To most birders Chubut, one of Argentina's Patagonian provinces, is just about Peninsula de Valdez. And while I do not doubt the extraordinary appeal of the place (it is, after all, a world heritage site) Chubut has a lot more to offer.
From the chance to see a Magellanic Woodpecker in its Andes slopes to the Chubut Steamer Ducks on its seashore, there are many great birding spots and many, many birds to see.I would like to share my knowledge about a few places near my hometown that have provided me with very many good birding moments. Sarmiento, a small, sleepy town west of Comodoro Rivadavia and is located at the centre of a large shallow valley. An irrigation system has brought trees and pastures to an otherwise rather barren landscape. [While in town check the plaza for Patagonian Thrush]. Perhaps the junction of water bodies and steppe account for its biodiversity. Most birds you will see along the main farming roads are familiar to those coming from the verdant pampas. Waterfowl are plentiful and the chances are you will see many duck species in one day. If you happen to be there in early fall look for mixed flocks of Chloephaga Geese. Check the wire fences for Long-tailed Meadowlark.
But the main two spots I would like to recommend are a bit further away. On the Lago Musters southwest shore you will find a large breeding colony of Black-necked Swans. There are so many, that you will see them from the road as hundreds of tiny white spots. Along the route (that goes to Esquel) you will find several dirt track entrances, ask for permission to enter at one of the small houses as the area is private. If your Spanish is poor maybe you would like to get some help. The fellows there have been known to be rather rude and not very friendly. As a native to the area I know that sometimes it is best to play it slow… maybe show them your birding book and make sure they understand that you will not do any hunting (that they might want to do themselves!). The shores host grebes, ducks, terns, waders, coots and many others. I have also seen Magellanic Plover there.
To reach the other spot you will need permission from the tourist office in town. Easy to find, it is right across from the Railway Water Tower along San Martin Ave. They have helpful and friendly staff (most of the time). Ask for permission to visit the Sarasola Caves. This is a cave system dating from the Jurassic Era. The site is about 35km west of the town and you can do both places at once as it is along the same road.
Usually a local guide will lead you there as unguided visits to the cave are not allowed. Let them know what you want to go there for. The caves are located at the top of a table mountain and to reach them you walk about 4km along a steep and narrow valley. It has a spring that attracts birds all year long. But what is best about it is the fact that there you will see birds usually located at much higher altitudes such as the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe. Along the many species i have seen there are Tawny throated Dotterel, Blue winged ground Doves, miners, earth-creepers (Straight-bellied, Patagonian and Scale-throated); Des Mur's Wiretail, Canasteros (including the endemic Patagonian). Black-bellied Shrike Tyrant, Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Rusty-backed Monjita (endemic) Patagonian Yellow Finch along with Phrygilus Finches, Black-chinned Siskin, White-crested Elaenia, and many more. Check both the valley's forested area for finches and the table mountain tops for Patagonian Tinamou.
If you are in the area you may want to check the petrified forest, 20km to the south. Bird life is thin but there are Burrowing Parrots, Finches and Raptors. Check the ponds on the way too.I hope you have a great time. And, if it's windy…enjoy the pure air!
Sarmiento, Chubut – Argentina
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 291
As at July 2016
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
Luis Horacio Segura - Professional Tour Guide
Professional Tour Guide of the Province of Chubut, Argentina. Birdwatching Tour Leader for Argentina and neighbor countries.
Trogon Tours is the official nature travel company of Birding Argentina, the leading birding and nature specialists for southern South America since 2001… Birding Trips are available to ALL provinces!
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
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