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I am a vet and I love to go birding in Chile and other surrounding countries. Also I like photography, but I am not as good as I'd like to be. www.flickr.com/cassus
Talca, VII Region
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At the base of the Andes, and at only 1h30 from the coast, Santiago is a good place for few days birding !!
If you have only one day, bird the foothill near Santiago (the private Mahuida parc is a very nice place, close to the city) in order to look for some endemic species as the Dusky-tailed Canastero, Chilean Mockingbird, Chilean Tinamou and White-throated Tapaculo. You will also probably find few Plain-mantled Tit-spinetail, many Long-tailed Meadowlark and perhaps a Striped Woopecker. Then follow your day at higher elevation, in the direction of Farellones or El Yeso (this last place will give you
the nice Diademed Sandpiper-plover, present between october and february). In the rocky slopes, search for the Crag Chilia and the Moustached Turca. The Andean Condor are fairly common and you have great chance to see few of this impressive bird. Spend
the end of the afternoon in the Lampa and Batuco wetlands, where are breeding thousands of waterbirds. This area is probably
the best place in the world to find the rare Black-headed Duck. With more luck, you will also find the 'chilean' Warbling Doradito, a Painted Snipe or even a Black Rail!
With one more day, you will be able to visit the coast in order to find shorebirds, gulls, pelicans, etc...
An excellent place to bird is the Maipo estuary near San Antonio, especially in the evening with good light !
North to this place, visit the Cartagena lagoon where you will easily find few Spot-flanked Gallinules and have excellent views on many duck species. Following to the north, have a look on the El Peral lagoon, usually good for the Stripe-backed Bittern.
Of course, a pelagic trip from Valparaiso or Quintero will be the best for many birders. Every trip is different, and you can have excellent birds all year round. My record is 6 albatross species in one trip with more than 1000 ind. Other good birds during a pelagic trip include Peruvian Diving-petrel, Pink-footed Shearwater, White-chinned and Westland Petrel, Inca Tern, and sometimes some Pterodroma species (mainly Juan-Fernandez and Masatierra Petrel).
In two days birding around Santiago, you should be able to find 100 species, and 7 of the 11 chilean endemics.
You will need more time and to travel farther to reach 200 species, and 300 are possible during a 15 days trip from the north
to the south of the country. Don't hesitate to contact me if you need some informations, or if you want me to organise you a
day trip or a longer tour.