|entrance road Park National Calilegua, it became wetter and more treacherous in places|
|forest view at Park National Calilegua|
|Toco Toucan, one of a very impressive 17 seen at his site|
8th August. We arrived at Palomitas, one of the main Chaco sites, soon after dawn. We crossed the railway line and drove along a dusty track for about 17kms to a pig farm, making regular stops in dry scrub and open fields along the way. It soon got very hot, almost unbearably so by mid-morning by which time bird activity had dropped right off but we did see Tutaupa and Brushland Tinamous, Black-legged Seriema, Spot-backed Puffbird, White-fronted and Checkered Woodpeckers, Black-crowned Monjita, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant and Many-coloured Chaco-Finch. We returned to the main road and drove south to Tafi del Valle being stopped at an impromptu police "drugs" checkpost on the Salta/Tucuman border. We found the police/military presence to be very low key and this was the only time on the trip that we were stopped. We spent the last hour of light by the monument in the Rio Los Sosas valley seeing Torrent Duck and White-browed Tapaculo and continued to Abra del Infiernillo after dark. The wind was whipping up the valley and Mike, who wasn’t a fan of camping, took the car back into Tafi to find a hotel while we battled to put the tents up.
9th August. A cold and windy morning at Abra del Infiernillo, afternoon around Tafi del Valle. Birding was hard work today but we did manage to find Tucuman Mountain Finch in a scrub filled gulley near the road.
|me, Nick, Michael and Garry in a bitter wind at our Abra del Infiernillo campsite. Michael had less of an excuse for looking cold as he had spent the night in town rather than under canvas|
|Abra del Infiernillo|
|bleak and disappointingly birdless|
|We considered returning along dirt roads to the north rather than the better but longer route back through Tafi. A decision we came to regret when others did quite well along it.|
|Tafi del Valle's valley|
|Tafi del Valle main street|
10th August. We spent the morning descending the Rio Los Sosas valley seeing 3 more Rufous-throated Dippers (at km 41), Torrent Duck, Red-tailed Comet, and Mountain Wren. We drove to Joaquin V. Gonzales, checked into the Hotel Majorca, and spent the last hour of light back in the Chaco on the Santo Domingo Road seeing Lark-like Bushrunner and White Monjita in the fading light.
|the appropriately named Lark-like Bushrunner taking a break from bush-running|
11th August. A morning in the Chaco near Joaquin V. Gonzales walking along tracks off the Santo Domingo Road (at kms 14 & 17) from dawn. The tracks were too dusty to drive down and it was very hot after the first couple of hours. Birds seen included Tataupa and Quebracho Crested Tinamous, King Vulture, Black-legged Seriema, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Crested Hornero, Brown Cacholote, Lark-like Bushrunner, Black-crested Finch and Many-coloured Chaco-Finch although finding a roosting Tropical Screech Owl in a dense patch of scrub was very memorable. We drove to El Rey in the afternoon crossing three fords along the 50km approach 'road', one was across a fairly full river which has us slightly concerned that we’d not be able to leave if it got much deeper. Despite it being very dry in the Chaco, any rain up in the mountains had to run off somewhere. We camped in the headquarters clearing and ate rather expensive meals in the hotel there. A pool 1-2km along the approach road added a few wetland birds while a confiding Red-legged Seriema seemed to have made the HQ clearing its own.
|Chaco at JV Gonzales, very hot and dusty. Not my favourite habitat but home to some nice birds|
|Black-crested Finch, perhaps some Sussex reports of Crested Tit relate to escapes of this species?|
|Red-crested finch, unlikely to be mistaken for anything in sussex|
12th August. All day at Park National El Rey, mostly on Sendero Pozo Verde. For me the highlight of our visit to El Rey was hearing and then seeing a superb Spotted Nightingale Thrush by the trail. Other birds included Tataupa Tinamou, Southern Screamer, Red-legged Seriema, 150 Alder Parrots and Plumbeous Tyrant.
13th August. All day at Park National El Rey with the morning on Sendero Pozo Verde. A similar day to yesterday with Tataupa Tinamou, Southern Screamer, Bicoloured Hawk, Rufous-sided Crake, Red-legged Seriema, Rufous-capped Ant-Shrike, Plumbeous Tyrant and the obliging Spotted Nightingale Thrush seen again, although pride of place went to Garry who saw a Jaguarundi. In hindsight we would have done better with a second day at Calilegua NP and one less at El Rey.
|El Rey pool|
|Rufous-bellied Thrush at the first ford|
|King Vulture, imagination required!|
|Park National El Rey|
|the tame one|
|El Rey pool and some of its inhabitants|
|Southern Lapwing with serious colour degradation|
|Salta City Centre|
16th August. All day on Valdes Peninsular, mainly Punta Norte and the northern half, returning to Puerto Piramides when it was dark. Punta Norte was more disappointing than we were expecting it to be outside of the breeding season, although most interior species were seen from the roadside. Birds seen included Megallanic Penguin (just one as it was outside their breeding season), Darwin’s Rhea, 23 Elegant Crested Tinamous, Great Grebe, Black-browed Albatross, Imperial Cormorant, Upland Goose, Flying Steamer Duck, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Two-banded Plover, Snowy Sheathbill, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Patagonian Canastero, Chilean Swallow and Patagonian Yellow-Finch. Also 10 male, 5 female and 20 young Elephant Seals were seen as well as Mara, Guanaco, Skunk, South American Sea Lion and one Southern Right Whale with others heard at night.
|Punta Norte, Valdez Peninsular|
|Michael and small friend investigating big lump|
|South American Sea Lions|
17th August. We packed up the tents and left Puerto Piramides heading for Trelew by way of the somewhat disappointing Punta Ninfas. I noted Trelew to be a pit with rip-off hotels. We saw Megallanic Penguin (just one again, at Caleta Valdes), Darwin’s Rhea, Darwin’s Nothura, Elegant Crested Tinamous, Great Grebe, Black-browed Albatross, Rock Cormorant, Upland Goose, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Least Seedsnipe, Snowy Sheathbill, Cayenne Tern, Scale-throated Earthcreeper and Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail.
|more Patagonia (spot the difference)|
|Patagonian road, to Punta Ninfas|
|Punta Ninfas looking back across the South Atlantic to the Valdez Peninsular|
|Elegant Crested Tinamou|