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BRAZIL'S ATLANTIC FOREST
TRIP REPORT October 24 - November 1, 2010
Sunday October 24
With everyone settled into their rooms the lure of the hummer feeders in the garden proved irresistible and from the comfort of our chairs on the veranda we had point-blank views of many Black Jacobins and Swallow-tailed Hummingbirds frenetically feeding and chasing each other around the garden. Now and again a diminutive male Violet-capped Woodnymph appeared, as well as a stunning Rufous-breasted Hermit and a couple of Glittering-throated Emeralds. With a steady drizzle and low cloud obscuring the hills we decided to hang around the garden and in doing so also found Ruddy Ground-dove, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher, Blue Dacnis, and a fine trio of Sayaca, Yellow-backed and Burnished-buff Tanagers.
But all of a sudden the rain stopped and we hot-footed it down towards the wetlands but didn’t get very far before a few White-bearded Manakins began calling and we spent several minutes getting decent enough views. But we were eager to visit the lakes and marshes just a 5 minute walk away and despite the light drizzle enjoyed a fantastic hour or so amidst this wonderful bird-filled area. First of all a huge Ringed Kingfisher flew into a nearby tree and we had fine scope views, before our attention was diverted by a flock of White-faced Whistling-ducks, many Purple Gallinules and a lone Striated Heron on the next pool. On a dead tree a few huge Greater Anis were perched, and behind them another Campo Flicker was seen. Around the corner we scoped Chestnut-capped Blackbird, Violaceous Euphonia, Capped Heron, Neotropic Cormorant, Brazilian Teal and 3 Masked Ducks. Out on the marsh a few Yellow-chinned Spinetails, spectacular White-headed Marsh-tyrant and a Black-capped Donacobius showed well, along with a female Brazilian Tanager. Then a flock of Chestnut-vented Conebills flew into the tree next to us and we also spotted a few Lemon-chested Greenlets mixed in with them. Overhead a low flying Biscutate Swift appeared and flocks of egrets and Picazuro Pigeons passed by on their way to roost. But time had passed all too quickly as it was 6pm and we had to return to get ready for our dinner and checklist.
The trail began to rise slowly uphill from here and we took it equally slowly with birds appearing at regular intervals, beginning with Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Whiskered (Sulphur-rumped) Flycatcher, White-flanked and Unicolored Antwrens, Plain Xenops and Plain-brown Woodcreeper. Among an area of mature Bamboo, several Blue Manakins were calling repeatedly and after a few minutes we managed nice views of several males, and soon after saw a Spot-breasted Antvireo high in the canopy. A Rufous-capped Ant-thrush called from the same spot but despite initially flying over us remained just a voice in the rainforest so we continued uphill until we reached a clearing in the forest where we could scan the surrounding hills. A couple of close leafless trees seemed to be attracting a variety of different birds which perched almost at eye-level in front of us and we enjoyed a nice little session with Boat-billed, Variegated and Streaked Flycatchers allowing good comparisons. Then our first Green-headed Tanagers flew in, followed by Chestnut-bellied and Orange-bellied Euphonias, Golden-chevroned and Burnished-buff Tanagers, Blue Dacnis, Crested Becard and a brief Spot-billed Toucanet. Overhead a Black-and-white Hawk-eagle soared past and signaled the resumption of our walk.
Once inside the forest we added Gray-hooded Attila after a bit of a chase, before bumping into a small flock containing Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner and several Black-goggled Tanagers. The last stretch of track up to the waterfall proved to be very rewarding as we added Plain Antvireo, Lesser Woodcreeper, Pin-tailed Manakin, an obliging Greenish Schiffornis, Maroon-bellied Parakeet and finally a very good find when a Salvadori’s Antwren was coaxed in right next to us.
Lunch was taken at the scenic waterfall where we had our only sighting of a pair of White-thighed Swallows for the whole week. After a nice rest and numerous photographs were taken we began to walk back down but didn’t get very far as we bumped into a flock with White-barred Piculet, Streaked Xenops, White-shouldered Fire-eye and Rufous-headed Tanager. Further down a Scaled Woodcreeper showed to some of the group, before we had fine views of a Surucua Trogon to add to the Black-throated Trogon seen earlier in the day. A Black-capped Becard was seen building a nest nearby, while our only sighting of Yellow-throated Woodpecker was followed by Flame-crested Tanager, Sepia-capped Flycatcher and Rufous-tailed Jacamar before reaching the truck. Approaching our waiting ride home, a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth delayed our departure as we scoped it on top of a Cecropia Tree and after the obligatory photographs were taken we soon found ourselves heading back across the fields to our wonderful lodge. It was certainly nice to be back and the lodge was definitely beginning to feel like home! All the usual hummers were present in the garden, but a pair of Purple-throated Euphonias was a new species for us as we enjoyed our coffee on the patio.
Some of the group decided to take it easy at the lodge while a few of us decided to walk down to the wetlands with Leonardo in the late afternoon. On the way he showed us Common Potoo and Tropical Screech-owl at their day roosts. Among a fine assortment of birds at the wetlands we had a perched White-chinned Sapphire, as well as Least Grebe with small chicks, male Brazilian Tanager, Anhinga, Creamy-bellied Thrush, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Masked Duck, Brazilian Teal, Chestnut-capped Blackbird and White-headed Marsh-tyrant.
Tuesday October 26
Leaving here, we drove inland back to the lodge but stopped at an area of saltpans just outside of the town where a flock of Roseate Spoonbills were roosting. Numerous shorebirds were feeding in the shallow lagoon, comprising mainly Lesser but a couple of Greater Yellowlegs, lots of White-backed Stilts, single White-rumped Sandpiper, and a few Semipalmated Plovers, whilst a single Hudsonian Godwit was something of a surprise. There were also some Gray-headed Gulls and lots of White-cheeked Pintails to admire and we spent quite a while enjoying this unexpected spectacle.
We then drove back through heavy rain and not far from the lodge had to pause our journey for an overturned lorry, but thanks to Alcenir’s skilful driving and knowing exactly how wide to the millimeter his vehicle is, managed to negotiate his way through this obstacle and continue our journey. Leonardo stopped us suddenly en-route for a bird perched in one of the fields soon after which turned out to be a spectacular White-browed Blackbird displaying his bright crimson chest during a pause in the rain. And soon after we were sipping coffee on the patio and watching all the usual hummers visiting the feeders in the pouring rain, and we also had a pair of Scarlet-rumped Caciques, Yellow-headed Caracara, Blue Dacnis, Burnished-buff, Sayaca, Palm and Yellow-backed Tanagers in the large tree in the garden as well. As we met for the checklist, a Slaty-breasted Wood-rail could be heard from the forest below us.
Wednesday October 27
Upon arrival at Serra dos Tucanos we were met by the owner Andy Foster and had a great time watching all the activity at the feeders in the garden. Numerous Sombre Hummingbirds were new for us, as was a Streak-capped Antwren skulking in a tree beside the feeders. A Versicolored Emerald joined in the melee of hummers comprising mainly of Black Jacobins, but a superb Saw-billed Hermit kind of stole the show. All of a sudden Trevor exclaimed he had a woodpecker and after some frantic directions a fantastic male Blond-crested Woodpecker made it onto everyone’s life list as it slowly made its way onto the Banana feeder. As if that wasn’t enough, a short while later a male Spot-billed Toucanet was seen on the feeder high up on the hillside above the garden and remained for quite some time allowing us to watch him though the telescope. The feeders were also attracting Green Honeycreeper, Ruby-crowned Tanager, Rufous-bellied, Creamy-bellied and Pale-breasted Thrushes, lots of Green-headed and a few Golden-chevroned Tanagers as well. Down beside the rushing stream a Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper was present, and a flock of Red-necked and a Swallow Tanager were also present. A quick scan of the surrounding forest produced good scope views of a pair of Scaly-headed Parrots before we said our goodbyes and drove a short distance up the hill.
Under blue skies we enjoyed our picnic, along with nesting Crested Becard, and there was also Yellow-legged Thrush, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Rusty-margined Flycatcher. Some feeders beside a roadside stall brought in a Blue-naped Chlorophonia as well before we drove further up to the CEDAE Trail. At the entrance a couple of Brassy-breasted Tanagers showed well and several Red-necked Tanagers glowed in the sunshine. As we slowly followed the trail down into the valley, a pair of Spot-billed Toucanets was showing well perched side-by-side in a big tree. Once they moved away we continued walking and managed to find a number of new birds and first up was an obliging Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner feeding alongside the trail where it remained right up until the time we returned a good hour or so later. Then a Golden-crowned Warbler appeared close by, several Olivaceous Woodcreeperswere seen and a Spot-breasted Antvireo actually showed very well for a change. Further on we had nice views of a Yellow-olive Flycatcher, before getting stuck into some skulky critters that gave us the run around for a little while, but performed admirably in the end. First up was a Streak-capped Antwren that proved pretty elusive before deciding to feed out on a bare branch in front of us. Then a Star-throated Antwrenbegan calling from the slope in front of us and somehow managed to work its way down to just a meter away from us without being seen. It then kept moving right in the densest bushy area and only giving the briefest of glimpses. Just when we thought it wouldn’t show at all and were about to give up, up it hopped into a small clearing and right onto our life lists! As we watched this a Ferruginous Antbird began calling nearby and this very Rufous-looking bird was much easier to see, as was a pair of Plain Antvireos at the same spot. Before we reached our waiting minibus, both Gray-hooded Flycatcher and Gray-capped Tyrannulet had been added to our ever growing lists.
We returned to Regua Lodge in the late afternoon and after a cup of coffee walked down to the wetlands where numerous Cattle Egrets began to come into roost on the small islands in the middle of the big lake. A Tail-banded Hornero was watched walking along the path in front of us, and there was also Whistling Heron, Anhinga, Green Kingfisher, 5 Masked Ducks and White-headed Marsh-tyrant all present. A few Rufous-sided Crakes began calling as dusk approached and after some patience we had quick views of a pair as they darted across a clearing in the tall grass. A Blackish Rail was also heard but would have to wait for another evening as we headed back to the lodge for a nice hot shower and some well earned Capirinhas before dinner!
Thursday October 28
From an open area we could scan the forest below and scoped Shear-tailed Gray-tyrant and a distant Bare-throated Bellbird, before we drove up a steep section and continued walking. A few Black-goggled Tanagers were quickly seen, as well as Pallid Spinetail before we arrived at an isolated house. What a beautiful little cottage surrounded by superb forest and calling Cotingas and bellbirds all around. A tiny Amethyst Woodstar greeted us from its perch in a bare tree on the edge of the garden, before we settled ourselves down on the nicely positioned chairs and spent a good long time observing the feeders which were alive with Brazilian Rubies. After a while a Scale-throated Hermit came in to feed and several White-throated Hummingbirds appeared, along with a female Blue-billed Black-tyrant that was very approachable. The surrounding forest produced a pair of Hooded Berryeaters, Plumbeous Pigeon, and a much closer Bare-throated Bellbird than the one seen earlier. At one point a male Black-and-gold Cotinga was spotted by Martin on the same branch as the bellbird! And as we left this wonderful spot, a Variegated Antpitta called from the densest part of the forest and despite an attempt to locate it we failed – of course!
Walking back down to our waiting transport we had yet another fine view of Surucua Trogon, as well as a male Blue-billed Black-tyrant, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, and a perched Short-tailed Hawk before returning to our lodge for an early dinner. Afterwards we drove 10 minutes to a marshy area where we tried for Giant Snipe without success, although had a Mottled Owl perched in the spotlights and some flyover Short-tailed Nighthawks, with a heard only Black-banded Owl calling in the distance.
Friday October 29
Leaving all this activity we continued higher up the trail but didn’t get that far as it was much too hot. We spent a while scanning the forest edge from another open area where there was a large colony of Red-rumped Caciques but not a lot else, apart from hundreds of White-collared Swifts that were zooming across the sky. So we walked back down to the spot we had checked earlier that Leonardo said was a good bet for Frilled Coquette and sure enough after a few minutes searching we had wonderful scope views of this delightful little hummer perched over the path. We then had Rufous-tailed Jacamar, an even closer perched Crescent-chested Puffbird, some flyover Rufous-thighed Kites and Sick’s Swifts, White-tipped Dove walking in front of us, and both Euler’s and Cliff (Swallow) Flycatchers, before driving back to Regua for lunch and a siesta.
In the late afternoon we walked the Nursery Trail finding Long-billed and Moustached Wrens, and another pair of soaring Rufous-thighed Kites, before reaching the wetlands where a Blackish Rail and Double-collared Seedeater were added to our lists. There were also the usual birds here such as Masked Ducks, Least Grebes, White-headed Marsh-tyrant and others before we walked back to the lodge for a refreshing shower and dinner. A few Rusty-margined Guans also made a late appearance at dusk at the edge of the lawn.
After lunch we went to a new track, well off the main road and found Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Gilt-edged Tanager, more Hooded Tanagers and an exceedingly close White-barred Piculet, before driving on a little further. Here we had Eared Pygmy-tyrant, Scaled Woodcreeper and a roosting Barn Owl, before heading back on the long drive to Regua.
Sunday October 31
Here we had our picnic lunch before spending the next few hours walking along the boardwalk that follows the side of the mountain. It’s a very scenic route and we were eventually rewarded with outstanding views of a group of Brown Tanagers which is a really good bird here. In fact they hung around for a long time allowing us to have a really good look at them. We also managed to entice a couple of skulky Rufous-capped Spinetails in as well, although had to work really hard to get decent enough views. A huge White-throated Woodcreeper also flew in nearby as well, and we had both Olivaceous and Scaled Woodcreepers as well. A flock of Brassy-breasted Tanagers also appeared, but even better a little while later was a very obliging Black-cheeked Gnateater that remained motionless on a perch beside us. But apart from a Squirrel Cuckoo and a calling Sharpbill it became a little quiet so we walked back to the minibus.
Upon arrival at Regua we had a quick cup of coffee before heading back down to the wetlands. As usual there were lots of birds and we found Muscovy Duck, Rufescent Tiger-heron, White-bellied Seedeater, Blackish Rail, a group of Capybara and a fine drake Masked Duck, as well as all the usual suspects. Some of us also made a detour to see the roosting Tropical Screech-owl and Common Potoo on the way.
Monday November 01
All that remained was to pack our bags and have lunch before Alcenir took us back to Rio airport where we said our goodbyes.