November 1, 2019
We were up at 4:30 am to go out looking for the Rufous Nightjar. As soon as we went outside the hotel we could hear them calling, but it took about half an hour to call one in so we could see it fly past. As a bonus we heard and saw a Common Potoo as well. Soon it was light and we went for a short walk around the hotel area, again finding a number of interesting birds.
After breakfast we got into the vans and headed over to Ituzaingó, where we were reunited with our big pink bus.
The drive to Iguazú took a long time, but we stopped at a few places to do some birding. We stopped on a road which went towards Paraguay and searched the roadside for Sharp-tailed Tyrant. We found some moderately interesting birds, but not that one.
Later we stopped at another site, an eBird hotspot. We climbed down past an informal junk disposal site and followed the route of a disused road for about an hour. Again we found some interesting birds but we only found our target species, Glaucous-blue Grosbeak, at the last moment.
We stopped outside Posadas for lunch, and this was a real change as the place was a buffet, complete with salads, hot food, and even pizza, which they seemed to make especially for us. Apparently this style of restaurant is common in the area because of the proximity of Brazil. It was a pleasure to not have to order chicken and chips and have it cooked to order!
During the afternoon we slept for a lot of the time; the bus seats were more comfortable than typical airline seats. Then about 7 pm we finally arrived outside a fancy hotel, the Loi Suites, in a tropical forest. The hotel was in sections connected by suspended bridges. It also had four pools, walking trails, and most importantly it blended right into the jungle.
Dinner was an interesting meal: it seemed that they thought we were all vegetarians. It was good but not what we expected. It started at 8 pm and the service was terribly slow. Most of us got up and left around 10:30 pm, rather than waiting for dessert to arrive.
November 2, 2019
Up early again! Today we were heading to the National Park. As we went out to get on the buses this morning, there was a Toco Toucan in the parking lot. (He’s the one on the cereal box.) That was a good start to the day.
With our local guide Patricio we had an insider’s view, starting with birding along a road which most people wouldn’t go on. Forest birding is hard because it involves looking into thickets and tangles to identify distant birds. Birders with experience identify the birds by their calls, but nevertheless we did manage to find and identify a lot of species during our walks.
We had lunch at the restaurant in the park, the same restaurant we were at last year. A great buffet with a parilla. The lineups for the parilla were long but they moved quite quickly. And it had a pretty good dessert buffet, too. Paul got a half pear which had been marinated in a fluorescent green liquid; it just tasted like pear, though.
After we were all finished we headed along the upper trails towards the falls, the Garganta del Diablo. We were surprised to see a pair of Black-fronted Piping-Guans on the way, because last year we had to go to a special place at 7 am. The volume of water in the river seemed much higher than last year, but on the other hand there wasn’t as much spray from the falls.
We didn’t spend too much time at the falls because it was late in the day and the park rangers were hustling us out. We caught the last train down, which was a good thing because it was a long walk otherwise.
Dinner was a bit faster tonight, but it was still vegetarian and we still didn’t wait for dessert. Tomorrow would be another early start and we needed our sleep.
November 3, 2019
We had breakfast at 6:15 am again, and today as we loaded up the buses there were Thrush-like Wrens in the trees above the parking lot. We headed over to the park again, and on the way out to the main road we drove past the Guaraní aboriginal settlement, passing two little girls who were going for a swim in their lake.
We entered the park by the main gates and went birding along the Macuco Trail. We split into two groups, as trying to get 30 people to see a forest bird is virtually impossible. Patricio took the group with the more ambitious birders and went off down the trail, and the rest of us stayed back with Keith and Glen. Periodically we would find little scraps of paper on the trail, which Patricio had left to alert us to certain birds.
Some of the birds were easy to find but others, particularly the Southern Antpipit, were incredibly hard to locate. It was calling all the time but we spent about 45 minutes stalking it and trying to get a look at it.
Lunch was at the buffet restaurant in the park again, and we were then met by the buses. In the afternoon we spent about an hour at the Jardín de los Picaflores, the Hummingbird Garden. It was a tiny garden with about half a dozen hummingbird feeders, plus a couple of banana feeders for the other birds. We all managed to squeeze in and during the hour we saw six species of hummingbird, of which two were lifers for us.
The afternoon wasn’t over yet. We drove half an hour down the road the Araucaria (monkey puzzle tree) forest. Most of the trees are gone, only about 1 percent are left, but there are a few reserves which protect the remnants. We were at the San Jorge private reserve in order to find Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, which only lives in Araucaria trees. The buses pulled into the parking lot, where we all got out and looked at the nearest Araucaria. The bird duly appeared at the top of the tree and we all got good looks at it.
Shortly after we got back to the hotel the rain started. We had the option of going to look for the Long-Tufted Screech-Owl, and we dithered over whether we wanted to devote two or three hours to that. Eventually we decided no, we were worn out. But with the thunderstorm the bus company said the buses couldn’t travel on the owl’s roads as they were too muddy and slippery. So the trip was cancelled anyway. We were 100% in support of the drivers, having slipped and slid over muddy roads last year.
Dinner tonight was not vegetarian! Keith had spoken to the hotel staff last night, so they finally got the message that we only had a few vegetarians in our group. We had a nice piece of beef with mashed carrots and scalloped potatoes. Once again we skipped out on dessert because we had a really early start tomorrow.