Argentina/Brazil - Iguassu Falls and Ibera Marshes

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4 years 5 months ago #86239 by nkgray
nkgray created the topic: Argentina/Brazil - Iguassu Falls and Ibera Marshes
I returned last Sunday night 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.

Just to prove I was there..........

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 seldom 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, 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 not have got to on my own the eventual trip list totalled some 214 species, with 174 lifers and 144 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. I will post species images in batches as I progress.

Check the trip list below, with the species listed by Family, if for no other reason than to see the weird and wonderful names some of the South American species have been given. There are a few (all of 7!) that you will recognise as African species too.

Tinamidae – tinamous
1 Red-winged Tinamou
2 Spotted Nothura

Rheidae – rheas
3 Greater Rhea

Cracidae – guans & chachalacas
4 Black-fronted Piping Guan
5 Rusty-margined Guan

Anhimidae – screamers
6 Southern Screamer

Anatidae - swans, ducks & geese
7 Rosy-billed Pochard
8 White-faced Whistling Duck
9 Muscovy Duck
10 Brazilian Teal

Podicipedidae – grebes
11 Least Grebe

Ciconiidae – storks
12 Jabiru
13 Maguari Stork

Threskiornithidae - ibises & spoonbills
14 White-faced Ibis
15 Plumbeous Ibis
16 Bare-faced Ibis
17 Green Ibis

Ardeidae – herons
18 Snowy Egret
19 Western Cattle Egret
20 Great Egret
21 Whistling Heron
22 Cocoi Heron
23 Black-crowned Night Heron
24 Rufescent Tiger Heron

Phalacrocoracidae - cormorants & shags
25 Neotropic Cormorant

Anhingidae – darters
26 Anhinga

Cathartidae - New World vultures
27 Turkey Vulture
28 Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
29 Black Vulture

Accipitridae - diurnal raptors
30 Short-tailed Hawk
31 Black-collared Hawk
32 Roadside Hawk
33 Savanna Hawk
34 Cinereous Harrier
35 Long-winged Harrier
36 Plumbeous Kite
37 Snail Kite
38 Swallow-tailed Kite

Falconidae - falcons & caracaras
39 Aplomado Falcon
40 American Kestrel
41 Southern Crested Caracara
42 Yellow-headed Caracara
43 Chimango Caracara

Rallidae - rails, crakes, coots & gallinules
44 Common Moorhen
45 Ash-throated Crake
46 Giant Wood Rail

Aramidae - Limpkin
47 Limpkin

Recurvirostridae - stilts & avocets
48 White-backed Stilt

Charadriidae - plovers & lapwings
49 Southern Lapwing

Jacanidae - jacanas
50 Wattled Jacana

Scolopacidae – sandpipers
51 Solitary Sandpiper
52 South American Snipe

Columbidae - pigeons & doves
53 White-tipped Dove
54 Ruddy Ground Dove
55 Picui Ground Dove
56 Eared Dove
57 Rock Dove
58 Picazuro Pigeon
59 Spot-winged Pigeon

Psittacidae – parrots
60 Scaly-headed Parrot
61 Blue-winged Parrotlet
62 Monk Parakeet
63 Maroon-bellied Parakeet
64 White-eyed Parakeet

Cuculidae – cuckoos
65 Squirrel Cuckoo
66 Striped Cuckoo
67 Guira Cuckoo
68 Smooth-billed Ani

Strigidae - true owls
69 Burrowing Owl

Caprimulgidae - nightjars
70 Nacunda Nighthawk
71 Scissor-tailed Nightjar

Apodidae – swifts
72 Great Dusky Swift

Trochilidae – hummingbirds
73 Blue-tufted Starthroat
74 Versicolored Emerald
75 White-throated Hummingbird
76 Gilded Sapphire
77 Violet-capped Woodnymph
78 Glittering-bellied Emerald
79 Plovercrest
80 Black-throated Mango
81 Black Jacobin
82 Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
83 Planalto Hermit

Trogonidae – trogons
84 Black-throated Trogon
85 Surucua Trogon

Alcedinidae - kingfishers
86 Ringed Kingfisher
87 Green Kingfisher
88 Amazon Kingfisher

Momotidae - motmots
89 Rufous Motmot

Ramphastidae – toucans
90 Toco Toucan
91 Chestnut-eared Aracari

Picidae – woodpeckers
92 Robust Woodpecker
93 Lineated Woodpecker
94 Blond-crested Woodpecker
95 Campo Flicker
96 Green-barred Woodpecker
97 Checkered Woodpecker
98 White Woodpecker
99 White-barred Piculet
100 Ochre-collared Piculet

Furnariidae – ovenbirds
101 Narrow-billed Woodcreeper
102 Olivaceous Woodcreeper
103 Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper
104 Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner
105 Brown Cacholote
106 Firewood-gatherer
107 Lark-like Brushrunner
108 Greater Thornbird
109 Yellow-chinned Spinetail
110 Sooty-fronted Spinetail
111 Chotoy Spinetail
112 Rufous Hornero

Thamnophilidae – antbirds
113 White-shouldered Fire-eye
114 Streak-capped Antwren
115 Plain Antvireo
116 Variable Antshrike

Tyrannidae - tyrant flycatchers
117 Eastern Sirystes
118 Fork-tailed Flycatcher
119 Variegated Flycatcher
120 Streaked Flycatcher
121 Boat-billed Flycatcher
122 Great Kiskadee
123 Social Flycatcher
124 Cattle Tyrant
125 Strange-tailed Tyrant
126 White-headed Marsh Tyrant
127 Pied Water Tyrant
128 White Monjita
129 Grey Monjita
130 Yellow-browed Tyrant
131 Spectacled Tyrant
132 Vermilion Flycatcher
133 Fuscous Flycatcher
134 Eared Pygmy Tyrant
135 Bran-coloured Flycatcher
136 Yellow Tyrannulet
137 Sooty Tyrannulet
138 Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
139 Olivaceous Elaenia
140 Yellow-bellied Elaenia
141 Grey Elaenia
142 Wing-barred Piprites
214 Short-crested Flycatcher

Tityridae - tityras & allies
143 Chestnut-crowned Becard
144 Black-crowned Tityra

Vireonidae – vireos
145 Red-eyed Vireo

Corvidae - crows, jays & allies
146 Plush-crested Jay

Hirundinidae – swallows
147 Brown-chested Martin
148 Grey-breasted Martin
149 White-winged Swallow
150 White-rumped Swallow

Donacobiidae – Donacobius
151 Black-capped Donacobius

Troglodytidae – wrens
152 House Wren
153 Thrush-like Wren

Polioptilidae – gnatcatchers
154 Masked Gnatcatcher
155 Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher

Mimidae – mockingbirds
156 Chalk-browed Mockingbird
157 White-banded Mockingbird

Turdidae – thrushes
158 Rufous-bellied Thrush
159 Pale-breasted Thrush
160 Creamy-bellied Thrush

Fringillidae – finches
161 Blue-naped Chlorophonia
162 Chestnut-bellied Euphonia
163 Violaceous Euphonia
164 Purple-throated Euphonia

Parulidae - New World warblers
165 Golden-crowned Warbler
166 Tropical Parula
167 Southern Yellowthroat (split from Masked Yellowthroat)

Icteridae - New World blackbirds, orioles, caciques & allies
168 White-browed Blackbird
169 Shiny Cowbird
170 Giant Cowbird
171 Baywing
172 Yellow-rumped Marshbird
173 Brown-and-yellow Marshbird
174 Unicoloured Blackbird
175 Scarlet-headed Blackbird
176 Chopi Blackbird
177 Variable Oriole (split from Epaulet Oriole)
178 Solitary Cacique
179 Golden-winged Cacique
180 Red-rumped Cacique

Coerebidae – Bananaquit
181 Bananaquit

Passeridae - Old World sparrows
182 House Sparrow

Emberizidae - buntings & New World sparrows
183 Yellow Cardinal
184 Rufous-collared Sparrow
185 Saffron-billed Sparrow
213 Grassland Sparrow

Thraupidae – tanagers
186 Rusty-collared Seedeater
187 Pampa Finch
188 Saffron Finch
189 Lesser Grass Finch
190 Black-capped Warbling Finch
191 Long-tailed Reed Finch
192 Red Pileated Finch
193 Chestnut-vented Conebill
194 Guira Tanager
195 Blue Dacnis
196 Swallow Tanager
197 Green-headed Tanager
198 Fawn-breasted Tanager
199 Ruby-crowned Tanager
200 Sayaca Tanager
201 White-lined Tanager
202 Black-goggled Tanager
203 Chestnut-headed Tanager
204 Hooded Tanager
205 Magpie Tanager
206 Yellow-billed Cardinal
207 Red-crested Cardinal
208 Red Tanager (split from Hepatic Tanager)

Cardinalidae - cardinals, grosbeaks & allies
209 Green-winged Saltator
210 Greyish Saltator
211 Thick-billed Saltator
212 Red-crowned Ant Tanager


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  • gordon
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4 years 5 months ago #86256 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: Argentina/Brazil - Iguassu Falls and Ibera Marshes
Hi Neil,

What a fantastic trip and awesome series of photographs!!!

Been thoroughly enjoying reading each post!!


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4 years 5 months ago #86260 by John Young
John Young replied the topic: Re: Argentina/Brazil - Iguassu Falls and Ibera Marshes
I too have enjoyed every one of your posts and found each one as enthralling as the other. Thanks for taking the time and effort to share your experiences with us. Unless I win the lotto these may well be the closest I come to seeing these. And seeing them through your lens, and knowing how damn difficult it is to photograph birds at the best of times, viewing these have been far more appreciated than had I picked up a bird guide for South America and paged through it. Awesome stuff.


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4 years 5 months ago #86273 by nkgray
nkgray replied the topic: Re: Argentina/Brazil - Iguassu Falls and Ibera Marshes
Thanks guys.

The biggest challenge of a trip like this, particularly in the first few days, is that you are just overwhelmed by lifers and trying to photograph all of them is just impossible. Your guides also need to be aware that you are as interested in the photographic side as the actual birdwatching so that they can also prioritise which bird to focus your attention on as they have a good feel for whether others will be seen again or not. We normally build up our photo galleries by repeated trips to the same venues and having the benefit of selecting from dozens of images of the same species. When you know you will not visit a venue again the pressure is really on to get good first-time shots.

On this trip, of the 214 species seen, I saw a single bird of 42 species just once only in the entire 8-day trip. Of those I managed to photograph 21, in some cases with a single shot only. There were others that I missed while walking in rain - I still have a mental picture of the cracking Black-throated Trogon sitting just 5m away - but steady drizzle and appalling light made photography impossible. And then there are the "gone-away-birds", the "won't-sit-still-birds" and the "back-against-light-birds" just to make the job even more difficult. When you add a lifer walking to reception with bags packed to leave, and that lifer is the amazing Rufous Motmot sitting on the boardwalk posing for you, you could cry!

All in all I think I did well to capture images, ranging from "good enough for ID" to stunning (well I think so!!!), of 162 of the 214 species seen.


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