Birding abroad is not always free of danger


Diademed Plover in north Chile © Gyorgy Szimuly

Travelling a little bit back in time here is a story of one of my most memorable birding day. In November 2005 I travelled to Chile and Argentina with my friend, Zoltán Ecsedi and we had a wonderful time. One of the target species was the much sought after Diademed Plover (or Diademed Sandpiper Plover) which we have seen in the Lauca National Park, north Chile.

We had lot of challenges during the trip but one of those moments was really something I will never forget. It happened on our way to the El Yeso National Park in the central Chilean Andes where we went for some nice local birds and although we had seen the Diademed Plover earlier we decided to find it on the other known nesting site as well. Driving on the dirt road was a real challenge by a street car. On the left side of the road there was a huge aquifer (I was driving about 100m higher than the water level was) while on the right side steep rock walls emerged. I was a little bit afraid by possible falling stones as the erosion was more than visible. Finally the road was blocked by a huge landslide and we had to return.

Nothing exciting happened until we turned back and after a few hundred meters from the landslide the road was completely blocked by a huge cliff had fallen right after we moved inside the national park. We could not continue our way till the crampon cleared the road completely and pushed the cliff and huge pieces of stones down into the aquifer. I had no idea where that machine had come from that fast but it definitely was there and working on our release.

It was a terrible feeling after all and I pushed the accelerator as much as I could, and we finally left that tough road.


Road maintenance started right after the incident happened. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I think it seemed to be more dangerous at home by browsing the images than as we felt it at the scene.


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