Birdwatching at the 8th Wonder Of The World

We started to go north in the southern Patagonia and we visited what is known as the 8th wonder of the world according to the Chileans. The national park Torres del Paine.

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Many hikes are possible in the park, the most famous one is called the “W” and can be done in 4 days. The organization of this hike by booking camping places is deliberately kept complex to limit a bit the number of visitors in the full season. Indeed, from December to January, several thousands of people are hiking in the park every day. It was only the beginning of the high season when we went there, so we still found the quietness we were looking for and a feeling of harmony with nature.

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Each colored path represents one hike we did in one day. The walking time is around 8 hours.

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Chile had the willingness to make Torres del Paine a global research center. Several partnerships started with Universities across the world like Grenoble (France) or Stanford (USA) and the park hosted interesting studies about orchids, South Andean deer, paleontology or hydrology. It is an extremely beautiful park and I can imagine the pleasure of working here.

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We had the chance to see many birds here and spent some time observing their behavior. In the pictures below you can see a female Magellanic woodpecker, a southern crested caracara, and a grey-hooded sierra finch.

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One review covers the long terms studies made about birds in this area of the world. The long terms studies reported here highlights the impact of ecological conditions, as well as the role that environmental perturbations and climate change have on populations. Importantly it highlights the need for additional long-term studies to assess climate change trends and the ecological changes that will follow.

Scientific research projects are constrained by the length of a funding cycle. In science, long-term studies are extremely valuable, to understand the human impact on ecosystems or to assess the effect of a drug on health in the long term for example. Unfortunately, fundings for long-term research decrease regularly. In a fast-changing world where people do not stay in the same position for long, it is understandable. Most of the decision makers or investors want quick results and return on investment.  But in every scientific field, a “slow science” is necessary and to me, it must work hand in hand with short-term studies.

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