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Rwanda Birding and Mammal Trip report

Rwanda Birding and Mammal Trip

Guide: Nick Buys

The main focus of our Rwanda Birding and Mammal tour was to see the key primates and as many birds and mammals as possible. With limited birding time we still managed to see most of the targets and some great mammals as well.

The trip started with a pre-trip birding extension to Nyungwe National Park in the south-western corner of Rwanda close to the Burundi and DRC border.

The first day was mostly a driving day but we did a quick stop at a wetland just outside Kigali where we found our two main targets, White-winged Swamp Warbler and Papyrus Canary.  Other interesting birds seen here were Swamp Flycatcher, Slender-billed, Holub’s Golden and Spectacled Weaver, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Brimstone and Yellow-fronted Canary, Bronze and Red-chested Sunbird, African Harrier-hawk, White-headed Sawwing, Woodland, Malachite and Pied Kingfisher, Speckled Mousebird, African Jacana and Spur-winged Goose. We did visit the Genocide Memorial and you cannot help to get a little bit emotional when learning more about the terrible events of that time in Rwanda. From here we had a long drive  to get to Nyungwe. Actually nothing is very long in distance in Rwanda but it takes a long time to get anywhere because of the winding roads. It is not called the land of a thousand hills for nothing!!

The most important bird seen of the drive was Ruaha Chat, which is surprisingly common and easily seen perching on the rooftops.

Rwanda Birding

Other notable birds seen on the drive include Hooded Vulture, Yellow-billed Stork, Purple Heron, African Sacred and Hadeda Ibis, Black-winged Kite, Eurasian Kestrel, African Thrush and Scarlet-chested Sunbird. The last section of the road was through the park and we did see White-necked Raven, Thick-billed Seedeater, Dusky Crimsonwing, Angola Swallow, Golden-breasted Bunting and Black Sawwing. Black-fronted Duiker and L’houst Monkeys were the first new mammals.

Rwanda Birding and Mammal Tour

We had two full days of birding before the main tour started and with a very small and specific target list we started off on the first trails. Equatorial Akalat, Red-throated Alethe, Strange Weaver, Black-billed Turaco, Black-crowned Waxbill, Abyssinian Thrush, Eastern Mountain and Slender-billed Greenbul, Green White-eye, Banded Prinia, Grey-headed Nigrita, Gray Apalis, Dusky Tit, White-bellied Crested-Flycatcher, Northern Puffback, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher and African Dusky Flycatcher were all seen early in the morning.

The trails were very well maintained a pleasure to explore and we successful with other key targets seen including Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Apalis, Kungwe Apalis, Mountain Illadopsis, Luhder’s Bushshrike, Black-tailed Oriole, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Grauer’s Warbler, Chestnut-throated Apalis and Purple-chested Sunbird. Rwenzori Sun Squirrel, Blue Monkey and Boehm’s Bush Squirrel were new mammals. Other notable birds seen in the forest today include Regal, Collared, Olive, Blue-headed and Northern Double-collared Sunbirds, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul, White-eyed Slaty-Flycatcher, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, Red-faced Woodland-Warbler, Black-faced Apalis, Grey and Black Cuckooshrike and Tullberg’s Woodpecker.

On our second full day we started off with the Ndambarare Trail and the birding were brilliant.

Some of the main targets seen were Neumann’s Warbler, Willard’s Sooty Boubou, Grey-chested Babbler, Blue-headed Sunbird, White-bellied Robin-Chat, Waller’s and Stuhlmann’s Starlings. Other great birds seen on the trail include Great Blue Turaco, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Red-throated Alethe, Equatorial Akalat, Brown-capped Weaver, Rwenzori Apalis, Dusky Tit, White-chinned Prinia and Scarce Swift. On the way out we did see Blue Malkoha, Yellow-romper Tinkerbird, Grey Apalis, Chubb’s Cisticola, Plain and Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Siffling Cisticola, Mountain Wagtail and Black-crowned Waxbill. From here we made our way back up the mountain and spend the afternoon on a trail with two big target birds – Handsome Spurfowl and Red-collared Mountain-Babbler and got both. We also managed to see White-browed Crombec, Rameron Pigeon, Chinspot Batis and Rwenzori Turaco. To end a fantastic day we heard and managed to see Montane or Rwenzori Nightjar and enjoyed a great evening at our lovely hilltop hotel.

The rest of the group joined us and we started our main tour where the shift would be on mammals and general tourism.

Our first big mammal target were the Chimpanzees and we did spend a wonderful hour with them as they enjoyed the fruit from one of the few fruiting trees this time of the year. We did manage to do a bit of birding and new birds seen on the tour include Long-crested and Crowned Eagle, Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill, Grey-throated Barbet and Ross’s Turaco. After the long but successful tracking we enjoyed a good shower and a cold beer and relived our time in the forest and in the presence of one of the great primates in Africa. The following morning we did a very short birding trail where we found Elliot’s Woodpecker, Rwenzori Batis, Eastern Mountain Greenbul, Yellow-eyed Black-Flycatcher, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Forest Weaver and Equatorial Akalat to mention a few. The group joined and we set off tracking Angola Black and White Colobus Monkeys and were fortunate to find them pretty close and had excellent views of this very attractive monkey. Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat were seen close to the monkeys.

After lunch we made our way to Lake Give where we were going to spend one night. We did see Grey-crowned Carne, African Sacred Ibis, Hamerkop and Northern Grey-headed Sparrows on the way. Our lodge were situated on the lake and had a really nice birder friendly garden where we managed to see Yellow-throated Greenbul, White-browed Robin-Chat, African Palm Swift, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Red-chested Sunbird, Variable Sunbird, Holub’s Golden Weaver, Yellow-fronted Canary and Golden-breasted Bunting. Freckled Nightjar was a nice surprise that evening. The following morning we did a boat cruise on Lake Kivu and added a few nice birds to our growing list and included White-breasted and Reed Cormorant, African Fish-Eagle, Palm-nut Vulture, Yellow-billed Duck, African Openbill, Black Crake, Water Thick-knee, Striated Heron, Malachite and Pied Kingfisher. A short walk on Napoleon Island produced a hug colony of roosting Straw-coloured Fruit Bats as well as Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Red-billed Firefinch, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Grey-capped Warbler, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow Bishop, Green-backed Camaroptera and Tropical Boubou.

Our drive from here to Volcanoes National Park were pretty uneventful with good views of an active volcano in the DRC.

We had two nights at Volcanoes National Park and since we have seen most of the Albertine Rift endemics our main focus were on the seeing Golden Monkey and Mountain Gorilla. That said our lodge did have a nice birding garden where we found Scarlet-chested, Variable, Red-chested, Bronze and Northern Double-collared Sunbirds, Cape Robin-Chat, Baglafecht Weaver, Common Waxbill, Speckled Pigeon, African Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-crowned Canary and Augur Buzzard were seen overhead. The Golden Monkeys did cooperate and we had a wonderful hour being entertained with all their antics. These very localised primates are only found in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Ruhahinga National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in the DRC. The Gorilla trekking was incredible and we had an amazing hour with a very relaxed family including two very young babies that were going to be named in the yearly naming ceremony. And we were lucky to find a group pretty low down which meant that it was not that difficult to get to which is a big advantage in doing the Gorilla trekking in Rwanda compared to Uganda. We did have one night in Kigali where had time to visit a small wetland in the city and had surprisingly good birds including Gray-crowned Crane, Spur-winged Goose, Palm-nut Vulture, Black-headed Gonolek, African Yellow Warbler, Blue-headed Coucal, African Openbill, Grey-capped Warbler, Swamp Flycatcher, Red-headed Weaver, Slender-billed Weaver, Grosbeak Weaver and Western Citril to mention a few.

It was time to move to our final destination in Rwanda, Akagera National Park on the eastern border with Tanzania.

This great park is now managed by African Parks and you can clearly see the positive impact since they took over. Akagera is now a big 5 reserve which good number of Elephant, Black and White Rhino, Spotted Hyena, Lion and Leopard as well as a good diversity of general wildlife. Our first night were in the southern section where our two drives produced sightings of White Rhino, Oribi, Vervet Monkey, Bohor Reedbuck, Northern Bushbuck, Defassa Waterbuck, Olive Baboon, Hippo, Nile Crocodile, Maasai Giraffe, Roan Antelope, Greater Kudu, Impala, Topi and Burchell’s Zebra. The northern section turned out to be very productive with 3 different lion sightings, many White Rhino, Elephant, Spotted Hyena, Cape Buffalo, Bushpig, Warthog and Common Dwarf Mongoose.

The birding in this savannah habitat was very good with some of the highlights including Klaas’s Cuckoo, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Ruaha Chat, Sooty Chat, Long-billed Pipit, Hildebrandt’s Spurfowl, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Spur-winged and Senegal Lapwing, Goliath Heron, Speckled and Blue-naped Mousebird, Tropical Boubou, Chinspot Batis, Red-faced Crombec, Long-tailed and Croaking Cisticola, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Tamborine Dove, Square-tailed Nightjar, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Ross’s Turaco, Mottled Swift, Spot-flanked Barbet, White-crested Helmet-shrike, Meyer’s Parrot, Slate-colored Boubou, Grey-backed Fiscal, White-winged Black Tit, Moustached Grass Warbler, Black-lored Babbler and Yellow-throated Longclaw. And this just while on a general game drive.

All in all we had a fantastic time in Rwanda and we still believe that is a great destination for people with both a birding and wildlife interest or for birders travelling with the family or a non birding partner and there are so many interesting things to see besides the great birding offered in Rwanda. Definitely a country that should be on your bucket list.

Family friendly birding tours

Did you know?

Nature Travel Birding offers private, customized birding tours that will also suit birding enthusiasts travelling with their families.
We understand that birders who travel with a family may need an option where everyone is included in the planning of the tour itinerary.

With our tailormade birding options we can combine birding with wildlife and other activities to accommodate the whole family; making it possible for you to go birding more often.

Family friendly birding

Argentina Trip Report

Trip report: Argentina: Iguazu and Patagonia

Toco Toucan

Day 1: Morning arrival in Argentina and Visit Costanera Sur reserve

Our exciting birding trip of Argentina begun as soon as we landed in Buenos Aires. We collected our luggage and found our local guide, Javier. Birding started straight away. Our first stop was Costanera Sur Reserve, conveniently located just a few blocks away from Buenos Aires city centre- regarded as one of the best urban birding reserves in the entire world!

With approximately 350 hectares (and a similar number of bird species historically recorded on it), this is a big reserve which protects a variety of habitats including marshes, lagoons, patches of grasslands and a mixed forest with native and invasive (exotic) plants and trees.

The birding started with views of one of the reserve’s main lagoons where we enjoyed some great birding with highlights being Southern Screamer, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Whistling Heron, Cocoi Heron, Wattled Jacana, Giant Woodrail, Silver Teal, Yellow-billed Teal, Brazilian Teal, Rosy-billed Pochard, Coscoroba Swan, Black-necked Swan, White-tufted and Pied-billed Grebes, and three species of coots-Red-fronted, Red-gartered and White-winged.

Passerines seen included Red-crested Cardinal, Shining Cowbird, Saffron Finch, Sayaca Tanager, Spectacled Tyrant, Blue-billed Black Tyrant, Buff-winged Cinclodes, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Black-backed Water-Tyrant, Cattle Tyrant, Grayish Baywing and Chalk-browed Mockingbird, offering exceptional views. Raptors seen included Chimango and Crested Caracaras, Harris’s and Roadside Hawks.

Our walk along the trails yielded sightings of Golden-crowned Warbler, Tropical Parula, Chivi Vireo, Golden-billed Saltator, Masked Gnatcatcher, Black-and-rufous Warbling-Finch and a stunning Southern Yellowthroat. Black-capped Warbling-Finch was a welcome addition. The inner lagoons rewarded us with sightings of Black-necked Swan, Lake Duck, Giant Wood Rail and Grey-cowled Wood Rail.

After a few hours of great birding and an excellent introduction to the birds of Argentina we freshened up and some of us did a run in the nearby park. An excellent meal with some fantastic Argentinian Malbec wine was enjoyed by all as we chatted about the exciting trip ahead of us.

Day 2: AM transfer to southern Entre Ríos. All day birding in Ceibas surroundings. Night in Ceibas

An early start was on the cards, as this morning we headed for the south of Entre Ríos province- one of the most productive birding areas in Argentina.  Although not being formally protected, the region preserves very good habitat for birds and wildlife, with an interesting combination of Espinal forest, immense wetlands and patches of natural grasslands, as well as agricultural land. A well-planned stop on route yielded sightings of Sulphur-bearded and Curve-billed Reedhaunters. Other birds we enjoyed included Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Black-and-rufous Warbling Finch, Rufous-capped Antshrike and Savanna Hawk.

We spent our day birding along public rural dirt roads, visiting different habitats looking for wetland and Espinal forest species. A few noteworthy species included: Southern Screamer, Maguari Stork, Plumbeous Rail, Giant Woodrail, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Ringed, Brazilian and Silver Teal, Chiloe Wigeon, and a Pantanal Snipe sitting in the open calling.

Passerines in the humid grasslands include Spectacled Tyrant, Brown-and-yellow Marshbird, Sulphur-throated Spinetail, Wren-like Rushbird, Black-crowned Monjita, Black-capped Warbling Finch and Yellow-billed Cardinal. The Espinal forest is rich in specialties from the closely related dry Chaco Forest and we enjoyed sightings of White-fronted Woodpecker, Brown Cacholote and Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper.

In the open savannas we enjoyed spectacular sightings of the stunning White Monjita. Greater Rhea- the largest bird in the New World showed so well. Our night birding rewarded us with sightings of Tropical Screech Owl and Great Horned Owl. Another excellent meal was enjoyed over a few cold ones as we socialised and chatted about our great day. A few of the group are already over 100 lifers.

Argentina Birding


Day 3:  AM birding in Ceibas surroundings / PM transfer back to Buenos Aires / Night in Buenos Aires

Our morning begun with some Argentinian coffee and croissants before we made our way to bird the surroundings of Gualeguay-an even richer Espinal forest. Here we enjoyed some fantastic birding with highlights being: Little Thornbird, Lark-like Brushrunner, Burrowing Owl, Short-billed Canastero, Tufted Tit-Spinetail, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Spotted Nothura, White-tipped Plantcutter, Guira Cuckoo, Whistling Heron, Campo Flicker, American Kestrel, Wren-like Rushbird and Firewood-gatherer.

The stunning scenery and incredible birding really make this part of Argentina so spectacular. It was memorable to enjoy a milestone on the trip, as William saw his 1500 species in the world.

Our afternoon session yielded: Austral Negrito, Spectacled Tyrant, Short-billed Pipit, Hellmayr’s Pipit, Hooded Siskin, Saffron Finch, Grassland Yellow-Finch and White-rumped Swallow.  We made our way back to Buenos Aires, as tomorrow we have a flight heading up north to the Atlantic Forest of the Iguazú region. We enjoyed another fantastic meal in a local pizzeria before heading to bed as tomorrow have an early start.

Day 4:  AM flight connection to Puerto Iguazú / Birding transfer to Surucua Reserva & Ecolodge (SRE) across Iguazu National Park

We took an early flight to the Argentine province of Misiones- this area has one of the world’s largest continuous stretch of Atlantic Forest. We all enjoyed the most spectacular sunrise over the Panama river on the flight. Our flight went well, and we arrived safely at Puerto Iguazu and headed for Surucua Reserve & Ecolodge our home for the next three nights. We were happy to be enjoying some warmer weather up north.

Our drive to the lodge was rewarding and we enjoyed sightings of: Chestnut-vented Conebill, Sibilant Sirystes, Long-tailed Tyrant, Grey-headed Elaenia, Yellow Tyrannulet, Surucua Tanager, Buff-fronted and Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaners. Tanagers were well represented with us seeing Guira, Green-headed and Black-goggled Tanager.  Chestnut-bellied and Purple Euphonia added to the excitement. A few stops along the way rewarded us with some great woodpeckers for the trip, namely: Yellow-spotted, Lineated, White-spotted, and Robust Woodpecker.

A quick lunch and rest at the lodge was welcomed by all before we headed out on our afternoon walk around the lodge. The group all enjoyed chatting about the amazing birding that is on offer in South America. The great birds, scenery and food makes for a wonderful trip. Our afternoon session was another one for the books and we enjoyed sightings of: Fawn-breasted Tanager, Magpie Tanager, Riverbank Warbler, Long-tailed Tyrant, Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, Plain-winged Woodcreeper, Rufous-margined Antwren, Spot-billed Toucanet showing incredibly well, stunning Chestnut-eared Aracari, Rufous-capped Motmot, Scaly-headed Parrot and a Surucua Trogon posing in the open that we could get video footage of.

We enjoyed a great home cooked meal prepared by our friendly hosts. It’s so nice to stay at these small Eco lodges based in the forest and are so peaceful and the food is always amazing. A good night’s rest was had by all as we fell asleep to the calls of Common Pauraque calling from the forest.

Day 5:  FD birding in SRE. Night in SRE

We begin our morning with some delicious coffee and breakfast before exploring the trails around our lodge. Surucua lodge has a good network of trails, and amazing views of the Iguazu River and into Brazil. Our morning was productive and we enjoyed some exceptional birding with highlights being: Band-tailed Manakin, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Ochre-collared Piculet, Spot-backed Antshrike, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Large-headed Flatbill, Euler’s Flycatcher, great views of the hard to see Southern Antpipit, Black-capped Foliage-gleaner- a good trip bird, Streaked-capped Antwren, Collared Forest-Falcon, the enigmatic Toco Toucan and Ruddy Ground Dove. We tried our best to get views on a flock of Spot-winged Wood-Quail that we heard and saw moving on the forest floor but had to walk away with only fleeting glimpses.

Lunch was enjoyed back at our comfortable lodge as we updated lists and celebrated multiple great birds and lifers for the morning. Everyone enjoyed a bit of downtime before our afternoon walk and session of owling.

Our owling session was rewarding, and we got great sightings of Rusty-barred Owl, Scissor-tailed Nightjar and Common Pauraque. A mammal highlight was having a Jagurundi cross the path in-front of us. A good night’s rest was enjoyed by all after an incredible day birding in Argentina.

Rusty-barred Owl


Day 6:  AM visit to Urugua-í Provincial Park. PM and night in SRE

Our morning begun with a delicious breakfast before making our way to Urugua-í Provincial Park to target a few Atlantic Forest species and the critically endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan. Lady Luck was on our side and on arrival we had amazing views of a pair of Black-fronted Piping- Guan, if this was not enough, we had great views of Riverbank Warbler and Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper- what a great start to the morning. A pair of Plum-crested Jay kept the photographers entertained, as we started our next trail.

As we headed down the trail, we heard a Brown Tinamou calling- but despite all our efforts we could not get the bird to show. Our morning was however very successful, and we enjoyed sightings of: Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Large-headed Flatbill, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Southern Bristle-Tyrannulet, Rufous Gnateater, Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, Bertoni’s Antbird, Variable, Tufted and Spot-backed Antshrike. A stunning Purple-crowned Plovercrest was a welcome surprise for the morning.

With it heating up and the bird activity dying down we headed back to our wonderful lodge for lunch and a short break before heading out for an afternoon of birding. A Black-eared Possum at lunch was a new mammal for the trip.

Our afternoon birding was a little slow but will still managed good views of: Chestnut-vented Conebill, a Black-capped Foliage-gleaner was a welcome target, that showed well, Lesser Woodcreeper, Red-crowned and Chestnut-headed Ant-Tanager. Another delicious meal prepared by our lovely hosts was enjoyed over a great Argentinian wine as we celebrated multiple lifers and great birds. We all chatted away about birding and our wonderful hobby.

Black-fronted Piping-Guan

Day 7:  AM transfer to Iguazu National Park, visiting Iguazu Falls

A slightly later start was on the cards this morning- before we headed out to target a few species we still needed for the area. Our morning walk was very rewarding, and we had great views of a Tataupa Tinamou crossing trail for us- what a bird and to have it in the open had the group giving high fives all around. Just after this we had in the open views of a Red-ruffed Fruitcrow- what a stunning bird. Other noteworthy sightings included: Double-collared Seedeater, Magpie Tanager, Swallow-tailed Manakin, and a Short-tailed Antthrush- offering cracking views.

We said our goodbyes to our wonderful hosts and headed towards Iguazu town to experience the famous Iguazu Falls, one of the world’s most outstanding waterfalls and a world heritage site. We travelled across Iguazu National Park, making birding stops along the way on the road 101. The views of the forest along this road are some of the best still found within the Atlantic Forest, with its unique combination of tall rosewood trees and “palmito” palms. Some of the highlights for our morning included: Saffron-billed Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, White-throated Hummingbird and a stunning King Vulture flying above us. What a great morning.

We had a blast viewing the falls from different trails and taking in this majestic place. The excellent trails in the area lead to us enjoying some great birds too, a few noteworthy species included close Plush-crested Jay, Toco Toucan, Surucua Trogon and Blue-naped Chlorophonia as well as several Atlantic Forest endemics such as Ochre-collared Piculet, Blackish-blue Seedeater, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher- perhaps the best spot in the world for this threatened and declining endemic. Another highlight was having a critically endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan in one of the rapids that made for some great photo opportunities and videos.

As we approached the main falls, we saw the unique Great Dusky Swifts that nest behind the falls. As we made our way around the park the birds kept on trickling in with us seeing Blackish Rail, Olivaceous Elaennia- an out-of-range winter visitor and the cute Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant.

Another excellent meal was enjoyed by the group as we celebrated another milestone, with another participant reaching his 2500th species in the world. Another excellent day in Argentina.

Day 8:  AM visit to the Hummingbirds Garden. PM flight connection to Buenos Aires

After a relaxing breakfast we made our way to bird a local patch nearby, this was rewarding and we had sightings of: A few stunning Green-headed Tanagers posing well, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Thrush-like Wren, Fuscous Flycatcher, Streak-capped Antwren and Rufous-margined Antwren.

Our next point of call was the “Jardin de los Picaflores” (Hummingbird’s Garden), the lovely garden is in town and was absolutely pumping with hundreds of birds. Our visit was a huge success and we enjoyed great views of: Black Jacobin, Planalto Hermit, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Versicolored Emerald and the astonishing Swallow-tailed Hummingbird. The scarce migrant White-throated Hummingbird was a highlight. The feeders also attracted songbirds and we had great views of the rare Palm Tanager, Bananaquit and Sayaca Tanager.

Lunch was enjoyed in town as we took in the sights of where the Iguazu and Parana rivers meet. We were looking into Brazil and Paraguay and a few of the group took the opportunity to add birds to these two countries as Black Vultures, Roadside Hawks and Short-tailed Hawks flew between the three countries.  We had to make our way to the airport to catch our flight back to Buenos Aires and continue with the rest of our exciting trip. Tomorrow, we start to head south.

Violet-capped Woodnymph

Day 9:   FD birding in Samborombon Bay. Night in Buenos Aires

Our morning begun with an early start as this morning we headed to bird the Samborombon Bay area. The area is known for some sought after and fairly range specific species and a few good mammals. A quick coffee and we hit the road. Our day of birding was an excellent with some good mammals too. A few of the special birds included: nice close-up views on a flock of Chocolate-vented Tyrants, stunning American Kestrels, Brown-hooded Gulls in breeding plumage, flock of about 20 handsome Tawny-throated Dotterel and a Spotted Nothura crossing the road in-front of us.

As Argentina is known for the great food especially beef, we enjoyed a tasty lunch of BBQ in the near-by town.  Our post-lunch birding was also rewarding with us getting great views of Olrog’s Gull- the species was split from Kelp Gull and now is only found in Argentina and Paraguay?? We also had great views of Long-tailed Reed Finch, Grass Wren, Long-winged Harrier hunting, beautiful Roseate Spoonbills and Chilean Flamingos, big flock of Black Skimmers, Snowy-crowned Tern-an attractive Tern of southern South America. Waders included: Greater Yellowlegs, Hudsonian Godwit, Semipalmated Plover, Two-banded Plover, American Oystercatchers and Black-necked Stilt.

We also had some great views of the following mammals: Plains Viscacha, Pampas fox and Southern long nosed Armadillo.  The Armadillo being a big mammal tick for a good part of the group. An excellent day of birding was celebrated back in Buenos Aires over some great Argentinian wine as we updated our lists and chatted about the next exciting part of the trip- Patagonia.

Olrog’s Gull

Day 10 and 11:  Flight connection to Río Gallegos. Boat trip in Santa Cruz River estuary. Birding Santa Cruz

A slightly later start and morning of rest was enjoyed by all, as we had a mid-morning flight to Río Gallegos. A few of the group enjoyed a run in one of the city’s green parks as part of our Nature Travel Active trips- Buenos Aires is a wonderful city, with a true European flair, friendly people and nice green spaces. Upon arrival in Río Gallegos, we quickly had to get the thermal gear out for our transfer to Puerto Santa Cruz and some birding in the area the next day and for our boat trip to look for the critically endangered Hooded Grebe.

The next day we headed out at first light- which was at 09h30 due to us being so far south, much later then what we are used to in Africa. The morning was productive, and we had views of: Mourning and Grey-hooded Sierra Finch, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Black-chinned Siskin, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Aplomado Falcon, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Flying-Streamer-Duck and a flock of Lesser Rhea. We also did well on the mammal front and had good sightings of Guanaco, Large hairy armadillo and Commersons dolphin in the estuary. A excellent sighting as we headed back for lunch was of a Lesser Horned Owl posing wonderfully next to the road.

The snow-covered hills and scenery in the part of Argentina is absolutely breathtaking and led to some excellent photographic opportunities for the group. We really experienced the wilderness of one of the most pristine regions in the world! Our afternoon boat trip on the Santa Cruz estuary in search of the critically endangered Hooded Grebe was a success and we had out of the world views on multiple birds on the trip. We estimated we saw about 70 of these cute birds- the population is critically endangered with an estimate of about 500 to 700 birds left in the wild.  Other highlights included Magellanic Penguins, Upland Goose, Crested Duck, Silvery Grebe and the stunning Dolphin Gull- arguably the best-looking Gull in the world.

An excellent meal was enjoyed at a local restaurant as we chatted and celebrated a great day with some special birds. It’s so rewarding to see everyone enjoying our hobby and conservation work taking place to protect these birds. Some of the group are well over 250 lifers for the trip- which is so rewarding and exciting.

Day 12:  AM land transfer to Río Gallegos. PM birding in Río Gallegos surroundings

Our morning begun with us enjoying coffee and breakfast at the local bakery before heading out to check up on a site that we had seen a dead Guanaco the night before in the hope of finding a Puma- unfortunately no luck on this front. We did however get some of our targets for the trip, noteworthy sightings being two representatives of the Tinamou family. Both Elegant Crested and Patagonian Tinamou giving great views for the group. Patagonian Fox was a great mammal for the trip too.

As we made our way Río Gallegos the birds kept on coming in with us seeing Black-chested Buzzard- Eagle, Variable Hawk and a cracking sighting of a big flock of White-bellied Seedsnipe. These birds gave us some great fly byes and extended scope views once they landed.

An afternoon visit to the mouth of Río Gallegos river was rewarding and we enjoyed some excellent birds with noteworthy species being: all three species of Oystercatcher namely Magellanic, American and Blackish Oystercatcher. An excellent close of view of a flock up Least Seedsnipe in the parking area added to the excitement. Along the shore we added Chilean Flamingos, Two-banded Plover, Rufous-chested Dotterel, Magellanic Cormorant, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Peregrine Falcon- it’s so interesting how these two species occur almost all over the globe.

We checked into our accommodation, freshened up and enjoyed another excellent meal as we chatted away about our exciting day. It was good to hear about the conservation success Argentina is having in protecting their wildlife and birds. A good night’s rest was had by all.

Least Seedsnipe

Day 13: FD birding in the Magellanic Patagonian Steppe south of Río Gallegos

Our morning begun with breakfast and coffee before we headed out to bird the Magellanic Patagonian Steppe. We had a few targets we were hoping for and had to work hard for them with the rain and snow making it a challenge. We had fantastic views of a flock of stunning White-bridled Finch, Austral Canastero and top views on a pair of Band-tailed Earthcreepers. A pair of Lesser Rhea also put on a show for the group.  A Humboldt’s hog nosed skunk was a mammal highlight that allowed us to approach and get some great videos and pictures.

Our afternoon birding session rewarded us with some good pelagic birds, birds seen included: Magellanic Diving-Petrel, Southern Fulmar, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels. Other noteworthy species included Magellanic Cormorant, American Oystercatchers, Least and White-bellied Seedsnipes.

With the temperature plummeting and us loosing light we headed back to our comfortable hotel to freshen up and enjoy a hot shower before dinner. A great dinner was enjoyed as we chatted about our birding adventures, birding trips and about our great hobby. The fantastic Argentine meat and wine was a hit with all.

Gray-hooded Sierra Finch

Day 14:  AM birding in Río Gallegos and surroundings. PM flight connection to Buenos Aires and departure

We headed out for our last final attempt at the Río Gallegos estuary mouth to target a few species we were still hoping for. A few noteworthy species included: Grey-hooded Sierra Finch, Chimango Caracara, Dolphin Gull, Flying Streamer Duck and Coscoroba Swan. We unfortunately had to say goodbye to this incredible landscape and head for the airport for our connecting flight to Buenos Aires and our international flights home.

We all had an incredible time in this fantastic country and enjoyed some incredible birds, mammals and scenery- from the humid Atlantic Forest right down to the southern tip of the South American continent. What an incredibly diverse country with excellent food and wine and such friendly people.

Thanks to you all for being so wonderful, understanding, great guests and for the great time we had together. We all shared a good couple of laughs. A fantastic 14 days of birding in Argentina came to an end. We all had a blast and had an amazing time in Argentina and left with a tear in the eye after a lovely trip. I would like to thank our guides on the trip for all the knowledge, help in making the tour run so smoothly and for the hard work pit in on the trip. Thanks to the Nature Travel Birding office for all the behind the scenes work that went on to ensure the tour was a success. I look forward to our next trip together.

Patagonian Tinamou

Fantastic birding in an icy Patagonia

Exploring Patagonia proved to be a very exciting birding adventure.  The highlight so far being the incredible sighting of the localised and critically endangered Hooded Grebe.

Other beauties included Mourning Sierra Finch, Patagonian Mockingbird, Lesser Horned Owl, Dolphin Gull and Magellanic Penguin.