On Saturday, March 5th, 2011, six volunteers (PCVs) organized a birding day-trip along the banks of the Paraguay River. These volunteers included Emmett Sapp, Josh Flynn, Connie Hernández, Nicole Levesque, Amanda Zych, and Allison Clendening, the majority of whom belong to the Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC) in the Central Department. This department is compromised of mostly urban areas and these volunteers felt that it would be an excellent educational opportunity to visit the small community of Chaco’í, close to Asunción, but on the other side of the Paraguay River.
Each volunteer was accompanied by Paraguayan youth from their respective communities, with a total of 27 amateur birders, utilizing binoculars donated by Birders’ Exchange. The group roused themselves bright and early and met at Playa Montevideo in downtown Asunción at 7:00 am. Led by local captain and guide Gustavo Brítez, the group took the 20-minute boat trip across the Paraguay River to Chaco’í, enjoying the spectacular views of Asunción’s waterfront and skyline from a vantage point many had never before seen.
After disembarking in the community of Chaco’í, Gustavo led the group along a riverside trail. Armed with bird guides donated by Guyra Paraguay and the Birders’ Exchange binoculars on loan from Guyra, the group did their best to spot and identify the different species, observing more than 15 distinct species, including Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana) and Great Egret (Ardea alba).
The wetlands surrounding the Paraguay River are an excellent birdwatching location, with more than 280 identified species, including both endemic and migratory species. What the group lacked in knowledge, they made up for with their enthusiasm, not to be deterred by the rising heat or the swarms of mosquitoes. This experience was especially memorable for our youth, as it was the first time that many of them had been on a boat, used binoculars, gone birdwatching, or even left the city. Peace Corps-Paraguay and Guyra Paraguay have a long history of working in collaboration for promoting environmental education and conservation in both urban and rural communities throughout Paraguay and we would like to thank Guyra for their support in this activity.
We would also like to thank Birders’ Exchange for their contribution to the biodiversity conservation and environmental education efforts that Peace Corps-Paraguay Volunteers realize throughout the country.