Ur­ban birding

There’s lots to see on a birding hol­i­day to Buenos Aires, as Ur­ban Birder David Lindo found to his de­light

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: DAVID LINDO

BUENOS AIRES IS the sprawl­ing cap­i­tal of Ar­gentina with a hu­man pop­u­la­tion in ex­cess of 14 mil­lion. Af­ter Mex­ico City, it is the se­cond most vis­ited city in Latin Amer­ica. As dif­fi­cult as it may be, if you can skip Maradona, over­look the beef and tango and even turn a blind eye to Messi whose im­age, re­plete with oblig­a­tory foot­ball, adorns ev­ery other bill­board – then you will see a dif­fer­ent Buenos Aires. There are some cool neigh­bour­hoods rem­i­nis­cent of Europe or Los An­ge­les and other ar­eas that are clearly no-go spots for op­tics-laden ur­ban ex­plor­ers. So, it could be sug­gested, that if you choose to go birding off the ur­ban beaten track that you are led by some­one who knows the streets. Among the first birds you may no­tice, af­ter tick­ing the ubiq­ui­tous Eared Doves, will be the Pi­cazuro Pi­geon. This com­mon bird is like a rus­set Woodpigeon, with a very dis­tinc­tive jizz, es­pe­cially when in flight. Its sil­hou­ette is very corvid-like, brought on by their short tail and bar­rel-chest, in ad­di­tion to their short, broad wings. Watch them as they jos­tle for scraps along­side the com­mon­place Feral Pi­geons. The other clas­sic city bird is the Ru­fous-bel­lied Thrush, whose sim­ple, though melodious, song fills the streets and is a char­ac­ter­is­tic night and pre-dawn sound. Even the most ba­sic of strolls through the city’s many parks should re­sult in Green-barred Wood­pecker, that spends much of its time for­ag­ing on the ground for ants. Ru­fous Hornero, Ar­gentina’s na­tional bird, is also preva­lent. It’s a cu­ri­ous look­ing bird, some­what of a cross between a wood­pecker, Star­ling, thrush and a Nightin­gale. In­deed, when they were orig­i­nally first de­scribed, they were placed in the Bee-eater fam­ily! Now they are cur­rently lumped with the oven­birds. Look up dur­ing the sum­mer and you may see up­wards of four swal­low species swoop­ing around, in­clud­ing the very House Martin-like Blue-and-white Swal­low. Amer­i­can Kestrel, Harris’ Hawks and even Snail Kites could be with them.

City tour

A nice in­tro­duc­tion to birding in Buenos Aires would be to stroll through the parks of Palermo, in the north-east of the city, near the Rio de La Plata. There are num­ber of small lakes that can har­bour the very el­e­gant Great Grebe, Redgartered Coot, Neotropic Cor­morant and Yel­low­billed Duck. Monk Para­keets pro­lif­er­ate, nois­ily com­mut­ing in all di­rec­tions while, be­neath them, the fly­catch­ing an­tics of the ut­terly gor­geous and su­per dis­tinc­tive Great Kiskadee make for highly plea­sur­able view­ing. Univer­sity City, the site of the Univer­sity of Buenos Aires, is not the most at­trac­tive of ar­eas and its build­ings look a lit­tle im­pos­ing, to say the least. But, it has a very good tidal wet­land be­hind the com­plex that is de­cid­edly un­der-watched. Ex­pect the cu­ri­ous Limp­kin, which is like a Curlew on hard­core steroids, Wat­tled Ja­cana, Co­coi Heron, South­ern Lap­wing, Road­side Hawk and Ringed King­fisher. Brown-chested Martin is also eas­ily seen here, along with Ru­fous-col­lared Spar­rows. One of the bet­ter known birding spots in the city is the Vi­cente López Eco­log­i­cal Re­serve. It’s a small site, de­scribed as a ‘cozy five hectares’ of hu­mid for­est with a pond. De­spite its size, there are some great birds to be dis­cov­ered, in­clud­ing Ru­fous-headed Crake and the splen­did Grey-necked Wood Rail. It’s not all wa­ter­birds, though, be­cause watch­ing for ac­tion in the trees, should re­sult in Check­ered Wood­pecker and sev­eral hum­mers, such as the Glit­ter-bel­lied Emer­ald. About 25km north of down­town Buenos Aires lies the na­ture re­serve Rib­era Norte. On a good day you could see Bare-faced Ibis, Rufes­cent Tiger Heron and, dur­ing the sum­mer, study the heronry, con­tain­ing vo­cif­er­ous Co­coi Herons, Great and also Snowy Egrets. Now to the city’s birding jewel – Costan­era Sur, re­claimed land that is now an ex­cit­ing wet­land, sand­wiched between the Rio de La Plata and city sky­scrapers. To ob­serve the birds, you have to walk along the main street that runs par­al­lel with the wet­land. There is an enor­mous list for the site that in­clude such beau­ties as Coscoroba Swan, White-tufted Grebe, Rosy-billed Pochard, Chi­mango Caracara, Guira Cuckoo and White­lined Tan­ager.

ROSY-BILLED POCHARD One of many wa­ter birds which can be seen at the ex­cit­ing wet­land of Costan­era Sur

LIMP­KIN The Limp­kin is an odd bird which David says is “like a Curlew on hard­core steroids”

GUIRA CUCKOO A wide­spread South Amer­i­can, non-par­a­sitic, so­cial cuckoo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.