Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

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Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by Mike P » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:34 pm

After a fairly poor night in an uncomfortable bed I got up before dawn to perform the ancient ritual of dipping the toes into a new body of water........ Along with taking a pebble from the beach (and selecting the right pebble can take some time) this ensures that I will at some stage return.......or thats the idea anyway.
I found that I was not the first up as I found Tito enjoyong an early morning smoke as the the sun came up. He was amused by my ritual espically as the sea was cold and the air damp but mission accomplished I wandered back up the beach and sat watching the birdlife.
[attachment 16707 a1.jpg]
I'm sure David has some better shots of them than I do but I was really taken by the grey coloured gulls.
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by David_L » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:19 am

Early morning on the beach at Taltal was our nearest point to the Pacific on the trip. I would have liked to explore the wildlife in the area more, but time as always on this trip was not on our side. A couple of bird on the beach caught my eye though. This Hudsonian whimbrel was pretty shy and the weak morning light didn't help. This is a bird spending the North American Winter in Chile, so a long distance migrant.


[attachment 16708 Hudsonian_whimbrel.jpg]
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by David_L » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:25 am

The smart gulls that Mike refers to that were sitting on the beach were Grey Gulls. Much more handsome than most of their fellows in the UK.


[attachment 16709 Grey_gull.jpg]
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by David_L » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:28 am

Here is a general view of the beach in the early morning. This was about 7.00am.

[attachment 16710 Taltal_beach.jpg]
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by David_L » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:41 am

This is Ani in front of our hotel in Taltal, the Hosteria Taltal. We are waiting for Alex to bring the van round so we can load the bags. The hibiscuses in the front garden were very impressive. Someone in the hotel was obviously a fan.


[attachment 16711 Hosteria_Taltal.jpg]
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by David_L » Sat Feb 28, 2009 11:42 am

Once in the van we drove a few km North out of town to the entrance of the Valle San Ramon. This initially looks most unpromising. There are some ugly mining lagoons and a lot of abandoned rubbish from an adjacent open cast mine, but once you start up the valley and get round the first bend all that is forgotten. Walking up here was hard work, much of the base of the valley is pebbly gravel, and you know what it's like walking any distance on a beach! Also Willy, mindful of our over ambitious itinerary, was keeping up a 'special forces' pace. As the least fit person on the trip, I soon found myself lagging well behind. I got distracted by things too, like these burrowing owls viewing us with considerable suspicion.


[attachment 16712 Burrowing_owl.jpg]
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by David_L » Sat Feb 28, 2009 6:42 pm

The first part of the valley was very barren and dry, but after a kilometer or so we started to find plants. This was the first nice clump of Copiapoas I saw. This is Copiapoa cinerea in a classic dark spined form.


[attachment 16714 Copiapoa_cinerea.jpg]
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by Mike P » Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:16 am

I know its slightly out of sequence but on the way out of town there were more of the interesting timber buildings in a picturesque state of decay.
[attachment 16715 b.jpg]
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by Mike P » Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:19 am

Although the first part of the valley was barren as we progressed up it a samll stream appeared and very vivid emerald green vegetation including rushes.....very odd I was thinking.
David was not the only one who struggled to keep up as we marched up the rocky stream bed.
[attachment 16716 c1.jpg]
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Re: Argentina & Chile November 2008 Day 6-Taltal - Antofagasta 300km

Post by Mike P » Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:21 am

[attachment 16717 cc1.jpg]
The world of difference between in moisture requirements the green mounds and the Copiapoa provided an interesting contrast.
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