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WEIRD WINGS AND STRANGE TAILS TOUR
Paraguay is fortunate enough to be blessed with a suite of bizarre and extremely rare birds that birdwatchers the world over are just aching to add to their life list. Visiting the cerrado and Mesopotamian grasslands this 10 day circuit of eastern Paraguay aims to clean up on these oddly-ornamented grassland inhabitants including Strange-tailed, Streamer-tailed, Sharp-tailed and Cock-tailed Tyrants and two of the continents rarest nightbirds, the ghostly White-winged Nightjar and the frankly odd Sickle-winged Nightjar; plus of course a host of others.
Cock-tailed Tyrant male (right) Alectrurus tricolor
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This tour is all about its weird-winged, strange-tailed targets. Specifically we will be looking for Strange-tailed, Streamer-tailed, Sharp-tailed and Cock-tailed Tyrants and after dark White-winged and Sickle-winged Nightjar. Of course a host of other threatened grassland birds are also possible including Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Ochre-breasted Pipit, Black-masked Finch, Giant Snipe and Bearded Tachuri.
To get the best from this tour we suggest at least 11 days. A minimum of 9 days is required to complete it.
Best time to visit:
This tour is available year round. The "rainy season" is from October to November when mud can occasionally be a problem and there are more insects around. However this is also the best time of year for reptiles and amphibians, and marks the arrival of the "cappuccino" seedeaters.
Day 1 - Early visit to Arroyos y Esteros and continue to Laguna Blanca. Night drive.
Day 2 - All day birding and wildlife-watching at Laguna Blanca. Night drive.
Day 3 - All day birding and wildlife-watching at Laguna Blanca. Night drive.
Day 4 - Continue to Ciudad del Este and visit to Salto del Monday.
(option to add Iguazu Falls visit here)
Day 5 - Continue to Hotel Tirol and birding afternoon.
Day 6 - Birding Hotel Tirol in the morning, departure to Estancia Kanguery in the afternoon.
Day 7 - All day birding at Estancia Kanguery.
Day 8 - Morning departure for Ayolas birding marshes of Ruta 1 en route.
Day 9 - All day birding at Isla Yacyreta. Night walk.
Day 10 - All day birding at Isla Yacyreta. Night walk.
Day 11 - Return to Asunción and end of services.
(Itineraries are subject to change according to levels of animal activity or client´s preference.)
What else might we see?:
Departing from Asunción our first stop before lunch will be at Arroyos y Esteros where we hope to find the first of our "strange-tails", the aptly-named Strange-tailed Tyrant. This bizarre bird breeds in wet grassland next to marshes and we will also be looking out for Crested Doradito, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Long-tailed Reedfinch as well as other more conspicuous species such as White-faced and Bare-faced Ibis, Maguari Stork, Savannah and Great Black Hawks, Limpkin and Snail Kite.
After a lunch stop we will continue on to Laguna Blanca where we will have an hour or two to settle in during the hottest part of the day and make the most of the gorgeous sandy beach and crystal clear lake before heading out birding again. We will bird the area around the accommodation where we might expect Rusty-backed Antwren, Rufous Casiornis, Short-crested Myiarchus, Purplish Jay and various seedeaters amongst many others. After dark we will head out into the cerrado for some nightbirding. Little and Scissor-tailed Nightjar are amongst the most frequently seen species, as well as Great Potoo, Tropical Screech-owl, Rufous Nightjar and of course our target bird the critically endangered White-winged Nightjar.
During the following days birding in the cerrado we will concentrate on the cerrado endemics such as Curl-crested Jay, Black-throated Saltator and the globally-threatened Lesser Nothura, this being the only known site for this bird outside of Brazil. Other locally-distributed birds that we might encounter here include White-rumped Monjita, White-rumped Tanager and the remarkasbly shrike-like White-banded Tanager, a near-threatened species that is fairly common here.
Our main reason for visiting Salto del Monday, apart from the fantastic waterfall, is to witness the remarkable arrival of the Great Dusky Swifts coming to roost at dusk. Thousands of them amassing like a cloud of mosquitoes high over the falls before firing themselves torpedo-like one by one to their roost places behind the falling water. A truly magnificent spectacle. Other swift species are sometimes present, including White-collared Swift. A night in Ciudad del Este and at the humid forest in Tirol will break up the long journey with a comfortable bed and some excellent and very different birds for our list.
Our next grassland destination is Estancia Kanguery in Parque Nacional San Rafael. This will be one of our stake-outs for Streamer-tailed and Cock-tailed Tyrants, both with strange-tails, though quite different in appearance. Additionally Capped Seedeater, Saffron-cowled Blackbird and Grass Wren are possibilities here and, with some luck, Giant Snipe will be roding after dark. Other species we should see here include Chimango Caracara, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Red-winged Tinamou and Chalk-browed Mockingbird as well as many others.
Stop-offs at marshes along the way to our next destination Ayolas will give us more chances to find the rare and nomadic Saffron-cowled Blackbird and perhaps even its equally stunning Scarlet-headed cousin. Long-tailed Reedfinch is a possibility here too as well as flocks of seedeaters which during October and November may include Chestnut, Dark-throated, Marsh, Tawny-bellied and Rufous-rumped.
The pristine flooded grasslands of Isla Yacyreta are perfect for the last of our strange-tails, the Sharp-tailed Tyrant. They also offer the opportunity to compare Wedge-tailed and Lesser Grassfinch at close quarters, both species are present here. Grassy marshes may hold Crested Doradito and with some luck we will find a Pinnated Bittern looking for his dinner. Both Yellowish and the threatened Ochre-breasted Pipit are present here, whilst White-tailed Hawk are usually circling around. We´ll visit the wet forest here too where Bare-faced Currasow, Orange-headed Tanager and Olive Spinetail will be on our list.
After dark our second "weird-winged" nightjar, the remarkable Sickle-winged comes out to play. Its not the only nightbird here though. Little, Rufous and Scissor-tailed Nightjar are also here, as is Pauraque and two rarely-seen owls, the Striped and Stygian Owl.
Mammals are plentiful here too, Capybara, Azara´s Agouti, Pampas Cavy and Black Howler Monkey amongst the possibilities.
What does it include?:
The price includes pick-up from and return to Asunción hotel, accommodation, transport, food, non-alcoholic drinks and guiding fees.
It does not include travel insurance, personal expenses, alcoholic drinks or travel costs incurred before the beginning of the tour or after return to Asunción.
For further information or to book your tour email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask about off-season discounts (15 Feb-15 July).
Sickle-winged Nightjar Eleothreptus anomalus