Birdwatching Tour throughout Central Argentina
A 14-Day Argentina birding tour is one of the eldest geological formations in the continent, the group of mountains known as Córdoba Central Hills, uplifts in the middle of the Argentine Chaco-Pampas Great Plain. Pampa de Achala, sheltered by these hills, is a plateau crossed by streams that form deep gorges.
This unique place is home to many Argentine endemic species and also the most important nesting site for Andean Condor out of the Andes. Two protected areas, Quebrada del Condorito National Park and Pampa de Achala Reserve have been established here to protect Córdoba Hills’ unique biodiversity.
In this Argentina birding tour, we will be going south from Pampa de Achala and away from the humid creeks, the habitat changes into dry Chaco Woodland. This dense, thorny forest supports an amazing diversity of habitat-restricted birds, including Brushland Tinamou, Spot-winged Falconet, Chaco Puffbird, Black-bodied Woodpecker, Chaco Owl, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Chaco Earthcreeper, Many-coloured Chaco-Finch and Black-and-Chestnut Warbling-Finch to name but a few.
Alternative Tour Name: Birding Central Argentina
Our tour starts this morning at Córdoba City airport, from where we’ll drive to Pampa de Achala, the highest plateau in the heart of the Córdoba Hills. Woodlands and scrub more typical of the Chaco habitat surround this granitic massif. Detached from the main Andes range by some 300km, the high levels of endemism are a direct consequence of this geographical isolation. High up on our list of priority species today is the endemic Olrog’s Cinclodes, a bird we often find from the roadside. Further exploration should yield Cordoba Cinclodes, Rufous-banded Miner, Subtropical Doradito, Rufous-naped Ground Tyrant, Redlegged Seriema, Red-tailed Comet, Andean Swift, Band-tailed and Plumbeous Sierra Finch, Hellmayr’s Pipit and Puna Canastero (the locally occurring subspecies sclateri is often considered a species in its own right – Cordoba Canastero). We’ll spend the night in Icho Cruz.
We plan to spend the day birding amongst the woodlands surrounding the Cordoba Hills. This scrubby habitat is actually the very southern edge of the chaco, fertile grounds for Blue-tufted Starthroat, Tataupa Tinamou, the very rare Black-bodied Woodpecker, Black-crested Finch, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper and Spot-winged Falconet. Amongst the commoner species we should find Stripe-crowned and Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Brown Cacholote, Lark-like Brushrunner, Vermilion Flycatcher, Black-crowned and White Monjita, Spectacled Tyrant, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Screaming Cowbird, Long-tailed Meadowlark and Hooded Siskin. Overnight in Capilla del Monte.
After a final few hours of birding for any species we may have missed around the Cordoba Hills, we head to the tiny village of San Jose de las Salinas. Home to the last remnants of the now derelict salt mining trade; it is our access point to the massive Salinas Grandes salt pan (8900km2)! The saltpans harbour a remarkably range restricted species that occupies a highly specialised niche. The Salinas Monjita, found almost exclusively in the highly stunted vegetation surrounding the areas salt flats and pans. Around the salt pans we pass through excellent chaco habitat with a good chance of seeing the much sought after Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Brushland and Elegant Crested Tinamous, Black-legged Seriema, White-fronted Woodpecker, Suiriri Flycatcher, Crested Hornero, Straneck's Tyrannulet, White-banded Mockingbird, Red Pileated and Many-colored Chaco Finch. Night in Dean Funes.
We will have a few more hours to bird the Chaco habitat around Dean Funes before lunch and then drive to Córdoba City Airport to take our flight to Buenos Aires, where we’ll spend the following two nights.
We will make an early start this morning to bird at Ceibas. This is an area located across the Paraná River in the province of Entre Ríos. Its abundant birds make it really enjoyable for birders the world over, and its dense thorny forests and marshlands are home to an incredible number of species. These include Greater Rhea, Red-winged Tinamou, Savanna Hawk, White-fronted and White Woodpeckers, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Brown Cacholote, Lark-like Brushrunner, Short-billed Canastero and Tufted Tit-Spinetail. We will leave Ceibas around mid-morning and then drive to the Otamendi National Park. This 3,000-hectare reserve sits on the shores of the Paraná River just north of Buenos Aires, and is included in the international list of Important Bird Areas. It takes in three of the main Argentine bird habitats: Pampas grasslands, thorny woodland and Parana River Delta. Possible highlights to be found in Otamendi include both Straight-billed and Curve-billed Reedhaunters, Diademed Tanager, as well as more widespread species such as White-tufted Grebe, Southern Screamer, Long-winged Harrier, Giant Wood Rail, White-tipped Dove, Checkered Woodpecker, Chotoy Spinetail, Warbling Doradito and Pampa Finch.
Our drive from Buenos Aires to San Clemente de Tuyú is not particularly far, but we shall spend the majority of the day birding the road side verges en route. The habitat is predominantly flat grasslands interspersed with lagoons and marshes making for easy birding. We can look forward to seeing a high number of species today, Spotted Nothura, Chiloe Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal, Red Shoveler, Long-winged Harrier, Campo Flicker, Sulphur-bearded Spinetail, Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Bay-wing and Scarlet-headed Blackbird to be expected. A combination of effort and luck might elicit some of the trickier species such as Dot-winged Crake and South American Painted-Snipe. We spend the following two nights in San Clemente de Tuyu.
Our day will be spent birding the tidal mudflats, salt marshes and sand dunes of Punta Rasa and the Bay of Samborombón. This area, not far from Buenos Aires is home to the most spectacular flocks of migrant waders, a wide array of grassland birds and some unique mammals, like the scarce and elusive Pampas Deer. Northern migratory shorebirds, such as Hudsonian Godwit, Red Knot, White-rumped and Baird’s Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs amongst others, spend the northern winter (South American summer), on the southernmost tip of our continent. Punta Rasa is one of the main feeding grounds for these long-range travellers that share the area with some local residents, such as Hudson’s Canastero, Firewood-Gatherer, Bay-capped Wren-Spinetail, Greater Rhea and Spotted Nothura.
Today we travel southwest along the Atlantic coast to the city of Bahía Blanca and its surroundings. This is a fairly long drive, but we shall make birding stops along the way which are likely to produce Black-headed Duck, Dot-winged Crake, Speckled Rail, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Bay-capped Wren-Spinetail and Tufted Tit-Spinetail. We’ll spend two nights in Bahía Blanca.
Bahía Blanca sits in an ecotonal area between the Pampas and Patagonia and thus the area offers a vast diversity of birds. It is here that we will have the opportunity to see the spectacular and highly restricted Pampas Meadowlark, a near endemic bird only possible in the southern Pampas and some areas of Uruguay. It is also here where chances are best for another highly restricted passerine: the Yellow Cardinal. We will also look for Olrog’s Gull, one of the most endangered seabird species which nests in the area. Some of the many species we can expect to see during our time here include, Hudsonian Godwit, Many-colored Rush Tyrant, Gull-billed Tern, Snowy-crowned Tern, American Cliff Swallow, Stripe-crowned Spinetail, Sharp-billed Canastero, Short-billed Canastero, Firewood-Gatherer, Short-billed Pipit, Black-crowned Monjita, White-winged Black Tyrant, Ringed Warbling Finch and Band-tailed Seedeater.
We continue to travel south before turning west again to the coastal city of Las Grutas and its surroundings. While much of the day will be spent travelling, we can expect to add yet more species to our list. Excluding the above-mentioned birds, we will also be keeping our eyes on the road verges for Darwin's Nothura. On arrival at Las Grutas we will no doubt be greeted by flocks of Burrowing Parrots, as these are very common here. After checking into our hotel, we will then go birding along the coast where we will look for birds that include the endemic Sandy Gallito and Carbonated Sierra Finch, Hudson’s Black Tyrant, Scaly-throated Earthcreeper, White-throated Cacholote, White-tipped Plantcutter, Austral Thrush, Common Diuca Finch Greater Wagtail-Tyrant and White-tipped Plantcutter. We spend the following two nights in Las Grutas, a small village turned popular beach resort.
We will start early this morning to bird the surrounding areas of San Antonio Oeste. Our first stop will be just outside the city boundaries where we will try for two more Argentine endemics, the White-throated Cacholote and Sandy Gallito (if we missed it yesterday). Here we also have a good chance for Elegant Crested Tinamou, Black-crowned and White Monjitas, Grey-hooded and Mourning Sierra Finches, and Vermilion Flycatcher. We will then drive eastwards to search for Pale-breasted Spinetail, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Short-billed Canastero and the endemic Cinnamon Warbling Finch. Time permitting, we will again bird the surroundings of Las Grutas for any birds we might have missed to date.
We will spend the morning birding the surroundings of Las Grutas, searching for any birds we might have missed in this area, and then start our way southwards to Puerto Madryn where we will spend the night in this charming city situated on the shores of the Nuevo Gulf. Time permitting, we will bird the surroundings of Puerto Madryn to look for birds like the endemic Rusty-backed Monjita, Band-tailed Earthcreeper and Patagonian Canastero; and also some interesting steppe dwellers that include Elegant Crested Tinamou, Short-billed Pipit and Common Diuca Finch. We should also find some interesting land mammals that include Guanaco, a wild relative of the Llama,Patagonian Mara, an overgrown, long legged version of the Guinea Pig, and if we are lucky, South American Grey Fox, Humboldt’s Hog-nosed Skunk and the Large Hairy Armadillo.
leave Puerto Madryn early this morning and drive south, all the way to the biggest nesting colony of Magellanic Penguin on Earth: Punta Tombo. On our way there, we will make frequent birding stops to look for birds like the endemic Patagonian Canastero and Carbonated Sierra Finch, but our main goal is to find Chubut (White-headed) Steamer Duck, a highly restricted Argentine endemic, only found in the southern seashores of the Province of Chubut. Other birds that we’ll search for include the stately Lesser Rhea and Elegant Crested Tinamou walking through the short stunted growth. Aside from the penguins, Punta Tombo is a great location to look for other seabirds and shorebirds including Blackish Oystercatcher, Dolphin Gull and Brown Skua, and several passerines such as Cordilleran Canastero, Scaly-throated Earthcreeper and Patagonian Mockingbird, to name but a few. We will then continue south to Comodoro Rivadavia in the afternoon and spend the last night of our main tour there.
This morning we depart from Comodoro Rivadavia airport where the tour will conclude our tour.
Cordoba Cinclodes, Rufous-banded Miner, Subtropical Doradito, Rufous-naped Ground Tyrant, Red-legged Seriema, Red-tailed Comet, Andean Swift, Band-tailed and Plumbeous Sierra Finch, Hellmayr’s Pipit, Puna Canastero, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Tataupa Tinamou, Black-bodied Woodpecker, Black-crested Finch, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Spot-winged Falconet, Stripe-crowned and Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Brown Cacholote, Lark-like Brushrunner, Vermilion Flycatcher, Black-crowned and White Monjita, Spectacled Tyrant, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Screaming Cowbird, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Hooded Siskin, Elegant Crested Tinamous, Black-legged Seriema, White-fronted Woodpecker, Suiriri Flycatcher, Crested Hornero, Straneck’s Tyrannulet, White-banded Mockingbird, Red Pileated, Chaco Finch, White-tufted Grebe, Southern Screamer, Long-winged Harrier, Giant Wood-Rail, White-tipped Dove, Checkered Woodpecker, Chotoy Spinetail, Warbling Doradito, Pampa Finch
What is included?
- Private transportation for all transfers and excursions
- Accommodations on a twin/double basis
- Single supplements on request. Full time Trogon Tours’ leader to accompany the group from day 1 on arrival in Tucumán Airport to day 15 on departure from Salta Airport
- All breakfasts, lunches, box-lunches and dinners, from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 15 of the tour. No drinks included. Admission fees to all national parks and nature reserves
What is not included?
- International and domestic airfares and airport taxes
- Tips to guides, drivers, hotel & restaurants personnel, etc
- Drinks with your meals
- Personal travel and medical insurance
Trogon Tours is the official tour company of Birding Argentina. We started trading in 2000, running only birding tours in Argentina and Patagonia. Regardless, it didn’t take long for the company to start expanding towards other Latin American countries, catering not just for birders but also for general nature travelers. Trogon Tours’ journeys are designed for English speaking naturalists looking for personalized travel adventures. Our goal is to help our clients exploring the most spectacular birding and wildlife destinations in the Neotropics and Antarctica, like the Argentine Pampas, mighty Patagonia, the Brazilian Pantanal, Iguazú Falls, the mighty Andes, South Georgia and many others. We know that in a world of many choices, modern travellers can now select from a wide variety of tour options. If you are a free independent traveller, Trogon Tours will be pleased to design and operate the perfect travel adventure for you to enjoy the Neotropics and Antarctica. On the other hand, if you prefer travelling with tour companies based in your own country, please contact us for advise on suitable travel options for your next nature travel adventure.