A birder’s guide to surviving Brexit
So we had a referendum. It was a simple “Yes” or “No.” That’s were the trouble started. The electorate, unsure of what “Yes” actually meant, returned a non-commital, “Uh-huh.” The term, “Brexit” was coined and we are all now sick to the back teeth of it. This week the British Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, put her version of “Yes” to Parliament. Parliament said, “No.” She went back to Europe who all emphatically said, “Non”, “Nien”, “Nie.”
“Brexit” has now soaked through the national psyche and it seems that everything will be affected by our divorce from Europe. So how does a British birder manage to get his ticks without any help from the continent? He goes to BRAZIL! That’s how!
Caipirinhas and Capybaras. What a great place to go to escape the biggest political upheaval of a generation. If you have never heard of Iguazu (alternatively Iguaçu) Falls, you are not alone. despite being one of the biggest waterfalls in the world, few people seem to have heard of it. Some perspective perhaps?
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Duske
Niagara Falls should serve as a reasonable yardstick. At 1,200m across and 50m high, Niagara counts among the top 10, but Iguazu has a width of 2,680m and drops water from a height of 82m. Maximum recorded water volume at Niagara is a damp 8,300m³ compared to 45,700m³ peak flow at Iguazu.
If there were a Top Trumps waterfall edition, Iguazu would be a good card to hold. Niagara however wins the tourism hand with over 30m visitors on the US and Canadian sides compared to just 3m split between the Brazilian and Argentinian banks of the Iguazu River.
Even so, it appears to be crowded and there was a lot of queueing involved on the days that I visited. It was difficult to stop and look at anything without causing a blockage on the metal boardwalks of the Argentine side and walking is not permitted in the forest on the Brazilian side unless with an organised tour. If you can detach yourself from birds for a few hours, it is a magical place to be. If you prefer your forests to be quiet and damp underfoot, perhaps you will find it frustrating.
However, there were birds and a couple of lifers to start the year for yours truly. A Chestnut-eared Aracari (it’s been a while since I last had the red crayon out) was seen from the Argentine Iguaçu gridwalk, while a Black-tailed Tityra was the Brazilian contribution to my life list.
Other sites in the area brought such beauties as the Toco Toucan and Surucua Trogon. Mention should be made of the Thermos Water Park and the Iguazu Eco Hostel who graciously allowed me to walk in their grounds after the crowds and the queueing all became too much for someone who likes to set his own pace. Thank you to them.
But now I have returned to Brexit-weary Britain and what do you know, it’s just as busy and almost as wet!