Uruguay is a land of unlimited natural landscapes to be enjoyed all year round. The proximity of the oceans and the absence of mountainous barriers have created a temperate climate which in turn has allowed natural grasslands, varied riverside forests and hillside woods to flourish. The remains of subtropical forests enclosed in rocky ravines, clumps of carob trees and a chain of marshes and lagoons along the Atlantic coast create a stunning natural mosaic to be explored. Hundreds of miles of coastline, mostly beaches of beautiful white sand, form an uninterrupted chain all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Such an impressive natural environment creates a great richness of wildlife.
Over 450 species of birds, 4 of the 7 species of sea turtle (Green, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley and Leatherback), 35 species of marine mammal, including the Southern Right Whale between July and November, the Southern Elephant Seal and over 320,000 sea lions, create the "Natural Uruguay".
Although over 65% of the bird species reside in the region throughout the year, there are four main migratory seasons: birds nesting in North America and visiting the region during the Southern summer, birds nesting in the country during Spring and withdrawing to the North of South America in Autumn, birds nesting in the extreme south of the Continent and migrating to Uruguay during the Southern winter, and sea birds such as penguins, albatrosses and petrels arriving in Uruguayan waters during the winter.
Many species are indigenous to the region including Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Diademed Tanager and Chestnut-backed Tanager; whilst species under threat of extinction include Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Yellow Cardinal and Black-and-white Monjita.
On the grasslands Great Rhea, Red-winged Tinamou, Burrowing Owl, Great Pampa Finch and White-browed Blackbird can be easily sighted. In the indigenous forests, mainly alongside the rivers and in the hills, Gilded Hummingbird, White-throated Hummingbird, Dusky-legged Guan, White-spotted Woodpecker, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Chicli Spinetail, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Indigo Grosbeak, White-browed Warbler and Blue-and-yellow Tanager can frequently be seen. Wetlands host Plumbeous Ibis, Southern Screamer, Black-necked Swan, Giant Wood Rail, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Spectacled Tyrant, Brown-and-yellow Marshbird and Scarlet-headed Blackbird.
On the sea coast it is possible to encounter the endangered Olrog's Gull and Snowy-crowned Tern. On the islands close to land, especially in winter, it is possible to find the Snowy Sheathbill and further out to sea the Black-browed Albatross and Antarctic Giant Petrel.
Text kindly provided by Rockjumper leading bird tour operators with worldwide destinations including Uruguay.
Curve-billed Reedhaunter, copyright Aidan G Kelly