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Iguazu Falls Jan 2008 Bird Watching Trip Report

Author: Carl from Pahrump
Date of Trip: January 2008

In December 2007 and January 2008 we spent 37-days on the Star Princess with back-to-back cruises. We sailed across the Caribbean, down the East coast of South America, stopped in the Falkland Islands, sailed around Antarctica for 4 days, backtracked to the southern tip of South America, and ended in Buenos Aires. We then spent 4 nights at Iguazu Falls before returning to Miami.

This trip report discusses our bird watching trip to Iguazu Falls. Trip Reports for the Star Princess cruises (Dec 20, 2007 & Jan 10, 2008), with emphasis on bird watching, are on CruiseCritic.com.

We arrived in Iguazu at 3pm. We could see the mist from the falls on final approach to the runway. Our driver, Ariel, was waiting for us. Iguazu, Argentina is 1000 miles North of Buenos Aires on the Brazil and Paraguay border.

We stayed at the Secret Garden B&B (john@secretgardeniguazu.com) in Iguazu City, a.k.a. Puerto Iguazu, (25.608S 54.569W) on the Argentina side of the falls. Right off we saw a Glittering-bellied Emerald hummingbird in the garden getting nectar from Lobster Claws. The sounds of birds were everywhere. Later we saw a Guira Cuckoo and Sayaca Tanager (light blue with darkish wing patches) on the street.

We had dinner at a nearby steak house. We started with an appetizer tray of stuffed tomatoes, fish cakes, and other local foods. My wife had the 1.5 lbs of steak fingers with smashed pumpkin. I had a 1.5 lb hunk of steak with sweet potato nuggets. She couldn’t eat all her steak, but I did! Beautiful!!

The B&B has a cocktail hour for the guests at 7:30pm. We met a couple from Australia that has just returned from a small boat trip to Antarctica on Quark Cruises, and a couple from Holland that were leaving in a few days for Antarctica. Small boat trips cost around $13,000 per person, but you get a lot closer to the penguins and icebergs. The Australians got seasick a few times, so we gave the couple from Holland our leftover anti-seasickness patches.

On Jan 27 we met our birding guide at 6:40am.

We went birding with Daniel Somay (daniel.somay@rainforestevt.com.ar), a local birding guide, in the Iguazu NP (25.678S 54.450W). In the NP we saw Ashy-tailed Swifts, Black-capped Donacobius (Mocking Thrush), Blue Dacnis (Tanager), Blue Manakin, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Chestnut-eared Araçari (Trogon), Chestnut-vented Conebill, Cocoa Thrush, Double-collared Seedeater, Epaulet Oriole, Green-headed Tanager (spectacular colored Rainbow Tanager in Spanish), Ochre-collared Piculet (small woodpecker), Pale-breasted Thrush, Plush-crested Jay (yellow chest with matching yellow eyes), Purple-throated Euphonia, Red-crested Finch, Reddish-bellied Parakeet, Rufous-bellied Thrush, Scaly-headed Parrot, Streaked Flycatcher, Swallow-Tanager, Violaceous Euphonia, White-barred Piculet (woodpecker), and Yellow-fronted Woodpecker.

Daniel dropped us off at the Iguazu Falls at 11am. We hiked to Sendero Macuco (25.680S 54.443W), a small stream with a big drop. Thousands of people come to Iguazu Falls each day, but not many people come to this smaller falls. The track to the bottom of the falls was an erosion ditch with roots as steps.

Along the track we spotted a Rufous-capped Motmot and Striped Cuckoo. We flushed out a Tiger Nightheron by almost stepping on it.

It started to rain about 2pm, so we took a city bus back to town (15k) for $1.33 each (a taxi only cost $13).

The high today was 70F. Last week it was over 100F.

On Jan 28 it was pouring down rain at 6:30am. We met Daniel at the B&B and decided not to go birding today. It rained off and on all day.

We had Br at the B&B – fresh guava juice, a big bowl of watermelon, and toast with a variety of home made jams, including Passion Fruit jam. They had a special pot to froth milk. The coffee was made in a plunger pot.

At 10am Ariel took us to a store to buy Inca Rose jewelry. Later he took me to the Casino to get cash from the ATM machine so we could get a 10% discount on the jewelry.

In the late afternoon we walked to the river walk near downtown. We spotted an Orange-bellied Euphonia in a tall tree. Later, we saw a Plain-breasted Earthcreeper and Yellow-bellied Elaenia (flycatcher).

We decided to take a 2-hour catamaran trip to Paraguay (25.593S 54.579W). The river was swollen by the recent rains but the banks were full of people fishing for catfish. The catamaran stopped at an Indian village in Paraguay where the locals turned out to do ceremonial dancing.

We went birding with Daniel at Iguazu NP on Jan 29. Daniel could recognize most birds by their call. He had recorded birdcalls he could play to draw in the birds.

During the morning we saw a Black-goggled Tanager, Black-throated Grosbeak, Black-throated Trogon, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Cattle Tyrant, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Golden-crowned Warbler, Masked Yellowthroat, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Rufous-winged Antwren, Southern Antpipit, Surucua Trogon, Toco Toucan, Variable Antshrike, Violet-capped Woodnymph, White-bearded Manakin, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, and Yellow Tyrannulet.

We also saw a Red Deer on the trail and a pack of Brown Cappuccino monkeys with white faces (one Mom was nursing 2 babies).

We spent the afternoon at the main falls. We took the 1Km boardwalk to the Devil’s Throat (25.695S 54.437W) section of the falls. The falls were generating so much mist you could only see the water start over the fall before it disappeared in the vapor. The falls were awesome!

This area was covered with thousands of butterflies. They were not shy about landing on people.

Around the falls we spotted an American Pygmy Kingfisher and Yellow-billed Cardinal. We took the Eco boat trip back to the center of the park. We saw a Cayman in the grass and heaps of White Trumpet Trees.

We were getting tired, so we bought some T-shirts and got the 4:15pm bus to town. Unfortunately, this bus didn’t make any stops, so we ended up at the central bus station — a mere 10-block walk to the B&B.

We could have spent several more days hiking to different section of the Falls — it is soooo massive — hundreds of individual falls stretching out over 1.5 miles and 2 countries. We’ll plan on spending a week here next time. Sept and Oct are considered the best time for Butterflies — most of the birds are resident — plus it is cooler and dryer then. Sept is also a good time for the Iberia Wetlands 300 Km away.

We were joined at the Happy Hour tonight by couples from New Zealand and Malta. We ordered a dozen Empanadas for dinner (a mixture of beef, chicken and pork) — they were cheaper by the dozen – $4 US for a dozen, delivered to the B&B. They were terrific!

We were up early on Jan 30. The temp increased a little each day, but never got over the 70Fs (that’s 90Fs in the sun). We were really blessed with moderate temps. The rains were beginning to produce flooding across Northern Argentina.

We walked back to the jewelry store for Inca Rose bracelets and other things. We saw a Black Taper on the way to the airport.

We got to the airport at 12:40pm. When we checked-in we learned that our 2:10pm flight had been changed to1pm.

We arrived at 3pm at the Buenos Aires Downtown Airport. We got a limo to the International Airport for a few dollars more than the Minibus.

We departed Buenos Aires at 11:15pm. The 8-hour flight went on the east side of the Andes Mountains over Paraguay, Bolivia and the Amazon Basin.

We crossed the Equator at 1:45am on Jan 31. We arrived in Miami at 4:45am.

The flight from Buenos Aires was 4300 miles. The round trip travel from Miami was 18,860 miles by ship and plane.

Birding summary:

During the 37-day Cruise and trip to Iguazu Falls we saw:

277 bird species in 11 Countries on 3 Continents 217 on the 37-day Cruise 89 at Iguazu Falls

14 in Antarctica 64 in the Caribbean 215 in South America

Country Bird Species Argentina 103 Barbados 39 Brazil 17 Chile 11 Dominica 31 Falkland Islands 30 Grenada 16 Paraguay 2 Trinidad 35 Uruguay 73 Antarctic UK 14 Total 277

E-mail us if you would like a file on the birds we saw each day.

Carl & Wilma Ball

carlball@yahoo.com

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