Patagonian Chile Travel Diary - p 3 of 4

Magellanic PenguinAbout 3000 Magellanic Penguins have nested in burrows along the shores of the sound.  Unruffled by gawking humans and gale force winds, they loaf on the beach and near their burrows, preening themselves and their young.















Penguins in the surfThose on the beach seem to delight in swimming parties, cavorting around but seldom going out into the sound to fish, at least during late morning.  The sight of these amiable creatures is bittersweet.  As much fun as they are to watch, we're again reminded that we should be on the Falklands, enjoying Gentoo, Rockhopper, and even King Penguins that nest there.  Oh, to have that morning back.










Penguin and young

Meanwhile, some of the parents are still tending full-grown youngsters, just now shedding the last of their natal down.  The young spend a lot of time flexing wings that will propel them through the water.  We smile as we watch penguins clumsily waddle along on land.  But once in the ocean they zip about with astonishing speed and agility.  Water, not air or land, is their true element.









Los ovejeros15 January 2008
Duncan enjoys photographing the people of the lands he visits.  He arranges for us to visit Estancia Los Ovejeros, a cattle and sheep ranch near Torres del Paine.  So it's back north we go, anything to get out of Punta Arenas.  The estancia is owned by the Cardenas family, complete with a gruff, bellowing patriarch straight out of Central Casting.  One day we photograph the ovejeros (sheep ranchers) sorting out cattle for sale, the next day they're rounding up the sheep for shearing.
    The youngsters of the clan seem to have an idyllic life, each with his own horse and miles of pampas over which to roam.  Many decades ago when I was their age, that's exactly the sort of life I dreamed of.






Long-tailed Meadowlark

But the birds are more my style.  I wander off to find a Long-tailed Meadowlark, which acts just like our North American meadowlarks and is in fact in the same genus.  Later I'm called back to join Duncan and los ovejeros for an alfresco lunch:  boiled potatoes, bread, and of course broiled lamb.












Black-faced IbisThe other common denizen of these fertile valleys is Black-faced Ibis, which soars about and never stops complaining about things.  They are quite comfortable among the sheep but do not appear to use them to scare up insects and other prey.












Travel Diary       next page>