Sunday, March 14, 2010

Trelew, Argentina

Trelew is a city of about 100,000 and I visited there because its airport that gives access to the Peninsula de Valdez, Punta Tombo (the largest pinguinera in the world) and other coastal areas in Patagonia. It started as a railroad town and was colonized by Welsh immigrants in the middle of the XIX century. I stayed day there in wait for a departure flight the next day. There is a university and next to it the Paleontologico Edigio Feruglio (MEF). The latter is quite a surprise and its collections of fossil dinosaurs and their displays among the best I have seen. There is a research room with a glass wall where you can see paleontologists cleaning and restoring their latest findings.

I was there in the middle of February and the first night at about 7 PM, I was walking around the lake next to the bus station. It is man-made and surrounded by a broad walkway and appears to receive water drainage from the city streets.

It was obvious that it was heavy polluted with a peculiar green color and a noxious odor. Nevertheless, it was a bird’s paradise. There were ducks, geese, the ever present gulls, stilts and flamingoes.



All of the sudden I saw a flock of little birds dropping in from the sky, settling on the water and starting to swim around in circles. This was on of those spectacles of nature that are overwhelming to witness. It appears this group of birds was just a scout group for a huge flight of migrating birds. Within minutes another flock started to drop from the sky followed subsequent waves, and suddenly, the whole surface of the lake was covered with these birds. They were Wilson’s Phalaropes…and I had not camera with me.

I had seen a similar occurrence in Texas more than forty years ago, where I visited to wait for the arrival of spring the migration of warblers who crossed the Gulf of Mexico. I was in a coastal area overgrown with bushes and small trees. Suddenly, small birds started to drop from the sky exhausted and perching in whatever branch had space for one more. There were several species of warblers and as in Trelew, arrived in consecutive waves. After a short rest period, they started to look for food. These birds were tired and did not mind the proximity of the bird watchers. Although the phalaropes in Trelew did not look exhausted, they were very busy feeding and ignored my presence.

I returned early the next morning and they were still there feeding in their funny way. They swim around in circles and this action seems to create vortexes in the water that disturb the bottom causing particles of food and small bugs to surface are rapidly picked by their slender beaks. The whole flock performs this behavior in unison and the feeding frenzy was continuous. These birds were in their winter plumage. By mid-morning they started to depart and by the time they arrive in North America they will sporting their breeding plumage.

6 comments:

無尾熊可愛 said...

thanks................................................

jeannette stgermain said...

the 4th pic of your post is amazing -these birds look like little stealth bombers -incredible!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

No how can you go out and not have your camera with you? Don' t you know by now this is NOT the way it is done? :) I am glad they were still there in the morning so you could capture them. Interestng feeding behaviour too.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Oh forgot I had another question .... are the fossils of the animals in that same region? Looks like a wonderful display.

Jose's World said...

Yes, the fossils are home grown.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Jose. Do you have more pictures of them? It is certainly something I would like to see.