Crouching among the low bushes near a hilltop, an adult Puma, Puma concolor stares at us in the distance in the cold morning air in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. The largest and top patagonian predator, it is second in size only to the Jaguar among American cats. It ranges from Alaska south to Tierra del Fuego, and its stealth, mostly nocturnal and crepuscular habits make it hard to be spotted in the wild.
Photo taken during one of our current season’s Patagonia Explorer programmes, covering part of Southern Patagonia including Torres del Paine NP and Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Los Glaciares NP in Argentina.
A female Andean Huemul Deer, Hippocamelus antisensis checks us out in the distance while feeding in the first light of day at the foothills of the Andes mountains near Putre, Arica, Northern Chile. One of the largest but least known mammals of the country, it is very rare and shy, and as such it is only occasionally seen.
Dominating from the edge of a cliff, a female Puma, Puma concolor surveys her hunting grounds in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, looking for guanaco or some other prey. Second in size only to the Jaguar among American cats, the Puma is the top predator in Patagonia, reigning supreme above all other carnivores in the region.
Showing its distinctive black-and-white plumage and yellow eye ring, a Magellanic Oystercatcher, Haematopus leucopodus walks along the pebble shore of the Straits of Magellan looking for invertebrate prey. The most restricted of chilean oystercatchers, it is only found in both Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Patagonia.
Flicking its diagnostic rufous tail, a Canyon Canastero, Asthenes pudibunda briefly perches on a rock while moving across a stream in a ravine near Putre, in Arica, northern Chile. Rarest of chilean canasteros, it is found only in some canyons in the Pre-Puna, a restricted area between the arid coastal desert and the high andean plateau of the Atacama Desert.
Dominating over a gorge, a pair of Mountain Parakeet, Psilopsiagon aurifrons listen to the contact calls from their flock at 4,000 m above sea level in the high Andean plateau east of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. The smallest of Chilean parrots, they roam the ravines and mountain river valleys, searching for seeds, fruits and buds before retiring to their roosts at dusk.
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.
With flattened ears and menacing teeth, two male Guanaco charge against each other while fighting for dominance and mating rights over the females in the herd. The largest of American camelids, their sole natural predator is the Puma, and Patagonian populations thrive in areas where livestock is not present, like Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.
A plump Southern Grey Fox cub, Pseudalopex griseus gives us an inquisitive look as it sits half-hidden by a clump of grass while waiting for its mother to return from hunting nearby. One of the two fox species in the park, it can be seen in most open habitats in Patagonia.
Peering intently from the cover of its dense habitat in the lush Valdivian temperate rainforest of Chiloe Island in Chile’s Lake District, a female Pudu Deer, Pudu pudu pauses briefly to check on us while grazing. Second smallest deer in the world, legal protection has stopped a century of hunting, but it is still severely threatened due to sustained loss of habitat and predation by feral dogs.