USHUAIA & TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK & LIST
TIERRA DEL FUEGO (S), (Compass)
Lat:54o47´S/68o20´W n/aha mountainous, 0-3,405msl (Cerro FitzRoy) msl
There is Tierra del Fuego National Park within a short bus ride of the town.
Austral summer (January 2006)
Birding Site Guide
There are several ways to get to the small town of Ushuaia, the easiest is to fly on one of the daily flights (from Buenos Aires) with Aerolineas Argentinas (or others) for around ----. It is then a short bus or taxi ride into town. There are no direct long-distance buses. You can also arrive by car or boat. Once in town there is wealth of places to stay of widely varying prices. Be warned in the peak tourist season in summer (December-February) everywhere may be fully booked up a month or more in advance, particularly the cheaper places to stay such as those run by Hostelling International.
A good hostel to stay at is Antarctica Hostel at 270 Antartida Argentina (see foot) this is located at the E end of town just off the main street towards the naval base, and it is in easy walking distance of most amenities, the boat trip offices and some good birding spots.
To get started on the birding walk down to the coastal promenade/front and bird the channel, there are lots of birds out there and also some passerines along the seafront. Amongst the typical easy species to see here on the town front are King Cormorant, Kelp and Dolphin Gulls, South Polar and Chilean Skuas, Giant Petrel, the odd Black-browed Albatross and various terns (time of year brings Arctic, Antarctic and South American Tern). Also look for Flightless Steamer Duck (Flying Steamer Ducks should be looked for also but are far less common and further out), Crested Duck, Blackish and Magellanic Oystercatcher. Passerines may include Austral Negrito, Long-tailed Meadowlark and the ubiquitous Black-chinned Siskin.
Walking further out of town past the naval base and fuel storage, there are other coastal stretches to bird, and clear views of the mountains where you may see Andean Condor, but be careful as Turkey Vultures are about. Easier to find is White-throated Caracara on the outskirts of the town.
To book boat trips go to the tourist information office on the coast front and all around are about 10 offices to book half-day trips on. Most are very similar and vary little in price, shop around if you are short on cash. There is also an office where you can book cruises to (and hopefully back from) Antarctica which is obviously very attractive but requires more time and money.
On the boat trip you will see a wealth of wildlife including much more of the commoner species seen near town. If you have not yet seen Upland and Kelp Goose you should now. There is also a chance to see Magellanic Penguins, though the colony is actually some 70km away and they do not range far in large numbers. There should be excellent views of Black-browed Albatross and other magic seabirds however. Dark-bellied Cinclodes if not seen around town should be caught up with on the islands here.
Tierra del Fuego Nacional Park is 63,000ha of mountains, forest and lakes. There are 7 campsites in the park, 2 with full facilities and at Roca Lake there is a lodge with restaurant and snack bar. At least 20 species of mammal and 50 species of bird have been recorded. Any birder coming here, or anyone wanting to see some spectacular scenery for that matter will want to visit the national park. The park is located 11km from Ushuaia along the AO3. To get to the park by public transport go to the coast road and near where the taxi rank next to the tourist information centre is, is the bus shuttle service (in large mini-buses by various operators) get a ticket from any of the operators (prices are fairly similar) and do not lose your ticket as you will need it to board the return bus from the park at one of the designated pick up spots (the buses usually return every hour but check and check when the last bus returns). There are several drop off points along the road into the park, usually at the start of popular trails. The trails are well marked but vary considerably in difficulty to walk, there is a time estimate given on a post at the start of each trail for non-stop steady walking. Decide which birds you particularly want to see, obviously in this excellent nothofagus (southern beech) forest, small passerines will be a target as of course will be the spectacular Magellanic Woodpecker. Fortunately birds are common enough, if of few species.
Main paths in the park are as follows: There are 800m of paths along Ovando and Lapataia river and Cormorants Archipelago. A further 400m brings walkers to Black Lagoon Ride. There is a view point at Lapataia Bay, 500m through lengas forest and a walk to the peat bogs of 400m away. Other peat bogs can be acccessed by walking towards the AO3 road.
One of the most popilar paths is the Coastal Path, it is 8km long between Ensanada and Lapataia Sector and reasonably easy going.
The Pampa Alta Path is a very hard 5km walk from Pipo campsite to Ensenada campsite, there are streches of both lengas and nothofagus. At Pampa Alta there is a dramatic view of the Beagle Channel.
Guanaco Hill Path has a peak of 970m, and it is possible to climb the demandingly steep 8km path.
Signpost XXIV Path takes the Roca Lake north side, and the 10km walk is of average demand.
Species you may see include Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Thorn-tailed Ryadito, Grey-hooded and Patagonian Sierra-Finches, White-throated Treerunner and Austral Parakeet. Keep checking the geese for Ruddy-headed Geese which will most probably be paired with Upland Geese. Magellanic Woodpecker is best looked for where the trail parallel with the road from Lago Roca junction turns away from the road (right) after 1km and enters the most extensive area of mature forest on relatively flat ground and from there down towards the Coastal Path along the water’s edge. The loud drum cannot really be mistaken.
If you still have a few hours to spare it is worth taking a trip up to the glacier behind Ushuaia. You can walk there if you want to take all day, or get a taxi, and then there is either a chair lift up the first bit or again walking is an option. Another hour or so will give good views of the glacier. Here at and above the tree line look for Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, and Andean Condors sometimes skirt the top most ridges above the glacier. For a better chance for the latter species drive out of town past the naval base and fuel storage and into the valley between the highest peaks, some taxi drivers know the area for the condors, so its worth asking.
Charles Hesse (21-22nd April, 2005) Several good species were easily seen on the coast near the town centre including Antarctic Giant Petrel, 2 species of Steamer-Ducks & Magellanic Oystercatcher. We had terrible weather on our day in the national park but still saw 3 Andean Condors soaring over the hills and Chilean Hawk in a patch of forest. The park is about 20km from town but is easily accessible by regular minibuses (15 pesos return) leaving from the harbour but hotel pickups can be arranged at no extra cost. Entrance to the park is 20 pesos. We also visited the new rubbish dump (Nuevo basurero) east of town by taxi. Here we saw at least 20 White-throated Caracaras plus a couple of Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles. I saw 43 species including 2 lifers.
- Great Grebe Podiceps major
- Antarctic Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus Vulnerable
- Southern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialoides
- Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
- Rock Shag Phalacrocorax magellanicus
- King Shag Phalacrocorax
- Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
- Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
- Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis Near-threatened
- Black-necked Swan Cygnus melanocorypha
- Upland Goose Chloephaga picta
- Kelp Goose Chloephaga hybrida
- Ashy-headed Goose Chloephaga poliocephala
- Flightless Steamerduck Tachyeres pteneres
- Flying Steamerduck Tachyeres patachonicus
- Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris
- Crested Duck Anas specularioides
- Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica
- Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
- Andean Condor Vultur gryphus Near-threatened
- Chilean Hawk Accipiter chilensis
- Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus
- White-throated Caracara Phalcoboenus albogularis
- Southern Caracara Caracara plancus
- Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango
- Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus
- Blackish Oystercatcher Haematopus ater
- Rufous-chested Dotterel ? Charadrius modestus
- Dolphin Gull Larus scoresbii
- Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus
- Brown-hooded Gull Larus maculipennis
- Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata
- Dark-bellied Cinclodes Cinclodes patagonicus
- Thorn-tailed Rayadito Aphrastura spinicauda
- White-throated Treerunner ? Pygarrhichas albogularis
- Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus
- Fire-eyed Diucon Xolmis pyrope
- House Wren Troglodytes aedon
- Austral Thrush Turdus falcklandii
- Long-tailed Meadowlark Sturnella loyca
- Austral Blackbird Curaeus curaeus
- Black-chinned Siskin Carduelis barbata
- House Sparrow Passer domesticus Introduced
Antarctica Hostel, 270 Antartida Argentina.
Relevant BENES list
PATAGONIA BENES (Biome Endemics and Near-Endemics list)
In all --- species of bird have so far been recorded.
A total of -- species of mammals.
There are no recorded species of amphibians.
Over -- plant species recorded.
Author: BSG. Charles Hesse.