8 Jan 2023

8 Jan 23 - Argentina - The Warm Up Act

The Winter of 2022 - 2023 has seen three C19 delayed big trips finally happen. The first was the seven week trip to Indonesia with Bird Tour Asia. Argentina was the start of the second big trip, which was a superb Oceanwide Expeditions trip to the Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica on board the Plancius. I had decided to use some of a large saved collection of Air Miles to travel out to Buenos Aires, but I had been unable to get a flight close to when I wanted to fly down to Ushuaia. The result was I arrived in Buenos Aires with three days before I was booked to fly South. I wasn't particularly worried about this stop over, as it would give me the chance for some Birding in this part of Argentina again. I had spent five weeks flying & driving around a lot of Argentina in Nov & early Dec 1998 with Brian Field, Jem Babbington & Jon Braggs. We spent a few days travelled from Buenos Aires to the Mar del Plata coastline. My plan for this return trip was to retrace part of this route and to focus on looking for the two likely Ticks: South American Painted Snipe and Red-winged Tinamou.

The flight out was enjoyable as by chance I was sitting next to Katie Dyke, who worked for Whale & Dolphin Conservation in Scotland. She was heading out to see a friend who was studying Commerson's Dolphin: a gorgeous Dolphin that we had a chance of seeing in the Falklands. It provided a good chance to have a chat about one of our favourite subjects: Cetaceans. Hopefully, she had more success on her trip, than I did on the Plancius. Some of the passengers did see them in the Port Stanley area, but I was always in the wrong part of the town.

The flight arrived into Buenos Aires at breakfast time & I was quickly heading off in my hired car to the first site, Laguna San Vincente, to look for a South American Painted Snipe that had been seen after Christmas.
Laguna San Vincente: Laguna San Vincente was a reasonable-sized lake surrounded by parkland and housing
Laguna San Vincente
Laguna San Vincente: The water levels were very low in some parts of the lake
There was a good selection of typical Buenos Aires waterside and parkland species on the reasonable-sized lake. The water was a long way from the nearest reeds and a good scan confirmed that there was no sign of the South American Painted Snipe.
Monk Parakeet: This is the nominate monachus subspecies which occurs in South East Brazil, Uruguay & North East Argentina
Monk Parakeet: This was a commonly encountered species in the few days I was in the North East of the country
I decided to cut my losses & after stocking up on some food and drink from a nearby supermarket, I was quickly heading on to the other site I had. Again, there had been a South American Painted Snipe after Christmas at the second and much larger lake, San Miguel del Monte, which was on the edge of Buenos Aires.
San Miguel del Monte: This is a much larger wetland area with some good mud and reed edges in the North East corner of a very large lake
San Miguel del Monte: Driving around other parts of the lake confirmed the North East corner was the best-looking area
This looked a more hopeful area with reeds extending to the water's edge. But it was a very large area, with only parts visible from roads. I spent several hours enjoying the area, but unfortunately, I drew a blank on the South American Painted Snipe.
White-tufted Grebe: This is the chilensis subspecies which occurs from South Peru & South Brazil to Tierra del Fuego & the Cape Horn Archipelago
White-tufted Grebe: A closer crop of the group
Lake Duck: This monotypic species occurs in South Argentina & Chile. It migrates North to South Brazil & Paraguay during the Argentinian Winter
Lake Duck
Silver Teal: This is the nominate versicolor subspecies which occurs from South Bolivia, Paraguay & South Brazil to Tierra del Fuego
Red-fronted Coot: This monotypic species occurs from Paraguay, Uruguay, South East Brazil, South Peru to Tierra del Fuego
Red-fronted Coot
Red-fronted Coot
Red-fronted Coot: The Neotropical Coots are so much better looking than the Old World Coots
Limpkin: This is the nominate subspecies which occurs from Central & Eastern Panama throughout South America to North Argentina
Limpkin: I was pleased to see this monotypic family again
Wattled Jacana: This is the nominate jacana subspecies which occurs from South East Colombia to the Guianas, Brazil, Uruguay & North Argentina
Pectoral Sandpiper: On its Winter grounds in the South of South America
Rufous Hornero: This is the nominate rufus subspecies which occurs from South Brazil & Uruguay to central Argentina
Rufous Hornero: This is a common & widespread species in the Ovenbirds & Woodcreepers family
Wren-like Rushbird: This is the nominate melanops subspecies which occurs from South Brazil, Paraguay & Uruguay to central Argentina & Chile
Cattle Tyrant: This is the nominate rixosa subspecies which occurs from interior East Brazil & East Bolivia, to Paraguay, Uruguay & North Argentina
Great Kiskadee: This is the argentinus subspecies which occurs from extreme South East Brazil to East Paraguay, Uruguay & central Argentina
Fork-tailed Flycatcher: This is the nominate savana subspecies which breeds in central & Southern South America. The Southern populations are migratory and Winter in Northern South America
Saffron Finch: This is the pelzelni subspecies which occurs from East Bolivia to Paraguay, South East Brazil, Uruguay & North Argentina
Coypu: Coypus are native to Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay & Brazil
Coypu: This large Rodent has been introduced to North America, Europe, Asia & parts of Africa by fur farmers. Fortunately, they have been eliminated from the UK
It was now around lunchtime & I still had a 250 mile drive to get down to Mar Chiquita, which was North of Mar del Plata coastline. The drive took me through large areas of Pampas. There were a few roadside stops to have a quick look at pools in the fields. It was already dark before I arrived at the urban sprawl of Mar del Plata. I headed North along the coastline, looking for some accommodation for the night. In hindsight, trying to find a last minute hotel room in the middle of the Argentinian summer period was not going to be an easy task. Eventually, I stumbled on a campsite in Mar Chiquita & that was perfect. A few minutes later, I was getting ready for a night's sleep in the car: this is my preferred option rather than camping.