27 Mar 2018

27 Mar 18 - A Cheeky Drink & Bath

When I was preparing for the forthcoming Atlantic Odyssey trip, I checked a number of previous trip reports. Most of the previous trip reports were poorly written & didn't provide a good indication of how good the boat trip would be. But I wasn't surprised given that none of the Birders I knew who had been on those trips had been impressed by the trip leader & report author. Then in 2017, there was a privately written report by Bill Simpson who had produced a superb personal trip report for that sailing. The contrast of the reports was considerable & it was ironic that the trip leader wasn't selling the trip, he was supposed to be leading. The good news from my point, is we would have a different trip leader for our trip.
Looking across to Chile which is the Southern side of the Beagle Channel
As a preparation for our departure on the following day, I decided to follow Bill's advice & take a boat trip to Estancia Harberton with Glenn, Geoff Dobbs & Josh Beck: which Geoff had been sorting out. Estancia Harberton is about 40 miles down the Beagle Channel.
The boat provides lots of photographic opportunities which we wouldn't get in the first couple of hours of the Atlantic Odyssey, due to a late afternoon departure, safety briefings, not being able to get as close to the small islands etc. It also gives a good chance of seeing Blackish Cinclodes. This is a range restricted species which specialises in living on the smallest barred islands in Tierra Del Fuego: presumably it can't complete with the other Cinclodes species in more general coastal habitats. Having spent several days in Tierra Del Fuego during a previous trip to Argentina in 1998, there weren't a lot of potential Ticks for me in the Ushuaia area & the easiest Tick left was Blackish Cinclodes.
Another view of the Chile mountains from the Hotel Tolkeyen
There was a small party of Upland Geese feeding on some grass next to one of the town's roads as I drove from the Hotel Tolkeyen to the port. Ushuaia is quiet enough that there wasn't a problem pulling over for a few photos of these delightful Geese.
Upland Goose: Male
Upland Goose: Female
The boat stops at number of islands in the Beagle Channel (which I'll cover in the next Post).
Leaving Ushuaia

Glenn Overington: This was the first time Glenn was seeing South Atlantic Seabirds, but he had a good idea of North Atlantic Seabirds & I learnt a lot from his Cetaceans knowledge. A great travelling companion for the next month
Glenn (chimping on the left), Geoff Dobbs & Josh Beck (right): Geoff is the editor of the Yorkshire Bird Report despite currently living in the Gambia & Josh is about 4 years into a South American Birding trip (including trips a few Old World countries)
Me: It was cold on deck in the wind, but I was toastie in my new Rohan jacket 
Finally we arrived at the barest island and one which didn't appear to have any breeding Seabirds or Seals on it, but did have the lighthouse. Josh who speaks good spanish had already asked the skipper to turn on the windscreen wipers of the boat when we got to this island. The skipper, appreciated we were Birders & wanted to see the special black bird.
The island with the lighthouse: This is the Blackish Cinclodes island
As soon as we approached the island, I started looking for the Blackish Cinclodes. I failed to see it until I picked it up in my peripheral vision as one flew onto boat & landed next to the wiper jets. It then had a drink, before having a cheeky bath.
Blackish Cinclodes: If only all scarce Birds performed as well as this
After a couple of minutes, it flew as I was heading up to the top deck. I couldn't relocate it one the island. However, after a few minutes, it or another Blackish Cinclodes reappeared for another few minutes for a drink. Fortunately, I was still on the side of the top deck.
Blackish Cinclodes: There is another subspecies of Blackish Cinclodes on the Falklands (which I'm yet to visit), but there have been suggestions that the Tierra Del Fuego subspecies might be a future split from the nominate Falklands subspecies