Tuesday 26 December 2023

2023 Part 1: January Through Early March (Argentina, Uruguay)

Over the next little while I will be making a few photo-heavy blog posts, highlighting a few of my favourite memories from 2023. Laura and I finished our extending traveling in Latin America, but the first four months of 2023 saw us visiting Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil to close things out. We were based out of Canada for the rest of the year and most of my naturalizing took place in Ontario, though I left the country to lead tours this autumn in Indonesia and Ecuador. 


As has become a tradition, I began 2023 with a day of birding around Halifax. Laura and I visit family in Nova Scotia around Christmas time and most years see us remain in the province until the new year. I didn't take any photos this time and the rain was steadily falling, but a nice walk at Hartlen Point produced a few birding highlights including Pomarine Jaeger, Razorbill and Black-legged Kittiwake. 

On January 9, Laura and I landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina and picked up a rental car for a six-week loop around the northwest and northeast parts of Argentina. January saw us swing over to the Córdoba mountains to find several endemic species. The next few weeks were spent in the far northwest. We watched Horned Coots and three species of flamingos on salt lakes, found Red-backed Sierra-Finches and Wedge-tailed Hillstars near the Bolivia border, discovered a huge diversity of species along the altitudinal gradient of the eastern Andes, and visited the vast expanses of the surprisingly biodiverse Chaco ecoregion. We seemed to be on a hot streak with our birding, and we left the northwest of Argentina having seen (or heard) every single one of our target birds, as well as a nice selection of mammals, insects and herps. 

Southern Screamer and various coots

Monk Parakeet

Cattle Tyrant

Straight-billed Reedhaunter

Dinelli's Doradito

South American Painted-Snipe

Hiking at PN Quebrada del Condorito, Córdoba, Argentina

Olrog's Cinclodes

Long-tailed Meadowlark

Puna (Córdoba) Cinclodes

Spectacled Tyrant

Diponthus puelchus

Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail

Golden-billed Saltator

Brown-capped Redstart

White-tipped Plantcutter

Salinas Monjita

Black-crested Finch

Spot-winged Falconet

Birding at Quebrada Los Sosa, Tucumán, Argentina

Yellow-striped Brushfinch

Sayaca Tanager

Torrent Duck

Dinner of champions

Chilla (Lycalopex grisea)

Túcuman Mountain-Finch

Variable Hawk

Black Siskin

Bare-eyed Ground-Dove

Andean Condors

Quebrada De Las Conchas, Tucumán, Argentina

Quebrada De Las Conchas, Tucumán, Argentina

Anomiopsoides sp.

Liolaemus sp.

Cereus aethiops

El Valle Encantado, Salta, Argentina

Bit more than a patch job...

Andean Tinamou

Red-tailed Comet

Dot-fronted Woodpecker

Rufous-bellied Mountain-Tanager

Guanaco (Lama guanicoe)

El Ucumar Road

Red-legged Seriema

Moss-backed Sparrow

Birding at Potrero de Yala, Jujuy, Argentina

Red-faced Guan

Rufous-throated Dipper

Cream-backed Woodpecker

Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

Mountain Parakeets

James's Flamingo

Highland Tuco-tuco (Ctenomys opimus)

Lesser Rhea

Abra de Lizoite, Salta, Argentina

Mountain Viscacha (Lagidium viscacia)

Citron-headed Yellow-Finches

Mountain Degu (Octodontomys gliroides)

Red-backed Sierra-Finch

Yellow-collared Macaw

Acanthoscurria sp.

Giant Antshrike

Toco Toucan

Painted Lancehead (Bothrops diporus)

Montane Forest Screech-Owl

Rufous Four-eyed Frog (Pleurodema borellii)

Brown Musurana (Paraphimophis rusticus)

Yungas Red-bellied Toad (Melanophryniscus rubriventris)

Solitary Eagle

Tucumán Parrot

Cercosaura sp.

Cybdelis petronita

Epinome Cracker (Hamadryas epinome)

Ochre-cheeked Spinetail

Budgett's Frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis)

Waxy Monkey Leaf Frog (Phyllomedusa sauvagii)

Cranwell's Horned Frog (Ceratophrys cranwelli)

Chaco Horned Frog (Chacophrys pierottii)

Black-and-gold Howler Monkey

Black-bodied Woodpecker

Chaco Owl

Fasciolated Graphic (Melipotis fasciolaris)


We finished crossing the endless miles of the Chaco, trading in the low scrub for the lush forests of the Atlantic rainforest. The birdlife was completely different in northeastern Argentina, overlapping little with the northwest. One of the highlights was experiencing Iguazú Falls, but the wildlife in this area was pretty incredible as well. We took our time so that we could visit many different areas and car-camped at several sites that were a little bit out of the way, giving us a chance to night-hike and set up the moth light. 

The Iberá wetland complex is the second-largest wetland in South America (after the Amazon basin!) and Laura and I spent a few days here. With temperatures reaching the 40s, it was not the most comfortable birding that we had done, but at least the rain held off (muddy roads are impassible here) and we found many of the specialties of the area. 

For our final week in Argentina, we worked south beyond Buenos Aires, cleaning up several of the last birds we "needed" in the marshes and grasslands several hours south of the city. We took a ferry across to Uruguay on February 23 after a very successful Argentina trip. 

Our time in Uruguay was mainly spent getting ready for the next leg of our trip (Brazil, of which we had done no research up to this point). However, we also put in time to find one of the rarest blackbirds of South America, the rapidly declining Saffron-cowled Blackbird. We loved the laid-back pace of Uruguay and its friendly people, though we were also glad that we only had a week here since the prices were about three times that of Argentina. By the end of February we took a flight to São Paulo, Brazil, which I will cover in my next blog post. 

Red-billed Scythebill

False Water Cobra (Hydrodynastes gigas

Pale-crested Woodpecker

Argentine Black-and-white Tegu (Salvator merianae)

Pampas Lancehead (Bothrops pubescens)

Sickle-winged Nightjar

Southern Screamer

Yacare Caiman (Caiman yacare)

Gray Monjita

Iberá Seedeaters

Campo Flicker

Bromelia balansae

Royal Firetip (Mysoria barcastus)

Long-winged Harrier

Spix's Spinetail

Streamer-tailed Tyrants

Diastatops intensa

Caria marsyas

Birding along Highway 101, Misiones, Argentina

Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch

Common Potoos

Harmonia Tigerwing (Tithorea harmonia)

Williams' Side-necked Turtle (Phrynops williamsi)

Iguazú Falls

Burritos in Puerto Iguazú

Barred Forest-Falcon

Widespread Myscelus (Myscelus amystis)

Butterflying along Highway 101

Ochre-collared Piculet

Black-fronted Piping-Guan

Common Red Brocket (Mazama americana)

Ocellated Tree Frog (Itapotihyla langsdorffii)

Phaloe cruenta

Giant Imperious Sawyer (Enoplocerus armillatus)

Agathodes designalis

Rufous Gnateater

Blackish-blue Seedeater

Conflua Skipper (Tirynthia conflua)

Araucaria Tit-Spinetail

Vinaceous-breasted Parrots

Common Potoo

Stalaeochlora arcuata iguazuensis

Euphobetron moorei

Colla rhodope

Incarcha aporalis

Long-tufted Screech-Owl

Argyroeides sanguinea

Saffron Toucanet

Two-barred Flasher (Astraptes fulgerator)

Giant Wood-Rail

Black-and-gold Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya)

Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)

Marsh Deer (Blastocerus dichotomus)

Pampas Fox (Lycalopex gymnocerca)

Laura making friends

Yellow Cardinal

Black-and-white Monjita

Scarlet-headed Blackbird

Strange-tailed Tyrant

Marsh Seedeater

Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) causing pandemonium

Tawny-bellied Seedeater

Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)

Chestnut Seedeater

Plumbeous Ibis

Parque Nacional El Palmar

Pampas Fox (Lycalopex gymnocercus)

Swainson's Hawk

Glaucous-blue Grosbeak

Ortilia velica

Bicolored Hawk

Plains Viscacha (Lagostomus maximus)

Banded Sphinx (Eumorpha fasciatus)

Dawn at Parque Nacional El Palmar

Ringed Teal

Gunther's Striped Snake (Lygophis anomalus)

Many-colored Rush-Tyrant

Granulated Crabs (Neohelice granulata)

Hudson's Canastero

Snowy-crowned Tern

Parasitic Jaeger

Chiloe Wigeon

Conognatha klugii 

Glittering-bellied Emerald

Horseback riding near Trienta y Tres, Uruguay

Yellow-bellied Liophis (Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus)


Mottled Piculet

Blue-billed Black-Tyrant

Red-winged Tinamou

Greater Rhea

Chestnut-backed Tanager

Great Horned Owl

Curve-billed Reedhaunter

Saffron-cowled Blackbird

Hilaire's Side-necked Turtle (Phrynops hilarii)

Correndera Pipit

Black-necked Swans

White-rumped Sandpiper


David Fischer said...

Fantastic post! You found so many interesting plants and animals!

Josh Vandermeulen said...