2011. Wow. That was a long time ago. Five years ago, on an island in France, is where a new on and off hobby of mine was born. Birding. It’s a hobby I’m grateful to have, because other than binoculars, you don’t need anything else. And you can do it anywhere. In your backyard, in a park, or… in Chile on a backpacking trip. I only bird when I hike solo, because I stop a lot and I hate slowing down the group. Plus groups tend to make too much noise, scaring off the birds. But when I can, I enjoy playing where’s waldo and doing my best to spot our feathered friends.
Along Lake Pehoé in Las Torres del Paine I spotted plenty of these steamer ducks. But I am not sure which one it is: Flying steamer duck (Tachyeres patachonicus), Fuegian steamer duck (Tachyeres pteneres), Chubut steamer duck (Tachyeres leucocephalus), or Falkland steamer duck (Tachyeres brachypterus)?
I did this hike without binoculars or a DSLR. Too heavy. But by pure luck these Southern Lapwings (Vanellus chilensis) flew right in front of me and my point and shoot got some nice photos of them, even if they aren’t sharp. As long as I can identify the birds, I’m happy.
I have to admit that birding often gets pushed to the bottom of my list of things to do outdoors. It isn’t very active, usually requires lugging around binoculars and a book, and can be frustrating when they fly away. But when you are on a 5 day backpacking hike with a pack, the pace is much slower, and looking for birds helps break up the monotony of hours of hiking by yourself. On the hike I only photographed, I saved the identification part for home where I could zoom in on the photos and try and match them up to lists online. Bob Walker’s Birds of Patagonia gallery, the Avibase Patagonia bird checklist, and the Birds of the World online bird book are the sites I used to ID the birds I saw in Chile. But if I got anything wrong, do tell me so I know and can become a better birder!