Thank you once again for a fantastic 3 days of birding with you and others. I throughly enjoyed myself and I appreciate your expertise in finding me my target species. I will always remember my experiences with you. I wish you and your family all the best. Please do not hesitate to contact me on your next visit to the USA. I would be more than happy to show you some birds if you come to Indiana. Kamal Islam.
Kamal is carrying a study on the threatened Cerulean Warbler and he was to make a presentation at the Ornithological Congress in Iguazú, Argentina. Before the congress we shared 3 days birding with different companions and in a variety of locations. First day at Médanos and Southern Entre Rios, Kevin Bartlett joined us. He has the credit for finding a Stripe Backed Bittern and the hawk and spinetail (great) pictures below.
Second day Kamal joined a planned outing of the Buenos Aires Bird Club to Otamendi and Lower Delta. The star was a Blue billed Black Tyrant at the visitors Center of Otamendi National Park. When rangers pointed a bird a named it, Kamal knew that was something else. After some ID work we found that was this tyrant, scarce as is in the edge of his range
On the third day to Ceibas and north, we completed a very nice list of 128 species. This day we got Greater Rhea, Gray Monjita and Black Crowned Monjita.
End of June in Buenos Aires may sound discouraging for birding, but we had 4 great days, mild weather and luminous days in the field. Punta Rasa in the south and Itapeby lodge in the north were the extremes of a 600 km line. Lakc of leaves helped the sightings in the forests. See below the checklist
I found Diego’s contact in BirdingPal. I left him an email, asking for a guided day trip to birds and got immediate response with an elaborate choice of various options. I asked to go back, explaining my preferences, and we had an offer!
We went south to Entre Rios, which is a little less than two hours by car from Buenos Aires / Puerto Madero. The complete package includes pick up at the hotel, drive, guide, coffee, snacks, drinks, and most of all: excellent bird watching, including a tailor made checklist. Diego is a great guide, who knows the birdlife inside. If you want to make the most of your valuable time and see the maximum number of birds, learn about them, flexibility adjust your time to study them or take photos: Diego will make it happen!
If I could say six stars, I would!
Michael Schade, Germany
Thanks again for a great day out and a remarkable variety of species! Eugene O’Brien, Ireland
Outing: June 24th, 2016, Otamendi and Vicente López Reserve
“Our day around Ceibas was indeed one of the very best of the entire cruise trip, and we had a lot of good days.” (Paul).
Paul Lehman is a very well known birder, former guide for Wings and an expert in bird distribution maps. Barbara Carlson is also very keen, holding the record for a Big Year in a single County in the US, with 388 birds in San Diego County in 2014.
They contacted me thanks to John Top and during their cruise stop at Buenos Aires we birded at Ceibas on first day, and Otamendi and Urban Reserves second day. We certainly had “great time” as Paul reported, and this of course was due mostly -but not only- for the excellent birding.
Mike and Linda, from the vicinity of Liverpool, came to Argentina for an Antarctic cruise, so they decided to enrich the birding experience by a week at Iguazú and two days in Buenos Aires area.
We arranged for visiting southern Entre Rios, including Ceibas and many other spots, with an overnight at Itapeby farm
At the end of January Buenos Aires can be very hot; we birded most of the day being over 30 ºC, but far from the 35 ºC or more than can well be the case.
First day birding finished when we arrived to Itapeby by 7 PM, moment when started the chat with hosts Poppy and Rodolfo; it continued with the welcome drink and during dinner and following day conversation at breakfast carried on and did not stop until 11 AM when we left back to Buenos Aires. Despite this late start, the two days produced 109 species, including an Ash Colored Cuckoo, Black bellied Whistling Duck, Dark Throated Seedeater and Warbling Doradito, my first in this area.
I keep Mike´s handwriting in my checklist: Many, many thanks for a great trip
Tip to business travelers: Tired of long, exhausting flights to exotic places where all you see is standard hotels? As an academic attending many conferences, I’ve decided one way to compensate for the long journeys is to take a couple of days on my own and (besides sightseeing) go birding and see new landscapes. If you’re a birder, or think you might like to be one, and you’re lucky/unlucky enough to (have to) attend a conference or meeting in Buenos Aires, then I highly recommend contacting Diego Gallegos and booking him as your birding guide. I had the best birding days ever in his company. He’s extremely knowledgeable – knows what to find where on his “patch”, including where to take breaks or find shade for a picnic, and he has a degree in Biology with a thesis on lapwing behaviors so you can really rely on the information he provides. You couldn’t wish for a better guide when it comes to finding great species in their natural habitats, or for a safer driver in the chaos of Buenos Aires traffic, or for better company on a birding trip. He warned me in advance that August was not the best birding season in Argentina. Usually it should be winter and between migrations. It might also be cold and rainy. But the weather was unseasonably warm – the upside of climate change, I guess, though I still think we need to get our act together on that score! Still, for now it was good for birding. We were both pleasantly surprised that spring seemed to be already beginning – birds gathering nesting materials and displaying to mates and rivals, migrants starting to arrive. He showed me several sites in the city on the first day. His plan was to get most of the baseline birds introduced before looking for rarities, but for me 37 species of which 30 were lifers was already my best single birding day ever! Then we took a 2-day trip to Gualeguaychú and back – wetlands, woods and pampas. The farm B&B, Itapeby (http://www.itapeby.com), was a wonderful place to stay with charming hosts, lovely accommodations, and great food! Each new habitat of the trip revealed new species, including three I spotted myself, one of which surprised even Diego. We found over 90 species in all, almost all of them lifers for me. A few were too quick and shy for me to get good shots, but all were clearly seen and/or heard and identified. I found 3 more lifers on my last day in the city when I went back to a wetlands reserve Diego had recommended, and it also felt good to recognize all those “baseline birds” on my forays around the city during conference breaks.
Ann Rudinow Sætnan, Norway
We are now back home in Australia and we have been looking at our South American bird sightings. We would like to let you know that we had a very enjoyable day with you at Otamendi Nature Reserve and other places enroute and the information you gave us proved to be extremely helpful with the birding we did on our own during the rest of our holiday.
We would like to thank you very much for your expert guiding, for your friendly and wide-ranging conversation and for the great picnic lunch. We would be very happy to recommend you to other visiting birdwatchers and we wish you every success for the future.
Grahame and Robyn Elliott
Outing: May 13th, 2014
Thanks, Diego for a great experience. Cold and windy, but in just four hours we got 65 species (36 lifers!). Birds of the day were striped owl and rufous-sided crake, but many other lovely close-up sightings. Back to the hotel in time for lunch! – Jeffrey Saffle, MD Minneapolis, MN
Ken Archer is a serious photographer who lead a group of colleagues to Iberá marshes. After his successful trip, I took him around Buenos Aires. See his photos at Iberá: www.kenarcherphotos.com/
Hi Diego, Thanks so much for taking me out on Tuesday. I had a great time photographing with you…
…Thank you again for guiding me around Buenos Aries, it was a great start to an incredible trip. I truly enjoyed the Ibera Marshes, it’s an incredible place and I hope to return in the near future.
Hi Diego, This is a quick note to let you know how much we enjoyed our memorable birding experience in & around Buenos Aires.
Beverly Bresnick, Leona Berger and Mary Flynt at Costanera Sur, Buenos Aires, Oct 31, 2013
Below: While in Costanera Sur, we met Nate Chappell (second from left) owner of Trogon Tours with a couple of photographers. At least for bird lovers, this is a small world indeed!!
David Stubbs, Surrey, UK
By Ignacio Torres
It is absolutely unusual that we hire a pro guide in our birding trips, but having only a few hour between flights encouraged us to contact Diego. Experience could not be any better. Diego is a great person, helpful and good connaisseur of Buenos Aires birds. What we most liked was how frank he was when identifying the birds. You never know every call in the field, and he does not pretends to know everything just to get along. He knows the right spots for every species, his driving is fine and he provides very reasonable food.
We had an extraordinary day, getting most of the birds we wanted, with some top ones that will remain forever in our eyes. If anybody wants to enjoy a great nature and birds day around Buenos Aires, the person is Diego Gallegos.
See the full list of sightings
Original text in Spanish.
No es nada, pero nada, habitual en nuestros viajes ornitológicos que contratemos guías profesionales. El hecho de que solo tuviéramos unas pocas horas entre vuelos nos animó a contactar con Diego. La experiencia no pudo ser mejor. Diego es una gran persona, servicial y buen conocedor de las aves de Buenos Aires. Lo que más nos gustó fue la franqueza con la que encaraba las identificaciones. No siempre sabes todos los reclamos que se escuchan en el campo y él no miente por quedar bien. Conoce sitios muy adecuados para cada especie, conduce bien y la comida que proporciona es muy razonable.
Pasamos un extraordinario día, consiguiendo la mayor parte de los objetivos propuestos, con algunas especies “top” que siempre se nos quedarán en nuestras retinas. Si alguien quiere disfrutar de un gran día de naturaleza y pájaros en los alrededores de Buenos Aires, la persona es Diego Gallegos
Ignacio Torres, España
see more about this day
Text by David Stubbs, UK
see the full list
Having come to the city to witness the election of one fine birding destination – Tokyo – as the host city for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I was determined to set a world record (or at least a season’s best) for birding in Buenos Aires. And who better to help me on this quest than Diego Gallegos, the top bird guide in the city.
I did in fact have a head start, as on the day I had arrived in Buenos Aires ahead of the IOC Session, I was able to spend a few hours wandering round the Costanera da Sur reserve. This is an amazing place, an unkempt wilderness lying cheek by jowl with the modern skyscrapers of the regenerated port district.
I had two advantages and two disadvantages: on the plus side I had many years’ experience of birding and I had been a few times to Rio de Janeiro, so I knew a few South American birds. However, Argentinian birds were mostly new to me and my only field guide was Ber van Perlo’s Birds of Brazil. Species-wise the book covers all that you might see in Buenos Aires although the distribution maps do not cover northern Argentina, but the real problem is the pictures. Without someone who really knows his stuff, you will not be able to identify everything that comes your way. That may not be a problem but when I see something well, I find it hard to admit defeat and not be able to identify it. As it turned out I got 3 out of 65 wrong before I teamed up with Diego, so that is probably a good pass!
So, then came my excursion with Diego and what a wonderful time we had. An early morning pick up from my hotel and we were soon speeding out of town against the commuter traffic to our first stop at a small wetland on the side of the motorway: this was hard shoulder birding and a great way to be introduced to the wealth of little brown jobs that are such a feature of South America. The opening honours went to the freckle-breasted thornbird. Our next stop on a rough, rubbish-strewn track produced an absolute jewel amid the squalor – Spix’sspinetail.
Within moments we were at a far more agreeable location; a vast marshland on the edge of the Otamendi Nature Reserve. Here we were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of birds, large and small. Star LBJ here was the wonderfully named curve-billed reedhaunter that gave a full-on display so close it almost didn’t require binoculars.
These two sightings demonstrated one of the main laws of Argentinian birding: the birds are very confiding. I have never seen such avian cooperation in which birds that should stay hidden so readily offer up good views. Occasionally Diego cheats with his wonderful trick of playing recordings of the birds in question. Like with most such tricks you rarely expect to see them work. Well Diego is some sort of bird whisperer – at one site we knew there was something interesting lurking in shrubs on the other side of a channel. He flicked on his recording and three male yellow-chinnedspinetails promptly broke cover and came close to investigate. Even without such trickery, birds are very easy to find out here.
Enough of the brown birds, he also wanted to show me some colour. Here he made the mistake of saying he was looking for a particular species – the diademed tanager, a spectacular rich blue songbird with a white crown and small red tuft only visible in good light. Of course we got to the site and went for a long walk and there was no sign of this particular species. This is where another great law of birdwatching kicked in. When you go looking for something and spend lots of fruitless effort and are on the point of giving up, it will turn up when you get back to the car – the birding equivalent of a goal in extra time. And so it came to pass… a wonderful sighting of a special bird.
What struck me so much about the birdlife out here is the sheer joyful abundance of birds. Everywhere we went there was always a lot to see. For someone familiar with Europe, the numbers of birds were truly impressive. And being from out of the region I could appreciate some of the common birds as new and exciting.
As I said to Diego, it doesn’t matter about the connoisseurs’ birds, just to see the amazing rufoushorneros with their strutting walk and their odd mud nests built on top of fence posts and telegraph poles is pleasure enough. The rufous-collared sparrows are truly beautiful and I loved the great kisskadeesthat were ever present swooping down onto muddy patches and the edges of ponds.
The next important lesson is to work the habitat. On our final morning he took me down another dirt track off the main road, through a bleak landscape of rough agriculture and scrappy bushes. For once it did not seem there was much about.
We paused by an intriguing field strewn with uniformly sized termite mounds and things looked up: nice views of Savannah hawk, White-tailed kite; Campo flicker and White montija kept me entertained. But Diego was clearly unsatisfied. A previous LBJ had eluded us. He then caught sight of his target bird, the inaptly named white-browed blackbird (for it is the bright red chest that it should be named). Unfortunately it was flying against the morning sun and I couldn’t really make it out.
The only thing for it was to clamber through the wire fence and stride off across the vast open alfalfa field to get a better viewing angle with the sun behind us. We were duly rewarded with great views of this lovely bird. But that was not all. The field sloped down to a rough damp grassy patch. We started walking back to the car through this patch, when a small brown bird flicked up and dropped down a few metres ahead. It was a brief but clear sighting – a Wren-like rush bird. Diego was excited by this as it was uncharacteristically out of its normal habitat.
Better was to come. A few paces further another small brown bird appeared and promptly disappeared. It took a few flushes to get a good look, but what a find: a Bay-capped wren spinetail, the first know record north of Buenos Aires!
That sums up the thrill of birding in el campo. It is rough country, just ordinary low-grade agricultural land – scrappy countryside is a fair description – but there is so much to see and new discoveries can still be made.
We had another such moment late on the first day when we decided to cross another fence to get closer to a promising looking wetland with lots of ducks ad waders. Here was a great treat for me and again something Diego was not expecting: a group of dotterel in full summer plumage: a real champagne moment.
Our overnight stay was at the wonderful Itapeby Country House, a working farm run by the very hospitable Poppi and Rudolfo – he is a former rugby player from Uruguay. This is a great place to see the remarkable Scimitar-billed woodcreeper, Firewood gatherer (when you see their nest you will appreciate the name) and the elusive Spottednothura (a type of partridge). The farm dogs took themselves for a walk with us and the Border collie in particular was adept at flushing these birds. The final score was dogs 7 humans 2.
There were numerous other great moments; too many to mention. Diego is patient, hard-working and very responsive to what his client wants. Whatever level of birding you want, he will be able to meet your requirements.
I wish I could say I will be back soon but that would be a lie. However, I wish all future visitors a great time – that should not be difficult
On our Ceibas daytrip we had the worst rain I´ve ever had since I guide in Buenos Aires. But Philip wrote:
Thanks again for the birding. Maybe next time the weather will be kinder.
My total count for the two weeks was 176 species which is not earth shattering but this was not primarily a birding trip!
More importantly 166 were new species for me! Philip from Pretoria, SA, March 2011
Next day we visited Ciudad Universitaria togehter with Philip´s friends. He took the picture, I am the one at right
I want you to know that the two days we birded were the best experience I have had. Thanks again, Bob, Robert Mustell
Thanks, Diego! These [pictures] are fantastic. It was really great to go birding with you and the group. Cheers Allison A. Snow
So nice to enjoy a great day together! Norm. Norman Ellstrand
Many thanks for a great day’s birding & the photographs. We arrived home to frozen water pipes! Mike & Jenny Whiteside
19 Nov 2010
Norman, Subray, Bob, Allison, Jenny & Mike