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Trip Report – December 2024

Day 1

After a couple of lazy days in Santiago, we met our guide and flew up to Arica. Spent a couple of hours on the water front by the Humedal Rio Lluta to start our bird list. We managed Slender-billed Finch, Gray Gull and an amazing Markham’s Storm-Petrel flying over the land!

Then it was up to Putre. This small town at about 11,000 feet in the Andes was pretty basic but the birding was so great that it was worth it.

Right in the town we started with Andean Hillstar, Black-winged Ground-dove, Dark-winged Canastero, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, Oasis Hummingbird, Mountain Parakeet, Black-hooded Sierra Finch and White-throated Earthcreeper. What a spot!

A drive outside the town gave us Ornate Tinamou and Canyon Canastero – amongst clouds of yellowfinches and sierra-finches. And all in amazing paramo scenery.

Night at Terrace lodge.

Day 2

Puna Tinamou

We spent the day up at 15,000 feet which, while no good for my altitude sickness, was amazing birding and our guide, Julian did his normal fantastic job.

White-fronted Ground-Tyrant, Andean Negrito, Puna Miner, Bright-rumped Yellowfinch, Puna Tinamou, Puna Tit-Spinetail, Inca Teal (possible split from Yellow-billed Teal) Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Puna Yellowfinch and Puna Rhea all in the stunning setting of the high Andes.

Then it was over to Lake Chungara for another amazing selection of lifers.

Andean Flamingo, James’ Flamingo, Giant Coot, Andean Silvery Grebe (another possible split), Black Siskin, Andean Avocet, Andean Swallow, Puna Plover, d’Orbigney’s Chat-tyrant, White-winged Pigeon and Black-billed Shrike-tyrant.

By this time, I was feeling truly awful so went back to Putre. My husband and Julian continued after dinner and managed Siku Nightjar – possible split from Band-winged Nightjar.

Night at Terrace lodge.

Day 3

Diademed Sandpiper-Plover

Back up to 15,000 feet to explore a boggy area that Julian knew in order to try for Diadamed Sandpiper Plover. We were so excited to see 3 of them – not an easy bird so we were really happy with this.

Another couple of stops finally delivered the elusive White-throated Sierra-finch.

I was then very excited to start heading DOWN to Arica – a couple of stops along the way for Straight-billed Earthcreeper and to get the local sub-species of Blue-yellow Tanager which Julian feels should be a possible split.

Night at Antaya Hotel

Day 4

An early start today to go to the Chaca Valley for a small hold-out of the Chilean Woodstar. After great views of the hummingbird, we also found Tamuranga Conebill.

Chilean Seaside Cinclodes

The valley itself was very birdy and various spots that Julian knew gave us Raimondi’s Yellowfinch, Peruvian White-crested Elainea, Pied-crested Tit-tyrant and

Southern House-wren. Unfortunately, the Peruvian Pipit eluded us.

A quick side-trip to the coast gave us Chilean Seaside Cinclodes. After lunch, a drive to Camarones Town (challenging drive!!) for a group of Greyish Miners just by the sign as you enter the village.

Returning to Arica, we headed to Azapa Museum for Rufescent Flycatcher and Pervian Sheartail

Another amazing day.

Night at Antaya Hotel

Day 5

Gray Gull

Started as a bit of a frustrating day because we got to the airport at 5.30am only to find that our flight ti Santiago had been cancelled!!

Went back to the hotel and checked back in – enjoyed breakfast and then decided to make the most of it by going back out to the Chaca Valley. A trip to Calleta Vitor on the coast produced an amazing feeding frenzy with thousands of gulls, terns, boobies, pelicans and skimmers. There was nothing new for us but it was an amazing site – quite a highlight.

Night at Antaya Hotel

Day 6

Back to the airport and this time it was a successful trip to Santiago. Checked back into the Ritz-Carleton and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon.

Night at Ritz-Carlton, Santiago

Day 7

Buff-breasted Earthcreeper

We spent the day in the Fallarones and the Valle de Nevabado Ski Resort. Julian had his usual ‘spots’ for every species and the list just grew.

Moustached Turca, Dusky-tailed Canestero, Stiped Woodpecker, Crag Chilia, Yellow-rumped Siskin, Creamy-rumped Miner, Black-fronted Ground-tyrant and White-sided Hillstar. Yet another amazing day.

It was election day in Chile so most of the restaurants were closed (no alcohol can be served) but people up near the ski-resort took pity on us and opened just for us.

The only bird we ‘dipped on’ was White-throated tapaculo. But we had so enjoyed the rest of it that we were OK with that.

Night at Ritz-Carlton, Santiago

Day 8

Quite a relaxing start and then spent the day driving to Concepcion.

Night at the Wyndham

Red-legged Cormorant

Day 9

Started at an amazing wetland area with tons of birds but our main target was Black Rail. We were successful after quite a long hunt – but well worth it. Also had our first sightings of Magellanic Oystercatcher on the beach.

We then headed to Chome Peninsula (Chilean Pigeon en route) and met a friend of Julian’s who worked with tapaculos in the area. This worked really well and we quickly had Ochre-flanked Tapaculo and Dusky Tapaculo. He also took us to an amazing Red-legged Cormorant colony – which was spectacular. Managed Green-backed Firecrest on the walk out to the colony.

A trip to the Parque Museo Pedro del Rio Zanartu gave us great views of Chestnut-throated Huet-huet and Des Muirs Wiretail.

A late afternoon search for Ticking Doradito was fruitless so headed back to the hotel for dinner.

Night at the Wyndham

Peruvian Pelican

Day 10

Our first ‘dull’ day today with no life birds but great views of Many-colored Rush-tyrant and Wren-like Rushbird at a wetland area near town  – Parque Lo Galindo. We were still searching for the doradito but it continued to elude us.

We were also looking for Chilean Tinamou so drove back out to Parque Museo and explored the area right down to the ocean. We didn’t get the Tinamou but a walk out to the ocean was quite productive with terns, waders and gulls – and beautiful scenery.

Called it a day early.

Night at the Wyndham

Day 11

Left early and drove for 3 hours to stake out a Rufous-tailed Hawk site that Julian knew.

Flightless Steamer-Duck

Waited for quite a while and got Slender-billed Parakeet while we waited. We were finally rewarded with the hawk before continuing on to Villarica.

Stopped for a sandwich next to Villarica Lake and had great views of Magellanic Snipe – and dozens of Great Grebe.

Dropped out bags at our hotel and immediately drove up to the Villarica Volcano – which is actually smoking!

Julian worked his normal magic and within minutes we had fantastic views of Patagonian Forest Earthcreeper.

Working our way back down from the volcano we lucked out with amazing views of Chucao Tapaculo.

Night at Das Dorf

Day 12

White-bridled Finch

A walk around the grounds of the hotel before breakfast rewarded us with Black-throated Huet-huet and then we started the drive to Puerto Montt.

Dropped our bags at the hotel and immediately headed for the ferry to Chiloe Island. Julians ‘spots’ rewarded us with our 6000th species – Flightless Steamerduck – what a great bird. Next up were Imperial Cormorant and South American Tern.

We then drove down the island to Punahuil which was an amazing beach – with a pair of Kelp Geese and 4 chicks – it was a stunning late afternoon and we were thrilled. Enjoyed an early dinner at a beach side restaurant and then watched a colony of Magellanic Penguins.

What a fantastic day – and then Peruvian Diving Petrel off the ferry on the way back.

Night at the Gran Pacifco

Day 13

Magellanic Snipe

Our last day of birding before the Christmas break. We checked some areas outside Puerto Montt and we lucked out with Patagonian Tyrant at the entrance to the Alerce Aldino National Forest. Then on the beach a little further along was Magellanic Cormorant and fantastic views of White-throated Hawk.

Night at the Gran Pacifco

Day 14-15-16

Today we flew to Puerto Natales for a few days break in our travels over Christmas. We were picked up by the lodge and drove up to Torres Del Paine where we stayed at the Patagonia Camp. We were really just there to relax but I did notice on ebird that a Spectacled Duck had been seen the day before quite near to us.

The lodge arranged a driver and guide to accompany us and we set off to Estancia Vega Castillo where the owner showed us around his property. There was a fantastic wetland area with many birds but we were focused on the river for the duck.

Rufous-chested Dotterel

Amazingly enough we found them – it was a great Christmas gift!

That was it for our birding here – now ready for the next leg of our trip down to Ushuaia.

Nights at Camp Patagonia

Day 16

Julian, our guide, picked us up from our lodge and we started the drive down to Punta Arenas.

It was unbelievably windy so we didn’t stop for much and there was nothing new for us but amazing views of Lesser Rhea and Andean Condors.

Ruddy-headed Goose

Once we had dropped our bags at the hotel we drove along the coast towards San Juan. It was amazing to be doing pelagic birding from the car!  Dozens of Black-browed Albatrosses (not new) were within metres of the coastline and we had great views of Chilean Skua, Southern Giant Petrel. Southern Fulmar, Magellanic Diving Petrel, Dolphin Gull and Ruddy-headed Goose.

Lovely afternoon – but still windy.

Night at Hotel Almasur

Day 17

Left our hotel and drove back to a Laguna Cabo Negro where we battled the wind and walked down to the water edge for amazing views of Magellanic Plover.

Then up to a grassland area for some specific targets – it was a bit of a search but we ended up  with great views of Rufous-chested Dotterel and White-bridled Finch.

Black-chinned Siskin

We then only had Patgaonian Tinamou left on our list and the chances of that were so slim that we decided not to stay for another night but to catch the ferry and

drive straight down to Ushuaia a night early.

It was a long drive with a bit of a delay around the ferry and the usual fiddle for crossing the borders but we were happy to have made it a day early.

Night at Arakur Hotel & Spa

Day 18

Andean Silvery Grebe

An early morning visit to the garbage dump in Ushuaia gave good views of White-throated Carcara and then it was a hike up Cerro Martial.

It was a beautiful day and we hiked up beyond the tree line to get Ochre-naped Ground Tyrant, Dark-faced Ground Tyrant and Yellow-bridled Finch. It was fabulous. White-bellied Seedsnipe also used to be in this area but have sadly disappeared due to the number of hikers in the area.

It was a great way to end our birding trip – beautiful views and beautiful weather.

Now we have a couple of days to relax before going on an Antarctic cruise.

Night at Arakur Hotel & Spa



Santiago – Ritz-Carlton

Putre – Terrace lodge

Arica – Hotel Antaya

Concepcion – Wyndham

Villarica – Das Dorf

Puerto Montt – Gran Pacifico

Torres del Paine – Patagonia Camp

Punta Arenas – Hotel Almasur

Ushuaia – Arakur Resort and Spa.

Guides & Resources


Julian Vidoz

Field Guide:

Birds of Chile -Daniel Martinez Pina & Gonzalo Gonzales Cifuentes

Birds of Chile – Alvaro Jaramillo

Bird Lists: