January 11, 2015, Farellones, Chile -- My host in Chile, Fred Homer, arranged for me to spend the day with a 29-year-old local birder named Rodrigo Silva. Rodrigo picked me up early and we headed east toward a high Andean valley in the Farellones area to clean up some high-elevation species I missed yesterday.
Rodrigo is a veterinarian, conservationist, environmental consultant, and bird guide based in Santiago, and he has a wife and a 3-year-old daughter, so he's a busy guy. He still finds time to go birding a lot, though, and, with a target list in hand, he took us to a series of productive spots today to nail one key bird at a time. By midday, we had climbed to a ski resort over 10,000 feet, where we prowled for Cinereous Ground-Tyrants while Sunday tourists rode the lifts up and down in the heat and Andean Condors lounged on the rooftops.
It's the height of summer holidays in Chile, and Santiago is hitting the mid-90s each afternoon, so it's been nice to hang out in the cooler mountains for the past couple of days. I added 12 hard-won year birds today, including a Great Horned Owl (of the pale Magellanic subspecies) on its day roost, and a rare-for-this-area Great Shrike-Tyrant that Rodrigo spotted zipping over the hood of the car in mid-afternoon. That puts my year list up to 144--steady progress, as planned! Fred and I will go west to the coast tomorrow, where I should see a pile of new birds, and, the day after that, Argentina awaits.