Day 5 |
Nov 05, 2009

Punta Gaviota, Chilean Fjords

By JJ Apéstegui, onboard Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: 45°45.32’ S, 074°20.01’ W

Weather: Partly Cloudy with Beaufort 2

Air Temperature: 5.8C

Sea Temperature: 5C

Pressure: 1008 Hpa

Wind: 5 Knots, S

It was a calm morning with cool temperatures, as we prepared to do a Zodiac excursion in “Punta Gaviota”, part of a National Park called Magdalena, in the Chilean Fjords. There was a light patina of snow on the surrounding mountains, quite a change from just a few days ago when we were navigating along the dry coast of Northern Chile.

I prepared my Zodiac with the hope that the surrounding “Nothofagus” or Southern Beech forests would hold some interesting bird species to be seen, and I would not be disappointed, as indeed they did.

Our expedition took us around a small fjord with a river flowing into it at the end, but all around us there were small streams and waterfalls, a product of the wet weather that is common here, and also of the light snowfall that was now slowly melting in the warm sunlight.

We did two excursions, dividing the guests into two groups so that they could have some “elbow room” on the Zodiacs, and we were blessed with excellent weather, as opposed to last year when this particular expedition took place in high winds and rain.

Pretty soon there were reports of Sea Lions, two of them, lying lazily on some rocks, and later in the morning most of us got good looks at Marine Otters, a secretive and rare species in the weasel family, but who this time put on a nice show for us.

Some of the most interesting birds seen were part of what I would consider “Antarctic fauna” like Southern Giant Petrels and Blue-eyed Shags, another sign that we have crossed into a different life zone.

Even then, some groups saw a Green-backed Firecrown, a Hummingbird, and others were witness to a noisy flock of Austral Parakeets taking off from an Araucaria tree, reminding us that we are not quite in Polar waters.

In the afternoon, there was an interesting presentation on the way that Silversea develops itineraries, given by Conrad Combrink, the company’s Senior Expedition Leader.

Later it was Hans-Peter’s turn with a talk entitled: “Botany of Chile – Part 1”. And this was followed by a recap of the last couple of days and a briefing on the coming activities, as well as another delicious dinner.