NORTH-EAST ARGENTINA ALBUM

 

2013

 

The following photographs were taken on our 2013 tour to the coast, pampas, and Ibera Marshes. Our grande finale was to visit Iguazú Falls.

The pictures were taken by Cliff and Jacky Buckton.

 

 

Iguazu

 

Many-coloured Rush Tyrant

 

Screamers!

 

Howler Monkey

 

Roseate Spoonbill

 

Pampas Fox

 

Ochre-breasted Pipit - a very localised species and only usually found on one farm in Argentina

 

 

Green-barred Woodpecker

 

Large-billed Tern

 

Common Pauraque

 

Burrowing Owls

 

Plush-crested Jay

 

massive Cane Toad

 

 

Iguazu

 

Common Potoo

 

 

Swallow-tailed Hummingbird

 

 

 

Stripe-backed Bittern

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Tiger Heron

 

 

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Owen’s first Bird Holidays trip – Argentina

 

Below is a tour report written by one of our customers. It is reproduced here from a local RSPB group newsletter with kind permission  (all pictures Phil Palmer).

 

It was in September 2010 that I had an email from Pauline excitedly telling me that she had booked herself onto the Bird Holidays trip to north east Argentina. Whilst I had been to Argentina a couple of times in the past, it was really only to pass through on the way to the Antarctic, so I had a look at the itinerary and some of the birds that might be seen.

 

It could have been a cocktail menu, given the exotic names; would you drink a black-and-white monjita or would you look at it through your bins?

So I had a discussion with the Domestic Authorities, who decided that they were happy for me to go and I made the booking. The only problem was that it was over a year to go until the departure date…

 

An extension to the trip in the brochure was mooted to take in a few days in Patagonia which Pauline and I were only too happy to take advantage of since it included looking for the exceedingly rare and comparatively recently discovered Hooded Grebe. For the extension to be viable we needed one more person to sign-up and fortunately, Ian decided that he wanted to make the trip and would take the spare seat in Patagonia. Everything was now in place.

 

Eventually, the time passed, and we arrived in Buenos Aires. In the morning, we mustered by the bus and ticked off a few of the urban specialities of the city, including Grey-breasted Martin, Monk Parakeet and two of the most sought-after species of any trip overseas – the feral pigeon and House Sparrow! Fortunately the slow traffic in Buenos Aires allowed us to see Green-barred Woodpecker, Picazuro Pigeon, Southern Lapwing and perhaps most fittingly, the Argentine national bird the Rufous Hornero all before we hit the road in earnest.

 

Certain species quickly became travelling companions for the rest of the journey. Chimango and Southern Caracaras seemed to be everywhere, fulfilling a very similar ecological niche as the corvids in the UK. Southern lapwings were alongside the road all the time and Fork-tailed Flycatchers were everywhere – although it took one of the group three days to actually see one!

 

 

 

Fork-tailed Flycatcher  

 

Nearer the coast, we began to see Greater Rheas with increasing frequency. For such a large bird, they required a bit of “getting your eye in” to separate them from their surroundings and, on some occasions, sheep! We soon got familiar with these big emu-like birds, even to the point of discussing how they would taste……

 

 

 

Black-necked swans were common on lakes by the coast   

 

Arriving at the coast, we began to get to grips with the waders, such as Hudsonian Godwit, Solitary Sandpiper and White-rumped Sandpiper, as well as an array of passerines living in the coastal scrub. Getting the names correctly was almost as tricky as identifying the species concerned, such as Bay-capped Wren-spinetail and Sulphur-throated Spinetail. All these were accompanied by Coscoroba and Black-necked Swans, various egrets, coots and ducks and, a highlight for me, Chilean Flamingo and Roseate Spoonbill.

The remaining supporting cast was made up of raptors, perhaps the most beautiful being a male Cinereous Harrier, which looks a lot like our Hen Harrier. White-tailed and Snail Kites formed part of this ensemble along the way, as did our first (of many) Burrowing Owls. For me, the stars were gathered on the beach at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata in the form of a large number of terns, including Gull-billed, Cayenne, Royal, Common and Snowy-crowned. Another of my wish-list birds put in an appearance in the form of a group of Black Skimmers; these unusual birds have an extended lower mandible which they dip into the water as they fly along the surface, catching their prey as they go.

 

 

this Burrowing Owl had caught a bat !    

From the coast we headed back to Buenos Aires to catch a short flight into the north east of the country. This was where we hit the first of several transport glitches, with our flight being summarily cancelled on us. Quick work from our leader Phil Palmer and our local guide soon had us on a flight to an alternative airport. A quickly rearranged bus pick-up at the other end had us arriving at our Estancia in the heart of the Ibera Marshes without delay. A few hours sleep and we were all quickly out, taking in the Jacana, egrets, Screamers and Limpkin. We also kept a watchful eye on the Caiman! The estancia was a large cattle ranch, still very much worked in the traditional way by teams of Gauchos on horseback. Out on the trails, it was quickly confirmed that the Black-and-white Monjita is most definitely a bird, not a cocktail and a beautiful one at that.

 

 

the gauchos taking the cattle out to new pastures    

 

 

Strange-tailed Tyrant  

 

There were several highlights of the marshes, one being the Strange-tailed Tyrant. This little bird has really long “tail-flags” which it uses for display, and we were lucky enough to see it in action. This bird was the emblem of the trip, so we were very pleased to see it.

The other big highlight for me was the variety of rails and crakes that we got to see, by boat and on land. Giant Wood Rail were everywhere, but we also got some real rarities in the shape of Rufous-sided Crake, Yellow Breasted Crake, Purple Gallinule and Spotted Rail.

Giant Woodrail

 

Yellow-breasted Crake - a tiny little bird but also a Mega prize here

 

Spotted Rail    

 

From Ibera we pressed on to Iguazu via Misiones' historical ruins. Combining a UNESCO World heritage site with a toilet stop is something that few would think of but Phil, can prides himself on having some unusual ideas! 

 

 

                                                                                                                                   martins and Cliff Flycatchers were found at Misiones; a UNESCO site,    

The waterfalls at Iguazu are stunning and, to my mind, surpass Victoria and Niagara as a spectacle. It is no wonder that they appear as the backdrop to so many films! The undoubted stars were the Great Dusky Swifts, plunging into the water to perch on the cliffs in and around the deluge; they were an absolute joy to see. We were also treated to Toco Toucans, one of which was caught in the act of stealing an egg from a Kiskadee, whilst parrots, parakeets and a smattering of hummingbirds all added to the experience.

vultures wait for something to plunge to its death over the falls

 

 

this Toco Toucan had stolen a flycatcher's egg.

                                                      it didn't get away too easily

 

  The relatively early fall of night did nothing to diminish the birding, as we found that a Potoo was using the trees round the hotel to hunt for moths. We were also fortunate to get permission to visit a restricted area in a nature reserve to see Scissor-tailed and Sickle-winged Nightjars. The former gave us a fabulous display of its’ extremely long tail feathers.

 

 

Within the town of Iguazu, one highlight was undoubtedly the Jardin de la Picaflores, which is a private garden in which there are a large number of sugar-syrup feeders. One hour spent in that garden was magical, with eight different species of hummingbird present during that time. The names are as glorious as the birds – Black-throated Mango, Gilded Sapphire and Glittering-bellied Emerald to name just three. They were joined by Bananaquit, Blue Dacnis and Violaceous Euphonia, all of which added greatly to the colour.

Sickle-winged Nightjar is one of the smallest nightjars in the world. As well as being one of the hardest to see.

 

Black-fronted Piping Guan

 

 

The Uraguai Provincial Park was the remaining birding venue and quickly delivered a dazzling array of flycatchers, hirundines, woodcreepers and tanagers, with the Swallow-tailed Tanager being a real highlight. A fly-by from the locally mega-rare Grey-headed Kite was a real treat and set us up very well for one of the local forest specialities, the Black-fronted Piping-guan. This turkey sized bird gave away its’ presence with a carpet of dropped fruit, and it froze in position for some time giving us brilliant views.

 

An unscheduled air traffic controllers strike conspired to fox our leader’s plans, but we made the return journey to Buenos Aires on an luxury overnight bus, featuring fold flat beds, a personal video player and at-seat hot meals!!!!  Our Patagonia flight took us to El Calafate. Phil and Santiago, our local guide, took us to a municipal reserve and we began to clock up the local specialities, with Upland Geese, Chiloe Wigeon and Black-faced Ibis seen before dinner.

The following day, we enjoyed Condor sightings as we set off across the wind-swept Patagonian landscape and started to pick up Tawny-throated Dotterel, various miners, seedsnipe and sierra-finches. We stopped finally by a lake and were treated to our ultimate target, the critically endangered Hooded Grebe. This is a stunning little bird and one that I count myself extremely fortunate to have seen. With less than 200 left, they are threatened by mink and gull predation brought about by the introduction of alien fish to their isolated lakes.

 

 

Our final day saw us at the Perito Moreno glacier, a fitting end to the non-avian spectacle of our trip and a final flourish of birds, including a fly-past by an Ashy-headed Goose, as well as Austral Parakeets, Austral Blackbirds and Spectacled Duck. From there we headed back to El Calafate airport and began the long journey home.

 

In the end, I chalked up 337 species, of which 290 were lifers. Pauline and I also passed our landmark 1000th species during the trip. Argentina is certainly a country with a massive amount to offer a visiting birder; British visitors are made to feel very welcome, contra news reports. As for me, I am now looking in the Bird Holidays brochure and wondering where next…

Many-coloured Rush-tyrant

 

 

 

a Lesser Grison was one of many good mammals we encountered on this trip

 

 

 

Long-winged Harriers were everywhere. presumably looking for Guinea Pigs?

 

Trudeau's or Snowy-crowned Tern. a local breeding bird.

 

 

there were signs of Armadillos everywhere on the pampas, but this was the most obliging.

 

 

Rufescent Tiger Herons bred in the back yard of our Estancia. These were two youngsters that would feed below the washing line!

 

 

 

Snooty !

 

this Jabiru was stood on a nest in a small copse

 

 

Caiman are quite common at Ibera Marshes

 

 

a peaceful boat ride at Ibera allowed close looks at rails and crakes.

 

This Fork-tailed Flycatcher took a dislike to an Aplomado Falcon that strayed a little too close to its territory.

 

 

 

 

this Grey Monjita would also pick a fight with the Fork-tailed Flycatcher

 

 

then a Kingbird !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

this House Wren nested on the patio

 

Roadside Hawk

 

Ibera Marshes

 

Ringed Kingfisher

 

 

 

Burrowing Owl

 

 

 

 

 

Monk Parakeets flying to roost over the pampas. We saw thousands here in the evenings and mornings

 

Tropical Screech Owl

 

 

 

Monjitas are amazing birds. Why would a bird want to be so white in an open landscape full of predators?

 

Rheas watched as we drove by

 

male Cinereous Harrier

 

 

Black-and-white Monjita, our third member of this family on this tour

 

 

Iguaçu Falls can look so tranquil

 

 

Dusky Swifts cling to rocks at Iguaçu

 

this White-collared Swift was not supposed to be here

 

a nesting Dusky Swift

 

 

Plush-crested Jay

 

 

 

Iguaçu has an amazing set of butterflies and moths to look at

 

Dusky Swifts fly right through the force to nest!!!!

 

 

the forests of Iguaçu are home to many Coatis

 

 

how does a Dusky Swift know that behind this wall of water is a place to nest ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am number 08

 

 

Riverside Warbler

 

White-bearded Manakin

 

 

Common Potoo in our hotel garden at midnight

 

Swallow Tanager

 

Red-rumped Cacique

 

 

 

Planalto Hermit

 

 

 

Many-coloured Rush-tyrant

 

 

 

 

Ibera Marshes

 

Screamers were as common as Canada Geese here!!!

 

Tiger Heron

 

 

Narrow-billed Woodcreeper in our garden!

 

gangs of punk-haired Guira Cuckoos were seen daily

 

 

For amazing photos from other tours in Argentina

Click Here

 

click here for details of our next tour to this destination

 

 

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