Birds during FONT Chilean pelagic trips
in November 2003

An account written by tour leader, Armas Hill

2003 was a good year for us pelagically off the coast of Chile. While for some species numbers were not as high as they have been on occasion in the past, virtually all of the good variety of species this year were seen well. Off Valparaiso, out a little further and longer than other times, we enjoyed, with the sun behind us, good looks at the oceanic birds, including the albatrosses, close to the boat. The "chumming" brought the birds in. Some, such as Pink-footed Shearwaters, could nearly be touched at the edge of the boat. The oceanic waters off Arica were filled with fish (along with sea-lions and birds). So the "chumming" there was rather ineffective. One of the highlights of that trip was when a  Peruvian Diving-Petrel, on the water by our boat, moved in closer & closer as it seemed to be observing us!
In the following list of oceanic birds seen during our two pelagic trips, the red number relates to what was seen off Valparaiso (v), the blue number off Arica (a).

Humboldt Penguin  v:8, a:6
Black-browed Albatross/Mollymawk  v:15
Buller's Albatross/Mollymawk  v:1 or 2
Salvin's Albatross/Mollymawk  v:25, a:1
Gray-headed Albatross/Mollymawk  a: 1
Southern (or Antarctic) Giant-Petrel  v:5
Southern (or Silver-grey) Fulmar  v:1
Cape Petrel (or Pintado)  v:8
Juan Fernandez Petrel  v: 1 (possibly more)
DeFilippi's (or MasAtierra) Petrel  v:10
Thin-/Slender-billed Prion  v:3 
White-chinned Petrel  v:35, a:8
Westland (Black-) Petrel  v:4
Pink-footed Shearwater  v:30, a:4
Sooty Shearwaters  v:200, a:30
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  v:30, a:10 (possibly more)
Elliot's (or White-vented) Storm-Petrel a: 20-plus
Markham's Storm-Petrel a:2
Peruvian Diving-Petrel  v:1, a:10
Peruvian Pelican  v:100, a:many
Peruvian Booby  v:50, a:many
Blue-footed Booby  a:1 (rare in Chile)
Brown Booby a:1 (rare in Chile)
Guanay Cormorant  v:3, a: a few
Red-legged Cormorant  v:3 
Red (or Grey) Phalarope  v:25, a:1
Red-necked Phalarope  a:25 
Chilean Skua v:4
South Polar Skua a:1
Pomarine Jaeger a:1
Parasitic Jaeger  a:30
Gray Gull  a:many
Belcher's (formerly Band-tailed) Gull a:50
Kelp Gull v:dozens, a:1 or 2
Franklin's Gull  v:100 a:200
Laughing Gull a:1
Sabine's Gull a:1
South Amercian Tern  v:10 a:2
Common Tern v:1 (possibly more)
Arctic Tern  v:5 (probably more)
Elegant Tern  v:3, a:30
Sandwich Tern  a:1 (rare in Chile)
Inca Tern  v:20, a:100-plus


Birds during FONT Chilean pelagic trips
in November 1997

An account written by tour leader, Armas Hill

During our more than a decade of pelagic trips off the Chilean coast, it was during this year that the most birds were seen. That was due largely in part to the "El Nino phenomenon". Another factor  was our abundance of "chum".  Anyway, our 2 pelagic birding trips off the coast of Chile in November '97 were among our best ever!

There were always birds in large numbers around our boats. Nearly all of the species were seen closely. Among them were 6 species of albatrosses!

One trip was on November 17, from Valparaiso, in central Chile. The other, on November 27, was from Arica in northern Chile, just south of Peru.
Each trip lasted about 5 hours. Each went out about 15 miles offshore.

Regarding the "chum": During the Valparaiso trip, there were 11 buckets of it (fish parts). During the Arica trip, there were 6 buckets. A second boat (from Arica) accompanied the boat with the birders. that second boat was just to carry the chum. During both trips, the chumming was continuous.

In the following list of oceanic birds, the red number relates to what was seen off Valparaiso (v), the blue number off Arica (a).

Humboldt Penguin  v:3, a:3
Black-browed Albatross/Mollymawk  v:30, a:10
Buller's Albatross/Mollymawk  v:5
Salvin's Albatross/Mollymawk  v:50, a:3
Chatham (Island) Albatross/Mollymawk  v:2 (or more)
Gray-headed Albatross/Mollymawk  v:3
Waved (or Galapagos) Albatross  a:15
Southern (or Antarctic) Giant-Petrel  v:2
Southern (or Silver-grey) Fulmar  v:4, a:2
Cape Petrel (or Pintado)  v: 100, a:10
MasAtierra (or DeFilippi's) Petrel  v:25
White-chinned Petrel  v:15, a:8
Westland (Black-) Petrel  v:2
Pink-footed Shearwater  v: a few thousand, a: 10
Sooty Shearwaters  v: thousands, a: 800
a Manx-type shearwater (probably Townsend's) a:1
Wilson's Storm-Petrel  v:1,000, a:100
Elliot's (or White-vented) Storm-Petrel a:50
Markham's Storm-Petrel a:1
Peruvian Diving-Petrel  v:6, a:2
Peruvian Pelican  v:1,000, a: many, many
Peruvian Booby  v:200, a:5,000 (or more)
Guanay Cormorant  v:10, a:3,000
Red-legged Cormorant  v:6, a:3 (by the harbor)
Red (or Grey) Phalarope  v:2, a:2
Chilean Skua v:6
South Polar Skua a:1
Pomarine Jaeger a:20
Long-tailed Jaeger a:1
Gray Gull  v:10, a:1,000
Belcher's (formerly Band-tailed) Gull a:500
Kelp Gull v:hundreds, a:100
Franklin's Gull  v:many (mostly close to shore), a:20,000 (10x that along the coast)
Laughing Gull a:1(an immature)
Sabine's Gull a:100 (50 in one flock)
South Amercian Tern  v:100 (other terns possible)
Common Tern a:1
Elegant Tern  v:3, a:30
Inca Tern  v:1, a:100


Peruvian (or Chilean) Pelican,
photographed by Harold Lebo, off Valparaiso, Chile

The Peruvian (or Chilean) Pelican is similar to, but larger than, its northerly cousin, the Brown Pelican. Off Valparaiso, they accompanied the boat well offshore, eating a hefty portion of the chum. Off Arica, they did not come out as far at sea, but in Arica itself, particularly around the harbor, there were thousands - walking tamely on the streets and docks, and en masse on roofs of buildings and by boats where fishermen were preparing their catch. The pelicans, along with numerous gulls, terns, and cormorants made quite a spectacle at the fishing port of Arica. That city, as a matter of interest, is surrounded by one of the driest deserts on earth, the Atacama, where one of the Arican birds, the Gray Gull, breeds.

Off Valparaiso, particularly numerous were Sooty Shearwaters, in a constant stream just offshore. That stream, of birds flying south, seemed to be never-ending.

The apparent Townsend's Shearwater (noted in the list above), seen off Arica, normally would occur further north over the Pacific, particularly off Central America.

Prior to 1997, (as far as we know) there were no records of either the Chatham Island Albatross or the Waved Albatross over Chilean waters. During our '97 Arica pelagic trip, there were 15 Waved Albatrosses.

Some of our other albatrosses in '97, were, such as the Chatham Island Albatross, from New Zealand and other islands in that area of the Pacific. Exceptions are the Gray-headed Albatross (which breeds in far-southern Chile) and the Black-browed Albatross, which we also see during our Chile tours much further to the south, often in large numbers, at the Strait of Magellan.