Punta Arenas, Chile

                                                    Juvenile Magellanic Penguins 

January 28, 2010

Punta Arenas is in the Patagonian region of Chile.  The town looked decent, but we saw nothing really compelling about it.  We did schedule an excursion called “Otway Sound and Penguin Reserve”, which took us on mostly dirt roads out to the penguin reserve.  The land is fairly flat and tundra-like, with low growing vegetation that is in  bloom at this time of year.  The trees are all bent in the direction of the prevailing winds.

We encountered lots and lots of penguins of the Magellanic variety.  We saw Chilean flamingoes from a distance, as well as an Upland Goose.  There are apparently a couple of skunks in the area.  The one pictured was unmistakeable even though it is brown and white rather than the usual black and white.  Of all the birds we saw, the most unexpected and difficult to identify was the rufous-backed negrito.  Fortunately it was not afraid in our presence, so it was easy to photograph.  

We had some interesting penguin encounters.  The first was when we came down from an observation tower and discovered that there were two of them under the boardwalk at the base of the tower.  This photo was caught when one of them stuck it’s head out from under the walkway.  The other was with a penguin who was on the walk-way.  He was curious about our chaperone from the ship, who wanted her picture taken with the bird, but she was at the same time clearly concerned about trusting it.  The bird then went after Harry’s foot (photo below), and has since been described as an attack penguin.  Apparently it was just very curious.  We have video of this and also of penguin swimming lessons.  We found the penguins to be quite noisy.  They make a braying sound to let their parents know where they are and that they are hungry.

On the way back to the ship we had a short stop to look at a few alpacas, and another one to observe an Andean condor, but in neither case were we allowed to get off the bus so we could really see the animals.  Almost forgot to mention that one of the sights we saw on the way to the penguin reserve was a flock of rheas running at full speed.  

We went through some major mud puddles which left our bus windows dirty, so on the way home we were unable to take photographs as we traveled.  One of the other drivers cleaned the outside of his windows while his group was looking at penguins, but ours did not.  On the way to the preserve all the windows quickly became fogged up, and it took the bus driver a long time to figure out what to do to remedy the problem.  Although we were not pleased with the driver we still had a wonderful time and were pleased with our experience with the penguins.

The last photo shows Punta Arenas as the sun was going down.

Juvenile Magellanic Penguin Pecking at Harry’s Boot

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com