Birding Without Borders: Day 15

The second day birding Entre Rios brings up some questions about how to best conserve the area.

January 15, 2015, Buenos Aires, Argentina -- Marcelo, Martin and I slept like anesthetized sardines in a tiny triple room in Gualeguay (a very authentic-feeling Argentinian pueblo) last night, and were up again at 5 a.m. We spent today birding some different sites in Entre Rios, rounding out my bird list with some species we missed yesterday. Some of the highlights were two male Tawny-bellied Seedeaters (a scarce, beautiful, and declining species), a Diademed Tanager, a Rufous-capped Antshrike, and a pair of cooperative White-barred Piculets. We didn't quite keep the same frenetic pace as yesterday, and it was a relatively relaxing day in the field.

We've had a great two days here, but we've been mostly alone, which made me think Entre Rios should really get more attention from visiting birders. It could easily be sold as the "Pantanal of Argentina"--it's a spectacular place, with tons of birds, and it's easily accessible in a day or two from Buenos Aires. We spent some time today talking about conservation in this area. Southern Entre Rios is still remote enough that it feels like another world, but, as Marcelo points out, all that land is private, so there's nothing to stop people from, say, suddenly planting soybeans everywhere. 

Marcelo has been working with a conservation group called La Allianza de Pastizal, which encourages ranch owners to practice sustainable grazing techniques. The idea is that with the right methods, ranchers can manage fewer cattle for greater profit while conserving grasslands. Certified, ecologically sensitive beef (if there is such a thing) can be sold at a premium in Europe--apparently especially in Germany, though Argentinians themselves won't touch it quite yet. Of course, shipping that beef overseas isn't necessarily good for the planet, either. In any case, well-managed estancias (private lands) may be the best way to preserve bird habitat in Entre Rios. The Allianza project has now taken hold in parts of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.

New birds today: 25

Year list: 333

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