The old quarters of Colonia del Sacramento might seem like an odd place to go looking for birds, but you might be surprised. The main square is a roosting spot for several species, the waters around the yacht port can yield gulls and grebes, and the Parque Lineal AFE is a wonderful green area by the river where many passerines can be spotted among the native trees.
This walking tour is specially interesting if you don´t have much time in town and you are already staying in one of the several hotels of the old city. It can be completed within a couple of hours, or can easily be combined back-to-back with a more traditional city tour for a mix of historical-natural sightseeing.
Las Delicias Urban Wetland
Just a few blocks away from the city center lies a small wetland on the shores of the Río de la Plata. Formerly a beach, the place is now overgrown with reeds, weeds and trees, ideal habitat for some rare marsh dwelling birds. Waterfoul are not found here often, but it´s a good spot for rails and obscure members of the ovenbird family. A walk along a forested path towards an open beach will yield thrushes, hummingbirds and pigeons. In summer, migrating swallows and tyrants spice things up.
This walking tour has a medium difficulty and is a good option if you want to increase the number of species seen within town. It´s not a large area, so the tour can be completed within an hour if rushed, but a longer stay is recommended to improve sighting chances. The tour is a proper choice for visitors with little time, specially for more experienced birders wanting to spot some rarities not far from the center. Combining it with the Old City tour can be a good idea.
The beautiful Rambla of Colonia offers many birding opportunities. "Rambla" is the name given to the riverside road that borders the bay. The full tour is a little too much for walking distance, so it combines short walks at various stops while transport between stops is made by vehicle. The tour visits different habitat types including coastal wetlands, suburban lawns, beaches, and relicts of the original sand dunes and native forest once widespread along the coast. This mix should provide ample opportunities for sighting a variety of birds. We will also be observing some of the vegetation and on one of the stops we will be looking for fossils.
This half-day tour covers the most terrain is the longest within the city. As such, it is a great opportunity to see a good number of species without leaving town. The visit to the relictual native forest at the end of the Rambla is specially interesting as it is, although small, one of the best preserved sites of Colonia. Walks have a low difficulty, although some of the stops can have mildly tricky terrain. Restrooms are available at some stops, and the trip includes a snack at a picnic area.
Riachuelo Yacht Port
Located just a few kilometers east of Colonia, the park of the Riachuelo Yacht Port is a great birding destination. The small port near the mouth of the Riachuelo Stream is surrounded by riparian forest and shrubland, being the largest woodland patch in the vicinity of Colonia del Sacramento. A welcoming and well-kept park provides an ideal place for bird photography, it´s lawns and native trees allow you to approach some species intimately for great photo sessions. The visit will take you to a small pond, through trails in the gallery forest, and a walk among the native matorral-like shrubland that surrounds an abandoned quarry. This spot is part of a massive roost for Eared Doves, and is the best place to see the various raptor species that prey on them.
Leaving the city means covering a larger area and visiting more habitat types, which translates into more birds! It´s a half-day tour with a low to medium difficulty. Transport from the city can be arranged by minivan, or you can use your personal vehicle. You may want to plan for a full-day stay here, as the place is also perfect for simply spending time outdoors. The park provides restrooms, picnic and barbacue facilities, and playground games for children, in addition to being sport-friendly (vast lawns, work-out spaces and even squash and paddle courts).
La Arenisca Natural Refuge
The Northern outskirts of Colonia del Sacramento hold a natural area that has been spared of agricultural and urban development. This is La Arenisca Natural Refuge, the best preserved natural area in the vicinity of the city. It´s owner, a local conservationist, protects 80 hectares of native forest, bushland, sand dunes, and an untouched strip of Río de la Plata coastline. This is the “wildest” of the tours, as the area has little upkeep and vegetation grows unchecked. We will, however, be trekking along cleared paths. Our walk startsvat some matorral, and continues heading in and out of forest trails onto sandy terrain, to finally come out at “La Arenisca” beach. The refuge is a great place for passerines, and if lucky we might catch a glimpse of some mammals like the Crab-eating Fox or Geoffroy´s Cat.
Trail difficulty is low to medium, but consider the long walking distance is roughly 4 km (some of it over sandy terrain), and keep in mind the lack of restrooms. The tour takes up a half day and includes a picnic snack. Upon completion, a transport will be waiting for us at our exit point for a quick return. It is worth mentioning that you can also explore the refuge on horseback as the owner offers guided horse riding tours. If interested, we can provide contact information for booking these tours.