Few place in Chile can offer the variety of birding environments of the island of Chiloé Grande. Its vast coastlands, wetlands, river systems, forest and fields offer the richest bird-watching in Southern Chile. Many endemic native species, along with the migratory Boreal species, are to be found. Many pelagic species that are rarely spotted from land can be spotted on the short crossing to the island or close to the coast in the Bay of Ancud or on the Pacific side. Add the rich local culture, the fresh food, the landscape and you have a birding outing like no other.
Note: One-day bird-watching trips from Ancud are also possible. Contact us for more information.
This trip can start in Chacao upon arrival or begin with a pick up from airport Pto. Montt or your hotel in Puerto Varas at 08:30, transfer to Pargua to board the ferry to the emerald island of Chiloé. Once on the island, spotting scopes will be set up at Punta Tres Cruces, a privileged lookout, where the Gulf of Ancud flows into the channel holding a plethora of species. We will look for Shearwaters, a number of petrals, Chilean Skua, four species of Cormorant, Peruvian Pelican and the occasional albatross as well as many coastal species. We will then drive to the city of Ancud to leave our luggage at our lodging before departing towards the wetlands and estuaries at the head of the Bay of Ancud (Quilo), excellent for various species of ducks (Chiloe Widgen, Cinnamon Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail), Austral Negrito, Greater Yellowlegs, plovers among other species. When we arrive at the Pacific Coast we’ll embark in fishermen’s boats to get to the unique penguin colony on the islands off the coast of Puñihuíl – one of the only place in the world where Humbolt and Magellanic penguins nest side by side. It is not allowed to leave the boat, because these are protected breeding grounds. The area is very rich and supports many other species, including 3 species of nesting cormorants (Red-legged, Rock & Imperial), Kelp Geese, three gull species, Blackish and Magellanic Oyster Catchers. We’ll then return to The Tower lodging outside Ancud and your lovely hideaway lodging for the night – which is a great birding area by itself. (B,PL,D)
Morning departure after breakfast for a 45-minute journey from Ancud to the Rio Chepu. This tidal effected valley dropped 2 m / 7 ft during the massive earthquake in 1960, which formed huge wetlands at the juncture of two rivers. We travel by boat up the Chepu river, past the remnants of the submerged forest, and look for birds, such as the Snowy, Great and Cattle Egrets, the Cocoi (White-necked) Heron, White-winged & Red-gartered Coots, White-tufted & Great Grebe, and the Spectacled Duck. This unique area is home and nesting area to more than 50 species of birds, offering a special opportunity for observation. Up river we’ll stop at the Laguna Coluco, a freshwater lake with thousands of nesting gulls (Brown hooded) and home to the Red Shoveler and other ducks. In the surrounding area we will look for the Spectacled Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird, Rufous-tailed Hawk and others. The mixture of forest, freshwater and tidal areas offers a wide range of species to observe, making this a wonderful day of birding. We’ll have a picnic lunch along the riverside before visiting a nearby forest (if weather permits- too much rain makes for muddy walking) in search of the endemic Tapaculos (Huet-Huet, Magallanic & Chucao). We also keep an eye – and ear – out for the Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, White-crested Elaenia, Chilean Pidgeon, Chilean Woodpecker and several raptors (Chumango & Crested Cara Caras, Peregrine Falcon. Same lodging as previous night.
After breakfast we’ll pay goodbye to Ancud and drive to a picturesque bay on the north coast of the island. While locals collect seaweed, which they load on their oxcarts at low tide, we can take advantage of the bay’s rich marine life that supports many unique species and has made it part of a pilot program begun by the WWF and The Nature Conservancy. The bay is home to a large colony of black-necked swans, furthermore you will see Flightless Steamer Ducks, Black Skimmers, Sandpipers, Whimbrils, Hudsonian Gotwit, Coots and many more. We enjoy a final lunch either in the field or a local restaurant depending on the weather before we head to the ferry, which takes us back to the continent. Drop-off can be at the airport or the hotel of your choice in Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas. (B,PL)