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A Report from

Northern Argentina, land of small brown birds, 10 January to 6 February 6 2006,


Jan den Held, Eefde, The Netherlands


Visiting Central and Northern Argentina I recorded in four weeks an estimated total of 384 birds, including 191 lifers.

Best bird was the almost always heavily underestimated Rufous-collared Sparrow, with its high visibility, enormous adaptability, cheerful song, nice manners and always impeccable plumage, unlike some other birds I could name.

Worst bird was the Salinas Monjita, which I did not see. After driving around in vain looking for it in the Salinas Grandes, I got stuck in the mud when taking a U-turn to leave the area. I next followed the usual procedure in such a situation. First I tried to get out of the mud as quickly as possible by accelerating (wrong: now I went in extra deep), then I tried to back out (wrong again: the wheel dug itself in more deeply), then pushed stones and branches under the wheel (didn’t help, the wheel dug itself in even more), and finally walked back to the main road, caught a ride to the nearest village and asked someone with a Landrover to pull me out. For this reason I strongly suggest the Salinas Monjita be reduced to the level of subspecies (of Rusty-backed Monjita), to avoid similar mishaps and save valuable time for future birders.


Buenos Aires – San Clemente del Tuyu – Cordoba – Cafayate – Salta – Abra Pampa – Humahuaca – Calilegua NP – Joaquin Gonzalez – Chaco NP – Mburucuya NP – Esteros de Iberá – El Palmar NP – Lagunas Encadenadas – San Clemente del Tuyu – Buenos Aires


I flew with KLM from Amsterdam via Sao Paulo (2-3 hour wait) to Buenos Aires for € 840 including airport tax. In Holland I rented a car in Buenos Aires for the whole trip (11 Jan – 6 Feb), which cost me € 900. Accommodation, food, gas and a fine for losing my front number plate cost another € 920. Total costs worked out at € 7 per species recorded, or € 14 per lifer. In all, I drove 8050 km.

Because of the holiday season hotel rooms were relatively scarce and expensive in some places (San Clemente, Cordoba area). A good alternative for Villa Gral. Belgrano (south of Cordoba) was Rio Tercero, not a tourist destination and still close to the mountains.

Some of the best food I found in road restaurants (e.g. the Parador in Libertador Gral. San Martin), which also have the advantage of serving meals in late afternoon and early evening when most restaurants are not yet in business.

At a kiosk in BA I bought for € 8 an excellent road atlas (Firestone Atlas de Rutas). The weather during my trip generally was good. Chaco NP, Mburucuyá NP and Esteros del Iberá were too hot to stay longer than a few days, and I ‘lost’ one day due to rain in San Clemente. Also because of heavy rain the road Cafayate-Cachi was closed.

Purpose and strategy

As I had never been in the ‘south cone’ of South America before, my aim was to enjoy seeing a lot of bird species new to me. To me, essential for this enjoyment is the ‘spontaneous encounter’ in birdwatching. I found out beforehand where the most promising sites are (e.g. ‘San Clemente’, ‘Joaquin V. Gonzalez’), but avoided the more detailed directions as to which roads to take or what paths to find. To see ‘... the Rufous-throated Dipper (exactly where Wheatley describes it should be)...’, as Duan Biggs writes in his report Birding and Touring Argentina – 5 January to 6 february 2005, would take all pleasure out of it for me. I might as well go to the zoo.

My target species were:

Lesser Rhea
Elegant Crested Tinamou
Great Grebe
Buff-necked Ibis
Puna Flamingo
Crowned Eagle
Horned Coot
Scissor-tailed Nightjar
Chaco Earthcreeper
White-throated Cacholote
Olive-crowned Crescentchest (Salinas Monjita; as mentioned above, I now believe this not to be a real species)
Strange-tailed Tyrant
White-winged Black-Tyrant
Rufous-throated Dipper
Diademed Tanager
Yellow Cardinal
Black Siskin
Yellow-rumped Marshbird


As mentioned before, the estimated total of species recorded was 384. This number was calculated as follows.

Well observed and fully satisfyingly identified were 308 species. These are presented in the list below. To this number were added some 30 species that I am sure I must have seen, but did not properly recognize due to bad lighting or great distance. For example, the Alder Parrot must certainly have been among the numerous overflying parrots in Calilegua that I could not identify. Also, for difficult groups such as canasteros, spinetails and flycatchers I used a multiplying factor of 1.75 to arrive at a more realistic number of species. This resulted in a grand total of 384 species.

If I would have done my trip together with one or more other birdwatchers and in a more optimal birding season (e.g. spring instead of high summer) I undoubtedly would have seen even more species, but as it was my own choice to go alone and at this time of the year I feel it would not be reasonable to make a correction for these circumstances.

Also, I’d like to point out that I did not visit Iguazú Falls, which probably would have added another 50 species or so to my list

I did not see any of my target species. What went wrong here is still a mystery to me. The only explanation I can think of is that by an unbelievable coincidence I just managed to pick all the wrong species, as I did see several equivalent species that just happened not to be on my target list.


The purpose of my trip, seeing lots of new birds without following too strictly in the footsteps of those who went before me, was fully realized. Half of the species I saw were new to me, even if they were often not very spectacular birds (all those mousy little brown furnariids, and lookalike flycatchers, and drab seedeaters and buntings) and I did not see any of my target species. 

The pursuit of happiness: how far to go?

With this trip my life list now amounts to about 2500 species.

This brings me to the question of how far to go. For, with each lifer recorded, the number of  new birds still to be seen dwindles. As I wrote upon returning from a trip to Australia in 1997:

Birdwatcher’s fate

I went to the land of Oz
to see the Albatross.
I saw it, and realised my loss:
never again would I see
for the first time an Albatross.
But what about the Albatross,
what did he feel when he saw me?
Probably nothing, or at most
a brief distraction from his work at sea.

As most birders know, seeing a lifer sometimes may even result in an almost post-coital sadness, which I tried to describe in the following lines after visiting Corsica in 1996 and searching for and finding the Corsican Nuthatch:

C’etait ni l’Hirondelle, ni la Locustelle,
mais seulement la petite Sittelle,
que j’ai cherché dans la forêt belle
de l’Ile de Beauté.
Hélas! Du moment que je l’ai vu,
c’etait comme je l’avais toujours connu ...

So what is the optimal number of birds to have seen? Personally I feel this must be somewhere around 1500 species. At that point there is still a sense of a virtually infinite number of species remaining to be seen, and complete birdfamilies are still in the promised land of future birding trips. Repetiton has not yet set in (‘didn’t I see this woodpecker already in Costa Rica? ... no, I see here in the guide that it’s a different species here in Ecuador’).

Going on after the 3000 mark shows in my opinion a certain weakness of character, and persevering after 5000 species somehow reminds me of people who habitually drink 20 beers a day or drive 250 km/h on the motorway.

And what do you do when you have seen them all?

Finally there is the question of the impact of birdwatching. Albatrosses may be rather aloof but this might not be true for all species. In fact, the well known case of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper points at the opposite. Concern about certain anomalous behaviour in this extremely rare bird led a Thai-Russian team (Chulalongkorn & Ivanov, 2004) to investigate this aspect. They showed that of birds wintering in Thailand those that were twitched there over 50 times per season had better territories and an almost twice as high reproduction rate in the Siberian breeding area than birds that were not or only occasionally viewed by birdwatchers. Nationality of birdwatchers (Thai, European or American) had no significant effect. Thai field workers reported that birds actually seemed to compete for the sites most visited by birdwatchers, though this still has to be confirmed by further reseach.

The implications of these unexpected results are not yet quite clear. Though individual birds benefit from the situation, Chulalongkorn & Ivanov suspect that in time social structure of the population might break down, thus endangering survival of the species.

Daily report

Jan 10  Costanera Sur

I have nothing to add to existing descriptions and bird lists of this area.

Jan 11  San Clemente del Tuyu

When I stopped the car in the middle of the totally deserted pampa, the first thing I saw, after having flown 10,000 miles and driven hundreds of kilometers on empty roads, was a sign that told me this was ‘Propriedad privada, Prohibido el Paso’. I ignored it, and ten minutes later a car materialized by my side out of thin air while I was watching birds on this private land. I politely apologized and withdrew. Next time however I got in a couple of hours before I was asked to get out.

As I did not know where exactly to go, I just drove around a little and carefully studied my road map, looking for promising unpaved sideroads and empty marshland areas. I especially liked the road along Canal no. 2 (from RN 11 to the southwest). Here I found Greater Rhea, Bare-faced Ibis, Yellow-billed Pintail, Coscoroba Swan, Southern Screamer, American Wood Stork, Maguari Stork and Roseate Spoonbill. The unpaved road from Gral. Lavalle to Santa Teresita provided good pampa birding with Long-winged Harrier, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Correndera Pipit, Rufous-backed Negrito, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Brown-and-yellow Marshbird, hundreds of White-faced Ibises and Great Pampa-Finch.

Jan 12  San Clemente del Tuyu to Cordoba area

Heavy rains rendered birding (and driving on the slippery clay roads) absolutely impossible. I decided to drive to the Lagunas Encadenadas near Chascomús, but there it rained just as hard.

So I changed plans and went on to my next stop, the Cordoba area. Because of the holidays I phoned ahead to Villa Gral. Belgrano and learned that all hotels were full. Therefore I decided to stop and find a hotel in Rio Tercero, which was no problem at all.

Jan 13  Cordoba area

Rio Tercero proved to be an excellent starting point for the hills east of Villa Gral. Belgrano. The quiet consolidated road from Las Bajadas (12 km north of Almafuerte) to Villa del Diqueb offers good and relaxed birding. Slowly working my way up into the hills which are covered with chaco-type woodland I saw Spotted Nothura, Brushland Tinamou, Brown Cacholote, Checkered Woodpecker, now and then a group of Golden-breasted Woodpeckers or Field Flickers sitting in the road, Stripe-crowned Spinetail, a pair of very inquisitive Scimitar-billed Woodcreepers, coming in from far to look me over, Spot-winged Falconet, Bicolored Hawk, the gorgeous Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Golden-billed Saltator, Ultramarine Grosbeak and many others. In more open areas White Monjita, Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher and Saffron Yellow-Finch occurred.

Jan 14  Cordoba area

Today I first tried to approach the Pampa de Achala via La Cumbrecita, but this was not a success. Though an attractive landscape, birds were few: Long-tailed Meadowlark, Southern Lapwing, Burrowing Owl and Chimango Caracara. Probably this area is too low. I went back and turned north at Los Reartes, and drove through the ‘Valle del Condorito’ (via Pampa Alta and San José), where I saw my first Condors, to the road to Mina Clavero, where more Condors were in attendance closer by, and then to the Quebrada del Condorito National Park.

Here I walked halfway to the Quebrada (my physical condition not allowing the full roundtrip) through beautiful Andean landscapes, with birds such as Red-backed Hawk, Olrog’s and Sierran Cinclodes, Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant, Puna Canastero, Southern Martin, Hellmayr’s Pipit and the occasional Condor.

On my return at the car I decided to drive on to Cruz del Eje, on the way to my next stop, the Tucuman area.

Jan 15  Tucuman area

The road from Cruz del Eje to Deán Funes passes through some nice chaco forest. Although only making a (too) short stop, I found some good birds: Crested Hornero, Crested Gallito,  White-tipped Plantcutter, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, Crested Finch and Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant. This area is definitely worth a longer visit.

After this came my adventure in the Salinas Grandes (see Introduction), and late in the afternoon I reached the valley of the Rio los Sosa. The beautiful river and lush cloud forest were spoiled, however, by an endless stream of cars coming from and going to Tafí del Valle. I decided right away to skip the Rufous-throated Dipper and save my Yungas birding for a quieter place, without cars zooming past every minute.

So I drove on to Amaichá del Valle, where I found a cheap bed in a dormitory.

Jan 16  Cafayate

Some early morning birding in the semi-desertlike landscape around Amaichá and en route to Cafayate produced White-fronted Woodpecker, sitting picturesquely on the cardones (giant cactuses), Red-backed Hawk, Firewood-gatherer, Common Diuca Finch, Spot-backed Puffbird and White-tipped Plantcutter. From Cafayate I took the road to Cachi, but had to turn back after some 30 km because the road had been closed due to heavy rain. Road 68 to Salta through the scenic Quebrada de las Conchas with its breathtakingly beautiful rock formations was good for some Condors and large numbers of quite tame Burrowing Parrots.

Jan 17  Salta, Abra Pampa

What I had missed in the Rio los Sosa valley, I found at Santa Laura Pass, halfway between Salta and Jujuy: beautiful cloud forest, easily birded from an almost deserted road. Starting  with Black-backed Grosbeak and Saffron-billed Sparrow in the lower reaches, I then moved on to Scaly-headed Parrot, Dot-fronted Woodpecker, White-throated Tyrannulet, Buff-browed Spinetail, Plush-crested Jay and Stripe-headed Brush-Finch at the pass itself.

In the afternoon I drove on to Abra Pampa, my departure point for Laguna de los Pozuelos the next day. At the end of the day I did some birding around Abra Pampa, finding a nice little pool at the beginning of the road to Pozuelos, where Crested Duck, Speckled Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Andean Lapwing, Andean Avocet and Wilson’s Phalarope were playing around.

Jan 18  Laguna de los Pozuelos

Though it had been raining most of the night, getting to Lagunas de los Pozuelos was not a problem, the road being in good condition. On reaching the guards house, I decided to leave my car there and walk the seven kilometers to the laguna. The weather was good and the landscape superb. Small herds of guanaco everywhere, lots of Ashy-breasted Sierra-Finches, and several other birds such as Common Miner, Mourning Sierra-Finch, Mountain Caracara, the mouse-like Golden-Spotted Ground-Dove, Cordilleran Canastero, and Hellmayr’s Pipit.

The lake itself was a bit of a disappointment, the birds not only being far off (because of the recent rains, according to the park guards) but also quite shy. So no Giant or Horned Coots and no grebes and ibises, just the two flamingos (Chilean and Andean), Andean Goose, Puna Plover, Crested Duck, Baird’s Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Andean Coot and Andean Gull.

On the way back to Abra Pampa I stopped in several places without seeing any birds, but at last saw some quite nice birds in a rocky gully: White-winged Cinclodes, Creamy-breasted Canastero, Puna Yellow-Finch, Black-Hooded Sierra-Finch, Rock Earthcreeper and Andean Flicker, which must be the only woodpecker to live in a totally treeless landscape.

I had planned to visit the laguna at least twice, but discouraged by the meager results of this day I decided to turn back and spend the night in Humahuaca. The great Birder in the sky apparently felt He had to make amends for something, because just before I reached Humahuaca a pair of beautiful Ornate Tinamous unhurriedly crossed my path.

Jan 19  Humahuaca

I spent this day driving from Humahuaca to Purmamarca and then west to the Salinas Grandes. The salt lake was totally devoid of birds, but in the mountains I saw among others Mountain Caracara, White-tipped Plantcutter, Mourning and Black-hooded Sierra-Finch, Red-tailed Comet, Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, Brown-backed and White-banded Mockingbird, a colony of nesting Greenish Yellow-Finch and one unmistakably wild lama.

I next drove on to Libertador Gral. San Martin.

Jan 20  Calilegua NP

This first day in Calilegua NP I limited myself to the lower reaches of the park, which I visited both in the morning and in the afternoon. In the early morning birding was slow, but after nine o’clock things got going and I recorded Bat Falcon, Dusky-legged Guan, Golden-collared Macaw, White-barred Piculet, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher (quite common, once you know its voice), Guira Tanager, Large-tailed Dove, and Narrow-billed and Olivaceous Woodcreeper. A loud call by an unseen bird was identified by me as probably a Great Antshrike, which later proved correct.

Jan 21  Calilegua NP

Today I explored the higher regions of Calilegua NP, from 1200 m to 1700 m. This is a rainforest area, and it was the rainy season, so it was raining. The birds seemed pretty much used to this, so I also acted as if this was normal and watched them from under my umbrella. In the drains along the road dozens of small orange-and-black treefrogs were whistling and purring. Birds recorded were Swallow-tailed Kite, Planalto Hermit, White-bellied Hummingbird, Toco Tucan, White-crested Elaenia, Fulvous-headed Brush-Finch and Golden-winged Cacique. I heard several White-throated Antpittas, one coming in close to my whistled imitation but of course not showing itself.

In the afternoon I birded again some of the lower areas. Here I came upon a pair of the elusive and fabulous Giant Antshrike, which appeared to be inquisitive rather than elusive, coming towards me and sitting in the loop of a liana only 5 meters away in full view. Their song was not the rather unappetizing ‘kloo...arrr’ from the Narosky field guide, which rather reminds me of someone heaving into the toilet after a heavy night on town, but a beautiful long musical thrill, executed both out loud and ventriloqually.

That night I thoroughly celebrated the Giant Antshrike with a fabulous steak dinner (Lomo a la Salteña) in the Parador in Libertador, lots of beer and a lovely young Argentine lady, Rosita, of whose profession I am not quite sure but who caused me having to see a doctor some time afterwards.

Jan 22  La Estrella and Joaquin V. Gonzalez

After a not so early start I drove off to the north and past Caimancito took the road to Palma Sola / La Estrella. This very quiet road leads through a sort of transition forest between yungas- and chaco-type forest, with among others Plumbeous Kite, Green-cheeked Parakeet, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Red-crested Finch and Epaulet Oriole.

To get from La Estrella to Joaquin V. González I had to kill 30,000 white butterflies, millions of them swarming across the roads.

I arrived in Joaquin early in the afternoon, so when it cooled down a little a four o’clock I drove out on the road to Salta Forestal. In the chaco here I saw quite a few birds, for example Chaco Chachalaca, Brushland Tinamou, Solitary Sandpiper, Turquoise-fronted Parakeet, Striped Cuckoo, White-fronted Woodpecker, Stripe-crowned Spinetail, Great Antshrike, Lined Seedeater, Lark-like Brushrunner and Black-capped Warbling-Finch. At dusk two quite tame, elegant Pampa Foxes came out into the road to look over some promising garbage.

Back in town that night the butterflies appeared to have been replaced by tens of thousands of large beetles, attracted by streetlamps and other electric lights, which swarmed over streets and pavements, climbed your legs, drowned in you soup and crunched under your feet, giving off a peculiar bitter smell.

Jan 23  Joaquin V. Gonzalez

Next morning I did the same stretch of road, also venturing into the chaco itself on cattle trails. Mosquitoes were fierce, birds were much the same, I only added a White-barred Piculet.

After a few hours I headed east towards Pampa de los Guanacos, stopping now and then for some birding. This produced species like Savanna Hawk, Spot-backed Puffbird, Blue-crowned Parrot, Crested Hornero, Creamy-bellied Thrush, Red-crested Cardinal, Stripe-capped Sparrow, Solitary Black Cacique, Crested Gallito and Brown Cacholote.

Jan 24  Pampa de los Guanacos

Twenty kilometers east of Pampa de los Guanacos an unpaved road goes north to Parque Nacional Copo. I birded the first 10 km, further on the road was too muddy. The chaco forest here is a bit taller and greener than that around Joaquin Gonzalez. I saw more or less the same birds as yesterday, and besides Whistling Heron and a pair of marvellous White Woodpeckers feeding their young in a telephone pole.

Feeling not too well, some stomach trouble (that one salad in Pampa de los G. probably), I then drove on to Presidencia Roque Saenz Peña, to recuperate in a luxurious US$12-hotel.

Jan 25  Chaco NP

I took it easy this morning, sleeping in till eight, then having a relaxed real breakfast (instead of the usual hurried affair of banana, yoghurt, cookies and water at 5.30 a.m.), and finally making a stroll through town, taking pictures of the plaza and discovering an office for ‘asistencia para tus problemas – depresión, stress, fobias, problemas matrimoniales’. This immediately made me feel better, and I decided to leave for my next destination, Chaco National Park.

The climate here is more humid and the vegetation more lush, so on my way to the park I started seeing different birds such as Maguari Stork, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Great Black Hawk, Black-collared Hawk, Southern Screamer and Ringed Kingfisher.

I arrived at the park at about 1 p.m., and as the temperature was about 35°C I parked my car under a tree and first had a siesta.

At 4 p.m. the heat lessened a bit and I walked the trail 5 km north of the park headquarters. The park has a pleasant landscape where – compared to the western chaco – rather tall forest, savanna and marshes and lakes alternate. This makes for a rather varied bird fauna and I recorded Gray-necked Woodrail, Greater Ani, Chaco Chachalaca, Wattled Jacana, Turquoise-fronted Parrot, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Golden-green Woodpecker, Little Woodpecker, Purplish Jay, White-rimmed Warbler, Southern Screamer and Black-capped Donacobius, as well as some capibara’s, a small cayman and some howler monkeys. Some Argentine boys from the region whom I had met on the trail and who were holidaying in the park kindly invited me for their asado that night, which was fabulous.

As there was no accommodation in Capitán Solari, I drove back to Colonia Elisa, where I found with some difficulty a bed.

Jan 26  Chaco NP

In the cool morning I walked the same trail as yesterday and now saw more birds: close views of a tame and gorgeous Tataupa Tinamou (much more beautiful than illustrated in the Narosky guide: head, neck and breast blue-black like Plumbeous Rail, and a brilliant red bill), Cream-backed Woodpecker, Buff-browed Foliage Gleaner, Grayish Saltator, Little Thornbird, White-winged Becard, Savanna Hawk, Variable Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Plush-crested Jay, Checkered Woodpecker, Golden-breasted Woodpecker, Whistling Heron and many more.

In the afternoon I checked out the trail 10 km south of the park HQ and this seemed well worth another morning of birding. The undergrowth of the forest here, being grazed by cattle, is much more open.

Jan 27  Chaco NP

The southern trail did not produce many new birds, only Giant Wood-Rail and Brown-chested Flycatcher, but still was well worth the effort because I had nice views of many of the birds I had seen before, including the Creamy-backed Woodpecker, another Tataupa Tinamou, Stripe-crowned Spinetail and Narrow-billed Woodcreeper.

At the end of the morning I drove to Resistencia where I booked into a hotel, had a siesta and in the afternoon went birding on the road to Villa Paranacito in the floodplains of the Rio Paraná. Here Giant Wood-Rail was rather common, other birds were Yellow-throated Spinetail, Striped Cuckoo, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Unicolored Blackbird and Narrow-billed Woodcreeper.

Jan 28  Mburucuyá NP

Today I travelled to Mburucuyá NP. Rice fields near Empedrado were full of birds, especially Snail Kite, American Wood Stork, Maguari Stork, White-faced Ibis and White-faced Whistling-Duck. From Saladas the landscape took on a more natural aspect, arable land giving way to numerous small and large lakes surrounded by marshland. At a beautiful lake very close to Saladas I saw two Jabiru, a bird I have been trying to find for over twenty years. Other birds here included Limpkin, Giant Wood-Rail, Large-billed Tern, Brown-and-yellow Marshbird, Whistling Heron, Southern Screamer and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture.

After the by now usual siesta in my hotel in Mburucuyá I drove off on a very sandy but dry road to Mburucuyá National Park. In lakes along the road I saw Black-crowned Night-Heron, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Brazilian Duck, Green Kingfisher, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Giant Wood-Rail and quite a few Capibara. In the savanna and forest I found, among others, Spotted Nothura, Purplish and Plush-crested Jay, White-lined Tanager and White-rimmed Warbler, and at dusk a slender, longlegged Maned Wolf came out into the road.

Jan 29  Mburucuyá NP

This morning I focused on the forest near the park headquarters. Besides the birds seen yesterday I recorded Yellow-headed Caracara, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Greater Thornbird, Green-backed Becard, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Great Antshrike, Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, Green-winged Saltator and Chestnut-vented Conebill. In the open areas Greater Rhea and Cliff Swallow were present.

At the end of the morning I left Mburucuyá NP behind and headed for Mercedes. Some of the birds I saw on my way there were another two Jabiru, White Monjita, Snowy Egret, White-faced and Bare-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, hundreds of Southern Screamers and Black-collared Hawk.

Jan 30  Mercedes, Esteros del Iberá

As the bus to Colonia Pellegrini would leave at 11.30 a.m., I first went out to the ‘espinal’ (or is it pampa?) around Mercedes, a hot and dry savanna-like landscape with scattered small trees. New birds here were Chotoy Spinetail, Sooty-fronted Spinetail and Tufted Tit-Spinetail, besides old friends like White Woodpecker, White Monjita, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Epaulet Oriole and so on.

I arrived in Colonia Pellegrini at 4 p.m., and two hours later took a boat trip to Laguna Iberá. Birds and animals (Capibara, Swamp Deer, two Cayman species) were very tame here and I particularly enjoyed the close views of the ugly Southern Screamers with their downy young.

Other birds included Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Black-bellied and White-faced Whistling-Duck, Snail Kite, Limpkin, Giant Wood-Rail at touching distance, Purple Gallinule, Yellow-billed Tern, Amazon Kingfisher, Greater Thornbird, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant and Unicolored Blackbird.

Jan 31  Esteros del Iberá

In the early morning I birded the northern edge of the town towards the cemetery and saw in grassland full of anthills and nearby swamps Sharp-shinned Hawk, White-bellied Seedeater, Scarlet-headed and White-browed Blackbird, Firewood-gatherer, Golden-breasted Woodpecker, Field Flicker and Chotoy Spinetail.

At 8.30 a.m. I went on a Landrover tour organized by the Aguapé Lodge to the pampas and swamps east of Colonia Pellegrini. This was a quite relaxed trip with lots of birds: Plumbeous, Bare-faced and White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, close views of two Jabiru, Muscovy Duck, Great Black Hawk, Savanna Hawk, Pectoral Sandpiper, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper,  Gray Monjita and lots of boa’s in the ditches along the roads.

In the late afternoon I walked to the other side of the lake and birded the nature trails in the forest there. Birds here were similar to those in the Mburucuyá forests. I did see, however, some nice white orchids (Brassavola sp.).

Feb 1   El Palmar NP

The bus back to Mercedes left at 4 a.m., and after arriving there I first had a nice breakfast. Then I drove off to El Palmar NP, on the way stopping now and then to look at Greater Rhea with young, Black-chested Buzzrad-Eagle and White Monjita.

About El Palmar I can only say one thing: forget this park.

So I went on to Gualeguaychú and stayed the night there.

Feb 2   Paraná Delta

About 80 km south from Gualeguaychú I turned off the main road towards another Villa Paranacito. This was a nice and quiet road, passing through pampas and swamps, where I saw Scarlet-headed, Chestnut-capped and Yellow-winged Blackbird, Long-tailed Reed-Finch, Masked Yellowthroat, Giant Wood-Rail and others.

Further on I stopped at the Reserva Otamendi, but was told that I could visit the swamp area of the reserve only with a guide, which should be arranged a few days in advance. So i drove on to my next stop, Chascomús.

Feb 3   Lagunas Encadenadas

As most of the Lagunas Encadenadas are in private land, I had to drive around a bit before finding accessible lakes and swamps. The – unpaved – road from Chascomús to Laguna Las Barrancas and from there to Lezama proved to offer good birding. Here I recorded several species I had missed at the start of my trip because of the rain, such as Fulvous Whistling-Duck, White-cheeked Pintail, Ringed Teal, Lake Duck, Snowy-crowned Tern, Red-fronted Coot, Wren-like Rushbird, Yellow-browed Tyrant and Sooty Tyrannulet. And of course numerous other grassland and wetland birds.

Feb 4-6   San Clemente del Tuyú

After some more birding around Chascomús I went on to San Clemente again. First I went to my favorite Canal no. 2 road and found there Many-colored Rush-Tyrant (at last), Wren-like Rushbird (I knew its voice now), Rosy-billed Pochard, Southern Wigeon, the beautiful Silver Teal, Plumbeous Rail (close enough to see the sky blue spot at the base of its bill), Rufous-backed Negrito and others.

In the afternoon at the beach in San Clemente I watched South American Tern and Royal Tern flying past, and in the tidal creek at Mar del Mundo White-rumped Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, Two-banded Plover, Chilean Flamingo and Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Next day I birded the Canal no. 2 road again, this time driving on to Gral. Madariaga and from there by way of the unpaved road to the north to Gral. Lavalle. This is a trip which for the scenery alone is worth making: wide pampas interspersed by vast swamps and many lakes. Birds I saw included Scarlet-headed and Yellow-winged Blackbird, Pectoral, Stilt and White-rumped Sandpiper, White-tufted Grebe, Lake Duck, Southern Wigeon, Firewood-Gatherer and Red-Gartered and Red-fronted Coot.

On my last morning in San Clemente I took a walk in the Campos del Tuyú Reserve and had some good views of Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Armadillo. Then it was back to Buenos Aires where I turned in my rental car and found a nice hotel on Avenida 25 de Mayo to spend my last night in Argentina.

Feb 7-8     Costanera Sur and home

Far too soon I was at the end of my journey.

A last walk in the Costanera Sur and then a taxi to the airport.

After an uneventful flight I reached Amsterdam, took the train to Deventer, and was picked up at the train station by my wife who drove me home.

My trip had ended.

Species list

1.   Greater Rhea
2.   Tataupa Tinamou
3.   Ornate Tinamou
4.   Brushland Tinamou
5.   Spotted Nothura
6.   Chaco Chachalaca
7.   Dusky-legged Guan
8.   Southern Screamer
9.   Fulvous Whistling-Duck
10.   White-faced Whistling-Duck
11.   Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
12.   Lake Duck
13.   Black-necked Swan
14.   Coscoroba Swan
15.   Andean Goose
16.   Muscovy Duck
17.   Ringed Teal
18.   Brazilian Teal
19.   Crested Duck
20.   Chiloe Wigeon
21.   Red Shoveler
22.   White-cheeked Pintail
23.   Speckled Teal
24.   Yellow-billed Pintail
25.   Silver Teal
26.   Rosy-billed Pochard
27.   White-barred Piculet
28.   White Woodpecker
29.   White-fronted Woodpecker
30.   Striped Woodpecker
31.   Little Woodpecker
32.   Dot-fronted Woodpecker
33.   Golden-green Woodpecker
34.   Green-barred Woodpecker
35.   Andean Flicker
36.   Campo Flicker
37.   Blond-crested Woodpecker
38.   Cream-backed Woodpecker
39.   Toco Toucan
40.   Spot-backed Puffbird
41.   Blue-crowned Trogon
42.   Ringed Kingfisher
43.   Amazon Kingfisher
44.   Green Kingfisher
45.   Dark-billed Cuckoo
46.   Squirrel Cuckoo
47.   Greater Ani
48.   Smooth-billed Ani
49.   Guira Cuckoo
50.   Striped Cuckoo
51.   Yellow-collared Macaw
52.   Blue-crowned Parakeet
53.   Burrowing Parakeet
54.   Green-cheeked Parakeet
55.   Monk Parakeet
56.   Grey-hooded Parakeet
57.   Scaly-headed Parrot
58.   Blue-fronted Parrot
59.   White-collared Swift
60.   Ashy-tailed Swift
61.   Planalto Hermit
62.   Glittering-bellied Emerald
63.   White-bellied Hummingbird
64.   Red-tailed Comet
65.   Burrowing Owl
66.   Common Nighthawk
67.   Picazuro Pigeon
68.   Spot-winged Pigeon
69.   Eared Dove
70.   Picui Ground-Dove
71.   Golden-spotted Ground-Dove
72.   White-tipped Dove
73.   White-faced Dove
74.   Limpkin
75.   Grey-necked Wood-Rail
76.   Giant Wood-Rail
77.   Plumbeous Rail
78.   Purple Gallinule
79.   Common Moorhen
80.   American Coot
81.   Red-gartered Coot
82.   Red-fronted Coot
83.   Common Snipe
84.   Hudsonian Godwit
85.   Lesser Yellowlegs
86.   Solitary Sandpiper
87.   White-rumped Sandpiper
88.   Baird's Sandpiper
89.   Pectoral Sandpiper
90.   Stilt Sandpiper
91.   Buff-breasted Sandpiper
92.   Wilson's Phalarope
93.   Wattled Jacana
94.   White-backed Stilt
95.   Andean Avocet
96.   American Golden-Plover
97.   Grey Plover
98.   Puna Plover
99.   Two-banded Plover
100.   Southern Lapwing
101.   Andean Lapwing
102.   Black Skimmer
103.   Kelp Gull
104.   Brown-hooded Gull
105.   Andean Gull
106.   Royal Tern
107.   South American Tern
108.   Snowy-crowned Tern
109.   Yellow-billed Tern
110.   Large-billed Tern
111.   Swallow-tailed Kite
112.   White-tailed Kite
113.   Snail Kite
114.   Plumbeous Kite
115.   Long-winged Harrier
116.   Sharp-shinned Hawk
117.   Bicolored Hawk
118.   Great Black-Hawk
119.   Savanna Hawk
120.   Black-collared Hawk
121.   Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle
122.   Roadside Hawk
123.   Red-backed Hawk
124.   Mountain Caracara
125.   Crested Caracara
126.   Yellow-headed Caracara
127.   Chimango Caracara
128.   Spot-winged Falconet
129.   American Kestrel
130.   Aplomado Falcon
131.   Bat Falcon
132.   Peregrine Falcon
133.   White-tufted Grebe
134.   Neotropic Cormorant
135.   Whistling Heron
136.   Snowy Egret
137.   Cocoi Heron
138.   Great Egret
139.   Cattle Egret
140.   Striated Heron
141.   Black-crowned Night-Heron
142.   Rufescent Tiger-Heron
143.   Chilean Flamingo
144.   Andean Flamingo
145.   Whispering Ibis
146.   White-faced Ibis
147.   Plumbeous Ibis
148.   Roseate Spoonbill
149.   Black Vulture
150.   Turkey Vulture
151.   Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
152.   Andean Condor
153.   Wood Stork
154.   Maguari Stork
155.   Jabiru
156.   Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant
157.   Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher
158.   Small-billed Elaenia
159.   White-throated Tyrannulet
160.   Sooty Tyrannulet
161.   White-crested Tyrannulet
162.   Greater Wagtail-Tyrant
163.   Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant
164.   Many-colored Rush-Tyrant
165.   Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant
166.   Cliff Flycatcher
167.   Vermilion Flycatcher
168.   Grey Monjita
169.   White Monjita
170.   Grey-bellied Shrike-Tyrant
171.   Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrant
172.   Patagonian Negrito
173.   Spectacled Tyrant
174.   Pied Water-Tyrant
175.   White-headed Marsh-Tyrant
176.   Yellow-browed Tyrant
177.   Cattle Tyrant
178.   Brown-crested Flycatcher
179.   Tropical Kingbird
180.   Fork-tailed Flycatcher
181.   Variegated Flycatcher
182.   Crowned Slaty Flycatcher
183.   Streaked Flycatcher
184.   Piratic Flycatcher
185.   Great Kiskadee
186.   Green-backed Becard
187.   White-winged Becard
188.   White-tipped Plantcutter
189.   Giant Antshrike
190.   Great Antshrike
191.   Variable Antshrike
192.   Common Miner
193.   Rock Earthcreeper
194.   Cordoba Cinclodes
195.   Olrog's Cinclodes
196.   White-winged Cinclodes
197.   Rufous Hornero
198.   Crested Hornero
199.   Tufted Tit-Spinetail
200.   Chotoy Spinetail
201.   Sooty-fronted Spinetail
202.   Azara's Spinetail
203.   Ochre-cheeked Spinetail
204.   Stripe-crowned Spinetail
205.   Yellow-chinned Spinetail
206.   Cordilleran Canastero
207.   Creamy-breasted Canastero
208.   Puno Canastero
209.   Rufous-fronted Thornbird
210.   Little Thornbird
211.   Streak-fronted Thornbird
212.   Freckle-breasted Thornbird
213.   Greater Thornbird
214.   Wren-like Rushbird
215.   Firewood-gatherer
216.   Lark-like Brushrunner
217.   Brown Cacholote
218.   Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner
219.   Olivaceous Woodcreeper
220.   Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper
221.   Narrow-billed Woodcreeper
222.   White-throated Antpitta
223.   Crested Gallito
224.   Rufous-browed Peppershrike
225.   Red-eyed Vireo
226.   Purplish Jay
227.   Azure Jay
228.   Plush-crested Jay
229.   Chiguanco Thrush
230.   Glossy-black Thrush
231.   Rufous-bellied Thrush
232.   Creamy-bellied Thrush
233.   Chalk-browed Mockingbird
234.   Brown-backed Mockingbird
235.   White-banded Mockingbird
236.   Black-capped Donacobius
237.   Sedge Wren
238.   House Wren
239.   Masked Gnatcatcher
240.   White-rumped Swallow
241.   Brown-chested Martin
242.   Southern Martin
243.   Blue-and-white Swallow
244.   Tawny-headed Swallow
245.   Sand Martin
246.   Barn Swallow
247.   Cliff Swallow
248.   House Sparrow
249.   Correndera Pipit
250.   Hellmayr's Pipit
251.   Hooded Siskin
252.   Rufous-collared Sparrow
253.   Stripe-capped Sparrow
254.   Saffron-billed Sparrow
255.   Fulvous-headed Brush-Finch
256.   Stripe-headed Brush-Finch
257.   Red-crested Cardinal
258.   Yellow-billed Cardinal
259.   Tropical Parula
260.   Masked Yellowthroat
261.   Brown-capped Redstart
262.   Golden-crowned Warbler
263.   White-browed Warbler
264.   Chestnut-vented Conebill
265.   Common Bush-Tanager
266.   White-lined Tanager
267.   Hepatic Tanager
268.   Sayaca Tanager
269.   Blue-and-yellow Tanager
270.   Fawn-breasted Tanager
271.   Red-crested Finch
272.   Black-hooded Sierra-Finch
273.   Mourning Sierra-Finch
274.   Plumbeous Sierra-Finch
275.   Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch
276.   Long-tailed Reed-Finch
277.   Common Diuca-Finch
278.   Black-and-rufous Warbling-Finch
279.   Black-capped Warbling-Finch
280.   Puna Yellow-Finch
281.   Greenish Yellow-Finch
282.   Saffron Finch
283.   Grassland Yellow-Finch
284.   Great Pampa-Finch
285.   Blue-black Grassquit
286.   Lined Seedeater
287.   Double-collared Seedeater
288.   White-bellied Seedeater
289.   Plain-colored Seedeater
290.   Black-backed Grosbeak
291.   Greyish Saltator
292.   Green-winged Saltator
293.   Golden-billed Saltator
294.   Ultramarine Grosbeak
295.   Crested Oropendola
296.   Golden-winged Cacique
297.   Solitary Cacique
298.   Epaulet Oriole
299.   Yellow-winged Blackbird
300.   Unicolored Blackbird
301.   Chestnut-capped Blackbird
302.   White-browed Blackbird
303.   Long-tailed Meadowlark
304.   Brown-and-yellow Marshbird
305.   Scarlet-headed Blackbird
306.   Bay-winged Cowbird
307.   Screaming Cowbird
308.   Shiny Cowbird


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