Wednesday, 10 February 2010

With A Little Help From My (New Found) Friends

One simple rule of thumb as far as being a traveler and making plans are concerned, DON'T! No sooner had I pocketed tonight's rent, I was setting about handing it back to the hotel. Remember the 'freebie' on Galapagos and the 4 young Argentinians I met up with? Well, got a Comment on the Blog yesterday from Frenzo one of the 2 lads, suggesting, as I'm so near, going to Sierra de los Padres. Without a clue what to expect I returned to the hotel where ex-pat New Yorker Carlos has been help itself. He agreed that there should be birds there, and that it is a beautiful wild place. Only 20 miles up the coast, and the bus stop just around the corner there was no point in rushing off further north.

Another thing I've noticed, the first Mate (the E of Mate should have an 'accent' but I do preliminary notes on Notepad, and am simply not clever enough to do this) bowls, cups, mugs, whatever you like to call them have started to appear. All through the highlands, the illegal beverage Coca is preferred, but there seems to be no special vessel for drinking it from. Here, things are very much different with this 'tea like' drink only being drunk from a favored cup. These can be extremely ornate, and I think like Japanese 'Netsukes' are collectible and can be valuable? The concoction is drunk through an equally ornate metal 'straw', one of which I have at
home somewhere, with a built in filter at the wet end. I'm expecting to see more the further north I go, and in Uruguay it is rare to see a man (it doesn't seem to be a female thing) walking down the street without his 'little comforter'.

An excellent call Frenzo, Sierra de los Padres was just as you described, a beautiful, tranquil village that gave me the impression of a lot of Swiss influence? In the main large, individually designed house with equally big gardens with masses of vegetarian. The fare for a ride of 20 miles was 40 pence, but concern was setting in as the first 15 miles was through a 'concrete jungle'. Just as despair was about to take over we made a right turn off the motorway, and started winding our way along narrow country roads. On the way I was thinking if I only got a photograph of Chimango Caracara (of which there were plenty) and maybe a Pigeon or two I would be well contented. The driver kindly advised me of the stop, and as I alighted the said Caracara landed on a telegraph pole right next to the bus, no problem getting images of that. The only problem was, getting to the next subject as a fine Picazuro Pigeon landed in the very next tree, making for a hard to believe start to the day. The photograph belies the real size of these monsters, which in flight show extremely broad winged, and tend to glide a lot.This gives the impression of a 'bird of prey', I was caught out on more than one occasion. Across the road is a rocky escarpment, surrounded by bushes and holding a good deal of rain water, this had to be investigated. First wildlife of note was a tailless Marmot which almost posed for the camera, after which I found an excellent example of a Rufous Hornero nest, and there was also a Black-tailed Hare but all too fast for me. In the wild grass around the rock were good numbers of Double-collared Seedfinch, the odd Grassland Yellowfinch, all of which were nice to see again, but also a pair of Grassland Sparrows that were new to me!

By mid-day the heat become oppressive for me and feel it's time to seek shelter. A couple on a walk put me right about the bus stop for the journey back found 3 pairs of Green-barred Woodpecker, and by their raucous behaviour a whole squadron of Bay-winged Cowbirds. These often associate with Screaming Cowbird and act as nest hosts, but there were none today, however the last one I saw in 2003 was being swallowed alive by a Monitor Lizard. Waiting for the bus, I encountered a pair of Finch like birds building a nest, but so far have been unable to identify them.

An omission from yesterdays report was of a pair of Barn Owls as darkness fell and we left the town of Azul to join the road to Mar del Plata. Although already on the Trip List, these are the first to be seen as the other, as far back as Venezuela, was only heard.

Chimango Caracara

Grassland Yellowfinch, front

and back.

Green-barred Woodpecker front,

and back.

Double-collared Seedfinch (adult male)

Double-collared Seedfinch (juvenile)

Picazuro Pigeon

Don't know what all this is about, but something religious I guess. It is believed to be a cave full of 'Dusters', please note Mrs Edwards! PS have to admit thought it was ladies underware from a distance.

We're having to do requests now!

One for ShIela, unidentified butterfly.

and one for Nick, unidentified Marmot?

An example of the stylish housing in the area.

Bay-winged Cowbird

Guira Cuckoo, thought we might have to wait until Buenos Aires for this one!

Rufous Hornero

Rufous Hornero's Nest

Rufous-bellied Thrush

Thought to be Glittering-bellied Emerald