Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Mental Mega Trip (part 3) Ushuaia and south

After arriving in Ushuaia we spent a day relaxing and mostly just wandering along the waterfront near the hotel. Just outside the hotel we found Black-faced ibis, Magellanic steamer duck, Crested duck, Chimango and Crested caracaras, Magellanic and Blackish Oystercatchers, Austreal Negrito… etc. Not bad at all!
Crested caracara

Crested caracara mobbed by Southern Lapwing

It was interesting to note in Ushuaia that a massive amount of effort has been put on outlining that the Falklands (what they call Las Malvinas) is part of Argentina… all tourist maps have Las Malvinas marked with (ARG)… oh they also claim about half of the Antarctic as well.

We departed Ushuaia on the 22nd Dec and entered the Beagle Channel, here we got our first glimpse of species such as Black-browed albatross, Southern giant petrel and Cape petrel. We then visited the Falklands and South Georgia before dropping down to the Antarctic Peninsula. (I would go into more detail but photo's speak better than words and waffle).

Cobb's wren
Falkland flightless steamer duck
Long-tailed meadowlark

Highlights of the trip included; 5 species of Albatross in a single day, Light-mantled sooty albatross at the nest, 5 Species of penguin (many on the nest), Antarctic petrel (18+ at one point), Snow petrel, Blue Petrel, Antarctic and Slender-billed Prions, Wilsons, Grey-backed and White-bellied Storm-petrels, Ruddy-headed, Upland and Kelp Geese, Rufous-chested Dotterel, Brown-hooded, Dolphin and Kelp gull, Blackish Cinclodes, Dark-faced ground tyrant, Grass and Cobb’s wren, Austral thrush, Long-tailed meadowlark, Black-throated finch and Black-chinned siskin… plus a few more.

Light-mantled sooty albatross
King penguins and scavenging skua
South georgia pintail (a carnivorous duck!!!)

King penguin youngsters
Antarctic petrel
Snowy sheathbill
Cetacean highlights included; Orca, Strap-toothed beaked whale, Comerson’s Dolphin, Peale Dolphin, Dusky Dolphin, Fin Whale, Sei Whale, Humpback and Southern Minke Whale.

Elephant seal
Fin whale
Weddell seal

Antarctic shags

View from porthole
Avin a brew in t'antarctic!!
After returning to Ushuaia we decided to team up with a few guys from the big boat and attempted to locate White-bellied seedsnipe without success… still a nice walk up the glacier and with distant views of Condor.

We then spent several days relaxing and exploring the Tierra del Fuego National Park racking up species such as Great grebe, Ringed kingfisher, White-crested elaenia, Rayadito, Austral parakeet and Fire-eyed diucon (like a Sardinian warbler times 10). We were also lucky enough to find 3 Magellanic woodpeckers, a single male and a pair which came to within 5 meters at one point.

Rayadito collecting nest mat
Fire-eyed diucon
We returned home on the 16th Dec. A 14  plus hour flight home and we were back in Edinburgh.

JOB DONE!     

oh yeah.. happy new year!