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Northeast Brazil 13 August-5 september 2009,
After my friend Jan Vermeulen had finished a successful trip to this region in November 2008, I wondered if a visit in August would be possible. I noticed that most birders and bird tour companies visit the area between November and March and so I concluded that this must be the optimum time.
As Jan’s trip was organised by Paulo Boute and he was very pleased with his services, I decided to contact Paulo. He told me that a trip in this period was no problem, with the exception of the Murici area, but that area is tricky at any time of the year. Rain can make the dirt roads leading to the relict patches of forest extremely slippery and dangerous.
As we definitely wanted to bird Murici, we just took our chances. During our 2 days in the Murici area we had one sunny day and one day which was partly rained out. But we saw most specialties on the rainy day!! Anyway we let Paulo organise our 24 day trip to the north east of Brazil. I was accompanied by my brother Frans, and friends Rob Bouwman and Wiel Poelmans. Later we were joined by another Dutch birder, Hans Westerlaken.
More and more birders visit this remote corner of Brazil, which harbours over 100 Brazilian endemics, representing more than a half of Brazil’s endemic species. The avifauna is still poorly known and new species have been discovered with some regularity in the past years. Also keep an eye on the different subspecies as many of them can warrant full species status in the (near) future.
The specialties occurring in the small, relict patches of evergreen Atlantic Forest, mainly in the state of Alagoas, are rare and many of them are mentioned in “Threatened Birds of the World” of Birdlife International.
It is depressing that these patches are surrounded by either huge sugarcane plantations or extensive cattle grounds.
Hotspots in Northeast Brazil with specialties at each site.
Serra de Baturité: This massif is an island of moist atlantic forest. White-browed Guan, Caatinga Gnateater, Grey-breasted Parakeet, Gould’s Toucanet, Ochraceous Piculet, Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant and Rufous-breasted Leaftosser.
Chapada do Araripe: Dry forest, mainly caatinga. Caatinga Parakeet, White-browed Guan, Tawny Piculet, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Great Xenops, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Caatinga Antshrike, Caatinga Antwren, White-browed Antpitta, Stripe-backed Antbird, Ash-throated Casiornis, White-naped Jay, Araripe Manakin, Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Grey-eyed Greenlet and White-throated Seedeater.
Forest patches near Palmares: White-collared Kite, Pinto’s Spinetail, most Alagoas specialties, White-winged Cotinga, Seven-coloured Tanager, Forbes’s Blackbird.
Murici Atlantic Forest (near União de Palmares): Jandaya Parakeet, Alagoas Foliage-gleaner, Alagoas Tyrannulet, Alagoas Antwren, Orange-bellied Antwren, Scalloped Antbird, Pinto’s Spinetail, Black-headed Berryeater, Black-cheeked Gnateater and Seven-coloured Tanager.
Canudos area: Mainly caatinga with some gallery forest: Lear’s Macaw, Blue-winged Macaw, Red-legged Seriema, Caatinga Parakeet, Broad-tipped Hermit, Ruby Topaz, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Caatinga Cachalote, Pectoral Antwren, White-naped Jay and Scarlet-throated Tanager.
Crasto Forest: A small patch of Atlantic Forest. Golden-capped Parakeet, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, Fringe-backed Fire-eye and Rufous Nightjar.
Boa Nova: Dry forest/caatinga. Slender Antbird, Narrow-billed Antwren, Buff-throated Purpletuft, Pygmy Nightjar and Ash-throated Casiornis. In a marshy area: Giant Snipe.
Boa Nova: Wet forest. Rio de Janeiro Antbird, Spot-backed Antbird, White-bibbed Antbird, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Striated Softtail, Bahia Tyrannulet, Bahia Spinetail, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Ochre-breasted F.-gleaner, Cinnamon-vented Piha.
Chapada Diamantina: Cerrado, caatinga and dry forest. Great Xenops, Sincora Antwren, Silvery-cheeked Antbird, Sao Francisco Sparrow, Hooded Visorbearer, Buff-throated Pampafinch, and Diamantina Tapaculo
GETTING THERE – FLIGHT
We flew from Brussels via Lisbon to Fortaleza and back from Salvador via Lisbon to Brussels with TAP Portugal. This was rather an expensive flight as we had to pay €1250,- for a return ticket.
The unit of currency in Brazil is the Real. In August 2009 the rate was about 2.6 Brl. to the Euro. 1.8 Brl. To the US$
We changed some cash at the airport for paying for our drinks during the trip. Credit cards are widely accepted in larger hotels and shops.
GETTING AROUND – CAR – ACCOMMODATION – FOOD & DRINKS
Paulo Boute took care of all the ground arrangements. During the whole trip we had a spacious and comfortable Mercedes minibus at our disposal. This was important as we had to cover a lot of ground during our stay in Brazil. In all we drove some 5000 kilometres. We had an excellent and safe driver. I forgot his name but this big, black guy with a body of a fit wrestler was quickly nicknamed Blondie by us.
Road conditions vary in Brazil from excellent tarmac roads in deserted areas to potholed roads, full with trucks. From time to time we had to use dirt roads which were not too bad. Only in the Murici area the dirt roads were terrible and dangerous, mainly because the surface became extremely slippery after rain. Even with 4-wheel drive cars we got stuck.
Accommodation ranged from basic to good. In the warmer areas all rooms had fans or air-conditioning and even the basic rooms had private bathrooms. The food was generally good, with a good variety of vegetables but you have to like meat. Most of the time we had buffet lunches and dinner in roadside restaurants at gas stations (Churrascarias) and hotels.
As hardly anybody in this region speaks/understands English or even Spanish it is very difficult to undertake an independent birding trip. Finding the birding spots is another challenge, especially as road directions are also insufficient or lacking. Paulo and our driver had to ask for directions regularly.
HEALTH & SAFETY
No special medical precautions are needed for travelling to Northeast Brazil. Malaria is apparently not present. We did not have any real problems with mosquitoes but the pests are chiggers and ticks. As we did not visit any large cities or tourist areas, we never felt unsafe.
The weather was our main concern as most birders do not visit the region in August. But generally the weather was fine. It was hot and dry in the caatinga area and warm in other places during the day and nice cool in the early morning/evening.
We had a lot of rain at Murici but that is normal at any time of the year and we lost one full morning at Boa Nova because of a nasty, constant drizzle. I do recommend bringing rubber boots with you on a trip to Northeast Brazil. Very handy to cope with the wet and muddy conditions and also when going through bushy vegetation.
Our tour produced a very healthy list of rare sightings. We missed a few but some of the birds we saw were outstanding. In Alagoas we missed the Alagoas Foliage-gleaner and Pinto’s Spinetail.
Though the weather in the Chapada Diamantina area was fine, we didn’t encounter much bird activity and we struggled to find the specialties. Here we missed the recently described Sincora Antwren and more unexpectedly also the San Fransisco Sparrow.
Highlights were many though, but the early morning flocks of Lear’s Macaw in the Canudos area, the male Araripe Manakin at Araripe and a soaring pair of the extremely rare White-collared Kite at a forest patch near Palmares stand out.
But we also observed: White-browed Guan, Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Giant Snipe, Jandaya Parakeet, Golden-capped Parakeet, Cactus Parakeet, Grey-breasted Parakeet, Rufous Nightjar, Pygmy Nightjar, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Broad-tipped Hermit, Ruby Topaz Hummingbird, Long-tailed Woodnymph, Hooded Visorbearer, Spotted Piculet, Tawny Piculet, Ochraceous Piculet, Bahia Spinetail, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail, Ochre-cheeked Spinetail, Grey-headed Spinetail, Caatinga Cachalote, Great Xenops, Spot-backed Antshrike, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Caatinga Antshrike, Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Alagoas Antwren, Stripe-backed Antbird, Caatinga Antwren, Pectoral Antwren, Narrow-billed Antwren, Black-bellied Antwren, Orange-bellied Antwren, Rio de Janeiro Antbird, Fringe-backed Fire-eye, Slender Antbird, Scalloped Antbird, White-browed Antpitta, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Caatinga Gnateater, Diamantina Tapaculo, Black-headed Berryeater, Cinnamon-vented Piha, White-winged Cotinga, Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Lesser Wagtail-Tyrant, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, Bahia Tyrannulet, Alagoas Tyrannulet, Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, Ochre-faced Tody-Tyrant, Ash-throated Casiornis, White-naped Jay, Grey-eyed Greenlet, Yellow-faced Siskin, Red-cowled Cardinal, Scarlet-throated Tanager, Seven-coloured Tanager and Forbes’s Blackbird.
The quality of our observations is also reflected in the fact that we saw 10 species considered Vulnerable, 8 species considered Near Threatened, 9 species considered Endangered and 8 species considered Critically Endangered in “Threatened Birds of the World” by Birdlife International.
Looking back on our trip I can only say that our itinerary worked out fine. Generally speaking, we had enough time to find the specialties. An extra morning at Boa Nova and Cachoeira Linda near Palmares could have yielded some more birds but on the other hand if you find all the specialties in one day in the Serra de Baturité, you can save some time at this site.
Distribution & Taxonomy of Birds of the World Sibley & Monroe
All the Birds of Brazil Deodata Souza
Guia de Campo: Birds of Eastern Brazil Ricardo Sigrist
Guide to the Birds of Brazil Ricardo Sigrist
Threatened Birds of the World Birdlife International
North-east Brazil June 2007 Moira & Graeme Wallace
North-east Brazil October 31 – November 17 2008 Jan Vermeulen
North-east Brazil February 12 – March 11 2009 Marlene & Gary Babic
North-east Brazil December 2007/January 2006 Birdquest – Mark van Beirs
North-east Brazil November/December 2007 Birdquest – Mark van Beirs
Paulo Boute of Boute Expeditions – Birdwatching, Natural History & Photo Safaris
Paulo and his organisation did a fine job in organising this trip and Paulo turned out to be very reliable as a birding guide, once you got used to his sense of humor.
I want to thank Paulo for organising a brilliant trip and my birding companions Frans, Rob, Wiel and Hans for contributing to the success of this trip.
I want to dedicate this report to the memory of Rob Bouwman. Having known him from the age of 15, I shared many great birding moments with Rob during his life. I birded with him at our home patch, on trips abroad and during a certain period of our lives we twitched all over the country. (The Netherlands) Unfortunately, Rob decided just 5 days after we returned from our Brazilian trip, to step out of this life, leaving us all behind in a state of shock.
Henk Hendriks firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 1: Thursday August 13 Geldrop – Brussels – Lisbon - Fortaleza
At 7.00 4 members of the team assembled at my place in Geldrop. My brother Frans and friends Rob Bouwman and Wiel Poelmans. With a pre-arranged taxi bus we drove to Brussels Airport. Here we met the fifth person Hans Westerlaken. A little after noon we flew from Brussels via Lisbon to Fortaleza, where we arrived at 18.30 pm.
Paulo was already waiting for us but we had a delay because Wiel had some problems with the authorities because of an expired visa, back in the nineties!! Apparently he was still in their computer, despite the fact that he paid the fine a long time ago. After this was settled (and paid for) we drove the short distance to our hotel. Hotel Blue Tree Towers.
Day 2: Friday August 14 Fortaleza – Guaramiranga (Serra de Baturité)
After breakfast we left Fortaleza for the 3-hour drive to Guaramiranga in the Serra de Baturité. We made 2 short stops during this drive but nothing special. The Serra de Baturité is an isolated 800 m. high massif with nice patches of atlantic forest and hold several rare and range-restricted species and sub species.
After arrival at our hotel (Hotel Chalé das Montanhas) and lunch, we spent all afternoon along the entrance road to hotel Remanso. The birding was rather slow but we were lucky to find a male Long-tailed Woodnymph. Other more common species include our first Wing-banded Hornero, Red-cowled Cardinal and good views of a male Great Antshrike.
The highlight was the superb observation, late afternoon, of the rare Grey-breasted Parakeet at a known stake-out. The birds gave great scope-views.
Day 3: Saturday August 15 Serra de Baturité
Just after dawn we started to bird the Remanso Trail, where we spent all morning.
The birding was again rather slow but we added among others Gould’s Toucanet, Planalto Hermit, Ochraceous Piculet, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Ochre-cheeked Spinetail, Grey-headed Spinetail, Lesser Woodcreeper, Variable Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Black-capped Antwren and Caatinga Gnateater to our list. But not a sniff of the endemic Buff-throated Tody-Tyrant.
After lunch we visited another site nearby, which apparently hold White-browed Guan. We did not found the Guan but saw 2 female-type Ruby Topaz Hummingbirds and highlight was the superb observation of 2 Rufous-sided Crakes.
Day 4: Sunday August 16 Serra de Baturité
We spent almost the whole day on the Remanso Trail and its immediate surroundings. We only had an extensive lunch break at noon. This time we found several Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrants. Fantastic views of displaying Band-tailed Manakins but otherwise much the same species as yesterday.
In the afternoon we had an incredible close encounter with a very responsive pair of Spot-winged Wood-Quails. At a given moment they were almost walking over our feet. Some of us were luckyenough to obtain brief views of a Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, but I missed the bird. We had a good dinner on the plaza.
Day 5: Monday August 17 Guaramiranga – Morada Nova - Crato
In the early morning we tried briefly for White-browed Guan and Frans and I were lucky to have brief views of 2 distant birds going through the canopy.
We then continued to Crato, close to the Chapada do Araripe, with an extensive stop at an area, called Morada Nova. This is a known stake-out for Pygmy Nightjar and we were not to be disappointed. We had excellent and close views of several birds that gave great photographic opportunities. Other species observed in this area include: Limpkin, Savanna Hawk, Snail Kite, Aplomado Falcon, our first Cactus Parakeet and Caatinga Cachalote. At dusk, just before sunset we observed a few Least Nighthawks along the road, just before Crato. In Crato we checked in at the nice Hotel Encosta da Serra.
Day 6: Tuesday August 18 Chapada do Araripe
Dawn found us along a wide track, going through a nice patch of caatinga. We spent all morning in this habitat and found a wide selection of caatinga specialties.
Caatinga Parakeet, Spotted Piculet, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Great Xenops, Red-billed Scythebill, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Caatinga Barred Antshrike, Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Stripe-backed Antbird, Caatinga Antwren, Black-bellied Antwren, Lesser Wagtail-Tyrant, Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Grey-eyed Greenlet, Long-billed Wren and White-throated Seedeater were all seen on this morning. After some perseverance we had excellent and close views of a responsive White-browed Antpittta.
After lunch we headed for the Arajara Water Park. In the shade of the trees at the foot of the hill along a small stream we quickly found our target a superb maleAraripe Manakin. Despite the fact that this site can be rather crowded at the week-end (judging by the size of the parking lot and the number of picnic tables at the entrance of the park) the species is quite reliable at this place. We later found another male and also a female. A nice find was a Tawny Piculet which gave brief views to most of us.
Late afternoon we visited an area around a deserted airfield. White-browed Guan is sometimes seen here but we failed. Great views of our first White-naped Jay was some consolation and we saw our only Blue Ground-doves of the trip. At dusk we observed a Pauraque on the track.
Day 7: Wednesday August 19 Chapada do Araripe
Today was a repeat of the previous day with more or less the same species. New birds were Rufous-winged Antshrike, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Flavescent Warbler and a single Lowland Hepatic Tanager,
The late afternoon was spent along a nice trail and when dusk fell we had great views of Common Potoo and twice a Scissor-tailed Nightjar made an appearance. When we came back to our van, the driver told us that he had seen a pair of White-browed Guans, foraging in a tree, just 50 meters from the car.!!
Day 8: Thursday August 20 Crato - Palmares
At dawn we were back at the same spot where the Guans were seen the previous afternoon and this time we were lucky, as we observed at least 2 different birds on the track several times. After this success we left and headed for the city of Palmares. It took us 8 hours. During a stop at a marshy area we found at least 6 Masked Ducks. In the late afternoon we arrived at our rather uninspiring hotel in the centre of Palmares. (Hotel Luar de Palmares)
Day 9: Friday August 21 Forest patches near Palmares ( incl.Reserva Biologica Salvinho)
In the early morning we drove to a nice forest patch (Reserva Biologica Salvinho), about an hour’s drive from Palmares. Right at the entrance there was quite some bird activity and within minutes we located a Yellow-faced Siskin in the pines near the entrance of the reserve. Unfortunately when we tried to scope the bird we were ordered to leave by the security guard!
It turned out to be a restricted reserve and the guard did not even allow us to bird from the road, just outside the entrance. We left the place and drove to another very nice forest patch where we birded all morning.
We failed to tape in Ash-throated Crake but during the morning we observed quite some good species. We regularly encountered small flocks of Red-shouldered Macaws. Other species included Golden-spangled Piculet, Red-headed Manakin, lekking White-bearded Manakins and our first Seven-coloured Tanager. Best of all was the observation of the rare Alagoas Tyrannulet.
Later we drove to an area called Cachoeira Linda, which is supposed to hold several specialties like White-collared Kite and Forbes’s Blackbird, but to our disappointment it turned out to be impossible to reach this site with our van. We decided to return the next day with a rented 4x4 vehicle.
The afternoon was again spent at Reserva Biologica Salvinho and this time Paulo was able to talk us in through one of the senior officials. We added, amongst others, Blue-backed Manakin to our list.
Day 10: Saturday August 22 Forest patches near Palmares (Cachoeira Linda) Palmares - União de Palmares
In the early morning we drove to the turn-of to Cachoeira Linda and here we changed to a 4x4 car. We spent all morning at this small forest patch and were pretty successful. Highlight was undoubtedly the close observation of a soaring and displaying pair of the rare White-collared Kite. We also found several endemic Forbes’s Blackbird and some White-winged Cotingas, feeding at the edge of the forest. This site has much potential and we could easily have spent more time here but we had to continue our trip to União de Palmares.
In the afternoon we arrived at our hotel in União de Palmares. (Quillombo Park Hotel) We made a stroll around the hotel grounds but did not ad anything new to our list.
Day 11: Sunday August 23 Murici Atlantic Forest
Before dawn we left our hotel with two 4x4 cars for the 2-hour drive to the Murici Atlantic Forest. Most of the time we drove on a very bad dirt road. The good thing today was that it was not raining and the weather was sunny and even hot.
It was with great anticipation that we entered the forest but birding was rather slow. We found Black-necked Aracari, Scaled Pigeon, Dusky-winged Antwren, White-backed Fire-eye and best of all good views of several Scalloped Antbirds, Yellow-green Grosbeak and White-eyed Tody-Tyrant. The subspecies of the latter is sometimes split off as Alagoas Tody-Tyrant.
At noon we had a frugal lunch at one of the nearby farmhouses. In the afternoon we birded another stretch of forest, lower down. Best species was, another Seven-coloured Tanager, and Frans found a Blue-crowned Motmot, which was only seen in flight by me. This is an interesting subspecies of the motmot. Our first day at this hot spot was rather disappointing as we did not find any of the real specialties of the area.
It was already dark when we arrived at our hotel. After an extensive dinner we went to bed early. Heavy rain during the night.
Day 12: Monday August 24 Murici Atlantic Forest
After the heavy rain the previous night, the dirt road to the Murici Atlantic Forest had become even worse and it took some time to reach the farmhouses and then the road became too slippery to continue. It was too dangerous. The weather was heavily overcast and it could start raining at any time.
After some discussion we decided to walk to the Murici Atlantic Forest (2 hours’ walk) as this was our only chance to see some very rare species. I was happy that I had decided to bring my rubber boots along. At the edge of the forest we had excellent views of White-tailed Goldenthroat and 2 pairs of Jandaya Parakeets.
We spent all morning in the forest and this time, despite the occasional shower, we were quite successful as we were able to locate some rare endemics like Orange-bellied Antwren, a pair of Alagoas Antwren and we also had scope-views of a very obliging Black-headed Berryeater. When we continued we taped in a Black-cheeked Gnateater and also a pair of tiny Red-stained Woodpeckers but unfortunately the weather worsened and we had to walk back to the cars in a nasty drizzle.
We decided to leave the area quickly as our drivers became rather nervous about the road condition on our way out. It was already dark when we arrived at our hotel where, after a shower, we enjoyed a well-deserved dinner.
Day 13: Tuesday August 25 União de Palmares – Estancia – Crasto Forest
Our plan was to visit a nearby marshy area to try for crakes but unfortunately it was still raining heavily. So we left and drove to the small town of Estancia.(Magnus Hotel)
As there was still an hour of daylight left we drove the short distance to Crasto forest near the fishing village of Crasto. It is only a small pocket of forest and the main attraction is the occurrence of the rare and range-restricted Fringe-backed Fire-eye.
We were extremely lucky as we were able, in a response to some random playback, to obtain incredibly good views of a pair of Fire-eyes. At dusk we tried for nightjars but we only heard Rufous Nightjar. Night at Estancia. In the evening we met Paulo’s wife Marluce and his son, who had come to the hotel to celebrate Paulo’s birthday.
Day 14: Wednesday August 26 Crasto Forest – Estancia to Jeremoaba
Dawn found us again at the edge of Crasto Forest.At a nearby heronry we observed several species of heron, including some Boat-billed Herons. Other nice species include several Golden-capped Parakeets, our only Peach-fronted Parakeets, 2 Mealy Parrots, but we did not have enough time to do the forest patch any justice. Best bird was Sooretama Slaty Antshrike. Also White-flanked Antwren, Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant, Sepia-capped Flycatcher and a single Blue-backed Manakin was seen. In a marshy area nearby we observed Masked Yellowthroat and a lone Lesser Seedfinch.
Late morning we left for our long drive to Jeremoaba. (Hotel Senhor do Bonfim, which was rather basic) During a road side stop we had a splendid observation of a Spot-flanked Gallinule. We also observed several Red-legged Seriemas near Jeremoaba.
Day 15: Thursday August 27 Jeremoaba - Canudos
Today was Wiel’s birthday. We left Jeremoba in the early morning and made some stops just outside Jeremoaba, along the dirt road to Canudos. We quickly found some Red-throated Tanagers , but best of all was the male Pectoral Antwren, which gave excellent views.
We later continued to Canudos and around 11.00 am we made a short walk on a ranch where we were supposed to observe some Lear’ s Macaws. Not a sniff, but soon after we continued towards Canudos we were watching several Lear’s Macaws just off the road. When we arrived at Canudos we dropped our gear at our hotel (hotel Brazil) and after lunch we birded along a dirt road past Canudos.
We birded all afternoon along this road. Besides some caatinga species which we had observed earlier on the trip we found the range-restricted Broad-tipped Hermit in the area. At dusk we observed at least 50 Least Nighthawks flying around a vantage point.
Day 16: Friday August 28 Canudos area
Dawn found us again at a vantage point, right in the middle of a flyway of Lear’s Macaw. And we were not to be disappointed as we had excellent and close views of this species in flight. One of the highlights of the trip.
We also found several gorgeous malemale Ruby-Topaz Hummingbirds, foraging on flowering cactuses. Paulo knew a breeding spot for Blue-winged Macaws. Here we had good views of at least 2 pairs. We spent all day in this beautiful area.
Day 17: Saturday August 29 Canudos – Boa Nova. Dry forest in afternoon.
At dawn we left for another long drive to Boa Nova. (Pousada Solar )
From 16.00 – 18.30 pm we birded in the dry scrub, just outside Boa Nova.
And here we were able to track down a pair of the endemic Slender Antbird. Some other species observed that afternoon include Laughing Falcon, Scaly-headed Parrot, plenty of Swallow-tailed Hummers, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Caatinga Antwren and Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant. We also observed 3 Pygmy Nightjars and later at dusk twice a Little Nightjar.
Day 18: Sunday August 30 Boa Nova
We spent all morning along a nice uphill trail in the wet forest of Boa Nova. From time to time a little rain.
It turned out to be a rather productive morning. Some of the best species encountered were Plumbeous Dove, Black Jacobin, Long-tailed Woodnymph, Spotted Piculet, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, the endemic Bahia Spinetail, Striated Softtail in a flock, Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Plain Xenops, Spot-backed Antshrike, Tufted Antshrike, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Rufous-winged Antwren, Rio de Janeiro Antbird, White-bibbed Antbird, our only Blue Manakin, Pin-tailed Manakin, Bahia Tyrannulet, Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher and Greyish Mourner.
We came very close to Cinnamon-vented Piha, which was very vocal, but no views. But we did succeed in coaxing a Least Pygmy-Owl into view. Another bird which puzzled us was the hermit we observed. The “common” hermit occurring here is Scaly-throated Hermit but the hermit we saw had a completely unmarked, white throat!
At noon we returned to Boa Nova for lunch and after lunch we birded a very dry area. Highlight was the brief observation of an Ash-throated Casiornis. But we also found some more Slender Antbirds and with some effort Narrow-billed Antwren was observed by us. At dusk we spotlighted a Tropical Screech-Owl near Boa Nova. Today was probably our most productive one of the trip and we had still a full day left for this site.
Day 19: Monday August 31 Boa Nova
This morning we returned to the wet forest but unfortunately we were rained out. A nasty drizzle interspersed with heavy showers. Despite the rain we still managed to find some good stuff. Best were the great views of Cinnamon-vented Piha. The species was very vocal but seeing one is a different story.
Besides some of the birds seen the day before, we added Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Scaled Antbird, Ochre-rumped Antbird and Pallid Spinetail to our list. In the afternoon we visited a different, nice forest patch, which was also very birdy along the forest edge. Highlight was the observation of a pair of Buff-throated Purpletufts.
In the late afternoon we returned to a marshy area which holds Giant Snipe. At dusk a Giant Snipe started to call and at one time, when it was already rather dark a bird flew in and landed a few meters in front of us, but out of sight. When the bird was flushed again, Frans put the spotlight right on it and it gave good views. On our way back we spotlighted some Pauraques on the track.
Day 20: Tuesday September 1 Boa Nova – Mucugé – Lencóis (Chapada Diamantina)
Originally we would drive the shortest route to Lencóis in Chapada Diamantina but we convinced Paulo that we would like to try for the Diamantina Tapaculo and Sincora Antwren near Mucugé. As soon as we arrived at a known stake-out for the tapaculo, in the scrub near a bridge, we heard the species. Unfortunately when the bird came in, in response to playback, only three of us (including me) managed brief but good views. We tried for another hour but in vain.
After lunch we continued to Mucugé and we searched for 2 hours in the scorching heat along a track for the Sincora Antwren, but we dipped. Disappointed we continued to Lencóis where we arrived in the early evening. (Casa da Geléia) We had a nice pizza in the lively centre of this touristic place.
Day 21: Wednesday September 2 Chapada Diamantina
In the morning we drove to the village of Palmeiras (1 hour drive) and birded a couple of hours along the dirt track, beyond Palmeiras. The target species was the recently described San Francisco Sparrow, but we dipped again.
During our stroll along the road we observed Broad-tipped Hermit, Caatinga Cachalote, astonishing views of a very obliging Great Xenops, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Caatinga Antshrike, Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Black-tailed Flycatcher, Grey-eyed Greenlet, our only Tropical Parulas, Flavescent Warbler and a single Lowland Hepatic Tanager.
We drove back to nearby Puig Ignacio, a rocky outcrop, and climbed along a small path to a platform which gave great views of the surrounding area. After some effort we finally tracked down a fine male Hooded Visorbearer.
In the afternoon we birded along the Remanso Road but the birding was rather slow. Eventually we reached a small fishing village, which reminded me of an African village. The huts as well as the people. At dusk we finally located a Rufous Nightjar in the canopy which gave reasonable views in the spotlight.
Day 22: Thursday September 3 Chapada Diamantina
We had decided to try for all 3 specialties in one day. The Diamantina Tapaculo, Sincora Antwren and the San Francisco Sparrow. In the end we tried hard, drove a lot but dipped all three species.
First we drove to Mucugé where we searched in vain for the antwren for a couple of hours. Rob and Frans decided to try for the tapaculo and I joined them while Hans and Wiel stayed behind in the Mucugé area to continue their search for the antwren. We tried again for an hour for the tapaculo but even though it responded a couple of times it never showed itself. After lunch at a Churrascaria nearby we drove back to the others. Besides some of the more common scrub species they were lucky to find a pair of Pale-throated Sierra-Finches.
Together we drove to the village of Palmeiras via a dirt road and spent the last couple of hours searching for the Sparrow and again to no avail. In the evening we had a nice meal with plenty of beer and we had some good laughs.
Day 23: Friday September 4 Lencóis – Salvador – Lisbon
We drove for 5 hours to a mangrove area, close to Salvador. We birded for an hour or so and we could easily have spent some more time here. Besides waders, gulls and terns the mangroves hold some specialties like Little Wood Rail, Plain-bellied Hummingbird and Bicoloured Conebill. I was the only one who briefly saw the conebill.
We then drove to a nearby suburb. Paulo arranged for us that we could shower and change clothes at one of the hotels and after that we drove to the airport where we had an excellent farewell lunch. At 17.25 pm we left for Lisbon.and on the Brussels.
Day 24: Saturday September 5 Lisbon – Brussels – Geldrop
We arrived at Brussels airport at 11.00 am and with our pre-arranged taxibus we drove to Geldrop where we arrived at 14.30 pm. Another great trip finished.
13-08 Geldrop to Brussels by taxi bus., Flight Brussels – Lisbon – Fortaleza
14-08 Fortaleza – Baturite – Guaramiranga., Afternoon Remanso hotel grounds. (Serra de Baturité)
15-08 All morning on the Remanso Trail. Afternoon other forest patch. (Serra de Baturité)
16-08 All morning on the Remanso Trail. Again in the afternoon. (Serra de Baturité)
17-08 Early morning forest patch near Guaramiranga for White-browed Guan. Drive from Guaramiranga to Crato with a stop at Morada Nova.
18-08 Full day birding at Araripe.
19-08 Full day birding at Araripe.
20-08 Early morning at Araripe for White-browed Guan. Drive from Crato to Palmares.
21-08 Forest patches near the village of Barreiros (Reserva Biologica Salvinho)
22-08 With a 4x4 to a forest patch near Palmares (1 hour drive) called Cachoeira Linda. Afternoon drive to União dos Palmares.23-08 All day at Murici Atlantic Forest.
24-08 All day at Murici Atlantic Forest.
25-08 Uniao dos Palmares to Estância. Late afternoon in forest patch near Crasto village.
26-08 Early morning at Crasto Forest. Drive from Estância to Jeremoaba.
27-08 Drive from Jeremoaba to Canudos. Afternoon birding beyond Canudos.
28-08 All day near Canudos.
29-08 Drive from Canudos to Boa Nova. Late afternoon birding near Boa Nova. 30-08 All morning at the wet forest of Boa Nova. Afternoon another visit to the dry forest.
31-08 All morning at the wet forest of Boa Nova. A visit to another forest patch near Boa Nova. Giant Snipe marsh in late afternoon.
01-09 Boa Nova – stop for Diamantina Tapaculo – Mucugé – Lencóis. (Chapada de Diamantina)
02-09 Lencóis – Palmeiras – Morro do Pai Ignacio – Remanso Road (Chapada de Diamantina)
03-09 Lencóis – Mucugé – Tapaculo site – Palmeiras – Lencóis. (Chapada de Diamantina)
04-09 Lencóis – Salvador with an one hour stop at mangrove site. Flight Salvador (departure at 17.25 pm) to Lisbon and Brussels.
05-09 At 11.00 am we arrived at Brussels. Taxi bus to Geldrop where we arrived around 14.30 pm.