26
Jan
17

What a moment

diademed-sandpiper-plover

As I get older I’m constantly surprised how my life is influenced by what I read as a child. I remember forever thumbing through a book on the birds of South America and it obviously had a great impact on me. A trip to Argentina, Uruguay, The Falklands and Chile to see albatrosses and penguins this month was a real opportunity to see one bird of the high Andes that has stirred my imagination since I was knee high to a Rhea reading that book.

Our very last day of 23 days away was taken up with a 5:30am start from Santiago in Chile. We drove south east to the Andes range and started our climb. First on tarmac roads which changed to dirt roads then stone tracks as we started to climb. We did the last few kilometres on what can only be described as scree tracks into the Yeso Valley National Park.

The Valley was surrounded by a snow capped amphitheatre of peaks. A chill wind was a relief from the oppressive heat of the lowlands … but the sun was still strong and face searing. We had already seen some good birds. Andean Condor, Torrent Duck, Crested Duck, Giant Hummingbird as well as Siskins, Ground Creepers and Ground Tyrants a plenty. As we arrived at 7000 feet plus it was now time to search the flat boggy areas for the most elusive bird of all, an endangered species and one I had been waiting to see for many years; The Diademed Sandpiper Plover. An unusual rare bird not least for its colourful delicately marked plumage as its location.

The first site drew a blank. We climbed higher.

I’d hoped we would find this bird but it wasn’t a given by any means and I knew if we did find it we couldn’t approach it closely. Such a rare breeding bird must be given total respect.

We stood again and scanned across the water sodden ground. It was Fernando our guide who collared it. Not at the far end of the marsh as I imagined but just a few metres away feeding in a small stream. I positioned myself slowly on a comfortable rock and drank it all in. As we watched a silence crept over us. We didn’t talk … the reverence of the moment demanded it… and bugger me if it didn’t get closer. And it got closer and closer still. I dare not breathe let alone move. Even a couple of nearby Seedsnipe wouldn’t detract me. This was my time with the most enigmatic of waders and nothing was going to tear me away. What a moment.

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2 Responses to “What a moment”


  1. 1 bkcitta
    January 26, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Great detail!!!


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