Tucuxi Dolphin, Sotalia fluviatilis, Peruvian Amazon

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Breaching just long enough to allow for a fleeting glimpse, a Tucuxi, Sotalia fluviatilis comes out for a breath in the Ucayali, a tributary of the Amazon River near Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in northern Peru.

Although it inhabits rivers, it is placed within Family Delphinidae, the ocean dolphins, like the Bottlenose, to which it bears a remote resemblance. The only other Cetacean found in the Amazon, the Amazon River Dolphin, belongs in Family Iniidae, the “true” river dolphins.

Hooded Grebe, back in Tierra del Fuego after 20 years

 

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This past 9th of January, 2017, a solitary individual of Hooded Grebe, Podiceps gallardoi, one of the most endangered and rare birds of South America, was spotted and photograped in Lake Santa Maria, near Porvenir in Tierra del Fuego island, Chile, among a flock of 100-some Silvery Grebe, Podiceps occipitalis, a closely related and similar-looking but far more common south american grebe.

This record adds to several recent records of isolated birds that have been found between 2013 and the present in the province of Magallanes in Chilean Patagonia, but the last time it was seen in Tierra del Fuego was 1997, 20 years to the day.

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Blue-crowned Trogon, Peruvian Amazon

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Carrying a big caterpillar in its beak, a male Blue-crowned Trogon, Trogon curucui pauses on a branch before entering his nest on a nearby hollow tree to feed his young.

Colourful and slow-moving birds of the Neotropical rainforest, Trogons are one of the highlights of any birdwatching trip in the Amazon basin.

Cape Petrel, Daption capense, Valparaiso, Chile

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Cape Petrel, Photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

Diving downwind in the gale, a Cape or Pintado Petrel, Daption capense dashes past our boat off the coast of Valparaiso, Chile. One of the southern Fulmarine Petrels and many seabirds that can be spotted in pelagic trips off Chile, they migrate along the Chilean coast en route to their breeding grounds in the South Shetlands and the rocky coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, where they nest in ledges in unaccessible cliffs.

Anaconda, Eunectes murinus, Peruvian Amazon

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Crawling in the mud on a bank of the Ucayali, a tributary to the Amazon, a 5-metre Anaconda, Eunectes murinus approaches the river in the early morning light. Heaviest and second longest snake in the world, it is the most aquatic of boas, spending most of the time in or near the water, where it hunts mostly after dark for large prey including caiman, mammals like capibara and other large rodents and birds, which it attacks by holding them down with its powerful jaws while coiling around and crushing them dead under the power of its massive and muscular body.

 

Southern Marine Otter, Lontra felina, Chiloé Island, Chile

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Southern Marine Otter, photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

Floating on its back on a calm, sunny day in Chiloé Island, Chile’s Lake District, a Southern Marine Otter, Lontra felina manipulates a Kelp Crab it just caught in order to crack it open and eat it. One of the three South American otters, it can be found in the coasts of the Pacific from Chimbote in Peru to Cape Horn in Chile.

Andean Lapwing, Vanellus resplendens, Parinacota, Chile

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Andean Lapwing, photo © Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions

The Andean Lapwing, Vanellus resplendens, is a high-altitude species that inhabits the high Andean plateau of the Central Andes in South America, where it roams the bogs and stream banks looking for invertebrate prey. The least common of the three South American lapwings, it can be found in suitable habitat in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.

An Imperial visit to the Straits of Magellan, Magallanes, Chile

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Last week we were incredibly lucky to get a most unexpected and distinguished visitor to the shores of Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan, as a vagrant adult Emperor Penguin, Aptenodytes forsteri came ashore to the astonishment and delight of those who saw it. It is only the second documented occurrence of this strictly Antarctic and largest of all penguins for Chile, and the first record since 1978, almost 40 years ago. It is also the first adult Emperor documented for the country, since the 1978 specimen was a juvenile bird.

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It was checked for any health issues and observed for a few days in a local wildlife rehab center before being released in the Straits of Magellan in the proximities of its Eastern (Atlantic) mouth, from where it will probably make its voyage back to Antarctica…truly an Imperial event..!!!

Rochkopper Penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

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This past Southern Spring/Summer season brought another pleasant surprise to all birders and wildlife-watchers who came to Tierra del Fuego: a group of around a hundred Southern Rockhopper penguins, Eudyptes chrysocome came ashore to undergo their post-breeding moult and gathered for about little less than a month beneath and on top of a cliff on one of the beaches of the huge Useless Bay in Tierra del Fuego, Magallanes province, Chile, while completing this stressful, energy-consuming process by which most of the fat gained during the spring food bonanza is converted into a fresh, new feather coat.

Those of us who were lucky enough to be around at the time enjoyed great views of a penguin species that is quite abundant in offshore subantarctic islands but much harder to see in continental south America, with a few exceptions.

Enjoy a taste of this event through our guest Sue Anderson’s pictures that she kindly shared with us.

 

Pincoya Storm Petrel, Oceanites pincoyae, Lake District, Chile

Resting on the waters of a calm Reloncaví Sound, A Pincoya Storm Petrel, Oceanites pincoyae presents us with a close range view, showing its diagnostic white coverts. Endemic to the waters around Chiloé Island and Reloncaví Sound, it was described only in 2013 as a new species for science.

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Resting on the waters of a calm Reloncaví Sound in Chile’s Lake District, A Pincoya Storm Petrel, Oceanites pincoyae presents us with a close range view, showing its diagnostic white coverts. Endemic to the waters around Chiloé Island and Reloncaví Sound, it was described only in 2013 as a new species for science.

If you feel like finding out more on this “new” seabird, check out our article here.