Raptor Wednesday

Backyard and Beyond

American Kestrel male with prey. Grasshopper, I think.
American Kestrel female bossing a Red-tailed Hawk. It was a chilly morning. The small falcon’s cry pulled my eyes skyward. The big buteo was were actually being harried by two kestrels.
This female was probably one of them. Several minutes later, I came across her hunting from funeral monument to funeral monument.

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Chile’s Blue Coast

Will Travel For Birds

Just an hour away from the chaos of Santiago, is Valparaíso.  A dingy and dirty bohemian city flooded with bright and beautiful street art.  It has become a must-see for most travelers, and a real highlight for Central Chile.  Exploring the steep and narrow streets drenched in art, one can get lost (literally and figuratively) and wonder if the city ever ends.

It does; at the ocean.  Valparaíso and the neighboring city of Viña del Mar are right on the Humboldt Current, meaning the coast has a lot to offer in bird and marine life.  Valpo, for short, is a great traveler’s destination and also a great destination for birders.

Our plan was to spend most of the morning birding along the coast near Concón and at the river mouth just north of the town.  My main goal was to get some good photos of Inca Terns.  From eBird lists…

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La Campana National Park

Will Travel For Birds

Parque Nacional La Campana lies just east of Valparaíso by about an hour, and northwest of Santiago by about the same.  It is 80 square kilometers (30 sq miles) of beautiful natural beech forests in the valleys and semi-desert scrub and cactus hillsides.  The last natural stand of Chilean Palms can be found in the park as well; surviving just barely after the palm oil rush destroyed just about every last palm tree in Chile.

The National Park is a great place for locals in the city to get out and stretch their legs, and for travelers to unpack those hiking boots.  After 4 days of walking the city streets in Valparaíso, we were craving some time out in the wild.

looking up to the cactus covered hills from the trail

The bird I wanted to see the most while in La Campana was the Rufous-legged Owl.  A weird and…

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Desert Oasis

Will Travel For Birds

Northern Chile is home to an endemic and critically endangered species of hummingbird. The Chilean Woodstar. Naturally, this is a bird we both we wanted to see. As it turns out, there is a sanctuary devoted entirely to protecting this species of hummingbird. In the tiny town of San Miguel de Azapa, up the Río San José, sits the Santuario del Picaflor. Not only is the santuario one of the last places to find the Woodstar, but it is also a great place to find a number of other species birds only found in the green valleys of northern Chile.

The afternoon that we got the car, we drove the 20 to 15 minutes out of Arica to San Miguel. Along the whole drive, there is a pretty interesting Juxtaposition of vast gray desert and lush green vegetation. Palm trees, giant elephant grass, and crops of corn (which we…

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Punta Arenas

Will Travel For Birds

Our plane landed about 7pm, the sky was the kind of gray that reminded me of dreary winter days in Montana. Light rain and some wind. Overall, not the most pleasant weather but I couldn’t have been more excited! Birding at the end of the continent was something I wanted to do for so long, and it was finally going to happen!

Our AirBnB host picked us up from the airport and on the drive to the city, there were already good birds! Southern Caracaras and Upland Geese along the roadway.
The town had a strangely familiar feel to it. Something like Port Angeles, Washington combined with my Uncle’s neighborhood in Seattle. I was comfortable and felt like I could l live there. Watching the rain on the window of our host’s house, coffee in hand, the cool gray sky made it feel like home.

The weather started to lift…

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