Friday, 15 February 2019

NE Brazil Day 1

Finally, after much planning and revision today was THE day! NE Brazil is one of those destinations you just have to visit as its packed with endemics, rare and extremely localised birds. Throw in a whole bunch of future/potential splits and it’s high up on the ‘where next to go’ list. So, with everyone arriving a day early we all met in the lobby of our hotel and waited for our guide, Ciro Albano to arrive. At the meeting time he pulled up in our chariot for the next 16 days and we were soon off, getting out of the manic traffic Fortaleza has become known for with relative ease. We drove for just under 3 hours, seeing a few ‘drive by’ birds such as Southern Crested CaracaraGuira CuckooRuddy Ground-DoveNeotropical Palm SwiftShiny Cowbird and other dross!

The final stage of the drive was on a winding road through rolling hills covered in forest and the habitat looked amazing. We parked in a quiet lane and walked maybe a kilometre or a bit less, racking up some incredible birds. First up was an obliging endemic Ceara Gnateater that 
hoisted itself out of the shadows to come take a look at us, followed by Northern Lesser WoodcreeperGlittering-throated Emerald, a Pale-breasted Thrush bathing in a puddle right in front if us, several Fork-tailed Woodnymphs, and a Guianan Tyrannulet. Then an endemic Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant began calling and was soon lured in for decent views, and pretty quickly after this we saw Planalto HermitVariegated Flycatcher, a flock of Red-necked TanagersGuira Tanager, and a superb endemic Ochraceous Piculet.  

Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant

Ochraceous Piculet

Finally, just before reaching our minibus we found a couple of endemic Grey-breasted Parakeets perched in the canopy above us and ended the morning session with a perched Planalto Tyrannulet.

Grey-breasted Parakeet

After lunch in a nearby village, we returned to the forest and birded our way in the opposite direction to this morning. A Black-capped Antwren was first up, followed by Pectoral SparrowPurple-throated Euphonia, and a magnificent Gould’s Toucanet. We continued walking slowly along the road seeing a few Rufous-tailed JacamarsStreaked and Short-crested Flycatchers, a superb endemic Ceara Leaftosser that gave repeated views, and an awesome Pearly-breasted Cuckoo posing in the canopy high overhead. I think it is fair to say everyone was enjoying the sheer quality of birding in this corner of Brazil so far! 

Black-capped Antwren

Finally we reached the end of the road and a hotel complex surrounded by great forest. A few Cliff Flycatchers posed nearby, along with a group of endemic Wing-banded HorneroYellow-bellied Elaenia, a close Guianan Tyrannulet, and a Masked Water-Tyrant

Wing-banded Hornero

Cliff Flycatcher

We tried a trail here but it was closed so drove to another trail and hadn’t gone far when a pair of Variable Antshrikes were found, and were joined by another Black-capped Antwren. An Euler’s Flycatcher showed a few times and further along the trail we saw female Band-tailed ManakinRufous-breasted Hermit, a pair of Moustached Wrens, and had a brief view of an Ochre-cheeked Spinetail that simply refused to play ball and show itself well enough. 

Euler's Flycatcher

And that was our day.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Moli Rainforest Park - Ruili Reservoir

We visited the delightful Moli Rainforest Park notching up a decent run of good sightings. Our main quarry was Streaked Wren-Babbler, which showed on several occasions at close range giving everyone excellent views. 

Streaked Wren-Babbler

Kristian also pulled the proverbial ‘rabbit out of the hat’ with a cracking Dark-sided Thrush quietly feeding on a leaf-covered slope. 

Dark-sided Thrush

A flock of Red-billed Scimitar-Babblers and White-hooded Babblers, held a few Pale-billed and Rufous-headed Parrotbills but they were a little distant at the top of a slope. There was also 4 species of forktail: Spotted, Little, Slaty-backed and White-crowned, as well as Eastern Crowned Warbler, White-tailed Robin, lots of White-throated Bulbuls, Rufous-bellied Niltava, a pair of Red-headed Trogons and we had a couple great views of Slaty-bellied Tesia as well.

We had lunch at one of the restaurants here before checking out the flowering tree we saw on our walk in to the park where Grey SibiaBlue-bearded Bee-eaterSlender-billed OrioleLong-tailed SibiaMaroon Oriole, and numerous Streaked Spiderhunters were seen.

After lunch we paid a visit to Ruili Reservoir, arriving about 4pm. It was still hot but walking alongside the water we found a flock of approx. 30 Rufous-necked Laughingthrushes going about their business in the dense secondary growth. A Burmese Shrike was also much appreciated and there was also Common Iora, a group of 3 Rufous WoodpeckersStriated GrassbirdGreenish WarblerVerditer and a female Slaty-blue Flycatcher. Out on the water were quite a few Indian Spot-billed Ducks, a few MandarinsLittle Grebe and both Great and Little Cormorants – the latter species is quite hard to get in China.

Nabang - Ruilli

Following another abortive attempt for Hodgson’s Frogmouth we got the ball rolling with a flyover Jerdon’s Baza, followed by displaying Crested Goshawk, with the distinctive white undertail coverts fluffed up across the rump. At a huge stand of bamboo we had Bay WoodpeckerRed-headed TrogonBlue-throated Barbet, lots of Hair-crested DrongosScarlet MinivetLesser Racket-tailed DrongoAsian House MartinYellow-bellied Warbler, a heard only Broad-billed Warbler, and a Mountain Tailorbird.

Bay Woodpecker

Moving on we had Stripe-breasted Woodpecker in a flock consisting of Black-headed and Blyth’s Shrike-Babblers and Rufous-backed Sibias, with some Ashy Woodswallows nearby. Also seen were Crested FinchbillGrey Treepie, and other commoner species.

Driving to Ruili we stopped on a ridge and found a flock of Grey-breasted PriniasHill PriniaRed-whiskered BulbulEastern Buzzard, and a Little Bunting.

Our best meal of the trip tonight.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Nabang Again

We birded a different area and enjoyed a number of really good sightings. Around the area where the bus was parked Mountain Tailorbirds were calling and a male Hill Blue Flycatcher was spotted by David. The trail we followed wound its way up the hill and we found ourselves in Streaked Spiderhunter heaven! A perched Mountain Imperial-Pigeon was nice but most of the birds we were seeing were all pretty common, however our discovery of a recently established photo hide and feeding station in the forest proved to be a godsend. 

Rufous-bellied Niltava
For the first half an hour there was nothing but all of a sudden birds began to arrive with the first of 3 different male White-tailed Robins. This was followed by a pair of Large Niltavas, Rufous-faced and Marten’s Warblers, male Little Pied Flycatcher, female Snowy-browed Flycatcher, male Himalayan Bluetail, a pair of Velvet-fronted Nuthatches, female White-tailed Robin, Puff-throated Babbler, a pair of White-crowned Forktails, Grey-bellied Tesia 
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

White-crowned Forktail
and Pygmy Cupwing. A White-crested Laughingthrush skulked in the background but never came in to the feeding station.

After a few hours here we walked further uphill and found Red-headed Trogon and a group of Red-billed Scimitar-Babblers, whilst around the next bend there was a group of 7 White-hooded Babblers showing well in an extensive stand of bamboo. 

White-hooded Babbler
All of a sudden some Rufous-headed Parrotbills appeared briefly, but not long enough for us to i.d them for sure. We spent a while looking for them again and heard Long-tailed Broadbill and Streaked Wren-Babbler. 

Rufous-headed Parrotbill

After lunch and a flock of Pin-striped Tit-Babblers we walked downhill and found Rufous-headed Parrotbill that showed briefly, a flock of Striated YuhinasHair-crested and Bronzed Drongos, Pin-tailed and Wedge-tailed Green-Pigeons, White-browed PiculetYellow-bellied Warbler, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, and best of all a Pale-headed Woodpecker. An Asian Emerald Dove was on the track as we drove back to the hotel.


We birded the forest near Nabang all day and found a number of interesting birds… We spent most of the day checking out areas of bamboo and near one such patch we found a group of 4 Wedge-tailed Green-Pigeons and a couple of exquisite Pin-tailed Green-Pigeons but best of all was a group of Black-headed Shrike-Babblers and a Spotted Elachura

Pin-tailed Green-Pigeon

Along the road a flock of 7 Red-billed Scimitar-Babblersheld at least 1 Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler and a single Rufous-backed Sibia. Later on a Stripe-breasted Woodpecker put in an appearance, whilst a clearing below the road held a few White-browed Laughingthrushes. Other birds seen included Bar-winged Flycatcher-ShrikeBlack-winged CuckooshrikeWhite-bellied ErpornisMaroon OrioleHair-crested and Greater Racket-tailed DrongoBlack-crested BulbulPuff-throated Babbler, and several Slaty-backed Forktails

It was yet another beautiful sunny day and that encouraged a few raptors to show themselves and we saw Crested Serpent EagleOriental Honey BuzzardEastern Buzzard and Crested Goshawk.

Lunch in the nearby town was enlivened by a singing Striated Grassbird and a River Lapwing before we returned to the forest. The afternoon was slow but we did find a Blue-bearded Bee-eaterBlyth’s Leaf Warbler, a flock of Striated YuhinasGolden Babbler, and a large flock of Silver-eared Mesia. In the evening we tried for Hodgson’s Frogmouth in vain.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Baihualing to Laifengshan

We split the group with some of us going back up to the top of the road in search of Gould’s Shortwing, with the same result as last time. We dipped. A pair of Brown Bullfinchesand a brief pair of Mrs Hume’s Pheasants our only compensations for a tricky walk along an overgrown path. The group in the hide were successful with a group of 9 Mountain Bamboo-Partridges performing right in front of the hide, as well as further great views of many previously seen species. After lunch we drove 3 hours to Tengchong.

The next day we birded Laifengshan all morning, a good area right on the edge of Tengchong and we found it to be quite productive. Walking up the paved road to the temple at the top of the mountain we found Rufous-bellied WoodpeckerSlender-billed OrioleLarge Hawk-Cuckoo, a pair of Bar-tailed TreecreepersBlack-breasted Thrush, a singing Davison’s Leaf WarblerBlyth’s Shrike-BabblerGrey-winged Blackbird and a bunch of common species. 

Bar-tailed Treecreeper

Rufous-bellied Woodpecker

At the top a few of the group got on to White-browed Piculet, whilst Darjeeling Woodpecker showed well and there were further views of the oriole. A flock of approx. 70+ Tibetan Serins were making quite a noise, and there was also Fire-tailed Sunbird and Bay Woodpecker as well. 

Red-billed Leiothrix

Mountain Bulbul

White-tailed Robin

Plenty of action at the drinking pool

Tibetan Serin

Whiskered Yuhina and Blue-winged Minla
Daurian Redstart

We came across a photo blind and feeding station up here that was a  surprise and lots of birds were coming down to the pool to drink and bathe such as Red-billed Leiothrix, White-tailed Robin, all 3 minlas, Mountain Bulbul, Maroon-backed Accentor and even some Tibetan Serins. At 1pm we left on the drive to our next base at Nabang.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A Good Day!

We visited a feeding station each side of lunchtime beginning with a stake-out for Chinese Bamboo Partridge that failed to materialise. However, this feeding station produced a female Scarlet Finch that came into a nearby tree and showed to everyone before flying off into the valley. New birds here included several Crested FinchbillsStreaked Spiderhunter and Vinaceous Rosefinch.  

Streaked Spiderhunter

Olive-backed Pipit

And we also saw Grey-chinned Minivet, Golden-throated Barbet, Long-tailed Sibia, a flock of Black Bulbuls including a few of the white-headed race, at least 9 Olive-backed Pipits, another Spot-throated Babbler that actually came into the hide, Himalayan Bluetail, Orange-bellied Leafbird, a pair of Golden Bush-Robins, brief White-browed Shortwing, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Hill Prinia, a pair of Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrushes, and a pair of awesome Slender-billed Scimitar-Babblers.

Golden-throated Barbet and Red-tailed Laughingthrush
Golden-throated Barbet

Long-tailed Sibia
Himalayan Bluetail - uncropped
Blue-winged Leafbird
Golden Bush Robin (female)

Golden Bush Robin (male)

Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler
On the walk back to the hotel we enjoyed fine views of a pair of Spot-breasted Parrotbills.

A pair of Spot-breasted Parrotbills skulking in the bushes

In the afternoon we visited the highest feeding station where at least 5 Grey-sided Laughingthrushes, Hill Partridge and saw a flock of 50+ Black-throated Parrotbills moving quickly through the bushes were the stand-out birds. 

Grey-sided Laughingthrush
Grey-winged Blackbird

Hill Partridge

There were all the usual suspects present but we added Grey-winged Blackbird and Grey-backed Thrush to our list, as well as getting further views of Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Red-tailed Laughingthrush and Long-tailed Thrush

Red-tailed Laughingthrush
Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler
Long-tailed Thrush

Red-tailed Laughingthrush

This was the quietest feeding station overall but it still gave us superb views of everything. Just a shame we were 3 days late for the Ward’s Trogon!