08 Nov Ibera Marshlands, Argentina
Ibera Marshlands, Argentina
A thick jungle envelops all of eastern and southern Brazil, running from the Cordillera de la Costa to the Parana River reaching into north-east Argentina where it becomes the Ibera Marshlands (Esteros de Ibera), a vast largely unexplored wilderness of more than 13,000 sq. km and of great importance to South America’s environmental balance – so the strange thing is that you rarely hear anything about it. With the focus more often on the Amazon, and the Pantanal wetland in western Brazil to which it is second in size, it is little known by the average tourist and is even overlooked by the Argentines themselves, although it’s only a 2-hour flight from Buenos Aires and a short road trip south.
White Headed Marsh Tyrant
A complex system of freshwater wetlands, marshes and lagoons (the word ‘ibera’ in the Guaraní tongue means “bright waters”), no other region in Argentina can boast a comparable number of plant or animal species. Only declared a national provincial reserve in 1983, it has become a natural refuge for abundant and varied wildlife including the largest rodent on earth, the capybara, two types of caiman, the largest deer native to South America, howler monkeys, anacondas, otters and the endangered maned wolf, as well as more than 350 different bird species. And, of course, snakes and amphibians can also be found.
In this almost untouched and open landscape, most of them can be spotted easily and the marshland’s mild climate and isolation has made this a birding mecca. There are so many to be seen and heard: the largest, the greater rhea or ‘ñandu’ (a running bird similar to the ostrich but smaller), the maguari stork and the jabiru, different types of herons, various species of eagles, snipes, woodpeckers, kingfishers, humming birds, magpie tanagers, thrushes and a wide variety of ducks and native birds with indigenous names – the bird watching is outstanding.