Third Time Lucky!

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30 December - Puerto Guadal

Today is going to be a low-key day: we're just going to go for a walk in Tamango National Park, but it's a couple of hours drive to get there. We've been told it's one of the best places to stand a chance of seeing the huemules - the Chilean deer - but ironically it's harder now than it used to be, because the national park has been greatly expanded in recent years and they now have much more space to disappear into.

We're going to walk the "Woodpecker Way" - that's what the Spanish translates to. It's an out-and-back route running mostly along the lake shore and the official estimate is that it's two hours each way. We are very much in pootling mode, but have no idea whether the time is intended for casual strollers or hardcore take-no-prisoners (or photographs) speed marchers. We'll probably just walk for two hours and then turn back, having got to wherever we will have got to.

There are wooden steps for some of the trickier bits, but not always in the best state of repair.

Sometimes not in any state of repair at all!

But just like our ascent of the hill behind Puerto Río Tranquilo, we are rewarded by amazing views.

Behind the mountains in the distance is the border with Argentina, and although it's a lot further than we're going to walk, the border crosses the lake around 100km from here, dividing it roughly in two.

Mobile phone signal is pretty poor in a lot of these remote places, so we're pleased to see this announcement that the Entel signal is strong. Regrettably, it turns out to be a total lie: there is no signal here whatsoever! We don't know whether this is an ironic joke sign or whether it's supposed to be true but there's some kind of problem. There is no phone mast or any other telecomms equipment here, and we don't have any obvious line of sight to a town, so there's a definite possibility that it could indeed be someobody's twisted sense of humour, but we will probably never know.

More interesting rock strata. I would think this part of the world must be a geologist's dream.

We don't get to see any of the special deer, or even non-special ones, and in fact very little wildlife generally. A few birds and insects and that's about it. As we're not proper birding folk anyway, we may be unknowingly ignoring major brownie-point-scoring species because they're too difficult to see, or not interesting enough when we do, but here's a couple that I felt worth pointing the camera at.

I presume he's not a woodpecker because he's not pecking wood. If I had to give him a behaviourally relevant name, I guess he'd be a "rockstander".

It's a black bird, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's a blackbird.

Please note, I am not too proud to accept corrections from readers less challenged than I in the field of ornithological nomenclature.

Turns out we didn't quite make the full distance in the two hours before turning back, but we've had a fine walk and the weather has been good so we're not complaining.

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