VS: Argentina with Bird Guides 2. Rincon del Socorro

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: VS: Argentina with Bird Guides 2. Rincon del Socorro
From: "Vader Willem Jan Marinus" <>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 10:56:46 +0100


Fra: Vader Willem Jan Marinus
Sendt: ti 11/23/2010 10:55
Kopi: Ebn ; Sabirdnet ;
Emne: Argentina with Bird Guides 2. Rincon del Socorro


Rincon del Socorro is a ranch that has been converted into a lodge, in the
Ibera marshes in the province Corrientes in NE Argentina. You fly 1 1/2
hrs from Buenos Aires to Posadas, just across the border in Missiones
province, and from there it is 4 hrs, largely over very dicy dirt roads,
to the lodge---when it has rained, as is often the case here, this ride
may take as many as seven hours, and I have also seen several trip reports
of people who had to turn around before reaching this destination. The
country is flat here, and for the first half of the ride not all that
inviting. Rough grazing land originally dominates, with lots of cows, and
here and there also Merino sheep, and as everywhere in Argentina, also
many horses. Now there are also endless production forests of pine, that
cover large areas and make the landscape still less alluring. But there
are birds also here; Greater Rheas share the pastures with the cattle here
and there, Southern Lapwings are loud as always, there are lots of raptors
around: Caracaras, Chimangos, Roadside Hawks and the large Savanna Hawks,
and there lots and lots of the elegant Fork-tailed Flycatchers along the
road. I also see my first Guira Cuckoos, which will turn out to be a
common bird in this area, usually going around in small flocks. Gradually
the landscape becomes wetter and more interesting, and various wading
birds appear, herons, a few ibises and the first Maguari Storks. The
roadsides here are full of spring flowers, in contradistinction to all
other places we visited in Argentina, where spring was much less obvious.
Large violet patches of a verbenid, yellow composites and Ludwigias, and a
number of other flowers that I sadly do not know at all.

The lodge itself lies in an area where all hunting was discontinued ten
years ago, and where flora and wildlife now are strictly protected and all
domestic animals have been removed. This the wild animals clearly already
know quite well and they are therefore often very tame. The lodge---the
old ranch-- is surrounded by lawns with scattered trees, close to several
marshes and small lakes. I have a room 'around the corner from the
others', on the short side of the building, and there is a bench outside,
where I now and then sit and enjoy. There are almost always capybaras
around; these enormous and friendly-but-sleepy-looking rodents are quite
unafraid and dig and take their mud-baths wherever they want, also close
to the lodge; their mudholes are a trap for the unwary! The other
spectacular inhabitants of the lawn are the Greater Rheas, also these
thoroughly accostumed to people nowadays; the males have a very deep
OOOO-WHOOOM, uttered with closed beaks, a somewhat bittern-like boom that
at forst mystified us.

There is much more to be seen from my bench. Colourful Monk Parakeets are
everywhere, as are their enormous nests; as everywhere in this country,
there are also plenty of pigeons (the large fat Picazuro Pigeons and the
hoarse-sounding Spot-winged Pigeons) and doves, here mainly Eared Doves,
but also Picui Ground Doves, around, and a most colourful addition to the
lawn birds are the Campo Flickers, often most entertaining to watch for a
while. Closer by, at my feet, small dapper stripy crested birds walk
around and collect twigs; to my European eyes they look uncannily like
Crested Larks, but they are furnariids, the Lark-like Brushrunners. The
twigs are for their substantial twig nests, quite high up in the trees,
and I have much fun to watch them build: they perch with a large twig
above their nest, and then more or less 'fall down' with the twig, so that
it intertwines with the ones already there. Also these brushrunners are
completely unafraid. In the tree outside my room a pair of American
Kestrels is at home, and in another tree, in front of the dining room,
there is often a Yellow-headed Caracara. And of course, many trees have
the curious clay-ovens of the Hornero, from which the whole family
Furnariidae derive its name as ovenbirds; it is the national bird of
Argentina, and indeed ubiquitous in the lower parts of the country. As
always here, there are also House Wrens around this house!

It is not far from the lodge to a marsh, which serves as a night roost for
lots of wading birds, and there we can, in brilliant afternoon light,
watch hundreds of egrets, herons (also my first ever Whistling Herons and
lots of Night Herons) , ibises (Here predominantly the Whispering Ibis,
but there are also Plumbeous Ibises and the ubiquitous White-faced Ibis)
and whistling ducks. I also see my first ever Southern Screamers here, a
whole new bird family for me, and a bird 'all its own'. At twilight
armadillos bustle around , and one evening I surprise a Hog-nosed Skunk on
my doorstep---I yield him the right of way!

The catering at the lodge is excellent in all respects, although the
Landrovers that we use for excursions, are far from comfortable and get
extremely hot in the back. But it is all definitely worth it, and during
the three days that we are here, we see an amazing amount of birds, too
many to all list here. (I have a complete list, of course) Several times
we find, besides the common Red-crested Cardinals,  also the exquisite
Yellow Cardinal, together with lots of tyrannids. The Snow-bunting
coloured White Monjita is amazing; how can a small bird afford to be so
conspicuous? Cattle Tyrants sit on the back of the capybaras---and also on
cattle and sheep, outside the strictly protected area, The elegant
Fork-tailed Flycatchers are everywhere, as are the Tropical Kingbird and
the Crowned Slaty Flycatcher (Which has the reputation of having the
longest scientific name of all birds, Griseotyrannus (or Empidonomus)
aurantioatrocristatus!), while the aptly named Strange-tailed Tyrant looks
during its display flight like a small plane dragging an advertisement

There are also many less conspicuous tyrannids, of course, and David knows
them all, also by sound, and tries manfully to teach them to us---still, I
am certainly still not to be trusted with the various tyrannulets and
pygmy tyrants. One that stands out is the Sooty Tyrannulet of the
reedlands, an archetypical 'small friendly bird'. We also see our first
thornbirds and spinetails; many others will follow during the course of
the trip. Checkered, White-fronted and  Golden-breasted Woodpeckers are
discovered in the trees, but the cream of the woodpeckers is the large
Cream-backed Woodpecker, that nests in the trees behind the lodge and 'can
be best watched in the evening dusk'. (Although once it regaled us of
close views during lunch). Hummingbirds there are too, and we get a
wonderful 'demonstration' of reflex colours by a Blue-tufted Starthroat,
sitting and glittering in the sun on the tip of a bush.

On our walks we often see viscachas, somewhat rabbit-like rodents with
soft fur and stripy faces, in the evenings many more come out. There are
also wild cavias here, which in your mind you at first won't really accept
as truly wild animals. And there are many foxes, of different species.

One day we first drive and them walk far into the marshes, to a place
where a pair of Crowned Eagles is known to nest. On the way we find
several marsh birds: Crested Doradito, Bearded Tachuri, a few seedeater
species (although many may not yet have arrived after migration), even
S.American Snipe and a Solitary Sandpiper. But the eagles don't show
themselves. During our return at dusk, hundreds of glowworms light up the
marshes, but we hear neither owls nor nighthawks. We don't give up on the
eagles,though,  and try the arduous trek once more---now one of the cars
bogs down for a while in the mud--- on our last morning, and this time
with success: We see the eagles high overhead, and just when we leave,
they circle down and alight close by the nest, while the staccato calls of
the Plumbeous Ibis sound from a nearby tree.

Another afternoon we make a boat trip on the lagoon, in two small boats
with quite silent engines. The lagoon was full of water plants and
flowers, and looked exquisitely beautiful. Water hyacinths Eichhornia of
course,  various Nymphaceae and Menyanthaceae, a yellowish Sagittaria-like
flower, carpets of floating ferns Salvina and Azolla and the aquatic
Araceae Pistia, and large fields of various flat-beaker-like flowers,
maybe again Ludwigia or possibly a Limnocharitaceae.. Pontederia upright
flower stems punctuated the surface here and there. This was a paradise
for reed birds and thus icterids, and we saw many in quick succession:
Yellow-rumped and Brown-and -yellow Marshbirds, the spectacular
Scarlet-headed Blackbird, the much less spectacular Unicoloured and Chopi
Blackbirds, and of course the various cowbirds.. Cormorants were common,
herons and ibises also, but ducks were strangely scarce, with Brazilian
teals the only species seen here. A screamer sat on its nest, there were 3
species of kingfishers, Limpkins, gallinules and jacanas (but no coots)
and judicious playback brought a nice Rufous-sided Crake close. And of
course there were two species of caymans!!

After the boat trip we had a very nice picnic closeby, where we i.a. were
visited by the colourful and curious Plush-crested Jays.

Rincon del Socorro may be hard and arduous to reach, but it is very much
worth the effort. I liked the place a lot!

Vader, Tromsø Museum
Tromsø, Norway

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