Sunday 10 November 2013

Summary of Brazil and Chile trip.

Three weeks in South America in search of waders, where did the time go?

Starting with a short stay in Brazil with a visit to one of our favourite parts of the country, Rio Grande do Sul and the charming town of Tavares. The main purpose of our brief stay was to attend the Festival Brasileiro das Aves Migratorias, we had been invited by Roseli Nascimento to give a presentation which we were of course delighted to accept. The difference with this talk from others we have given was that it was mostly to the people of Tavares and not a bird club or organisation something we'd like to do more of in the future reaching a wider audience. We ran into some old friends like Rafael Diaz, Guto Carvalho and Tietta Pivato and had the opportunity to meet face to face with Gislaine Diconzi with whom we had corresponded a great deal while in Brazil. But of course we did some birding, and we caught up with two species for the WQ list, South American Snipe and South American Painted-Snipe, the latter due to the excellent local knowledge of Batista who knew just where to look.
South American Painted-Snipe Nycticryphes semicollaris.

South American Snipe Gallinago paraguaiae.

Reluctantly leaving Brazil we headed west to Santiago in Chile and then north to Antofagasta from where we drove up into the Andes to San Pedro de Atacama. We had a couple of key targets here, bones to pick with the wader world if you will, the birds we missed in Peru, Andean Avocet, Puna Plover and Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe. We decided to concentrate on the first two and had designed the short stay giving us plenty of opportunities to look for them, little did we know that we'd see them within five minutes of dusting off our bins at the first venue, Laguna Chaxa. We also added Tawny-throated Dotterel near San Pedro de Atacama coming across one by the road.
Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina.

Puna Plover Charadrius alticola.
Tawny-thraoted Dotterel Oreopholus ruficollis.

The seedsnipe proved less cooperative and although we drove around high in the areas where they had previously been seen according to ebird Chile, stopping and scanning from time to time produced no sightings. We descended to the coast and looked for waders there, although not new to Wader Quest it was good to catch up with some 'old friends' such as American and Blackish Oystercatcher, Surfbird, the ubiquitous Ruddy Turnstone and surprisingly a trio of Southern Lapwings which, at least in Jamarillo's book appear to be well north of their usual range. We also had the good fortune to bump into

American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus; Antofagasta, Chile.

Surfbird Aphriza virgata; Antofagasta, Chile.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres; Antofagasta, Chile.

Blackish Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani; Antofagasta, Chile.

Only shot we have of Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis; Antofagasta, Chile.

We then flew back to Santiago where we had the chance to meet Diego Quevedo and his wife Sole who by now is probably the proud mother of Felix, their first child. Due to the impending birth they were unable to join us in the field but helped us with some possible sites for the missing Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, but again we were unlucky.

Then south to perhaps the most exciting part of the trip, visiting 'El Fin del Mundo' (The end of the world) and a place that I had help in some sort of unreachable esteem, a place where only adventurers go, Tierra del Fuego. In the end it was a bit tame, a short ferry ride, but driving along the straights of Magellan I could picture that adventurer's little boat edging its way down the straight making history. The key birds for the region were the Magellanic Plover and Magellanic Oystercatcher, plus the Two-banded Plover and Rufous-chested Dotterel. We got some really accurate and up to date information about the most difficult bird, the Magellanic Plover from Ricardo Matus who was most generous with his information. On our first afternoon at Punta Arenas we had seen our first Magellanic Plover and immature bird, plus two other targets, the Magellanic Oystercatcher and the Two-banded Plover, a tremendous trio of birds plus a South American Snipe that could one day become Magellan Snipe, if it gets split.
Immature Magellanic Plover Pluvianellus socialis.

Two-banded Plover Charadrius falklandicus.

Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus.

'Magellanic" Snipe Gallinago paraguaiae magellanica

We had to make a special trip to the higher steppe areas to find the last, Rufous-chested Dotterel, but find it we did, in the end getting some excellent views of them bathing in a pool.
Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius melodus.
On Tierra del Fuego we had no targets, but we determined to see more Magellanic Plovers, and this time they were adults.
Magellanic Plover Pluvianellus socialis.

Returning then to Santiago for one last try for the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, this proved to be the one that got away, but better this species than any of the others in our humble opinion.

Along with the target birds we also saw:
Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii; Laguna Chaxa, Chile

Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor; Laguna Chaxa, Chile

White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis; Lagoa de Peixe, Brazil

Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca; Lagoa de Peixe, Brazil.

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica; Lagoa de Peixe, Brazil.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis; Lagoa de Peixe, Brazil.

Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus; Patagonia, Chile.


  1. For Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe try Papallacta Pass in Ecuador.

  2. Thanks David. Sadly we´ll not be going to Ecuador any time soon, but when we do your tip will be noted and probably worked into the intinerary.