Perching on a low branch in the dark and damp undergrowth of the Valdivian temperate rainforest of Chile’s Lake District, a Chucao Tapaculo, Scelorchilus rubecula comes for a close inspection and allows for a rare full-body glimpse. Endemic to the southern temperate subantarctic forests, it is one of the most vocal of forest tapaculos and its haunting, loud call is one of the typical sounds of this kind of habitat.
Showing their typical round forehead and scarred pale-grey bodies, a small pod of Risso’s Dolphin, Grampus griseus breaches close to our boat during one of our pelagics off Valparaiso in the Pacific, Central Chile. This curious dolphin is one of several cetaceans that regularly show up on such offshore excursions.
The Orchids in Torres del Paine are of great interest to research, scientific divulgation and the conservation of Biodiversity. This group, although not so diverse in austral latitudes as it is in the tropics, contains endemic species confined to restricted distributional ranges within Patagonia, with an evident aesthetic and scientific attractive which confers them the charisma to be promoted as an emblem of Torres del Paine and to generate a fascination for the diversity in this area resulting in a local and international interest for their conservation.
The project “The Orchids of Torres del Paine: monitoring and eco-tourism for the conservation of Biodiversity”, is led by Dr. Osvaldo J. Vidal and is a research effort conceived by the local NGO, AMA Torres del Paine, and partly financed by Far South Expeditions. This initiative aims to describe the taxonomical and distributional attributes of the species present in the area, identifying potential suitable sites for botanizing and photo tours, and to locally divulge this unexplored diversity and put it under the public spotlight. AMA Torres del Paine volunteers from Germany, Canada, Chile, China, France, USA, UK and Poland, have contributed to the mapping of 3,000 plants of 9 Orchid species in Torres del Paine.
You can review the preliminary paper from ISSUU.
Vigorously flicking its tail, a Dusky Tapaculo, Scytalopus fuscus allows for a fleeting glimpse while scurrying from one bush to another. An endemic to central Chile, it is heard more than it is seen, as it likes to live in the midst of the thickest brush.
Sticking out its head through the opening of its den, a Magellanic Tucotuco, Ctenomys magellanicus, takes a look around before venturing out in the open to look for food. Its galleries are oriented to minimize the impact of the cold patagonian wind, with openings covered with vegetation.
Flying along the shores of the Straits of Magellan, a small flock of Dolphin Gull, Leucophaeus scoresbii passes by the observer.
A Patagonian gull, this bird treats us with its elegant grey plumage spiced up by its coral red bill and legs.
Like a silvery arrow, an adult Red-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda flies by the nesting ledges in the slopes of volcano Rano Raraku, Easter Island in the middle of the Pacific.
Tropicbirds, an order, family and genus of only three tropical and subtropical pelagic seabirds all have very long central tail feathers.
Looking for invertebrate prey in the grass, a Chilean Tinamou, Nothoprocta perdicaria allows for a brief glimpse in the open before returning to the safety of the brush on a field in Central Chile.
An endemic tinamou to Chile, it belongs to a South American family that is related to rheas and are the only flying Ratites.
Perched on a thorny bush, a Sedge Wren, Cistothorus platensis emits its territorial song to attract a mate for the season in Otway Sound, Magallanes, Chile.
Usually quite a discrete bird, its persistent, gurgling song reveals its presence in springtime.
Soaring majestically above the Patagonian Steppe, a male Andean Condor, Vultur gryphus surveys the terrain for guanaco carcasses in Torres del Paine National Park, Magallanes, Chile.
With a wingspan over 3m, second only to the great albatrosses, it is the largest terrestrial flying bird.