Species Profile: Old Man’s Beard Lichen

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You won’t meet many lichen-watchers, with binoculars focused on tree trucks and rock faces.  The Discovery Channel rarely profiled lichens alongside footage of lions and tigers stalking their prey.  Most of us probably don’t remember the name of a single species of lichen. Nonetheless, lichens are some of the most unique organisms on the planet, and Old Man’s Beard (Usnea barbata) represents one of the most prevalent and characteristic species in Patagonian forest ecosystems.
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Tracking Silencio, huemul of the Baker River

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Patagon Journal received this report from Conservacion Patagonica park guards who recently tracked huemuls inhabiting the areas around the Baker River that would be flooded if the HidroAysen dams are built. These huemuls, Chile's national emblem, are an endangered deer species that this organization is helping to restore to the Aysen region, and more specifically, to the areas encompassing the future Patagonia National Park. Conservacion Patagonia will donate the approximately 200,000 acres they have purchased in the Chacabuco Valley since 2004 to help form this park, which will also include some 460,000 acres of the neighboring Jeinimeni and Tamango National Reserves. This promises to be a major conservation achievement, and potentially a boost to tourism for Aysen on the scale Torres del Paine National Park has been for the Magallanes region.  
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Monitoring pumas in Aysén

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Seeing a puma borders on impossible. Many of us who have lived in Aysen have never seen one at all, or at most have spotted a tail slipping off into the bushes. Hunting by night, notoriously stealthy, pumas have a way of eluding sight. Impressively large paw prints and scattered remnants of guanacos and other prey offer the most visible signs of these mighty top predators.
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Species profile: Chilean Flamingo

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Flamingos might seem out of place in Patagonia, far from the tropical lands where we usually imagine them, but Chilean flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis) are regular inhabitants of numerous lakes and lagoons in the Chacabuco Valley of the Aysen region.  A substantial population of flamingos feeds at Laguna Seca, a shallow lake about 10 km east of the main park headquarters on the main international road. Migratory birds, these flamingos spend the spring and summer months here, usually from October to the end of March.  The Chacabuco Valley serves as a corridor to the Argentine steppe to the east, where the birds head for the winter in search of the milder Atlantic climate.
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Discovering Viedma

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In the past, the Viedma Glacier has been that amazing swath of white that I’ve gazed at across Lago Viedma as we make our way to and from El Chalten.
 
Snaking back around the far northwest corner, behind Paso de los Vientos, into a massive ice field. And reaching east into a giant aquamarine lake that one must traverse to get anywhere here. Viedma is so much more than what you can see from afar.
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