Parque Nacional El Palmar

November 9, 2018

(later in the day)

After noon we got back on the highway again and headed up to Liebig, where we would be staying for the next couple of nights. Tom was following the Google map and it led us past Liebig and across a river into the absolute poorest part of an adjacent town. There was no accommodation of any kind there.

So he phoned the owners and after a very long while we found our way back into Liebig, where our “cabanas” were. What a dump! It was apartments and not cabanas, the showers were filthy, the stairs were dangerous, the plastic tablecloth was torn, there were no towels, and so on. Tom was very embarrassed, as it had been represented very differently on booking.com.

Yatay palm forest
Yatay palm forest
Capybara warning sign
Capybara warning sign

But anyway we headed up to Parque Nacional El Palmar, which is an oasis in the middle of agricultural fields and eucalyptus plantations. It’s a remnant of the way things used to be around here, a forest of yatay palms. Beside the road there were capybaras, dozens of them. Many of them were young ones which were still nursing. They were so cute!

Capybara and baby
Capybara and baby
Capybara and Cattle Tyrant
Capybara and Cattle Tyrant

There were other mammals in the park but they were harder to see. We had a brief view of some species of grey fox crossing the road. At the end of the road was the parking lot for the restaurant and campsite, and it was home to a colony of Plains Viscacha. A “viscachera”, as the sign said. They come out at dusk so we saw them hopping around under the bushes. They were really weird-looking animals which looked like burly rabbits.

Brazilian Duck
Brazilian Duck
Viscacha
Viscacha

We had dinner at the sandwich shop there and then headed back down to our apartments. On the way we looked out for Scissor-tailed Nightjars, which sit on the roads at night. We did see one fly off, but it was a quick look and you could only really see it if you were in the front of the van.

November 10, 2018

We slept in this morning, no pre-breakfast birding, and then the group all met for breakfast in our room. (That was because our room had a working fridge.) Then we headed up to El Palmar for a day’s birding.

Beach at El Palmar on the Rio Uruguay
Beach at El Palmar on the Rio Uruguay
Historic ruins
Historic ruins

We spent most of the day birding the park. There was quite a variety of habitats to look at, even though the yatay palms were everywhere. And it was Saturday so there were a lot of student groups on the trails. They were mostly university-level students so they could talk to us fairly well. We also searched for mammals, as there were several different kinds of fox in the area. And of course the capybaras were everywhere.

Green-winged Saltator
Green-winged Saltator
Capybara lounging in a pool
Capybara lounging in a pool
Tropical Parula
Tropical Parula

At about 7:30 pm the owner of our fine residence brought over a big box of empanadas, because it was Argentina’s Day of Tradition. So we had some of them—it would have been rude to refuse. Some of us had a lot of them because they were very good.

Golden-crowned Warbler
Golden-crowned Warbler
White-tipped Dove
White-tipped Dove

And then we went out to dinner at a fairly nice restaurant in nearby San Jose. We ordered one pizza to share between four people and still could only eat half of it. But we did order dessert!

Whistling Heron
Whistling Heron

Next: Iberá wetlands