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Patagonia

Guira Cuckoo
Guira Cuckoo Guira guira ©James Lowen Website

Patagonia is not a province of Argentina but a well-known area extending into several provinces and a bio-faunal region. I give it its own page as there are trip reports for the area and some conservation organisations which cover it.

Patagonia is a geographic region containing the southernmost portion of South America. Located in Argentina and Chile, it comprises the Andes mountains to the west and south, and plateaux and low plains to the east. The name Patagonia comes from the word patagón used by Magellan to describe the native people who his expedition thought to be giants. It is now believed the Patagons were actually Tehuelches with an average height of 1.80 m (~5'11") compared to the 1.55 m (~5'1") average for Spaniards of the time.

To the east of the Andes, it lies south of the Neuquén River and Colorado rivers, and, to the west of the Andes, south of (39°S), excluding the Chiloé Archipelago. East of the Andes the Argentine portion of Patagonia includes the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego, as well as the southern tips of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Mendoza and La Pampa. The Chilean portion embraces the southern part of the region of Los Lagos, and the regions of Aisén and Magallanes. It excludes those portions of Antarctica claimed by both countries.

Argentine Patagonia is for the most part a region of vast steppe-like plains, rising in a succession of abrupt terraces about 100 metres (330 ft) at a time, and covered with an enormous bed of shingle almost bare of vegetation. In the hollows of the plains are ponds or lakes of brackish and fresh water. Towards the Andes the shingle gives place to porphyry, granite, and basalt lavas, animal life becomes more abundant and vegetation more luxuriant, acquiring the characteristics of the flora of the western coast, and consisting principally of southern beech and conifers. The high rainfall against the western Andes (Wet Andes) and the low sea surface temperatures offshore give rise to cold and humid air masses, contributing to the ice-fields and glaciers, the largest ice-fields in the Southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica.

Among the depressions by which the plateau is intersected transversely, the principal are the Gualichu, south of the Río Negro, the Maquinchao and Valcheta (through which previously flowed the waters of lake Nahuel Huapi, which now feed the river Limay); the Senguerr (spelled Senguer on most Argentine maps and within the corresponding region), the Deseado River. Besides these transverse depressions (some of them marking lines of ancient inter-oceanic communication), there are others which were occupied by more or less extensive lakes, such as the Yagagtoo, Musters, and Colhue Huapi, and others situated to the south of Puerto Deseado, in the centre of the country.

In the central region volcanic eruptions, which have taken part in the formation of the plateau from the Tertiary period down to the present era, cover a large part with basaltic lava-caps; and in the western third more recent glacial deposits appear above the lava. There, in contact with folded Cretaceous rocks, uplifted by the Tertiary granite, erosion, caused principally by the sudden melting and retreat of the ice, aided by tectonic changes, has scooped out a deep longitudinal depression, which generally separates the plateau from the first lofty hills, the ridges generally called the pre-Cordillera, while on the west of these there is a similar longitudinal depression all along the foot of the snowy Andean Cordillera. This latter depression contains the richest and most fertile land of Patagonia. Lake basins along the Cordillera were also excavated by ice-streams, including Lake Argentino and Lake Fagnano, as well as coastal bays such as Bahía Inútil.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 454

As at July 2016

Useful Reading

Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctic Peninsula

The Falkland Islands and South Georgia E Couve and C Vidal 656 pages, 200 col photos, distrib maps. Fantastico Sur Distributed by NHBS 2003

ISBN: 9568007040

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Torres del Paine National Park - Patagonia Chile’Aves del Parque Nacional Torres del Paine - Patagonia Chile

Aves del Parque Nacional Torres del Paine - Patagonia Chile Enrique Couve and Claudio Vidal-Ojeda 271 pages, 100 col photos, figs. Fantastico Sur Distributed by NHBS 2004

ISBN: 9789568007188

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Books, CDs, DVDs etc.

See the main Brazil page for guides etc. covering the whole country…

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Patagonia

Tour Operator

After less than an hour’s drive we will arrive at the estancia which lies in the midst of incredible countryside, between the Patagonian Steppe and the ecotone. On the cliff walls here it is possible to view Andean condors, black-chested buzzard eagles and several other attractive bird species, such as the austral parakeet which is endemic to Patagonia.

Birdwatching in Patagonia

Tour Operator

In the heart of the Patagonian semi-desert is located the Province of Chubut. To the northeast of it is extended the Valdés Peninsula, home of the Southern-Right Whale and the only continental breeding colony of Southern Elephant-Seals. Also on the Atlantic coast of Chubut is Punta Tombo, the biggest nesting colony of Magellanic Penguins that exists in the world, with a population of more than 500,000 breeding birds.

Trogon Tours

Tour Operator

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!

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

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.

2014 [12 December] - Thomas Plath - Southern Argentina & Patagonia

PDF Report

Annotated list

2016 [03 March] - Rafael Galvez - Patagonia, Falklands & Cape Horn

PDF Report

...During this magnificent cruise, we traveled from the remote shores of the Falkland Islands, around the captivating seas of Cape Horn, through the spectacularly scenic fjords and channels of Patagonian Chile and Argentina...

Organisations

Aves de la Patagonia Argentina

Website

Imágenes, voces, leyendas, descripciones, lecturas, comentarios…

COA Bariloche

Website

Club de Observadores de Aves de Bariloche Patagonia Argentina…

Other Links

Observando Aves en Bariloche

Website

Registro de observaciones de aves en Bariloche…

Patagonian Birds

Website

Photo Gallery