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Saturday, November 24, 2007


Patagonian Pilgrimage Part Three (of three)

Our final stay in Argentina was on the Valdes Peninsula, which lies about half-way up the East coast - see map three posts down (for those who have seen the remarkable David Attenborough film of killer whales attacking young sea lions on a beach - it is there). Our accommodation was in the grounds of the Faro Punta Delgado, a lighthouse on the south-eastern point of the peninsula. The area was in the heart of the dry desert-like Patagonian Steppes which stretch for hundreds of miles towards the Andes.
Faro Punto Delgada
The location is very close to the spot where the first group of Welsh pioneers landed to found the Welsh Patagonian colony and there is a plaque to commemorate the event.

One of the first missions was to explore the coast for Elephant Seals and other wildlife. Almost upstaging them, however, was a cliff of eroded sedimentary rock strata packed full of fossil marine shellfish (oysters, clams, etc.) dating back to the Tertiary period (3 - 10 million years ago). These may well have been among the fossil deposits encountered by Darwin during his visit to Patagonia in 1832. The presence of these marine fossils (sometimes high above sea level in the interior) were his clue to the actual age of the Earth and the upheavals that occur in the Earth's crust.
Eroded fossil-bearing strata near Punto Delgado

Marine fossils exposed by erosion

Evidence of palaeo- lithic cultures abound in Patagonia

Wildlife of Patagonia

Here are some images of the wildlife of the area

Southern Right Whale with Kelp Gull


Elephant Seal (a young male)

Rock Cormorant

Darwin's Rhea

Mourning Finch

A pair of Mara, a rodent the size of a hare but related to the guinea-pig

Southern Sea Lion

Mole Cricket

Sand Lizard

The climax of our stay at Valdes was a trip to Punto Tombo, a headland to the south of Valdesthat supports thousands of breeding Magellanic Penguins.

Magellanic Penguins steal the show
These few pictures of course represent only a sample of the wonderful diverse wildlife to be found in Patagonia (I recorded 173 birds species alone). It was an eponymous "trip of a lifetime" and I must acknowledge the Travelling Naturalist for such excellent organisation. Thanks in particular our due to our leader Keith Grant and local guides Luis Segura and Marcelo. And finally, a hurrah to fellow group members who made the trip so much fun and so memorable.

Click on the arrow to start the video


Blogger simon said...

I have to say that I am going to put it on my "must do" list!

The Photos look fantastic so much to see!

10:14 pm  
Blogger Merisi said...

Maalie, I was thinking "trip of a lifetime" even before I had finished looking through all the photos. It looks like a truly great experience.

My dad would have loved seeing those marine fossils. He often took us to a place near our home where occasionally landslides into a small river were exposing fossiles deposited by Cretaceous oceans (or such, I have forgotten the details of the "lectures" he gave us then).

11:51 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

simon and merisi.... I would have to say that I agree with you! What an amazing place to visit maalie.... and you bring it to life so well.

4:33 am  
Blogger TCA said...

Plenty of nice shot os the exquisit wildlife but did you encounter any humans on your travels? Group photo?


7:45 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks everyone. Trouble is, I seem to have had so many "trips of a lifetime", not least among them visitng Simon in Oz. And I think there might be one or two more coming up...

Worzel: You know perfectly well that I'm a "things" man, not a "person" man!

8:17 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

I think you are a bat man.
I loved the photos of the rock face. I enlarged it to get a better view. Were you allowed to pocket any of the small fossils?

Are you sure that whale is not just a rocky outcrop for that bird to settle on?

Nice to see my cousins the guanaco.

I'm with Simon and Merisi about 'trips of lifetime'


9:05 am  
Blogger TCA said...

"Trips of a lifetime"

Does this mean - the BEST trip of one's life or a trip that is UNLIKELY TO BE REPEATED in one's life?

If it is the latter it's hardly remarkable: I once went to Milton Keynes and hoped that that was a TRIP OF A LIFETIME!


11:33 am  
Blogger Magdalene said...

Great pics as always. I love being reminded that are so many weird creatures in the world that I've never even heard of.

4:30 pm  
Anonymous scaredy said...

Of course there are trips because of illegal substances.

6:48 pm  
Blogger simon said...

I had a trip of a life time...I once tripped over my feet whilst running for a train....

I do admit the trip Maalie and I did was very good!

11:06 am  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

What wonderful pictures! I will look forward to coming back and reading and looking in more detail.

I have left you a comment on my blog.


3:08 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Belated welcome back greetings, I love the penguins, and the mole crickets too. What an adventurer you are, I'm sure it won't be long before you get itchy feet again, that Norfolk wouldn't have sapped your explorers' appetite.

4:50 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

scredy..shuusssh.... maalie doesn't want any trouble next time he passes through HM Customs ;-)

6:01 pm  
Blogger Thesaurus Rex said...

Aha! I knew somewhere in the deepest recesses of my mind there was something about Welsh-speaking Patagonians. I was beginning to wonder if I was imagining it, some kind of false memory syndrome, perhaps.

10:29 pm  
Blogger Merisi said...

In yesterday's NYTimes:
Kill the Cat That Kills the Bird?

1:23 pm  

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