As of today, after landing in Buenos Aires at about 11:30am local time, I had officially been to five continents! I was hoping to convince my parents to visit Reserva Costanera del Sur on both days we’re here, because I would describe it as Buenos Aires’ grandiose version of Montrose Point. The preserve juts out into the Atlantic Ocean from right in front of downtown and provides amazing habitat for a variety of nesting and migratory bird species. With Argentinian avian species’ names including such linguistic delights as “Firewood-Gatherer,” “Southern Screamer,” “Screaming Cowbird,” and “Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet,” I was in high anticipation not only getting to photograph some completely new & exotic species, but to reach 1000 species on my life list — ASAP! Just shy of 980 species on my list (the majority coming from my family’s world travels now almost six years ago!), I was hoping to reach my goal prior to boarding the cruise tomorrow.
Upon landing, I immediately spotted some vulture-like birds, a few of which were soaring over the airport, and others which were sitting in the grassy fields adjacent to the taxiways. I immediately flipped through my birding guide titled “Birds of Southern South America,” perfect for the trip (thanks Mom!) and searches through all of the possibilities: vultures, caracaras, falcons, harriers, hawks, etc...finally, I came to the conclusion that these birds were CHIMANGO CARACARAS, a life bird for me! They were slim-bodied, long-winged raptors like harriers, but when perched looked distinctly falcon-like, which just begs “caracara.” In addition, I photographed them in flight with the Chimango’s telltale white edges on their primary flight feathers, as can be seen here in this grainy photo from the plane:
A few other birds flew over too, including my life bird PICUI GROUND-DOVES! Second lifer of the day! I also saw this SOUTHERN LAPWING, a shorebird-like species that I haven’t seen since I visited Panama in 2013 — too cool!
And that was all from the airport! After a long immigration line, customs, and the taxi back to the hotel where I met my family, my dad and I took a taxi to the “birding mecca” of Buenos Aires: Reserva Ecologica Costanera Sur. I was dying to get out birding! And birding we did: as soon as we got out of the taxi, my eyes were glued to the amazing lagoon areas of the preserve, where I quickly picked up my third lifer of the day: RED-GARTERED COOT:
Awesome COCOI HERON, one I haven’t seen since Panama in 2013!
COMMON GALLINULES were, well, common:
And the not-so-scenic: my life bird #4, BAY-WINGED COWBIRD, in front of a Coke advert:
GREAT KISKADEE, another avian mainstay of warmer climates:
And...what?! Two huge, turkey-like birds flew in across the marsh and I got my fifth lifer of the day, one of my targets, the amazing SOUTHERN SCREAMER!!!!! Too cool!
Life bird #6 did not want to stick around for photos: MASKED GNATCATCHER.
Lifer #7: EARED DOVE, Buenos Aires’ version of the Mourning Dove
Lifer #8: RED-FRONTED COOT:
SNOWY EGRET flyover:
SNAIL KITE immature — awesome!!!
Lifer #9: WHITE-TUFTED GREBE!
MONK PARAKEETS abound throughout Buenos Aires, along with a number of other parakeet species.
Lifer #10: MASKED DUCK (female)!
Lifer #11: OLIVACEOUS CORMORANT!
Lifer #12: RED-CRESTED CARDINAL, Buenos Aires’ equally-common version of the Cardinal:
Lifer #13: ROSY-BILLED POCHARD, the most abundant duck at the preserve today.
Lifer #14: FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK, I’ve been wanting to catch up with this one for a long time!
Lifer #15: SILVER TEAL!
LIMPKIN and WATTLED JACANA:
Lifer #16, SHINY COWBIRDS:
Lifer #17, the jaw-dropping GLITTERING-BELLIED EMERALD:
Lifer #18: PICAZURO PIGEON, common in this city
Lifer #19: DOUBLE-COLLARED SEEDEATER!
Lifer #20: the fabulously-plumaged WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK:
Lifer #21: STRIPED WOODPECKER!
Lifer #22 with a hair-do: GUIRA CUCKOO! Now that’s style.
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW, another species I saw back in Panama in 2013.
GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER, this one I saw before in Costa Rica in 2015!
Lifer #23: SAYACA TANAGER, an unexpected surprise!
Lifer #24: RUFOUS HORNERO, the national bird of Argentina!
Lifer #25: CHALK-BROWED MOCKINGBIRD! And with that — I’ve hit 1000 species on my life list! Woooooot wooooooot!!!!!!!!!!!
But it doesn’t stop there — my next life bird is this stunning PIED WATER-TYRANT:
Birds were not the only wildlife highlights here as the butterflies put on quite a show too, including this Monarch:
Lifer #27: the colorful HOODED SISKIN:
Lifer #28: BROWN-CHESTED MARTIN:
Lifer #29: RUFOUS-BELLIED THRUSH:
Lifer #30: GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN:
Lifer #31: SPOT-WINGED PIGEON:
This adorable HOUSE WREN thought it would be a good idea to take a dust bath to cool off from the heat of the afternoon sun.
Lifer #32: WHITE-BROWED WARBLER:
Lifer #33: SPOT-FLANKED GALLINULE, a good find!
And an even better find, though not a life bird, was this flyover RUFESCENT TIGER-HERON! This is yet another species I have seen just once before, with guide Mario Ocana in Panama in 2013.
Back to the lifers — #34 was this quiet GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL that I wouldn’t have seen had it not been for the slight movement of the vegetation around it when it poked its head up:
Lifer #35: the striking BLACK-AND-RUFOUS WARBLING-FINCH:
ANHINGA with various coots and waterfowl in the background:
Lifer #36: BROWN PINTAIL!
Always nice to see the familiar BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON:
Beautiful adult SNAIL KITE with WHITE-WINGED COOTS:
Then, I spotted a large, chicken-like bird cross the path way ahead, and lo and behold, it was an elusive GIANT WOOD-RAIL! Amazing! Life bir #37 for the day! This bird can be separated from the Gray-necked because it has brown running up its nape.
Lifer #38: WHITE-RUMPED SWALLOW:
This lizard beside the trail was cool to see:
Lifer #39: BLACK-HEADED DUCK (center)
ROSEATE SPOONBILLS, love these birds!
Lifer #40, the majestic MAGUARI STORK:
This is what a lot of the scoping across the lagoons consisted of picking through in order to find the “goodies.” Highlighted in the back is my life bird #41 for the day, the regal BLACK-NECKED SWAN:
Even better look at the SOUTHERN LAPWING than through the airplane window this morning, lol!
Lifer #42: the odd but strikingly beautiful WHISTLING HERON:
And finally, lifer #43, the NANDAY PARAKEET:
What an amaaaaaaazing day! THANKS DAD! Bird-of-the-day to the Southern Screamers! Lol I’m so tired I’m getting delirious, so I’ll keep it short and sweet — talk to you tomorrow, from onboard the cruise ship!
World Life List: 1028 species (43 life birds today!)