November 17, 2018
After an early-morning walk around the grounds of the lodge we headed north in the van again. Our next destination was San Sebastián de la Selva. Our first stop en route was San Pedro, where we would visit Parque Provincial Araucaria.
But as we drove through the streets of the town a warning light came on in the van. One of the headlights was not working. And this was a problem because in Argentina you are supposed to drive with your headlights on at all times. We had already been stopped by the police once when Dylan forgot that.
Fortunately we drove past a car-repair shop. The leaders asked the man to come out to look at the light. Sure, he had a replacement bulb, he installed the bulb, and it worked. Problem solved in ten minutes.
The park was a very small one off a side street in the town. It had a lot of araucaria trees, but they were a different species than the “monkey puzzle” trees we had seen in the Andes. It was noon so the birding wasn’t ideal, but nevertheless we walked the forest loop trail and managed to see a few.
We had lunch in a nice little restaurant in San Pablo before heading north again. The road went through hilly forested areas and it was surprising to see a couple of towns which straddled the border with Brazil.
It was nearly 7 pm when we arrived at the San Sebastián Lodge. There were birds on the lawn and in the lake outside, but nothing unusual, and flocks of egrets were flying over to their nearby roost. The lodge itself was rustic and our upstairs room was hot, even with the window open. But we managed to get a fan to circulate the air.
Dinner was very good tonight; it’s nice to not have to choose from a menu sometimes. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for rain, so we’ll see what happens.
November 18, 2018
We were up at 5:30 am this morning to go for a birding walk at 6 am. It was cloudy and not too hot, but before we were all gathered together and ready to go, a few drops of rain started to fall. Within minutes it was raining hard.
So we all returned to our rooms and met for an extended breakfast at 8 am. It rained all morning, so at lunch we scheduled a walk for 4 pm. It rained all afternoon, finally stopping just before 4 pm.
So off we went for our walk. Today we had a guide from the lodge named Juan. He knew the local birds well but he didn’t speak English too well. But we all had the same bird book, so we could look up Argentinian Spanish bird names and find the birds in the book.
We walked through the nearby marsh and then up into the forest. Juan led us up to a place where Swallow-tailed Manakins dance, but the manakins weren’t dancing. Not too surprising, said Juan, the dance in the morning and usually finish before 4 pm.
Back at the lodge, we walked a bit down the other side of the lake to see the hanging nests of the Red-rumped Caciques. There was a Piratic Flycatcher there and Juan told us that it chased the caciques away and stole their nests.
Dinner was very good, as usual. We had an excellent piece of chicken with rice and pumpkin. Afterwards we went out behind the lodge to an area where potoos are known to roost, but we didn’t find any. However at 10 pm we heard one calling outside!
November 19, 2018
We had an early breakfast today and then headed out into the forest with local guide Juan. Luckily there was no rain this morning. First stop was at the Swallow-tailed Manakin lek, where we sat down and waited while Juan called the birds. Eventually an immature male bird dropped in for a moment, but that was it.
The next task was to find the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, a very large black bird with a bright red throat. There was one calling and we headed towards it. But instead of playing a recording until the bird got annoyed and flew towards us, Juan’s technique was to use a machete to cut a trail through the forest to a place where the bird could be seen from. The technique worked well, and no doubt the tropical forest would grow back quickly.
On the way back we looked for forest birds and found quite a few species. There were quite a few deadfalls which were blocking the trail, so Juan used his machete to cut new trails around them. Many of them were too big to be cut with a machete!
For some reason we were both very tired in the afternoon. Rosemary had a nap and Paul had a shower. Later on we walked around the paths around the lodge, still finding a variety of species. Dinner tonight was gnocchi made with manioc instead of potatoes. An interesting idea but even more tasteless than regular gnocchi.
November 20, 2018
We were up very early today so that we could leave at 6 am to drive to Parque Provincial Urugua-í. The purpose of the trip was to see the Black-fronted Piping-Guans, which come down early in the morning to drink at the stream.
They are spectacular birds and they are globally threatened. And when we arrived there were three of them right by the stream. We were very lucky; it’s not always easy to find them even if you get there early. We also walked around the forest trails there, which were pretty quiet. Although we did find a few more interesting birds.
Back at San Sebastián we had our breakfast and then did a half-hour walk around the local paths. We were looking for Blond-crested Woodpecker, which looks the way you would imagine; we didn’t find one but we did find a few more new species.