Home Blog Argentina - Iguazú Falls and Iberá wetlands
PDF Print E-mail
Argentina - Iguazú Falls and Iberá wetlands
Friday, 04 October 2013 19:01
Written by Neil Gray

I returned last Sunday night (22 Oct 2013) from an 8-day birding trip to Argentina and Brazil (briefly). I stayed for 4 nights in Puerto Iguazú on the Argentinian side of the Iguazú Falls, with 2½ days birding in the Iguazú Falls National Park and a half day for a trip across the border to the Parque das Aves (Bird Park) in Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side.

Iguazú boasts one of the largest remaining patches of Atlantic forest in Argentina. Birding in rain forest is a tricky business as many of the tiniest birds prefer the canopy 20 m and more up. Yet others skulk around in the thickest bush and are very hard to get even the briefest glimpse of. My hearing is not as good as it used to be, so had I not had the services of 2 very experienced local guides, Daniel Somay and Carlos Barros, who knew their bird calls very well and could focus my attention in the right areas, I might have seen only half of the species that I did.

Day 5 saw an all-day 475 km road transfer with a side excursion to see the Plovercrest, a range-restricted and not often seen Atlantic Forest hummingbird. I headed southwards to the village of Carlos Pellegrini on the Laguna Iberá in the Esteros del Iberá (Ibera wetlands) nature reserve, reputed to be the 2nd largest wetland area in the world. They were listed as a RAMSAR site in 2002. I again stayed 4 nights, with 3 full days dedicated to birding, split into half-day excursions focussed on different habitats, true wetland, flooded grassland, dry grassland and acacia dominated woodland.

Again, but for the services of my excellent guide, Rodrigo Fracalossi, who was able to take me to some “off the beaten track” locales, my species count would have been much lower.

Day 9 was the reverse trip back to Puerto Iguazú airport for the flight back to Santiago via Buenos Aires. The first 120 km of sand road had become rather challenging (the polite word) after heavy thunderstorms and was distinctly 4x4 territory. I had visions of being stuck at Iberá (shame!). I still managed to add 2 species to the trip list, birding “on the move”.

I had researched the birding possibilities of the two areas thoroughly before I embarked on the trip and had come to the conclusion that a trip list of 150 would be where to set the bar, with around 100 lifers included. Due mainly to the sharp eyes and ears of my 3 guides and visiting some areas that I would definitely not have got to on my own the eventual trip list totalled some 213 species, with 173 lifers and 143 species added to my photos list. I also added Argentina as the 8th country for which I currently have a species list of over 200.

I did not take my laptop with me, so to optimise memory card space I sat every evening and reviewed my day’s photos on the camera, deleting all the out-of-focus, back-of-head and gone-away-bird shots. Nevertheless, I still returned to Santiago with 2,500 photos to process! That should keep me out mischief in the evenings for a while!

The images will be posted initially as STOP PRESS! but will eventually be placed in the South America gallery.

 

Neil