Wednesday, 2 April:
Today was a national holiday to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the Maldives War (which we in the US know more familiarly as the Falklands War), and the day started in a relaxed fashion, especially as little was open, so there was no hurry.
We decided to check out the nearby Jardin Botanico, a 8-block walk from our apartment.
It took some circling to find the entrance to this fenced-in public garden (fenced in partly to keep the dogs out, no doubt).
Once inside, we enjoyed strolling the lush paths, studded with numerous statues and ponds and the like. Semi-feral cats, all looking quite well-fed, were everywhere, with at least a dozen in sight at all times.
The mature landscaping and well-maintained paths with plentiful benches made for nice meandering.
Gilded Sapphire / Picaflor Bronceado
A little blur zipped pas my head, and I peered into the bushes to see a lovely Gilded Sapphire.
The “feral” cats were extremely friendly, and we saw several of them jump into the laps of people resting on the benches. We were taken by the “rent-a-cat” aspect of the place, and it was great to see these animals, although technically wild, so well-cared-for.
After the garden we hopped the Subte to 9 de Julio and crossed the “World’s Widest Street.”
Whether it’s the widest or not I can’t say, but I will say that at 459 feet wide, it is certainly the widest I’ve ever seen!
Jim & Diane wanted to see a movie, so we parted ways, and Sarah & I went back to Palermo SoHo and had a tasty lunch at Bar Uriarte. It was a charming place, and we spent a very pleasant 2.5 hours there.
Back near the apartment, we checked the internet at one of the many inexpensive internet cafes, rested, etc. before a tasty dinner at Social Paraiso. It was nice to have a fairly mellow day after so many fun-filled, but busy, ones.
Thursday, 3 April:
Diane & I woke early and caught a cab to Reserva Ecologia Costanera Sur, eager to explore this enticing refuge smack in the middle of the city. Our cab ride was fairly frightening, with the driver nodding off at a stoplight – I had to tap his shoulder to wake him up – yikes! He took a different route, through the shipping district, and I’ve never seen so very many shipping containers, stacked dozens high and hundreds deep as far as you could see.
We eventually got to the preserve and entered through the gate that we’d found closed on Monday. The reserve, once slated to become a “second city” during the last military junta, consists of paths on raised levees, with grasslands and ponds below. There are about 8 miles of walking trails, and we picked a medium-length loop.
Great Kiskadee / Benteveo Común
At the south end of the preserve, I saw another Great Kiskadee, a bunch of Brown-chested Martins (LIFER!), and a pair of Bay-winged Hawks (LIFER!)
Bay-winged Hawks / Gavilán Mixto
Black-hooded Parakeets / Ñanday
A flock of a dozen Black-hooded Parakeets (LIFER!) flew overhead, which I initially mistook for Monk Parakeets until I reviewed the photos later.
Brown-chested Martins / Golondrina Parda
Rufous-collared Sparrow / Chingolo
Several furtive little brown birds skulked in the bushes – it once again took some posts to Birdforum, but they included House Wren, Hooded Siskin (LIFER!), Saffron Yellow-Finch (LIFER!), and Double-collared Seedeaters (LIFER!).
Black-and-rufous Warbling-Finch / Sietevestidos
A contrast’y flash of orange and black zipped past, and some investigating yielded great looks at some Black-and-rufous Warbling Finches (LIFER!, and the winner of the “longest-bird-name-of-the-trip” award).
Golden-breasted Woodpecker / Carpintero Real Común
A bird next to some European Starlings (yes, they have them there too, and no, they aren’t native there either) was a bit different, and once I got it in good light, it proved to be a Golden-breasted Woodpecker (LIFER!). Alas, it didn’t hang around long for photos.
Masked Gnatcatcher / Tacuarita Azul
Another nice find was the fluffy, cute little Masked Gnatcatcher (LIFER!) – this little puffball with its Lone Ranger mask hopped in and out of the foliage, then flew off.
Sure looks like a Monarch – do they exist down in Buenos Aires?
Birds weren’t the only animals we saw – the butterflies were out in force as well. One of them (above) looks exactly like our Monarch to my eye, although I’d be surprised if they had them in the Southern Hemisphere.
The high-rises of the Puerto Madera district punctuated the horizon, much smoggier today than the previous week, but the weather was pleasant and sunny, and a light breeze blew off of the Rio de la Plata.
White-lined Tanager / Frutero Negro
A nearly-solid-black bird surprised me by emerging from a bush right in front of me – a White-lined Tanager (LIFER!).
Chalk-browed Mockingbird / Calandria Grande
Numerous Chalk-browed Mockingbirds dotted the treetops and foraged in the path’s margins – I was surprised at how many of these birds we’d seen on our trip – these handsome birds seemed quite a bit more numerous than the Northern Mockingbirds that we have at home.
House Wren / Ratona Común
One butterfly amazed us with its excellent camouflage – if I hadn’t seen it fly in and land, there’s no way I would have noticed it, since its coloring and markings were identical to the interior of the flower it was feeding from!
Fork-tailed Flycatcher / Tijereta
Eventually we neared the north end of the preserve, and I spied a real treat, a Fork-tailed Flycatcher (LIFER!). Although it was distant and badly-lit, there was no mistaking its unique shape!
Blackbird, Eared Dove, and Red-crested Cardinal
Near the end of our walk, we passed some cages housing injured birds, and dropped in the nature center. The fellow there spoke only somewhat better English than we speak Spanish, but he did manage to help us identify several of the birds we’d seen.
Costanera Sur is definitely a must-visit for any bird enthusiasts in Buenos Aires – it was definitely the birding highlight of the second half of our trip!
Exiting the park, Diane & I hailed a cab back to the apartment, and we all went back to Palermo SoHo to do some final shopping, as Sarah & I had just two more days left in our vacation. I found a lovely belt, Sarah some jewelry, Jim a wallet, and Diane some shoes – success!
After a tasty lunch at Bar 6 we went home and rested for a bit, then walked to the nearby MALBA. This museum of modern art was a manageable size, and had a nice collection of pieces, although hyper-modern art isn’t my favorite genre by any means. Their works by Xul Solar were my favorites.
We’d intended to have dinner at the nearby Bar Museo, but walking by, we found it completely full of (exclusively male) investement banker types – not what we were looking for, so we instead had a good dinner at Zulu, then retired early.
Part 1: Getting to Patagonia
Part 2: El Calafate & Laguna Nimez
Part 3: Glaciar Perito Moreno
Part 4: El Calafate backcountry excursion
Part 5: Goodbye Argentina, hello Chile
Part 6: To Torres del Paine!
Part 7: Lago Pehoe and Paine Grande
Part 8: Mirador los Cuernos
Part 9: To Rio Verde and Punta Arenas
Part 10: Pelagic, Penguins, and farewell to Patagonia
Part 11: To Buenos Aires
Part 12: BsAs’ Sunday markets and other diversions
Part 13: Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Part 14: Buenos Aires’ Jardin Botanico and Costanera Sur <– You are here!
Part 15: There’s no place like home