Monday, September 26, 2016

Ibera, Argentina

I missed my goal to publish a monthly blog, but travels have taken me away.  I will skip some locations visited in the meantime and leave incomplete my France blog and go on to my most recent adventure.  Ibera is the second largest wetland of the world in the Province of Corrientes, Argentina. I have known about this place for several years but I was not able to find a contact to get there since it is not easily accessible; it took me long hours of driving for about two days to get there Buenos Aires.  After two days of great weather the rains came, so I moved on north to the Iguazu Falls. 

 Ibera in some ways resembles the Everglades because of the vegetation and canals where wildlife is abundant. It is the home of the capibaras or carpinchos (above) as they are known in Argentina.  These are widespread in South American and I have seen them before in Venezuela and Brazil.  They are the largest rodents in the world but those in Ibera seemed larger in size and darker in color. They are aquatic but also forage on land for grasses.  In my opinion, they occupy a niche similar to those of the hippopotamus in Africa because of their behavior. The other mammal I saw was the marsh deer (below) but there also otters.

 There more than 300 species of birds in the area but I did not see all of them.  All those I saw, except for the common gallinule, were new to me, so I will bore you with birds. The Southern Lapwings (Teros) are a common species and common throughout Argentina.  It is a beautiful and noisy bird and has vestigial claws (notice the pink spines sticking out in the dark chest of the male bird below) in the wing shoulder that is a remnant from ancient birds that were used to climb.  But these claws are also present in the Southern Screamer (Chala) clearly visible in the extended wing as well as in the Wattled Jacana (Jacana) where they are seen as yellow spines in the wing elbows. Vestigial claws are present in a few other birds but I never noticed them in so many birds as are here in South America.  There is also an image of ascreamer with chicks; this is the beginning of spring south of the Equator so it is the beginning of the nesting season.

 Another bird that was surprising was the Scarlet-headed Blackbird (Federal), it is a marsh bird and we have a close cousin here in the USA but with a yellow head (photographed in Camas, Utah).

Other closely related birds that when I first saw them, promptly confused them with those in the USA, such as the White-necked heron (Garza mora) with our Great Blue Heron, the Chalked-browed  mockingbird (Calandria grande) with our Northern Mockingbird, both share the same Genus.

There is no way that I can include all the birds I photographed in this blog so as to avoid boring you, I will make a few entries. The blue period:  First a pair of Magpie Tanagers (Frutero uvero) exhibiting pairing behavior where the male is courting by feeding the female (I did not witness the final outcome.) Then, the Plush –crested Jay (Urraca comun), a very aggressive bird and similar in behavior to our Blue Jays followed by a  Screaming Cowbird (Tordo pico corto) followed by a Sacaya Tanager (Celestino comun).  And then my favorite, the Swallow-Tailed Hummingbird 
( Picador tijera); not only colorful but big.

A rainbow of colors period.: The Blue and Yellow Tanager (Naranjero), Green-headed Tanager (Saira arcoiris), female Blue Dacnis (Sai Azul) and a lucky shot; 3 species in one frame.

But wait, I almost left out the rainbow of colors, a pair of Yellow-fronted woodpeckers (Carpintero Arcoiris); the male is the one with the full red head and the yellow spot in the forehead.