Rufous-tailed Plantcutter in Patagonia

Rotschwanz-PflanzenmäherThe road from El Chalten leads to the northern area of ​​the Los Glaciares National Park. On a slope, you first go through the valley of the Río de las Vueltas to Lago del Desierto. The area of ​​the Los Glaciares National Park around Lake Desierto is Patagonia at ist BEST. When you arrive at Lake Desierto, an impressive panorama opens up. The glaciers Crestón and Huemul can already be guessed at. From the Vespignani glacier you have a breathtaking view of the north side of Mount Fitz Roy.

In the morning we start at the campsite. It goes along the north bank section of Lake Desierto. The path along the lake is little more than a path along the water. To do this we have to cross a very adventurous suspension bridge. The Sendero Punta Norte goes over hill and dale. But the path is easy because it leads through the forest and along the lake without any ascents. The path leads through a forest in which there are many of the typical trees of southern Patagonia, namely the Lenga Beech (Nothofagus pumilio) and the Ñire – the Antarctic Beech (Nothofagus antarctica). Unfortunately, today there is a grey, dense cloudy sky.

What is special just in the beginning is the sighting and extensive photography of a Black-throated Huet-huet (Pteroptochos tarnii) on Lake Desierto.  The bird is also called Huet-huet for short. The Black-throated Huet-huet simply stays there in front of us and then runs a few meters without hesitation. Stays and scratches with his feet in the loose forest earth. Again and again I have to go to the Huet-huet and shoo it into the background because the lens is below the close-up limit. The bird accepts it calmly. There must be a particularly productive spot on the forest floor. The Black-throated Huet-huet keeps coming back to the spot and then scratching again.

A second top opportunity arises on the way back at El Chalten. The sun is increasingly coming out between the clouds. My attention is drawn to a Rufous-tailed Plantcutter (Phytotoma rara): it is a male, which – as always – is very territorial. The reason for the good accumulation of birds is a fruit-bearing shrub, probably the El Calafate. It has dark blue fruits that look like our blueberries. A real paradise for the birds, and for the photographer too. It is well known that the Rufous-tailed Plantcutters love open thorny undergrowth (e.g. with Berberis) on forest edges or in clearings in the Nothofagus forest. The birds go foraging in pairs during the breeding season, at other times in groups of 6–12 individuals. I wait in my car for one of the feeding birds to cheekily stick its head out of the Magellan Barberry (Berberis microphylla or Berberis buxifolia), which they do from time to time. The Rufous-tailed Plantcutter male becomes so familiar after some time that it stays seated and accepts the car up to approx. 10 meters.

Patagonia is a country of contrasts. Patagonia, the storm-swept south end of the South American continent, does not only captivate nature photographers. The further south you go and the narrower the country, the wider and more endless the landscape seems to become. Suddenly, rugged mountains protrude from the plain like fangs. Scraps of cloud hunt across the sky.

The views of the rock and ice landscapes of famous mountain ranges such as Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and the Torres del Paine are breathtaking. The turquoise-blue glacial lakes such as Lago Desierto below form a perfect contrast. The often changing weather and strong wind are a constant companion in Patagonia and add to the roughness of this area. Only rarely does the wing beat of an Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) or the bright cry of a Guanaco (Lama guanicoe) mix with the incessant howling of the wind.

Blue glaciers shimmer in the soft light of the south, their ice crunches, cracks and cracks. So in Argentina’s probably most beautiful national park “Los Glaciares” with the imposing glacier “Perito Moreno” and its ice towers up to 70 m high.

Of these, huge chunks of ice keep falling into the “Lago Argentino”. The boxy barberry, which is called michai, mulun or calafate in its homeland, is a symbol for Patagonia. It is widespread in the south to Tierra del Fuego. A legend says, that anyone who eats berries from this shrub will definitely go back to Patagonia.

In order to meet the growing demand for top images of the rarer species of Palaearctic Bird-lens.com has specifically made trips to remote places. Additionally every chance is used, if a rare bird is around the homeground. This to do everything to ensure excellent photos of the Birds of the Western Palearctic . The yield of pictures also of rare Western Palaearctic birds is very good. There are other nice images of birds, that you will find behind the tab “Picture Shop“. Just give a notice if you need a picture of a bird which is not online.

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