all to discuss this. As we have only just seen the comment (we have little time to check the website while travelling) we have published it immediately to show we are not ignoring your request. We'll be in touch when we get back and have time to answer your queries.