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WINGS Birding Tours – Narrative

Cruise: Buenos Aires to Santiago

Birding Sea and Land

2017 Narrative

IN BRIEF: This was the third time we’ve run a birding tour on cruise between Valparaiso (Chile) and Buenos-Aires (Argentina) and again it was a real success. It offered a wonderful mix of seabirding and land excursions, searching out many of the pelagic and coastal species of Southern South America. The seabirding was absolutely great! Using a large, stable ship we avoided nearly all seasickness issues. Even with strong winds and ocean swells of 6-8 meters the boat was so stable that we were still able to use our scopes (even if bins were enough to have great views of the birds) for seabirding. The quantity and diversity of seabirds was fantastic: 9 species of Albatrosses and 36 species of tubenosses, including Stejneger’s and Juan Fernandez Petrel, Pincoya and Grey-rumped Storm-Petrel, Shy, Snowy and Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Cape Verde Shearwater and so many more… The cruise stopped at seven different locations (twice in Chile, three times in Argentina, once in the Falklands Islands and once in Uruguay), and alternating between seabirding and land excursions was greatly appreciated. We always focused our land excursions on the most remarkable birds and habitat of the area, and we were very successful finding such diverse birds as Chucao and Black-throated Huet-huet, Magellanic Plover, no less than three species of Steamer-ducks, White-throated Caracara, Magellanic Woodpecker, Lesser Rhea, Elegant Crested-Tinamou, or Southern Screamer. In addition to the birds, we also had some great looks at several species of sea mammals including Dusky and Peale’s Dolphin and Sei and Southern Right Whales.

Our 3 day pre-tour around Santiago was also great. We visited habitats ranging from the stunning mountains above the Chilean capital to coastal wetlands, homes to birds such as the splendid Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, Greater Yellow-finch, Moustached Turca, Seaside Cinclodes, the stunning Many-colored Rush-tyrant and many more. And just to add some icing on the cake, some of the group ended with the extension to Ceiba and Iguazu, where beside the amazing falls, we also found fantastic birds including Toco Toucan, Rufous-capped Motmot, Surucua Trogon, Spot-backed Antshrike, Green-headed Tanager, Lark-like Brushrunner, Yellow-fronted and White-fronted Woodpeckers, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper and Black-and-rufous Warbling-Finch, just to name a few!

IGUAZU EXTENSION: Most of the main cruise group did the pre-cruise extension around Santiago. On the first night we met at our airport Hotel for an introductory meeting and first dinner together.

For our first full day of the pre-tour we visited the Farellones and Valle Nevado sky resort above Santiago. On the way, we made a few stops at different elevations, finding Mourning and Band-tailed Sierra-finches in big numbers, Common Diuca-Finch, Chilean Mockingbird, Austral Blackbirds and the charismatic Moustached Turca. At our very first stop, we even found the secretive Chilean Tinamou and a lovely Austral Pygmy-Owl! The scenery of the Andes above Santiago is impressive and just one hour after leaving the city we were birding in these impressive mountains, with always at least one Andean Condor soaring high in the sky. Around Farellones we found a few Rufous-banded Miner, White-browed Ground-tyrant, Greater Yellow-finch, and no less than five Magellanic Horned-Owl. Even a Magellanic Tapaculo showed well in the open habitat here.  During our scrumptious picnic lunch in a wonderful landscape, a few Grey-hooded Sierra-Finches and Greater Yellow-Finches enjoyed the breadcrumb falling from the tables. Valle Nevado, at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), is the highest ski resort above Santiago. That’s where we had an amazing show of at least 17 Andean Condor arriving in the afternoon to rest on the roof of the resort buildings. Best views ever of Andean Condor. After a first wonderful day in Chile it was time to drive back to our Santiago hotel.

We spent our second day at El Yeso Valley, again in high mountains, looking for some species not found around Farellones. During a first stop on our way up, we spotted a beautiful male of Torrent Duck perched on a rock in the middle of the Yeso River, and had great views of a pair of the endemic Crag Chilia. The star of the day was without any doubt the charismatic Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. We had great views of an adult and its two large chicks at a high-altitude bog. This fantastic shorebird also shares his habitat with other interesting species, such as Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, Grey-flanked Cinclodes, Yellow-rumped Siskin, Scaly-breasted Earthcreeper and Black-billed Shrike-tyrant. After our picnic lunch surrounded by incredible scenery, we began winding our way back down towards Santiago. At a few stops along the way we found a few more interesting species, such a lovely pair of Mountain Parakeet perched on a cliff, and a stunning male White-sided Hillstar feeding on the flowers of Tristerix verticillatus, a parasitic plant common in Central Chile.

Since the ship was leaving in the afternoon, we had a full morning to look for a few more Chilean species. After leaving our hotel in the early morning, we first birded a dry valley near San Antonio. Most of the coastal vegetation has been completely destroyed by human activities, but some patches of native vegetation still survive, and that’s where we found interesting birds such as Dusky-tailed Canastero, White-throated Tapaculo, Dusky Tapaculo, Giant Hummingbird and even the secretive Des Murs’s Wiretail. We spent the rest of the morning at the Maipo estuary south of San Antonio.  There, we found huge numbers of migrant species such as Black Skimmer and Franklin’s Tern, and a few North American shorebirds including Semipalmated Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover and Red Knots. The resident species included Red Shoveler, Yellow-billed Pintail, American Oystercatcher, and a distant Great Grebe. In the reeds we had great views of a few Wren-like Rushbird, and found a few of the colorful Many-colored Rush-tyrant, while some vocal Plumbeous Rail stayed hidden in the dense vegetation. We had our lunch at a wonderful location on the seashore, enjoying succulent local fish. During lunch we also found a nice Seaside Cinclodes - one more Chilean endemic. It was now time to drive towards Valparaiso to board our ship, our home for the next two weeks. Unfortunately, after arriving at the Valparaiso harbor, we discovered that a morning strike from the harbor workers delayed all boarding operations. It took us a few hours to board the ship. Worse, the departure was delayed by three hours, and we left Valparaiso just before dusk, compromising our seabirding plan for that evening. We just had time to find a few Red-legged Cormorants, the very elegant Inca Tern, a few flocks of Guanay Cormorants and Peruvian Boobies, giving us a taste of what will be our forthcoming days at sea.

MAIN CRUISE: For our first full day at sea, we sailed between 36º South (North of Concepción on the Chilean coast) and 40º South (level with Valdivia on the Chilean coast). During this day we sailed by Mocha Island, where more than 80% of the world population of Pink-footed Shearwaters breeds. Not surprisingly we saw good numbers of this species. We also learned how to identify albatrosses and found six different species: Northern and Southern Royal, Black-browed, Salvin’s and even two individuals of Buller’s Albatross and an Antipodean (Wandering) Albatross. More difficult was the identification of the Pterodroma Petrels, usually flying far from the ship and very fast, but we had good numbers of both Juan-Fernandez and Stejneger’s Petrel, a few DeFilippi’s Petrel, and even found a vagrant Cook’s Petrel. We also found a few Westland Petrel amongst the large number of White-chinned Petrels. In addition to birds, we had several hundreds of Short-beaked Common Dolphin, several groups of South American Fur Seals, a few Sperm Whale and two Humpback Whales.

After a day of seabirding we enjoyed some land birding around Puerto-Montt (Chile). What a change from Central Chile! The dry and thorny matorral scrub gave way to the impressive and luxuriant Nothofagus forest. Our morning at the wonderful Alerce Andino NP has been very productive, finding big numbers of White-crested Elaenia, a few Thorn-tailed Rayadito and Patagonian Sierra-Finch, a few Austral Parakeet, Chilean Pigeon, a pair of Black-faced Ibis and a Striped Woodpecker. We also had amazing encounters with several cooperative Chucao Tapaculo, and an excited Black-throated Huet-huet, a usually very secretive species. During the drive between the harbor of Puerto-Montt and Alerce Andino NP, we also made a few stops for other interesting species, including Flightless (Chiloé) Steamer-duck, Blackish and Magellanic Oystercatcher, a Black-necked Swan and hundreds of Hudsonian Godwits. Unfortunately the afternoon’s cold rain pushed us to board the ship early for a warm drink and some rest. After leaving Puerto-Montt, we spent the last hours of the day looking for the recently described Pincoya Storm-Petrel. This species/form, named after a goddess of the local Chiloe mythology, is only known to occur in the waters around Chiloé Island. Fortunately, after only one hour sailing we found 100+ of this enigmatic possible new species, as well as a few Parasitic Jaegers, and even two Westland Petrels.

For our second full day at sea, we experienced some strong winds coming from the south-west, but even with more than 40+ knot winds and 6-8 meters swells the ship stayed extremely stable and we were able to watch Royal Albatross with bins in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Because of bad weather in the open sea, we left the Chilean channels way south of Chonos Archipelago around noon, to spend the rest of the day in open ocean. The most common birds of the day were Sooty Shearwater, Black-browed Albatross, followed by Fuegian Storm-Petrels and White-chinned Petrels. We saw no less than seven species of Albatross that day, including both Royal, the expected Antipodean and Snowy Wandering Albatrosses, but also a few Salvin’s and Buller’s Albatrosses. We also spotted a few Westland Petrels amongst the most common White-chinned.

The following morning we woke up to the wonderful scenery of the Chilean channels. Despite a cloudy sky, crossing these channels surrounded by snow-capped peaks and glaciers was probably one of the most scenic parts of the trip. The ship stayed in front of the scenic Amalia glacier for an hour, during which we had great views of a first pair of Peale’s Dolphin. After lunch, the ship exited the channels and we were back in the open sea for the afternoon. We saw many species we’d already found the previous day, plus great views of Stejneger’s Petrel, a vagrant Shy Albatross and our first Slender-billed Prions.

After two days at sea, we arrived in one of the Southernmost Chilean cities, Punta Arenas. Our first stop was at a lake in the Patagonian steppe, where we quickly found one of the most sought-after Patagonian species: the “pink bubble-gum legged” Magellanic Plover. Two adults and their juvenile were seen together. At the same place we had great views of Chilean Flamingoes, our first group of Upland Geese, Yellow-billed Pintail and Teal, three Silver Teal, a close view of four Great Grebes and a group of 200 Patagonian Silvery Grebe. During our drive to our next birding location, we spotted several groups of Lesser Rheas, some very close to the road. At a second lake we found no less than 20 Spectacled Duck (pretty uncommon in the Patagonian steppe), 200+ Red-gartered Coots and a few White-winged Coots, hundreds of ducks, our first Rufous-chested Dotterel, and even had a brief view of an Aplomado Falcon hunting some migrant passerines (mostly Rufous-collared Sparrows, Grey-hooded Sierra-Finch and Long-tailed Meadowlark). We then headed towards the Tres Puentes wetlands to enjoy the great diversity of waterfowl found in Patagonia: Yellow-billed Pintail, Red Shoveler, Upland and Ashy-headed Geese as well as three individuals of the rare and threatened Ruddy-headed Goose. In the afternoon, we decided to inspect the coast south of Punta Arenas, where we quickly found Flying and Flightless Steamer-duck, a few Magellanic Oystercatcher together with a pair of Blackish Oystercatcher, and a dozen of the superb (especially the female!) Kelp Goose. We even had a small group of Peale’s Dolphin jumping and hunting close to the coast, as well as a few Sei Whales in Magellanic Straight. After leaving Punta Arenas and finding a few Magellanic Diving-Petrels, we had a great meal all together to celebrate a stunning day in Patagonia.

The next morning we woke up in the majestic Beagle Channel, named after the ship used by Charles Darwin and the captain Fitz Roy during their trip around the world. It doesn’t seem that much has changed since the Darwin’s expedition: inaccessible islands, dense evergreen forest, and steep slopes with waterfalls, glaciers and snow peaked mountains. Hard to believe that only a few decades ago, some native people were still living in these channels, fishing mussels and hunting seals. A few hundred Black-browed Albatross accompanied us in Beagle Channel, as well as a 50+ Southern Giant Petrels and a dozen Southern Fulmars.

Arriving in Ushuaia (Argentina), the southernmost city in the world, we transferred to our bus and drove directly to the Ushuaia garbage dump… not a scenic place to visit, but that’s where we found big numbers of raptors attracted by the trash: dozens of Chimango Caracara, 30+ Southern Caracara, and about 10 of the very local White-throated Caracara. A Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, one of the most beautiful South American raptor, was also perched on the access road to the dump. But our main destination today was the stunning Tierra del Fuego NP with its wonderful pristine Nothofagus forest bordering stunning lakes and rivers and covering the neighboring mountains. We found several groups of Thorn-tailed Rayadito, sometimes associated with Patagonian Sierra-Finch and White-crested Elaenia. We also were very successful with the sought-after Magellanic Woodpecker, finding no less than two males and a female, giving us amazing views for almost 30 minutes. On the way back to the ship, we also stopped on the coastline, enjoying great views of Flightless and Flying Steamer-duck in the same scope field, Kelp Goose, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Crested Duck, and the stunning Dolphin Gull, probably one of the most beautiful gulls in the world. Back on the ship in the afternoon, we sailed through Beagle Channel toward its eastern exit and the famous Cape Horn.

Very early in the morning, we reached and sailed around the Island of Cape Horn, the southernmost Island in South America. A legendary place to sail, where many ships have foundered and sunk and so many sailors disappeared. We can now say we belong to the “Cape Horner” community (even if rounding the cape with such a luxurious and stable ship is cheating!).Hundreds of Black-browed Albatrosses and Sooty Shearwaters accompanied us during our loop around Cape Horn Island. Soon after leaving Cape Horn, we reached very deep waters and left the abundant albatrosses and shearwaters behind, and birding was quiet for most of the day. But during the afternoon, we crossed paths with a huge fishing ship and for half an hour the horizon filled with albatrosses. Hundreds of Black-browed, Southern Royal and a few Snowy (Wandering) Albatrosses were in attendence. At the end of the day, we also saw a few dozen Slender-billed Prion, and had great views of a few Grey-backed Storm-Petrel flying usually close to floating seaweed.

Arriving in Stanley (Falklands) in the early morning, we immediately jumped into our 4x4 jeeps and drove towards Volunteer Point where huge colonies of King, Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins are found. It is a long drive on a very bad “road”, but the scenery is absolutely fantastic (recalling Alaska or Scotland), and our drivers were very talkative. They told us all about the Falklands islands, its history, its economy, and all aspects of living in such an isolated place.  At Volunteer Point, the penguins were all over! Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins, whose breeding season was already finished, were found in large molting groups, or traveling between the beach and the colony. The King Penguins, whose breeding season is way longer than the other species, were actively breeding. It was very interesting to find birds incubating eggs or feeding recently hatched chicks at the same time. No doubt that these King Penguins, with their beautiful suits, were the stars of the day. In addition to the numerous penguins, we also found a few dozen Ruddy-headed Geese, and the beach was covered by dozens of Two-banded Plovers and White-rumped Sandpipers. During the drive to/from Stanley, we made a few stops, finding Dark-faced Ground-tyrant, 20+ Rufous-chested Dotterel, a large flock of the Falklands (White-bridled) Finch, a close Magellanic (South American) Snipe, and a few Correndera Pipit.

Leaving Stanley in the late afternoon, we crossed some huge flocks of Sooty Shearwaters, and admired the beautiful coastline with thousands of Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins in the dunes and on the beaches. Once in the open sea, we also released two Slender-billed Prions, two Grey-backed Storm-Petrels and one Magellanic Diving-Petrel that we found in the early morning on the exterior decks. These birds were disoriented by the ship lights, and once on board, couldn’t fly away by their own. All these birds were released safely.

The most remarkable species of our second to last sailing day was certainly the Peale’s Dolphin, with 100+ of them seen jumping near the ship. Absolutely amazing! We also found a few Sei and Southern Right Whales, including one breaching. For the birds, we had hundreds of Manx Shearwaters (with the numbers of this species increasing at the end of the day when getting closer to the coast) as well as good numbers of Great Shearwaters. We were also pleased to see two Subantarctic Little Shearwater.

As usual, we were the first ones to leave the ship just after arriving in the Puerto-Madryn (Argentina) harbor. We met Mabel, our local guide for the day, and immediately drove towards the Valdez Peninsula where we spent the whole day. A few kilometers after leaving the city, we stopped for our first Elegant Crested-Tinamou group. One of many, as that species of Tinamou is really common here… finally an easy tinamou to see!

And we stopped again and again to admire the rich fauna of the area: Guanacos, Burrowing Owl, Lesser Rheas, Lesser Cavy, Patagonian Mockingbird, etc, etc… they all stopped us on our way through the Patagonian steppe of the Valdez Peninsula. We visited a colony of South American Sea Lions, and enjoyed watching the young cubs playing and learning to swim in pools on the rocky shore. Between them we also found a Snowy Sheathbill, and a few dozen Cayenne Terns were flying offshore. After enjoying a nice lunch on the coast, we also stopped at “Bird Island”, were 200+ Chilean Flamingos were foraging on the beach.  Back on board, we were all in position at the bow of the ship when we left Puerto Madryn, and rapidly found some large flocks of Sooty and Manx Shearwaters, as well as a few Dusky Dolphins.

Our last seabirding day was very slow if we only consider the quantity of birds seen, but we had fantastic views of three more tubenose species: dozens of Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, plenty of Cape Verde Shearwaters and a few Cory’s Shearwaters. With these new birds, we celebrated the 9th species of albatross and the 36th species of tubenose seen during our trip! We also had excellent views of Great and Manx Shearwaters, a few Long-tailed Jaegers close to the ship, and several groups of Short-beaked Common Dolphins.

A 30-knot wind obligated us to anchor at the entrance of the Montevideo Harbor until the wind calmed enough to enter and dock in the harbor. Arriving in Montevideo after the one hour delay, we drove immediately to the Botanical Garden with our local guide Florencia. A beautiful place to do some birding, where we rapidly found lots of new species: Rufous Hornero, Glittering-bellied Emerald and Gilded Hummingbird, Small-billed Elaenia, Picazuro Pigeon, Green-barred Woodpecker and Narrow-billed Woodcreeper just to name a few. After our lunch at the garden, we birded some coastal wetlands, finding a Giant Wood-Rail, a pair of Long-winged Harrier, a few Snail Kites, as well as a few White-tufted Grebe and our first Brazilian Teal. In the reed bed, we found a nice pair of Masked Yellowthroat, a Great Pampa-finch, and had cracking views of a pair of Rufous-capped Antshrike. A great day in Uruguay with an impressive list of new birds followed by an excellent farewell dinner.

After disembarking in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we reached the Costanera Sur Reserve for a last morning’s birding. The bird activity was high, and we never stopped seeing new species. It was hard to choose the best birds of the day, between Ringed Teal, Roseate Spoonbill, the impressive Southern Screamer, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Double-collared Seedeater, Masked Gnatcatcher, Yellow-billed Cardinal, the stunning Rufescent Tiger-heron, a pair of White-winged Becard, Golden-billed Saltator and so many more. Our day at these Buenos Aires wetlands was a beautiful end to a stunning trip.

During farewell drinks, we voted for the five ‘best birds’ of the trip: King Penguin (elected unanimously), Magellanic Woodpecker, Black-browed Albatross, Slender-billed Prion, and (receiving equal votes) Magellanic Plover, Chilean Flamingo and Glittering-bellied Hummingbird. During the voting no less than 26 other species were named by the tour participants, including Snowy (Wandering) Albatross, Pintado Petrel, Stejneger’s Petrel, Chucao Tapaculo, female Kelp Goose or White-throated Caracara (to name a few).

CEIBAS AND IGUAZU FALLS EXTENSION: While some participants did a city tour before flying back home, a few of the group continued on to our extension and had a very early disembarkation time in order to arrive in Ceibas just after sunrise. The birding was absolutely amazing. Just a few steps from the bus we found a few stunning White-fronted Woodpecker, a Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, lots of the very noisy Rufous Hornero, several groups of the splendid Red-crested Cardinal, a Dark-billed Cuckoo and two cute Ash-breasted Cuckoo, a pair of Suiriri Flycatcher, several groups of Monk Parakeets, a fancy pair of Chotoy Spinetail, and several elegant Masked Gnatcatchers. Continuing through the open scrubland, the list of new species seemed to be endless. We had great views of an adult White-naped Xenopsaris, a very cooperative Pale-breasted Spinetail, a few male Double-collared Seedeater, the lovely Black-and-rufous Warbling-finch, and a young White-tipped Plantcutter! The diversity of furnarids is impressive here, and found Brown Cachalote, Little Thornbird, Lark-like Brushrunner, Tufted Tit-spinetail, Short-billed Canastero and Stripe-crowned Spinetail. In the flooded fields we found several flocks of Southern Screamers, together with Wattled Jacanas, Maguari Storks, and hundreds of White-faced and Bare-faced Ibis. In the riparian vegetation, we also had great views of a pair of very excited Yellow-chinned Spinetail and a nice Freckle-breasted Thornbird. We also found a Firewood-Gatherer, a very drab bird with a very fancy name! After our very successful morning we had lunch at a great Argentinean restaurant on our way back to Buenos Aires. It was now time for some participants (plus Steve) to fly back home, while the rest of us, along with Jullian (our local Argentinean guide), had a relaxed afternoon to pack and to be ready for the forthcoming days in Iguazu.

Our next days were spent around the city of Puerto Iguazu in the extreme North of Argentina in order to visit the very famous waterfalls and to bird some of the large tracts of protected forests. After landing in Iguazu, we checked-in at our very comfortable hotel, and had our first great meal there. We then headed to a famous hummingbird garden in the city of Iguazu. We spent one hour enjoying the effervescent activity of tens of Versicolored Emeralds and Black-throated Mangoes, together with Black Jacobins, Gilded Hummingbirds, Violet-capped Woodnymphs, Glittering-bellied Emeralds and even a splendid Fork-tailed Hummingbird. Our hotel was located in a wonderful patch of 600 hectares of good forest so we also did some birding on our way back from the garden and found a few nice species, including a pair of Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, a few Rufous-winged Antwren climbing some dense tangles, several Boat-billed Flycatchers, and even a very cooperative Rufous Gnateater to end a great first day at Iguazu.

After an early breakfast, we spent the first hours of the morning along the 101 road, a wonderful birding place! As soon as we began to walk along the road, we found Olivaceous Woodcreeper, three stunning Yellow-fronted Woodpeckers, a nice pair of Yellow Tyrannulet, a small group of the fancy Plush-crested Jays, the minute Ochre-collared Piculet and an even smaller Eared Pygmy-tyrant, a few Golden-crowned Warblers and even had scope views of the secretive Spot-backed Antshrike. Far inside the forest, a Brown Tinamou was singing and a Robust Woodpecker was drumming. Our birding was briefly interrupted by a Tayra crossing the road, and after that we enjoyed watching of mixed-species flock including Blue Dacnis, Guira Tanagers, Grey Elaenia and Chestnut-vented Conebill. We also found a very vocal pair of Sibilant Sirystes, and the surprise of the morning was the discovery of a Pearly-breasted Cuckoo, a hard-to-see bird in Argentina! Because of a protest that delayed us on our way to the falls, we decided to postpone our visit there, and birded the hotel surroundings in the afternoon. The new species we discovered during our walk included some colorful ones such the lovely Green-headed and Swallow Tanager or Red-crested Finch, and drab ones such Fuscous Flycatcher and Greenish Elaenia. We also had a prolonged scope view of a superb pair of Rufous-capped Motmot. Stunning!

For our second morning near Iguazu, we drove to the Urugua-í Reserve, about 1.5 hours from the hotel. The forest here is fantastic, and it would be easy to spend days on the forest trails in this reserve. In just a few hours we found plenty of new species such as Blond-crested Woodpecker (a small group of three of them seen super well), White-shouldered Fire-eye, a stunning pair of Swallow-tailed Manakin, a Chestnut-headed Tanager, Southern Bristle-tyrant, two White-throated Spadebill, one Riverbank Warbler and plenty of White-browed Warbler. After a nice morning at Urugua- í, we experienced some impressive tropical rains during the drive to the Iguazu falls. We arrived at the falls around lunchtime and spent a full afternoon there. This park is really an impressive place to be. We had amazing views of the falls, from the bottom as well as from above, and enjoyed the wonderful scenery of wild rivers surrounded by tropical forest. The sound coming from falls plunging 250 feet (75 meters) down was indescribable. We also had some good birds during the visit to the falls, such as splendid views of Toco Toucans, several groups of the fancy Plush-crested Jay, and a Buff-bellied Puffbird (recent split from White-necked Puffbird). We also had several encounters with tame groups of South American Coati, used to receiving food from numerous visitors, as well as a small group of Black-horned Capuchin. But the most amazing spectacle of the day was seeing a few hundred Great Dusky Swifts swarming above the falls and diving behind the cascading water to reach their roosts or nests. From the Garganta Del Diablo, where the metal boardwalk overlooks the falls, we watched these amazing birds diving behind the rushing water and perching on the cliffs. After a great day and an excellent dinner we did a short walk around the hotel and found two different Tropical Screech-Owls.

Flying back to Buenos Aires relatively late in the morning, we had time for some early birding near the hotel, re-sighting many of the birds seen the previous days, and adding to the list a few Pale-vented Pigeons as well as a nice flock of Red-rumped Caciques. It was now time to fly to Buenos-Aires and end this fantastic tour!

-          - Fabrice Schmitt

Created: 22 March 2017