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A Report from

South-east Brazil, July 5 - August 3, 2003,

Wim Veraghtert

Peter and Erwin Collaerts, Zuurbemde 97, 3380 Glabbeek, Belgium
Tom Goossens, Azalealaan 4, 2275 Lille, Belgium
Wim Veraghtert, Prins Albertlei 21, 2390 Oostmalle, Belgium


Between July 5th and August 3rd, we made a birding trip to South-east Brazil, visiting the major birding areas between Sao Paulo, Vittoria and Belo Horizonte. Participants on this four week trip were Peter and Erwin Collaerts, Tom Goossens and Wim Veraghtert. The main aim of the tour was to see as many as possible, focusing on endemic species. We really enjoyed birding in the Mâta Atlantica, the fantastic Atlantic rainforests.

Brazil has got a lot to offer. Many endemic species occur in the atlantic rainforest of South-east Brazil, as well as spectacular (but difficult to find) mammals, such as Jaguar and Brazilian Tapir, beautiful butterflies and –at times- a wonderful scenery.  However, most of the habitat has disappeared and outside the parks, very little forest remains. It is therefore not surprising that no less than 114 species are globally threatened in Brazil. In Brazil, the coastal rainforest is more threatened than the famous Amazon forest.


05/07 Arrival at Sao Paulo, afternoon visit to Itanhaém, evening drive to Ubatuba
06/07 Ubatuba: Folha Seca
07/07 Ubatuba: Fazenda Capricornio - Fazenda Angelim
08/07 Ubatuba: Corcovado trail
09/07 Angra dos Reis – drive to Itatiaia
10/07 Itatiaia NP: Tres Picos trail – feeders hotel Simon – feeders hotel do Ype
11/07 Itatiaia NP: walk to Hotel Simon – Tres Picos trail
12/07 Agulhas Negras road
13/07 change car in Sao Paulo – drive to Rio de Janeiro
14/07 Praia Seca (restinga and saltpans) – Arraial do  Cabo – Rio de Janeiro
15/07 Serra dos Orgaos NP
16/07 Serra dos Orgaos NP
17/07 Serra dos Orgaos NP
18/07 Carmo & Sumidouro Road
19/07drive to Augusto Ruschi
20/07 Augusto Ruschi reserva biologica – Museo Leitao
21/07 Augusto Ruschi reserva biologica
22/07 Linhares CVRD
23/07 Linhares CVRD
24/07 Linhares CVRD – evening birding at Sooretama
25/07 Sooretama – afternoon visit to Vittoria
26/07 Sooretama
27/07 Fazenda Pindobas IV
28/07 drive to Serra do Cipo – evening birding at Serra do Cipo
29/07 Serra do Cipo – drive to Serra da Canastra
30/07 Serra da Canastra: higher parts
31/07 Serra da Canastra: lower parts
01/08 Serra da Canastra: higher parts
02/08 Serra da  Canastra: lower parts – drive to Sao Paulo
03/08 Flight home


We mostly stayed in hotels, varying from cheap to quite expensive. Cheap roadside hotels are often found at gas stations along busy roads.
At a few sites, camping seemed to be the best option. We camped at Ubatuba, Angra dos Reis (roadside camping) and Serra dos Orgaos.
At Linhares, we stayed in the luxurous chalets, which are very expensive.


Local ‘lanchonotes” (snackbars) are found at nearly every gas station.  Self-service restaurants are omnipresent.


We flew from Paris to Sao Paulo with Tam, a flight of about eleven hours.

In Sao Paulo we hired a rental car, from Avis. Strangely, it was impossible to hire a car for four weeks, combined with unlimited mileage. If you rent a car for four weeks, you may drive 3000 km, but if you exceed this and you have to pay a small sum for every km above 3000 km… Thus, we had to hire car for one week, then travel back to Sao Paulo (just to change cars!) and hire a car for the rest of the trip (three weeks), unlimited mileage included! Our rental car was a Fiat Palio Weekend.

Petrol costs about 1.8 to 2 Rs per liter.

While travelling on the major routes, ‘pedagio’ (road taxes, toll) has often to be paid. Most of the time just a small amount, but about 15 Rs for the distance between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.


During our trip, the weather varied from very good to bad.  Most of the time, the weather was good, but at Itatiaia we had a very foggy morning. We also hit some rain at the Agulhas Negras Road, Linhares and Pindobas IV.

Problems encountered

First of all, the language can be a problem while travelling in Brazil. None of us spoke Portugese, so we often had difficulties in explaining something.

Although we were told Brazil had good roads, to our experience this was not completely true. Most of the major roads are good, but potholes may appear everywhere. On our fourth evening, a large pothole caused a crashed tyre and wheel (BR 101, about 100 km before Angra dos Reis). Some of the major roads were certainly not in good condition (BR 262 to Belo Horizonte and even the highway BR 381 to Sao Paulo!).

Car problems seem to be inherent to travelling in Brazil. On our way to Fazenda Pindobas IV, all the oil poored out of our car. Luckily, Pedro and Anna were so kind to make a few telephone calls (to the Avis office), so we could proceed by taxi. In the evening, we got a new Avis rental car. No complaints about the Avis service!

Thirdly, at some places we encountered a lot of (biting) insects. Of course, this is not unexpected when you visit a rainforest. At Ubatuba, minute biting flies (sandflies) caused a lot of itch.


We tried to arrange several things through a Brazilian organisation, Birding Brazil. Although their tours might be well organised, a few misunderstandings and mistakes caused us a lot of trouble. We tried to arrange four things:

Of these four things, only the last one was well arranged. See ‘site accounts’ to read more about our problems in Serra dos Orgaos, Linhares and Sooretama.


One of the major problems for birders visiting Brazil is the lack of a decent field guide. The only guide covering nearly all species is Deodato Souza’s ‘All birds of Brazil’. However, recently discovered species such as Restinga Antwren are not depicted in the book. The plates are terrible.

Apart from Souza, we also used Collin’s Illustrated Checklist ‘Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica’, containing about 60% of all species of Southeastern Brazil. Thirdly, a self-made book containing all plates of Ridgely and Tudor (The  Birds of South America Vol. I and II) was very useful. Apart from these guides, we also carried copies of (parts of) relevant plates of various volumes of the Handbook to the birds of the World.


We brought a Kowa telescope along with us. A mini disc recorder was indispensable. Many species were located by call and subsequently taped in. Besides mini disc, we used several cd’s. The cd “Aves das montanhas do sudeste do Brasil” proved to be very useful. It contains more than 90 species, including Grey-winged Cotinga. For more information, see

Useful addresses


TEL: 3371-9700


TEL: 2546-1476

Miragem Hotel Ltda.

Praça José Queiroz, 85
BR 116 km 678
Entrada de Miradouro-MG

HTP Hotel

Av. Pietro Petri 505
Terra Preta – Mairipora (SP)

Pousada Châo da Serra

Rodovia MG-10, Km 99.5
Serra do Cipo
Telephone: 031-3718 7040
Fax: 031-3272 2600
Price: 80R$/room/night incl. BF plus tax.

Hotel Capadâo da Canastra

Rua Benjamin Constant 10
Bairro Biquinha
CEP 37928-000 Sâo Roque de Minas
Telephone: 037-3433 1267
Fax: 037-3433 1440

Site accounts


Although this site is not wellvisited by birders, it is well worth a visit. We spent our first afternoon here. The price bird is Red-tailed Parrot, a south coast endemic. To reach the parrot site, you have to pass a large gate. The owner of the small bar at the junction (near the gate) can open the gate and is very friendly. Another good birding area is the secondary forest between the two small bridges before the junction (see map). This area gave us several good birds: Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher (one gave good views at a small stream), Eye-ringed tody-tyrant, Black-headed Berry-eater (2), Brazilian Tanager, Neotropical River warbler (2), Rufous-winged Antwren, Greenish Schiffornis, White-tailed Trogon (heard only) and Bare-throated Bellbird (one seen well).

At the marshy area, a few hundred meters behind the gate, Red-tailed parrot can be seen in the evening. Several small groups can be seen flying to their roost. We counted 19 individuals, but none of them flew closeby. Other birds recorded here: Chestnut-bellied Euphonia (2), Lineated Woodpecker, White Woodpecker, Brazilian Teal (4) and Pauraque.

Jeremy Minns has birded Itanhaém several times and recorded several interesting species here, such as Yellow-legged Tinamou, Spot-winged Woodquail, Mottled  Owl, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Saw-billed Hermit, Spot-billed toucanet, Ochre-collared Piculet, Spotted Bamboo-wren, White-breasted Tapaculo, Squamate & Scaled Antbird, Rufous-capped Antthrush,  Black-cheeked Gnat-eater, Azure Jay, Long-billed Wren, Temminck’s seedeater and Sooty Grassquit among others.

At the village of Itanhaém we noted a Creamy-bellied Thrush, ca. 10 Blue-winged Parrotlets, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird and Palm tanager. 


A well-known site, which offers good access to some sought-after specialties, such as Slaty Bristlefront, Buff-throated Purpletuft, Sao Paulo Tyrannulet and Saw-billed Hermit, among others. We stayed at the campsite, where several species, most of them common ones,  gave good views: Hooded Siskin (2), Rufous Hornero, Southern Lapwing, Cattle Tyrant, Cliff Flycatcher, Red-necked Tanager, Social Flycatcher and Campo Flicker. A small patch of wood opposite the campsite holds Grey-hooded Attila (1 seen well).

Folha Seca

A nice forest patch with a good selection of rarities. Has got stake-outs for Slaty Bristlefront and Spotted Bamboowren.  We visited Folha Seca a full day and noted:  Black-cheeked Gnateater 1, Spot-backed Antshrike 1 + more heard, Slaty Bristlefront 1 + 1 heard only, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner 1, White-collared Foliage-gleaner 1, Fork-tailed Tody-tyrant (1, Erwin only), White-tailed Trogon 4, Ferruginous & Scaled Antbird, Azure-shouldered Tanager 1, Blond-crested Woodpecker (Erwin), Rufous-capped Spinetail 2, Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher, Thrushlike Woodcreeper, Rufous-headed Tanager, Flame-crested Tanager, White-thighed Swallow, Plain Parakeet and Greenish Mourner (several). At night a Variable Screech-owl was heard at Folha Seca, whereas Pauraque was the commonest nightjar in the area. A Burrowing Owl was seen in the village.

Fazenda Capricornio

An overgrown plantation which offers good chances to see Buff-throated Purpletuft and other specialties.  Many birds can also be found at the entrance of the fazenda, between the houses. Two Buff-throated Purpletufts were readily found at the entrance. Other good birds here included: Crested Oropendela (1), Reddish hermit (1), Gray-capped Tyrannulet (2), Ruby-crowned Tanager (2), Fawn-breasted Tanager (1) and Yellow-fronted Woodpecker (2). A small patch of wood just right to the entrance of the fazenda held White-shouldered Fire-eye, Ferruginous Antbird and White-throated Spadebill. The last house on the right side has got several feeders, where we saw Sombre Hummingbird, Festive Coquette, Saw-billed Hermit and Violet-capped Woodnymph.

This fazenda seems to be a good spot to see parrots; we observed Plain Parakeet, as well as our first Maroon-bellied Parakeets and Scaly-headed Parrots. At the back of the plantation, good forest can be found. Sao Paulo Tyrannulet (1), White-necked Thrush (1), Sharpbill (1), Pin-tailed Manakin (1), Pale-browed Treehunter (1), Star-throated Antwren (several), Green Honeycreeper (1), Grey-hooded Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Warbler, Brazilian Tanager, Green-headed Tanager and Bare-throated Bellbird (heard only) were all noted.

Fazenda Angelim

An afternoon visit to Fazenda Angelim produced several good birds. To do some birding in this fazenda, an entrance fee of 10 Rs per person has to be paid (at the houses, about 300 m from the entrance. The area around the houses is open and the grassland held Tawny-crowned Pygmy-tyrant (1 constantly calling, but almost impossible to see) and Striped Cuckoo (1). Along the trail Buff-bellied Puffbird (2), White-bearded Manakin (1), Chestnut-crowned Becard (3), Rufous-winged Antwren (1), Squamate antbird (heard only), Spot-breasted Antvireo (2), Plain Antvireo, Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher (1), White-eyed Foliage-gleaner (heard only), Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner (2), Yellow-throated Woodpecker (1), White-spotted Woodpecker (1), White-barred Piculet, Pale-breasted Thrush, Rufous-browed Peppershrike (1), Fawn-breasted Tanager, Rufous-headed Tanager, Golden-chevroned Tanager (4), Chestnut-vented Conebill (1), Brazilian and Flame-crested Tanager  were seen among others.

Our first Amazon Kingfisher was seen at the river. Glittering-throated Emerald as well as Glittering-bellied Emerald were seen near the entrance of the fazenda.

Corcovado trail

This trail leads through undisturbed forest where Russet-winged Spadebill, Atlantic Royal Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Tody-tyrant and several antwrens can be seen. We had Squamate Antbird (good views), Unicolored Antwren (a pair), Salvadori’s antwren (brief views of a male), Star-throated Antwren (2), Buff-bellied Puffbird (1), Black-cheeked Gnateater (1), White-bearded and Blue Manakin, Thrushlike woodcreeper (1), Black-capped Foliage-gleaner (2), White-shouldered Fire-eye (2) along this trail. At the clearing Brown Tinamou (heard only), Saffron Toucanet (1), Long-tailed Tyrant and Surucua Trogon (1) were noted.

An evening visit proved to be better, with an Atlantic Royal Flycatcher at the start of the trail, Slaty Bristlefront (heard only), Spot-breasted Antvireo (1), Pin-tailed Manakin (1) and Neotropical River Warbler (1).

Along the coastline at Ubatuba we noted Snowy Egret (5), White-necked Heron (1) and Short-tailed Hawk (2).

Although we stayed several days at Ubatuba, a longer stay would have been better as we missed several goodies, such as Spotted Bamboowren, Ochre-collared Piculet, Bay-ringed Tyrannulet and Tufted Antshrike.

Angra dos Reis

Not a spectacular birding site, but one of the few spots where Black-hooded Antwren occurs (besides Pereque). We visited Angra dos Reis just one morning and recorded the following species: Black-hooded Antwren (1 pair + several heard only), Chicli Spinetail (2), Lemon-chested Greenlet, Yellow Tyrannulet, White-crested Tyrannulet (1), Chestnut-backed Antshrike (4), White-winged Becard (1), Squirrel Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Masked Yellowthroat, Swallow Tanager and Palm Tanager.


Probably one of the most famous national parks in Brazil. Itatiaia is a very scenic park which hosts a good selection of montane forest and bamboo specialties. However, there are only few trails in the park. The famous Tres Picos trail is the most visited trail in the park.

We stayed in Hotel do Ype, a little expensive, but certainly well worth the money. To our experience this hotel has got the best (and most) feeders. We also visited the feeders at hotel Simon, but the feeders at do Ype attracted far more birds (and species). Upon arrival at our hotel, we noted Green-chinned Euphonia (1 male), Chestnut-bellied Euphonia (1 pair), Olive-green Tanager, Magpie Tanager (1), Golden-chevroned Tanager, Black-goggled Tanager, Brazilian Ruby, Versicolored Emerald and Black Jacobin. During the following days, we observed the following species around the hotel: Planalto Woodcreeper (2), Yellow-fronted Woodpecker (2), Dusky-legged Guan (50+), White-throated Hummingbird (common), Brazilian Ruby (common), Versicolored Emerald (3), Scale-throated Hermit (2), Pale-breasted Thrush (2), Blue-naped Chlorophonia (10+),  Ruby-crowned Tanager, Green-headed Tanager, Olive-green Tanager, Golden-chevroned Tanager and Green-winged Saltator.

At Hotel Simon we noted Violet-capped Woodnymph, Banaquit, Blue Dacnis and Ruby-crowned Tanager at the feeders, while White-tailed Hawk, Surucua Trogon, Hooded Siskin (2) and Ashy-tailed Swift were seen in the surroundings.

Tres Picos Trail

We concentrated most of our time on the Tres Picos trail, as most sought-after species can be found there.  We saw a good selection of antbirds: Rufous Gnateater (3), White-bibbed Antbird (2), Bertoni’s Antbird (4), Ochre-rumped Antbird (1), Star-throated Antwren (4), Streak-capped Antwren (1), Spot-breasted Antvireo (1), Variable Antshrike (a pair), White-shouldered Fire-eye , Such’s Antthrush (1 + 1 heard only), Rufous-tailed Antthrush 2 heard only. However, the price bird was a nice male White-bearded Antshrike, seen in a patch of bamboo, about 70m off-trail. Apart from the antbirds, we also had Brown Tinamou (heard only), Red-breasted Toucan (3 + 2 heard only), Saffron Toucanet (2), Green-barred Woodpecker (1), White-spotted Woodpecker (2), White-barred piculet (fairly common), Robust Woodpecker (1 + 1), Yellow-browed Woodpecker (3), Maroon-bellied Parakeet (common), Scaly-headed Parrot (few), Greenish Mourner (fairly common), Pin-tailed Manakin (1), Streaked Xenops, White-collared Foliage-gleaner (2+5), Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner (1), White-browed Foliage-gleaner (2), White-throated Woodcreeper (2), Planalto Woodcreeper (4), Scaled Woodcreeper (2), Lesser & Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Eared Pygmy-tyrant (2), Drab-breasted Bamboo-tyrant (2), Sirystes (1), Yellow-Olive Flycatcher (4), Black-tailed Flycatcher (1), Uniform Finch (1 pair), Black-throated Grosbeak 1), Rufous-headed Tanager (1), Chestnut-headed Tanager (1), Gilt-edged Tanager and Magpie Tanager (6).

An evening walk to the waterfall produced Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper (2 at the falls), Rufous-capped Motmot (2) and Tropical pewee (2).

 In the evening we taped out a Tawny-browed Owl at the start of the Tres Picos trail.

The only other famous trail is the Jeep trail (also called Maromba trail), which is, however, not accessible, unless you’ll start the walk before the guard arrives (i.e. before 8 a.m.). Along this trail, Large-headed  Flatbill, Variegated Antpitta can be seen.

Agulhas Negras Road

This road runs through the higher parts of Itatiaia National Parks. Situated between xxx and xxx m, many high altitude species can be seen here. During our one-day visit, we had foggy weather, but we managed to see most species of our ‘want list’. Itatiaia Thistletail is one of the endemics which can only be seen here and is easily found if you drive high up. After the famous pond (where we didn’t note anything special) there’s a large Araucaria stand, which produced Araucaria Tit-spinetail (a pair), Greenish Tyrannulet and a very probable Rufous-capped Antshrike.

Amongst the birds seen along the road, Black-capped Piprites (1 male), Large-tailed Antshrike (1 male), Red-rumped Warbling-finch (15+), Bay-chested Warbling-finch (5+), Plovercrest (1 male), Serro do mar  Tyrannulet (4), Itatiaia Thistletail (6), Sharp-billed Treehunter (2), Rufous-tailed Antthrush (1 gave stunning views + 2  heard only), Rufous-tailed Antbird (1 seen well, others heard), Pallid Spinetail (1 seen well, others heard) and Diademed Tanager (common, at least 50 seen) were of interest. Variegated Antpitta, Giant Antshrike and Mouse-colored Tapaculo were all heard, but none came into view. Other birds recorded along the Agulhas Negras road were: Golden-winged Cacique, Shear-tailed Gray tyrant (1), Fawn-breasted Tanager (2), White-rimmed Warbler, Planalto and Scaled (1) Woodcreeper, White-spotted Woodpecker, Variable Antshrike and Rufous-crowned Greenlet (4).

The use of a tape recorder (or in our case, a cd player) is necessary to see many of the specials mentioned above. We wouldn’t have seen Araucaria Tit-spinetail, Large-tailed Antshrike or Rufous-tailed Antthrush without the use of our cdplayer.

Large-tailed Antshrike

Praia Seca

A relatively small area of sand dunes holds another Brazilian endemic, the Restinga antwren, which was only discovered in 1990. We spent one morning at this site. The antwren was found readily, but only few other birds were noted in the area. The only other bird of interest was a calling, but elusive Hangnest Tody-tyrant.

Before entering the village of Praia Seca, saltpans on the left side of the road proved to be very interesting. Several species were added to our list, including Lesser Yellowlegs (ca. 10), Semipalmated Plover (5), Semipalmated Sandpiper (1), Sanderling (7), White-cheeked Pintail (35+), Royal Tern (1), Cayenne tern and Yellowish pipit. Commoner birds such as Masked Water-tyrant, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Guira Cuckoo, White-rumped & Blue-and-white Swallow and Grassland Sparrow (1 singing male) were also present.

We also visited the Arraial do Cabo, from where Yellow-nosed Albatrosses can be seen if weather conditions are good. During our visit we only noted Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Booby (numerous) and Kelp Gull, as well as a party of Burrowing owls on the beach. The lagunes at Arraial do Cabo hold a good selection of waterbirds, including Neotropic Cormorant, Roseate Spoonbill, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret and Yellow-billed Tern.

Serra dos Orgaos

A nice national park, where one has to pay a 12 Rs entrance fee per person, but  where camping is free. This park is a well-known hot spot, as it is the only site where one can see Grey-winged Cotinga. Seeing Grey-winged Cotinga is not a sinecure: this species occurs at a height of about 1900m, where no accommodation can be found. To arrive in the right area in early morning, a two-and-a-half hour walk (before sunrise) is necessary. This means an overnight stay inside the park is a must, as the park only opens at 8 a.m. Until July 2003, there’s no hotel inside the park, so camping is the only option.

Before we left for Brazil, we were told a new pousada was being built in Serra dos Orgaos NP in 2002. We contacted Birding Brazil, asking whether this pousada was already completed. They arranged a two-night stay in a pousada for us, but on arrival, we had to find out that the hotel Birding Brazil arranged for us was situated outside the park… The new hotel, Pousada Refugio do Parque, was still being built. Indeed, we had paid a stay in the pousada Oasis (Teresopolis), but if we would stay there, our chances for seeing Grey-winged Cotinga were zero. Thus we stayed inside the park, in our tents, although we had paid for a hotel outside the park. To our opinion, Birding Brazil has mistaken here, as we had explicitly asked for a place to stay inside the park.

Anyway, on our second morning in Serra dos Orgaos, we left for the Pedro do Sino trail (the only trail of interest in the park) at 4 a.m., arriving at the first campsite (Grey-winged Cotinga country) at about 6.45 a.m. At least two Grey-winged Cotinga’s were heared calling, but there seemed to be no viewpoints from where tree tops could be scanned. To make it more difficult, Grey-winged Cotinga’s call only once in about fifteen minutes and are impossible to tape in. At noon, however, we  found a terrific viewpoint, but by 12.30h the cotinga’s had stopped calling. Next day we returned to this viewpoint, where we had good but brief views of a singing male within ten minutes. At about 9.15 h we saw one individual quite far away, while just a quarter later another individual began to feed on berries in some bushes nearby (at a distance of about 50m).

Further we noted several other interesting species in the higher parts (elfin forest) of Serra dos Orgaos NP: Highland Elaenia (2), Plovercrest, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Rufous-tailed Antbird, Mouse-colored Tapaculo, Rufous-browed Peppershrike and Diademed Tanager. More below, the Pedro do Sino trail produced Azure-shouldered Tanager, Brown Tinamou (heard only), Variable Antshrike, Rufous-backed Antvireo, Black-throated Trogon, Black-and-white Hawk-eagle, Pallid Spinetail, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Drab-breasted Bamboo-tyrant and Burnished-buff Tanager.

At a height of 1500 m, a large clearing offers spectacular views and also a good chance to see Black-and-gold Cotinga. Furthermore, we had rather distant views of Swallow-tailed Cotinga (2).

At the start of the Pedro do  Sino trail, we managed to see a shy Brown Tinamou, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser (at least 2), Spot-winged Woodquail (a party of 3 birds seen well), Hooded Berry-eater (1 seen well, others heard), Sharpbill (heard only), Tawny-browed Owl, Yellow-eared Woodpecker (1), Yellow-browed Woodpecker (1), Olivaceous Woodcreeper (common), Ochre-rumped Antbird, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Rufous-tailed Antthrush (2), Variegated Antpitta (several heard only), Grey-hooded Flycatcher (1), Sepia-capped Flycatcher (1), Red-crowned Ant-tanager (4), Brassy-breasted Tanager (common, including a group of 70+) and Brown Tanager (1). Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper was present at most small streams crossing the trail.

See the map for more details.

Carmo and Sumidouro Road

We spent a whole day at these two places, which gave us a lot of new species. We stayed in Hotel Divisa (at a gas station, along the road to Alem Paraiba), situated just 8 km from the start of the Sumidouro Road.

A small marsh along this road seems to be quite dry, but still had Ash-throated Crake (heard only), while Tataupa Tinamou was heard in the forest nearby and a White-tailed sitting on a pylon gave good views.

At the junction (see map) we immediately found Three-toed Jacamars, a party of four birds, while another two were noted later on. Other birds seen here were Red-legged Seriema, White Woodpecker (2), Yellow-eared Woodpecker (3), Sapphire-spangled Emerald (4), Blue-winged Macaw (3), Scaled Woodcreeper (1), Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Common Thornbird (2), Brown-chested Martin (1), Swainson’s Flycatcher, Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher (1), Yellow-Olive Flycatcher, White-rumped Monjita, Chestnut-vented Conebill (2), Sayaca Tanager, Gilt-edged Tanager (5) and Pileated Finch (1). Further along the road Wattled Jacana (6), Chestnut-capped Blackbird, White-browed Blackbird (1 female) and Black-capped Donacobius were added to our list.

The Carmo road produced Three-toed Jacamar (2+3), Surucua Trogon (2), Blue-winged Macaw (4), White-eyed Parakeet (20+), Green-barred Woodpecker (seen twice), Planalto Hermit (1), Violet-capped Woodnymph, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird (1), Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Band-tailed Hornero, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Social and Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Antshrike (at least 2), Common Thornbird (fairly common), Chopi Blackbird, Pileated Finch (1) and Purple-throated Euphonia (1). A Common moorhen was also seen.

Augusto Ruschi reserva biologica

This reserve is a well-known place to see a number of species which are difficult to see elsewhere. Wied’s Tyrant-manakin, Russet-winged Spadebill and Cinnamon-vented Piha are sought-after species.

Although this reserve can be birded from the two public roads running through it, a permit from IBAMA is necessary. However, according to Birding Brazil, one can do some birding along the roads, without a permit, as we did. The guides at Fazenda Pindobas told us we’d been lucky, as a permit is certainly necessary and guards are controlling in the reserve. So, if you go, it is advisable to obtain a permit from the IBAMA office in Vittoria.

Coming from Carmo, we took the BR 116 to the north and then the BR 262 to the east. To reach Santa Teresa, we tried to make a shortcut (Afonso Claudio and Itarana), which  cost us some time but also gave us some new birds (Least Grebe, Blackish Rail, Cinnamon Tanager, Common Tody-flycatcher, …).

We birded the lower road on our first morning and the upper road on our second day. Birds recorded at the lower road included: Wied’s Tyrant-manakin (2 seen), Barred Forest-falcon, White-tailed Hawk, Salvadori’s Antwren, Spot-backed Antshrike, White-bibbed Antbird, Short-tailed Antthrush, Such’s Antthrush (heard only), Spot-billed Toucanet, Black-billed Scythebill, Oustalet’s Tyrannulet, Euler’s Flycatcher, Olivaceous Elaenia, Burnished-buff Tanager and Buff-throated Saltator.

Along the upper road Such’s Antthrush, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Crescent-chested Puffbird (1), Hangnest Tody-tyrant, Grey-hooded Attila (heard only), White-bibbed Antbird, Black Hawk-eagle, Rufous-headed Tanager, Cinnamon Tanager were seen.

Between the reserve and the small town we had Green-backed Becard and Southern Beardless Tyrannulet.

A visit to the museum (Museo Leitao) is recommended: the feeders here attract a lot of hummers, including Frilled Coquette (1 male), Rufous-breasted Hermit, Sombre Hummingbird, White-vented Violetear and Saw-billed Hermit. The park around the museum also hosts Rufous Gnateater (1 seen extremely well), Grey-fronted Dove and Ruby-crowned Tanager.

CVRD Linhares

A privately hosted reserve and therefore enormously overpriced, but a wealth of birds make you forget the price. Indeed this park, one of the few remnants of lowland Atlantic rainforest offers chances to see a whole range of species, including Red-billed Curassow, Minute Hermit, Red-browed Amazon, Sooretama Slaty-antshrike among others. A number of Amazon species are present in this park, such as Screaming Piha, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and Swallow-wing.

An entrance fee of ca. 40 USD per person per day has to be paid, but a guide is included in this price.

We arranged a two night stay in this reserve, but the Birding Brazil Company (which arranged our stay in Linhares) sent us the wrong voucher. The voucher told us we had paid for a four night stay, which we couldn’t believe well, but anyway, we thought: just enjoy it! On our third day the administration personnel told us we had to pay an extra sum of 160 USD (we already paid 404 USD). Instead of paying, we packed and left immediately, after an argument with the director of Linhares, mr. Renato. On arrival, we got a rather hospitable welcome.  Indeed, the director proved to be a very friendly man, giving us the birdlist of the reserve, but when we left, he acted in a very chilly way.  It was not our fault that we had a wrong voucher!

Anyway, during our two-and-a-half day stay we saw a lot of species. Our guide, Edson, knew some bird sounds very well, although he was not acquainted with all species of the park. Still he could give us some good species. He knew sounds of, for example, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Black-headed Berry-eater and the different parrot species. It was also no problem to leave early. To see the curassow, Edson drove to a spot, about 12 km from the resort. We arrived there by sunrise, well in time to see several curassows!

Birding at Linhares is done by car, slowly driving through the forest, stopping at times to walk a little distance. In the afternoon, birding could be very slow. A short walk, about half an hour, with our guide at 3 p.m. produced only one bird, a splendid male Red-headed Manakin.

But most of the time, birding was pleasant, with many new species seen: Solitary Tinamou (seen on three days, twice landing in front of the car!), Variegated Tinamou (heard only), Little Tinamou (heard only), Red-stained Woodpecker, Black-necked Aracari, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-fronted Nunbird (1), Swallow-wing, Blue-throated Parakeet, Red-browed Amazon, Mealy Parrot, Orange-winged Parrot, Minute Hermit (1), Grey Elaenia (1), Greyish mourner (1), Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Screaming Piha, Bright-rumped Attila (1), Black-capped Becard, Crested Becard (1), Black-crowned Tityra (3),  Sooretama Slaty-antshrike (3), White-flanked Antwren (4), Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Rufous-capped Antthrush,

Epaulet Oriole (4) and Yellow-green Grosbeak.

Other birds noted included White-tailed Hawk, Channel-billed Toucan, Black-headed Berry-eater, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Rufous-winged Antwren, Thrushlike Woodcreeper, Streaked Xenops, Black-capped Foliage-gleaner, Yellow-fronted and Blond-crested Woodpecker, White-tailed Trogon

A large marshy area hosted a wealth of species, including Blackish Rail, Rufous-sided Crake (2), Ash-throated Crake (heard only), Purple Gallinule (1), Wattled Jacana, Limpkin (2), Black-crowned Night-heron (1), Muscovy Duck, Great Black  Hawk, Long-winged Harrier (1), Bat falcon (3), Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (2), Green Kingfisher, Pale-vented Pigeon (common), Peach-fronted Parakeet, Yellow-chinned  Spinetail (2) and a probable Rusty-collared seedeater.


Glad to leave the unpleasant atmosphere at Linhares, we drove to Sooretama to do some birding there. However, we did expect some troubles there as well, as it was mr. Renato, the director of Linhares, who would arrange our visit to Sooretama. Although we had preferred to get an IBAMA permit before we left for Brazil, the Birding Brazil Company assured repeatedly that such a permit was not necessary. If you stay in Linhares, a visit to nearby Sooretama would be no problem.

Arriving at Sooretama in the evening, we tried to reach the Sooretama director, in which we didn’t succeed. However, as a seemingly public road leads through the reserve, we birded a few hours along the road. Rufous-throated Sapphire and White-winged Cotinga were added to our list. Next morning we were again birding along this road (which runs through good forest), but it didn’t take long before guards sent us to the office. Again, it was impossible to speak to the director (he went out hunting in the forest (!?), the guards told us). According to the guard, the only thing we could do was driving to Vittoria, get a permit from IBAMA and come back the next day. So we did.

This was not the ending of our all problems. A strike was going on at the IBAMA office in Vittoria. After a while, a friendly lady, who spoke perfectly English, helped us at the office. Because of the strike, she couldn’t give us a permit… but she noted our names and called to the Sooretama office, assuring us that we could visit the reserve the next day, after a visit to the Sooretama headquarters.  It was quite a relief to us when she almost guaranteed we could get in the next day. With fresh courage, we appeared at the gate at eight o’clock, as the kind woman at Vittoria had told us to do. However, again, the guards refused to let us in. He told us the director was not in. At that moment we decided to bird Sooretama whole day, along the public road. After hiding the car, we walked along the road. When we heard a car we just hide in the forest. Definitely a rather unpleasant manner of birding. Still, we managed to see several specialties of the reserve, including Plumbeous Antvireo (1 + 1 heard only), Band-tailed Antwren (1) and Striated Softtail (1). Little Tinamou, King Vulture, Rusty-margined Guan (2), Orange-winged Parrot (2), Red-browed Amazon, Blue-throated Parakeet (10), Swallow-wing (2), Scaled Antbird, Cinerous Antshrike (heard only), Long-billed Gnatwren, Eared Pygmy-tyrant, Grayish mourner, Bright-rumped Attila (1), Green-backed Becard (1), White-chinned Sapphire (1), Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Yellow-backed Tanager and Tropical Parula were also noted during our various visits to the reserve.


Fazenda Pindobas IV

After our Sooretama debacle we drove to Fazenda Pindobas IV, situated near Conceiçao do Castelo. This privately owned ranch contains several primary forest patches, the last known stronghold of the Cherry-throated Tanager. The world population of this species is estimated at 11 individuals, but maybe only six may survive.

We stayed in Hotel Alpes at Venda Nova do Immigrante (USD 58 per person for two nights). Everything went smoothly and on arrival, we met our guides Anna and Pedro, who were also staying in the hotel.

Next morning, we were up early to do some serious birding.  Driving towards to Fazenda Pindobas IV, we suffered misfortune, once again: our car broke down. During the next three hours, we spent at a roadside gasstation, waiting for a breakdown lorry to come. Avis sent a taxi and so we could proceed. Meanwhile, it started to rain and we had lost a few hours, seriously reducing our chances to see the one bird we hoped to see.

The trip to Fazenda Pindobas IV was not easy. Bad roads through a hilly terrain on a clayey soil gave our taxi driver a hard time. However, we made it and eventually we could go into the forest (or the remnants which were left of it).  Within twenty minutes we had brief but great views of three Cherry-throated Tanagers.

Other sightings in the area included crippling views of a singing Giant Antshrike, nice views of a Hooded Berry-eater, Sharpbill, Cinnamon-vented Piha (heard only), Ochre-rumped Antbird, Black-billed Scythebill, Lineated Woodpecker, Pin-tailed and Blue Manakin, Black-goggled Tanager, Creamy-bellied Thrush, Golden-tailed Parrotlet (heard only), Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet and brief views of a Crane Hawk.

In the afternoon we unsuccessfully sought after Tufted Antshrike and Spotted Bamboowren, but we only found Shear-tailed Grey-tyrant (2), Mouse-colored Tapaculo, Variegated Antpitta (heard only), Spot-billed Toucanet, Surucua Trogon, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Golden-chevroned, Azure-shouldered, Gilt-edged and Brassy-breasted Tanager. A small party of Masked Titi Monkeys were also noteworthy.

Our visit to Fazenda Pindobas IV was arranged through the Birding Brazil Company.  Although we had paid the guides for two days birding, we already left after one day. Avis sent us a new car and we thought it would be better to drive to Serra do Cipo, where a lot of new birds were waiting, in stead of watching birds at Fazenda Pindobas, where only few new species could be seen. Seeing Cherry-throated Tanager is, however, a very expensive joke.

Serra do Cipo NP

Fazenda Pindobas  IV was our last forest site and during the last week of our trip we did some cerrado birding. A nice place to start with is Serra do  Cipo National Park. This park offers some great cerrado habitat, although less accessable as it used to be, a lot of accommodation and several interesting endemic birds. The old road through the park was renewed in autumn 2002. Moreover, it doesn’t follow the same alignment, which made it difficult (if not impossible) to find the well-known trail shown on maps in several trip reports.

We birded one evening and half a day at this site. We just walked into the cerrado, and, climbing on rocks and walking from hill to hill, we found all Cipo specialties within six hours: Cipo Canastero (a rather shy species), Hyacinth Visorbearer, Horned Sungem, Cinerous Warbling-finch and Pale-throated Sierra-finch. Other cerrado species seen in Cipo were Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Checkered Woodpecker (3), Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Gray-backed Tachuri, Crested Black-Tyrant and White-rumped Tanager (1).

We left in the afternoon, when birding was very slow.

Serra da Canastra NP

After an eight hour drive to Serra da Canastra, we finally arrived at our last stop, where we stayed in the well-known hotel Capadao da Canastra. Apart from being well-situated this hotel offers also some good birding opportunities. Stripe-breasted Starthroat is the price bird in the hotel garden. We saw five of them. Other birds in the hotel garden included a rather unexpected Great Antshrike, a pair of Grey-necked Woodrail, a Capped Heron at the stream behind the hotel and a selection of hummers, such as Green Violetear, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Glittering-throated Emerald and Planalto Hermit.

The park of Serra da Canastra consists of two parts: a lower part, with some riverine forest at the Casca d’Anta and a higher part, a large plateau which hosts many cerrado species.

On our first morning we visited the plateau, seeing cerrado species such as Red-winged Tinamou, White-eared Puffbird, Grey-backed Tachuri, Sharp-tailed Tyrant, Sooty Tyrannulet, Campo Miner and Stripe-tailed Yellow-finch. In the afternoon we stayed on the plateau and made a walk along the river. Within one hour we found a pair of Brasilian Mergansers with at least five downy chicks!

During a following visit to the plateau, we found a cooperative Brasilia Tapaculo, we flushed a Spotted Nothura, got brief views at a Black-masked Finch and eventually located a singing Collared Crescent-chest at the visitor centre. We had lunch near a small stream where Great Pampafinch and Cock-tailed Tyrant showed up. Eared Dove, White-tailed Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Red-legged Seriema, White-rumped and Gray Monjita and some elusive pipits were also noted. We didn’t find any Greater Rhea’s but this species is very hard to find at Canastra nowadays.

Before reaching the entrance, we stopped at a sign ‘Capao Forro’, where John Van der Woude also did some birding. Rufous-winged Antshrike, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, Grey-necked Woodrail and Red-breasted Toucan were recorded at this spot.

At the lower parts we made several stops. The campsite ‘Buteco Ra’ is also a well-known stakeout of the Brazilian Merganser. We saw one pair at this site. A roadside pond near the restaurant produced three Buff-necked Ibises, a Streamer-tailed Tyrant and a single Least Grebe. Roadside birding in this area also gave us Plush-crested Jay (3), Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Red-breasted Toucan, Black-capped Donacobius.

There are still several large patches of primary forest along the river. However, these proved to be inaccessible. The only accessible riverine forest was to be found along the trail to the Casca d’Anta. We spent several hours in this area, noting Little Woodpecker, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (Erwin and Peter only), Helmeted Manakin (fairly common), Sirystes, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, White-bellied Warbler, Rufous Gnateater, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Burnished-buff and White-lined Tanager among others. The waterfall itself is a reliable spot for Great Dusky Swift. Raptors in the area included King Vulture, Bat Falcon and an unidentified Accipiter hawk (very brief views only).

On the plateau, we saw several Giant Anteaters, but searched in vain for Maned Wolf.

Taxonomic notes

This list follows Clements et al. (2000). In December 2003, the following changes were made in the Clements list:


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