BIRDING IN EASTERN BRAZIL - 1995
Dave Beadle, Neil Bostock, Guy Kirwan and I visited eastern Brazil to see as many of the endemic species as possible, in the time available, in one of the world's most threatened regions for birds. We spent six weeks together, starting on Jan 17th, before Dave had to leave in order to assist in leading a birding tour in Venezuela. The rest of us then had another week in the Rio area before departing for Venezuela ourselves.
The visit was timed for our convenience, rather than optimum birding. It was the height of summer and so very hot during much of the afternoon, which meant birding then was almost a waste of time in many areas. The breeding season for passerines seemed to be well advanced, with vocalisation not at its peak but with many birds active for at least most of the morning. Night-birds were generally not responsive to tape playback. Some northern migrants were present but not southern migrants such as the rare Southern Pochard, Black-backed Tanager and Black-legged Dacnis (which may not be entirely migratory). The upshot was that between us we saw almost all the species we had hoped to see, and a few more, including 114 endemics (according to published literature) and at least 90 "Threatened" species, but everyone missed something.
Brazil is a friendly, safe country (outside the big cities) but very few people speak English. If you are good at Spanish, you should be able to communicate but a little Portuguese is very helpful. Most of the remaining good habitat in the east is readily accessible by car and contains an excellent variety of birds, invariably including some rarities. It is relatively expensive, with prices averaging at around British levels. Distances between sites are often long, as it is a huge country, so that two months is needed to do justice to the majority of the eastern sites, although a good selection could be covered in 3-4 weeks.
In conclusion, all serious world-birders should visit eastern Brazil, preferably during the next 10 years before some of the species disappear. A good time should be had by all, provided money is not in short supply.
We flew with Iberia and Viasa and hired a car from Avis for the duration, all booked through WildWings. The fare was 521 pounds, with tax, which included an unlimited stopover in Venezuela, and the car (a VW Golf-type) US$1300 for 30 days, plus $325 a week subsequently. Although it is possible to use buses and taxis to reach most of the sites, the car gave considerable flexibility and saved a lot of time. Have one if you can possibly afford it. Internal flights should be considered if time is really at a premium.
Most of the main roads were well surfaced but single carriageway, so that speed was restricted by traffic on busy stretches. Exceptions were the Rio to Sao Paulo road, dual carriageway all the way, and the first 25 km or so of the main road north of the Bahia / Alagoas border which is diabolically pot-holed. Many secondary roads are dirt and of variable standard, ranging from good to lousy (eg. Pico das Agulhas at Itatiaia). Beware of policemen, both "sleeping" and live. The former, called "lombada" are numerous in towns and villages and are usually vicious; the latter occur almost entirely at check-points and only stopped us twice. The first time was a scam, when they claimed our documents were out-of-date and tried to fine us 210Rs; after a 90 min wait we were allowed to go. On the second occasion the genuine case was speeding and not wearing a seat-belt; we were released after a few minutes friendly questioning and a polite refusal to pay a bribe.
We almost fitted into the car and it would have been adequate had the suspension and steering not been defective, as we belatedly discovered. The problem was that the tyres wore out rapidly, which resulted in frequent punctures and the need to replace tyres when there were none of the right size available. Consequently we lost some time, and money, but at least suffered no mechanical breakdowns. We cannot recommend Avis in Brazil. In the event of an accident or break-in, be sure to get a police report, or else the insurance is likely to be invalidated. It is best to do this with the help of the local car-hire office, if practicable - we did this successfully in Venezuela afterwards (when the window was broken and the radio stolen).
Note that changing money can be a real problem, with only international airports and tourist centres willing to do it. The exchange rate of US$1 = 0.72 Real or 1Real = £O.87 moved against us, surprisingly.
Most towns seem to have moderately priced hotels, although standards vary and they can be hard to find. We usually paid between 5 and 10 Real, mostly 5 - 7R, each for a double, triple or quadruple room, after Neil had negotiated a discount at the more expensive establishments. At Itatiaia we camped in a hotel garden as all accommodation appeared expensive (upwards of 40R a double). The tents were very useful, eg when on long journeys or rough roads such as Pico das Agulhas, and almost essential at Pedra Talhada. However, contrary to what is written elsewhere, camping in National Parks such as Serra da Canastra and Orgaos is not permitted.
At Sooretama formal permission from IBAMA automatically grants a free, fully equipped bungalow. This no longer applies at Nova Lombardia, as the guest-house appears to have fallen down, but there is accommodation at nearby Santa Lucia reserve, if you can get permission to visit there.
February is holiday time in Brazil and prices may have been higher then, as stated in the books, but Itatiaia was the only place which could be described as crowded or busy, and it was Carnival week when we were there.
It was hot and dry throughout our stay, although often fairly cloudy. This was said to be exceptional, with some rain to be expected most days at this time; indeed, there were severe floods further south in Sao Paulo when we arrived. Low cloud impaired visibility on 2 afternoons at the higher reaches of Itatiaia and Orgaos, and rain is frequent here. We had a little rain on a few evenings and torrential rain on our last night.
Unfortunately, there is no fieldguide of much use for eastern Brazil. "Argentina" and "Venezuela" or "Colombia" can be helpful, but the only essential books are good old Dunning and Ridgely & Tudor, vol II (with vol I useful on occasions). Sick's Birds in Brazil is too heavy, has few pictures and rather rudimentary descriptions. Wheatley (1994) and Forrester (1993) are the best of the site guides and a number of trip reports helpful, especially the maps in Bushell (1994). The Argentinian tapes have some important songs/ calls and there is a set of Brazilian CDs now (which we were unable to buy in time).
Bushell, C (1994) Birding trip to southeastern Brazil: Sept 1-26 1994.
Collar, NJ et al (1992) Threatened birds of the Americas. Cambridge: ICBP.
Collar, NJ et al (1994) Birds to Watch 2. Cambridge: BirdLife International.
Dunning, JS (1987) South American birds - a photographic aid to identification. Penn.: Harrowood.
Forrester, BC (1993) Birding Brazil - a checklist and site guide. Irvine.
Gardner, NJ & DS (1990) Birding trip,to Brazil: 1st May - 21st July 1990.
Gonzaga, LP & JF Pacheco (1995) "A new species of Phylloscartes (Tyrannidae) from the mountains of southern Bahia, Brazil". Bull. B.O.C. 115: 88-97.
Hilty, S & WL Brown (1986) A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton UP.
Meyer de Schauensee, R & WH Phelps (1978) A guide to the birds of Venezuela. Princeton UP.
Narosky, T & D Yzurieta (1993) Birds of Argentina and Uruguay. Buenos Aires.
Piper, ML (1994) Birding in Eastern Brazil: 4th Dec 1993 - 4th Jan 1994.
Ridgely, RS & G Tudor (1989) The Birds of South America: Vol I. Oxford UP.
Ridgely, RS & G Tudor (1994) The Birds of South America: Vol II. Oxford UP
Sick, H (1993) Birds in Brazil. Princeton UP.
Tobias, JM Catsis & R Williams (1993) Notes on scarce birds in Brazil.
Wheatley, N (1994) Where to watch birds in South America. London: Christopher Helm.
We would like to thank all those who helped in the success of this trip, in particular Colin Bushell, Brian Foster, Nick Gardner, Nigel Goodgame, Rod McCann, Rex Nash, Graham Speight, John Wall, Rob Williams and EO Willis. I would also like to pay tribute to my travelling companions, especially Guy Kirwan for help with this report and drawing the maps, and to Bruce Forrester for comments on the records.
Jan 17 10.0-13.0 Rio - Teresopolis; 15.0-17.0 Serra dos Orgaos NP; night at Teresopolis.
18 & 19 Serra dos Orgaos NP, Rio de Janeiro state; nights at Teresopolis.
20 7.15-19.15 Teresopolis - Santa Teresa, Espirito Santo, via Sapucaia; Hotel Globo (5Real each).
21 7.30-16.0 Nova Lombardia; 16.30-18.0 Santa Lucia; Hotel Globo.
22 6.0-15.30 Nova Lombardia; 16.0-18.0 Ruschi Botanical Gardens; Hotel Globo.
23 5.45-13.0 Nova Lombardia; 14.0-19.0 Santa Lucia; Hotel Globo..
24 5.30-11.0 Nova Lombardia; 12.30-16.45 Santa Teresa - Sooretama; 17.30-22.0 birding.
25 - 29 Sooretama; nights in bungalow at Reserve HQ.
30 5.30-10.30 Sooretama; drove to Itamaraju, Bahia; 12.0-19.0 Bralanda ; Hotel Maracaia, Itamaraju (9R).
31 6.0-12.0 Bralanda; drove to Monte Pascoal, 17.0-19.0 birded forest; Hotel Maracaia.
Feb 1 5.30-11.0 Monte Pascoal; 13.0-17.0 drove to Una, 17.0-18.30 birded S of town; pousada at Comandatuba (6R).
2 6.30-10.0 birded outside Una reserve; 10.0-15.30 drove to Cachoeira, near Salvador; 16.30-18.30 birded near Santo Amaro; Pousada Paithomaz, Cachoeira (7R b & b).
3 6.0-9.0 near Santo Amaro; 9.30-10.15 mangroves at Sao Francisco; 10.15-21.0 drove to Palmeira dos Indios, Alagoas, via Salvador airport; Hotel Los Angeles (5R).
4 7.0-7.30 marsh W of Palmeira, then drove to Pedra Talhada; birded outside reserve p.m.; camped.
5 - 7 Pedra Talhada; camped at police billet at edge of reserve.
8 6.0-11.45 Pedra Talhada; 12.0-18.30 drove to Jeremoabo, Bahia; camped by river 21km West.
9 6.0-9.0 birded along river; drove to Canudos, birding en route; 18.0-18.45 birded caatinga S of Canudos; Hotel Brazil (5R).
10 6.0-11.0 and 16.0-18.45 caatinga around Canudos; Hotel Brazil.
11 6.0-10.30 Jeremoaba road; 14.30-19.0 drove to Senhor du Bonfim; Hotel Rio das Pedras, Campo Formoso (9.5R b & b).
12 7.0-17.0 drove to Morro do Chapeu, birding wetlands en route - delayed by punctures; 17.0-18.30 birded Morro; Hotel Agreste (5R).
13 6.30-19.0 Morro do Chapeu area.
14 6.30-10.0 Morro do Chapeu;11.0-18.0 drove to Boa Nova; birded dry forest till 19.15; Hotel Solar (20R b, b & dinner, after 2+hr negotiation).
15 - 17 Boa Nova, wet and dry forest.
18 6.0-9.30 Boa Nova wet forest;13.30-2.0 a.m. drove nearly to Santa Barbara, Minas Gerais; camped on side road.
19 6.30 (5.30 local time) -8.0 (local) drove to Caraca monastery; 8.30-18.0 birded Parque Natural do Caraca; night at monastery (16R full board).
20 5.30-11.0 Pinheiros and Tanque Grande trails, Caraca; 12.0-16.30 drove to Serra do Cipo; 17.0-19.0 birded NP; Hotel Chapeu do Sol (11R b & b).
21 6.0-14.30 Serra do Cipo NP; 15.0-22.30 drove to Sao Roque de Minas; Faria's Hotel (7R b& b).
22 Car exhaust repaired; 8.30-18.30 Serra da Canastra NP; Faria's Hotel.
23 6.0-18.15 Serra da Canastra NP.
24 6.0-10.30 drove to and birded below Casca d'Anta falls, Serra da Canastra; drove to I tatiaia NP, Rio de Janeiro - puncture en route; camped on Pico das Agulhas road,
Itatiaia at 21.15.
25 5.0-18.0 Pico das Agulhas road; camped.
26 5.0-9.0 birded near camp; drove to lower park and spent most of day on Tres Picos Trail; camped at Pousada do Elephante (5R).
27 5.30-14.30 Jeep Trail; 15.30-18.0 drove to Copacabana, Rio; 19.0 dropped Dave Beadle at airport; drove back to Itatiaia; camped at Pousada do Elephante.
28 5.30-11.0 Tres Picos Trail; Museum; 14.30-19.15 Jeep Trail; 20.30-23.45 Itatiaia carnival.
March 1 5.30-10.0 Tres Picos Trail; 11.30-13.0 Bamboo Trail; 15.30-19.0 drove to Ubatuba, Sao Paulo; camped at site N of town (5R).
2 5.45-8.0 finding and getting in to Fazenda Capricornio; 8.0-13.0; 16.0-18.30 Fazenda Angelim; camped on beach E of Ubatuba.
3 5.45-9.30 Fazenda Angelim; drove to Parati, Rio de Janeiro, via Bocaina NP road; 14.30-15.30 drove nearly to Angra dos Reis and birded till 18.30; Pousada America at Frade (15R).
4 5.45-9.0 birded near Angra dos Reis; 9.30-12.0 drove to Itatiaia; 13.0-18.0 Bamboo Trail (JH), Jeep Trail (NB & GK); camped at Pousada do Elephante.
5 5.30-10.30 Bamboo Trail (JH); 11.30-16.30 drove to Praia de Seca; birded restinga till 18.15; drove to Rio airport in tropical storm, arriving at 23.0; slept in carpark.
6 7.45 Viasa flight to Caracas.
NOTES ON SITES
To be read in conjunction with Wheatley (1994).
Serra dos Orgaos National Park
Although the avifauna here is similar to Itatiaia's, it is worth visiting both sites as Orgaos holds Grey-winged Cotinga and some other species are easier to see here, notably White-throated Woodcreeper, Streamcreeper, Hooded Berryeater, Sharpbill, Brown Tanager and possibly Black-and-gold Cotinga. We also saw Swallow-tailed Cotinga, at c.16.00 by the road up into the Park, approx. 500 m above the entrance.
As the Park is only officially open from 8.00 to 17.00, on the first afternoon we arranged to go in early the following morning and paid the fee (1.50R) to take the Pedro do Sino trail. We left at 17.00 that first day and drove lower down, back towards Rio to try to find a way into the lower section, without success. We did see probable Crowned Eagle and Brown-backed Parrotlets in flight while watching the canopy from a pull-in by a stream.
The next day we drove into the Park at 7.00 - the gates were open - and to the upper car park. It took us all day to reach the elfin forest (at 1800m) where the Grey-winged Cotinga is found, although had we not stopped so frequently to bird, could have been there by early afternoon, but it's quite a flog. There is a good flat campsite at the start of the elfin forest, but heavy rain is said to be common up there, particularly in the afternoon and at night. [The lower campsite is overgrown and apparently not supposed to be used.] Cloud came down as we descended, obscuring the view of our only Hooded Berryeater, which responded well to play-back. We left the Park in the dark - the gates were still open and there was no-one on duty.
The final day we arrived at 06.00 and had to walk in and bird along the road as the main gates were locked, but the side entrance was open. A vehicle appeared after 30-40 mins and so we returned to the car and drove in, to the upper car park again. We only went about half way up this time, to the waterfall, as rain was threatening - indeed the afternoon was a bit of a wash-out. A guard was on duty at the upper car park when we returned, so had we started up the trail later in the morning we might have been asked for our tickets.
A minimum of 3 days is warranted here - although we did well, we didn't do justice to the site - note the non-existent list of flycatchers! We were fortunate in being able to stay with an ex-patriot, but there are hotels and restaurants in Teresopolis. Note that the last stretch of the road from Rio is slow and windy, so that it takes longer to reach than you might think, and the Three-toed Jacamar site on the Sapucaia to Sumidouro road not far away.
Itatiaia National Park
A well-documented key site holding several important species not readily found elsewhere, except possibly at Orgaos, notably Rusty-barred Owl, Plovercrest, Itatiaia Thistletail, White-bearded Antshrike, Rufous-backed Antvireo, Star-throated Antwren, Bertoni's and Rufous-tailed Antbirds, Brazilian Antthrush, Speckle-breasted Antpitta, Mouse-coloured Tapaculo, Slaty Bristlefront, Black-capped Piprites, Brown-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Serra do Mar Tyrannulet, Blue-billed Black-Tyrant, Red-rumped Warbling-Finch, Temminck's Seedeater and Thick-billed Saltator. While it should be easy to catch a bus to Itatiaia town, it would then be necessary to take a taxi into the Park to reach the hotels and main trails, and to go to the Pico das Agulhas road (1650-2300m) - essential for the high altitude species - where you may have to go some 15+ km to beyond the restaurant to see the Thistletail.
Note that accommodation is expensive here and rough camping not allowed except on the Pico das Agulhas road (recommended), but you can camp in the grounds of Pousada do Elephante (1050m), below Hotel Simon, and eat at the hotels. There are cheap hotels in the town but it is a 30 min drive from there up into the Park, although the entrance gates seemed to be permanently manned.
The most difficult birds appear to be White-bearded Antshrike, only seen by NB & GK off the Tres Picos trail, and Black-capped Piprites which most teams see on the upper stretches of both main trails but none of us saw. The Antpitta and Bristlefront were difficult at this time as they were unresponsive to play-back. The "Bamboo trail", which goes to a stream at 1260m off Tres Picos, has not been described before but is well worth trying. The entrance is difficult to find, being obscured by bamboo, but is on the left where Tres Picos trail first flattens, 8m after a big rock on the right, before the first concreted stream crossing. It was between here and the stream crossing that GK had Shrike-like Cotinga/ Elegant Mourner and Rufous-thighed Kite.
The coastal hills southwest of Rio between Parati and Ubatuba are still well-forested in places, particularly in Bocaina NP. However, it is not easy to get into the forest; we tried the only road that cuts through and, predictably, found it to be deforested/ inhabited all the way to the pass. The inland road from Taubate to Ubatuba is probably a better bet, although rather busy, as this winds through forest (to 800m) but it was dusk when we passed this way.
The "traditional" site here is Fazenda Capricornio (Map 11), which we eventually found by turning inland near the 45km post and taking the left fork (the right goes to F.Angelim). We were then refused entry by the "caretaker" as the manager was in Sao Paulo, but managed to talk our way in and explore the semi-abandoned cacoa plantation. A single Purpletuft was the highlight but Saw-billed Hermit, Fork-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, Neotropical River Warbler and Azure-shouldered Tanager were also seen. In the late afternoon we tried the adjacent Fazenda Angelim - birds were few but as we thought we had heard Squamate Antbird, we decided to camp on the nearby beach near another tent and return at first light. We ate at a good cheap restaurant opposite the main Rodovaria in Ubatuba, an otherwise expensive town.
The camp-site was not a good one, as we were hassled by the police in the night, but the Fazenda did yield Squamate Antbird, in addition to White-necked Puffbird, Red-eyed Thornbird and Salvadori's Antwren. We eventually met the Danish owner, Paul Thompsen, who was very hospitable and showed us the fully equipped facilities, for use by scouts and guides. He is thinking of going into eco-tourism and will welcome visiting birders who can stay there, for a fee, by prior arrangement (as he lives in Sao Paulo, tel 011 461 1444, work, 4075 home, and only visits at the weekend). The address is Fazenda Angelim, Rodovaria Rio-Santos km 45, Bairro Taquaral, Ubatuba, Sao Paulo. There is a trail into the hill forest where there are said to be stands of bamboo - which we had failed to find, in the quest for Spotted Bamboowren and Buffy-fronted Seedeater.
Other places to try around there are the bridge over the Rio Quiririm at Km 23 (from the Rio state border) - a Purpletuft site - and the road to the Agronomic Institute, 5km from Ubatuba.
Further towards Rio between Prade and Angra dos Reis (Map 10), the scrubby wetland holds the rare, striking Black-hooded Antwren, and in the austral winter, Black-legged Dacnis. We arrived in late afternoon and walked some way on a trail, starting by the bus-stop in between the two bridges over Rio Floresta, through swamp forest to mangroves, without seeing anything of note. The following morning GK found a pair of Antwrens fairly close to the main road. They moved on after a few minutes, when we had all seen them fortunately, into impenetrable swamp and thorny scrub.
Northeast of Rio the flat coastline has areas of dry sandy scrub - restinga - where it has not been developed for housing/ holiday homes. The stretch between Praia de Seca and Cabo Frio holds Restinga Antwren, Hang-nest Tody-Tyrant and, in the austral winter, Black-backed Tanager. There were good numbers of waders at the large salt-works at Praia but we had no time to check them out.
Nova Lombardia Biological Reserve
Another key site but a relatively small area of mid-elevation forest. You must have proof of having at least requested a permit, eg our copy of the FAX to IBAMA requesting a permit for a later date was accepted. This was the only place where we saw other "birders", namely EO Willis and his wife, who, with 2 students, were studying breeding birds there. He kindly helped in identifying some calls and recordings, including Russet-winged Spadebill, and told us about a trail that lead to the eastern ridge frequented by Hooded Berryeater. He also saved us having to check all the hermits carefully for "Black-billed" as he has proved it to be a first-year Scale-throated. Other good species here were Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Frilled Coquette, Sombre Hummingbird, Spot-billed Toucanet, Ferruginous Antbird, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Oustalet's Tyrannulet, Rufous-brown Solitaire and Blackish-blue Seedeater, while Short-tailed and Such's Antthrushes and Variegated Antpittas were feeding along the right fork at dawn.
The open area at the fork appeared good for night-birds, including Least Pygmy-Owl. We failed to identify Bisuscate Swift, which EOW said were all the "White-collared"-types he had seen clearly. Hummingbirds were concentrated at feeders at the warden's house, at the Ruschi Botanical Gardens in Santa Teresa (which are now open every day, but close at lunchtime), and at Estacio Biologica de Santa Lucia. The latter (Map 2) is down a small, dirt road, a left fork after 1+ km off a right turn to Santa Leopoldina, some 6km from Santa Teresa back towards Fundao. It is lower than Nova Lombardia and holds some different species,including Saw-billed Hummingbird (common) and Bellbird. It is possible to stay there by prior arrangement, unlike Nova Lombardia which now has no accommodation, although the cheap Hotel Globo in Santa Teresa is adequate.
There is a good lake and marsh by the main road south of Vitoria, where we had various ducks including Masked, and Chestnut-capped Blackbird.
Sooretama Biological Reserve
This IBAMA reserve and the adjacent CVRD Linhares reserve constitute the most extensive protected lowland forest tract in this part of the world. Key birds here are White-necked Hawk, Red-billed Curassow, Blue-winged Macaw, Blue-throated Parakeet, Red-browed Parrot, Long-tailed Potoo, Minute Hermit, Long-tailed Woodnymph, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Striated Softtail, Plumbeous Antshrike, Rufous-winged Antwren, Scalloped Antbird, Black-headed Berryeater, Grey-capped Tyrannulet, and Green-backed and Black-capped Becards. Banded and White-winged Cotingas and Bellbird were seen in a fruiting tree along the main trail, after a lengthy watch - the former 2 sp. were seen more easily at Bralanda and the latter at Monte Pascoal. GK had a Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo in the forest near the start of the main trail and JH a Wied's Tyrant-Manakin in the same place while looking unsuccessfully for the cuckoo. Tawny-browed Owl called intermittently at the HQ but did not respond to play-back. We saw almost all the notable birds along the main road through the forest or on the main trail, with little during afternoons on the outer trails.
The avifauna of both reserves are likely to be the same. Note that FieldGuides had Black-tailed Leaftosser at Linhares. For Sooretama IBAMA's permission is essential - we ensured we had this with the help of the wardens at Nova Lombardia, having had no response to our FAX. On arrival we were given a fully equipped bungalow, and we purchased additional basic food, beer and wine from the village a few km away. Two guards came out with us on the first morning but after that we were allowed to go alone.
For Linhares you need a permit from Florestas Rio Doce S.A., Rua Sao Paulo, 351 - 5 andar CEP 30170, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil (tel 031 212 8111, fax 031 201 0316). There is more luxurious accommodation here but it may be full with their CVRD (Companhia Vale do Rio Doce) visitors, in which case you may have to stay in Linhares 50km away. There is an observation tower at the reserve. The entrance is on the east side of the main road north, and so is easier to find than Sooretama's, which is reached by turning west at km107 opposite a Shell garage.
This is a private logging concession east of Itamaraju (Map 1), in the same region as Monte Pascoal and Porto Seguro, lower than the former and easier to reach than the latter. Details were given to us by EOW, who said it was notable for holding Hook-billed Hermit and Racket-tailed Coquette. Unlike Sooretama, where there was no-one to stop people entering the forest and no sign of guards when we were there, this logged forest is guarded. Permission was not readily granted - I had to speak to Bralanda's top man in Rio, who gave me quite a grilling, and then we had to sign an indemnity waiver. For this reason I am not publishing access details, but will give them if personally requested.
We only spent one full afternoon and the following morning here but birds included Crested Eagle, Collared Forest-Falcon, Blue-throated Parakeet, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Red-browed Parrot, Racket-tailed Coquette, White-crowned Manakin (of the endangered cephaleucos race) and at least 2 Banded and 20 White-winged Cotingas. The area encompassed is probably comparable to the Sooretama + Linares reserves but we saw no virgin primary forest, and not much sign of recent logging for that matter.
Monte Pascoal National Park
The accessible part of the Park was rather disappointing as it appeared highly disturbed, with numerous souvenir vendors at the entrance. However, the unmanned visitor centre (where you could probably doss in comfort, if reliant on public transport) showed no signs of vandalism, a pleasant change compared to this country, and gave a good view over the extensive canopy in the lower part of the Park. Although we did not see any interesting raptors from this viewpoint, given more time there surely would have been some because this lower, and apparently inaccessible, forest looked pristine. Our highlights were Racket-tailed Coquette, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Striped Manakin, Bay-ringed Tyrannulet and Chestnut-bellied Euphonia.
This totally unprotected region was possibly the most interesting area visited, due to the variety of habitats. We spent time in the dry forest 2km east of town, and the nearby scrub (Map 8), and the humid forest 16km east (Map 9). We also continued further east, exploring 2 tracks to forest patches in search of Hook-billed Hermit and Mantled Hawk (found by J Wall's team). Slender Antbird and Narrow-billed Antwren were easily found in the ground bromeliad-rich forest patch near rhe road. GK had a sighting of White-browed Antpitta by the upper trail in this patch but we could not relocate it, having to make do with Rufous Gnateater and Hang-nest Tody-Tyrant. Spotted Piculet and Ochre-cheeked Spinetail were also seen in this wood. The scrub held Grey-headed Spinetail, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Pileated Antwren and Stripe-backed Antbird.
The humid forest was rich, with Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant at the start of the uphill trail (left fork), and along the trail Grey-bellied Spinetail, Striated Softtail, Tufted Antshrike, Streak-capped Antwren, Ochre-rumped and White-bibbed Antbirds, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Fuscous Flycatcher, Greenish Schiffornis and two new species, Bahia Tyrannulet Phylloscartes beckeri (Gonzago and Pachero, 1995) and the subsequently described Bahia Spinetail, similar to Rufous-capped, Synallaxis whitneyi. A late afternoon visit culminated in an Ocellated Poorwill sighting at the start of the trail (but no Buff-fronted Owl, as seen by JW et al). After a further 2.1km along the road, there is a trail across the hillside on the left to a bamboo-rich forest patch. We expected to find Mouse-coloured Tapaculo but also saw Rio de Janeiro Antbird. Another uphill track on the left 3.4km further down the main road leads to a ridge overlooking a more distant forested ridge, and here I finally saw Mantled Hawk.
There appeared to be only one hotel and no restaurants in Boa Nova, the worst-serviced town of its size we saw. The Hotel Solar, although basic, was quite pleasant and the food good, but the patron would not give us a price until we were about to leave. We were shocked to be charged 45 Rs each a day, and after a long negotiation agreed to pay 20 Rs.
Una Biological Reserve
As this reserve was almost on our way, we arranged permission to visit it through Rex Nash ringing Dr Saturnino, the Portuguese-speaking manager (tel 073 236 2166). However, as we would have had to ring again, by ourselves, to agree a meeting time and date, we decided to just bird the approach road (Map 3), as advised by JW (whose team had seen the rare Golden Lion Tamarin Leontopithecus rosalia there). It is reached by turning left 12km north of Una, and taking the right fork - the entrance is then on the right after 3.5km. Birds included Golden-spangled Piculet, Cream-coloured Woodpecker, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, White-lored Tyrannulet and our only Yellow-rumped Cacique of the trip.
With the pleasant colonial town of Cachoeira as a base, we visited the forested hills 31km along the road to Santo Amaro, beyond a soda dump (Map 4). The few birds seen on the first evening included Grey-eyed Greenlet, the gripping Sooty Grassquit and Uniform Crake. On the next morning we had a more determined effort to get into the forest, taking the track to the right, parallel with the road, into a commercial bamboo plantation. On climbing c.100m into the hill-forst, from between two streams, we were rewarded by fine studies of our quarry, the "very rare" Fringe-backed Fire-eye, Blue-backed Manakin and Turquoise Tanager; while a Rufous Chacholote was in the bushes below. Moving on to the mangroves northeast of Sao Francisco do Conde, we soon found a Little Wood-Rail and, eventually, a pair of Bicoloured Conebill (Map 5).
Surrounded by caatinga, this town has a pleasant hotel ("Brazil") at the far end, with a particularly agreeable young manageress - at least one of the team has vowed to return! We found the area east of town, described by the Gardners (and Wheatley) to be disappointing, as it has been fenced and partially developed. South of town, the dirt road beyond the rubbish dump (off the main road which bends right) goes through excellent habitat, complete with a long trail to the isolated low hills on the right (Map 6). Birds seen here included Caatinga Parakeets, Least Nighthawk, Broad-tipped Hermit, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, White-wedged Piculet, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Black-bellied Antwren, Stripe-backed Antbird, Suiriri Flycatcher, Lesser Wagtail-Tyrant, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Ash-throated Casiornis and White-naped Jay.
The road between Canudos and Jeremoabo followed a small river for much of the way, so that gallery forest and occasional small wetlands were accessible. Highlights were Blue-crowned Parakeet, Blue-fronted Parrot, Little Nightjar, Spot-backed Puffbird, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Long-billed Wren, Red-cowled Cardinal and Scarlet-throated Tanager.
We wasted some time and money (in phone calls) trying to get permission to visit the Lear's Macaw roost, which the local IBAMA rep wanted to take us to (in his jeep) but the State office in Salvador passed the buck to Brazilia. In the meantime we saw two well at the Licuri palm plantation. We also agonised at length on whether to go to Curaca to try to see the last surviving Spix's Macaw, but decided not to go for various reasons, chiefly that a captive bird (potential mate) was scheduled to have been released by then and visits to the area were said to be prohibited.
Morro Do Chapeu
This somewhat obscure spot holds two exceptional species - Hooded Visorbearer and Great Xenops. Both occur on the Morro (low mountain) itself, the Visorbearer near the top and the Xenops in the scrubby forest lower down (Map 7). We failed to see either on our first afternoon; the following morning we concentrated on the forest and 2 members saw a pair of Xenops separately - one by the roadside and the other from a forest track. A visit to the "waterfall" (dry) 19km east was unrewarding, as was late afternoon at the top of the Morro, followed by dusk at a valley to the north - another site where the Visorbearer has been seen. I finally saw a single Xenops in the forest in the afternoon.
Early morning at the top the next day soon produced the goods, with 4 Visorbearers recorded - one having a territory by the car park at the end of the road. Returning to the forest, there were no further Xenops sightings, but good views were had of Spotted Piculet. Other notable birds here had been Yellow-legged Tinamou (commonly heard but never seen well), Tataupa Tinamou, Rufous-thighed Hawk, Golden-capped Parakeet, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Pileated Antwren and Greenish Elaenia.
Pedra Talhada Biological Reserve
We decided to continue north into Alagoas as it holds several Threatened endemics not found elsewhere and would not be very far from Canudos where we were certainly going. The decision then was whether to go to Pedra Talhada, well described by the Gardners, or to Pedra Branca near Murici, or both. The latter is known to hold more endemics than the former but is further off-route and access details have not been reported. We settled on Pedra Talhada and soon found the "owner". However, he was unable to give us permission to visit because he had evidently sold the land as a reserve to the Associacao Nordeste (whose Presidente's name is Sr. Alexandre.) We reached the "warden's house" to find it inhabited by a military police unit (of about 8). Although friendly, they would not let us go into the forest without escort - they eventually took us a short way in but insisted that the Police Chief's permission was necessary to go any further. Later, their officer went with 2 of us back to the town of Quebrangulo to find the Chief (Cicero Valdevino da Silva, Rua Castelo Branco, 97, Cha do Pilar, Alagoas, C.O.P. 57150-00). He gave us permission to enter the forest but only when escorted.
We were allowed to camp outside the "billet" as there was no accommodation in the local village (- the town was an hour's drive away on a bad road). We pooled food and drink with the police, who cooked for us and encouraged us to watch their TV, drink spirits and play football - anything but go into the forest! The highlight was a spectacular, live concert of the Rolling Stones in Rio late one night. Birding time was lost for various other reasons, such as a Unit change which brought in another friendly bunch, even more reluctant to enter the forest. Hence we didn't spend as much time in the forest as we wanted and for much of the day it was too hot to see many birds in the surrounding fields and scrub.
The main birds of interest were Pearl Kite, Zone-tailed Hawk, Jandaya Parakeet, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Pygmy Nightjar, Long-tailed Woodnymph, Versicoloured Emerald, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Tawny Piculet (including the "undescribed" (Winkler et al, 1995, Woodpeckers) male), Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Pinto's, Cinereous-breasted and Grey-headed Spinetails, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Black-capped Antwren, White-backed Fire-eye, Scalloped Antbird, Rufous and Black-cheeked Gnateaters (unusual to occur at the same elevation), Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Smoky-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, Grey Elaenia (in a field), Alagoas Tyrannulet, Yellow-faced Siskin, Flavescent Warbler, Guira, Hepatic and Seven-coloured Tanagers, Capped and White-throated Seedeaters, Epaulet Oriole (with yellow epaulets) and Forbes' Blackbird. Game birds, including tinamous, were notably absent indicating the forest is still hunted.
We did not see Orange-bellied Antwren, recorded by the Gardners. The other Alagoas specialities are White-collared Kite (a split from Grey-headed), Alagoas Currasow (probably extinct), Alagoas Foliage-gleaner and Alagoas Antwren. I may have seen the Foliage-gleaner; it and the antwren certainly occurred at Pedra Branca but the situation there does not seem clear, other than that the remaining forest is a biological reserve now but of difficult access. Bruce Forrester went to the area in 1994 (see his "Brazil - VII"), failed to get into the reserve but found some forest nearby, only seeing the Kite (probably) from the four specialities. EOW said there is a right turn at Murici, from Maceio, which loops back to the westward bound main road and passes through the reserve after c.10 km. According to Dave Willis the Pedra Branca forest is insignificant now but there is forest at a Fazenda northwest of Maceio - contact him for details.
Note that there is a good marsh by the main road a few km west from the nearest large town, Palmeira dos Indios. We saw Least Bittern, Russet-crowned Crake, Spot-flanked Gallinule, South American Snipe, Black-backed Water-Tyrant and White-winged Swallow..
Specifically visited to see a mammal, the Maned Wolf, on which we dipped, this site near Santa Barbara turned out to be the surprise of the trip. Santuario do Caraca is an attractive monastery set in forested mountains, the Parque Natural. There are several good trails (Map 12) and you can stay at the monastery on a full board basis. An elderly monk feeds the "lobo" (Maned Wolf) most evenings - he told us he had fed it the previous night but failed to say he was going away, with the result that we were unable to see it that day. However, we saw some good birds, namely Crowned Eagle, Grey-breasted Sabrewing and Hyacinth Visorbearer (both potential 'splits"), Serra Antwren, Dusky-tailed and Scalloped Antbirds, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Velvety Black-Tyrant, Shear-tailed Grey-Tyrant, White-bellied Warbler and Pale-throated Serra-Finch.
Serra do Cipo National Park
Although holding several rare species, it is possible to "clean up" here in less than 24 hours, as one of our team did, but it can take days to do so. There are two key areas to explore, firstly the scrubby roadside around the hairpin c.1km above Hotel Chapeu do Sol, where on the first afternoon we had Horned Sungem, Crested Black-Tyrant, White-banded and White-rumped Tanagers, Black-throated Saltator and Yellow-billed Blue Finch, while one of our number (who survived to tell the tale) saw a Cinereous Warbling-Finch without recognizing it till later - it was not relocated! The other is the area on the right above the first pass, especially the rocky outcrops, where we found Hyacinth Visorbearer, Cipo Canastero, Grey-backed Tachuri, Hellmayr's Pipit, and a single Pale-throated Serra-Finch/ Great Pampa-Finch at dusk. Further on, we spent some time searching vainly for Tachuris (which had only been seen by 2 of the team), but only noted Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, White-eared Puffbird, Firewood-gatherer and White-rumped Monjita. Lesser Nothura, Giant Snipe and Long-trained Nightjar are reputed to occur but must be hard to see - we walked through damp grassland at length, without reward.
Serra da Canastra National Park
An important site and the only extensive grassland/ cerrado we visited. Two full days on the cerrado and along the river valleys gave Red-winged Tinamou, Greater Rhea, Buff-necked Ibis, Red-legged Seriema, Band-winged Nightjar, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Toco Toucan, Campo Miner, Sooty Tyrannulet, Sharp-tailed and Cock-tailed Tyrants, Grey and White Monjitas, Tawny-headed Swallow, Hellmayr's Pipit, Black-masked and Yellow-billed Blue Finches, and a single Giant Anteater. We had no luck with Brazilian Merganser, despite trying 3 sites at length - the austral winter is clearly a better time - but did pish out a Brasilia Tapaculo fairly easily, at the second stream from the Park entrance, where Grey-backed Tachuri was also seen.
The riparian woodland and scrub behind the Visitor Centre, near the entrance, where the Gardners recorded White-striped Warbler, was disappointing: White-bellied Warbler and Olivaceous Elaenia were two of the few species seen, and two of us saw what we took to be a White-striped warbler but it disappeared before we could confirm it. However, we did have one major delight near here - close studies of a superb Maned Wolf, feeding on scraps put out at the admin block, and in sunlight (at 17.45) - a fairly regular event apparently, although not repeated the following evening. Although the official opening hous are 08.00 to 18.00, we were allowed in at 06.15 and left at 18.30. On the final morning we drove round the base of the Park to the woodland below the Casca d'Anta waterfall, seeing Firewood-gatherer, Streamer-tailed Tyrant and Curl-crested Jay on the way, but failing to find Helmeted Manakin or Great Dusky Swift when we arrived. Greenish Schiffornis and White-rimmed Warbler were the only consolations. According to Mark Pearman, Fazenda Boquerao is the best place for Brazilain Merganser and Helmeted Manakin.
RECORDS OF THREATENED SPECIES
Threatened status category is as specified in Collar et al (1994) and defined as follows:-
CRITICAL facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.
ENDANGERED facing very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.
VULNERABLE facing high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium term.
NEAR THREATENED apparently not (yet) in serious danger of global extinction but gives cause for concern.
White-necked Hawk, Leucopternis lacernulata VULNERABLE
A single bird was flushed on 26th and 27th Jan from mid-storey/canopy perches by the main trail (Estrada Quiranao) in Sooretama Biological Reserve, Espirito Santo. The fact that this was our only record reinforces the view that this species is distinctly scarce, especially since its lowland forest habitat is now so depleted.
Crowned Eagle, Harpyhaliaetus coronatus VULNERABLE
One was observed soaring over the forest at Caraca Natural Park, Minas Gerais, on 20th Feb. A large raptor soaring over forest at Serra dos Orgaos, Rio de Janeiro, on 17th Jan had the profile of this species, and it is difficult to see what else it could have been, but it was too distant for any fieldmarks to be discerned. Both these records appear to be the first of this rare species from these sites (Collar et al, 1992).
Red-billed Curassow, Crax blumenbachii CRITICAL
Two singles were seen along Estrada Quiranao in Sooretama Biological Reserve on 25th Jan. Birds were also heard booming on at least 2 other days, from the road through the reserve and from behind the HQ. [According to Sick (1970), booming is rarely heard in Jan, the main period being September and October.] Hence there appears to be a viable population in this nominally protected forest. No evidence of hunting or active protection was seen during our 5 days in the forest. The number of rangers employed here appeared to be rather small.
Lear's Macaw, Anodorhynchus leari CRITICAL
A pair was seen feeding in a Licuri palm plantation by the Canudos to Jeremoabo road, Bahia. They were doubtless from the only known sizeable population, of some 60 birds which breed and roost on cliffs in the region. The IBAMA rep in Canudos will take birders to the cliffs if permission is obtained from IBAMA in Brasilia; it is likely to be granted outside the breeding season, ie. from June to November. As the total known population is possibly less than 100 birds and the keeping of macaws still allowed, the species is clearly in a critical situation.
Blue-winged Macaw, Ara maracana VULNERABLE
Collar et al (1994) have recently added this species to the Threatened list. Our observations would tend to support this as it was only noted twice at Sooretama BR, with 2 on 24th Jan and 5 on 29th, and once at Boa Nova, Bahia - 6 on 18th - which is completely unprotected.
Golden-capped Parakeet, Aratinga auricapilla VULNERABLE
Two pairs were seen at Morro do Chapeu, Bahia on 13th Feb and a total of 18 in several small parties at Serra da Canastra NP, Minas Gerais on 24th Feb. According to Collar et al (1992), the sp. has become rare, as it does require the presence of forest, even though it is often seen in open country. From our limited experience, classification as Near Threatened might be more appropriate.
Blue-throated Parakeet, Pyrrhura cruentata ENDANGERED
On 25th Jan this species was found to be rather common at Sooretama BR, with around 30 noted in several small flocks. Strangely, only 3 were recorded the next day and none thereafter, until we moved to the logged Bralanda forest, southern Bahia where 10 were seen on 30th Jan and 15+ on 31st. Hence it appears to be not uncommon in the remaining lowland forest in this small part of the country. The Bralanda records support the comment from Bret Whitney in Collar et al (1992) that it was common at the CVRD Porto Seguro Reserve, nearby. As previously noted, protection afforded by Sooretama may not be very effective; access to the privately owned Bralanda forest appears to be fairly rigorously controlled, so that this may be an important site for those species such as this and cotingas that can tolerate partially logged forest.
Brown-backed Parrotlet, Touit melanonotus ENDANGERED
A party of 8 touit-type parrots in flight over the lower forest in Serra dos Orgaos NP on 17th Jan was presumed to be this rarely recorded sp. As it would be easily overlooked, it is difficult to comment on the true status of the bird. As coastal forest in Rio state, which is more extensive than in much of the country, appears to be its stronghold, there is cause for optimism about the fate of this species.
Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Touit surda ENDANGERED
At least 2 were seen at Nova Lombardia Biological Reserve, Espirito Santo on 21st Jan, 3 at Brolanda forest on 31st Jan and 2 at Pedra Talhada Biological Reserve, Alagoas on 6th Feb. Given the difficulty of spotting small forest-dwelling parrots, this species evidently still survives in the remaining habitat, albeit in small numbers.
Red-browed Parrot, Amazona rhodocorytha ENDANGERED
This was the only recorded at three sites: 6 at Sooretama BR on 25th Jan and 2 on 28th; 4 at Bralanda on 31st Jan and 2 at Monte Pascoal NP, Bahia on 1st Feb.
Three-toed Jacamar, Jacamaralcyon tridactyla ENDANGERED
Four birds were seen on 20th Jan in dry woodland at a stake-out near Sapucaia in the Paraiba Valley, Rio de Janeiro (Bushell, 1994), a potentially highly threatened habitat as reported previously, eg by Tobias et al (1993).
Tawny Piculet, Picumnus fulvescens VULNERABLE
Two males were observed at Pedra Talhada BR, Alagoas on 6th Feb and a female on 7th. All 3 birds were in the vicinity of the police billet, outside the forest, feeding predominantly in small trees such as Cashew in scrubland / low caatinga, but also in the lower branches of a Mango. It was not seen in humid forest, as reported by Collar et al (1994), where only Golden-spangled Piculet was found. Although there may be more scrub than true forest in this region, it is being cleared more rapidly for agriculture than the remaining forest, which is receiving some protection. Consequently, this scarce sp. is certainly at risk and should possibly be raised to Endangered status.
Pinto's Spinetail, Synallaxis infuscata ENDANGERED
Three were seen at Pedra Talhada BR on 5th Feb and 1 in a different area on 6th. All were foraging unobtrusively in dense tangles at the forest edge; others were probably overlooked. Although little forest remains in this part of the country, the species' habitat is less threatened than that of other rare sp., because even when forest and scrub is being partially cleared, as at Pedra Talhada, edge habitat still exists. Hence there appears to be no justification for giving this species a higher threatened status than Tawny Piculet and possibly Buff-breasted Tody-tyrant.
Red-shouldered Spinetail, Synallaxis hellmayri VULNERABLE
Eight were seen and others heard in caatinga just south of Canudos on 10th Feb.
Cipo Canastero, Asthenes luizae ENDANGERED
3 were seen and 3 heard at Serra da Cipo NP, Minas Gerais in the late afternoon of 20th Feb, and the following morning 4 were seen in one area and 3 in another, all on or near the top of the first rocky hills. Vulnerable status would perhaps be more appropriate as there seems little threat to the habitat here.
Striated Softtail, Thripophaga macroura VULNERABLE
Observed daily at Sooretama BR, with a max of 6 on 29th Jan, and in the humid forest near Boa Nova with 3 on two dates and 1 on the other two days.
Alagoas Foliage-gleaner, Philydor novaesi CRITICAL
At Pedra Talhada BR a rufous foliage-gleaner was seen on 6th Feb feeding at mid-storey in a small flock at the edge of an open area on a forested hillside. It appeared to be similar to Black-capped Philydor atricapillus but the view was too brief to rule out White-eyed Automolus leucophthalmus, the only other foliage-gleaner in range. P. novaesi is only known from Pedra Branca BR, 70-80km away, but might be expected here. Another possible foliage-gleaner was seen briefly at forest edge on 8th Feb at Pedra Talhada.
Great Xenops, Megaxenops parnaguae VULNERABLE
Two pairs were seen on the morning of 13th Feb at Morro do Chapeu and a single bird in the afternoon; none was found the following morning.
White-bearded Antshrike, Biatas nigropectus VULNERABLE
A lone female was seen some 100m below the Tres Picos trail at Itatiaia NP on 28th Feb (GK) and a pair was in a flock of antbirds crossing the Bamboo trail, off Tres Picos, on 1st March (NB). Both sightings were around 1150m asl in the vacinity of extensive stands of bamboo. The birds could not be relocated subsequently.
Plumbeous Antshrike, Thamnomanes plumbeus VULNERABLE
Up to 3 were seen on 4 of the 6 days spent at Sooretama BR.
Salvadori's Antwren, Myrmotherula minor VULNERABLE
A pair was seen at Fazenda Capricornio, near Ubatuba, Sao Paulo on 2nd March. We thought we had also seen up to 4 a day at Sooretama BR but now think they must have been the grey-backed endemic subsp. of White-flanked Antwren.
Unicolored Antwren, Myrmotherula unicolor VULNERABLE
A bird at Sooretama on 25th Jan appeared to be this sp. but as it was north of the known range, the possibility of it being an imm. M. urosticta or axillaris cannot be ruled out. None was seen at Fazendas Capricornio and Angelim which were in range.
Band-tailed Antwren, Myrmotherula urosticta VULNERABLE
Single pairs were noted at Sooretama BR on 3 dates and at Monte Pascoal NP on 1st March.
Pectoral Antwren, Herpsilochmus pectoralis VULNERABLE
Despite several hours spent searching the riparian gallery woodland between Jeremoaba and Canudos, only one bird was seen by one observer, although we did not have a tape of the species for assistance.
Narrow-billed Antwren, Formicivora iheringi VULNERABLE
At least 6 were noted in the dry forest near Boa Nova, both alone and in small mixed species flocks. As the species does not appear to need the presence of ground bromeliads, unlike Slender Antbird, a certain amount of suitable dry woodland should remain for some years to come.
Restinga Antwren, Formicivora littoralis ENDANGERED
We only reached the coastal restinga scrubland in the late afternoon of our last day. We searched a promising area east of Piaia de Seco, Rio de Janeiro for 100mins but the only evidence of the bird was one flying to roost in a thick bush at dusk and another singing briefly from within a dense bush.
Black-hooded Antwren, Formicivora erythronotos CRITICAL
An extensive search for this sp. in suitable habitat near Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro during the afternoon of 3rd March was unsuccessful, but the following morning a pair was seen, within 200m of the main road. This particular area is very wet and so is unlikely to be cleared, but much of the nearby areas already have been and so the viability of the population must be questionable.
Fringe-backed Fire-eye, Pyriglena atra ENDANGERED
Close studies of a male were obtained, assisted by play-back, in hillsde forest with thick undergrowth west of Santo Amaro, Bahia above a commercial bamboo plantation. There was no evidence of it in patches of second growth - Collar et al (1994) state that it appears to be most abundant in second growth. As the amount of suitable habitat remaining appears to be pitifully small and unprotected, the future looks bleak for this sp.
Slender Antbird, Rhopornis ardesiaca ENDANGERED
At least 3 pairs were found in the dry bromeliad-rich forest near Boa Nova, but trees within this patch of forest were being cut down, probably for firewood, fencing and building material. As there did not appear to be much other similar forest and none is protected, this sp. is certainly Endangered.
Scalloped Antbird, Myrmeciza ruficauda VULNERABLE
We had difficulty in locating this species at Sooretama BR but eventually found single territorial pairs on the first stretch of the main through-road and near the start of Estrada Quiranao. It appeared to be more numerous at Pedra Talhada BR, where 1 or 2 were seen and up to 3 heard singing on at least two days in the forest.
Brasilia Tapaculo, Scytalopus novacapitalis VULNERABLE
One was "pished out" of thick riparian bushes at Serra da Canastra NP on 23rd Feb.
Shrike-like Cotinga / Elegant Mourner, Laniisoma elegans VULNERABLE
One was observed perched in the canopy of high trees on the Tres Picos trail, Itatiaia NP at c.1200m, just before the first major stream crossing, on 1st March.
Gray-winged Cotinga, Tijuca condita VULNERABLE
We did not reach the elfin forest habitat of this sp. until late afternoon at Serra dos Orgaos NP, on 18th Jan, and so not surprisingly failed to see or hear the species in the short time available. However, GK stayed in the upper primary forest, where Black-and-Gold Cotingas were numerous, and saw at least one female-type cotinga with a striking yellow rump, characteristic of Gray-winged. DA Scott has subsequently confirmed that it must have been condita. Although unusual to be in such habitat at c.1600m, it is not unprecedented as a female was netted at 1370m in Nov 1980
Black-headed Berryeater, Carpornis melanocephalus VULNERABLE
Two were seen near Estrada Quiranao at Sooretama BR on 26th Jan and thereafter it was heard there daily. It was also heard once at Bralanda and Monte Pascoal NP.
Buff-throated Purpletuft, Iodopleura pipra VULNERABLE
A single female was observed at Fazenda Capricornio, a well-known site for the species. The future of this semi-abandoned cocoa plantation is in doubt, as ownership and useage may change soon, but the adjacent Fazenda Angelim, which presumably should also hold the sp., does appear to be secure at present. None of the northern race was seen at Pedra Talhada BR, despite being specifically looked for, but it is a very diminutive bird and could easily be missed.
Cinnamon-vented Piha, Lipaugus lanioides VULNERABLE
Only seen singly on 3 days at Nova Lombardia BR, where students were monitoring the progress of an active nest near the park HQ, visible from the main road. Its presence may have been overlooked elsewhere as we were not very familiar with its voice.
Banded Cotinga, Cotinga maculata ENDANGERED
A single adult male was seen at Sooretama BR on 28th Jan (GK), 2 female-types at Bralanda on 31st and one at Monte Pascoal NP on 1st Feb.
White-winged Cotinga, Xipholena atropurpurea VULNERABLE
An immature male and a female were at Sooretama BR on 27th Jan, with a female on 28th, and a male at Bralanda on 30th. In the early morning of 31st Jan at Bralanda at least 15, including 2 adult males, were seen around fruiting trees in a partly logged area and 4 or 5 at another area a little later. As similar numbers have been reported at nearby Porto Seguro BR, its designation as Vulnerable may be overpessimistic.
Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Hemitriccus mirandae VULNERABLE
Only recorded at Pedra Talhada BR where it appeared to be not uncommon in the forest, with 2 on 5th Feb and 4 on 6th.
Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, Hemitriccus furcatus VULNERABLE
A pair was resident in the humid forest near Boa Nova where it was seen daily. Two more were in the same area on 18th Feb. One was also recorded at Fazenda Angelim on 2nd March.
Alagoas Tyrannulet, Phylloscartes ceciliae ENDANGERED
Singles were seen on 4 occasions in the forest at Pedra Talhada BR: once on 4th and 9th Feb and twice on 5th.
Russet-winged Spadebill, Platyrinchus leucoryphus VULNERABLE
A single record of one by the right-hand road through Nova Lombardia BR on 22nd Jan.
Yellow-faced Siskin, Carduelis yarrellii VULNERABLE
Two parties of 4 birds were noted at Pedra Talhada BR on 4th Feb. The first was in garden trees c.4km before the police billet, and the other in trees near the billet but outside the forest. The song and calls were typical of siskins.
Seven-coloured Tanager, Tangara fastuosa ENDANGERED
Several sightings of up to 3 at Pedra Talhada, mainly within the forest, with one in trees in the adjacent caatinga.
Black-masked Finch, Coryphaspiza melanotis VULNERABLE
Two pairs were noted in grassland at Serra da Canastra on 22nd Feb.
Temminck's Seedeater, Sporophila falcirostris ENDANGERED
The only record was of a single bird in bamboo near the start of the Jeep trail at Itatiaia NP on 27th Feb.
Forbes' Blackbird, Curaeus forbesi CRITICAL
Around 20 roosted in a fairly large leafy tree by the track below the police billet at Pedra Talhada BR on 5th Feb. They were not observed feeding in the adjacent fields or "hedgerows" despite some time being spent checking this habitat during our stay here.
Solitary Tinamou, Tinamus solitarius
Heard daily at Sooretama, with one seen on 25th Jan, and one at Monte Pascoal on 1st March.
Yellow-legged Tinamou, Crypturellus noctivagus
Heard daily at Morro do Chapeu, with one flushed on 14th. May have been missed at earlier sites such as Sooretama as we were unfamiliar with the call then.
Greater Rhea, Rhea americana
Two at Serra da Canastra on 22nd Feb and 3 on 23rd.
Mantled Hawk, Leucopternis polionota
One observed in flight over forest remnants, in which it landed, c.20km east of Boa Nova during the afternoon of 17th Feb.
Crested Eagle, Morphnus guianensis
One in flight at Bralanda in the morning of 31st Jan.
Pileated Parrot, Pionopsitta pileata
Recorded at 3 sites, with a few at Nova Lombardia on 22nd Jan; 2 at Caraca on 19th Feb and 6 on 20th, and 5 or 6 at Itatiaia on 3 dates.
Pygmy Nightjar, Caprimulgus hirundinaceus
Heard nightly below the billet at Pedra Talhada, with one "probable" flushed from the track.
Saw-billed Hermit, Ramphodon naevius
In the north only recorded at Santa Lucia BR, near Nova Lombardia, and not at the Ruschi Botanical Gardens or Nova Lombardia forest where it has been claimed in the past: 5+ at feeders on 21st and 2 on 23rd. In the south 4 at Fazenda Capricornio and 1 at Fazenda Angelim on 2nd March, with 3 at the latter on 3rd.
Hooded Visorbearer, Augastes lumachellus
Three or 4 near the summit of the morro at Morro do Chapeu in the early morning of 14th Feb, after failing to find it there the previous afternoon.
Hyacinth Visorbearer, Augastes scutatus
Only 1 of the forest race ilseae at Caraca, on 19th Feb, whereas the nominate race was common at Serra do Cipo, with at least 8 on 21st Feb.
Saffron Toucanet, Baillonius bailloni
Two at Serra dos Orgaos, by the Teresopolis by-pass below the NP, on 18th Jan, and 9 at Itatiaia on 26th Feb, with 2 on 4th and 5th March.
Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Piculus aurulentus
Four at Serra dos Orgaos on 18th Jan and singles at Nova Lombardia on 3 dates.
White-browed Foliage-gleaner, Philydor amaurotis
Two at Serra dos Orgaos on 19th Jan only but daily at Itatiaia with a max of 5 on 27th and 6 on 28th.
Spot-breasted Antvireo, Dysithamnus stictothorax
Four on 21st & 24th Jan at Nova Lombardia and 2 on 22nd; 4 on 16th Feb and 2 on 18th, with others heard, at Boa Nova; fairly common at Itatiaia and a few heard near Ubatuba. Near-threatened status seems questionable.
Pileated Antwren, Herpsilochmus pileatus
Five at Morro do Chapeu and others heard; 3 in the dry scrub / caatinga at Boa Nova may be of a different sub-species or even species as it differs in plumage from the nominate form.
Serra Antwren, Formicivora serrana
A single male by the Pinheiros trail, Caraca on 20th Feb.
Rufous-tailed Antbird, Drymophila genei
Common at Serra dos Orgaos on 18th Jan and 2-8 daily at the lower levels of Itatiaia. More numerous than the "unthreatened" Ferruginous Antbird !
Ochre-rumped Antbird, Drymophila ochropyga
Four pairs seen and 1 heard at Boa Nova on 16th Feb and smaller numbers on 17-18th; 4 at Caraca on 19th with one seen and 4 heard on 20th; and up to 3 pairs daily at Itatiaia.
Rio de Janeiro Antbird, Cercomacra brasiliana
A single male at Sooretama, on 26th Jan, but up to 3 seen and 1 heard at 2 bamboo-rich sites 16-20km east of Boa Nova on 17-18th Feb; also heard at Itatiaia on 25th.
White-browed Antpitta, Hylopezus ochroleucus
One in the dry forest at Boa Nova on 15th Feb, but not found on subsequent visits although probably heard on one occasion.
Slaty Bristlefront, Merulaxis ater
Only recorded on or near Tres Picos trail, Itatiaia and difficult to see as there was little vocalisation: singles on 26th Feb & 1st March and a male and female, separately, on 28th.
Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Phibalura flavirostris
A female at Serra dos Orgaos on 17th Jan, our first afternoon in Brazil! This rarely recorded sp. should surely be classed as Vulnerable?
Black-and-gold Cotinga, Tijuca atra
Fairly common in cloud forest at the higher levels of Serra dos Orgaos and Itatiaia, with 15 seen on 18th Jan but mostly heard at Itatiaia, where the lowest altitude recorded was 1550m.
Hooded Berryeater, Carpornis cucullatus
A calling bird barely visible in low cloud at Serra dos Orgaos on 18th Jan and 3 heard on ridges at Nova Lombardia on 24th Jan.
Bare-throated Bellbird, Procnias nudicollis
One heard at Santa Lucia on 21st Jan; heard at Sooretama on 26-28th Jan with 1 seen, and 4 seen and heard at Monte Pascoal on 1st Feb.
Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, Hemitriccus nidipendulus
Four roosting in the dry forest at Boa Nova on 15th Feb, 2+ on 16th and 1 in humid forest on 17th; 1 at Caraca on 19th and at least 6, with others heard, in the restinga at Piaia de Seco on 5th March.
Gray-capped Tyrannulet, Phyllomyias griseocapilla
Singles at Sooretama on 24th and 25th Jan only.
Sharp-tailed Tyrant, Culicivora caudacuta
At least 5 at Serra da Canastra on 22nd and 23rd Feb.
Gray-backed Tachuri, Polystictus superciliaris
Two singles of this elusive sp. at Serra do Cipo, and 2 briefly at Serra da Canastra on 23rd Feb.
Oustalet's Tyrannulet, Phylloscartes oustaleti
Recorded on 3 dates at Nova Lombardia with a max of 5 on 23rd Jan, and 2 at Boa Nova on 16th Feb.
Serro do Mar Tyrannulet, Phylloscartes difficilis
Two-4 at Pico das Agulhas road, Itatiaia on all 3 dates and 1 at 1320m on the Jeep trail on 28th Feb.
Bay-ringed Tyrannulet, Phylloscartes sylviolus
One at Monte Pascoal on 1st Feb appears to be a northward extension of range (Ridgely and Tudor, 1994).
Cock-tailed Tyrant, Alectrurus tricolor
Three at Serra da Canastra on 22nd Feb and 10 on 23rd.
Shear-tailed Gray-Tyrant, Muscipipra vetula
One at Caraca on 19th Feb , with 2 on 20th, and 3 at Itatiaia on 25th and 1 on 26th.
Rufous-brown Solitaire, Cichlopsis lcogenys
Three at Nova Lombardia on 23rd Jan.
Brown Tanager, Orchesticus abeillei
Six at Serra dos Orgaos on 17th Jan but only 1 subsequently, on 19th.
White-banded Tanager, Neothraupis fasciata
A pair at Serra do Cipo on 20th was the only record. Perhaps this sp. should be classed as Vulnerable.
White-rumped Tanager, Cypsnagra hirundinacea
Six at Serra do Cipo on 20th and 2 on 21st.
Azure-shouldered Tanager, Thraupis cyanoptera
A few at Fazenda Capricornio and 2 at Fazenda Angelim; possibly overlooked elsewhere, eg at Nova Lombardia.
Cinereous Warbling-Finch, Poospiza cinerea
One seen briefly at Serra do Cipo on 20th Feb could not be relocated subsequently.
Pale-throated Serra-Finch, Embernagra longicauda
One at Caraca on 19th Feb and a bird thought to be this species at dusk on 20th at Serra do Cipo, although it could possibly have been Great Pampa-Finch.
Blackish-blue Seedeater, Amaurospiza moesta
A male at Nova Lombardia on 23rd Jan, possibly with a female, and a pair at Itatiaia on 28th Feb.
Thick-billed Saltator, Saltator maxillosus
Four at Serra dos Orgaos on 18th Jan and 1 on 19th; up to 3 daily at Itatiaia with 6 on 25th Feb.
Yellow-billed Blue Finch, Porphyrospiza caerulescens
At least 3 males and 1 female at Serra do Cipo on 20th Feb and 2 on 21st; 10+ including at least 1 male at Serra da Canastra on 22nd Feb.
The following species which might have been expected were not recorded:-
Brazilian Merganser, Mergus octosetaceus Serra da Canastra
Hook-billed Hermit, Glaucis dohrnii Bralanda and Boa Nova
Orange-bellied Antwren, Terenura sicki Pedra Talhada
Black-capped Manakin / Piprites, Piprites pileatus Itatiaia
"Atlantic" Royal Flycatcher, Onychorhynchus (coronatus) swainsonii Itatiaia and Monte Pascoal
Buffy-fronted Seedeater, Sporophila frontalis Ubatuba - Parati
White-browed Guan, Penelope jacucaca Canudos
Spotted Bamboowren, Psilorhamphus guttatus Ubatuba - Parati
RECORDS OF OTHER SCARCE SPECIES
Jandaya Parakeet, Aratinga jandaya 8-10 at Pedra Talhada on 8th Feb only.
Minute Hermit, Phaethornis idaliae 1-4 daily at Sooretama only.
Long-tailed Woodnymph, Thalurania watertonii Singles on 2 dates at Sooretama and 2+ at Pedra Talhada on 4th Feb.
Gray-headed Spinetail, Cranioleuca semicinerea Up to 3 at Pedra Talhada and 2 at Boa Nova on 16-17th Feb.
Spinetail species, Synallaxis sp. nov. 2 in humid forest near Boa Nova on 15-16th Feb and 4 on 17-18th Feb.
Red-eyed Thornbird , Phacellodomus erythrophthalmus 2 at F.Capricornio, 1 at F.Angelim & 2 near Angra dos Reis (Black-hooded Antwren site).
Pale-browed Treehunter, Cichlocolaptes leucophrus Singles at Serra dos Orgaos 18th Jan, Nova Lombardia 23rd Jan and Itatiaia on 3 dates.
White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Anabazenops fuscus 2 at Nova Lombardia 23rd Jan & 1 on 25th, 1 at Boa Nova 17th Feb, and up to 3 daily at Itatiaia.
Rufous-backed Antvireo , Dysithamnus xanthopterus 4 at Serra dos Orgaos on 18th Jan and singles at Itatiaia on 27th Feb & 1st March, with 3 on 5th.
Ferruginous Antbird, Drymophila ferruginea 2 at Nova Lombardia on 22nd Jan.
Such's / Cryptic Antthrush Chamaeza meruloides Singles at Nova Lombardia on at least 2 dates and heard daily at Itatiaia with 2 seen on 4-5th March.
Ceara Gnateater, Conopophaga cearae - a potential split from C.lineata (Ridgely and Tudor, 1994) Singles at Pedra Talhada on 5-6th Feb and in dry forest at Boa Nova on 16-17th Feb.
Brown-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, Hemitriccus obsoletus 3 at Pico das Agulhas road, Itatiaia on 26th Feb & 5th March.
Bahia Tyrannulet, Phylloscartes beckeri (sp. nov.) 4 on 16th Feb in humid forest near Boa Nova.
White-striped Warbler, Basileuterus leucophrys Only possible record was brief views of a single bird which appeared to be this sp., in gallery forest at Serra da Canastra.
Chestnut-headed Tanager, Pyrrhocoma ruficeps A male at start of Jeep trail, Itatiaia on 27th Feb (GK) and a pair on Bamboo trail on 1st March (NB).
Scarlet-throated Tanager, Compsothraupis loricata 6+ in gallery forest between Jeremoabo and Canudos on 9th Feb.