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February 15, 2012 – Learning about avian natural history and diversity

February 17, 2012

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Today, in celebration of National Flag of Canada Day, we reconvened into our five groups to test our bird watching skills.  After strapping on our binoculars and attaching our telephoto lenses, we set out to our assigned destinations to observe the diversity of ‘aves’ of Patagonia.  A disappointing first hour with very few bird sightings was followed by a successful end to our expedition by

seeing a variety of species such as: Black Chested Buzzard eagles, Andean Condors, Rufous Collared sparrows, Austral finches, Elaenias, Mourning Sierra finches, and many more!
Later on, we ascended to the Nothofagus forest (the same as yesterday) to view an Austral Parakeet nest.  The Parakeets (feathers of bright greens and red) nest in preformed cavities in tree trunks, and this particular one contained four nestlings… AMAZING!
After a quick picnic lunch, we returned to the wonders of this old growth forest to learn some basic measuring and data collection techniques.  Our group estimated tree heights using a clinometer, the other groups measure DBH (diameter at breast height) and the density of the canopy using a densiometer.  These are all useful skills that we hope to apply in future classes and research projects.
As the day dwindled down, the majority of the group was packed into the van to return to the ranch.  As for the few of us remaining, we made the two hour trek back down on foot with the winds blowing volcanic ash into our eyes and mouths – an adventure indeed!
Thanks to our generous hosts, a dinner consisting of 14 kgs of beef with sides of potatoes and salad was awaiting our return.  Exhausted and covered in ash, our day ended with some casual frog catching lit by a swarm of headlamps and finally some late night star gazing in the majestic Southern hemisphere.

We can’t wait for what is yet to come in the next week!

Hasta luego!

mucho amore,

Erin, Jamie, Amrit & Scott



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