26 August 2017 – Mercedes – Mburucuyá – And the heavens opened …
Woken in the middle of the night by phone call from reception asking me to please register the woman in my room. Explain there is no woman in my room. A couple of minutes later a soft knocking at the door and a slinky, expensively dressed female is there smiling at me. I explain to her as I had to the receptionist that there must be some mistake, and closed the door on her. About ten minutes later the phone rings again, this being reception telling me what I already knew, that there must have been a mistake. Finally, I get to sleep; strange dreams we need not go into here.
Back to the birding.
Got up early and loaded the car, which was on the other side of the Plaza. As I walked back a large bird crapped on my head – not too worried, as this is said to bring good luck. We’ll see. Stomach and then petrol tank filled, I set off for the Mburucuyá National Park, to the west of the Iberá Reserve.
I set off to torrential rain, with lightning crashing frighteningly all around the car, but after an hour or so it began to clear as I made my way around the bottom and then the left of the Iberá wetlands. Another glorious road for birding, with wetlands on either side full of birds, and I did stop for a couple of easy shots, but I wanted to get on to Mburucuyá National Park.
Which I did, entering the park on a difficult road, mostly loose sand but heavily rutted where service vehicles had passed in wet weather. It was a tough and very slow 30 km as I was in my rented Chevy Corsa, and as I was arriving at the park it began to rain. I couldn’t turn round as it was too narrow and rutted so I had no choice to go to the end where a ranger told me to get out quick as the granddaddy of storms was about to break.
I did see two crab-eating foxes (yes, really) and a female pampas deer in all the rush but didn’t manage to get photos as they all disappeared before I could get a lens on them except this fox trotting away from me which I shot through the windscreen. Another reason for returning.
Discretion being the better half of valour and all that I turned the car round and started back. Hightailing it was out of the question, and in about ten minutes the storm broke: an electrical storm, even more frightening than earlier in the morning. Same road, except now the loose sand had turned to slippery mud. For once I had a reserve plan as I knew the ranger would be returning in a few hours but using all my skills and savvy (I wish!) I slid and slithered the 30 km or so back to the safety of the gravel road (ripio). Never have I been happier to see gravel road!
At which point, as if to make a point, the rain stopped and the sun came out so I spent a couple of hours driving and walking around the town‘s different entry and exit roads. Plenty to see there birdwise, and the National Park (which looked great, what I saw of it) can wait till a second visit.
My accommodation for tonight is a cabaña with room for five so looks like I screwed up on the booking but it’s very comfortable to rattle around in, with some acceptable beer in the fridge. Food can be phoned in, which I did because I was tired and didn’t feel like going out again. Lovely river fish with boiled cassava and potato in a herby sauce – vary tasty, followed by some unidentifiable crystalised tropical fruit.
Tomorrow to Ituzaingó, where I re-enter the Iberá Reserve at Cambyretá. Fingers crossed for better weather.