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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

City Wildlife Snapshots: Buenos Aires

I'm away for May, accompanying a natural history tour to tropical Queensland.
I don't have time to set up full postings for the time I'll be away, but in the hope
of keeping you, my valued readers, while I'm
absent, I'm going to post a few brief
perspectives - snapshots perhaps - of some wildlife I've come across in cities.
I
often leave my camera behind when I go out in towns, so I can think of many possible subjects
for this series that I can't offer you.
In particular I can't offer a posting on an Australian city!
(My home town of Canberra doesn't count, as it's known as the Bush Capital, and it'd be too easy...)

The capital of Argentina is a dense teeming city of over three million people. One striking aspect of it to visitors used to cities of houses is that the entire city seemingly comprises apartment buildings; it really is densely populated. We recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of days there and despite constantly crowded streets we found little parks where there was wildlife - especially birds - living in the roar of traffic.
Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus.
This handsome and engaging ovenbird is common in the parks, and has learnt to benefit from human
developments in eastern South America. It has been designated as Argentina's national bird!

Rufous-bellied Thrushes Turdus rufiventris are also quite common.
I'm guessing the somewhat scruffy character below is a young bird, but I'm woefully ignorant of the whole of eastern South America (so far anyway).

 
Picazuro Pigeon Patagioenas picazuro. Despite its resemblance to Feral Pigeons
(also common in BA, as everywhere) this belongs to a separate - though closely related - genus,
to which many familiar South American pigeons belong.
My assumption is that the common name (and the scientific, presumably derived from it) refers to a blue bill.
Guira Cuckoo Guira guira.This was a bird I was particularly keen to see, having seen photos and read about it, but we were surprised
to find one in a particularly small and unsalubrious park. Our surprise was partly due to the fact that
there was just one - this non-parasitic cuckoo is noted for being very sociable, feeding in sometimes
large groups on the ground.
We also watched a pair of American Kestrels preparing to roost on an aerial across the road from our hotel window, but it was too dark for successful photos by then.

Buenos Aires is a beautiful city - though everyone we spoke to immediately warned us to be very careful of thieves - and the architecture, museums, people, food and drink are all highly worthy of exploration. But keep on eye out for the wildlife too.

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