Chubut

Chocolate-vented Tyrant Neoxolmis rufiventris ©James Lowen Website
Birding Chubut

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!

Contributors
  • A Birder

    Sarmiento, Chubut – Argentina

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 301

    (As at May 2019)
Useful Reading

Organisations
  • Club Observadores de Aves Namco/Golfo San Jorge

    Website
    Blog del COA
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Los Alerces National Park

    InformationSatellite View
    The park was created in 1937 in order to protect the alerce forest, and other typical examples of the flora of the Patagonian Andes. The National Park has the largest alerce forest of Argentina. Alerce is one of the longest-living trees in the world; some in the park are around 3,000 years old, with many of them over 1,000 years…. also see: https://argentinaxplora.com/activida/parques/parc/alerces.htm
  • NR Punta Tombo Penguin Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    Home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America, Punta Tombo is a narrow peninsula that juts out into the South Atlantic. The 500 acre reserve here provides nesting ground to the penguin population…
  • NR Valdes Peninsula

    WikiSatellite View
    This is a place rich in fascinating wild life, plenty of animals, birds, and fish (most of them in the Birds Isle - Isla de los Pájaros ). Here it is possible to see sea elephants, cormorants, terns and even see the whales which come to breed each year between July and November. Sometimes propelled by their powerful tails, the whales leap completely out of the water and crash back causing enormous swirls of water…
Guides & Tour Operators


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

  • Luis Horacio Segura - Professional Tour Guide

    Tour Operator
    Professional Tour Guide of the Province of Chubut, Argentina. Birdwatching Tour Leader for Argentina and neighbor countries.
  • 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
Places to Stay


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

  • Bahía Bustamante Lodge

    Accommodation
    Described by The New York Times as ´Argentina's Private (and Secret) answer to The Galapagos´, Bahia Bustamante is a seaside Lodge surrounded by 360° of pure nature,.
  • Cabanas Arco Iris

    Accommodation
    In San Martin of the Andes, a beautiful tyrolean style village framed by impressive mountains, forests and lakes, we offer the charm and comfort of CABA
Other Links
  • Aves del Chubut

    Website
    Birds of Chubut is addressed to all bird lovers, shows us all the birds we can find in our province. As it is very difficult to photograph all the birds, you can also help build this page and provide data.
  • Megellanic Penguin Project

    Webpage
    There are few species that represent the coast of Patagonia better than the Magellanic penguin. Wiry birds with tuxedo-like markings, they can survive at sea for more than five months at a stretch. We now know these birds migrate more than four thousand miles on the ocean, live over 25 years, and keep returning to the same nest and partner, if they can.
Blogs
  • Aves del Golfo San Jorge

    BLOG
    This blog was created with the objective of making known the importance of the avifauna present in the environments that comprise the San Jorge Gulf located from the Camarones to Puerto Deseado both locations located in the provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz respectively and within Patagonia Argentina.

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