PRATT’S GILL FORT (army post)



22o40’60’’S61o32’60’’W (N/A)ha flat high chaco 
September-November (May 2005)


Birding Site Guide

This is an excellent if difficult to reach area to bird, it is remote and you will need a 4 wheel drive and some emergency backup (a second vehicle, radios, satellite phone) to visit. You will also have to carry enough fuel to cover at least 600km. Most tour companies will not take you here, but try Paul Smith (see foot of this page) or Age Tour or DTP in Asunción, who might be able to tailor a tour for you (weather dependent). Even tailored tours are relatively cheap in Paraguay, for a small group expect to pay US$1-200 each. The other far more difficult option is to take a hire car and do your own planning, but if the weather turns wet you could end up in big trouble with no one able to reach you. 

chaco main road after rain


From Asunción take the tarmac Route 9 north towards Filadelfia (450km), at or near this junction head left (E) towards Neuland (19km). If you have not already stocked up on supplies; all your food and enough fuel for 600km then do so here. There is also accommodation here if you need to stay the night and travel by day. Drive through town to the far end and when you come to a ‘T’ junction go right along a dirt road for around 68km. You will come to a junction (Cruce Demattei) where the road splits with a house on the middle, head right for Pratt’s Gill. After a long drive 87km through largely uninhabited chaco woodland you will reach the large army base of Fn. Cap. Joel Estigarribia. Stop at the guardhouse, show your passport and inform them of your intentions. You then need to continue to the Pratt’s Gill Army post about 20km away, look for some whitewashed barrack houses in a fenced compound. There is a runway here, so it may be possible to fly in from Asunción. 

There will be a few soldiers here (perhaps 6) inform them you wish to stay, they are friendly and will be glad to see new faces, especially if you have brought food to share as they only have basic supplies of pasta and rice supplemented with bush-meat. There is no modern kitchen, just a wood burning stove, but if you have food to share the soldiers will cook, alternatively take a gas camping stove. Unfortunately the large barrack houses are in a bit of a mess with broken windows, and the bunk-beds generally have no boards, mattresses; you will have look about, or take your own sleeping mat. You will also need a sleeping bag, sheets are not enough as it can drop to freezing here in winter and can be very cold in wet weather. There are some toilets and washrooms with showers but they are in a bad state. 

breakfast with my 2 guides and army guards


The birding areas are just in and around the compound and along the road and runway. The best area is straight out of the gate over the road where there are as series of small pools concealed in open tall woodland, the scrub further away is lower but also open to walk in (tho thorny!). Many species come to these pools and there are a lot of good chaco species to be found. In the compound go behind the barracks and the weather station and bird the scrub further back. A couple of days here should provide a lot of good birding and maybe something scarce. I appear to have been the first and only tourist there and you probably will not see anyone other than soldiers either on the road or while there, so the place is not well birded! 


Note the soldiers hunt game and target practice, be aware of where they are and tell them which area you are going to. 

typical habitat



Birds seen

  • Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix
  • Cocoi Heron Ardea cocoi
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula
  • Wood Stork Mycteria americana
  • Maguari Stork Ciconia maguari
  • Jabiru Jabiru mycteria
  • Buff-necked Ibis Theristicus caudatus
  • White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi
  • Brazilian Teal Amazonetta brasiliensis
  • Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
  • King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa
  • Southern Caracara Caracara plancus
  • American Kestrel Falco sparverius
  • Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis
  • Chaco Chachalaca Ortalis canicollis
  • Spot-flanked Gallinule Gallinula melanops
  • Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis
  • Picazuro Pigeon Patagioenas picazuro
  • Picui Ground-Dove Columbina picui
  • Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus
  • Blue-fronted Parrot Amazona aestiva
  • Guira Cuckoo Guira guira
  • Glittering-bellied Emerald Chlorostilbon aureoventris
  • Cream-backed Woodpecker Campephilus leucopogon
  • Little Thornbird Phacellodomus sibilatrix
  • Lark-like Brushrunner Coryphistera alaudina
  • Narrow-billed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes angustirostris
  • Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus
  • Variable Antshrike Thamnophilus caerulescens
  • Southern Scrub-Flycatcher Sublegatus modestus
  • Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer
  • Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
  • Spectacled Tyrant Hymenops perspicillatus
  • Cinereous Tyrant Knipolegus striaticeps
  • Masked Water-Tyrant Fluvicola nengeta
  • White Monjita Xolmis irupero
  • Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
  • White-banded Mockingbird Mimus triurus
  • Masked Gnatcatcher Polioptila dumicola
  • Purple-throated Euphonia Euphonia chlorotica
  • Golden-rumped Euphonia Euphonia cyanocephala
  • Hepatic Tanager Piranga flava
  • Sayaca Tanager Thraupis sayaca
  • Many-colored Chaco-Finch Saltatricula multicolor
  • Ringed Warbling-Finch Poospiza torquata
  • Grassland Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteola
  • Red-crested Cardinal Paroaria coronata
  • Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis
  • Golden-billed Saltator Saltator aurantiirostris
  • Ultramarine Grosbeak Cyanocompsa brissonii
  • Epaulet Oriole Icterus cayanensis
  • Bay-winged Cowbird Agelaioides badius

Relevant BENES list 
CHACO BENES (Biome Endemics and Near-Endemics list) 

Other Fauna 
Jaguar Panthera onca (NT) 
Puma Puma concolor (NT) 

Author: BSG


For more information on volunteering on bird study projects in Paraguay, or for customised bird tours to anywhere in Paraguay contact Paul Smith via his website Fauna Paraguay or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.