July 27, 2013: A birding day

Melanerpes flavifrons
Yellow-fronted Woodpecker: Photo by Arthur Grosset

Hamner having been sick the day before, we decided in advance that today would be a rest day so Peggy could stick around in case he needed something. So I got up before dawn and went out to see what birding could be done on the grounds of our hotel. It has a pool, then a soccer field, then woods with trails that lead all the way back to the Rio Iguazu.

I’m not used to it being winter — the sun didn’t rise till after 7. In the meantime, all the birds woke up and starting twittering, squawking, chirping, and shrieking according to their individual tastes. At home, say, at Maintz Wildlife Reserve, I’d know what pretty much all the sounds were. Here, I know squat. It’s a bit disconcerting. I quickly realized there was no point being back in the woods until it got good and bright, so I wandered out front and watched in the better light out in the open. A group of parrots flew into a tree near me, and I was able to identify them as maroon-bellied parakeets, for instance. Eventually I did head back in the woods, and wound up seeing quite a few birds. My big triumph was following the sound of hammering on a tree to get a good view of a lineated woodpecker. If it were in Missouri, it would be a slightly peculiar-looking pileated woodpecker; a really big bird and very striking.

When I came back out and walked into the pool area behind the hotel, I felt a little foolish, because it was just alive with birds, including a very cool yellow-fronted woodpecker. If the lineated is a pileated that’s a little off, a yellow-fronted is a hairy woodpecker that somebody has taken a set of paints to.

Robin, Peggy, and I had breakfast. The hotel puts on a pretty good buffet for breakfast, with excellent coffee. Afterward, while Hamner was resting, we went back to the trail to see if we could see the river at the far end. We saw a number of birds walking in, but they didn’t want to take too much time, so we kept moving. It’s about a kilometer walk back there, and when we got to the little observation deck, there were black-capped capuchin monkeys frolicking in the trees by the riverside. The Rio Iguazu seems surprisingly placid there, apparently unaware that it’s about to fall off a bunch of cliffs.

At the Rio Iguazu
Robin and Peggy at the observation deck.

Peggy and Robin headed back and let me dawdle and watch birds at my leisure, to rejoin them later. I’ve found in the past few days that there are so many unfamiliar birds (even though I’ve studied the likely ones) that I have to use the recording feature on my iPhone and just dictate notes about them and look them up later. I’ve been pretty fortunate in spotting the definitive features and noting them, although there are still some mystery birds remaining. Still, I had 15 lifers today, which is pretty good for never leaving the hotel.

The three of us spent the afternoon sitting out by the pool and playing sheepshead, and then we got Hamner and went to the hotel bar for a late snack. He’s feeling much better, so tomorrow we plan to go to the falls.

Today’s list:

Great kiskadee 3
Great egret
Red-rumped cacique 12
House wren 2
*Maroon-bellied parakeet 5
*Lineated woodpecker
Rufous-bellied thrush 2
*Yellow-fronted woodpecker
*Epaulet oriole
*Plush-crested jay 20
Pale-breasted thrush 5
Yellow-chevroned parakeet 4
*Black-tailed tityra 2
Black vulture
*Lesser woodcreeper 3
Rufous-collared sparrow 2
*Boat-billed flycatcher
*Gray-fronted dove 2
*Olivaceous woodcreeper
*Fawn-breasted tanager
*Golden-crowned warbler 5
*Chestnut-eared aracari

One Response to “July 27, 2013: A birding day”

  1. Karin Pelton says:

    Looks and sounds like you had a grand time!! Did you get any pictures of these birds. Would love to see them.

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