Monday, March 14, 2011

Puerto Deseado

Named because of the beauty around it, and the fisheries wealth arriving at the Port via the Deseado River estuary; it is the second largest fishing port in Argentina. The town itself looks as it has seen better times in the past as reflected by the now abandoned Railroad Station. Wool exports from the various haciendas in Patagonia were the major source of jobs back in the early XX century.

The area has a long history of visits by explorers and english pirates. Chrales Darwin arrived in December 23, 1833 and navigated up the river where he set up camp. He described the topography, geology, flora and fauna; in particular. He extensively elaborated about the behavior of the guanaco which was very abundant in those days. About 20 miles up the river, there is a promontory known as "Miradores de Darwin" that offers stunning views as seen above. Neaby by there are caves with ancient indian paintings of hands all over the walls.

The island of the Pinguinos, currently a protected national park with an abandoned lighthouse, is the home of Magellan penguins (above), rockhopper penguins, skuas, cormorants, sea lions, and elephant seals and many more.

The island is home to the only colony of rockhopper penguins in coastal Patagonia. They are smaller than the other species of penguins I have seen. The adults have yellow feathers resembly eyebrows that make them very attractive.

When I visited in early February, most of the chicks were fully grown and showing almost full adult plumage. They were still been fed by the adults and are not afraid of humans and easily approached.

For the first time I had a close encounter with skuas. They are very aggresive and will dive bomb those approaching their nest of chicks. I was subjected to their repeated attacks and my hat what hit on occasions. Nevertheless, I managed to get a photo of one of the chicks; imagine such a bellicose attitute to keep me away from such an ugly thing.

In the way back to Puerto Deseado, I was rewarded by a visit from a family of dolphins that for some unknown reason, are attracted to boats and performs aerobatict shows...and it is free!!!

I also visited the national park that follows the Deseado River upstream. Soon after driving into the park late in the afternoon, I encountered a small farm house selling "range eggs." Following the road to the right I ended in a canyon; it is very narrow with high rocky walls full of small cavities and caves. It was obvious that this formation was under water eons ago. I soon was rewarded by an owl family who granted me the opportunity to observe their hunting behavior.

Farther up the park, there is a gray cormorants colony nesting in the cliffs that offered me an opportunity to photograph their nesting behavior under challenging photo conditions due to their flying speed and poor lighting. They are the most beautiful cormorants I have seen so far.

After spending a 3 afternoons in the park, it was time to depart in my way north to Bustamante, an unknown paradise that I found the previous year.


cdt said...

Jose, I really like the lighthouse photograph with the penguins in the foreground. A lovely mix of wildlife and landscape photography!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What a wonderful post Jose!! Those yellow feathers make the peguins look like they are painted for war. I love their red eyes and that crest of hair sticking up. :)I like the shot of the one begging for food most.

Is it just the time of year you visited there which makes the river so low on water? Looks like it could be huge in the rainy summer months. The sand looks so white it could almost be salt.

Sounds like you had fun with the skuas. LOL!! I have seen seagulls with aggressive behaviour like that before and they can be most annoying when you want to take pictures of them.

Those dolphins are the best and I would have spent a few days with them. What intelligent creatures they are. Did you go swimming with them too?

I must admit those cormorants are much prettier than ours. They are very colorful with their red feet.

All in all it looks like an excellent trip. No wonder you did not want to go back home. :) Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip with us.

Ken Conger Photography said...

Wow, awesome post. They are all great shots. Tie between the owl (love the background) and the head shot. Blue Skies.