Our Cordoba Endemics extension targets some of the least known birds and most seldom-visited areas of Argentina. The geographically isolated Cordoba Hills are yet another haven of endemicity where we can expect to find the endemic Olrog’s and Cordoba Cinclodes as well as the extremely localised Salis Monjita. Highly accessible and largely unspoilt, this short tour provides the perfect opportunity to clear up the country’s endemics and enjoy excellent sighting of otherwise difficult species.
Olrog’s & Cordoba Cinclodes, Salinas Monjita, Puna Canastero, Tataupa & Brushland Tinamous, Black-bodied Woodpecker, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Spot-winged Falconet, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Crested Hornero, Straneck’s Tyrannulet, White-banded Mockingbird, Rufous-banded Miner, Subtropical Doradito, Rufous-naped Ground Tyrant, Red-tailed Comet, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Andean Swift, Suiriri Flycatcher, Hellmayr’s Pipit, Band-tailed Sierra Finch, Black-crested Finch, Many-colored Chaco Finch
woodland, scrub, chaco, mountains, salt pans
moderate to cool
Day 1: Cordoba to Pampa de Achala
We start this short extension with a drive to Pampa de Achala, the highest plateau in the heart of the Sierras de Córdobas. This granitic massif is surrounded by woodlands and scrub more typical of the Chaco. Detached from the main Andes range by some 300km, the high levels of endemism are a direct consequence of this geographical isolation. High up on our list of priority species today is the endemic Olrog’s Cinclodes, a bird we often find from the roadside. Further exploration should yield Cordoba Cinclodes, Rufous-banded Miner, Subtropical Doradito, Rufous-naped Ground Tyrant, Redlegged Seriema, Red-tailed Comet, Andean Swift, Band-tailed and Plumbeous Sierra Finch, Hellmayr’s Pipit and Puna Canastero (the locally occurring subspecies sclateri is often considered a species in its own right – Cordoba Canastero).
Day 2: Sierran Chaco
Today on our Argentina birding tour, we plan to spend the day birding amongst the woodlands surrounding the Cordoba Hills. This scrubby habitat is actually the very southern edge of the Chaco, providing fertile grounds for Blue-tufted Starthroat, Tataupa Tinamou, the very rare Black-bodied Woodpecker, Black-crested Finch, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper and Spot-winged Falconet. Amongst the commoner species, we should find Stripe-crowned and Yellow-chinned Spinetails, Brown Cacholote, Lark-like Brushrunner, Vermilion Flycatcher, Black-crowned and White Monjitas, Spectacled Tyrant, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Screaming Cowbird, Long-tailed Meadowlark and Hooded Siskin.
Day 3: Pampa de Achala to Dean Funes and Salinas Grande
After a final few hours of birding for any species we may have missed around the Cordoba Hills, we head to the tiny village of San Jose de las Salinas. Home to the last remnants of the now derelict salt mining trade, it is our access point to the massive Salinas Grande salt pan (8,900km2)! The salt pans harbour a remarkable range restricted species that occupies a highly specialised niche. The Salinas Monjita is found almost exclusively in the highly stunted vegetation surrounding the area’s salt flats and pans. Around the salt pans we pass through excellent Chaco habitat with a good chance of seeing the much sought-after Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Brushland and Elegant Crested Tinamous, Black-legged Seriema, White-fronted Woodpecker, Suiriri Flycatcher, Crested Hornero, Straneck’s Tyrannulet, White-banded Mockingbird, Red Pileated and Many-colored Chaco Finch.
Day 4: Dean Funes to San Miguel de Tucumán
Today on our Argentina birding tour, we have most of the day to bird the Chaco habitat around Dean Funes for any species we may still require better views of. This afternoon, we will then drive to San Miguel de Tucumán, where we will spend the night before commencing the main tour the following day.
Day 5: San Miguel de Tucumán & depart, or commence the main tour
This morning, those not continuing on the main Northern Argentina tour will transfer to the airport for their departure flights, while those joining us for the main tour will meet up with their fellow participants, after which we will all transfer to Tafi del Valle.