Breeding Shearwaters on Mocha Island (4 days)

Shearwaters, like Albatrosses and Petrels, are birds which spend most of their lives at sea. They feed mainly on fishes and squid and go on land only for breeding.

 

The world population of Pink-footed Shearwater breeds in Chile, in the Juan Fernandez archipelago and on Mocha Island.

 

It is very surprising to most people that this seabird actually breeds in burrows inside the dense forest growing on the islands.

 

During the breeding season it is possible to see thousands of shearwaters gradually coming closer to the shore of Mocha Island every afternoon and evening.

 

At dusk, they begin to fly over the island, going towards the forested areas. Once above the forest and breeding grounds, they begin to call and listen for their mates calling from the burrows.

 

Once the partner is located, the flying shearwater will literally crash down into the forest (sometimes smashing a tree trunk!), reach the burrow walking on the forest floor, and then feed his partner or chicks with what he has caught during the last few fishing days.

 

Spending part of the night in the middle of the forest, with thousands of shearwaters calling all around, is one of the most fascinating natural history experiences one can imagine.

 

Usually, shearwaters breed on very remote islands, but Mocha Island offers a great accessible opportunity to experience the amazing concert and landing of thousands of Pink-footed shearwaters.

 

To organise this trip, we fly from Santiago to Temuco, drive to an airstrip on the coast, and then use a 3 seater Cessna to fly directly (20 minutes) to our lodgings on the island.

 

Two full days (3 nights) are necessary to enjoy the shearwaters and visit the island but this is well worthwhile since Mocha Island is also one of the most beautiful places in Chile, far from the tourist route, and more days can be spent here enjoyably if you can find the time!

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