Better late than never, I say! It took two years of COVID-19 cancellations and postponements, but we finally boarded the Hondius with 140 other souls (plus the crew) and made it onto this marvelous route through the South Atlantic and the Southern Ocean to the Falklands, South Georgia, & and the Antarctic Peninsula!
We started this trip in the port city of Puerto Madryn in northern Patagonia. Typically, we depart on this journey from the southern city of Ushuaia on the Beagle Channel, but vessel logistics made the change necessary. The change, however, made it possible to bird for a day in the nearby town of Trelew (at the Laguna del Ornitólogo – i.e. the local sewage ponds) and at the Punta Tombo Magellanic Penguin colony. This change, which wasn't reflected in the tour checklist that we sent out, resulted in our adding the 2nd-highest number of 'write-ins' during our checklist session that night that I've ever had in my 37-year career!
After a day and a half at sea, we made our first landfall, and our first landing, at Steeple Jason Island in the n.w. Falklands. Hiking on this seldom-visited island was quite a thrill, especially after our time at sea watching seabirds. Seeing one of the largest Black-browed Albatross colonies in the world was breathtaking, to say the least. And our first Striated Caracaras, White-bridled Finches, and Tussockbirds (Blackish Cinclodes) were a lot of fun as well. We made three other landings in the Falklands over the next couple of days at Carcass Island, Saunders Island, and Stanley, enjoying that big, entertaining colony of Southern Rockhopper Penguins, our first (of many 1000's) King Penguins, the lumbering endemic Falkland Steamer-Duck, the tiny endemic Cobb's Wren, displaying Rufous-chested Dotterels, and so much more.
Our passage at sea between Stanley and South Georgia alternated between a sea teeming with prions, petrels, and albatrosses, and foggy, nearly birdless stretches. We spotted our first Light-mantled and Gray-headed albatrosses in this crossing, as well as Gray-backed and Black-bellied storm-petrels, Atlantic Petrel (very close!), and our three expected species of prions (Fairy, Antarctic, and Slender-billed – but it wasn't easy!). And our first of many Humpback Whales surfaced near Shag Rocks en route, too.
South Georgia was arguably the highlight destination on this trip, with its vast King and Gentoo penguin colonies, thousands of Antarctic Fur Seals and Southern Sea Lions on the beaches, curious Leopard Seals swimming under our Zodiacs and surfacing nearby to size us up, brooding glaciers and rugged snow-capped mountains, confiding endemic South Georgia Pipits in the tussock grass, the rusted remnants of the Grytviken whaling station with the gravesite of famed Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton nearby – so much history, fabulous scenery, and stunning wildlife everywhere you looked!
Next, it was on to the Antarctic Peninsula via the South Orkneys, Elephant Island (where Shackleton left most of his crew while he boated to South Georgia to organize a rescue), and the South Shetlands. We couldn't land at the Argentine scientific station of Orcadas on the South Orkneys, but we did get to experience our first Chinstrap and Adelie penguins on the massive icebergs of Scotia Bay. Elephant Island was a little anticlimactic with all of the fog obscuring the island, but it was still a thrill to see the where Shackleton's crew resided for sixteen months before the rescue finally came! On the South Shetlands, we managed one short landing at a Chinstrap Penguin colony on Half Moon Island as the weather there deteriorated.
The next morning, we awoke to crystal-clear blue skies and no wind at Portal Point on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula! We couldn't have asked for a better introduction to this frozen continent.
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
LESSER RHEA (DARWIN'S) (Rhea pennata pennata)
A lone bird next to the road near Trelew on our way to Punta Tombo the day before we boarded the Hondius. Some authors split this southern subspecies from the one that occupies the high Andes to the north.
ELEGANT CRESTED-TINAMOU (Eudromia elegans)
Outstanding close studies of a trio of birds near the start of the Punta Tombo trails as we were heading back to the bus.
BLACK-NECKED SWAN (Cygnus melancoryphus)
A few on the 'Laguna de Ornitólogo' i.e. – the local sewage ponds) in the town of Trelew on the first full day of the tour.
COSCOROBA SWAN (Coscoroba coscoroba)
A few of these with the above Black-necked Swans.
UPLAND GOOSE (Chloephaga picta)
This was the most common of the three species of 'sheldgeese' that we saw on the Falklands. This, along with the Kelp Goose, is a strikingly sexually dimorphic species, with the females closely mimicking the smaller (and scarcer) Ruddy-headed Goose.
KELP GOOSE (Chloephaga hybrida)
Quite common in the intertidal zone at the Falklands. The nearly all-white males stand in sharp contrast to the fabulously-patterned females.
RUDDY-HEADED GOOSE (Chloephaga rubidiceps)
Formerly much more widespread on Isla Grande and mainland southern Patagonia, this small goose is now mostly restricted to the Falklands, where it continues to do well without the threat of introduced predators.
FLYING STEAMER-DUCK (Tachyeres patachonicus)
A single male in the harbor at Ushuaia on our final day of the tour for some was the only one seen.
FALKLAND STEAMER-DUCK (Tachyeres brachypterus) [EN]
We saw a number of pairs of this flightless Falkland endemic, including a pair with young at Carcass Island.
WHITE-HEADED STEAMER-DUCK (Tachyeres leucocephalus) [E]
Stellar looks at a few birds on the beach at the Magellanic Penguin colony at Punta Tombo on our first full day of the tour.
CRESTED DUCK (Lophonetta specularioides) [N]
Several pairs of this distinctive duck at both the Falklands and at Ushuaia.
RED SHOVELER (Spatula platalea)
This was the most common species of duck at the Laguna de Ornitólogo in Trelew on that first day.
CHILOE WIGEON (Mareca sibilatrix)
A few of these for some folks on our final day at Ushuaia before flying back to Buenos Aires.
YELLOW-BILLED PINTAIL (SOUTH GEORGIA) (Anas georgica georgica)
This race, endemic to South Georgia, is quite a bit smaller than the race that we saw on the mainland, with no overlap in any measurements.
YELLOW-BILLED PINTAIL (SOUTH AMERICAN) (Anas georgica spinicauda)
This was probably the second-most common species of duck at the Laguna de Ornitólogo in Trelew. A paler and larger race than the nominate race that we saw on South Georgia.
YELLOW-BILLED TEAL (Anas flavirostris)
Similar to the above Yellow-billed Pintail, but with a noticeably darker head. Seen only at Trelew and on Carcass Island in the Falklands on this tour.
ROSY-BILLED POCHARD (Netta peposaca)
Good numbers of this distinctive duck at the Laguna de Ornitólogo in Trelew.
BLACK-HEADED DUCK (Heteronetta atricapilla)
We had a dozen of more of these uncommon brood parasites at Trelew.
LAKE DUCK (Oxyura vittata)
Like a dark-faced Ruddy Duck. Only at Trelew on this tour.
CHILEAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
Many hundreds at Laguna de Ornitólogo in Trelew on that first full morning.
GREAT GREBE (Podiceps major)
A handful of these were seen loafing on the water near the pier at Puerto Madryn as we waited to board the Hondius.
SILVERY GREBE (PATAGONIAN) (Podiceps occipitalis occipitalis)
A small group of these was spotted at the Laguna de Ornitólogo in Trelew on that first morning. I suspect that this distinctive race will be split from the population in the Andes far to the north, so keep track of where you see them.
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
PICUI GROUND DOVE (Columbina picui)
A few seen in flight in the Trelew area.
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata)
On our first full day of the tour only on the mainland in Chubut.
RED-FRONTED COOT (Fulica rufifrons)
Very much outnumbered by the White-winged Coot at the Laguna de Ornitólogo.
WHITE-WINGED COOT (Fulica leucoptera)
Quite common at Trelew on our first morning of birding.
SNOWY SHEATHBILL (Chionis albus)
A familiar sight at all of our cruise venues on this tour, being found at all of the pinniped colonies and many of the the penguin colonies on the Peninsula. They were often our companions on the Hondius itself when we were anchored offshore from our landings. Part of the important avian clean-up crew in the far south.
BLACK-NECKED STILT (WHITE-BACKED) (Himantopus mexicanus melanurus)
This distinctive southern form was once split out from the more northerly and more familiar races and called White-backed Stilt (H. melanurus).
AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus)
A single bird at the Punta Tombo Magellanic Penguin colony for some.
BLACKISH OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus ater)
We had both this and the striking Magellanic Oystercatcher at a few of our landings on the Falklands.
MAGELLANIC OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus leucopodus)
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)
Both in Chubut on our first full day and at Ushuaia on our final day.
TWO-BANDED PLOVER (Charadrius falklandicus)
We found quite a few of these small plovers in the open habitats near Stanley as we searched for Rufous-chested Dotterel.
RUFOUS-CHESTED DOTTEREL (Charadrius modestus)
We had to do some walking along the road, but we eventually found a few of these gorgeous plovers on territory near the Stanley airport during our short visit there. A couple of birds were even displaying for us!
PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)
A single bird at the Laguna de Ornitólogo and a little farther south than usual.
SOUTH AMERICAN SNIPE (MAGELLANIC) (Gallinago paraguaiae magellanica)
A recent split from the Pantanal Snipe (G. paraguaiae) – a terrible name, btw – we were able to see a couple of close birds on Carcass Island in the Falklands during our visit there.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)
Only at Trelew on this trip.
CHILEAN SKUA (Stercorarius chilensis)
We saw several of these as we lingered at the eastern end of the Beagle Channel on the penultimate day of the tour, as well as a couple of birds in the harbor at Ushuaia on the final morning. A relatively 'easy' skua species to identify with cinnamon throat and wing linings.
SOUTH POLAR SKUA (Stercorarius maccormicki)
I'm sure that we saw more than the one or two birds that were called out near the Antarctic Peninsula, but the i.d. of this one is tough, especially with so many sub-adult birds and possible Brown X South Polar Skua hybrids about.
BROWN SKUA (SUBANTARCTIC) (Stercorarius antarcticus lonnbergi) [N]
Lots of superb, close looks at this subspecies on South Georgia. One of the main nest predators of the many King Penguins that nest on South Georgia. Quite different-looking compared with the Falklands race below, which lacks the extensive whitish feather tips on the mantle. It wouldn't surprise me if these two forms are split into two species someday.
BROWN SKUA (FALKLAND) (Stercorarius antarcticus antarcticus)
This is the race that we saw distantly at the Punta Tombo Magellanic Penguin colony the day before we boarded the Hondius. We also got our fill of these on the Falklands, seeing it all three days that we landed there.
LONG-TAILED JAEGER (Stercorarius longicaudus)
A single immature bird was spotted by a few of us en route to the Falklands from Puerto Madryn.
BROWN-HOODED GULL (Chroicocephalus maculipennis)
We had numbers of these on our first full day in Chubut and also around Puerto Madryn on the day that we left for the open ocean. Similar in most respects to the closely related Black-headed Gull of the Old World.
DOLPHIN GULL (Leucophaeus scoresbii)
This attractive gull, restricted to the southern coasts of Chile and Argentina, as well as the Falklands, was seen close at hand in the Falklands and on our final morning at Ushuaia.
KELP GULL (Larus dominicanus)
The most widespread gull species in the southern oceans.
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea)
At least one of these was spotted by some in open ocean between South Georgia and the South Orkneys. Others may have been seen from the stern on our transit between the Falklands and South Georgia.
SOUTH AMERICAN TERN (Sterna hirundinacea)
Larger overall and bigger-billed than either the Arctic or the Antarctic terns, we had a number of good looks in the Falklands.
ANTARCTIC TERN (Sterna vittata) [N]
This elegant little tern was a near constant companion on our landings and Zodiac cruises of South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula.
KING PENGUIN (Aptenodytes patagonicus) [N]
It was a real thrill to see our first 30 or so birds – including several downy chicks – on Saunders Island in the Falklands, but there were more to come on South Georgia. Between our four landings at Fortuna Bay, Gold Harbor, Salisbury Plain and St. Andrew's Bay on South Georgia we saw at least a few 100,000 of these 3-foot-tall penguins in every imaginable plumage. All of the colonies that we visited were breathtaking, but the St. Andrew's Bay colony was perhaps the most memorable spectacle of all. It was too early for our birds to be incubating, but there was lots of courtship behavior and territory defense going on on our visits.
ADELIE PENGUIN (Pygoscelis adeliae)
I was a little surprised at how few of these we saw on the Antarctica Peninsula and nearby islands, but we did come away with some fine looks at several close Adelies, usually consorting with Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, and both of which greatly outnumbered this one.
GENTOO PENGUIN (Pygoscelis papua) [N]
This was our most widespread penguin species on this tour. We ran into our first breeding colony on Steeple Jones Island in the n.w. Falklands and continued to encounter them at nearly every landing and on every Zodiac cruise that we did subsequently. Nesting was well along in the Falklands, but the birds had not yet laid eggs on the Antarctic Peninsula.
CHINSTRAP PENGUIN (Pygoscelis antarcticus)
One of the most local of our seven penguin species was the Chinstrap. We encountered our first of many on the icebergs as we entered Scotia Bay in the South Orkneys, then again on Half Moon Island in the South Shetlands, where we had our best looks during our landing at the colony there.
MAGELLANIC PENGUIN (Spheniscus magellanicus) [N]
This was our first penguin of the trip when we made a trip out to Punta Tombo south of Trelew in Chubut the first full day of the tour. Numbers at the colony during our visit there were just a shadow of what they used to be back in 1990, when Rick and I made our first trip there on the Southern Argentina tour. We ran into this one again out in the Falklands, but not after we left that archipelago.
MACARONI PENGUIN (Eudyptes chrysolophus)
It took a special Zodiac excursion in roiling seas to get a look at this one. Although it's an abundant breeder on South Georgia, most of the colonies are on the western (windward) side of the island, making them very difficult to access from a cruise ship like the Hondius. Though it was a challenge to get a good look as we tried to steady ourselves in the rolling Zodiacs, we did come away with some decent views of this one before we headed back to the shelter of the Hondius.
SOUTHERN ROCKHOPPER PENGUIN (Eudyptes chrysocome)
We saw quite a few of these scattered among the throngs of breeding Black-browed Albatross on Steeple Jason Island in the n.w. Falklands, but they were just far enough away that we really couldn't appreciated them fully. That changed for us the next afternoon when we landed at Saunders Island. We certainly got our fill of this charismatic and entertaining penguin at the huge colony there, though it did take a bit of a hike to get in place to see them!
GRAY-HEADED ALBATROSS (Thalassarche chrysostoma)
We picked up our first of these 'small' albatrosses just east of the Falklands while we transited the South Atlantic en route to South Georgia. Similar in shape, size, wing pattern, and distribution to Black-browed Albatross, but much less common than that species. It differs from the Black-browed in having a black bill in all plumages (yellow ridges above and below in older birds) and an extensive gray hood in all plumages.
BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS (BLACK-BROWED) (Thalassarche melanophris melanophris) [N]
One of the most widespread and common of all the seabirds that we saw on this trip, with a huge colony on Steeple Jason Island in the n.w. Falklands that we were lucky enough to land at and visit early on.
LIGHT-MANTLED ALBATROSS (Phoebetria palpebrata)
Of the many seabirds that we saw on this tour, I can't think of a more elegant species than this. We picked up our first while at sea between the Falklands and South Georgia, and we enjoyed their company almost daily thereafter, even into the Drake Passage near the end of the trip. This one breeds on the steep tussock grass slopes of South Georgia, but we only saw one nearly completely hidden bird on a nest there from the Zodiacs.
ROYAL ALBATROSS (SOUTHERN) (Diomedea epomophora epomophora)
The overwhelming majority of the 'big' albatrosses that we saw on this tour were this form, and we got some great looks from the stern at a number of them. Only marginally smaller than the Wandering, the birds that we scrutinized all had that sometimes hard-to-discern black cutting edge to the mandibles (ruling out Wandering), as well as the thin white leading edge to the forewing (ruling out Northern Royal). Of all of the individuals that we saw from the Hondius, I can't recall a single one that ever flapped a wing!
ROYAL ALBATROSS (NORTHERN) (Diomedea epomophora sanfordi)
A single bird on our final day at sea in the northern Drake Passage was seen by some.
WANDERING ALBATROSS (SNOWY) (Diomedea exulans exulans)
We saw several of these from the stern of the Hondius, but few ever came as close as the more numerous (Southern) Royal Albatrosses. Unfortunately for us, Prion Island off the Salisbury Plain King Penguin colony on South Georgia was closed to visitors during our visit, so we couldn't visit the nesting sites of this magnificent albatross, but some of us were able to scope a few very distant birds nesting in the tussock grass while anchored in the bay.
WILSON'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites oceanicus)
This was our most common storm-petrel seen on the trip. A few birds showed some pale patterning on the underwing, which makes me think that some of our birds may have been "Fuegian" Wilson's Storm-Petrels (O.o. chilensis), whose range at sea isn't well known.
GRAY-BACKED STORM-PETREL (Garrodia nereis)
A few birds only around the Falklands, but never very many and never any super looks.
BLACK-BELLIED STORM-PETREL (Fregetta tropica)
Not as scarce as the above Gray-backed, but not nearly as ubiquitous as the Wilson's. Some of the birds that we saw from the stern and from the lounge on the Hondius provided us with some decent looks – but trying to get a good look at a sparrow-sized bird from a moving vessel is tough!
SOUTHERN GIANT-PETREL (Macronectes giganteus)
My records show that we saw more of these than the very similar Northern Giant-Petrel, but both were quite common throughout. The bill tip on this one is always pale green, without any hint of pink or red. Most of us were lucky enough to see at least a couple of nearly all-white birds around South Georgia – a form that's quite rare in my experience.
NORTHERN GIANT-PETREL (Macronectes halli)
Only slightly less common than the Southern Giant-Petrel, we had repeated good studies of this scavenger of the southern seas both from the Hondius and from our many island excursions. This and the Southern were often the only birds following the Hondius on our days at sea.
SOUTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialoides)
This lovely seabird was a regular behind the Hondius once we left South Georgia and started heading toward the South Orkneys. Not nearly as variable in plumage as its cousin in the Northern Hemisphere.
ANTARCTIC PETREL (Thalassoica antarctica)
We looked through quite a few Cape Petrels before anyone on the boat caught a glimpse of this sought-after target bird. A few lucky folks got on one in the pack ice as we motored into Paradise Bay from Cuperville Island on Day 18, and a few more benefitted from John's sharp eyes the next day as we headed north toward the Drake Passage when one was spotted trailing the Hondius.
CAPE PETREL (ANTARCTIC) (Daption capense capense)
One of the most distinctive – and beautiful – of the many tubenoses that we saw on this trip. We were followed by this one on all but a few days of this 3-week cruise.
SNOW PETREL (Pagodroma nivea)
Unmistakable with its immaculate white plumage and jet black soft parts, we saw our first of these beautiful petrels near Shag Rocks west of South Georgia. Once at South Georgia, we saw small groups of these flying high above the surf, likely investigating potential nesting sites on the lofty cliffs above the cold Atlantic below.
WHITE-HEADED PETREL (Pterodroma lessonii)
Mary Ann may have been the only one to get a look at this uncommon petrel from the stern of the Hondius en route to the Falklands.
ATLANTIC PETREL (Pterodroma incerta)
We started to see these distinctive petrels once we left the Falklands and headed east toward South Georgia. Several of them flew by our perch at the stern of the Hondius for some exquisite looks.
BLUE PETREL (Halobaena caerulea)
It was a little difficult, at first, to pick this one out from the numerous prions flying behind and next to the Hondius, but, if one stuck with it, these small petrels could be discerned by that distinctive white tip to the tail (which prions lack). We saw our fist west of South Georgia once we got into cold water, and they were downright common in some areas of open sea south of South Georgia and north of the Antarctic Peninsula.
FAIRY PRION (Pachyptila turtur)
I photographed a few of these among the more numerous Antarctic Prions between the Falklands and South Georgia and between South Georgia and the South Orkneys. All prions are difficult to i.d. and we often weren't sure what we were looking at until we looked at our photos later.
ANTARCTIC PRION (Pachyptila desolata)
This seemed to be the common prion species once we got east of the Falklands and approached South Georgia. This one has a more contrasting upperwing pattern than Slender-billed, and has a broader-based bill than that species.
SLENDER-BILLED PRION (Pachyptila belcheri)
The numbers of prions that we encountered north of the Falklands as we approached that archipelago from Puerto Madryn appeared to be this species. They seemed to be outnumbered by the Antarctic Prions once we sailed east of Stanley.
WHITE-CHINNED PETREL (Procellaria aequinoctialis)
Commonly seen behind the Hondius for most of the trip, except in the coldest waters near the Antarctic Peninsula. Like other birds with unfortunate common names (like Ring-necked Duck and Orange-crowned Warbler), the field mark in the name of this one is extremely difficult to see in the field!
GREAT SHEARWATER (Ardenna gravis)
A few of these in open ocean between Puerto Madryn and the Falklands.
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea)
These weren't very common on the tour until we got near Cape Horn, when we saw good numbers migrating from east to west towards the Pacific.
COMMON DIVING-PETREL (Pelecanoides urinatrix)
One of the big mysteries on this trip was 'Where were the diving-petrels?' A few folks saw a few as we got close to South Georgia from the west, and then a couple more folks saw a few as we approached Cape Horn. Otherwise, they were missing in action!
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
In Chubut only before we left for the open Atlantic.
MAGELLANIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax magellanicus)
The red orbital ring on this one makes it easy to identify along the coast of Chubut and in the Falklands. Formerly called the Rock Shag.
SOUTH GEORGIA SHAG (Phalacrocorax georgianus)
A relatively recent split from Imperial Cormorant and best separated from that one by range (they're very similar). We picked up our first near Shag Rocks and they were with us through the South Orkneys.
IMPERIAL CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax atriceps atriceps)
This is the race that appears more white-faced than the albiventer race. The two of these forms were once split as Imperial and King cormorants, but they interbreed extensively in Tierra del Fuego. We saw a couple of these on the pier in Puerto Madryn as we set sail.
IMPERIAL CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax atriceps albiventer)
The form with more black in the face that was formerly known as King Cormorant. Very similar in appearance to both South Georgia and Antarctic shags (and once lumped with them).
ANTARCTIC SHAG (Phalacrocorax bransfieldensis)
We woke up to a few of these at Portal Point at our first Antarctic Peninsula landing on Day 16. We never saw that many while on the peninsula, but they were with us for the next few days before we left for the Drake Passage.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
A couple of these were seen by the Carcass Island hikers as they made their way to the fine array of cakes and cookies at the farm house.
BLACK-FACED IBIS (Theristicus melanopis)
A single flyby for some along the waterfront in Ushuaia on our final day together.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
The Falklands are an isolated outpost for this one, which is a resident there.
VARIABLE HAWK (Geranoaetus polyosoma) [N]
Our first look was of a bird on a nest as we made our way from Trelew to Punta Tombo on the first full day. A couple of others were spotted on the Falklands on a couple of different days. This form was once split out as Red-backed Hawk before it was lumped with Puna Hawk of the high Andes.
BLACK-CHESTED BUZZARD-EAGLE (Geranoaetus melanoleucus)
A spectacular adult bird, being harassed by a pair of Southern Lapwings, flew over the waterfront at Ushuaia shortly after our arrival there.
GREAT HORNED OWL (MAGELLANIC) (Bubo virginianus magellanicus)
Our bus driver deftly spotted this one in a borrow pit next to the dirt road we were on as we drove from Trelew to Punta Tombo. Note that this small southern form was recently split from the the more familiar Great Horned Owl to the north.
BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)
In Chubut on our first full day of the tour.
STRIATED CARACARA (Phalcoboenus australis)
We were greeted by quite the contingent of these confiding raptors on our first Zodiac landing of the trip at Steeple Jason Island in the n.w. Falklands. The Falklands are the only really accessible remaining stronghold for this one, where they seem to be doing quite well!
SOUTHERN CARACARA (Caracara plancus)
Only on the Falklands on this trip.
CHIMANGO CARACARA (Milvago chimango)
Good numbers of these small caracaras in Chubut on our first full day of the tour, then several around Ushuaia at the very end.
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
In Chubut on our first full day.
RUFOUS HORNERO (Furnarius rufus)
A couple of these furnariids were detected at the sewage ponds in Trelew on our first full day. The National Bird of Argentina.
BLACKISH CINCLODES (BLACKISH) (Cinclodes antarcticus antarcticus)
Easily the most common and widespread passerine on the Falklands that we saw. The locals call this one the Tussockbird and it may one day be split from the the slightly larger and slightly differently-marked subspecies that occurs in the Tierra del Fuego/Cape Horn area of extreme southern South America (which we didn't see on this trip).
DARK-BELLIED CINCLODES (Cinclodes patagonicus)
We had a very close pair of these along the harbor shoreline in Ushuaia on our final day of the tour. A close relative of the Blackish Cinclodes.
PLAIN-MANTLED TIT-SPINETAIL (Leptasthenura aegithaloides)
Good looks for most, if not all, along the path through the Magellanic Penguin colony at Punta Tombo.
SHARP-BILLED CANASTERO (Asthenes pyrrholeuca)
Nice looks at this one at the sewage ponds at Trelew on our first full day. Called Lesser Canastero in the older guides.
YELLOW-BILLED TIT-TYRANT (Anairetes flavirostris)
Quick looks for some in the creosote desert near Trelew en route to Punta Tombo.
AUSTRAL NEGRITO (Lessonia rufa)
This charming little terrestrial flycatcher gave us some great looks at one of the many roadside ponds en route to the Magellanic Penguin colony at Punta Tombo on our first day.
SPECTACLED TYRANT (Hymenops perspicillatus)
A spectacular male was seen displaying next to the bus as we left the sewage ponds in Trelew.
DARK-FACED GROUND-TYRANT (Muscisaxicola maclovianus)
This was the only flycatcher that the group saw away from the mainland, with a few obliging our group on the Falklands.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)
A couple of these only on Chubut before we set sail on the Hondius.
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca)
Only a few of these in coastal Chubut on our first full day of the tour. The race here, P.c. patagonica, winters far to the north in Amazonia.
SOUTHERN MARTIN (Progne elegans)
Several of these were around the penguin colony at Punta Tombo on our first full day.
CHILEAN SWALLOW (Tachycineta leucopyga)
On our first and last days of the tour.
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)
Singing vigorously at the Punta Tombo penguin colony on our first day.
COBB'S WREN (Troglodytes cobbi) [E]
A relatively recent split from House Wren and endemic to the Falklands. The widespread introduction of rodents to the Falklands has seriously impacted the few passerines present on these islands, but Carcass Island, where we saw our only Cobb's Wrens, is rodent-free.
SEDGE WREN (AUSTRAL) (Cistothorus platensis hornensis)
A recent split from our familiar Sedge Wren in N. America. Seen nicely on the Falklands by most of us.
PATAGONIAN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus patagonicus)
A common inhabitant of the dry desert scrub in coastal Chubut, where we saw ours on our first day together.
CHALK-BROWED MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus saturninus)
This one mostly replaces the Patagonian Mockingbird in the towns and riparian habitats in Chubut.
WHITE-BANDED MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus triurus)
We woke up at sea the morning after we left Puerto Madryn to find this one perched on the uppermost deck and occasionally catching the few moths that had found the Hondius. White-banded Mockingbird is a medium-distance migrant in Argentina, where it breeds, wintering as far north as Bolivia and s. Brazil. Our bird was almost certainly a southbound migrant that found itself over open ocean by some twist of fate.
AUSTRAL THRUSH (Turdus falcklandii)
A fairly common resident on the Falklands and also seen in small numbers in coastal Chubut.
CHIGUANCO THRUSH (Turdus chiguanco)
A few of us saw this one in the trees across the street from our Puerto Madryn hotel. This species has recently colonized the Patagonian coast from its normal Andean haunts.
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
CORRENDERA PIPIT (Anthus correndera)
Nicely on the Falklands as we searched for the Rufous-chested Dotterel. A few of us also found this one singing and displaying in the marginal habitat in Ushuaia on the final day.
SOUTH GEORGIA PIPIT (Anthus antarcticus) [E]
Now that South Georgia is rodent-free after an intensive multi-year effort that finished in 2018, this formerly much depleted endemic pipit has regained some of its territory and former numbers. We had some super views of it right in Grytviken on our walk to the cemetery.
BLACK-CHINNED SISKIN (Spinus barbatus)
Several on the first few islands where we landed in the Falklands (Steeple Jason, Carcass, & Saunders). The southernmost siskin in the World.
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)
A common bird on our full day at the start in Chubut, and a few people also had one on the Hondius the first full day after we left Puerto Madryn.
LONG-TAILED MEADOWLARK (Leistes loyca)
We scoped this beautiful meadowlark in coastal Chubut en route to Punta Tombo, then had others on the Falklands, where they're resident.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)
A few with some of the sheep in coastal Chubut on our first day together.
YELLOW-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelasticus thilius)
A couple of birds were briefly seen at the Trelew sewage ponds.
GRAY-HOODED SIERRA-FINCH (Phrygilus gayi)
A female joined us for lunch after we arrived at Punta Tombo.
COMMON DIUCA-FINCH (Diuca diuca)
Great looks in the scope of a singing male next to the Punta Tombo parking lot.
WHITE-BRIDLED FINCH (Melanodera melanodera)
We probably saw our best examples of this scarce and local species at our first Falklands landing on Steeple Jason Island. This one is restricted to the Falklands and far southern South America, where its numbers have been severely depleted due to overgrazing by sheep. Formerly called the Canary-winged Finch.
MOURNING SIERRA-FINCH (Rhopospina fruticeti)
We had a few in coastal Chubut on our first full day of the tour.
CARBONATED SIERRA-FINCH (Porphyrospiza carbonaria) [E]
This was a nice surprise as we left Trelew and headed to Punta Tombo. November 1st is a little early for this one to be back on territory from its wintering grounds in n.c. Argentina, but we got lucky!
GRASSLAND YELLOW-FINCH (Sicalis luteola)
A few of these were singing and on territory in the relatively lush conditions at the Punta Tombo penguin colony.
CAPE HARE (Lepus capensis) [I]
SOUTHERN CAVY (Microcavia australis)
A couple of folks saw some of these on our day to Punta Tombo at the start of the tour. AKA – Guinea Pig
PEALE'S DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus australis)
We saw a couple of these breach next to the Hondius when we were at sea between Puerto Madryn and the Falklands.
COMMERSON'S DOLPHIN (Cephalorhynchus commersonii)
A few of these were seen by most of us as they surfaced near the Hondius while we were in the Falklands. One of these seemed to be playing with the divers off of the stern.
ORCA (Orcinus orca)
A single male was spotted from the Hondius after we left Steeple Jason Island in the n.w. Falklands, but only a few folks in our group saw it. Unfortunately, we never saw another one.
ANTARCTIC MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera bonaerensis)
A few folks saw this small baleen whale from the Hondius on our first day at the Antarctic Peninsula.
FIN WHALE (Balaenoptera physalus)
We ran into several of these (figuratively, of course), the second-largest whale on the planet, from the South Orkneys southward to the Antarctic Peninsula.
BLUE WHALE (Balaenoptera musculus)
A close group of three of these giants, the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth, near the South Shetlands. With only 2500 individual Blue Whales estimated in the entire Southern Ocean, we were quite lucky to encounter these. It was one of only a couple of times that our captain diverted from our course to get a better look.
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)
By far, this was the most common cetacean that we encountered on this tour, being seen on 1/3 of our days at sea. We didn't see our first until we were approaching Shag Rocks west of South Georgia.
SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE (Eubalaena australis)
We had a late afternoon/early evening encounter with this one while at sea after leaving Puerto Madryn. The bays at the base of the Valdez Peninsula are major calving grounds for this recovering species.
SOUTH AMERICAN SEA LION (Otaria flavescens)
Seen on this trip from the pier at Puerto Madryn through the Falklands. The big male hauled out on the rocks at Steeple Jason Island in the n.w. Falklands was really impressive!
ANTARCTIC FUR SEAL (Arctocephalus gazella)
This one is abundant again on South Georgia and we had to weave our way past many territorial males (none too aggressive, thankfully) on our landings there. We never saw this one again after we left South Georgia.
CRABEATER SEAL (Lobodon carcinophagus)
A few of us saw a single injured Crabeater hauled out on the floating ice in Paradise Bay after a fruitless search for the Antarctic Petrel seen earlier in the day.
LEOPARD SEAL (Hydrurga leptonyx)
We had very good luck with this one on South Georgia, seeing multiples at close range from the Zodiacs. We never did see them go after any of the penguins in the water there – they seemed fascinated with the humans.
WEDDELL SEAL (Leptonychotes weddelli)
We found this one once we arrived at the Antarctic Peninsula. Most were hauled out on the ice when we saw them. No other mammal occurs farther south than this one!
SOUTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL (Mirounga leonina)
These were abundant on nearly every beach that we landed on at South Georgia. This and the Antarctic Fur Seal were almost hunted to extinction at the start of the last century, but both are doing quite well now on South Georgia.
Totals for the tour: 133 bird taxa and 16 mammal taxa