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ULRIK ANDERSEN & ERIK MØLGAARD
DANISH ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY
BIRDLIFE - DENMARK
Danish Ornithological Society´s Excursion Committee©
Copies of this report can be purchased from:
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In October 1996, the excursion committee of the Copenhagen department of the Danish Ornithological Society (DOF) carried out its first trip to Brazil. The purpose of the journey was to visit a representative selection of the main habitats in the coastal mountains around Rio de Janeiro.
The tour was scheduled for two weeks. We had a rented minibus from Hertz rent a car and all the hotel bookings were made through Brazilian Fiesta Tours in Rio (Fax+55 21 235 7570).
The participants were: Ulrik Andersen (UA), Ole Lemming (OL), Finn Jensen (FJ), John Damgaard-Nielsen (JDM), Lissie Schlütter (LS) and Poul-Erik Bjerre (PEB).
The tour fee was DKK 13,800.- which included all transportation, lodging, all meals apart from dinners in Ubatuba and Rio, cancellation insurance and tour leader as well as the usual DOF services.
The weather was highly variable. In the mountains, the weather was acceptable most of the time, but along the coast it was less than satisfactory with extended periods of rain and fog.
The local currency is called Real and the exchange rate was nearly 1 for 1 USD (6.00 DKK). A few years ago , the government increased the value of the local currency to that of the USD on the recommendation of the World Bank. At the same time, inflation was eliminated as was the black market. Because of this, Brazil has become a very expensive country to travel in: hotels, food and domestic flights cost roughly the same as in northen Europe.
The folllowing itinerary and birdlist is written by Ulrik Andersen. Ulrik and Finn Jensen visited some more areas after the main trip. Their notes are also included in this report. I would like to thank Ulrik for his great work with this report.
Finally, it should not be forgotten that the whole trip was characterised by good fellowship and pleasant being together. I hope to see you all again another time!
Erik Mølgaard (EM)
Lyngborghave 6 1tv,
All visited areas are well known and no locality descriptions are provided here. Please refer to "Birding Brazil" by Bruce Forrester.
Oct 18th: Evening flight (Varig) out of Copenhagen, short stop in London and then off for São Paulo.
Oct 19th: Arrived to São Paulo nearly on schedule, but getting the minibus from Hertz was quite time-consuming, since the vehicle reserved turned out to be too small. In the end they gave us a Hertz courtesy shuttle at the same price, and off we went for Parque Nacional de Itatiaia, the first main locality of the trip. An afternoon walk from our hotel (Ype) along Maromba trail to Hotel Simon and back on the main road provided an excellent introduction to the avifauna.
Oct 20th-23rd: Itatiaia is a magnificent area. However, in late October nesting is well underway and both birdsong and mixed party activity are rather limited. Thus detailed local knowledge and/or tape recordings of the specialities are indeed desirable for a birding group. We had neither - and missed most of the specialities. Still, even with a bird list as poor as ours, the qualities of both the park and the gorgeously situated Hotel do Ype are such that time spent here is never wasted and when you leave, you want to get back soon!
On the 20th, we went up the Tres Picos trail in the morning and made a rather short late afternoon walk up the lowest part of the Jeep Trail. On the 21st, the weather was lousy (dense fog) all morning and very few birds were seen. In the afternoon, the lower areas of the park were visited (few birds seen). On the 22nd, we visited the highest reaches of the park along the Agulhas Negras road (accessible from the Caxambú road outside the park) - beautiful area indeed. On the 23rd, we walked up the Jeep Trail. This is probably the best walking trail for birds in the park.
Oct 23rd: After lunch we drove the 225 km to the unattractive and quite expensive coastal town of Ubatuba where we were to spend the next 3½ days. It rained during most of the drive.
Oct 24th-26th: The steep mountains (Serra do Mar) above Ubatuba are still covered in fine forest. However, access is very limited - trails apparently are found only in the area of Pico Corcovado for which we had no directions. Therefore our birding time was spent in two fazendas with mostly secondary habitats just north of town. Fazenda Capricornio is a cocoa plantation surrounded by excellent forest - but there are no trails into it and our two morning visits and one afternoon visit were dull indeed. The good news is that the owners have plans to cater for ecotourists and these plans include the construction of forest trails and even a canopy tower. If realized, Capricornio will become the primary birding spot in the Ubatuba area. The other fazenda, Angelim, currently has easier access to good birding habitat and our one morning and one afternoon visit here were very rewarding, including excellent views of Buff-throated Purpletuft. During these three days, only the first (Angelim) and second (Capricornio) mornings and third afternoon (Angelim) were blessed with tolerable weather - the rest of the time it was less than satisfactory with light rain for extended periods. The second afternoon it was raining too much for birding to be meaningful and part of the group scouted the back roads for primary habitat (in vain).
Oct 27th: Rain all day. Birding was virtually impossible our last morning in the Ubatuba area, and the drive along the coast through the old town of Parati was no big pleasure either - we can't even say that we saw this reputedly beautiful stretch of coast... In the afternoon, we checked into the grotesquely decadent upper class Hotel do Frade near the village of Frade, an awful fenced-in playground for the rich Brazilians. They even had Mute Swans in their ponds! A few of us scouted next morning's locality in the late afternoon - we did find it, but gave up birdwatching due to the rain.
Oct 28th: We birded the mostly secondary flood plain forest at the outlet of the Rio Florestão, the only known locality for the endangered Black-hooded Antwren, for a couple of hours in the morning. It was still light rain and eventually we gave up without having seen much. Via Rio de Janeiro we drove the 300 km to the mountain town of Teresópolis. On the way, we stopped at the fish ponds near Magé (in dry weather!) and saw some waterbirds. Teresópolis was shrouded in the clouds and the plans for an afternoon visit to the Parque Nacional da Serra dos Orgãos had to be surrendered because the park was closed. Instead we looked around in the rich residential area in the hills to the northwest of town, but did not see many birds.
Oct 29th: All day hike up the Pedra do Sino trail in the Parque Nacional da Serra dos Orgãos. Nice weather, splendid scenery and lots of birds, the highlight being excellent looks at five species of cotinga. This was perhaps the best day of the trip, and we all felt that more days should have been spent in this national park (and fewer in Ubatuba).
Oct 30th: The morning was spent in and near a small woodlot within 20 km of Sapucaia. The supposedly rare Three-toed Jacamar proved surprisingly easy to find. From there we drove the 175 km to Rio de Janeiro where we did some "normal" tourist sightseeing.
Oct 31st: Morning visit to the Parque Nacional de Tijuca above Rio. We visited the area near Pico Corcovado, but there was so much traffic on the road running through the park that this was really no pleasure. The view from the Jesus statue is highly spectacular, though.
The afternoon was available for sightseeing and shopping in Rio before the evening flight home, except to Finn Jensen and Ulrik Andersen who hired a car and drove the 600 km to Santa Teresa, the first stop on their five-day visit to Espirito Santo:
The first 1½ day was spent in Santa Teresa, visiting the excellent Reserva Biologica Nova Lombardia (which has recently been renamed to R.B. Augosto Ruschi) north of town and the Ruschi museum in town, reknowned for its many hummingbird feeders. Nova Lombardia was visited half the day of Nov 1st (it rained heavily all afternoon) and for a few hours in the morning of Nov 2nd and provided quite a few endemic species. Several good mixed parties were encountered. The museum was visited for a couple of hours in the middle of the day Nov 2nd before travelling on to Sooretama.
The next 2½ days (afternoon of Nov 2nd and all of Nov 3rd and 4th) were devoted to visiting the beautiful forest of the Reserva Biologica de Sooretama north of Linhares. Again, timing was bad with nesting apparently well underway meaning both bird vocalization and mixed-flock activity was rather limited. The last day was essentially a travel day (700 km) to be sure to catch the evening flight out of Rio on Nov 5th.
In the list, R B means Reserva Biológica (de) and P N means Parque Nacional (de). In general, all sightings are listed for species recorded at less than 5 localities.
* = Species only recorded by Ulrik Andersen and Finn Jensen on their extension days.
Species observed only by one or two participants are marked in the list with the initials of the observers in brackets.
*SOLITARY TINAMOU (Tinamus solitarius)
1 heard R B Nova Lombardia and 7+ heard and seen (well!) R B Sooretama.
*LITTLE TINAMOU (Cryptorellus soui)
3 R B Sooretama.
BROWN TINAMOU (C. obscurus)
2 P N Itatiaia and 2 Fazenda Capricornio.
*VARIEGATED TINAMOU (C. variegatus)
1 heard R B Sooretama.
*YELLOW-LEGGED TINAMOU (C. noctivagus)
7+ heard R B Sooretama.
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)
2 São Paulo - Itatiaia.
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)
10 São Paulo - Itatiaia.
BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster)
1 Ubatuba and 10 Rio de Janeiro.
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens)
Common along the coast: 80 Ubatuba, 45 Ubatuba - Frade, 3 Angra dos Reis - Rio and 10 Rio de Janeiro.
WHITE-NECKED HERON (Ardea cocoi)
GREAT EGRET (Egretta alba)
1 São Paulo - Itatiaia, 25 Ubatuba and 15 Rio / Magé, 20 Sapucaia - Rio.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
1 São Paulo - Itatiaia, 6 Ubatuba and 2 Hotel do Frade, 2 Magé.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striatus)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
50 São Paulo - Itatiaia, 2 Ubatuba and 30 Sapucaia - Rio.
CAPPED HERON (Pilherodius pileatus)
WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata)
7 São Paulo - Itatiaia and 150 Magé.
BRAZILIAN DUCK (Amazonetta brasiliensis)
2 Itatiaia (Caxambu road) and 1 Rio - Santa Teresa.
*KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa)
2 R B Sooretama.
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
Common everywhere except inside forest, over 1250 recorded.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Widespread, but rather uncommon, 62 recorded (52 of which on UA and FJ's Espirito Santo extension).
*LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (C. burrovianus)
5 R B Sooretama.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus)
2 Santa Teresa and 20 R B Sooretama.
RUFOUS-THIGHED KITE (Accipiter erythronemius)
2 Itatiaia (Ype), 1 Fazenda Angelim and 1 R B Sooretama.
PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea)
2 Sapucaia and 10 R B Sooretama.
SNAIL KITE (Rostrahmus sociabilis)
15 São Paulo - Itatiaia.
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albicaudatus)
3 São Paulo - Itatiaia and 2 Itatiaia.
ROADSIDE HAWK (B. magnirostris)
Widespread and common, 20+ recorded.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (B. brachyurus)
4 P N Itatiaia, 1 P N Tijuca and 2 R B Sooretama.
WHITE-NECKED HAWK (Leucopternis lacernulata)
2 Fazenda Angelim and 2 R B Sooretama.
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis)
1 near Magé, 1 N of Teresópolis and 1 Sapucaia.
*ORNATE HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus ornatus)
1 R B Nova Lombardia.
BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (S. tyrannus)
3 P N Itatiaia, 1 Fazenda Angelim and 1 R B Sooretama.
CRANE HAWK (Geranospiza caerulescens)
1 Fazenda Angelim.
LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans)
1 Parati - Angra dos Reis.
COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus)
1 heard R B Nova Lombardia.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima)
Widespread, 14 recorded.
CRESTED CARACARA (Polyborus plancus)
6 São Paulo - Itatiaia, 7 Caxambú road, 1 Sapucaia and 1 Santa Teresa.
APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis)
1 Itatiaia - Ubatuba (UA).
AMERICAN KESTREL (F. sparverius)
Widespread and fairly common in open country.
DUSKY-LEGGED GUAN (Penelope obscura)
Common (30+) and easy to see well in P N Itatiaia, 1 P N Serra dos Orgãos and 1 Teresópolis - Sapucaia.
SPOT-WINGED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus capueira)
A few flocks heard in P N Itatiaia and R B Nova Lombardia.
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauma)
BLACKISH RAIL (Rallus nigricans)
1 P N Itatiaia (EM).
GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajanea)
SLATY-BREASTED WOOD-RAIL (A. saracura)
Quite common P N Itatiaia with several seen well and more heard, 1 Fazenda Angelim.
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula chloropus)
10 São Paulo - Itatiaia and 1 Magé.
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrula martinica)
2 São Paulo - Itatiaia.
WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana)
5 São Paulo - Itatiaia and 6 Magé.
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)
Widespread and fairly common in open country, 50 recorded.
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