Up and Down Chile From Tierra del Fuego to the Atacama Desert

May 22, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

A Presentation to the Mount Diablo Audubon Society

Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Camellia Room of The Gardens at Heather Farm, 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek, California
6:00 pm Doors open
6:30 pm Potluck Dinner is served
8:00 pm Announcements
8:15 pm Speakers

Magellanic Penguins, Patagonia, Chile Magellanic Woodpeckers, Puyehue National Park, Chile Vicunas, Lauca National Park, Chile

Up and Down Chile From Tierra del Fuego to the Atacama Desert

Chile is an amazingly large, diverse, and beautiful country.  The windswept coast of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego is a gateway to Antarctica, while the Atacama Desert is the driest desert on the planet.  Spectacular volcanoes rise toward the sky from a 15,000’ plain - the Altiplano - while also erupting near the beautiful lakes and temperate rain forests of the Lake District.  Of course you can’t discuss Chile without mentioning the “Dragon’s Back” - the high Andes.

While the landscapes of Chile are stunning, its wildlife may be more so.  Birds range from the iconic Andean Condor soaring above the peaks of the Andes to the diminutive Chilean Woodstar hummingbird perched in a desert oasis near the border with Peru.  Large, flightless Rhea trot past Magellanic Penguins in Patagonia, while endemic and frustratingly “skulky” Tapaculos call – almost always just out of sight - from the dense vegetation of a Southern Beech Forest.  The riches of the Humboldt Current attract seabirds; many, many seabirds  - albatrosses, petrels, diving petrels, storm-petrels, giant petrels, shearwaters – oh my!

Of course there is other wildlife to entrance you during your travels.   Guanacos – the wild form of domesticated Llamas and Alpacas – are familiar residents of the lowlands and foothills, but give way to their beautiful and diminutive cousin, the Vicuña, in the high altitude of the Altiplano.  Also inhabiting the Altiplano are the weird and wonderful, rabbit-like Vizcachas.  Back at sea level, Commerson’s Dolphins cruise the Strait of Magellan and Sperm Whales dive into the Humboldt Current in search of squid (who in turn are hunting other prey).

MDAS members Scott and Claudia Hein will present photos of these amazing landscapes and wildlife captured during their November 2011 trip to Chile with Wings Birding Tours.

 


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