Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

August 18, 2010

Los Alerces National Park

Filed under: South America — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 11:53 pm

Los Alerces National Park and Trevellin

Patagonia, Argentina.

This morning I got up nice and early to go skiing hoping that there was some snow overnight. I was heading out the door when Nacho told me that the lifts were closed because of strong winds. doh! I had to turn around and wait until mid-day when the lifts were supposed to open up. But after 12, Gus rang up the ski resort and they were not going to open the lifts at all that day because the wind was still howling. Double doh!

So these nice people from Buenos Aires invited me to come along with them to visit the Los Alerces National Park, which is maybe twenty or thirty kilometers from Esquel to the west. We eventually reached the park and reached this big lake and parked at a camping site. The wind was blowing really hard and it was raining a bit, plus it was freezing cold, so we did not stay for very long. But the camping spots around the lake are fantastic, so I reckon in the summer and spring it would be a fabulous place to visit. On the way back we saw a Southern Caracara and a Chimango feeding on a rabbit killed on the road at the entrance to the park.

Chimango or Tiuque

The weather was really overcast so I had lots of trouble getting some decent photos. On the way there, I also saw what I thought were a pair of Condors.

Chimango (Milvango chimango)

After that, we headed to Trevellin where we had a Welsh Tea (Te Gales) at Casa de Te Nain Maggie. The tea was out of this world, and I had three cups with milk and sugar. We also had some organic bread, scones and some delicious cakes. The cream in one of the cakes was so rich, that the experience was almost orgasmic. After that, we headed off to the Regional Museum where they had all these artifacts of the early Welsh colonists who came to the area as early as the 1890’s.

August 13, 2010

Birding in Patagonia

Filed under: South America — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 6:19 pm

Esquel Birds

This morning I just was not interested in going skiing. I have had enough of skiing on sheet ice, so I gave it a big miss today. I walked up the road towards the mountains and followed the train line for a while. I came upon this Austral Thrush in a tree near the track. They are locally called a Zorzal and are a sub-species of the nominate species which is based in the Falkland Islands. Their scientific name is Turdus falcklandii magellanicus. I think that they are also related to the blackbird.

Austral Thrush
Austral Thrush

Further up along the track I came upon a bunch of Rufous-collared Sparrows. They are locally called the Chingolo. Their other English name is Andean Sparrow.

Rufous-collared Sparrow
Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)

I came down from the train track and then walked through the cemetery where I photographed a pair of Southern Lapwing, or Tero as they are known by the locals in Argentina and Uruguay. The Tero is actually a mascot bird for the Uruguay football team because of their agressive and territorial nature.

Southern Lapwing

The Tero is quite common here in Argentina and can be seen on open fields quite close to towns. I see a pair nearly every day in the grounds of the local gendarmes.

Southern Lapwing

The Southern Lapwing ranges throughout most of South America except for coastal Peru and the Amazon basin. They do not like jungle and stick to open habitats.

Southern Lapwing in flight

July 22, 2010

Bubalco Zoo, Rio Negro

Filed under: South America — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 10:34 pm

A Day At the Zoo

Today I was invited by the very sweet owner of the hostel, Portal de Suenos, here in Neuquen, Patagonia, Argentina, to go to see the birds at the Bubalco Zoo. We set off after ten o’clock and drove through the Rio Negro flood plain which is full of fruit crops. The soil here is very fertile and the whole area is planted out wherever there is space. I am guessing that the melting snows from the Andes create some massive water flows and the silt from the floods would cover the whole are with some very sweet soil.

On the way I saw quite a few Chimango Caracaras. They are very common out here. It is found all over central South America. They have a piercing call and the sky is full with their cries.

Chimango Caracara
Chimango Caracara

Here is one obligingly sitting on a pole right in front of me.

Chimango Caracara
Chimango Caracara

This one is called a Tero by the locals and is closely related to the Australian Masked Lapwing. It is a Southern Lapwing, Vanellus chilensis. It is a common resident throughout South America. There are some sub-species which I have not learnt about yet.

Southern Lapwing
Southern Lapwing

Bubalco Zoo is about 15 kilometers from General Roca, Rio Negro. They have quite a few tropical birds in cages and some big cats. I was particularly enamoured of this Jaguar, which was in a cage of course.


This Andean Condor came down from the skies to scrounge a bit of meat. I am not sure if they feed them to bring them down for the visitors or not. Here he is having a good look for some tucker.

Andean Condor
Andean Condor

And here he is tucking into some yummy meat. yum yum.

Andean Condor
Andean Condor

July 20, 2010

Neuquen, Patagonia, Argentina

Filed under: South America — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 10:34 pm

Park Life

I arrived in Neuquen at the beginning of Patagonia this morning after an all night bus ride from Bahia Blanca. I will get into that story later on. After I went to the hostel i walked into the centre of town to see if there were any birds in the parks there. I had a look at some woods near the bus terminal before this, but they were very barren and it looked like some workers were on a strike near a work site and were picketing the place. I thought it best not to go waving a camera around anywhere near that action.

After a marathon walk to Centro, I wandered around the park and at first saw a few Gorrión or House sparrow(Passer domesticus).There were a few other little birds in the park but not lots. They even had heaps of Feral Pigeons to make me feel all at home. I liked the shot of this fluffly little fella. I think it might be a Saffron Finch but I am not quite sure.Edit: its a female or juvenile House Sparrow. Thanks to Buckeye. Doh, so i feel silly.

Maybe a Saffron Finch. no, its a house sparrow, Passer domesticus.

I am fairly sure that this one is a Saffron Finch. But again, not entirely sure.

Saffron Finch ?
Saffron Finch ?

This was definitely a Rufous Hornero. I had seen lots of them in Buenos Aires and they are quite tame and hang around in parks and where humans congregate.

rufous hornero
Rufous Hornero

Not sure what this is but it looks like some kind of Indian Myna but of course it is not, doh! It is an Austral Thrush (Turdus falcklandii), common to South Argentina and similar to the Blackbird which is of the same genus. The local name is zorzal patagónico.

Austral Thrush (Turdus falcklandii)

I also saw a Great Kiskadee. I was hoping to see some raptors but there were none about.

But now I shall digress and tell you about how I got to this point. I caught the day bus from Retiro bus terminal in Buenos Aires to Bahia Blanca in the south on the Atlantic Coast. I had been hoping to get some photos of some water birds but when I got there, it just wasn’t possible to get anywhere near the water for me. After that I hopped on the night bus to Neuquen and here I am.

July 16, 2010

Buenos Aires Birding 3

Filed under: South America — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 10:12 pm

Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

 Golden-breasted woodpecker
Golden-breasted Woodpecker


The above might be a Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Drymornis bridgesii, called in Spanish, Chichero Grande. But I am not sure about all this yet. I am still researching. If you have any information, please inform me. Muchas Gracias. Or, it could be a Narrow-billed Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes angustirostris), Chinchero Chico in spanish.

 Silver Teal
Silver Teal


Eared Dove
Eared Dove(Zenaida auriculata)

The local name for the Eared Dove is Torcaza.

Brown-hooded Gull
Brown-hooded Gull

The Brown-hooded Gull is called GAVIOTA CAPUCHO CAFE in Spanish and has the scientific name of Larus maculipennis. They were flying over the Rio de la Plata, or River Plate, the famous river where the Battle to sink the Bismark was held in the second world war.

July 14, 2010

Buenos Aires Birding

Filed under: South America — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 11:15 pm

Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

Well I am now in Argentina after a massive flight from Australia, and I am totally wiped out. I do not think I got any sleep on the plane. We got into Buenos Aires airport at about 10:30am and jumped on the Manuel Teinda Leon shuttle bus to my hostel. The traffic in central Buenos Aires was appalling. It is even worse than Sydney. I had a bit of a sleep when I sorted out my bed, then I got the camera out and went down to the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. Down near the port I was taking some photos of sparrows and other birds and an official car park attendant came and told me not to take photos. It must have been near some sort of official building. I apologised and headed straight down to the reserve.


This bird may be the Bahia Antwren (Herpsilochmus pileatus) with a common Spanish name of Tiluchi Corona Negra. But then again there has been a split and it might be the Black-capped Antwren. Edit: But then again, it may be something like a Tropical Mockingbird.

Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus), Spanish name – Benteveo

The  bird below is the Golden-billed Saltator (Saltator aurantiirostris). Its common name in Spanish is  Pepitero de Collar.

Golden-billed Saltator (Saltator aurantiirostris)

Golden-billed Saltator (Saltator aurantiirostris)

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Costanera Reserve is pretty much a wetlands. There were quite a few birds so I was taking quite a few photos. I have not got a field guide to the birds of Argentina yet, so I am going to have to try and identify them from photos on the internet.

Black-hooded Parakeet (Nandyus nenday)

Buenos Aires bird list

Rufous-bellied Thrush
Great Kiskadee
Golden-billed Saltator
Black-hooded Parakeet
Shiny Cowbird
Bahia Antwren ?

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