20 Mar 2018

20 Mar 18 - Chile: A Boat Trip To See The Penguins

Today was my final morning on Chiloe Island. I wanted another attempt at Marine Otter & Ochre-breasted Tapaculo. Previous reports had said that Ochre-breasted Tapculos occurred in many of the hedges & bushes along the roads near Ancud & the Punihuil Penguin colony. It was just a case of looking & finding a territory. So, I headed back to the Punihuil Penguin colony. Although I had seen the Magellanic Penguins from the beach, I was keen to get out on a trip around the bay on one of the ribs, in the hope of seeing one of the Marine Otters. I asked about my chances & was told it wasn't high, but there was a chance. Not surprisingly, I didn't see any. But I did get to see some better views of the Magellanic Penguins & some of the Cormorant species.
Getting on & off the rib: The punters are wheeled out to the rib
The rib
South American Sealions on one of the large rocks in the bay
Panoramic view of the bay
Coming back into the beach
Magellanic Penguin: This is a mainland breeding Penguin which occurs from Chiloe Island to Argentinean Patagonia
Red-legged Cormorant
Red-legged Cormorant: The eye ring looks like it's modelled on some Elton John glasses from the 70s
Rock Shag: Two adults with a spotty-breasted immature
South American Sealion
South American Sealion
The highlight of the rib trip was a small pod of my first Peale's Dolphins which appeared close to the rib for a short period. I only managed to get a couple of photos, however, that was enough to confirm the identity.
Peale's Dolphin: The black of the head continues down towards mouth. The other potential species is the similarly sized, shaped & marked Dusky Dolphins, but they have a white band on the lower forehead. Peale's Dolphins have a pale panel on the lower body in front of the dorsal fin & this is just about visible on this photo. More distressing as I was sorting these photos was to find this individual was caught up in fishing gear
Peale's Dolphin: An out of focus photo of the rear body showing a large white flank marking. This marking is similar to Dusky Dolphins, except there is a second thin white line that goes up towards the dorsal fin on Dusky Dolphins. Additionally, Peale's Dolphins have a dark grey-black dorsal fin with a thin paler trailing edge, which compares to the broad dark & pale two-tone dorsal fin of Dusky Dolphin
I spend some time checking the scrubby edges at the back of Punihuil Beach for Tapaculos, but I had no joy. However, there were a few other species of interest.
House Wren: This is the chilensis subspecies which occurs in Southern Chile & Southern Argentina
Lizard sp.: There were a couple of these cracking green Lizards in the scrub at the back of the beach
Butterfly sp.: I don't know much about South American Butterflies, but if this was in Europe, I would call it a Fritillary sp.
On the way back to Ancud, I managed to see my first Ochre-flanked Tapaculo, but it wasn't prepared to pose for the camera. But there was a good selection of species which were more obliging.
Chimango Caracara
Ringed Kingfisher
Rufous-tailed Plantcutter: This occurs in central & Southern Chile & Southern Argentina
 Chilean Swallow: This species breeds in Southern Chile & Argentina & migrates North to winter in Bolivia & Brazil
Chilean Swallow: A closer crop of the last photo showing the left-hand individual
Austral Blackbird
Black-chinned Siskin
A typical habitat photo
One of the many dirt side roads on Chiloe
A final habitat photo
Time for a final lunch in Ancud & to head off for the ferry. My time on Chiloe had been a great & I could easily have spent longer in the area. I will certainly consider returning on a future visit to Chile. However,  I was still seven hundred miles from Santiago, without allowing for a number of lengthy side journeys off the main road. My initial plan was to get to Parque Nacional Puyehue for the following morning. This was about one hundred & fifty miles from the ferry terminal, which was a two & a half hour drive. I had a few minutes wait at the ferry before being allowed to board the ferry.
The ferry was packed: But at least I was on the first ferry
View of a Chilean mountain from the ferry