Posts Tagged ‘Chile



I’m not sure if there’s more than one Black browed Albatross in the North Sea this year or if it’s just the one that’s been sitting on cliffs in Germany’s Heligoland Archipelago that’s been on ‘fly-about’.  Having been sighted off Ireland, Scotland and the south coast of England this year they are true wanderers and beautiful flyers; masters of the air. Over the years friend Tony has now seen three of these brutes from the Norfolk coast … or could it be one bird three times?

The attached photo wasn’t taken off Norfolk – I should be so lucky – but off Chile earlier this year.



Some creatures can be right before your eyes … but can take some finding. I was thinking back this week to January … the 15th to be exact. A memorable wonderful day of new things. As I walked on the isolated island of Magdalena, off Punto Arenas in southern Chile, I passed a shoreline of stones. The Magallenic Penguins were perhaps the highlight, or maybe the Sei Whales or the Commerson’s Dolphins we saw on the return ferry journey. However, hidden among the rocks were Rufous chested Dotterels. Simply unseen until seen. So many highlights to mention … in such a wonderful place.




Some of you will know in the past ‘Letter from Norfolk’, and ensuing Facebook postings, occurred every other day. You may have noticed that as promised in my last post of 2016 there has been a change. Due to time restraints postings are now published every four days. There’s also a new ‘rotating’ header on the site.

Letter from Norfolk started off as a blog for my customers about what we had been seeing on tours and musings of a wider nature. However, it is clear postings are read and commented on by a much wider circle of individuals than those that have been on one of our tours. It will continue to adapt and change in the future perhaps inviting more comment (and photos) from others.

Recently I’ve been popping a lot on the site regarding my South American trip. I thought I’d post one last photo from our January break. It’s an Albatross. Specifically a Wandering Albatross. These are big birds and on one afternoon off the coast of Chile several came very close to the ship. Passing at ‘eye level’ they had me squealing like a schoolboy. They were almost within touching distance. I can’t convey the uplifting feeling at being so close to such an iconic enigma of the oceans. The bird with the longest wingspan in the world was inches from me. It could also easily have approached me in years of age; and I’m no spring chicken. Moreover it was graceful and beautiful. Wearing the perpetual smiles of a dolphin they would swoop and glide effortlessly in the strongest of winds. Simply magic.

I’ve placed some of the photos I took during January to the end of the ‘latest section’ of my Wildcatch Photography site – see them here. I’ve also prepared a trip report with details and sightings. If you would like a copy please send me an email (




I’ve seen African, Indian and Black Skimmers, the American version, previously; but never managed to get a photo of one skimming.

To explain. A skimmer is a species of bird. In fact there are just three different types in the world occupying areas around water in India, America and Africa. They are somewhat tern like in their appearance but much larger and their lower mandible is extended beyond the upper, to give them a very odd appearance. This adaptation enables the bird to fly along with it’s lower mandible ‘trailing’ in water and when it touches a fish it snaps it up and swallows the meal. Cool.

We were watching out over the estuary of the Maipo in Chile. There was a distant flock of several hundred skimmers mixed with gulls towards the other side of the river some one kilometre distant . However a  small flock of eight individuals were much closer and they were mobile. Eventually they started to skim right in front of us. A superb bit of evolution.




Sailing off the coast of Punta del Este in Chile we were scanning the sea to see if we could pull out another new bird for the trip. The wind was up and so was the swell. However, the little transporter ferry we were on was coping well.

We’ve all watched the U boat movies on telly. The German commander folds up the periscope and gives the order to ‘Fire Torpedos’. The scene cuts to the surface where a trail of white tracks towards the British battleship. Well imagine us on that ferry seeing those torpedos coming straight at us… then another … and another. The missiles broke the surface to reveal their true form. Commerson’s Dolphins are instantly recognisable; piebald streamlined animals moving at warp-neck speed. I so wanted to see this species … and see it well. As they shot under our hull the views were just amazing.





Port bow

We weren’t far off entering the South Pacific. Sailing north west in the Chilean Fjords offering fantastic midday views of the Isla Campana. We would pop out into the open ocean quite soon. An ideal place to see Orca. As if by magic a few splashes distantly off the port bow morphed into a matriarch led pod of around 12 animals as we caught up with them. Always good to see this was our second encounter in as many days with this enigmatic cetacean.



What a moment


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.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Jun 2023


%d bloggers like this: