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Steve Howell reports from this year’s recently concluded tour, Chile: Tierra del Fuego to the Atacama Desert.

December 03: Steve Howell reports from this year’s recently concluded tour, Chile: Tierra del Fuego to the Atacama Desert.

As well as incredible scenery, good food, and good company, our trip was blessed with mostly good weather. Covering the length and breadth of Chile, this trip always impresses with its contrasts. From stately King Penguins at a bleak beach in Tierra del Fuego to the tiny and critically endangered Chilean Woodstar in the Atacama Desert; from majestic Andean Condors soaring over the snow-capped Andes to Royal Albatrosses sailing over the Humboldt Current; from ultra-confiding Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers at an Andean bog to the iconic Magellanic Woodpecker in impressive southern beech forests; from shady bamboo thickets ringing with the songs of tapaulcos to wide-open Andean vistas with snow-capped volcanoes; and from the subtlety of earthcreepers to the flashy patterns of Chocolate-vented Tyrant, this was simply a great tour. The following images tell a small piece of the tale:

“Bird of the Trip” went to the incomparable little Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, a family group of which approached us to within about 10 feet, after we had posted ourselves 100 yards away to watch!

The Lake District weather was truly astonishing, with cloudless blue days and great vistas.

Magellanic Plover (aka “Ruby-eyed Pluvianellus”) showed well in the south...

As did the striking Chocolate-vented Tyrant.

Our Humboldt Current pelagic is always a highlight of the tour.

Here a Chatham Albatross flying by, with Salvin’s Albatross, Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters also in the frame...

Here the huge Northern Royal Albatross, a young bird,...

And here the dashing De Filippi’s Petrel, several of which showed very well.

A happy group at the breath-taking 15,000-foot elevation Chungará Lake.

Spectacular swarms of the poorly known Raimondi’s Yellow-Finch were enjoyed on the last day of the tour—here just a small cross-section of one flock. Photo by tour participant Gordon Bills.

Along with the critically endangered—and tiny—Chilean Woodstar, a fitting finale to a wonderful tour.

Posted: December 03, 2019