Many trip reports on the web cover these areas, but few of them are from independant travellers and don't always give many details, so our purpose is to give the informations that would have been helpfull during our 3 months trip at some of the sites. Good lists are found on the Birdquest, Pantanal Bird Club or VENT reports with recent and useful details. Reports from Wallace, Grosset, Sangster (with good maps), Simpson, where very useful, and we picked up some things from others (Babic, Vermeulen...). We thank Mark Van Beirs, Markus Lagerqvist and particularly Ciro Albano for the help they could provide.
Once back home we sent our report to Ciro Albano who corrected some errors of identifications and told us that he would have helped us without problems if we had emailed him before our trip, even if we didn’t take him as guide; so don’t hesitate to contact him firstname.lastname@example.org and to visit his website www.nebrazilbirding.com where he is intending to put many infos for the independant birders.
Our car was from Localiza, but we didn't book straight to them as we found a cheaper price with more kilometers (5000 monthly) through the website www.tourisme-bresil.com, don't ask us how it is possible... it was a compact size, Chevrolet 4 doors, 26 euros per day. We drove 17000km.
Prices of the hotels are given after bargaining without breakfast as we had our instant coffee and biscuits with us most of the time.
Sites visited: PN das Emas, Pantanal, Serra das Araras, Chapada dos Guimaraes, Araguaiana, Pirapora, Balbina forest near Bandeira, Reserva Veracel near Porto Seguro, Reserva Serra Bonita, Boa Nova, Chapada Diamantina, Jeremoabo, Chapada do Araripe, Serra do Baturité, Tamandaré, Murici, Barra do Sao Miguel, Crasto, Fazenda Michelin, PN Monte Pascoal, Pico Caledonia, Guapi-Açu Ecological Reserve.
During our trip 618 species were seen, and 8 heard only. 110 were brazilian endemics. Amongst the endemics missed, the Scarlet-throated Tanager was a great disappointment as the range is rather big, but we checked all the black birds and didn’t see one! Not seen either the White-collared Kite, Grey-breasted Parakeet, Bahia Tapaculo, Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner, Grey-winged Cotinga.
EMAS NP (Goias, 20 to 22/09)
Entrance : 3Rs/pers/day.
We found few practical informations about the place, and emailed to the park officer Marcos Da Silva Cunha (email@example.com), we asked him if we could camp in the park and he said that we could sleep on the floor in a house. He informed us that a guide was compulsory and that we had to find one in town. From France we had emailed to the guide mentionned in Bradley Davis's report, firstname.lastname@example.org, he answered that he was booked but gave us a contact of Aluisio Cabral through email@example.com, tel (64)9626-0035. By car from Brasilia, we headed until Jatai, then took left towards Serranopolis; after this at a village we turned right on an earth road signalled « alternative road to Chapado do Ceu », we managed to do it with our small car without problem as it was dry, for 30km. This road is being tarred, but we don't know when it will be finished.
Chapada do Ceu has just a few streets and we slept at Hotel Vitor, a good room at 80 Rs with breakfast. The owner called Aluisio who came and we talk about our trip. He asked 130Rs per day from about 6am to 8pm or 65Rs half day. He took his car and we took ours, bought our food at the village supermarket; he speaks few english but speaks spanish which was OK for us. He is not specialised in birds but is not bad and knows quite a lot of sounds, and knew where to find the Cone-billed Tanager (he had the call but no speaker) and the White-winged Nightjar, we saw both of them the 2nd day (We saw 2 Tanagers together). Very good birding in general.
As all the houses of the station were full we finally camped under a shelter. There is water to drink and hot showers. It is better to have his own gas for cooking, but Aluisio had one. We stayed 3 nights, the park is wonderful, and we had a good birding and animal watching.
We left the park from the north gate, for this it is compulsory to pay the guide to cross the park, Aluisio followed us with his car and the cost was 1Rs per Km, so 100Rs (50km back); depending on the guide's car it can be until 1,50/Km). We stopped at a nice spot overviewing a humid valley which should be interesting to bird in the morning.
From the north gate we headed until Mineiros on a very good road.
3 observed at 5:30pm on the right side of the road from Rondonopolis to Cuiaba about 17,3Km after the village of Santa Elvira before the sign Km232.
SERRA DAS ARARAS, HARPY EAGLE (Mato Grosso, 26-27/09)
The Pousada Currupira das Araras, www.pousadacurrupira.com.br, north-west of Cuiaba is the base to see this nest of Harpy Eagle. To get there take the road to Jangada, then continue towards Barra do Bugres, until a signpost of the pousada at km35. A dirt road goes through a mine and arrives at the fazenda; it was an expensive 355Rs/day for 2 pers with full board, and we usually don't make such expense during our trips; for once we did it for the Harpy Eagle, but the room and the meals were very poor for the price. Adam, the receptionnist is a very welcoming man and saves the site. The nest is not on the pousada's ground, but on a private property about 2km from there; a young guide led us to the nest for free, once we knew where it was we went back there later alone; the 26/09 there was a 5 month's young on the nest. We had a brief view of an adult the following day flying over the forest; even if it is not far, it is impossible to get there without the help of the pousada, but probably they do accept the visit to the nest if you just go for lunch, just go there and ask. There are several hotels in Jangada.
Passed the pousada, there is a dirt road on the left leading to a forest with a good trail where we had a good birding. The pousada gave us the key of the gate.
PANTANAL (Mato Grosso 28/09 to 3/10)
We managed to bird the Transpantaneira in a cheap way; in Pocone we slept at Hotel Transpantaneira just at the start of the road, 60Rs the double with breakfast (there is a cheaper hotel in town, the Tuiuiu); full tank with gasoline, no station after Pocone; all along the 145km there are expensive lodges and nothing else; first we drove during all the day until Porto Jofre with numerous stops. There is a small restaurant at km32, cheaper than the lodges for more or less the same food. We had lunch (25Rs/pers) at the fazenda Santa Teresa after km62 and asked if we could have a walk in their riverine forest, they accepted for free from 1 to 3pm, we had a good birding. After the fazenda around k67 there is a jeep track on the left with a restaurant sign; we stopped there and walked, good birding with several Sunbitterns, this is the only road that we found for birding outside the transpantanera. Further on maybe 20km before Porto Jofre, 2 small abandonned houses on the right, the first one with bats; in the big mango trees a family of Great Horned Owls. The bridge just before the houses was very good at dusk for the Band-tailed Nightjars.
At Porto Jofre, just a Hotel on the right before the river, and on the left a dirt track passing some houses and leading to a fishing campsite; 20Rs/pers, facilities OK, restaurant 25Rs/pers. Band-tailed Nightjars along the river. Nest of Hyacinth Macaw in the camp behind the site called Pacu.
After 2 nights, way back and stop at Pousada Portal Paraiso at km17, for 3 nights of camping at 25Rs/pers in a nice setting, with boardwalks and trails, and a tower. A small forest where we had good birds. The campsite is behind the pool, and there are good facilities, a kitchen with fridge and gas. so we could prepare our meals.
Very good bird list for the Pantanal; driving by night along the road is the best way to see the mammals, Nightjars and Potoos. We missed the Spot-tailed Nightjar but at the end a guide told us that the bird is on the road after the Jaguar Lodge, we could have tried when we were in Porto Jofre ... too late. If your car is big enough, bring some fuel tanks to allow you more night drives.
PARQUE NACIONAL CHAPADA DOS GUIMARAES (Mato Grosso, 3 to 7/10/09)
The birding is more outside the NP. The main entrance a few km before Chapada town gives access to Veu de Noiva, it opened at 9am only, and after an accident it is now impossible to go down to the waterfall and the forest; so it is just a nice view and a few good birds, entrance free.
Back on the main road to Chapada town, there is a tarred road signposted « aeronotica » on the right, passing through some forest; further on (2 or 3km) on the main road again there is a dirt road on the right passing through a patch of forest, but it is just a stretch wich can be very birdy.
Further on from the main road again on the left the dirt road leading to Aguas Frias, we made 5.3 km and parked just after the right bend, and followed the fence of a property covered by cerrado; during the morning we saw around 25 cerrado species, including the Chapada Flycatcher.
We found 2 other nice forests: in town, take the direction of Pousada Penhasco until you see the signs for Horto Floral, Casa dos Sonhos, follow the track until Casa dos Sonhos; we parked a little bit further before the descent. Then we walked until the sign Trilha do Matao, and just before the ascent took the path on the right marked Trilha do Atma, it joins a good forest. The other forest is 5km from town on the Campo Verde road, turn left at the sign Valle de Jamaca. Follow the dirt road until the end, and park here. Pass the door, and there is a path behind the 1st house on the right side, going in the forest down to a river and a lovely waterfall. It was very quiet the day we were there, but in the forest it can be lively or dead without any explanation.
38km from Chapada on the road to Campo Verde, we stopped at a patch of cerrado (we turned right in a descent just after a bridge), and that's where we saw the Brown Jacamar that we missed before. The 2 Manakins, the Dot-eared Coquette and the Yellow-billed Blue Finch were missed during our 6 days in the area.
PIRAPORA (Minas Gerais,11 to 13/10)
This was a good site to visit and we stayed 2 nights; there are several hotels in town. To get to Minas Gerais Tyrannulet site, we followed the good explanations in Rick Simpson's report. It is incredible the number of species that we observed from this small bridge in only a few trees; several were nesting. We saw a pair of MG Tyrannulets, in the tree with the big termite mound (a nest was described there a few years ago), but saw no nesting activity. We had a very long study of the bird to be sure of the identification, after having checked all the photos that we could find on the web, the Drawing in Sigrist’s book is bad.
Continuing the road after the bridge there is a farm further on that you cross (gate). From there, still following the dirt road leading to the river, we stopped after about 1,8km and birded around, stayed on the river edge waiting for dusk. We had Least and Bahian Nighthawks catching insects above the river.
BALBINA FOREST (BANDEIRA) FOR STRESEMANN'S BRISTLEFRONT (Minas Gerais, 15-16/10)
Coming from the west through the nice Pedra Azul village on a very scenic road, then Almanera; the road between Almanera and Jordania is tarred, and the road to Bandeira is signposted on the left.
We followed the explanations in Whitehouse and Wallace's reports. We slept in Bandeira at the Pousada closed to the petrol station, but the best is to bargain as the women asked 60Rs, expensive for shared facilities.
We easily found the dirt road on the right at 8km from Bandeiras, then the low track 1,5km further on the left passing a stream and a first gate; we parked at the 2nd gate with a house on the left, and walked until the forest as followed : take the lower track on the left, crossing a small stream then going up, you see a house on the right, 3rd door, still uphill, 4th door with a house on the left; still uphill, left bend, 5th door, then a flat zone, 6th door, still walking until 7th door (fence), still ahead passing banana plantation, take the left bend leaving a track with a door on the right, 8th door, after a right bend you're facing the patch of forest; the track is getting narrower in some vegetation, still straight until you face a wooded area, you follow on the left and pass a small stream. It took us about 1h30 to get there, then 1/2h to the good forest. After this stream there is a small grassy area with 2 trails on the right that we didn't try, we followed the main trail rounding the hill on the right, until we arrive to a small red house; just before the house we took a path on the right for a steep climbing in the deforested hill, and eventually arrived to an obvious track that we took on the left, the forest was reached.
Many birds were seen, almost all the list (and more) of Whitehouse and Wallace except the Piprites, the Piha and the Berryeater. It was so birdy that we didn't go very far, anyway after a while the forest is not so dense, so at 11am we came back on our steps. We regularly taped the Bristlefront without response, but suddenly at 1:30pm had one not very far from the beginning of the trail and probably close to the GPS point (not working in the forest). We went towards the sound, and saw a small gully on the left with a good visibility, we entered into this and quietly sat; a beautiful female Stresemann's BRISTLEFRONT was calling (with a small call while quickly beating its wings), and went slowly all around us, hiding sometimes in the vegetation wich by luck was sparse, foraging and opening its tail, we had great views.
Another very good site was on the dirt road south of Bandeira, about 10km from town there is a dirt road on the left going to Timorante, non signposted; a few km further there is a bridge where we had a good birding notably the Hooded Visorbearer and a leucistic form of a Plain-crested Elaenia.
Leaving Bandeira for Porto Seguro is taking the 21km south until the tarred road, left towards Jordania, right towards Jacinto, dirt road to Salto da Divisa, and tarred road to BR101. Things can quickly change as they are asphalting several roads, always ask your way to the petrol stations.
RESERVA VERACEL (PORTO SEGURO) (Bahia, 17-19/10+4-5/11)
We had some reports from Wallace, Babic and Grosset; we thought that the birding was inside the reserve proper, and didn't understand how they could bird early as it opens only at 8am. In fact, the birding is from a dirt road crossing the forest and leading to a fazenda. The reserve is well signposted from the main road to Porto Seguro. The Pau-Brasil NP entrance is on the left (advanced permit needed), and straight on after 1,5km there is the visitor's entrance of the Veracel reserve (permit needed in advanced, compulsory guide to go in the forest trails). But the dirt road doesn't stop there, and forks further on. There is a Fazenda signposted at 10km, we took this road crossing the forest. After rain it is very slippery, and after a few km it is very sandy; so we parked the car at the beginning and walked for about 8km and back, checking the high trees for the Cotingas. We saw the White-winged several times, but no Banded; many birds seen; the only group found of Heliconias flowers favoured by the Hook-billed Hermit was 150m before the reserve entrance and we have been waiting for 1 hour in vain.
Back on the site in novembre on our way back down to Rio for one afternoon and one morning, all was much drier, and the flowers were faded, anyway we saw the Hook-billed Hermit along the track, but it was a short view. We saw much less birds than in october.
RESERVA SERRA BONITA (Bahia, 20-21-22/10)
All the forest was bought by Dr Vitor O. Becker and his wife Clemira, they created a reserve and they built a lodge and a research station. The price is of the Pantanal standard, as their choice is to limit the number of persons but they are planning to build another house with dormitories for the students; the best is to send an email and ask the price and avaibilities as there are few rooms in the lodge. The very good thing is that you are in the forest with the road and the trails to bird; Mr and Mrs Becker are very hospitable, and as entomologist he has a fantastic collection of moths, the 3rd in the world. In 3 days we had more than 80 species (60 the first day and only around the lodge), the Pink-legged Graveteiros were charging their nest, they seem to favour some trees just above the access road, wich is a good thing! We saw a pair of Bahia Tyrannulets on the forest trail acceeding to the tower road; Bahia Spinetail on the tower road. Raptors were good, with Black and Black-and-white Hawk-Eagles, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle.
There is all the confort, internet, and feeders. The access road is better with a 4x4, so we left our car at the petrol station at the entrance of Camacan and Vitor took us up to the reserve, about 3/4h-1h.
Check the email on the website in case of change as they may put the hotel in management.
BOA NOVA (Bahia, 24 to 28/10)
As a very important site covered in many trip reports we were surprised by the lack of precision to go to the forests, or sometimes some things were obsolete. The best map is in Sangster's report. At Boa Nova we had a very correct double room with bathroom at Pousada Recanto das Aguas on the main place for 40Rs (It may be the unique good room, 1st floor, the other downstairs seemed to be dormitories).
The best is to count the distance from the bridge wich is at the bottom of the village : to get to the dry forest take the gate on the left of the road 900m after the bridge, with a white sign Faz. Ingles. To get to the wet forest drive exactly 9km from the bridge where there is a dirt road on the left where we parked, walk along this road for 200 or 300m, passing some forest, until you see on the left a grassy unobvious trail going up, passing an open fence, and going through the forest (If you hear the river passing under the dirt road, you've just passed the trail). The 2 forests were excellent, most of the specialities listed in the trip reports were seen.
CHAPADA DIAMANTINA (Bahia, 30/10 to 3/11+28-29/11)
Several sites to cover and well explained in the trip reports; in PALMEIRAS we slept in the good Pousada do Chapada (45Rs); took the dirt road to Guine and parked the car at a small bridge. After a short walk in the afternoon we saw the Sao Francisco Sparrow, Great Xenops with others; the next morning several stops and walks gave Broad-tipped Hermit, Caatinga Antshrike and Red-shouldered Spinetail.
In LENÇOIS some good hotels like Parque Hotel at the entrance or Pousada Buona Sorte in the centre, both 60Rs). We went trekking on the trail leaving from the end of the paved road at Hotel Lençois where you can park. Very nice landscape, we saw the Sincora Antwren after about 2 hours : you reach a very small patch of humid forest, then the trails goes up and shortly turns right and begins to descend, thats where a female answered to the tape on the left slope (S12°31'21'' W41°25'35'').
In MUCUGÊ stayed at Pousada San Tonio, not very good, there is more choice. Wallace gives a sandy trail before the town where they found the Sincora Antwren, but we didn't find any, not sure to be in the good area as there are workers breaking some stones. Anyway we flushed a Band-winged Nightjar http://ibc.lynxeds.com/video/band-winged-nightjar-caprimulgus-longirostris/female-rock-during-day.
Checked some areas between Andarai and Mucugê, birding difficult (Amethyst Woodstar);
Back in the area in the end of novembre for 2 birds missed : Scarlet-throated Tanager and Diamantina Tapaculo. The first never seen (despite many sites covered in its range!). For the Tapaculo we went to IBICOARA at the site mentionned by Grosset and Wallace; from the junction of BA242 after a few kilometres, park after the bridge. There is a path on the right side going underneath; facing the river, the bird was on the right side; in fact we taped it in late afternoon, no answer; we spent the night in Ibicoara, and tried again the next morning; having taped and waited for a while, we came back to the road thinking that it was over, but the bird called, we came back down the river, and followed the edge on the right a little bit (in front of the bamboos); we stayed quietly and taped until we saw the bird arriving, it was a brief and unique view, because he came and sang so close to us under the bush covert, impossible to see him!
Just before Ibicoara (13km from the junction), there is a destroyed bus stop on the left without roof; we parked here and took the trail on the right going uphill, at the fork took right, a few meters after we heard a Sincora Antwren (S13°26'39'' W41°17'31''). We taped and a female came and stayed long enough for a short film. (http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/sincor%C3%A1-antwren-formicivora-grantsaui).
CHAPADA DO ARARIPE (Ceara, 5 to 7/11)
Nobody in the reports gave the exact way to visit this place and once in Crato we supposed that finding the site would be easy, in fact it is more than 10km from town (on the Nova Olinda and Exu roads).
We stayed 2 nights in the center in the dull but cheap Pousada Sagrada Familia for 40Rs but there is the better Hotel Real for 90Rs very close by.
For the birding : ask for the place Praça Juarez Tavora, from there follow the street Rua Senador Pompeu; turn left on Rua Almirante Alexandrino and straight on, cross a small bridge on a canal, further on there is a BR petrol station on the right, then a stop; take left, pass a petrol station Posto Galeao, at the fork take right to Nova Olinda and Exu, at 700m there is a roundabout with Iguatu on the right, and Nova Olinda-Exu on the left, take left and put on 0. The forest begins after 6,2km and there are 2 trails (left and right) at 6,5km, with a place to park the car on the right side of the road a few meters further. We parked at 1pm and took the left trail, as soon as we entered the forest we heard the Araripe Manakin singing, we walked towards the bird, crossing the small stream (where a women was washing her clothes) and stopped where the bird was calling above the stream, we had very good views (although he stayed rather high) for a long time as he was always singing circling around the stream. We saw 1 female too and many other birds were in these trees.
Back to our car, 3 policemen where waiting for us, they checked our papers and advised us that it was unsafe to leave the car here. It is probably best to look for this bird at Arajara Park.
Still on this same road slowly climbing to the plateau for 2,9km from the first stop, there is the road to Nova Olinda on the right, go straight on on Exu road BR122, and after 1,1km on the left there is the entrance of the Trilha de Belmonte in Floresta Nacional do Araripe with a map. The 1st three km of the trail were good, several White-browed Antpittas calling morning and late afternoon at 150m from the entrance and not shy; Rufous-breasted Leaftosser and Pale-breasted Tyrant-Manakin easy. Tawny Piculet seen when the trail arrives at an abandonned house.
Back on the road, the IBAMA house is just a few meters further on the left, with the airstrip track just in front of it on the right; access is not allowed, having had a bad experience with IBAMA a few years ago in Sooretama, we took the track wich is just before it under the powerline; we flushed a Pauraque from her egg, saw a White-browed Guan flying from a tree; after crossing a road we continued on the same but stretcher trail and flushed a Rufous Nightjar, discovering 2 lovely chicks : http://ibc.lynxeds.com/video/rufous-nightjar-caprimulgus-rufus/2-chicks-ground
SERRA DO BATURITÉ (GUARAMIRANGA) (Ceara, 11 to 13/11)
The base for the birding is the village of Guaramiranga, just after the village along the road there is the Hotel Alto da Serra, where the good surprise was the campsite at 30Rs. The chalets are 130Rs, very good birds in the garden and there is a trail. About 4km further on the road to Pacoti, there is the entrance road (1km) to Hotel Remanso; we saw most of the specials from this road between 1 an 5pm : Gould's Toucanet, Guianan Tyrannulet, Ochraceous Piculet, Grey-headed Spinetail, Band-tailed Manakin, Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant... from the trail inside the hotel we added the Rufous Gnateater's subsp, and the Planalto Woodcreeper (subsp intermedius). We just heard the Short-tailed Antthrush, and didn't see or heard the Spot-wingted Wood-Quail, but having seen them already we didn't try too hard. We missed the Sooty Grassquit and Lesser Woodcreeper subsp.
The important thing to know is that the hotel was closed during the week, so they didn't accept us to enter without a permit, for that we called this n° : 3231-7088 and spoke to Ana Cecilia who speaks english and said we could go. When the hotel is open there is no problem.
It was not easy to find the site for the Grey-breasted Parakeet seen by Ciro Albano, Grosset and Wallace (and mentionned in Babic), they give so few details; we went to Pacoti and tried to catch some infos, we even met the mayor but nobody knew the existence of the bird or of a protection program. Eventually with some deductions and a bit of luck we found the site, as the reports mentioned that the Parakeet came very late we have been waiting until dark, in vain!
Anyway here are the directions : leaving the Remanso taking the road to Pacoti, turn left after 2,2km just before Pacoti, follow the road for 2,6km and turn left at the sign Santa Rita, after 400m you'll see on the left the shrine and the benches described by Wallace. Ciro confirmed later that this was the good site.
MORADA NOVA for PYGMY NIGHTJAR AT THEIR DAY ROOSTING SITE
The only thing that we knew came from Grosset's trip report : the name of the fazenda where the Nightjars roost, Fazenda Serrathino, and the name of the owner : Sr Sinaldo. Morada Nova is a town of at least 70000 inhabitants, so that was a challenge. We have been lucky; reaching the town from Quixada at the west we asked at the 1st petrol station, the fazenda was unknown, but they sent us somewhere to the wrong Sr Sinaldo; back to town, we had a piece of luck to ask to a motor-taxi, who asked to a mini-market, everybody was concerned and wanted to help, until a man arrived who was a relative, he told us to wait, and came back later with Sr Sinaldo's daughter, Bruna! The four of us took the way to the nightjar's site in our car.
The fazenda, wich is not signposted, is about 9km west from town on a dirt road, and there is a gate to pass with the car and still some driving to do inside the property. Here we were joined by the very friendly Sr Sinaldo and we walked until a place of flat rocks, where after some research we saw several nightjars; they were rather nervous, flying away but never far, hopping the head, we saw at least 10 of them.
We were very grateful, and they didn't accept any money, they seemed very glad to content us. Bruna kindly gave us her email for the next birdwatchers : firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, and a tel : (88) 8825-2973. The family leaves in town and not on the fazenda.
ICAPUI for LITTLE WOOD-RAIL (15-16/11/09)
Here again we had very few infos, only Babic's trip report indicating that they went to Icapui with Ciro in some mangrove, and that their hotel was named Oh!Linda. We arrived to Icapui from the north on BR304 then CE261. The road descends to the coast, there we chose to go left on the road to Ponta Grossa before entering Icapui, passed the hotel Oh!Linda on the right after some kms, straight until the indication Praia Ponta Grossa; the tarred road becomes dirt, once arrived to Ponta Grossa the road goes right, to the beach were we checked in the cheap and good Pousada Canaa (50Rs), with A restaurant right on the beach. From the Pousada we took the unique street, passing a few houses, getting to a small river and then a few mangrove. At 5:30am we saw 2 Clapper Rails just after the houses, not shy at all. Several waders and egrets too. Further on in the small patch of mangrove no sign of Wood-Rail, we realized that we were probably not on the good site. Anyway for the nice setting it is a good thing to spend one night here.
Next morning we headed back to Icapui town, in search of a good site, that we found. Follow this main long street (still on CE261, and going south), called avenida Enrique Carnero until you see a petrol station SP on the left. Turn the first street left (about 100m), and always follow it, passing some marshes, for 1,6km, joining the sea front; turn right for 200m, then right again staying on the main dirt road for 400m; at the fork, there is a small bridge on the left, park there, just when we arrived we saw 2 Little Wood-Rails on the left, that we could observe for rather long time. The Bicolored Conebill was in the same area. The Waypoint is S04°41'29'' W37°21'21''.
USINA TRAPICHE (Pernambuco, 18-19/11)
Victor Emmanuel Nature Tours go to this place, mainly for the Forbe's Blackbird, we decided to make a try, but had no infos; once getting to Sirinhaem from the north, we didn't like the town, so we turned left at the junction facing the petrol station until Barra do Sirinhaem where we slept in the good Hotel Millenium (60Rs). Along this road at 3,3km from the junction we saw some good patches of forest on the right, we took the sugar track for 300m and stopped at a small path on the left leading up to the patch and we saw a small sign Usina Trapiche, Fundaçao Abrino; we followed the trail all around and inside, a few birds but nothing special, we tried by night the Pernambuco Pygmy-Owl in case of luck, we had only Pauraques and Bats. Tried again the next morning for nothing more;
This was a loss of time, and the patches of forest in Pernambuco are really very small and degraded. There is probably a better forest somewhere as the White-collared Hawk is seen in the area, but we couldn’t find any details on the web.
RESERVA SALTINHO (TAMANDARE) (Pernambuco, 19 to 20/11)
Coming from the north at the junction for the Tamandaré Road, there are some big IBAMA signs for the reserve but the only entrance that we saw was before the junction, a gate on the right and a guard; we asked him if we could go inside for watching birds; this area is run by ICMBio and we understood that it is kept for the researchers; the guard asked to his superior who refused, like the IBAMA staff they seem to enjoy leaving the birders at the gate.
Anyway we found a very good birding area without permit, and had very good species like Seven-coloured Tanager, Orange-bellied Antwren, and the Forbe's Blackbird : turn at the junction on the road to Tamandaré and put on 0. After 1,3km there is a small dirt road descending on the left with a small sign Banho… with a painting of a waterfall; take it with your car and park before the small river. Cross the bridge, many hummingbirds and others species around, on the left there is the waterfall, with a trail climbing on the right side of it and leading to the forest, where we saw Orange-bellied Antwren, Seven-coloured Tanager and several other species (Manakins). Instead of taking left to the waterfall, you can follow the main track ascending on the right, after a while there is a field of long grasses on the right where we saw the Gray-breasted Crake; further on there is a stream on the right side where we heard but couldn't see the Russet-crowned Crake; the track continues with some banana trees on the right, and just before the end of the vegetation, we played the tape of the Forbe's Blackbird; a pair readily came and perched in a big tree in front of us and sang, and stayed there long enough for a nice observation. Then the track arrives to some sugar cane plantation, and is split in 2, the left side climbing towards the forest, where it joins on the left the waterfall trail.
Really this small area was very rich and rewarded, but the week-end should probably be noisy.
On the road to Tamandaré we had a nice view of 3 Jandaya Parakeets in early morning in a palm tree (we didn't check the km, but it was in front of a sign « pesca and pague » (fish and pay) more or less; there is a marshy area on the right at 5,5km from the junction where we heard but missed the Rufous-sided Crake.
We tried to find the site CACHOEIRA LINDA, we couldn' get to it but we think that we were on the good way; from the junction of the PE60/PE96 take the PE96 for 12km, turn left on a dirt road, after 2km pass a bridge and go straight; we were at only 3km from our GPS point for the White-collared Kite, but when the road forks with a sign meaning no left, we met a man on a motor bike who told us not to go further because they were working with trucks; so we headed back, but we regret.
MURICI (Alagoas, 20 to 24/11)
We were very lucky with the dry weather wich allowed us to go to the reserve with our small car; some parts were bumpy but not too difficult to pass anyway; it must be a nightmare after the rain.
We stayed at the Hotel Novo (45Rs), signposted everywhere; the owner speaks english, and helped us greatly as he called a motor taxi and booked him for the following day at 4am to show us the way to the reserve, for 30Rs (and leave us after that); the name of this driver is Val, tel 9918-3751. He was on time and we just had to follow him, the 14km took 45mn; once you've been there once you won't get lost as it is easy : from the BR104 at the end of Murici towards Uniao do Palmares, there is a small electric power complex on the right, take the dirt road just before it and put on 0. Stay on the main road, at 6,1km take left at the fork on a short paved road, at 7,1km there is an intersection, go straight, at 8,2km take right at the fork, at 9,9km there is a gate that you pass, at 11,8km you arrive to a small village with a marsh on the left, go straight on the road passing the houses and bending left, follow the ascent until km14, just after a gate (open) there is a track on the left, park here (unless you have a 4x4) and walk this track for the last 2km until the entrance of the reserve; there is a big ICMBio sign Estaçao Ecologica de Murici.
We spent 2 full days and 1 morning, it was very quiet and patience is needed; the list was not bad with species but we had only a few specials : Orange-bellied and Alagoas Antwren, Scalloped and Willi's Antbird, Pernambuco Foliage-Gleaner. No sign of Pinto's Spinetail, Long-tailed Woodnymph, Al.Tyrannulet + Foliage-Gleaner. The last morning we met a Toucan Tour group, the only birders that we met during our trip.
We went to another part of the forest with easy access :back to the junction of BR104/BR101, take the BR101 toward Recife, after 17km on the left there is the same sign Estaçao Ecologica de Murici, ICMBio; put on 0; the road is paved on 3km and goes to the towers; at 2km we stopped in early morning ant taped the Pinto's Spinetail, a pair came straight to us; later a good flock at the same place gave around 10 species, with the Alagoas Tyrannulet; further on we saw a female Long-tailed Woodnymph; from the towers and just at the bottom of the last ascend to them, we saw several raptors like Short-tailed and White-tailed Hawk and Black Hawk-Eagle. We had a hope for the White-collared Kite but he didn't show; after the paved road it is a dirt road for a short distance passing through forest with a trail on the left, then they were paving the other part of the road so we didn't go further and don't know where it goes, anyway it seemed to be sugar cane fields;
So for us this road was a good complement to Murici reserve, and an alternative in case of rain.
RESERVA FREI CANEICA (JAQUEIRA) (Pernambuco)
Visited by birding tours now (the Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner is easier to find here), and having found in the trip reports the email of the Dr. José Alves Siqueira, we asked him by email the permission to visit the reserve and sleep 2 nights if possible; the quick answer was very short, not very nice, with just the question « where did you have my personal email? ». So we answered that it was in 2 or 3 trip reports and sent him the links, and we never had any answer, even after a 3rd demand. We were very disappointed and didn't know what to think about this person. Ciro Albano wrote us later that he is not the manager anymore and that the best is to go to Jaqueira at the gate of the Usina Colonia and ask here.
BARRA DE SAO MIGUEL for RUFOUS CRAB-HAWK (Alagoas, 25/11)
We read that a raptors tour was going to Roteiro for the Rufous Crab-Hawk and the White-collared Kite. Taking the road AL220 to Barra de Sao Miguel, we forked right on AL101, passed a big bridge with a very good mangrove and some forest; the map was showing a tarred road to Roteiro on the right after the bridge, there was a big sign but it was in fact a dirt road, passing through cane fieds; once in Roteiro, the site was great but it was a poor village with no pousada; we decided to sleep in Barra de Sao Miguel wich is at the mouth of the river with many hotels. In early morning we headed up to the bridge, and turned on a dirt road on the right 50 or 100m before it. Very quickly there is a good view over the mangrove on the left. At 5:30am we scoped a Rufous Crab-Hawk perched on a tree top. Later we saw a pair in display flight. Further on this small road passes through some forest, then to a village and after that it is sugar cane; we didn't take the time to bird the forest, and had no Kite but we saw several raptors : Crane Hawk, Gray Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, and of course the common ones like Roadside, and Vultures;
CRASTO for FRINGE-BACKED FIRE-EYE (Sergipe, 25-26/11)
The forest is between Santa Luzia and Crasto, an area that we found particularly attractive, with marshes along the road.
We slept in Crasto in a good little Pousada (40Rs) on the river front; quiet fishing village with forest and marshes along the 8km of dirt road from Santa Luzia de Itanhy.
We saw the Fringe-backed Fire-Eye along the road km from Santa Luzia (3,9 from Crasto), thanks to the Toucan Tours group who was watching it when we arrived. Amongst the other birds seen was a pair of Pernambuco Foliage-Gleaner, Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike, Band-tailed Antwren.
FAZENDA MICHELIN for BAHIA TAPACULO (Bahia, 1+2/12/09)
Nobody gave any details about how to get there or who contact to get inside the reserve, in fact it is very easy. Coming north from Itubera towards Igrapiuna, after about 4km on the right you have a big sign of a Pousada Cachoeira Grande; we followed the road and checked in, it is a little bit run down but the family is nice, 50Rs.
Back to the road, a few hundred meters on the right is a big sign Michelin indicating the Cachoeira Pancana Grande at 2km. We followed this dirt road and arrived at a guarded car park, then took the trail to the high waterfall. Up the waterfall the trail continues along the river in a good forest where the birding was good although we were not there early.
Back to the road again, a few hundred meters on the left is the Fazenda Michelin entrance. That's where the environmental office of the reserve is. We arrived a monday, alas it was holly day, so nobody was there, the guard told us to come back the next morning at 7am, that we did. Half an hour later, Zildomar (working for the conservation project) arrived, the guard talk to him and he came to meet us; we explained that we would like to see the Bahia Tapaculo, he said OK but for the next morning as he had to arrange the guide; he told us to come the next day at 5:30am. The fee is 50Rs per person. We went to bird the Cachoeira Grande trail (Eastern Striped Manakin, Scaled Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater...)
The Wednesday morning at 5:30 at the entrance gate, the guard told us to go to another entrance 3kms further on the right, where Zildomar was waiting for us; we followed his motorbike for 15km in the plantation, and arrived to the guide's house close to the forest called Pacangê forest; Zildomar left us and we drove 3 km with the guide to the place where Ciro and his group saw the Tapaculo a few days ago; no answer to the tape; we tried 3 other sites in the forest, no answer; the guide was disappointed, and then it rained wich didn't help. At 10:30 we stopped and came back, went to see Zildomar at the office for the payment, he was surprised that the bird didn't came and said that this guide knew the bird very well. Sadly we had to leave for Ilheus where we had to meet some friends so we couldn't try again. How to describe our disappointment...
If you want to visit the reserve, contact Zildomar Souza Magalhães : Zildomar.firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 73-3256-8000; he speaks only portuguese.
PARQUE NACIONAL MONTE PASCOAL (Bahia, 5+6/11)
On our way down from Porto Seguro to Rio we turned left on the well-signposted road to Monte Pascoal; after 12km the roads ends at the park entrance, where we asked to a young girl if it was possible to camp. The chief (the reserve belongs to a group of Potoxi indians), came and nicely welcomed us, and permitted us to camp for 10Rs inside the park. A young boy named Toho led us to the visitor’s center 1km from the entrance inside the forest in a small clearing; we could set our tent under the confortable shelter of the center and stayed alone until the next morning. At 3am a Tawny-browed Owl called but didn’t came to our tape. At dawn the forest was totally silent; but after a while the birds started to be active and at 5:30am we saw a pair of Banded Cotingas in one of the big trees surrounding the clearing.
At 6am Toho arrived as programmed the day earlier and guided us in the forest (30Rs); all was so dry that the birding was very difficult so we left Toho speaking of their way of life and he was interesting.
PICO CALEDONIA for GREY-WINGED COTINGA (Rio de Janeiro, 9-10/11)
Mark Van Beirs was nice to give us the site where the Birdquest group saw the bird in october the same year. From Nova Friburgo go to the roundabout Praça Marcilio Dias, and follow the signs Caledonia or Pico Caledonia for several kilometers. When you see a small church on the left, and on the right the sign HOTEL FAZENDA CALEDONIA INN 1,5km, follow the sign. When you are at the hotel, the paved road continues on 4km. Very good birding from the road 1km before the end, Swallow-tailed and Black-and-gold Cotingas, Rufous-backed Antvireo, Rufous-tailed Antthrush. The access to the antennas is guarded and opens at 7am until 4pm; the guards check your identity and let you walk up to the stairs. The Birdquest group saw the Grey-winged Cotinga from the first steps, so we have been taping and waiting for a long time towards the forest above without success during the 2 days; the bird never called. The Serra do Mar Tyrannulets were numerous, Rufous-tailed Antbird, and other good birds were present. Really a very good birdwatching site.