Summary & itinerary
of birding trip report SE Brazil Oct/Nov 2001 at www.jvanderw.nl
 John van der Woude

See also:
- Logistics & addresses
- Birding sites with maps & GPS
- Species list
- Sound recordings (43 regional specialties; in mp3)

We had a great birding trip to Southeast Brazil, from 13 October till 5 November 2001. It had cost a considerable preparation bird wise, but the logistics were easy in this well developed region. The reward was that we got our 2000th american bird species here (we still needed 136 before the trip), and this happened to be the Buff-throated Purpletuft, a small and rare cotinga. We also got our 50th wren here (Long-billed). We got 345 species in total, a number that would certainly have been somewhat bigger with specialized guides, but we just like to bird on our own.

Southeast Brazil is famous for its many endemic bird species in the remains of the Atlantic rainforest belt. This broad zone consists of lowland, hills and mountains, and we visited sites in all of these subzones. From low to high altitude these were Sooretama/Linhares, Ubatuba, Augusto Rushi (Nova Lombardia), Serra dos Orgaos, Itatiaia, Caparaˇ (plus a drier intermontane area N of Serra dos Orgaos). More inland there is a broad zone of savannes (cerrado and campo), where we visited Cipˇ and Canastra. SE Brazil is so isolated from the other areas where we have been birding before in South America (Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and the coast near Buenos Aires), that really half of the species we saw were new for us. These 170 lifers are for a great majority specialties of this region. Half of these 170 species did we see only once, and I think it's good that we visited all these different sites (but will evaluate this further on in the report). This meant a lot of travel of course (4500 km), but the roads are good and the rental car (small but with airco) was cheap: 1800 Real or 600 US$ for 23 days, all in. Everything was cheap in Brazil, because the value of the Real has fallen considerably in the last years. Hotels and food are good and (both) plentiful.

The weather was a pleasant 25 degrees C generally, with some hot afternoons and some rain at the start and esp. the end of the trip. This is the transition from the dry to the wet season, and spring was clearly in the air, with many birds nest building. SE Brazil is already at 21 degrees South latitude but because of the moist Atlantic forest it seems real tropical, also in the avifauna (many antbirds, woodcreepers, tanagers, toucans, etc.). Yet it is malaria-free.

We found the people very kind and polite, and we felt safe and at ease everywhere but did never visit a big city (no need to). Road traffic has its dangers here, and in general we took some care when approaching bends in the roads, in order to avoid surprises by overtaking cars from the other direction. Food hygiene must be good in this region, we never had any stomach troubles.

All in all, this is a rather ideal birding destination, and we agree with another birder that this region may be called the "USA of South America". Two drawbacks are the language and the lack of a true field guide. Portuguese is really different from Spanish, but the people are patient enough to try to understand you and help you. Todas as Aves do Brasil (all the birds of Brazil, D. Souza) is a hard-to-get, simple field guide or rather an illustrated checklist, but we were really glad we had one. However, for several bird families (like woodcreepers, furnarids, flycatchers) we had brought additional and better pictures collected from various sources (esp. Ridgely & Tudor - Birds of S America). Other birders use Dunning (photographic guide for S American birds), the Collins for Southern South America, the complete Ridgely and Tudor, or even Sick's 2.6 kg natural history book Birds in Brazil. We think that it's best to use Todas as Aves (or Dunning if you can't find this) together with Ridgely & Tudor (copies of the plates with the texts opposite, and have the books with the whole text in the car or your room). This should be accompanied by Forrester's Birding Brazil (1990), a bird finding guide with detailed checklists. Updates to the bird finding part of this book can be found at www.arthurgrosset.com (the notes by Jeremy Minns). The Brazil chapter in Nigel Wheatley's Where to watch birds in South America seems a mere summary of Forrester's book, but gives a more convenient indication of the target species per site. Recently a CD has been published with the sounds of 99 species from the mountains of SE Bazil (see e.g. at http://www.birdsongs.com/Others/BirdsMountainsSEBrazil/main.htm).

We enjoyed enormously seeing so many lifers in bird taxa familiar to us, like 6 new parrots, 15 new hummingbirds, 3 new toucans, 7 new woodpeckers, 14 new furnarids (5 new foliage-gleaners), 20 new antbirds, 7 new cotingas, 25 new flycatchers, 15 new tanagers, and 11 new finches/grosbeaks/saltators. Our best memories are of Red-billed Curassow, Red-capped and Red-browed Parrot, Tawny-browed Owl, Saw-billed Hermit, Plovercrest, Hyacinth Visorbearer, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Three-toed Jacamar, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Saffron Toucanet, Blond-crested and Robust Woodpecker, Black-billed Scythebill, Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, Cipo Canastero, Black-capped Foliagegleaner, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Star-throated Antwren, Rufous-tailed Antbird, White-bibbed Antbird, Spotted Bamboowren, Slaty Bristlefront, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Hooded Berryeater, Buff-throated Purletuft, Bare-throated Bellbird, Sharpbill, Helmeted Manakin, Pin-tailed Manakin, Drab-breasted Bamboo-tyrant, Fork-tailed Tody-tyrant, Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher, Sharp-tailed Tyrant, Eared Pygmy-tyrant, Russet-winged Spadebill, Grey Monjita, Velvety Black-tyrant, Cock-tailed Tyrant, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Ochre-breasted Pipit, Long-billed Wren, Curl-crested Jay, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Brown, Rufous-headed, Brazilian and Diademed Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, Red-necked, Brassy-breasted and Gilt-edged Tanager, Bay-chested, Red-rumped and Cinereous Warbling-finch, Buff-throated Pampa-finch, Thick-billed Saltator, Yellow-billed Blue-finch, and Golden-winged Cacique.

Besides, we were surprised by seeing many mammal species, amongst others three monkey species, Maned Wolf, and Maned Three-toed Sloth. At one spot in the Augusto Rushi reserve we even got frightened by mammals. We were quietly walking the lower of the two dirt roads amidst dense forest, when we heard barking and wailing calls, like of mad dogs, and they were coming towards us so it seemed. We quickly walked back towards the car which was a few 100 m away, and meanwhile heard the sound getting nearer and nearer. We ran the last 100 m, and when we were at the car the frightening sound traveled past us right through the forest, at a fast pace. We must assume that what we witnessed here was the hunt of a small pack of Bush Dog, and then this may have been the rarest observation of our whole trip.

Itinerary

 


Sat. 13 Oct. 2001 - Arrival, Teresopolis
Early arrival at Rio airport from Amsterdam/Madrid. ATM money, road maps, car rental arranged here.
Checked in late a.m. at hotel Villa Nova in Teresopolis. Afternoon some reconnaissance, esp. of Garafao site, and bakery etc.

Sun. 14 Oct. - Serra dos Orgaos NP
Early at Garafao site, then Serra dos Orgaos NP from 8 a.m. (opening time) till 5 p.m. (closing time).

Mon. 15 Oct. - Sumidouro road, Carmo
Early a.m. Sumidouro road (70 km from Teresopolis), then Carmo site, then on to Caparaˇ Parque hotel, check in  before dusk.

Tue. 16 Oct. - Caparaˇ NP
A.m. in Caparaˇ NP (to above tree limit), p.m. drive to St. Teresa, check in at hotel Solar dos Colibris before dusk, dinner in town (and found out where road to Aug. Rushi reserve begins).

Wed. 17 Oct. - Augusto Rushi reserve
Whole day in Aug. Rushi reserve, especially the upper road, and hummer feeders at administration buildings.

Thu. 18 Oct. - Augusto Rushi reserve
A.m. Aug. Rushi reserve again, esp. the lower road. Early p.m. back in hotel and on to Linhares town (ATM) and on to Linhares reserve. Checked in at lodge.

Fr. 19 Oct. - Linhares reserve
Early a.m. birding on and esp. near visitor's trail, then with obligatory 'guide' (park ranger) to most inner part of reserve.

Sat. 20 Oct - Linhares reserve and Sooretama reserve
A.m. with the ranger to same part of Linhares reserve, but different tracks. 
P.m. reconnaissance of Sooretama reserve, along North side.

Sun. 21 Oct. - Sooretama reserve
A.m. Sooretama again, North side and (late) Estrada Quirinao. Lunch at lodge, then on to Caparaˇ Parque hotel again, where we checked in at dusk.

Mon. 22 Oct. - Caparaˇ NP
A.m. some birding in Caparaˇ NP again, below tree limit. P.m. long drive to Cipˇ, checked in at Pousada Chao da Serra only after dusk.

Tue. 23 Oct. - Cipˇ
Whole day on the hills of Cipˇ, along the road North of NP.

Wed. 24 Oct. - Cipˇ
A.m. same area again, then on to Canastra. Checked in at hotel Chapadao do Canastra in Sao Roque de Minas before dusk.

Thu. 25 Oct. - Canastra NP
Lower part of this NP, and downstream along river Sao Francisco (plus village Vargem Bonita).

Fri. 27 Oct. - Canastra NP
Upper part of this NP. Very hot day.

Sat. 28 Oct. - Canastra NP
Upper part of this vast NP again, different parts. Very hot day as well.

Sun. 29 Oct.
The only non-birding driving day of the trip, from Sao Roque to Ubatuba at the coast. Along fast roads, with some sightseeing halfway at Holambra, a Dutch colony of flower growers. Checked in at hotel Solar das Aguas Cantantes in Ubatuba well before dusk.

Mon. 30 Oct. - Ubatuba
Birded Corcovado and Folha Seca sites.

Tue. 31 Oct. - Ubatuba
Birded fazendas Capricornio and Angelim.

Wed. 1 Nov. - Ubatuba
A.m. Corcovado and Folha Seca again, then on to Itamonte behind Agulhas Negras road. Checked in at hotel just before dusk.

Thu. 2 Nov. - Agulhas Negras road
Birded here a.m. and early p.m. Then down to Itatiaia NP and checked in at hotel Simon. Some birding near hotel around dusk.

Fri. 3 Nov. - Itatiaia NP
Birded level Maromba trail before breakfast, and lower part of Tres Picos trail until late lunch. Some birding near hotel in late afternoon and around dusk.

Sat. 4 Nov. - Itatiaia NP
Birded lowest part of 'Jeep trail' before breakfast, and higher part of Tres Picos trail until late lunch. Rain set in during late afternoon.

Sun. 5 Nov. - Departure
Due to persistent rain a little birding only, in lower part of Itatiaia NP, esp. at feeders of curio shop.
Left hotel Simon late a.m., and were at airport at 2 p.m. for flight back to Madrid/Amsterdam.