12/22/2023 Season’s Greetings

As promised, here are some highlights of our recent Patagonia trip. What an incredible place. Looking forward to hosting a trip in the near future. If interested, please let me know. In January we'll be hosting a slide presentation with highlights of this recent trip along with information about subsequent trips. More info to come.

Patogonia style, Season's Greetings

There are Long-tailed Meadowlarks all over Patagonia, and with their bright red / orange plumage, are not hard to spot. So the challenge is more about getting a unique and interesting shot. This Greeting Card is a composite of the original shot of the Mewdowlark and the Mt Fitzroy massif with some text and snow thrown in.  


Great Grebes and chicks

First things first 🙂 Grebes! What a great way to start the trip. Not only did we find a pair of Great Grebes, but we found 3 chicks nestled in their plumage. The behavior of the parents and chicks is virtually identical to that of the Clark’s and Western Grebes of Hodges. If you zoom into the image  you’ll see they are busy passing feathers to the chicks. 


Magellanic Woodpecker female

We definitley wanted to find a Magellanic Woodpecker. Not only did we find a pair, but we also got to watch a parent feeding a chick. You will be able to see the video footage at our presentation. 

Both the male and female Magellanic Woodpeckers are beautiful in their own unique ways. The male has the very obvious and striking red head and the female is more uniformly black with a patch of red around it’s bill and a lovely set of head feathers.  Both have a white strip down their backs. We’ll have more pictures at the presentation.


Southern Lapwing and chick

In Patagonia the seasons are the opposite of California so in November our trip coincided with Spring time. This meant that there were lots of nesting birds and chicks. One of the most prevalent birds we saw AND heard was the Southern Lapwing. There are actually another 2 chicks under this parent.


Crested Caracara

For a couple of years we had 2 Crested Caracaras in our mews at our home in Escondido. Both were involved in vehicle strikes and were unreleasable. So it was great to see some in the wild being their mischievous selves.

Cinereous Harrier

We had the good fortune of shooting several Cinereous Harriers while in Patagonia. This particular male was very memorable since he flew directly at my lens 🙂


Birds were the main focus of the trip, but when looking for birds you often find other interesting creatures. Case in point – a Humboldt’s, (Patagonian), Hog-nosed Skunk.


Rufous–collared Sparrow

From sea level by the coast to several thousand feet elevation in the national parks and everywhere in between these noisy little Rufous–collared Sparrows were the most common of all the birds we saw. And they are not shy so it was easy to find a good angle. They are pretty little birds. 


Black-chested Buzzard Eagle

Patagonia is indeed a wild place. There are still huge, untouched and unspoiled tracts of land where the wild birds and animals are still plentiful. This immature Black-chested Buzzard Eagle had just finished up breakfast.

Nothing says you’ve arrived in Patagonia more than the Andean Condor framed by the infinite sky and majestic snow-covered peaks. With a wingspan of between 10 and 12’ feet these birds glide effortlessly over huge distances each day in search of a meal. 

South American Gray Fox

So we spent an hour or two watching various animals fighting over a hare which an immature Black-chested Buzzard Eagle had taken down. First, the young eagle itself, trying to fend off 2 Crested Caracaras, then an adult eagle flew in and took over while the the caracaras and the young eagle were bickering. Finally some condors came down to have their piece of the pie. After shooting lots of stills, I finally decided to set up the tripod for the big finale video of the condors going to town. But a Patagonia Fox had other ideas…. We have some great video to show at our presentation.


Patagonian Outdoor Restaurant

A caracara, an eagle and a condor walk into a pub…. :)….

The scene before the fox arrived. Quite the collection…..


Patagoniuan Sierra Finch

After all the raptor excitement we pulled over for some lunch and a Patagonian Sierra Finch was not happy with the other finch in the side view mirror….


Silvery Grebes 30+ kts....

Time to cross the border 🙂 Next stop Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile. We were impressed by these Silvery Grebes, bobbing around nonchalantly in 30+knt winds. Beautiful little birds, very similar to the Eared Grebes of California.


Silvery Grebe

We were able to find another pond with less wind. The Grebes were far more relaxed, including this one that was happy to get pretty close.



One of the locals. We saw Guanaco all over Patagonia so it was just a matter of time before we found a nice silhouette.


Black-necked Swans

We also found a group of Black-necked Swans, quite happily braving the strong winds. 


Imperial Shag, (Cormorant)

In an Imperial Cormorants colony we saw some of the more industrious individuals  bringing in nesting material. It was quite amusing to watch the less ambitious birds stationed at the colony pilfering the adjacent nests as soon as the other birds left to harvest some more. You can even see this particualr bird thinking, “Hang on a minute?”


To be continued in the New Year……

The Lake is closed for the season, opening again in February

Each winter the Lake closes to boating giving the local wildlife a breather. The fish have an opportunity to spawn, wintering and migrating birds use the lake as a pit stop and if conditions present themselves, Grebes will build nests, lay eggs and produce chicks. 

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Local Accommodation

Recommended rentals in the Del Dios and surrounding community on Lake Hodges.

Springhill Suits

by Marriott | 7 min. drive entrance to Lake

Rancho Bernardo

Inn | 16 min. drive entrance to Lake

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