We Head North From Ushuaia Towards Rio Grande In Argentina October 2019

The amazing looking Long-tailed Meadowlark just one of the many birds on the road north.

Having explored the area around the wonderful city of Ushuaia, the southern-most city in the world we took the road north towards the coastal city of Rio Grande. The road north climbed away from the coast into The Andes and immediately the scenery was breath-taking as the road snaked through towering snow-capped peaks. Even though we had a long drive ahead of us to reach Rio Grande and find a hotel for the night we could not resist an early stop to take in the mighty Andes. We were so lucky with the weather clear blue sky and sunshine and the mountains looked superb and to make it even better the spot we stopped at had Andean Condors soaring high above us, wow!

We dragged ourselves away and continued through amazing scenery and tried to keep the hire car on the tarmac and not be too distracted! We dropped down to sea-level again and ran alongside a huge blue bay with more snow-capped mountains beyond. At the end of the bay we saw a lake behind a shingle beach and thought it looked a good bit of habitat to check out. A dirt track ran along the shingle ridge giving great views over the shallow lake and we scanned the water and marshes behind. It was a paradise so many birds and beautiful warm sunshine to enjoy it all in.

These lovely Chiloe Wigeon showed off on the calm waters of this super spot.

Brown-hooded Gulls were in the mood to make more gulls as Kelp Gulls looked on.

It was a case of where to look first, there were ducks including wonderful Chiloe Wigeon, gulls including new for the trip Brown-hooded Gulls, waders both White-rumped and Baird’s Sandpipers and even passerines with super looks at Correndera Pipits and beautiful Long-tailed Meadowlarks we were loving this place!

This superb male Long-tailed Meadowlark was in scrub by the lake a real wow bird.

A male Austral Nigrito was feeding between the track and the beach by the lake.

We also enjoyed our first Correndera Pipits at the lake.

Of course time was slipping by very fast as it always does when you are enjoying great birds so we had to reluctantly hit the road again and head north towards Rio Grande. The route took us across a flat plain with sparse grassland and some scrub but not much else for mile after mile what a contrast to the scenic splendour of The Andes. But we did spot some very exciting mammals – guancos – these lama like animals were on the grassland alongside the road. Of course we stopped to look and time ticked by as it does.

A guanaco easily clears a fence to join his mates on the other side - wonderful animals.

As we moved further and further north we left behind the clear blue sky and a low grey one replaced it and the wind picked up, rather bleak. Next we noted a lake alongside the road in the rolling plains and thought worth a look, even though a cold strong wind swept across the water. Plenty of birds here though many hunkered down against the bitter wind. We scanned the flocks of ducks and picked out two rather similar species – Speckled Teal and Yellow-billed Pintail – great to compare them at close range. Further out amazing Rosy-billed Pochard were just fantastic to see and then we saw Red Shoveler roosting in a bay and nearby yet another new bird for the trip Red-gartered Coot what a brilliant stop!

A single Red-gartered Coot was wonderful to see amongst an array of wildfowl.

Two similar species - Speckled Teal foreground with Yellow-billed Pintail behind.

Now that is a duck! Drake Rosy-billed Pochard just quackers!!

But we still had a way to go and so again dragged ourselves away from good birds and hit the road.

Please check back soon for the next instalment of our Argentina birding adventure.

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