Trip report: Northwest Argentina (November 2014) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Athanas.

Spring in Northwest Argentina is a wonderful time. The scenery through much of the trip is spectacular any time of the year, but add in the colorful and exuberant vegetation, superb climate, and hundreds of cool birds in the midst of their breeding frenzy, and you get really extraordinary tour. We had a number of memorable sightings, clearly topped by the superb Chaco Owl whose photo headlines this report. I had found it on a trip back in September, and was thrilled that it was still around for this tour. While that was the near-unanimous “bird of the trip”, other favorites included White-throated Antpitta, Red-tailed Comet, Tawny-throated Dotterel, and Black-crested Finch, along with some unexpected ones. Rock Earthcreeper surprisingly may have come in second, as we all enjoyed watching it scale a near-vertical cliff wallcreeper-style, and both White-browed and Zimmer’s Tapaculos amazed a number of our party by sitting on rocks totally in the open; clearly they had unpleasant experiences with these little mouse-like birds in the past! Argentina produces some of the world’s best wines, and almost every night we sampled amazing local vintages, often from tiny vineyards virtually unknown outside of Argentina. I have to admit that we were fortunate with the weather. A few days before our tour started, much of the country was drenched with record rains, even severely flooding some areas of Buenos Aires. Luckily the rain did not return, and we enjoyed beautiful, sunny weather for virtually the entire trip. Once again we had a friendly, pleasant group – always a vital ingredient to a great trip; I hope to bird with all of you again in the future!

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