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PARAGUAY

Friday 15th September - Monday 2nd October 2017

Paul Smith

Helmeted Woodpecker (Paul Smith)

Helmeted Woodpecker (Paul Smith)

With just short of 400 birds and 17 mammals Paraguay once again proved why it is South America’s fastest growing birding destination. The "Forgotten Heart of South America", may still be an “off the beaten track” destination that appeals mainly to adventurous birders, but thanks to some easy walking, stunning natural paradises and friendly, welcoming population, it is increasingly becoming a “must visit” country. And there is no wonder, with a consistent record for getting some of South America’s super megas such as Helmeted Woodpecker, White-winged Nightjar, Russet-winged Spadebill and Saffron-cowled Blackbird, it has much to offer the bird-orientated visitor. Paraguay squeezes four threatened ecosystems into its relatively manageable national territory and this, Birdquest’s fourth trip, visits all of them. As usual the trip gets off to flyer in the humid and dry Chaco; meanders through the rarely-visited Cerrado savannas; indulges in a new bird frenzy in the megadiverse Atlantic Forest; and signs off with a bang in the Mesopotamian flooded grasslands of southern Paraguay. This year’s tour was a little earlier than usual, and we suffered some torrential rainstorms, but with frequent knee-trembling encounters with megas along the way it was one to remember.

Crakes would be something of a theme on this trip, and we started off with a belter in the pouring rain, the much sought after Grey-breasted Crake. Then it was off to the arid, thorny Chaco where we were charmed by endemics such as Black-legged Seriema, Chaco Owl, Quebracho-crested Tinamou and Dinelli’s Doradito; Helmeted Woodpecker, Bare-throated Bellbird, Blackish-blue Seedeater and Russet-winged Spadebill were amongst the stars as the birds came thick and fast in the Atlantic Forest; White-winged Nightjar, Collared Crescentchest and Cock-tailed Tyrant made sure the Cerrado lived up to its burgeoning birding reputation; and Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Giant Snipe, Iberá Seedeater, and Strange-tailed Tyrant rounded off our time in the Mesopotamian grasslands in the south of the country. Those with a soft spot for mammals also had their fancies tickled as we had close encounters with Jaguarundi, Brazilian Tapir and Collared Peccary amongst others. And a goodbye meal at one of Asunción’s top grill restaurants assured that everybody went home with a smile on their face!

Dinelli's Doradito (Richard Greenhalgh)

Dinelli's Doradito (Richard Greenhalgh)