On the road again – to the land of Jesuits, Mennonites and (hopefully) jaguars

The Province of Misiones in north-east Argentina is named for the Jesuit Missions, or ‘Reductions’, a type of settlement for indigenous people in South America created by the Spanish Jesuit Order during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Shortly off on my next trip, and already getting excited about it. The trip consists of three parts (see below) and all things being as planned should take 35 days. Not taking Silver the Jeep this time as I am starting in the north of Argentina but will be using a number of car rentals, some 4WDs, and depending on the services of a number of guides.

Trip 1: mainly around the Iberá Wetlands

Trip One starts in Posadas, northern Argentina (see above), and takes me around three important birding areas. One is the township of Carlos Pelligrini, on the Eastern edge of the Iberá wetlands, decribed by Wikipedia as ‘a mix of swamps, bogs, stagnant lakes, lagoons, natural slough and courses of water in the center and center-north of the province of Corrientes, Argentina’. The wetlands are the second-largest wetlands in the world after the Pantanal in Brazil, and a paradise for lovers of wildlife. Then I spend a couple of days in the Mburucuya National Park, and finally three nights in Cambyreta, a northern gateway to the wetlands from Ituzaingó.

Trip 2 From San Pedro to Iguazú, stopping off a lot on the way

The second trip (see above) will be around the northern half of the Argentine Province of Misiones, starting in San Pedro where I pick up Guy Cox who will accompany me for the week. We shall start at the  Parque Provincial Cruce Caballero, an aracauria forest reserve near San Pedro, and then move north hugging the border with Brazil as far as San Sebastian de la Selva; then on to  the area around Iguazú. There’ll be other trails too along the way: Guy is sorting that out for me.

Forest clearing in the Paraguayan Chaco

The third, and perhaps most exciting trip because of how far off the beaten track it will be, will be in the Paraguayan Chaco, described by Wikipedia (I know) as ‘a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland natural region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among eastern Bolivia, western Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, where it is connected with the Pantanal region’. I shall be visiting the ‘northern’ Chaco, where Mennonites have settled, and will experience both humid and arid areas.

Mennonites in Paraguay (Photo from https://lanterns.buzz/index.cfm)

We’ll be doing some general tourism (Historical sites, Jesuit Missions, Mennonite communities, etc.) and visiting reserves north-west from Asuncion, along the Route 9, up to and beyond Filadelfia. With 500 birds, 150 mammals and 220 reptiles and amphibians it promises to be interesting, not least because of its inaccessibility and inhospitability. The big hope is jaguars, but our chances are probably not that good – we’ll see.

The huge hope is to see jaguars – fingers crossed, but the odds are probably against it. (Photo from https://www.wcs.org/our-work/species/jaguars)

My sister Caroline is joining me for this part of the trip and we have had to contract the services of a guide (Oscar), driver and cook, the last of which I imagine as going off to pot bushmeat as evening approaches but I may be wrong – he may bring a tin opener instead.

Roads in Paraguay are not the world’s best, and when it rains are frequently impassable for a few days. (Photo from http://aufpad.com/2016/06/28/paraguay/)

We’ll be with Oscar for a week or so, and then Caroline and I will spend a further week exploring the area to the south-east of Asunción. No plans for that part yet, but we’ll be blogging the whole trip although not in real time since wifi and electricity are going to be in short supply.

Watch this space.


The rime of the unwanted wedding guest

With apologies to Coleridge and de la Mere

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Bailiff,
Knocking on the vestry door;
His super turbo 4×4
In sympathetic roar.
And an owl flew out of the belfry,
And a distant hawk did cry,
And a black cat hissed at the Bailiff,
And some travellers passed by.

But the wedding party was long gone
The bride and groom had kissed.
And all had gone to the Rose and Swan
Where most were fairly pissed.
And no one saw the Bailiff
Who came to church that day,
Walk back to car with writ unserved,
Rev up, and drive away.

Anahí and the Ceibo tree

The Ceibo or Seibo tree with its beautiful red blossom was declared the national flower of Argentina on the 24th November, 1942. This Guarani story tells of where the Ceibo came from.

On the shores of the river Paraná there once lived an ugly old woman called Anahí. Ugly she might have been, and old she certainly was, but she was much loved in the tribe and still sang with the voice of an angel. In the summer evenings she would often delight her tribe with her songs; songs of the tribe, of the gods and of the land in which they lived. Life was plain and uncomplicated, and good for her and her people.

And then one day the white people arrived and took away their lands, their gods, their freedom. Many of the tribe, including Anahí, were taken captive, and spent several days locked up while their captors decided what to do with them.

Anahí did not lose hope and bided her time, keeping her eyes open for any chances of escape. Her luck came when one of her guards had had too much to drink and fell asleep close to the bars of her cage. Anahí was able reach the keys which he had hanging on his belt and she used these to free herself. As she opened her cell door and tiptoed to freedom the guard was lying on the floor, moaning and groaning in his sleep.

He must have noticed her, because he suddenly started shouting and the noise alerted other white men, who came to investigate. Anahí could hear the sound of voices and footsteps approaching, and although she had wanted to free the other prisoners she felt this was not now an option, and that it was better to get away while she could and see later what she could do to help the others.

Anahí hobbled out of the prison and stumbled through the prison garden, through the fields, through the woods, across streams, until she reached the thick forest. Tired and frightened, she rested there. But luck was against her; the white men had brought dogs who could smell her presence. They took little time to find her, and the men dragged the old woman to a clearing where they tied her to a thorny old bush.

Some soldiers gathered dry wood and built up a pyre around Anahi’s legs. The wood was slow to burn but eventually the fire took, and flames began to encircle the poor old woman and then climb up her frail body.  This was to be her fate.

What happened next was a miracle. As she stood there, unconscious, her aged body sagging against the ropes and her head twisted to one side, her limbs slowly began to meld into the tree which she was tied to, and the two became one.  And the bush did not burn, in fact it seemed oblivious to the fire, or rather it seemed to relish the flames as it grew greener and stronger.

The flames slowly died out as all the wood the soldiers had gathered was consumed, and there, in the place where a wizened old thorn bush had propped up Anahí’s body, had sprung to life the most magnificent tree, in full green bloom and all ablaze with bright red flowers. The shrivelled bush and the ugly old woman had fused into a beautiful, colourful tree that before long, with help from the birds and animals, multiplied itself and can be found today throughout the land.

Trip to Chile, 19-21 December 2016

I took four days off to visit Chile, scheduling two nights on the Pacific coast and one in the Parque Nacional Puyehue. On the Pacific coast I stayed at Bahía Mansa (visiting the uncommercialised villages of Pucatrihue, Maicolpue and Trill Trill). On the third night I stayed on the shores of Lago Puyehue, within striking distance of the entrance to the National Park at Aguas Calientes.

The weather was absolutely appalling, with only occasional patches of viable light. Using these I managed to get a few shots, but only two lifers: the choroy (slender-billed parakeet), Enicognathus leptorhynchus, and the remolinera araucana (Dark-bellied Cinclodes), Cinclodes patagonicus.

Adult and juvenile Southern Pudu, Puda puda

On the first day I had the good luck to see a couple of Pudu, the smallest deer in the world. Apologies for cruddy photo: I was so excited when I saw them, and had so little time to grab a shot that I forget that I had been shooting video and didn’t reset the camera to photo – result, very artistic but not very clear. It wasn’t helped by heavy rain either.  I was very lucky to see these creatures; they are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List and are not at all easy to find.

carancho (Southern Caracara) Caracara plancus

The first set of photos is from the coast. I’m not too sure why this carancho is paddling around on the shoreline; perhaps he has aspirations to become a wader.

garza blanca (Great Egret) Ardea alba

ostrero negro (Blackish Oystercatcher) Haematopus ater)

Playero Trinador trinador (Whimbrel) Numenius phaeopus

cabecita negra austral (Black-chinned Siskin) Spinus barbata

golondrina patagonica (Chilean Swallow) Tachycineta meyeni

jote cabeza negra (Black Vulture) Coragyps atratus

The weather in the Puyehue National Park was pretty much unforgiving. I did drive up to a volcanic crater but it was cold, wet and misty, with little to see. A highlight was at the bridge on the way in, where I saw a family of torrent ducks working their way down the river.

pato de torrente (Torrent duck) Merganetta armata

Although I was familiar with the Austral Thrush I had not seen such splendidly coloured juveniles before.

zorzal patagonico (Austral Thrush) Turdus falcklandii)

choroy (slender-billed parakeet) Enicognathus leptorhynchus

remolinera araucana (Dark-bellied Cinclodes) Cinclodes patagonicus

paloma araucana aka chilena (Chilean Pigeon) Patagioenas araucana

Finally, as I was leaving, I saw a delicately woven humming birds nest – a slim canister in a place that was very hard to get a lens into – it’s amazing how these tiny little things already have the long beaks they will need to feed themselves. They are the picaflor rubí (Green-backed Firecrown), Sephanoides sephanoides

Despite the weather, it had been a worthwhile trip.

Zoo, Buenos Aires – 13 January 2016

With time to kill in Buenos Aires I took myself to the zoo in Palermo, which I had not visited for at least twelve years. Although not a great fan of zoos I found the one in a much better state than I remember it being, with development plans still underway.

This is confusing as it has also been recently announced that the zoo is closing down. If this is the case, I hope they find some way of keeping up the conservation work – in several areas, for me in particular the Condor Rehabilitation unit, where my condor friend Painamal was cared for before her release.

I limited the photos I took to Argentine mammals, some (like the llama and vicuña) in compounds and some (like the mara and coypu) watering freely throughout the zoo.

160113 coipu BA

Coipo (Myocastor coypus) Coypu

160113 mara 2 zoo BA

Mara (Dolichotis patagonum) Mara or Patagonian Hare

160113 carpincho 2 zoo BA

Carpincho (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) Capybara

On to the Camelidae family. Those not familiar with South American Animals tend to confuse llamas, vicuñas and guanacos, although these tend to be geographical separated. The llama is basically a domesticated form go the [still] wild guanaco. Vicuñas can be wild or domesticated. There is also of course the Alpaca (the photo is not mine), a domesticated vicuña found in northern Chile, Bolivia and Peru..

160113 vicuña zoo BA

Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) Vicuña

160113 llama 3 zoo BA

Llama (Lama llama) Llama

The llama and vicuña are really quite different. Also easily differentiated is the guanaco (see below), which I did not see in the zoo but saw everywhere in southern Patagonia last year.


Guanaco (Lama guanaco) Guanaco

Finally, the alpaca, photo courtesy of as I do not yet have one of my own. Domesticated a long time ago, there are no known wild alpacas today.

alpaca from wikipedia

One of two kinds of alpaca, photo courtesy of wikipedia.

I wasn’t really looking for birds, but among the zoo’s exhibits I did see a pen with Greater Rhea, a bird which I had only ever seen before as spots in the distance. I’m not really sure that I can claim this as a lifer though!

160113 ñandu 2 Zoo BA

Ñandú (Rhea americana) Greater Rhea

And the Southern (Crested) Screamer roamed freely throughout the zoo – again this was a bird i had previously only seen in the distance in Entre Ríos and Buenos Aires provinces.

160113 chaja Zoo BA

chaja (Crested aka Southern Screamer) Chauna torquata

Muscovy ducks were also everywhere – the zoo has plenty of lakes, and it was full breeding season

160113 pato real chicks 3 Zoo BA

pato real (Muscovy Duck) Cairina moschata

I found two other bird photos in my camera roll: a striated heron (there were many in the zoo) and a bay-winged cowbird; not quite sure why I took them but perhaps to identify later.

160113 tordo musico zoo BA

tordo musico (Bay-winged Cowbird) Agelaioides badius

160113 striated heron Zoo BA

garcita azulada (Striated Heron) Butorides striata

Funny to think that I was so thrilled to see my first striated heron in a visit to the Pantanos de Villa in Lima only five months earlier, considering it a real ‘find’, and that they were common as muck here in the Buenos Aires city zoo. But that’s birding for you.

RECS, Buenos Aires – 13 January 2016

I spent a day in Buenos Aires on my way back to Manchester and, as has now become my custom, I stuck my head into the Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur (aka RECS). I was there for a very short time as I also had shopping to do, but I did have time to take a few photos.

First up, this rather splendid photo of downtown Buenos Aires, taken from within the reserve. This shows how close the reserve is to the city centre, but is an angle I had never seen a photo taken from – really quite unusual.

160113 ba from RECS

First up, I was witness to a battle (presumably territorial) between a couple of coots and a couple of moorhens. I guess these conflicts go on all over the world; this one at least seemed quite intense.

160113 coots and moorhen 2 RECS 160113 coots and moorhen 3 RECS 160113 coots and moorhen RECS

I only seem to have taken photos of three other birds. I remember I was very low on battery and was intending to go to the zoo in the afternoon, so was preserving power. I am also quite familiar with the birds I tend to see here (it must have been my tenth visit) and didn’t register any lifers on this visit.

The ones I did take are below:

160113 pepitero de collar RECS

pepitero de collar (Golden-billed Saltator) Saltator aurantiirostris

160113 pepitero gris RECS

pepitero gris (Grayish Saltator) Saltator coerulescens

160113 striated heron RECS

garcita azulada (Striated Heron) Butorides striata

The Striated Heron was displaying most splendidly – and they are lovely birds to see.

I also saw quite a few lizards enjoying the morning sun; here is one example, what the locals often refer to as an iguana but not really an iguana at all.

160113 lizard RECS

Lagarto Overo (known locally by many as “Iguana”) Tupinambis merianae. Eng. the White-and-black Tegu Lizard.

Atlantic coast, Part 1 – Mar del Plata, 18 October, 2015

This was not the trip it was meant to be. I had got myself to Mar del Plata, on the eastern coast of Argentina, with a pocketful of Dramamine and all intent on doing a pelagic trip – 50km into open sea, with dreams of albatrosses and other exotics. But as the day dawned the harbour master decided that the weather was too unreliable, and the trip was cancelled.

So with time to kill, I wandered around the nearby Natural Reserve Mar del Plata Port. It was a couple of kms from the port area and quite hard to find the entrance; it was also in a very isolated area and several of the people I asked for directions cautioned me about entering the Reserve alone for fear of muggings or worse. So I stayed on the edges and peered in, feeling safe but silly.

151018 pico de plata macho reserva del puerto Mardel

A male pico de plata (Spectacled Tyrant), Hymenops perspicillatus

First up, as I entered, I saw this pair of Spectacled Tyrants, male above and female below.

151018 pico de plata hembra reserva del puerto Mardel

And the female pico de plata (Spectacled Tyrant), Hymenops perspicillatus

In fact, I didn’t really see much in the way of birds at this Reserve, but then again I didn’t really penetrate it either. I find from the photos I took I saw mainly common species such as the Chimango Caracara (chimango), Milvago chimango; the Rufous-collared Sparrow (chingolo), Zonotrichia capensis and the House Wren (ratonera común), Troglodytes aedon.

151018 ratona común reserva del puerto Mardel

House Wren (ratonera común), Troglodytes aedon.

151018 chingolo reserva del puerto Mardel

Rufous-collared Sparrow (chingolo), Zonotrichia capensis

151018 chimango laguna los padresl

Chimango Caracara (chimango), Milvago chimango

I returned to the Port area to see what might be on the water front. Here I saw many gulls, including an Olrog’s Gull (gaviota cangrejera) Larus atlanticusSnowy Sheathbill (paloma antartica) Chionis albus; and Southern Giant Petrel (Petrel Gigante Comun) Macronectes giantess.

151018 Olrog's gull 5 puerto Mardel

Olrog’s Gull (gaviota cangrejera) Larus atlanticus

The Olrog’s Gull is known in Spanish as the crab gull, and this is what they eat:

Neohelice granulata, staple for the Olrog's Gull

Neohelice granulata, staple for the Olrog’s Gull

151018 paloma antartico snowy sheathbill puerto Mardel

Snowy Sheathbill (paloma antartica (Chionis albus

151018 southern giant petrel puerto Mardel

Southern Giant Petrel (Petrel Gigante Comun) Macronectes giantess.

Marine mammals were in evidence too; here are a few sea lions.

151018 sea lion puerto Mardel

Male sea lion in Mar del Plata harbour

151018 sea lion 2 puerto Mardel

Part of a small colony of sea lions in Mar del Plata harbour

As I started by saying, this was not the day it was intended to be but it was a pleasant enough day all the same, even if a little light on wildlife sightings.

Trip to Aluminé, Rucachoroi and Villa Pehuenia – 5-7 October, 2015

On a whim I drove up through Junín de los Andes to Aluminé (passing through Pilolíl) and,  after a side trip over to Lake Rucachoroi drove on to Villa Pehuenia and from there to Zapala, passing through Laguna Blanca on the way home to San Martín de los Andes.

Route of circuit San Martín - Junín - Aluminé - La Pehuenia - Zapala - San Martín

Route of circuit San Martín – Junín – Aluminé – La Pehuenia – Zapala – San Martín

I experienced all kinds of weather, from heavy snow in Villa Pehuenia, heavy rain in Moquehué to scorching sun at Laguna Blanca.I was away three nights and I took my camera, although birding was not my primary aim on this trip.

Leaving home, I saw the usual suspects: bandurrias (Black-faced Ibis), chimangos (Chimango Caracara), jotes (cabeza negra)  (black[headed] vultures), chingolos  (Rufous-collared Sparrow), etc. I didn’t really pay too much attention at this stage but I did snap a couple of chimangos and a zorzal patagónico (Austral Thrush).

151005 chimangos Junin de los Andes

A couple of chimangos in the trees, Junín de los Andes

151005 zorzal patagonico Junin de los Andes

Zorzal Patagónico on a post, Junín de los Andes

A couple of kilometres north of Junín I took the road to Lake Tromen and the Chilean frontier, branching off towards Aluminé as I crossed the Malleo river [thinking how nice a few hours fishing would be, but it was still a few weeks until the season opened]. Half an hour or so along the road, which winds through the Aluminé valley, I took a sharp turn to the left up a steep and twisty track, not for the faint-hearted, up to Pilolíl, a neolithic meeting point with ancient wall paintings.

I had been here before with my friend Scarlet, where we had seen condors at very close quarters, curious about us and our picnic lunch. We had also (briefly) seen a peregrine and made a note of its nest so I went off in search. I never found the nest with certainty; one dark crack in the rock face can look like any other. But I did find the peregrine [or perhaps a relative of his]! Not a great picture, but he was very high!

151005 peregrine falcon tbc Pilolil

Peregrine falcon at Pilolil, with the rocky crag where he was nesting in the background.

151005 peregrine falcon 3 tbc Pilolil

The same peregrine falcon, this time soaring high above Pilolil.

After recovering from the vertigo that the ascent to Pilolíl always gives me I drove on to Aluminé where I had a late lunch at La Posta del Rey. I have been there several times and each time ordered the house speciality: today was no exception. Tasty pasta washed down with an earthy red, a leisurely coffee and I was ready to continue on my way.


Lunch at La Posta del Rey: five kinds of home made pasta with a wild mushroom sauce.

From Aluminé I made a second  side trip, this time to Rucachoroi. There are lagoons along this road and you never quite know just what might be around. Not much this time, as it happened: plenty of geese (mainly ashy-headed geese), Andean Flamingo and Coots of various kinds but no exotics. Here are a couple of photos taken along the road to Rucachoroi.

151005 Gallareta Ligas Rojas camino a Rucachoroi

The gallareta ligas rojas (Red-gartered Coot), Fulica armillata.

151005 cauquen real camino a Rucachoroi

A pair of cauquen real (Ashy-headed Goose), Chloephaga poliocephala, one performing a delicate balancing act.

And of course, where there is water, you expect to find the the remolinera común (Bar-winged or Buff-winged Cinclodes). Here’s one I saw at the lake in Rucachoroi.

151006 Remolinera Chica Villa Pehuenia

Remolinera comun (Bar-winged or Buff-winged Cinclodes), Cinclodes fuscus.

Villa Pehuenia and the surrounding area were lovely; tourist country and it’s not hard to see why. It snowed hard most of the time I was there, but there was a large bird table which was well attended by comesebos (Sierra Finches), chimangos (Chimango Caracara), tordos renegridos (Shiny Cowbirds), tordos patagónicos (Austral Blackbirds), and many others, including the odd gull.

151006 tordo renegrido Villa Pehuenia

Tordo renegrido (Shiny Cowbird), Molothrus bonariensis.

151006 tordo patagonico 2 Villa Pehuenia

Tordo patagonico (Austral Blackbird), Curaeus curaeus.

Whilst at Villa Pehuenia I took a side trip to Moquehue, a small lakeside town with an airstrip in the middle of the town (go figure). Here I was entertained by the antics of three llamas who grazed in the main street and by a pretty diucón (Fire-eyed Diucon) who seemed to follow me around, perhaps hoping for scraps. It’s easy to see how the diucón got its English name.

151006 diucon Villa Pehuenia 2

Diucón (Fire-eyed Diucon), Xolmis pyrope.

151006 llama Villa Pehuenia

One of three llamas I saw grazing on the roadside at Moquehué.

In Moquehué I also saw a few patos de anteojos aka patos alas bronceadas (Spectacled or Bronze-winged Duck). These are more usually seen on fast-running currents, but apparently can also be seen on quieter water

151006 pato de anteojos o pato alas bronceadas 2 Moquehue

Pato de anteojos (Spectacled aka Bronze-winged Duck,) Specuzanas specularis.

I had an early breakfast on the third day and was bemused as a large gull took over the bird table, scattering all other occupants, including the chimangos. Probably a gaviota cocinera (Kelp Gull) – but I didn’t have a guide handy at the time and the photo doesn’t really help me to see if the underbill has a red spot or not. But I’m not sure what else he could be in this part of the world!

151007 gull at breakfast

My breakfast companion

And then I got into my car and drove to Zapala, with the aim of visiting nearby Laguna Blanca. But that’s another post.


Visit to Córdoba, Argentina – Sep 2015

A cacholote castaño (Brown Cachalote) Pseudoseisura lophotes, sitting on its nest - one of ten new species for me.

Cacholote castaño (Brown Cachalote) Pseudoseisura lophotes, sitting on its nest – one of ten new species for me on my visit to Córdoba, Argentina.

I went to Cordoba at the end of September 2015 [for a teacher’s conference], and managed to stay on for a couple of days to do some birding. In fact there were plenty of birds on the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba‘s campus [where the conference was held], and in the nearby Parque Sarmiento.

Atajacaminos tijera (Scissor-tailed Nightjar) Hydropsalis torquata, at the Ciudad Universitaria Cordoba

Atajacaminos tijera (Scissor-tailed Nightjar) Hydropsalis torquata, taken at the Ciudad Universitaria Cordoba

Carpintero de cardon (White-fronted Woodpecker) Melanerpes cactorum, shot on the University campus.

Carpintero de cardon (White-fronted Woodpecker) Melanerpes cactorum, shot on the University campus.

When the conference was over I rented a car. The first day I drove up to the Pampa de Achala, stopping in small towns and exploring the highways and byways between Villa Carlos Paz and El Condor. On the whole this was a good day’s birding. I spent the night in the town of Tanti, a delightful place with great places to eat and drink, although a little quiet out of season.

Carpintero campestre (Campo Flicker aka Field Flicker) Colaptes campestris, La Pampilla, Cordoba

Carpintero campestre (Campo Flicker aka Field Flicker) Colaptes campestris, La Pampilla, Cordoba

Chinchero grande (Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper) Drymornis bridgesii, Maya Sumac, Cordoba

Chinchero grande (Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper) Drymornis bridgesii, Maya Sumac, Cordoba

Monterita cabeza negra (Black-capped Warbling-Finch) Poospiza melanoleuca, Icho Cruz, Cordoba

Monterita cabeza negra (Black-capped Warbling-Finch) Poospiza melanoleuca, Icho Cruz, Cordoba

Paloma manchada (Spot-winged Pigeon) Patagioenas maculosa, El Condor, Cordoba

Paloma manchada (Spot-winged Pigeon) Patagioenas maculosa, El Condor, Cordoba

150927 Cachudito Pico Amarillo Icho Cruz Cordoba

Cachudito pico amarillo (Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant) Anairetes flavirostris, Icho Cruz, Cordoba

The second day was not so good. I had three places to visit, of which one [Reserva los Chorillos] was closed and another [la Cueva de los Pájaros] was a disappointing tourist rip off. I’ll say no more about either of these.

The third place was good though, not least because they had cold beer and a friendly biologist who shared my beer and helped me find my way around. This was the Reserva Cerro Blanco, highly recommended out of season but probably rather crowded and noisy when the tourists arrive.

A cacholote castaño (Brown Cachalote) Pseudoseisura lophotes, Cerro Blanco, Cordoba

A cacholote castaño (Brown Cachalote) Pseudoseisura lophotes, Cerro Blanco, Cordoba

zorzal chiguanco (Chiguanco Thrush) Turdus chiguanco, Cerro Blanco, Cordoba

zorzal chiguanco (Chiguanco Thrush) Turdus chiguanco, Cerro Blanco, Cordoba

I didn’t keep a tally of the [very many] species I saw, but I did log ten lifers. I was able to photograph these to at least registration level and include them here more or less in the order taken. I saw a few more new birds that I was unable to either photograph or identify, thus setting myself up for a return visit.

Visit to Reserva Cotesma – 12 Sept 2015

Today I went with Scarlett and new friend Ricardo to the Cotesma Reserve in San Martín de los Andes. The purpose was not so much to see birds as to do a population study.Sign for blog

We divided the area up into eight sectors and spent time on each sector, seeing which species were in evidence and attempting to record the number of species per sector. Bird mobility didn’t make our task any easier, but I think in the long run the data we recorded will be useful.

It was a great chance to be reunited with my birding friend Scarlett and with some of my local bird friends. A few photos follow, indicative of what we saw today.

150912 cauquen real Reserva Cotesma SMA

Ashy-headed geese, a pair. Very common in San Martín de los Andes.

150912 cauquen comun Reserva Cotesma SMA

Upland aka Magellan Geese, male with white head.

150912 bandurria Reserva Cotesma SMA

Black-faced Ibis, recently chosen as emblematic bird of San Martín de los Andes.

150912 gavilan cenicienta Reserva Cotesma SMA

As usual, there were a number of cinerous harriers flying low over the wetlands

150912 pato tbc 3 Reserva Cotesma SMA

A pair of Southern Wigeon in flight

150912 pato capuchino Reserva Cotesma SMA

Among the many ducks on the water was this pair of Silver Teal

150912 tero 2 Reserva Cotesma SMA

The ubiquitous Southern lapwing, in fine voice

150912 zorzal patagonico Reserva Cotesma SMA

Austral Thrushes were out in abundance

150912 sobrepuesto macho Reserva Cotesma SMA

An early arrived pair of Austral Negritos were in evidence – this is the male

150912 grass wren Reserva Cotesma SMA

Not too sure what this was – decided it must be a Grass Wren

Not a conventional day’s birding but an enjoyable day nevertheless, with good weather and pleasant company.