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 Caracara, Guira Cuckoo, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Neotropical Palm Swift, Shiny 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 Woodcreeper, Glittering-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 Hermit, Variegated Flycatcher, a flock of Red-necked Tanagers, Guira Tanager, and a superb endemic 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.
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 Sparrow, Purple-throated Euphonia, and a magnificent Gould’s Toucanet. We continued walking slowly along the road seeing a few Rufous-tailed Jacamars, Streaked 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!
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 Hornero, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, a close Guianan Tyrannulet, and a Masked Water-Tyrant.
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 Manakin, Rufous-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.
And that was our day.