Birding Tours and Nature Photography in Southern South America

Custom Argentina: Nov - Dec 2019

Buenos Aires, Ceibas, Iguazu

Participants: Roger Gibb, Anne Gibb
Guides: Diego Oscar, Patricio Ramirez Llorens

This was our first holiday in Argentina, and our first trip to South America, so we were going to need some help! There are several companies that do birding tours, but we researched Buenos Dias Birding and made our choice. We needn't have worried, everything worked fine. Thank you Agustina for the great communication throughout the booking and planning process, and for being very flexible with regards to the payment. A big thank you also goes to the two experienced and helpful birders who accompanied us
during our trip – Diego Oscar and Patricio Ramirez Llorens.

I should say that this was first and foremost a holiday to Argentina, fitting in some birding when we could and not a birding holiday fitting in some sights. In summary, in two weeks we had a total of two full days with Buenos Dias Birding, including a half day in the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, a full day in Ceibas and a half day in the forests south of Iguazu - tallying 227 different species in the process – fantastic!

We landed in Buenos Aires at 9:20am after our 14 hour flight. We found our hotel, got changed, had some lunch and stepped outside to find Diego Oscar, our guide, waiting for us. Off we went to the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, ideally located in the city centre. Diego was well equipped with an up-to-date field guide, translated bird names, a very good Vortex scope, binoculars and of course his identification skills. With the help of Diego, we managed to see 80 different species that afternoon. My hearing is not very good, but Diego heard, located and pointed out so many of the species. We were able to photograph many of the birds and the fact that Diego put the list on eBird later that night made it so easy to put a name to the images.

We then took a day off from the birding to do some sight-seeing around the city, however we did find ourselves back at the Costanera Sur in the afternoon, armed with significantly more confidence after our experience with Diego!

The following day we had a very early start for our drive to Ceibas. Again, Diego picked us up at our hotel and off we went. He is a very likeable guy, on the way we chatted about his family, Argentina, his birding trips abroad etc. After a short stop for a snack and coffee, we were back on Route 12 heading for our first birding spot. Diego was well stocked with snacks and bottled water, which as particularly handy as it was starting to warm up! Upon arrival in the small town of Ceibas we turned off the main road, entering immediately a small wooded copse that produce some beauties; Vermilion flycatcher, White-napped Xenopsaris, Red- crested Cardinal, White-faced and Bare-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills and Maguari Storks to name a few. Diego got quite excited spotting a Smooth-billed Ani, a member of the Cuckoo family rarely seen this far south.

After a good lunch break at a local restaurant, we headed along a side road towards the wetlands formed from the Rio Uruguay. We birded along this road for the rest of the afternoon. Fork-tailed flycatcher, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Purple Gallinule and South American Snipe were just a few highlights from the dearth of new species seen along this road. We also had the opportunity to look again at several of the species we had seen at the Costanera Sur. The last stop before the journey back gave us excellent views of Savanna Hawk perched up on a post. The morning session around Ceibas produced 47 species and in the afternoon a magnificent 103! From Buenos Aires to the birding area took about 2 hours each way, not ideal but the only way we had to see this part of the bird-rich area of Entre Rios. If we had the time we would have loved to stay overnight and make a two day tour of the area.

And so our holiday in Argentina continued. We had three nights in El Calafate, which of course included a visit to the excellent Reserva Laguna Nimez, fitted in between visits to the wonderful Upsala Glacier and the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier. From there we headed to Bariloche, where we birded the local area and took a trip up the R23 to Los Juncas.

The final leg of our holiday took us to Iguazu in the far north. We had three days here. Sight-seeing the truly beautiful falls from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides of the river took most of our time, but we did manage to fit in an afternoon visit to the Jardin de los Picaflores (Hummingbird Garden) in Puerto Iguazu, an experience not to be missed, as well as an early morning birding tour with Patricio Ramírez Llorens.

Birding in the forest was a very different experience from our day in Ceibas. While it is not as easy to see as many of the birds up in the canopy, with Patricio’s excellent hearing we were quickly adding plenty of species to our list. We spent our time on a small dirt track, the lesser used end of the Route 101 out of town. Patricio is a lovely guide and it is clear that nature is in his blood. He told us not only about the birds, but also the mammals of the forest. When he pointed out very fresh Jaguar tracks in the earth, my wife and I became close friends once again! In total we had a bird count of 55 species for the morning. Squirrel Cuckoo, Surucua and Black-throated Trogons, a Purple- crowned Plovercrest, Lineated Woodpecker, several species of Tanager and many more exciting forest species just kept adding to our expanding bird list for Argentina.

Argentina is a wonderful country to visit, vibrant towns and cities, awe-inspiring natural sights, warm hospitable people and of course excellent birdlife. In total we managed 227 different species, more birds than in any country I have visited before.

We were so lucky with the guides provided by Buenos Dias Birding. They were not only expert guides, but great guys to spend our birding experience with. Without their experience and knowledge our species count for the holiday would have been very much reduced. Big thanks to everyone involve with our Argentinian birding adventure!

Roger and Anne GIBB
Shropshire, United Kingdom.

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