VALDÉS PENINSULA & LIST (PUERTO MADRYN)
CHUBUT (cE coastal)
42o47´S/65o00´W (Puerto Madryn) 362,500ha topography -40m (lowest
point in South America) to 9msl
Best Time for visit (January, 2006)
Birding Site Guide
The nearest town to stay for visiting Peninsula Valdés is the coastal town of Puerto Madryn, which can be reached by air, though the airport at Trelew is some 70km from town. Once at Puerto Madryn there are a wide range of places to stay, including many hostels, one of the best of which is El Gualicho (hostelling international, see foot) at 480 Marcos A. Zar. You will have to book well in advance if visiting in peak season to avoid having to pay to stay in more expensive accommodation.
At the above mentioned hostel it is possible to book various good trips to Valdés Peninsula or other places including the penguin colony south of town. If you wish to see penguins however there are plenty at Valdés as well. Read the information (in English as well as Spanish) on the walls and at the desk and discuss which tour would be best for you (someone/several people will speak good English). Tours vary on length of time and price, but a half day trip should give good opportunities for some good birding and views of other exciting wildlife.
There is one good trip that takes most of the day and does a circuit of the peninsula, stopping first at Puerto Pirámides, then Punta Delgada and then Punta Norte. At the first stop there is the option for a boat trip to view the sea lion colony, which also offers good opportunities to sea many of the common seabirds, with the possibility of the odd Snowy Sheathbill or albatross. The next stop, Punta Delgada, is at the Elephant Seal colony and here there is a restaurant and other facilities. On the sea cliffs look for Patagonian Yellow-Finch and around the buildings, Duica Finch and Patagonian Mockingbird. Moving on to Punta Norte there will be a stop to view the Magellanic Penguins very closely, and later 1000s should be seen more distantly. Approaching Punta Norte you should meet with Elegant Crested Tinamou at the side of and on the road. At the car park at Punta Norte Carbonated Sierra Finches are common.
Charles Hesse (8-10th May, 2005)
We visit this area at a bad time, with the penguin colonies already closed and little public transport available. The first afternoon I spent a few hours walking along the beach by the town. At low tide, areas of sea weed had been washed up with many wading birds among them. Mainly Two-banded Plover with a few Sanderling and 1 Magellanic Plover. A real surprise. Check the areas about a km south of the pier. A friend also saw one further south at Isla Escondida where he also saw Chubut Steamer-Duck. I did not visit this site due to difficulty of access.
The second day we went to Playa Union near Rawson. The weather was very windy and cold by the coast and we saw little. It can be reached from Puerto Madryn by taking a bus to Trelew (Mar y Valle bus company) and from there to Rawson and from there to the playa. All buses were very regular. From the river mouth we walked back to Rawson along the river and a fair number of birds including Chilean Flamingo, both species of swan, several duck species, Grey-bellied Shrike-Tyrant and Scale-throated Earthcreeper. Flamingos and many duck and grebe species were also seen at the lake next to the Bus Terminal in Trelew.
Our last day was spent on the Valdes Peninsular. A bus leaves daily (except Mondays) at 9:30am and returns from Purto Pyramides at 6pm. It costs 10 pesos each way and entry for the peninsular (35 pesos) must be purchsed at the Tourist office in the terminal before buying the bus ticket. We got off at the interpretation centre and from there walked to Isla de los Pajaros 5km away. The weather was again cold and windy and we saw very little. Isla de los Pajaros is a site from the endemic Chubut Steamer-Duck but it is quite far from the coast with bad light and we couldn't see anything. It would even be difficult with a good telescope and good light. Only 1 pair nests there. After that we hitched to Puerto Pyramides where a few other birds were seen including a single Magellanic Penguin near the coast. I saw 51 species including 4 lifers.
- Lesser Rhea Rhea pennata Near-threatened
- Elegant Crested Tinamou Eudromia elegans
- Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus Near-threatened
- White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland
- Great Grebe Podiceps major
- Silvery Grebe Podiceps occipitalis
- Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
- King Shag Phalacrocorax
- Great Egret Ardea alba
- Snowy Egret ? Egretta thula
- Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
- Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis Near-threatened
- Black-necked Swan Cygnus melanocorypha
- Coscoroba Swan Coscoroba coscoroba
- Flying Steamerduck Tachyeres patachonicus
- Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix
- Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris
- Crested Duck Anas specularioides
- Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica
- Red Shoveler Anas platalea
- Lake Duck Oxyura vittata
- Harris's Hawk ? Parabuteo unicinctus
- Rufous-tailed Hawk Buteo ventralis
- Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango
- American Kestrel Falco sparverius
- White-winged Coot Fulica leucoptera
- Red-gartered Coot Fulica armillata
- Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus
- Blackish Oystercatcher Haematopus ater
- American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus
- Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis
- Two-banded Plover Charadrius falklandicus
- Magellanic Plover Pluvianellus socialis Near-threatened
- Sanderling Calidris alba
- Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus
- Brown-hooded Gull Larus maculipennis
- Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan
- Rock Dove Columba livia Introduced
- Picui Ground-Dove Columbina picui
- Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia
- Scale-throated Earthcreeper Upucerthia dumetaria
- Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus
- Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura aegithaloides
- Gray-bellied Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis microptera
- Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola macloviana
- Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
- House Wren Troglodytes aedon
- Patagonian Mockingbird Mimus patagonicus
- Austral Thrush Turdus falcklandii
- Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
- Yellow-winged Blackbird ? Agelaius thilius
- Long-tailed Meadowlark Sturnella loyca
- House Sparrow Passer domesticus Introduced
El Gualicho Hostel, 480 Marcos A. Zar
Magellanic Penguins are present September to March, but birding can be
good any time.
In all --- species of bird have so far been recorded.
Relevant BENES list
PATAGONIA BENES (Biome Endemics and Near-Endemics list) and SOUTH AMERICAN ISLANDS AND OCEANS BENES (Biome Endemics and Near-Endemics list)
Guanacos are common on the peninsula. The Elephant Seal colony at Punta Delgada is best visited in November and December when the huge males are present, females are still present mid-January however. Sea lions should be easily seen in the breeding season, especially at colonies such as the one at Puerto Pirámides.
Whales (mainly Southern Right) are present June to December.
Orcas are present September to April though you may need a boat trip to view them. Boat trips run to Bird Island.
Sea Lions are present all year as are Elephant Seals, but check time of year for the males of the latter. Dolphins are present all year.
A total of -- species of mammals.
There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles.
Over -- plant species recorded.
Author: BSG. Charles Hesse