Argentina 2008

...with Hector Slongo

November 8th-21st

Northwestern Argentina is a magnificent region located in the southern part of South America, known for a wide and fascinating variety of habitats, each one of which is represented by a different bird species. We saw 348 species in all the tour. After a short visit to the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve we travelled to the province of Córdoba, where we found several specialties such as the Córdoba Cinclodes and the Salinas Monjita. We also found several species typical of the Chaco area such as the Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Lark-like Brushrunner, Black-crested Finch, Little Thornbird, Chaco Puffbird, Spot-winged Falconet and the rare Black-bodied Woodpecker. Later we continued on to Tucuman, close to the Andes Range. Travelling by land allowed us to see one of the specialties located in the lowlands of this province, Dinelli’s Doradito, a small and rare Flycatcher species. We also had very good scope views of Rufous-sided Crake and Nacunda Nighthawk. Late in the afternoon we started our climb up to Tafi del Valle, a beautiful valley located at 2000 mts a.s.l. (6500 ft. a.s.l.). The route there runs parallel to the Los Sosa River and crosses an interesting portion of the Yungas Cloudforest. Here we found the amazing Rufous-throated Dipper, Torrent Duck, Yellow-striped Brush-Finch, Slaty Elaenia, Highland Elaenia y White-rumped Hawk, among others. In the high elevation grassland area we found Buff-breasted Hearthcreeper, White-browed Tapaculo, Tucuman Mountain-Finch and Bare-eyed Ground-Dove, all endemic species in Argentina.

In the following days we crossed areas covered by desert and dry forests, with excellent views of Black-legged Seriema, Sandy Gallito, Black-crowned Monjita, and, also, Chaco Owl during a Night trip. We also found Steibach’s Canastero, another endemic, and Burrowing Parrots. Once up in the Puna Altiplano we saw several of the specialties of the humid Andean valleys, such as the fascinating Rufous-bellied Saltator, Maquis Canastero, Scribble-tailed Canastero, Sparkling Violetear, Tawny-throated Dotterel and Least Seedsnipe.

We visited several lakes in the region with good results. We found Blue-winged Teal which is a rare species in Argentina, Little Blue Heron and a great number of waterfowl. Our last days on the tour were spent in the Iberá Marshes, where we found the amazing Strange-tailed Tyrant, Black-and-White Monjita, Ochre-breasted- Pipit and several species of Seedeaters, as well as other animals such as Caymans, Marsh Deer and Capybara.

November 7th/8th: Flight to Buenos Aires and visit to Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve.

Weather: Nice and sunny.

We arrived at the international airport in Buenos Aires and met Luciano, our guide for the day. Soon we were on our way to downtown BA to check into the hotel. The sky was covered by a blanket of high clouds with a high temperature around 30 Celsius, although some evidence of clearing could be seen in various patches of blue. During the drive several birds were spotted. Chimango Caracara, Rufous Hornero, Rufous-bellied Thrush, Chalk-browed Mockingbird and even Field Flicker; anticipating what would soon become an excellent birding afternoon, and a good introduction to Buenos Aires' birds.

After a short stop to get organized at the hotel, and a comforting lunch, we headed for Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, very near the city centre, only 10 minutes from the hotel. The sky had slowly cleared, and the day got better and better as the afternoon passed. Clear skies and quite hot temperatures during the rest of the day, the peak of spring felt like summer in BA.

Costanera Sur was recently proclaimed an Important Bird Area but unluckily it has been through a serious drought, and the lack of water has reduced the number of species. All ponds and marshes were completely dry and therefore waterfowl were absent. Nevertheless there were many birds around, and soon the list for the day began growing with Rufous-collared Sparrow, Gilded Sapphire, White-lined Tanager, Checkered Woodpecker and many other species. Actually birds were so abundant that after two hours in the reserve we had barely walked any distance at all. There was a good variety of swallows in the area, among them the Blue-and-white Swallow, Grey-breasted Martin, Brown-chested Martin and White-rumped Swallow. A very nice Masked Gnatcatcher perched on a branch very close to us and a Creamy-bellied Thrush soared up and stood in front of us in the middle of the trail. A Black-and-Rufous Warbling-Finch, a common bird in this reserve was foraging in some trees along with a small flock of Black-capped Warbling-Finch.

Before reaching the coast of Rio de la Plata, we added the elusive Grey-necked Wood-Rail and Dark-billed Cuckoo. On the river shore we headed towards one of the few reed-bed patches not affected by the drought, and soon saw Yellow-winged Blackbird and Wren-like Rushbird. Many-coloured Rush-Tyrant approached the edge of the reeds treating us with superb views. We kept walking along the reserve during the afternoon, the place teeming with joggers, bikers and general public enjoying a summery Saturday, which didn't seem to bother the birds at all. The day was particularly good for blackbirds, since we saw Solitary Black Cacique, Epaulet Oriole, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Chestnut-capped Blackbird, Bay-winged Cowbird, Shiny Cowbird and White-browed Cowbird. As we made our way back to the bus, Guira Cuckoos, Nanday and Monk Parakeets appeared. During the bus drive back to the hotel we added Cattle Tyrant. The list for the day rose to 62 different species (not a bad start!), and the day ended with an excellent dinner in a restaurant located in historical Avenida de Mayo.

November 9th: Fly to Cordoba.

Weather: Sunny and warm in the lowlands and cloudy and chilly in the mountains

The group arrived to Cordoba airport at two pm. and met Hector, our local guide. After we loaded our luggage on the bus we headed to the mountains beyond Carlos Paz where we found some specialties such as Cordoba Cinclodes, Olrog’s Cinclodes, Puna Canastero, Buff-necked Ibis, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and several Southern Lapwings which were feeding on a field along with a pair of Spectacled Tyrant. Later in the afternoon we drove towards Capilla del Monte but we stopped first on a Chaco habitat near the mountains where we found Short-billed Canastero, Lark-like Brush-runner, White Monjita, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher and Screaming Cowbird. In open areas we found lots of Guira Cuckoos and a group of Burrowing Owls. Two new species of swallows were added on the list later in the afternoon: Blue-and-white and Tawny-headed. We arrived to Capilla del Monte quite late and went to the hotel to check-in, to finish the day with a nice dinner in the village’s downtown area.

November 10th: Another full day around Capilla del Monte.

Weather: Rainy in the morning and cool/sunny in the afternoon

We spent another full day in the Sierran Chaco near the calm town of Capilla del Monte. The day began with a leisurely breakfast before we headed to the woods. It was nice in the early morning but we got some rain later on during the day. Nevertheless, we had many nice birds throughout the journey. Some of the first sights of the day were Spot-winged Pigeon, and some other Chaco specialties such as Little Thornbird and Stripe-capped Sparrow at very close range. Other species like Greater Wagtail-tyrant, Many-coloured Chaco-Finch and Black-capped Warbling-Finch were hanging around in the same area. Chaco Earthcreeper at very close range and a very noisy Brown Cacholote were calling from the top of a tree. One of the main target species of the area, the Crested Gallito was soon on the list early in the morning. We had the pleasure to find three new species of spinetails in the same area, these were: Sooty-fronted Spinetail, Pale-breasted Spinetail and Stripe-crowned Spinetail. A nice Pearly-vented Tody-tyrant let us put the scope on it so we could see its nice yellowish iris. After a nice lunch in Capilla del Monte we moved to our next hotel which is located in the heart of one of the best Sierran Chaco forest in Cordoba. There we had our first view of a Cliff Flycatcher perched on the roof of the reception building. Other birds like Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper and Lark-like Brush-Runner were around the same building while a beautiful Blue-and-yellow Tanager passed flying by overhead. Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures and our first Andean Condors were all seen flying not far from the hotel. Some flycatchers like Small-billed Elaenia, White-crested Tyrannulet, Great Kiskadee and White Monjita were around the same area. There was an American Kestrel perched on the top of an electric pole and an outstanding Peregrine Falcon flying very high. A White-tipped Plantcutter was calling with its strange voice while three species of Martins were sharing the sky feeding on insects that hatched after the rain. Grey-breasted Martin, Southern Martin and Brown-chested Martin. Later in the afternoon we saw some flocks of Monk and Blue-crowned Parakeets flying by and had amazing scope views of Blue-tufted Starthroat and Glittering-bellied Emerald. On the way back from the woods we bumped into several Scissor-tailed Nightjars that were in the middle of the road. Our wonderful birding day ended with a nice meal and a good night’s sleep at the hotel.

November 11th: Morning birding around Capilla del Monte. Afternoon driving to Dean Funes and birding around Salinas Grandes.

Weather: Chilly in the morning and sunny and very warm in the afternoon.

Today day we birded the Chaco woods once again to pick some more specialties of this habitat as well as generalist birds. Early in the morning we found several Picui-ground Doves, White-tipped Doves and Chiguanco Thrush in the lawn around the hotel. Saffron Finches and Band-tailed Seedeaters were also very active feeding on the ground. We also found a pair of Variable Antshrikes that came after playback very close to us. Nice mature forest near the hotel treated us with great views of one of the most beautiful birds in the area: the Olive-crowned Crescentchest. One of the main targets of this area is the scarce Black-bodied Woodpecker, which we found after some work: we had outstanding scope views of a female drumming and calling from a tree and there was a male a bit further also calling. From time to time there were flocks of Monk and Blue-crowned Parakeets and Southern and Chimango Caracaras flying overhead. Once again we saw a beautiful male Blue-tufted Starthroat displaying and another Glittering-bellied Emerald stood on a bush in front of us. We finished a great morning just after we finally found a mixed flock with Black-and-chestnut Warbling-Finch, Masked Yellowthroat and Stripe-capped Sparrow. Afterwards we had lunch in a nice restaurant in Capilla del Monte before starting our two-hourstwo-hour’ drive to our next destination.

We arrived at the hotel in Dean Funes in the afternoon and had a long nap (due to the high temperatures of this area) before we went out on the field again. Although it was 5 pm, it was still very warm and the sun was strong. We drove for a while along a paved road and then went onto a dirt road to head towards the very heart of the Salinas area. Our first find was the very special Salinas Monjita. We had two of them at very close range and spent some time taking photos of this tame endemic species. Not far from there we had good views of Patagonian Mockingbird, the endemic breeder, Lesser Shrike-Tyrant and Ringed Warbling-Finch. On our way back to the hotel we stopped several times along the road where we found other Chaco specialties such as Chaco Puffbird, Red-crested Finch, Grey-crowned Tyrannulet (a species yet to be formally described), Crested Hornero in its nest, the handsome Black-crested Finch and most important of all, great scope views of Spot-winged Falconet!. Some other common species such as Great Kiskadee, Streaked Flycatcher, Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and Tropical Kingbird completed the list. A White-naped Xenopsaris came to playback and a beautiful Masked Gnatcatcher was foraging on a tree near the road. After a productive afternoon we went back to the hotel and had a nice dinner.

November 12th: Long drive from Salinas Grandes to Tafi del Valle birding en route.

Weather: Sunny and warm.

After a nice breakfast we went back to the shrubby area near Salinas Grandes to see some more birds. We heard Brushland Tinamou several times but didn’t get to see any, however we found three Dark-billed Cuckoos by the road. Some Crested Hornero, Black-crested Finch, Many-coloured Chaco-Finch and Red-crested Finch were all feeding on seeds on one side of the road and another Spot-winged Falconet was calling from the top of a nearby tree. A pair of White-fronted Woodpecker came suddenly to playback and perched on some fence posts in front of the bus while a noisy Tawny-crowned Pigmy-Tyrant was calling from the bushes beyond the fence.

After an excellent morning, we continued on to our next destination, stopping from time to time to see some other birds. Once in Tucuman province, we had our lunch and started to look for some rare birds such as Dinelli’s Doradito, which is a very little known and scarce species in all its distribution. We had great success with that and we also had outstanding scope views of Rufous-sided Crake, Green Kingfisher, Plumbeous Rail and Wren-like Rushbird by a pond near the road. We also found Nacunda Nighthawk in an open field where there were Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Grey and Golden-billed Saltators, Grassland Yellow-Finch and White Monjita. Near the pond we found Striated Heron, Cocoi Heron and Anhinga. A Savanna Hawk was on the top of an electric post by the road and a group of Guira Cuckoos flew across the road. This set of sightings highly compensated the lack of water in Costanera Sur!

After we saw all these fascinating birds we continued on towards Tafi del Valle. The road climbs up crossing the wonderful Yungas Cloudforest ending on a high elevation grassland. We stopped along the Yungas to find Mitred Parakeet, Highland Elaenia and a female Red-tailed Comet On one stop, we had great views of one of the most fascinating birds of this area: a Rufous-throated Dipper, preening itself in the middle of the river next to the road, a place that is also shared by one of the most beautiful ducks of South America: the Torrent Duck, of which we found a pair.

We arrived at the hotel early in the evening and had dinner, after which we did the bird list. While enjoying a nice meal we made plans for the next day.

November 13th: Early morning birding in La Angostura Lake, then back to Yungas Forest. Afternoon birding in high grasslands area.

Weather: Chilly and sunny in the morning, foggy and cool in the afternoon.

After a pleasant breakfast we headed to La Angostura Lake, a big reservoir near Tafi del Valle. There were plenty waterfowl such as the handsome Coscoroba Swan, Red Shoveler, the beautiful Cinnamon Teal, Speckled Teal, an amazing Chiloe Wigeon, Yellow-billed Pintail and Lake Duck. After a more thorough scan of the lake and its coast we found Great Grebe, White-tufted Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Cocoi Heron. White-winged Coot, Red-fronted Coot and Red-gartered Coot were all in the same location. In the grassy area near the coast of the lake we found Short-billed and Correndera Pipit, and we also flushed out a South American Snipe. Several Andean and Grey-hooded Gulls were flying above the lake.

After a couple of hours we moved on to the Yungas area where we had been the previous day. There we had great views of Slaty Elaenia, Rough-legged Tyrannulet, Sayaca Tanager and White-bellied Tyrannulet. One of the target species of this area is the endemic Yellow-striped Brush-Finch. We found a flock near the road along with several White-throated Tyrannulets. We went back to the hotel to have lunch and a short rest to continue birding in the grassland beyond town. This high elevation grassland, which is a part of the Humid Puna, holds some very attractive endemic birds and other specialties from the Andes. We drove slowly along a paved road, climbing towards the highest point at about 3000 meters above sea level. We stopped by the road and walked along a gulley where we saw Andean Lapwing as well as an Andean Tinamou at very close range. Three of the endemics of this area soon showed up. Moreno’s Ground-Dove, the very handsome Tucuman Mountain-Finch and the beautiful White-browed Tapaculo. A flock of Hooded and Thick-billed Siskins were flying nearby and a White-winged Cinclodes flew in front of us very fast. We continued driving a bit further and found White-browed Chat-Tyrant and higher up we found another endemic species, Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, seen with amazing views in the scope. By the road and beneath the tin roof of a house we found a nest of Streak-fronted Thornbird with a pair inhabiting it. Several Sierra-Finches showed up by the road: Plumbeous, Ash-breasted and the beautifully contrasted Band-tailed. In the late afternoon the weather got worse and fog and rain chased us away from the field, but we were pleased after another great day, so we headed to the hotel for a well deserved dinner.

November 14th: Morning birding around El Infiernillo. Afternoon in Monte Desert habitat.

Weather: Chilly in the morning in El Infiernillo pass. Very warm in Monte Desert

After an early breakfast we headed to El Infiernillo pass stopping by the road. We spotted Helmayr’s Pipit and Cordillieran Canastero from the bus and had great views of an Ornate Tinamou that stood on the roadside for several minutes. A Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail and a Plain-coloured Seedeater were soon recorded in the shrubs near the road. Beyond the pass we stopped for a superb Aplomado Falcon perched on top of a fence post. It only flew away when we approached about 5 meters from it. Flocks of Greenish Yellow-Finches and Ash-breasted Sierra-Finches passed flying overhead. As we went beyond the pass, the habitat becomes dryer and dryer and the bird species changed radically. We found two new species of Earthcreepers: Scale-throated and Straight-billed, great views of both!. Grey-hooded Sierra-Finches and Rufous-banded Miner were recorded in the roadside ravines along with the very nice Dorbigni’s Chat-Tyrant and Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail. In an area with lots of flowers we had fantastic views of Sparkling Violet-ear, Giant Hummingbird and an outstanding male Red-tailed Comet at less than two meters range. A Rusty Flowerpiercer showed up amidst the bushes and a small flock of Grey-hooded Parakeets that perched in the same flowered bushes completed the show.

On our next stop we found a pair of Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant and Black Siskin and further on Creamy-breasted Canastero, Mourning Sierra-Finch and Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch popped up in a very nice Cacti area. Afterwards we stopped for lunch in a small picturesque town and then continued on to Cafayate to check-in at the hotel. Since the afternoon was very warm and bird activity very low, we decided to take a nap and go out later in the afternoon to look for some other specialties of the area. We drove through a dirt road for a while and stopped at the end of a wide valley. Our target there was the little known Steinbach’s Canastero which showed up after a little playback. Some other birds like Ringed Warbling-Finch and Common Diuca-Finch were also in the area. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a little reservoir alongside the road. We found some more interesting birds such as Chilean Flamingo, Lake Duck, Ruddy Duck and the handsome Ringed Teal. There was also a Ruddy Turnstone, an unusual sight for this part of Argentina. The strong wind impeded us to continue birding so we decided to go back to the hotel. We crossed several picturesque villages with adobe houses and the late afternoon sunlight shone beautifully on the desert as we crossed very old vineyards and peaceful valleys. But the birding day didn’t finish there. After having a nice dinner in a traditional restaurant we went out for a night tour. Our main target was the rare Chaco Owl which inhabits this dry area. We drove for 15 minutes out of town and walked another 15 minutes along a dirt road. After a little playback a pair of Chaco Owls soon came and perched right overhead. We all had a wonderful scope view of this magnificent owl. After about 15 minutes the birds left, we were all very excited with our recent discovery.

November 15th: Morning birding in Monte Desert. Afternoon drive to Coronel Moldes.

Weather: Sunny and warm.

It was a beautiful morning in the Calchaqui valley. After a nice breakfast we drove back to the desert to look for some more nice birds. Our main targets for the day were the endemic Sandy Gallito and one of the most emblematic birds of South America, the Black-legged Seriema. We arrived at an open area and walked through the sandy landscape when suddenly a Sandy Gallito ran from one bush to another. The bird popped up on the top of a bush right in front of us at less than three meters and started to call. Another bird showed up after a couple of minutes and both birds disappeared running in a very funny way through the desert. We continued walking, crossing a riverbed and climbing a sand dune. After a while we arrived at a small patch of fairly big trees and called the Seriema. After some minutes of complete silence, one Seriema appeared running behind the bushes and run away when it saw us. Hector said that we had to wait for some minutes and try again. We all moved to another spot of the forest and tried again there. This time the Seriema was much more co-operative and stayed long enough in front of us so that we managed to have very nice scope views of it. After all the excitement of having seen such a magnificent bird we walked slowly back to the bus. Some other birds that were added to the list in the way back were Tufted Tit-Spinetail, Chaco Earthcreeper, White-fronted Woodpecker, Southern Scrub-Flycatcher and Black-crowned Monjita, which is an endemic breeder. We also heard a group of Elegant-crested Tinamou but unfortunately they were too far away in this vast dry place and we didn’t get to see them. We also spent some time looking for the White-throated Cacholote but didn’t have any luck.

After we got on the bus we drove back to town for lunch. After, we started our trip to our next destination. We headed northeast and took a road that crosses spectacular landscapes with very impressive rock formations. We also stopped at a cliff area which has a nesting colony of Burrowing Parrots to see this nice and noisy bird. After quite a long drive through a constantly changing landscape we arrived at a big lake located very close to the hotel. We were all excited when Didier spotted a Blue-winged Teal, a very rare species for Argentina. There were also Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Ringed Teal, Cinnamon Teal, a pair of Silver Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, the beautiful Rosy-billed Pochard and a group of Black-headed Duck. We also ticked Little Blue Heron, Cocoi Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Buff-necked Ibis and White-faced Ibis. Along the coast of the lake we recorded Yellowish Pipit, Snail Kite and a beautiful female Cream-backed Woodpecker in some trees. We went back to the hotel to finish the day with a nice dinner after adding a lot of new birds on our trip list.

November 16th: Cachi Road.

Weather: Chilli morning and foggy afternoon

We had an early breakfast and an early departure to mountains located to the west of our hotel. After driving through some forested area we stopped by the road to bird in the Yungas forest again. Some Large-tailed Doves flew over from an open area in front of us and a very pretty Andean Slaty-Thrush was feeding on berries along with a Swainson’s Thrush in a tree by the road. Black-backed Grosbeak and Orange-headed Tanager were flying around, a big flock of Mitred Parakeets passed flying through the valley and a few Scaly-headed Parrots flew very high overhead. A nice White-bellied Hummingbird was perched at close range and an Azara’s Spinetail showed very well. A beautiful White-winged Becard came after playback and we heard a Rufous-capped Antshike and a Giant Antshrike from the midst of the forest, however we weren’t able to see these last two. We continued driving up the valley with amazing views of beautiful huge cliffs. We noted the changes in vegetation type as we proceeded, Yungas cloudforest gave way to shrubby ravines with sparse cacti, and then grasslands covered the slopes. We spotted Yellow-browed and White-winged Tyrant and soon we arrived at an area where bird species are totally different from what we previously had. Some very special birds such as Maquis Canastero and the rare Rufous-bellied Saltator were soon on the list. We also had great views of the little known Zimmer’s Tapaculo. Other Andean species such as the rare Scribble-tailed Canastero, Rust-and-yellow Tanager and Rock Earthcreeper were recorded in the grassy slopes by the road. There were two Streak-throated Bush-Tyrants and Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant seen around and a Dusky-capped Flycatcher was calling from a forested area along with the Spot-breasted Thornbird. Later in the afternoon, fog cloaked the valley, so we decided to continue climbing on the road to reach the highest point at about 3000 mts.a.s.l. There we had good views of Slender-billed Miner, Least Seedsnipe and the very handsome Tawny-throated Dotterel. We started to drive back and decided to stop once again in the Yungas area to add some more species to the list such as Slater’s Tyrannulet, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Euler’s Flycatcher and a group of Dusky-legged Guan.

November 17th: Morning birding in the road to El Rey National Park. Afternoon in Las Lajitas.

Weather: Sunny and warm

After breakfast we drove East to the Chaco habitat around Las Lajitas. We crossed the city of Salta and then took the road that runs south, to turn left on a secondary road that crossed a very nice transitional forest. From the bus we spotted a Collared Peccary and after some time turned left again and drove through the road to El Rey National Park. The forest in this area is very well preserved and treated us with Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Yellow-olive Flycatcher and the tiny White-barred Piculet. We also had Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher and Two-banded Warbler. Some raptors were soaring up high overhead, among them there were Plumbeous Kite and Sharp-shinned Hawk but the real excitement was a King Vulture flying very low. A very colourful Fawn-breasted Tanager was quite high up in the tree canopy but we managed to have good scope views of it. After spending some time in the forest we decided to continue our way to Las Lajitas, so we took the main road but soon stopped to check some ponds by the road. Surprisingly, we found lots of birds there. Comb Duck, Brazilian Teal and Ringed Teal were all together and a bit further on we spotted Speckled Teal, Pied-billed Grebe and White-faced Whistling-Duck. There were also Striated Heron, Cocoi Heron, Great Egret and a nice Whistling Heron. White-faced and Bare-faced Ibises flew by overhead and a Snail Kite was also flying around seeking for food. A Great-black Hawk was perched on a fence post while a Large Elaenia was calling near nearby. There were also two Moorhens and several White-winged and Red-gartered Coots. Greater Yellowlegs, Wattled Jacana, Black-necked Stilt and Black-backed Water-Tyrant were also recorded in the same area.

We continued driving for about an hour until we arrived at the hotel. We had lunch and afterwards had a long nap since the temperature outside was about 38 C. We met late in the afternoon in the lobby and drove out along a dirt road. After some kilometres we stopped and walked along the dry Chaco habitat that remains in the area. We found Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Pearly-vented Tory-Tyrant, Crowned Slaty-Flycatcher and Red-eyed Vireo. A beautiful Red-crested Cardinal was seen at very close range along with Blue-and-yellow Tanager. We went back for dinner and out again for Owling. It was a very quiet night and soon we heard our first Common Potoo which came quickly to playback. We tried for Little Nightjar and actually we heard some at a distance but they didn’t get closer. But we had very good views of a Tropical Screech Owl before deciding to go back to the hotel and to bed.

November 18th: Morning birding around Las Lajitas. Afternoon drive to Salta city.

Weather: Very warm and sunny

We started with an early wake up in order to take advantage of the fresh morning in this warm area. After breakfast we drove through the same road that we had taken the day before and we soon spotted our first Greater Rheas. Southern and Chimango Caracaras were flying around and a pair of Aplomado Falcons were also recorded sitting on a fence post beside the road. We found a pair of Rufous-fronted Thornbirds in their nest, hanging from a tree branch. We had another walk through a secondary road and soon recorded Plain Tyrannulet, Rufous Casiornis, Swainson’s and Brown-crested Flycatchers and the impressive Great-rufous Woodcreeper. At the end of the road we saw flocks of Monk and Blue-crowned Parakeets and Blue-fronted Parrots, all with good scope views. A group of magnificent Plush-crested Jay approached us looking inquisitively and making all sorts of noise. We finished our walk on a river bank from where we could see a Muscovy Duck and Southern Rough-winged Swallow. Some Chaco Chachalacas and even a Brocket Deer were walking on the road. We continued driving on the main road a bit further and found some ponds with Black-necked Stilts, Lesser Yellowlegs, Cocoi Heron and Whistling Heron. A Buff-necked Ibis passed flying overhead and a White-tailed Kite was hovering above a ploughed field. A bit further along the road we found Great Antshrike, Smooth-billed Ani and Grey-necked Wood-Rail. After a good morning we went back to the hotel for lunch, continuing afterwards on to Salta city. We stopped on the road to do some birding near some ponds. There we found White-winged Coot, Muscovy Duck, Least Grebe and Southern Screamer! After a fairly long drive we eventually arrived at the hotel which is located in the heart of the Montane Forest which corresponds to one of the highest layers of the Yungas Forest. There we found Smoke-coloured Pewee, Golden-rumped and Purple-throated Euphonia, Hepatic Tanager, Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, Saffron-billed Sparrow, White-bellied Hummingbird and a beautiful Crested Oropendola. We had an early dinner in a traditional restaurant very close to the hotel, where we tasted a delicious regional meal.

November 19th: Morning birding around the hotel. Afternoon flight to BA. Late evening flight to Iberá Marshes.

Weather: Chilly in the morning, warm in the afternoon

IAfter breakfast we had a short walk around the hotel. A Whistling Heron flew away from a field and two Southern Caracaras passed flying overhead. A Rufous-browed Peppershrike was calling from a tree and a Bran-coloured Flycatcher popped up on top of a bush. Monk Parakeet and Scaly-headed Parrot were also recorded. We crossed a small bridge and by a little stream we spotted a Black Phoebe and a Brown-capped Whitestart that was hanging upside down on a small branch. We were looking for Red-legged Seriema which sometimes is found around the houses near the hotel but had no luck. Some Burrowing Owls and a pair of Southern Lapwings were watching us from an open field and a Glittering-bellied Emerald was feeding on some flowers at close range. We saw a Stripe-crowned Spinetail and a Mottle-checked Tyrannulet high up on a tree. Later on we went to the airport and took the plane back to Buenos Aires. We had a long wait before our connecting flight to the Northeast, which made us arrive in Ibera Marshes very late in the night.

November 20th: Whole day birding in the Ibera Marshes.

Weather: Sunny and very warm

The “Estancia” where we stayed is a traditional cattle ranch, one of the oldest in north eastern Argentina. It is located on a forested patch surrounded by natural grasslands and wetlands. The rooms face the Marshes and the quietness is superb. We had an early breakfast in the estancia and then we went for a walk around the main group of houses. Some Great Rheas were very close to the building and a Savanna and Black-collared Hawks were soon on the list. A bit later we took a vehicle and drove through the fields and found some of the main target species of this area: the threatened Ochre-breasted Pipit and Strange-tailed Tyrant. We also added several seedeaters to the list such as Rusty-collared, Double-collared, Capped, Tawny-bellied, Dark-throated, Rufous-rumped and Chestnut Seedeater. In the same area we spotted Yellow-rumped and Brown-and-yellow Marshbird. We continued driving a bit more and stopped the vehicle when we found our first Black-and-white Monjita, also a threatened bird of Argentina. Later on we had lunch at the ranch before taking a rest. In the afternoon we decided to go walking around the lodge. We recorded our first Chotoy Spinetail and a Greater Thornbird. A Rufescent Tiger-Heron was watching us from its nest on a tree right above one of the rooms. Some Firewood Gatherers were calling from a nest and a Solitary Sandpiper was feeding on a muddy area. Later in the afternoon we recorded Hellmayr’s Pipit, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Wattled Jacana, Purple and Azure Gallinule, Spotted Nothura, Maguari Stork, Jabiru and the handsome Long-winged Harrier. There was a family of Capybaras sleeping by the road that didn’t move at all when we passed by and also some Marshland Deer were feeding on some aquatic vegetation not far from us. It was a bit dark when we heard two Ash-throated Crakes which eventually moved to an open area where we could put them in the scope. After dinner we went out to look for some night birds without luck, but we saw some nice Caymans, Crab-eating Fox and more Deer. Capybaras were all over the place.

November 21st: Morning birding in the Ibera Marshes. Afternoon drive to Posadas and fly to BA and then to Europe.

Weather: Windy early in the morning. Sunny and warm late in the morning

It was rather windy early in the morning but we got to see some nice birds. Around the hotel we had our first Little Woodpecker. Later we took a vehicle and drove through the fields towards the ponds and small lakes typical form the Ibera Marshes system. In company of a local guide, we took a boat to do some birding inside the marsh area. We recorded the wonderful Crested Doradito and the magnificent Scarlet-headed Marshbird. There were also some White-faced Whistling Ducks and Brazilian Teals. Several Roseate Spoonbills flew overhead and big flocks of White-faced and Bare-faced Ibises crossed the sky. A Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture was flying around the marshes and three Wood Storks passed by flying very high. Raptors are abundant here, and we recorded Long-winged Harrier, Snail Kite, Savanna Hawk, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle and Southern Caracara. Some other specialties of the marshes such as Giant Wood-Rail, Ringed Kingfisher and Yellow-billed Tern were also seen. We went all the way around a big pond and soon spotted Yellow-chinned Spinetail and Lesser Grass-Finch. A Spectacled Tyrant was displaying and a Sooty Tyrannulet had its little nest built on top of a post popping out from the middle of the pond. Some noisy Black-capped Donacobius were calling from the top of the reeds and a big Black Cayman was sunbathing in an open area. The morning was getting very warm so we decided to go back to the hotel for lunch. We then packed our stuff and waited for the transfer to the airport. The vehicle that was going to take us to Posadas soon came but we still added some birds to our list. We saw Grey-breasted and Brown-chested Martins, White-rumped and Barn Swallows. As we drove out of the Estancia, several Black-crowned Night-Herons were perched by the road and a beautiful Green Kingfisher was seen when we stopped the car to open one of the gates. Afterwards we had a non-stop drive to Posadas and waited for our flight that was scheduled at 9 p.m. We said farewell to Hector and flew down to Buenos Aires for a last night, before taking the flight back to Europe.

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