Archive for the ‘Lunar eclipse’ Tag

Paraguay part 2: Laguna Blanca and surrounding areas – 26th – 28th September 2015   1 comment

This post covers the drive from Asunción to Laguna Blanca and Laguna Blanca and surrounding areas and will be the second of three posts on this wonderful country.

Progress with uploading these photos has been slow, partially due to my continued efforts to get as much autumn ringing at Durlston in as possible, preparing slide shows for various societies, but mainly due to a computer error (that I still can’t fathom out) leading me to lose several hundred edited photos from the Paraguay trip. Fortunately I still had the originals but re-editing them has taken ages.


IMG_9911 Asuncion Bay

After the very hot and sunny conditions in the Chaco we encountered dull conditions and a 20c degree drop in temperature for the next few days. Before we left the capital we made a short visit to an area known as ‘the bay’ a marsh on the banks of the Paraguay river, unfortunately the best areas for migrant waders and other interesting birds have been destroyed by road building.

IMG_9889 LB Tern

There weren’t that many highlights at ‘the bay’ but we had good views of Large-billed Terns, a species I refer to as ‘Sabine’s Terns’ due to the striking resemblance of their upper-wing pattern to the enigmatic high-arctic gull.

IMG_9926 Jacanas

Muddy creeks, littered with discarded bottles, were full of jacanas but very few migrant waders.

IMG_6487 Asuncion

We later drove through Asunción, seeing a mix of attractive old buildings and modern high-rise.

IMG_6490 Asuncion

As with all South American cities Asunción has its poorer side as well.

IMG_0004 LW Harrier

We stopped on route at a number of marshy areas, seeing a number of excellent species such as this Long-winged Harrier.

IMG_0103 WH Marsh Tyrant

White-headed Marsh Tyrant was a welcome addition to the trip list but one I had seen many times before ….

IMG_1187 Lesser Grass-finch

…. however Lesser Grass Finch was a new bird for me.


IMG_0084 Strange-tailed Tyrant

But the most exciting moment was seeing the wonderful Strange-tailed Tyrant, one of the main reasons for visiting Paraguay.

IMG_0028 Many coloured Chaco Finch

Other birds seen in these roadside marshes included the attractive Rusty-collared Seedeater ….

IMG_0176 Field Flicker

…. ‘Field’ Flicker these days, unfortunately, lumped with Campo Flicker ….

IMG_0124 Shiny Cowbird

…. the ubiquitous Shiny Cowbird ….

IMG_0628 YC Spinetail

…. the rather poorly named Yellow-chinned Spinetail ….

IMG_0142 Streamer-tailed Tyrant

…. and an amazing pair of displaying Streamer-tailed Tyrants, at 40cm in length, probably the largest of all the tyrant-flycatchers.

IMG_6492 Laguna Blanca

In the mid afternoon we made it to our accommodation at Laguna Blanca, which consisted was a series of fairly basic rooms with bunk beds by the lake shore, but with the toilets and showers 100m away. It was wet for much of our time here so this ment putting on wet clothes/boots for a nocturnal visit to the loo.

IMG_0615 Laguna Blanca

The lakeshore was very attractive ….

IMG_0220 Ash-throated Crake

…. and we had just enough time before dusk to obtain good views of an Ashy-throated Crake.

IMG_0356 night drive Laguna Blanca

However it was our nocturnal wanderings that was the highlight of our time at Laguna Blanca, indeed the highlight of the entire trip.

IMG_0304 WW Nightjar

It didn’t take too long to find our quarry, the rare White-winged Nightjar.

IMG_0290 WW Nightjar

We were able to move into a position where we could all see it well without flushing it, this one turned out to be a female. Know only from a three sites in Brazil, two in Paraguay and one in Bolivia, this is a highly range restricted and endangered bird.

IMG_0274 WW Nightjar

Flash photography revealed the details of its plumage, but females don’t have the eponymous white wings so the search for a male continued.

IMG_0328 WW Nightjar

Eventually we saw a male in display flight, fluttering around to reveal its white wings and deliberately landing heavily on the ground with a thump. No photos were obtained in flight, but we did get this cracking view of it on a branch. This bird, above all else was the reason I came to Paraguay.

IMG_0332 Common Potoo

On the way back we came across another stunning nightbird, the bizarre, although widespread, Common Potoo.

IMG_0481 WW Nightjar m

The following day was wet, windy and rather cool. We went out looking for goodies like Cock-tailed Tyrant and as we wandered through the wet cerrado Richard accidentally flushed this male White-winged Nightjar.

IMG_0485 WW Nightjar m

…. and I managed to get a couple of mediocre flight shots showing the wing pattern from above ….

IMG_0482 WW Nightjar m

…. and below. It seemed at the time that this would be the undoubted ‘bird of the trip’ for me but there was another encounter right at the end of the trip that would push it into second place. More of that later.

IMG_0519 Buff-bellied Puffbird

It wasn’t just us who got soaking wet, this Buff-belied Puffbird looks in need of a hair dryer.

IMG_0404 White-rumped Tanager

Other birds seen that morning included White-rumped Tanagers and ….

IMG_0381 Shrike-like Tanager

…. the aptly named Shrike-like Tanager ….

IMG_0439 Cock-tailed Tyrant fem

…. and this bedraggled female Cock-tailed Tyrant (note the falling rain drops in the photo).

IMG_0474 Cock-tailed Tyrant

Eventually the cute little male Cock-tailed showed well.

IMG_0537 sunset

Much of the afternoon was given over to searching for tinamous with varying degrees of luck. As darkness fell breaks in the cloud appeared ….

IMG_0551 eclipse

…. which was good news as there was an eclipse of the Moon that night. As usual we had an early start so I didn’t stay up to see the Moon fully covered by the Earth’s shadow and anyway as the photos were hand-held, I probably wouldn’t be able to take photos at totality anyway.

IMG_0585 dawn Laguna Blanca

The following day with all the moisture in the air, the sunrise over the lake was spectacular ….

IMG_0588 dawn Laguna Blanca

…. as the sun rose and shone through the mist ….

IMG_0576 dawn Laguna Blanca

…. the entire lake lit up in a dazzling show of light.

IMG_0605 cobwebs

So that was our time at Laguna Blanca over. Unfortunately this marvelous area with its fascinating wildlife is under threat. The reserve is leased by the conservation organisation Para la Tierra but the owner’s plan to sell. Although Para la Tierra has first option to buy they will be competing against rich cattle ranchers and soy farmers. A recent competition which secured EU funding to the winning applicant failed by a narrow margin. Unless external funding can become available this precious site could be lost forever.