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article imagePhoto Essay: Bird-watching at and near a Neotropical lagoon Special

By Igor I. Solar     Aug 7, 2014 in Environment
Valparaiso - Variations in water levels in the “Lagoon of Light”, near Valparaiso, Chile, offer various aquatic environs, deep waters and muddy flats, attractive to diving cormorants and herons. In such locations, shorebirds find plenty of food in late winter.
Chile is known by ornithologists as a “bird-watchers’ paradise.” The country is home to 479 species of birds some of which stay throughout the year (residents; eight of them endemic); many that come from afar to their usual breeding grounds, and to raise their young; and migrants who come to the central west coast of South America (Neotropical eco-zone, Chilean Matorral region) to escape colder conditions in the northern hemisphere.
Most species of birds known to the Chilean avifauna are relatively common and occupy important niches in the country’s ecosystems. However, unexpected occurrences of species that do not belong to Chilean ecosystems do happen.
Early morning reflections at  Lagoon of Light   near Valparaíso  Chile. This lagoon is a preferred ...
Early morning reflections at "Lagoon of Light", near Valparaíso, Chile. This lagoon is a preferred habitat for several resident species of Neotropical aquatic birds.
Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus). The Neotropic Cormorant can be found in aquatic eco...
Neotropic cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus). The Neotropic Cormorant can be found in aquatic ecosystems in Chile from the far north to Tierra del Fuego. Its habitat ranges from marine rockeries, coastal lagoons, rivers, streams, and marshlands to high elevation Andean lakes. It has a diverse diet, including marine and freshwater fish, crustaceans, frogs, tadpoles and aquatic insects.
A flock of cormorants perched on a tree seen against a cloudy sky.
A flock of cormorants perched on a tree seen against a cloudy sky.
Because of Chile’s extensive coastline, many of the resident species are marine birds. Foreign visitors particularly enjoy going out to sea where they can see a large diversity of pelagic birds including Shearwaters and Petrels in their natural environment. While navigating in the southern marine regions, it may be possible to spot a large Wandering Albatross or some of the species of penguins. However, since there are diverse ecosystems ranging from the Andes Mountains to mediterranean forests, wetlands and the coast in Chile, one may find closer to home many species of birds that inhabit varied environments.
Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melanocorypha). The Black-necked Swan is mostly white  apart from the blac...
Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melanocorypha). The Black-necked Swan is mostly white, apart from the black neck and head and a prominent red knob at the base of the bill. They nest in emergent vegetation around freshwater lakes. This species is mostly gregarious, and is often seen in small flocks, although occasionally they gather in groups of several thousand. They feed on algae, aquatic plants and invertebrates such as insects.
Great Egret (Ardea alba). The Great Egret is a large heron. It is completely white  with dark legs a...
Great Egret (Ardea alba). The Great Egret is a large heron. It is completely white, with dark legs and feet and yellow bill. They are found throughout almost all Central and South America. Great Egrets are mostly solitary and live in inland and coastal wetlands. They feed on a variety of aquatic organisms such as fish and crustaceans.
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). The Snowy Egret is a small heron found in aquatic habitats except at  h...
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). The Snowy Egret is a small heron found in aquatic habitats except at higher elevations from central United States south to central Chile and Argentina. It is white with a black bill and bright yellow lores. The legs are black with bright yellow feet. Snowy Egrets are gregarious and often feed and nest in colonies. They feed on aquatic organisms.
This photo essay shows some of the species of birds living in my area which can be seen almost any time of the year in their natural aquatic environment, the “Lagoon of Light,” and a couple of birds that associate with the forest surrounding the lagoon, but often visit gardens in the city.
Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis). The Rufous-collared Sparrow is common in lowland and...
Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis). The Rufous-collared Sparrow is common in lowland and hilly terrain from Mexico south to Tierra del Fuego. They have two broad black crown stripes along the head, a blackish line through the eye, and a prominent rufous collar. They are good singers, friendly and tolerant to human presence, allowing for close photography.
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail  (Leptasthenura aegithaloides). Small bird  mostly grey with yellowish u...
Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail (Leptasthenura aegithaloides). Small bird, mostly grey with yellowish underparts. They have a black tail as long as the body. They live alone or in couples. They are shy and very fearful, thus are difficult to photograph. They frequent parks and gardens where they feed on aphids, larvae and insects.
Shady walk along the shore of the  Lagoon of Light . The large blooming trees are Acacia farnesiana ...
Shady walk along the shore of the "Lagoon of Light". The large blooming trees are Acacia farnesiana, known in Chile as “Aromo”. It is native to the northern Mediterranean coast, southern France and Italy. It was introduced in America during the Spanish colonization. In Chile blooms in the middle of winter (July) with abundant, very fragrant, golden yellow flowers, 1 to 1.5 centimeters in diameter.
More about Birdwatching, Aquatic birds, Neotropic region, Chile, Lagoon of Light
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