On my second day in South America, I was lucky enough to join a birding tour with Santiago’s finest bird guide. Thanks to some very lucky last-minute logistical magic and the fantastic response time of Fred Homer of Albatross Birding Tours, I got to spend a day searching for Chilean endemic species in the mountains above Santiago. Along with two other birders from the UK and Australia, I was picked up an hour before sunrise by Fernando Diaz – Chilean bird guide extraordinaire. Fernando is among the foremost birders in Chile, and his passion is evident in his work!
The day’s itinerary saw us work our way up the Andes from Santiago to Valle Nevado at 3000m (~10,000ft). Nearly every bird I saw was new to me (a ‘lifer’ in bird lingo). At Valle Nevado we came nearly beak-to-face with a lazy congregation of Andean Condors. With a ten foot wingspan and a life expectancy of fifty or more years, these are quite the impressive animals!