January 12, 2015, Santiago, Chile -- Fred Homer and I went to the coast today, hitting a few key waterbird stakeouts. We walked on beautiful beaches, clambered on rocks, stared at the ocean, tromped across fields, and meandered along trails, racking up new birds at every stop. It was a wonderful, sunny day, and by early afternoon, most places were crowded with beach-goers on summer holiday. At one point, as I stomped through a throng of sunbathers and sandcastle-builders, I suddenly became a little self conscious: I was wearing long sleeves and pants and shoes on the beach, and carrying binoculars and camera and spotting scope, and people were looking at me a bit funny. Well, I ain't here just to get a tan!
Maybe the most interesting bird sighting today was a single flock of about 20,000 Franklin's Gulls roosting at the mouth of the Maipo River on the beach. They carpeted the sand for hundreds of yards. Fred and I spent about an hour sorting through the flock to find a few Black Skimmers and Elegant Terns, and two rare Sandwich Terns nearby--but mostly it was just wall-to-wall Franklin's. Quite a sight.
I've come to know Fred pretty well over the past couple of days, and he's fun to bird with. He is British, and moved to Chile full-time just a few years ago. He spent most of his life working in financial services, and discovered birding during middle age. He enjoys Shakespeare, wine, golf, and philosophical discussions. He dislikes malls, development, and overpopulation, and often uses the adjective "least worst." He drives his Subaru with enthusiasm through Santiago traffic while keeping a running commentary on other drivers. He met his wife when they were seatmates on a plane. He believes life is a continuous adventure. And he certainly knows where the birds are--if you ever find yourself in Chile, Fred is a great guide.
New birds today: 48 (!)
Year list: 192 (running list is now posted)