Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bustamante, Argentina

Lorenzo Soriano (1901-1987) arrived in Bahia Bustamante in 1953 after searching all over the Patagonian coastline to start a seaweed farm. It grew into several buildings including a school, a bodega and a church as well as accommodations for the workers. The seaweed harvesting operations ceased back in the 1990s but one of his sons converted the place into an ecological hacienda in 2004. Some of these facilities were upgraded and converted into cottages for the tourists.
Arrived in the evening at the administration building where a lady greeted us and started running looking for Sol? What did she mean? I turned out that Sol was not the Sun, but the young lady that seems to be everywhere and doing everything. She runs the place along with Nicolas. Sol takes care of housekeeping and the restaurant while Nicolas entertains the guests with nature tours, horse back riding as well as the boats excursion.

We settled (I went in this adventure with two photographer friends, at least they think they are) in one of the cottages that included a kitchen, dinning area, rooms with 3 beds and a bathroom. It was clean and neat and the only limitation it that electricity ran from 8-12 PM. This was not much of a hindrance since I have time to recharge the camera batteries, left early in the morning, and did not return to it until sunset. In the morning we were welcomed by a gorgeous sunrise.

There are roads in Bustamante but they are not marked so other than the directions provided by Nicolas we were on our own. The first morning we ended up at Penguin’s island. It is separated by a tidal basin from the mainland but luck had it that the tide was receding, so I waited for about ½ hour and walked to the island. It is low lying covered by shrubbery where the penguins have their underground nests.

We continued to explore the various trails the rest of the day. Late the first evening we ran into a fox family with 4 young ones. They have discovered what was I told a hairy armadillo but they did not seem to know what to do with it. These were very curious and allowed me to get some great images.

The last full morning we drove up to the Bahia del Medio, which turned out to be the best place for photographing. Most other places in the morning in Bustamante one finds himself facing east in the morning and shooting against the sun. In this location one can have the sun in the back having the sun falling directly into the wildlife. Here we found 3 dead pilot whales as well as a large kill of langostinos that covered the entire shore like a red carpet.

There were numerous shore birds such as American, Blackish and Magellanic oystercatchers; the later was a new species for me. Numerous flocks of plovers and sandpipers busily feeding for their upcoming migration north; these were not concerned with my presence. I wonder if I will see some of these waders in the shores of Virginia in the spring. The one below is a mystery; is it a Baird’s or a White Rumped Sandpiper?

One afternoon Nicolas took us in a boat to the bird and sea lions island. Amazingly when we approached the later, they stampeded towards the shore to welcome the visitors creating a dust cloud in their hurry. One came close to the boat for a closer look.

While visiting the sea lions, there were steamer ducks battling each other. Quiet a vicious fight, they grab each other by the bills and don’t let, quiet a battle until a referee appears and breaks the fight.
Although I had been many places, Bustamante is really a diamond for those interested in nature and photography in a pristine location. I visited other areas in Argentina last year and in this trip, so far this is my favorite place and in my opinion, more rewarding than the Peninsula de Valdez further up the coast.


Jeannette StG said...

Beautiful landscapes -I'm beginning to be envious! You do pairs and/or mirror images so well -incredible -thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Nice job!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

What is a "bodega"?

LOL!! Do they know they aren't friends? :)

That sounds like another wonderful place Jose. Did you go horseback riding too? How lovely to be able to do nature walks there with such stunning sunrises!! WOW!!

I have heard of the langostinos doing that in other places too, they seem to wash up by the thousands. Seems such a pity to have them go to waste like that. Know what killed the whales? Probably the same thing.

You are right, it does seem like one of natures most beautiful shots with so much variety to take pictures of.