Thursday, 21 March 2019

NE Brazil Day 15: Porto Seguro

A bonus couple of hours was fitted in as all of our flights were later in the day saw us visiting some nearby mangroves where the first bird of the day was the delightful endemic Little Wood-Rail walking slowly below us. Wow! 

Little Wood Rail - endemic

If that wasn’t enough, a pair of Mangrove Rails suddenly appeared and chased the wood-rail away. 

Mangrove Rail - split from Clapper Rail

But no worries as we saw both species several times on our short walk, as we searched and found both Bicolored Conebill and Plain-bellied Emerald

Bicolored Conebill

After a successful little visit, including sightings of Short-crested Flycatcher and Straight-billed Woodcreeper, we headed back to the hotel, stopping along the way to see a trio of Bat Falcons, a bird that had eluded us until now. 

Short-crested Flycatcher

Straight-billed Woodcreeper

New trip birds either side of breakfast were Tropical MockingbirdSemipalmated PloverSanderling, and Orange-winged Amazon bringing our trip list up to 409 species seen, including 89 Brazilian endemics. We also had only our second sighting of East Brazilian Chachalaca and a Geoffrey’s Black-tufted Marmoset as well. Apparently the monkey is of interest to some people...!


This had been a most amazing tour with the incomparable Ciro Albano at the helm and without his expert local knowledge none of this would have been possible.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

NE Brazil Day 14: Veracel Reserve

Breakfast at 5am was followed by a 25 minutes journey to Veracel Reserve again and we enjoyed another excellent morning’s birding. At the entrance we scoped an endemic Red-browed Amazon perched at the top of a tree, and we followed this with Swallow-wing, some Reichenow’s Parrots flying over (split from Blue-headed Parrot), Black-necked Aracari, perched Peach-fronted Parrot, and then we called in an endemic Black-cheeked Gnateater

Black-necked Aracari

Peach-fronted Parakeet

Walking along the sandy track, a cracking White-crowned Manakin posed nicely, and shortly after we found one of the rarest endemic hummers in Brazil – Hook-billed Hermit perched next to the track. Wow! We then spent some time scanning the edges of some open clearings for cotingas and eventually we had a couple views of endemic male White-winged Cotingas. Oh yes! 

White-crowned Manakin

Hook-billed Hermit - endemic

 Probably the weirdest find of the morning was a very young and recently fledged white-fluffy Common Potoo perched in a trackside tree. This spot also held Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Red-legged Honeycreepers and some Blue Dacnis. At the next clearing a Zone-tailed Hawk and a King Vulture flew over.

Common Potoo

The next spot we checked out along a side track held 4 species of manakin: a male Blue-backed, female Red-headed, female White-bearded and male White-crowned. Nearby a pair of Sooretama Slaty-Antshrikes showed well. 

Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike

Moving on we found 2 Screaming Pihas, called in an Eared Pygmy-Tyrantand a Wedge-billed Woodcreeper. By now it was 10:45am and the temperature was up in the 90’s so we headed back to the hotel for a long siesta.

In the late afternoon we headed back to the reserve and staked out an open area but didn’t really have any joy with parakeets coming in to roost. However, we walked a side trail and had fabulous views of a very bold Black-cheeked Gnateater that called and called from a branch very close to our astonished faces. 

Black-cheeked Gnateater - endemic

A short distance away we had some decent looks at a Ringed Woodpecker. Interestingly, HBW splits this species into Amazonian and Atlantic Black-breasted Woodpeckers – the bird we saw being the latter species. We saw a few other common species but basically we waited until dark before calling in a fantastic Black-capped Screech-Owl that posed beautifully in a dense tangle. 

Black-capped Screech-Owl

We literally had to crunch our way across the dry leaf litter to get into position and it didn’t care a jot! Ecstatic with this, we had just returned to the main track when a Mottled Owl began calling and sure enough, and yes you guessed it, this bird flew in and stared balefully down at us….. giving great views! 

Mottled Owl

A nice end to a good day… yet another on our NE Brazil tour..!

Sunday, 17 March 2019

NE Brazil Day 13: Serra Bonita - Porto Seguro

We left after the usual 5.30am breakfast and headed down to the steamy lowlands for better views of Banded Cotinga. Well, we waited an hour and had a female come into the palm fruits but not the male we hoped for. We did scope some endemic Golden-capped Parakeets feeding in a huge tree and see some commoner species including Scaly-headed ParrotRufous-breasted HermitCliff Flycatcher, before setting out on a trail where we quickly found our main target, Eastern Striped Manakin

Eastern Striped Manakin

What a corker this is and this bird performed amazingly well and kept coming back to the same branch. A Buff-throated Woodcreeper seen along the trail was also new for the trip. Once we’d had our fill of this bird we walked back to the clearing and Mark spotted a fantastic male Banded Cotinga in a large tree. Again, what a bird!

Leaving here we drove some 200kms to the coastal town of Porto Seguro in southern Bahia state. After lunch and a siesta, because boy it’s hot here, we headed to Veracel Reserve some 25 minutes away. This white-sand forest patch was quite productive despite the mid-afternoon heat and the first bird we saw was a Grey-crowned Flatbill

White-bellied Tanager - split by HBW from Turquoise Tanager

A mad 15 minute spell resulted in Band-tailed Antwren, Silvery-flanked Antwren, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike and a Bahia Antwren– all endemics. A flock of White-bellied Tanagers (split by HBW from Turquoise Tanager), female White-chinned Sapphire and a Brown Schiffornis. We stayed until dark but failed to get a whiff of White-winged Potoo.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

NE Brazil Day 12: Serra Bonita

We were told when we arrived yesterday that Serra Bonita was having a drought and we need to conserve our water for showers etc. Well today it poured down with several very heavy showers whilst we were out on the trails. Anyway, the day began with a Short-tailed Nighthawk flying around the clearing near our rooms and walking to the main building for breakfast a Barred Forest-Falcon showed pretty well in the early morning gloom. 

Barred Forest-Falcon

After breakfast a 4-wheel drive took us up to the radar tower and we began walking down the road, and low and behold the first bird was the endemic Bahia Tyrannulet. Nearby a Sharpbill was sitting out in the open, a Three-striped Flycatcher didn’t want to be seen and a Reddish Hermit was equally elusive. 

The first Sharpbill of the day

Continuing on a Surucua Trogon appeared, along with Yellow-legged Thrush, endemic Grey-hooded Attila at last, endemic Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, and a male Spot-billed Toucanet was displaying over the road. 

Spot-billed Toucanet in the mist

We then followed an excellent trail and at a clearing we saw our first endemic Azure-shouldered Tanager, as well as Lemon-chested Greenlet, female Green-backed Trogon, Buff-throated Saltator, Variegated Flycatcher, Black Jacobin, endemic Sombre Hummingbird, Long-tailed Tyrant, and two more Sharpbills

Green-backed Trogon

Another Sharpbill

The trail wound its way through excellent forest and we hadn’t gone very far before coming across a pair of the elusive endemic Pink-legged Graveteiro feeding in the canopy above us. Wow! 

Pink-legged Graveitero - endemic

We’d looked hard for this bird yesterday and here we were getting pretty decent views. Next up was Black-capped Foliage-Gleaner that shot off before everyone could get on it. But when Ciro heard an endemic White-bibbed Antbird calling we couldn’t have expected to get such stunning views of this forest floor skulker, but this bird just sang away from its spot beside the trail and gave awesome views. 

White-bibbed Antbird - endemic

At the same time a Short-tailed Antthrush began singing and this too posed very nicely indeed from its song perch. Wow again! 

Short-tailed Antthrush

A short time later we had another White-bibbed Antbird displaying beside the track, puffing his white mantle feathers up and bowing up and down. Unbelievable! 

White-bibbed Antbird

The walk back to the lodge began to get quieter and the showers seemed to have stopped, but we still saw a pair of Spot-billed Toucanets along the way before Vito picked us up and took us to lunch. 

Crescent-chested Puffbird - endemic
Grey-hooded Attila - endemic
The afternoon session was quieter but we still enjoyed views of Crescent-chested Puffbird, White-necked Thrush,Lesser Woodcreeper, Black-throated Grosbeak, Grey-hooded Attila, and best of all a Mantled Hawk that we saw a couple of times. 

Sunday, 10 March 2019

NE Brazil Day 11: Serra Bonita

Left at 6am and drove for almost 5 hours to the lowlands of Serra Bonita Reserve, where for the past couple of months some fruiting palm trees have been playing host to some Banded Cotingas, one of the rarest endemics in Brazil. We bowled up in the heat of the day and after a short wait a superb male flew in for a brief time before being ‘buzzed off’ by some White-eared Parakeets. This spot was pretty good with a Silver-breasted Tanager (split from Opal-rumped Tanager) sat on a nest, a group of Yellow-rumped Caciques and a few Red-rumped CaciquesGrey-rumped Swifts flying over, Grey-crowned Flycatcher, a few beautiful Yellow-fronted Woodpeckers, the endemic Sombre Hummingbird and we also had some distant endemic Golden-capped Parakeets in the scope.

We had two 4-wheel drive vehicles to take us up to the lodge in the mountains and upon arrival we dumped our bags into the rooms and then had lunch. The feeders here enticed some Maroon-bellied Parakeets, both Red-necked and Green-headed TanagersPurple and Green Honeycreepers, and a pair of Wied’s Black-tufted Marmosets. At least 2 endemic Frilled Coquettes fed on some flowers in the garden as well. 

Frilled Coquette - endemic

Walking back to the rooms along the mountain road found us a Blue Manakin sat on a nest over the road, a pair of Pin-tailed ManakinsGreyish Mourner, Grey-capped Tyrannulet and a Green-backed Trogon. 

After an hour’s siesta we set off walking along the mountain track again but hadn’t got far when a Surucua Trogon was found. A viewpoint really got our pulses racing when Ciro exclaimed he had found a pair of endemic Buff-throated Purpletufts, and amazingly they flew in to some nearby trees to check us out. 

Buff-throated Purpletuft - endemic

Walking on there was Blue-naped Chlorophonia, endemic Pale-browed Treehunter, Plain-winged Woodcreeper, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, and anotherTufted Antshrike

Yellow-throated Woodpecker

Tufted Antshrike

We also tracked down a singing endemic Rufous-brown Solitaire and a calling White-eyed Foliage-Gleaner, as well as spotting a King Vulture circling overhead. 

We spent the remainder of the late afternoon staking out an area where we could see some Pink-legged Graveitero nests but there was no sign of their occupants so returned to the lodge for a shower before dinner.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

NE Brazil Day 10: Boa Nova Again!

So how do you follow yesterday? No idea but it was always going to be slower and it sure was. We followed a trail uphill through excellent forest and began with a female White-bellied Seedeater in the open area before entering the forest. A Black-necked Aracari was spotted by Mark and gave good views, whilst a pair of Black-capped Donacobius posed nicely in the marsh. Moving into the forest we had another view of Scale-throated Hermit and a Lineated Woodpecker appeared before we headed up the hill into dark and gloomy forest on a narrow trail. Always a group favourite! 

Rufous Gnateater

Anyhow a perched Rufous Gnateater was a good find and this race is likely to be split as it’s restricted to the mountains of Bahia state. Nice one! A Spot-breasted Antvireo was next up, followed by Red-stained Woodpecker, Greyish Mourner, Lesser Woodcreeper, a group of Flame-crested Tanagers and a few Yellow-green Grosbeaks. An East Brazilian Pygmy Owl showed much better and closer than yesterday’s individual, whilst Rufous-headed Tanager was also nice to see again and a Black-billed Scythebill also showed better than before. 

East Brazilian Pygmy Owl - found in E Brazil and East Paraguay

A cracking male endemic Scaled Antbird was new for us, as was Blue Manakin, and there was also Black-throated Trogon and an awesome Yellow-throated Woodpecker of the red-throated race. Hmmm… 

Black-throated Trogon

We walked up as far as we could go before the trail became too overgrown and steep, and at this point a Greenish Schiffornis appeared before we turned around and headed downhill. Our walk back was enlivened by Channel-billed Toucan, Sepia-capped Flycatcher,White-collared Foliage-Gleaner, a pair of Sibilant Sirystes high overhead in the canopy, Streaked Xenops, a few Black-throatedGrosbeaks, Long-tailed Tyrant, and both Bahia and Sooty-fronted Spinetails. Beside the minibus a Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher showed very well in the shade of a Cecropia tree.

Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher - endemic

After a long siesta back at the hotel we headed to the cerrado zone and tracked down the endemics Long-billed Wren and Grey-eyed Greenlet that had pretty much eluded us until now. A group of endemic Scarlet-throated Tanagers were also here, along with the endemic Campo Troupial, a Black-capped Antwren and others. 

Black-billed Scythebill

We drove further along the dirt track and came to the same spot as yesterday afternoon and this time found Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet, Swainson’s FlycatcherSilvery-cheeked Antshrike, Black-billed Scythebill, female Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Little Woodpecker and White-shouldered Fire-eye

Tawny-browed Owl

We waited for dark and then Ciro called in a superb Tawny-browed Owl that gave fine views to end the day on a big high.