Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Chaco and the first 14 days in Bolivia

We had a four hour drive yesterday from Santa Cruz to Camiri on a pretty good road, stopping en route just South of the Rio Grande. Here, we had the most amazing short stop with lots of new birds including a Military Macaw which flew low out of a tree and then slowly across the road and down it away from us, giving us the most brilliant views. It was an awesome and unexpected birding moment and as soon as the bird disappeared out of site there were high-fives all around from Birdgirl, who had missed it twice in Madidi National Park.
We stayed in lovely lodge style hotel and managed to grab a quick pizza. Camiri was cooler than expected and even if I didn’t need the air conditioning on. The second bonus was absolutely no mosquitoes even though we are still low down.

We spent the day birding today in the Chaco, an area full of speciality birds, split between Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay. The Chaco is known as the hottest past of Bolivia and we were ready for an extremely hot and dry climate. Instead, it was perfect. It was very cloudy with no rain and a good breeze, making it perfect for birding. Also, no mosquitoes, chiggers, sand flies, sweat flies or anything else to test our ability to cope.

We had a 4am start, but managed to grab a couple of hours of sleep on the way down. We saw 18 new birds for the trip in the first 2 hours, making the morning pass very quickly.

Herman, our driver, cooked lunch on a camp stove, so was perfect for Birdgirl’s fussy palate.
The afternoon was much quieter, but we still have tomorrow to catch up with more Chaco specialities.

The birding:

After 14 days of birding, 378 birds on our trip list seen. The walking has been easy so far, but we have the highlands to come. Bird Bolivia have been brilliant, rearranging things to fit around inevitable delays along the way.

3 endemics seen (out of 18), Blue-Throated Macaw, Unicolored Thrush and Masked Antpitta. None are not usually seen on trips and so this makes them even better. Also, saw Bolivian Slaty-Antshike which is being reviewed by SACC as to whether they accept as a new endemic.

Santa Cruz
Bolivian Slaty-Antshrike, White-Banded Mockingbird, White-Bellied Nothyra and Red-Legged Seriema.

Chaco (near Paraguay)
Black-Legged Sereima, Lark-Like Brushrunner; Many-Colored Chaco Finch; Black-Capped Warbling-Finch; Brown-Backed Mockingbird; Chaco Chachalaca; Striped Woodpecker; Chaco Earthcreeper, Red-Billed Scythebill and Chaco Suiriri.

Amazon Basin

Madidi National Park – 900 m (near Peru)
Military, Red and Green, Blue and Yellow, Chestnut-Fronted, Red-Bellied Macaws

Unicoloured Thrush

Barba Azul Reserve (‘Blue Beard’) – Blue-Throated Parrot Reserve
Blue-Throated Macaw (only 380 birds left in the world all in this area which is the size of Texas. We saw 25 individuals); Yellow-Collared Macaw; Greater Rhea; Southern Screamer;

Riberalta (near Brazil)
Masked Antpitta

We have another 24 days of birding left and so are hopeful that we will end up with a sizeable trip list - no idea what though!

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