In the austral winter of 2006, FER was invited to do some laboratory work at the University of São Paulo as part of a research collaboration. All in all, FER stayed in Brazil for a good two months, but most of it was just spent in the laboratory, and unfortunately he ended up with less spare birding time than he had hoped for. Nevertheless, he did get out on two weekends (one of them in the company of his lab mate GSC), and at the end of FER’s stay, he and GSC rented a car for a week to visit some of the better sites.
In terms of birdwatching, this was possibly the least favourable time of year for a visit. June and July are the coldest months in São Paulo, and the city (sitting on a high plateau at 800m) was windy, cool and very un-Brazilian during this stay. Birds were less predictable in their occurrence, with highland species being seen around the coast at Ubatuba, and with common breeding species being entirely absent and presumably having escaped north.
Dangers and annoyances (from the viewpoint of a visitor – FER)
Having spent most of my visiting time in Sao Paulo City, I came to appreciate the beauty of this giant pothole of almost 20 million inhabitants, but I also came to appreciate the dangers of this megalopolis. This is definitely the most dangerous place I have ever been to: Walking at night-time is a high-risk activity, and even if you go by car, you’d better not have a flat tyre. After 10.00 p.m. red lights do not have to be observed by law. My time in São Paulo was overshadowed by a “civil war” between the metropolitan police and the PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital; the “organization” that runs the favelas and shantytowns). At the pinnacle of this conflict, the PCC bombed six busses and left the entire city in mayhem the following morning because the authorities stopped off all public transport in fear of additional bombs. Concomitantly, PCC-induced prison riots accounted for hundreds of dead inmates and guards.
As if this was not bad enough, Sao Paulo is the world capital of kidnappings, with about 5000 cases per year and possibly the same amount going unreported. The city has passed the age of targeted kidnappings into an era of “anything goes”, with gangs out on the streets trying to grab off anyone silly enough to walk around at night. Victims are often returned unharmed after the money has been paid, but sometimes upgrades are made to the initial demands if money is paid too quickly, or the victim is found dead in a roadside ditch if the money is paid too slowly. For more information on how I narrowly escaped a kidnapping, see the Campus USP section below.
Despite these dangers in the city, birding in the national parks and in the countryside seemed safe at most times, though you should make use of your common sense anywhere you go.
11 June – 24 July 2006: Campus Universidade de São Paulo (USP)
During a few weeks of labwork at the Instituto de Biociências at the USP in São Paulo, FER had very little spare time for bird-watching. The city environs are a very disappointing habitat for native birds, but inside the campus of the USP the odd green patch harbours species of note. For the majority of species on the below list an active effort had to be put in. Most of them were seen during a single afternoon out (on 11 June 06) when GSC took the time to show FER some of the better campus birds.
The road that descends from the environs of the Instituto de Biociências to the gate at Portaria 3 goes past a huge patch of scrub, tree growth and reeds that held a family of loudly vocalizing Striped Owl. This entire patch was also the only spot on campus where FER saw Harris’ Hawk and Spix’s Spinetail, and it is good for Golden-crested Warbler and Masked Yellowthroat. Further down in open bushes near the gate a pair of Burrowing Owl was present for several weeks, and Campo Flicker and Yellow-bellied Elaenia could sporadically be seen. The Botanical Garden right next to the Instituto harbours a vocal pair of Pallid Spinetail. Mixed flocks and bird aggregations around flowering bushes in this area frequently contained Plain Parakeet, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, White Woodpecker, Variable Antshrike, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Rufous-bellied and Pale-breasted Thrush, Chestnut-vented Conebill, as well as Orange-headed and Burnished-buff Tanager. Two female Brazilian Teal were seen on the artificial pond just next to the Instituto. The overgrown parts towards the back of the Botanical Garden gradually merge with a fenced woodlot that cannot be entered. This area produced Blond-crested Woodpecker on one occasion.
Pallid Spinetail Cranioleuca pallida occurs right next to the Instituto de Biociencias on the USP campus (though this photo was taken elsewhere by GSC)
Note that even within the campus, you should never walk around at night. On the way back to the apartment from the lab late one Saturday night, I (FER) was suddenly approached by two guys on a speeding motorbike. Hiding in the bushes, I hoped they would pass, but they stopped and yelled some alibi question into the bushes. I answered with a noncommittal “Não sei…” and they continued. Thinking that I had overcome the danger and not realizing they were scouts, I quickly continued, but was soon followed by two vehicles, one of them a mini-van with dark windows. When I started running, they accelerated and followed me into a one-way lane against the traffic. They soon encircled me, and I could only escape by running into the thick scrub patch described above for the Striped Owl, where they could not assess whether I was going to emerge behind them or in front of them. When I had re-emerged onto the road, they turned around with spinning wheels, but could not follow me directly through a thick median strip dividing the road. I ran towards the next buildings to seek shelter in a university institute guarded by security personnel. The vehicles eventually arrived near the building and cruised up and down the driveway a couple of times like prowling vultures, but eventually disappeared. The guards, however, were very inefficient and refused to alert their colleagues at the campus gates, even after I showed them the vehicles through the door.
Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster is an uncommon resident of the USP campus (photo by GSC)
FER managed a visit (by rental car from São Paulo) to this pleasant coastal resort on two different weekends, once on his own and the second time in GSC’s pleasant company. Ubatuba arguably has some of south-eastern Brazil’s best lowland birding. There are various great birding sites one can choose from in the vicinity of town. Please note that excellent directions to these sub-sites are given on Jeremy Minns’ fabulous website.
Green-headed Tanager Tangara seledon is a common visitor to Jonas’s feeders at Folha Seca (photo by GSC)
In Folha Seca, a visit to the tanager and hummingbird feeders at Jonas d’Abronzo’s mansion gave a good introduction to Atlantic forest birding, with Reddish Hermit, Saw-billed Hermit, Sombre Hummingbird, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Festive Coquette, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Brazilian Ruby and Glittering-throated Emerald present at or near the feeders, plus the whole lot of common tanager species. Though some of the hummers were glimpsed again elsewhere, the feeders definitely provided the best looks. Apart from Black-cheeked Gnateater and a great look at Slaty Bristlefront, the road beyond the mansion did not produce too many birds that were missed elsewhere around Ubatuba, though note that this is the area where Kinglet Calyptura was reported in early 2006.
The enigmatic Sharpbill Oxyruncus cristatus popped out of nowhere at a secondary forest clearing near Corcovado
A day spent around Corcovado provided an excellent set of species, some of which we did not get to see elsewhere. It took some major searching to get a quick but good glimpse of a Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant along the trail to the big clearing pointed out in most trip reports. Around that clearing itself, we had mostly low activity levels but we did manage to see a Sharpbill, apart from this trip’s only Greenish Schiffornis and a few Rufous-winged Antwrens. The trail system that leads into old-growth forest past this clearing (and beyond what looks like a natural bridge construction across a forest stream) had some great activity, with mixed flocks that included the rare Pale-browed Treehunter, Spot-backed Antshrike and Star-throated Antwren.
The spectacular backdrop of Pico Corcovado near Ubatuba
Our favourite site around Ubatuba was Fazenda Angelim, which – to us – seems to have a lot more potential than most recent trip reports make it out to be. Birding infrastructure must certainly have improved here in the past few years as the owners have geared it up towards eco-tourism. This is the reason why we opted for spending two days here and skipping out on the nearby Fazenda Capricornio. Apart from the extensive secondary forest areas and birdy clearings that most trip reports mention for Angelim, there is an excellent trail system that leads far up into what looks like precious old-growth forest. Note that they now charge a modest entrance fee (payable to any of the local workers that may approach you).
The Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis (here a female at Angelim) is one of many astonishing cotinga species that Atlantic Brazil has on offer
The orchard-like clearing beyond the main housing area held the promised Buff-throated Purpletuft, apart from other gems such as Buff-bellied Puffbird, Bare-throated Bellbird and White-tailed Trogon. Secondary forest growth between the entrance and the housing area was good for Rufous-capped Spinetail, Tufted Antshrike, Large-headed Flatbill, Lemon-chested Greenlet and Rufous Gnateater (of the southern vocal form, but here apparently very close to its northern boundary), and it was here that we called in a reluctant Spotted Bamboowren and tickled it into sight. A flock of Olive-green Tanagers – doubtless escaping from the winter in the mountains – was a nice surprise around here. One of the main trails that lead far back into the old-growth forest was walked after morning hours, so activity was low, but it still yielded two star birds – Russet-winged Spadebill and Atlantic Royal Flycatcher, apart from providing the only sighting of Rufous-capped Antthrush (which was otherwise frequently heard).
The Buff-bellied Puffbird is possibly one of the highlights at Fazenda Angelim’s secondary orchard corner
Some of the notable forest-interior birds that were seen at more than one Ubatuba sub-site, often in the company of mixed flocks, include: White-barred Piculet, Plain-winged, Olivaceous and Lesser Woodcreeper, Black-capped, Ochre-breasted, White-collared and White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Spot-breasted and Plain Antvireo, Ferruginous and Scaled Antbird, Unicolored Antwren, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Sepia-capped and Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Tropical Pewee, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Blue and White-bearded Manakin, as well as Black-goggled Tanager.
15 July 2006: private fazenda near São Roque (near São Paulo)
An invitation to a Brazilian barbecue weekend on a rural mansion near the town of São Roque was combined with some light birding in a secondary woodlot. The best species was doubtless a tape-responsive Hangnest Tody-Tyrant. Moreover, Gray-headed Kite provided good flight views, and White-throated Hummingbirds were very vocal, though they never afforded splendid views. Giant Antshrike was called in by tape inside good secondary forest. Cinnamon Tanager and Green-winged Saltator were spotted in hedgerow vegetation.
This is one of GSC’s regular spots, and he saw a number of additional species here the day before I visited, most notably Gray-hooded Attila, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, White-throated and Planalto Woodcreeper and Collared Forest-Falcon.
Gray-headed Kite Leptodon cayanensis was seen both at São Roque and at the bottom of the Serra da Canastra, where this photo was taken by GSC
This was the first site of a one-week birding round-trip by rental car at the end of FER’s stay in Brazil in GSC’s company.
Despite clear warnings in several trip reports, the first day was lost to crossing the high plateau south of the Rio São Francisco Valley at near walking pace. During this rough ride, we managed to damage the chassis of the rental car, which turned out to be costly in the end. Nevertheless, good birds were seen along this stretch, many of which did not show up again later.
A Streamer-tailed Tyrant Gubernetes yetapa at one of the many scattered fazendas on the southern side of the plateau south of Rio Sao Francisco – and the only one seen on the trip (photo by GSC)
After an overnight stay at one of the fazendas in the south of this plateau, we birded the gallery forest by a little stream, where a male Horned Sungem constituted one of the highlights, along with Gray-headed Kite, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Barred Antshrike, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Masked Yellowthroat and our first Maroon-bellied Parakeets, Brown-crested Flycatchers and White-crested Tyrannulets.
A confiding Red-legged Seriema Cariama cristata photographed by GSC along the roadside on the descent from the grassy plateau south of Rio Sao Francisco
The ride across the grassy plateau was quite eventless, though we did see Red-legged Seriema, our first Gray and White-rumped Monjitas and a nothura (most probably Spotted) that had to remain unidentified despite good views, mainly because of the shocking drawings in our ID literature.
Two different photos (taken by GSC) of the White-vented Violetear Colibri serrirostris on the rocky plateau south of Rio Sao Francisco
Rockier bits further along the plateau then yielded White-vented Violetear, as well as Crested and Velvety Black-Tyrants. Descending down into the Sao Francisco Valley, the only Savanna Hawk of the trip was spotted, besides Cinnamon Tanager, Black-throated Saltator, Chopi Blackbird, Pileated Finch and our first (of many) Yellow-chevroned Parakeets.
Parents and 8 pulli of the rare and highly sought-after Brazilian Merganser Mergus octosetaceus at the Casca d’Anta Waterfall in Serra da Canastra
On the following day, we hiked into the area around the lower end of the Casca d’Anta waterfall, where a stroll along the river produced very close views and magnificent photos of a pair of Brazilian Merganser with 8 little chicks. Another pair of this species was sighted again later further down the river while scanning from the road. The creek also held Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper. Mixed flocks around the picnic areas and in the forest bits toward the waterfall had Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Planalto Tyrannulet, Highland Elaenia, Euler’s Flycatcher (also vocalizing), Syristes, Helmeted Manakin, Gray-eyed Greenlet, Black-goggled Tanager and White-bellied Warbler. One mixed flock near the streamside held a couple of tyrannid flycatchers with a very conspicuous head coloration (see description in trip list under Tyrannidae spec.), but in spite of good views of their really distinctive plumage we could not come up with a plausible identification. It may be worth for future visitors to keep an eye out for these birds, especially when visiting during the same winter months (as these birds may be seasonally absent during other months).
Another view of the same merganser family, both photos taken by GSC
A family group of Chestnut-headed Tanager in the deep forest bit constitutes a considerable range extension inland from where they are known. Peach-fronted and Golden-capped Parakeets were seen both flying and sitting but never afforded really close views. Other species in the gallery forest around the waterfall included Scaly-headed Parrot, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Planalto Hermit, Amethyst Woodstar, Scaled Woodcreeper, Variable Antshrike, White-bearded Manakin, Chestnut-crowned Becrad, White-rimmed Warbler, Green-winged Saltator, Flavescent Warbler and Sooty Tyrannulet.
An exquisite male Helmeted Manakin in the gallery forest patch at the lower end of Casca d’Anta
The last day was invested in the high plateau of the Serra da Canastra. We tried hard to find Brasilia Tapaculo in the stake-out by the powerlines described in other trip reports, but did not even hear one here despite playing its song. A few superb Gray-backed Tachuris as well as an exquisite White-rumped Tanager were of great consolation here, and other goodies included Rufous-winged Antshrike and Green-barred Woodpecker.
Gallery forest around the river at Casca d’Anta’s lower end; this is where the Brazilian Mergansers were photographed.
Casca d’Anta Waterfall
A superb Gray-backed Tachuri Polystictus superciliaris at the tapaculo powerline stake-out site in Serra da Canastra National Park (photo taken by GSC)
Two pictures of what is currently classified as Brasilia Tapaculo Scytalopus novacapitalis at the river-source boardwalk in Serra da Canastra (photos by GSC). Preliminary molecular studies on Brazilian tapaculos have shown deep divergences in some so-called “species”; it will be interesting to see how divergent the Canastra birds are from those around the capital.
We went on and ended up hearing and seeing a Brasilia Tapaculo in the boardwalk area of the river source, where a White-tailed Goldenthroat and Great Pampa-Finch were also present.
The Canastra Plateau (inside the national park) with tiny isolated (and impoverished) forest patches
Sharp-tailed Tyrant Culicivora caudacuta (photographed by GSC) just behind the little building at the upper end of the Casca d’Anta waterfall area
Suiriri Flycatcher Suiriri suiriri in agricultural land around Vargem Bonita (photo by GSC)
A far drive to the upper end of the waterfall was time-consuming and eventless (apart from flocks of Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch), but the waterfall area did yield the hoped-for Sharp-tailed Tyrants around the little building. Distantly soaring birds of prey included White-tailed Hawk and four King Vultures. Bashing around in agricultural land in the vicinity of Sao Roque de Minas and Vargem Bonita was surprisingly rewarding and yielded a magnificent White-banded Tanager, a few Suiriri Flycatchers, White-throated Kingbird, Wedge-tailed Grassfinch, Pale-vented Pigeon, Red-shouldered Macaw and Curl-crested Jay.
No site list; please refer to trip list below.
White-tailed Hawk Buteo albicaudatus at Serra da Canastra (photo taken by GSC)
A beautiful male Blue-billed Black-Tyrant Knipolegus cyanirostris along Agulhas Negras Road was one of three Knipolegus tyrants seen on this trip
25 July 06: Agulhas Negras Road
Because of time shortage, only one day could be spent along Agulhas Negras Road, but it turned out one of the most productive. Bamboo in the lowest part held numerous Uniform Finches. Good forest bits along the lower half had pumping activity, with two brief views of Plovercrest, the vocalizations of Rufous-tailed Antthrush and Black-and-gold Cotinga (neither of which was seen) and mixed flocks including Dusky-legged Guan, Surucua Trogon, White-spotted and Yellow-browed Woodpecker, White-throated Woodcreeper, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Rufous-capped and Pallid Spinetail, Buff-browed and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Variable Antshrike, Rufous-backed Antvireo, Rufous-tailed Antbird, Rufous Gnateater (of the northern Sao Paulo vocal form), Mottle-cheeked, Gray-capped, Planalto and Serra do Mar Tyrannulets, Brown-breasted Pygmy-Tyrant, Gray-hooded Flycatcher, Velvety and Blue-billed Black-Tyrant, Shear-tailed Gray Tyrant, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Brassy-breasted, Fawn-breasted and Diademed Tanager, Bay-chested and Red-rumped Warbling-Finch, Thick-billed Saltator, White-rimmed Warbler and Golden-winged Cacique.
Thick-billed Saltator Saltator maxillosus was astoudingly common at timberline habitat along Agulhas Negras Road (photo taken by GSC)
The Araucaria forest past the lake held its promise by yielding Araucaria Tit-Spinetail and good views of a Mouse-colored Tapaculo, though the Black-capped Piprites was searched for in vain. The páramo-like vegetation around here and further up towards the overpriced restaurant had Itatiaia Spinetail.
Fortunately there is still plenty of intact upper montane forest left at Agulhas Negras Road
We saw quite a few other notable species on this day, e.g. Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, White-tailed and Short-tailed Hawk, White-throated Hummingbird and Brazilian Ruby.
No site list; please refer to trip list below.
The famous Araucaria patch near timberline along Agulhas Negras Road
26-27 July 06: Itatiaia National Park
The first out of two days, we hiked up parts of Tres Picos Trail for some fantastic bird-watching in the morning and early afternoon. The absolute highlight was a loudly vocalizing Black-capped Piprites in normal broad-leaved forest, far away from its supposed favourite hang-outs in Araucaria. Besides that, three of our favourites along here were a soaring Black Hawk-eagle, an Atlantic Royal Flycatcher in a mixed flock and brief glimpses at a Such’s Antthrush along the lower parts.
Two photos of a surprising sighting of the range-restricted Black-capped Piprites Piprites pileatus along Tres Picos Trail in Itatiaia National Park (photos by GSC)
Mixed flocks up here were replete with birds, e.g. White-barred Piculet, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Olivaceous, White-throated, Planalto (at the car park) and Lesser Woodcreeper, Rufous-capped and Pallid Spinetail, Ochre-breasted, Buff-fronted, Black-capped and White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Plain Antvireo, Bertoni’s and Ochre-rumped Antbird, Streak-capped and Star-throated Antwren, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Mottle-cheeked, Yellow and Planalto Tyrannulet, Drab-breasted and Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Large-headed Flatbill, Gray-hooded Flyctacher, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Blue and Pin-tailed Manakin, Red-eyed Vireo, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Yellow-legged Thrush, Chestnut-vented Conebill as well as Rufous-headed, Brassy-breasted, Gilt-edged and Golden-chevroned Tanager. The best hummers at the feeders around the hotel at the lower end of Tres Picos Trail were Black Jacobin and Brazilian Ruby.
Planalto Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes platyrostris at the carpark at the Tres Picos Trailhead (photo taken by GSC)
That afternoon, FER took GSC to the bus terminal in town as he needed to return to Sao Paulo. Then FER invested the following day in birding along side tracks to the main ascent road in the lower parts. Most of the habitat is degraded here due to excessive housing development. One would think that this should be prohibited within the national park, but you get the impression that even more land is going to be developed soon. There was a big overlap in terms of what had been seen the day before or at other sites, but a few of the outstanding species on this day included Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Rufous-capped Motmot, Saffron Toucanet, Robust Woodpecker, Gray Elaenia, Syristes, Gray-hooded Attila, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and Uniform Finch.
Saffron Toucanet Baillonius bailloni is reasonably easy to see in the lower parts of Itatiaia
Other notable species at Itatiaia included Dusky-legged Guan, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, White-throated Hummingbird, Violet-capped Woodnymph, White-tailed Trogon, Green-headed, Ruby-crowned, Black-goggled and Olive-green Tanager as well as Thick-billed Saltator.
No site list; please refer to trip list below.
28 July 06: Garrafão (Teresopolis)
Following the lure of the calyptura (which was re-discovered here a few years back), FER came here during a very windy morning that was characterized by a complete absence of bird sounds during the first two hours of daylight. FER was close to leaving as activity picked up, and eventually spotted a circling Black Hawk-eagle and found a few reasonably good mixed flocks at last. The highlights in these flocks were doubtless a superb Sharpbill, a male Black-legged Dacnis and a group of Pale-browed Treehunter, but other birds included Rufous-capped Motmot, Scaled, White-throated and Lesser Woodcreeper, Ochre-breasted, Buff-fronted, White-eyed and Black-capped Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Giant Antshrike, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Streak-capped and Star-throated Antwren, Gray-capped Tyrannulet (seen and heard well; this low!), Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Manakin, Rufous-headed, Green-headed, Flame-crested, Red-necked, Black-goggled, Fawn-breasted, Azure-shouldered and Yellow-backed Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager and Orange-bellied Euphonia.
No site list; please refer to trip list below.
28-29 July 06: Serra dos Órgãos
An afternoon around the boardwalk and dam at the upper end of the access road was characterized by little activity (busy swift flocks included both Biscutate and White-collared Swift). Spending the night in the car, FER set out on a pre-dawn hike from 3.00 a.m. on the next morning to reach the higher elevations for cotingas in the morning hours. At dawn, forest areas at above 1500m were reached that already seemed pretty dwarfish, so FER assumed this was suitable for the main specialty Gray-winged Cotinga. Proceeding very slowly from here, several Black-and-gold Cotingas were seen, but not a single Gray-winged was heard. You really do need to go all the way up to the first campsite at 1800m to stand a chance of seeing them. By the time FER arrived here, the best morning time was over and loud school groups had claimed the area. At the end of the short side-trail from the campsite to the look-out point that allows for great views onto Teresopolis, it was here that distant Gray-winged Cotingas were finally heard. A short climb down the bare rocky slope was necessary to get closer to the forest patch right below the vantage point to obtain brilliant views of this rare endemic.
Bay-chested Warbling-Finch Poospiza thoracica is a common member of mixed flocks at timberline elevation on the Serra dos Orgaos
Several sightings of a small Veniliornis woodpecker around 1300-1500m in fairly dwarf-like forest remained puzzling for a while, but after great views they were identified as Yellow-eared Woodpecker, a rare species that we wouldn’t really have expected in this national park from what we read in the literature. Rufous-tailed Antthrush was seen well on several occasions up here. The dwarf-forest up here also held Plovercrest, Large-tailed and Variable Antshrike, Bertoni’s and Rufous-tailed Antbird, Mouse-colored Tapaculo, Mottle-cheeked, Gray-capped and Serra do Mar Tyrannulets, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Chestnut-headed, Diademed and Golden-chevroned Tanager, White-rimmed Warbler and Bay-chested Warbling-Finch.
The Rufous Gnateater Conopophaga lineata displays little-understood geographic vocal variation within its range. Here at Serra dos Orgaos birds have a loudsong that is near-identical to that in Itatiaia and Serra da Canastra (the Rio loudsong). However, just a few kilometers towards the coast from Itatiaia – at Ubatuba – birds sing like those at Intervales (the São Paulo loudsong). Additional song variation may exist further north and further inland.
During the descent through the tall forest further down, the Hooded Berryeaters’ peculiar vocalizations gave away their presence and finally good views were obtained even without playback. Around here, Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Rufous-capped and Pallid Spinetail, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Giant Antshrike, Rufous Gnateater (of the more northerly vocal form), Planalto Tyrannulet, Drab-breasted Pygmy-Tyrant, White-throated Spadebill, Velvety Black-Tyrant, Blue Manakin, White-necked Thrush and Brassy-breasted Tanager were also seen; moreover, Tufted Antshrike, White-shouldered Fire-eye and Ochre-rumped Antbird were heard. Around dusk, Variegated Antpittas called from below the parking lot at the dam (a few hundred meters down the road), but playback did not bring them in. Moreover, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Brazilian Ruby and Spix’s Spinetail (the latter heard only) were recorded within the national park.
No site list; please refer to trip list below.
30 July 06: forest near Patrimonio (Parati)
FER chose a very rainy and cold day to come here. Bird activity was accordingly disappointing. After parking the car at the gate to the millionaires’ village at Patrimonio, time was spent walking the track inland from the gate all the way to a small settlement and back, and trying out various side trails. Best bird of the day was a Buff-bellied Puffbird around the secondary growth at the gate. Many good birds at this site either stayed absent all day (Salvadori’s Antwren) or would only call from the distance and refuse to come in to tape (Cinnamon-vented Piha, Spot-backed Antshrike).
One of the few good birds seen during a rainy day at Patrimonio includes Pin-tailed Manakin Ilicura militaris, though this particular individual was photographed at Itatiaia by GSC
Mixed flocks were scarce, and when they turned up they vanished quickly. Some of the better birds on this day included: Reddish and Saw-billed Hermit, Violet-capped Woodnymph, White-tailed Trogon, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Plain-winged and Lesser Woodcreeper, Ochre-breasted and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Black-capped and White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Plain Antvireo, Scaled Antbird, Streak-capped Antwren, Rufous-capped Antthrush (the latter heard only), Black-cheeked Gnateater, Gray-hooded Flycatcher, Blue and Pin-tailed Manakin, Yellow-legged and White-necked Thrush, Rufous-headed and Red-necked Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Brazilian Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Flame-crested and Ruby-crowned Tanager, Violaceous Euphonia and an exquisite Riverbank Warbler.
No site list; please refer to trip list below.
31 July 06: Pereque
On FER’s last morning of birding in Brazil, he briefly visited the Black-hooded Antwren site at Pereque before the long drive back to Sao Paulo. Spending a full hour in the area, he ended up seeing a magnificent male of this exceedingly rare species and hearing two more in exactly the same area near the fence gate shortly after the bridge pointed out in most trip reports. However, there were other good birds at this site as well, most notable Yellow Tyrannulet and Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, but also Cocoi Heron, Lesser Woodcreeper, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Ferruginous and Scaled Antbird, Streak-capped and Rufous-winged Antwren, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Rufous-headed and Brazilian Tanager, Masked Yellowthroat and the exhilarating sounds of White-bearded Manakin.