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Reserva Ecologica de Guapi Assu, Atlantic Forest, South-east Brazil, 17 May to 1 August 2006,
In 2006, my partner Rachel Walls and I spent eight months travelling around South America. During our trip we worked for 11 weeks as volunteers at Reserva Ecologica de Guapi Assu (REGUA) - a nature reserve in the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro state, south-east Brazil. The reserve also has it’s own lodge - Guapi Assu Bird Lodge - dedicated to birders. Our work was very varied and included: photography, producing promotional literature, patrolling the reserve with the rangers, guiding guests and building a new website. Although some of this work was office based, I still had the opportunity to bird the trails regularly. This report gives information regarding the Atlantic Forest endemics and other specialities present at REGUA, and summarises my sightings and experience of the reserve and other sites nearby that I visited.
This was my first time to South America (although I had been to Central America before), and so most of the birds here were new to me. The majority of my birding was done without a guide, and I had to learn the birds from scratch, so there were many birds that went unidentified. It's worth noting that we were backpacking and not on a dedicated birding trip, and this restricted my birding opportunities. The main problem this gave me was that I was unable to take sound equipment or a scope with me. The use of recordings would have made finding birds much easier and no doubt cost me many species, and a scope would have been very useful at times, especially at the wetlands and on some of the excursions.
The Atlantic Forest
The Atlantic Forest is a region of tropical and subtropical forest lying almost exclusively within south-east Brazil, but also stretching into extreme north-east Argentina, eastern Paraguay and coastal Uruguay. The Atlantic Forest is comprised of a variety of different forest types, including mangroves and dune growing restinga on the coast, humid evergreen forest on the lowland coastal plain and coastal slope of the Serra do Mar mountains, highland montane (coniferous, elfin and humid) forest at higher altitudes, and further inland, the Atlantic semi-deciduous forests and Atlantic dry forests, which border the dry Caatinga shrubland and Cerrado savanna of the Brazilian interior.
Once covering an estimated 1.9 million km2(ii), the Atlantic Forest has suffered an appalling loss of habitat. Ever since the first European settlers arrived in the 16th century, the forest has been cleared for timber, cattle ranches, mining, sugar, coffee and banana plantations(i). Situated close to Brazil's two largest cities - Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo - the forest remains under intense pressure from urban development. Today only around 7% of the original forested area remains. Most of the lowland forest has gone and the largest remaining tracts are found on the steep slopes of the Serra do Mar mountains that follow the Brazilian Atlantic coast.
Isolated from other forest areas, the Atlantic Forest has evolved a diverse flora and fauna with a high degree of endemism. Around 40% of the forest’s plant species are endemic and 53% of the trees are endemic(i). In terms of avifauna, the Atlantic Forest supports one of the highest numbers of endemic birds of any habitat in the world, with 199 species found nowhere else. Also, of the 199 endemic birds found in Brazil, 160 of them occur in the Atlantic Forest.
Birdlife International identify two Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) in the Atlantic Forest – the Atlantic Forest lowlands (EBA 075) and Atlantic Forest mountains (EBA 076). REGUA falls mainly within the Atlantic Forest lowlands EBA, but also includes some high altitude forest of the Atlantic Forest mountains EBA as well. Combined, these two EBAs support 10 endemic genera and 123 endemic species(ii), with the vast majority found in the lowlands. 73 species also have a restricted breeding range (less than 50,000 km2), and 31 of these are threatened(ii).
The scale of deforestation means that a high proportion of Atlantic Forest birds are either threatened or near threatened. About 13% of all threatened birds in the Americas are found in the Atlantic Forest lowlands alone, which illustrates just how critical the situation with this ecosystem has become. To further highlight the conservation importance of the Atlantic Forest, Birdlife International have also classified the biome as an Important Bird Area (IBA) – an area containing a significant number of range restricted and globally threatened species, and therefore of high conservation priority.
British nationals do not require a visa for tourist purposes and can stay in Brazil for up to 90 days. You may be refused entry if your passport expires less than 90 days from the date you arrive in Brazil. If you plan to travel to other countries from Brazil, then you may be refused entry if you have less than six months until your passport expires. Also some airlines will not allow you to fly with less than six months remaining on your passport. If in doubt it is best to check with your travel agent. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website is also a good source of information regarding entry requirements.
The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. English was not widely spoken in the areas we visited, although more people spoke English in Rio. If you intend to base yourself at the lodge and join guided excursions, then the language barrier isn’t a problem. The lodge owners are English speaking, and the lodge has an English speaking bird guide as well. If you intend to travel around independently then you will find it easier if you have a basic knowledge of Portuguese, however, we cannot speak Portuguese and got by without too much difficulty.
Currency and Cards
The Brazilian currency is the real (R$) and at the time of our visit the exchange rate was approximately R$4 to £1 (or R$2 to US$1). Costs in Brazil were about a third of those the UK. Food, accommodation and buses were especially cheap. ATMs were available in most towns and all the cities we visited, although we sometimes had trouble finding an ATM that would accept our cards (Visa debit and credit).
Health and Inoculations
During our visit we found there weren’t too many biting insects about and just a few places where mosquitoes were a nuisance. We used DEET most days and found this to be reasonably effective and I would recommend taking insect repellent with you. Apparently mosquitoes become more troublesome during the summer months.
Worth keeping an eye out for are ticks. We didn’t encounter them very often and you would be unlucky to get bitten (to put this in to perspective we only got bitten on about four occasions during the whole 11 weeks we were there, and much of our work involved hiking off the trails, which most visitors wouldn’t be doing). The ticks are tiny (about 1 mm long) and the bites look similar to a rash (concentrated in areas where clothing was tight fitting such as around the waist). Apart from being very itchy the bites gave us no other problems. Surprisingly we never had to pull the ticks out and found that they washed off very easily. On one occasion we found them crawling up the outside of our trouser legs, but they were easily brushed off. As with any tropical forest, take care and watch where you put your hands. Bullet Ants, which have a very painful bite, are present but uncommon and usually easily spotted.
It is recommended that you contact your doctor or a travel clinic for advice on which inoculations you will need. You will be denied entry into Brazil if you have travelled from a country that is known to have yellow fever, and you cannot prove you have been vaccinated. If you are flying direct from the UK then this is not an issue. Malaria is low to no risk in south-east Brazil and we didn’t bother taking any anti-malarial drugs, but obviously this is a personal choice. We also didn’t bother with the rabies vaccination, because we didn’t consider ourselves to be at particularly high risk. The fitfortravel website is a good source of information about inoculations.
Brazil has a reputation for being a fairly dangerous country to visit, mainly due to high crime rates in the cities. In our experience the Brazilians are friendly and helpful and we experienced no problems whatsoever. It was perfectly safe to be out at night in the local villages around REGUA, and even when walking late at night along the very dark roads around the reserve we didn’t feel threatened. We visited Rio de Janeiro several times with no problems, although apparently one of the previous REGUA volunteers was robbed of her mobile phone while walking around in Rio near a shanty town (favela). Obviously it is best to avoid the favelas and walking around late at night in cities. I only ever felt wary of having binoculars and cameras on show in Rio, although I did feel very safe when birding in the botanical gardens.
Public telephones are everywhere and it was cheap to call the UK. The nearest public phone to REGUA was in Guapi Assu village (about a 40 minute walk from the lodge along quiet rural roads). We bought an international phone card (that only seemed to be available in larger towns and Rio) which were very good value. Our mobile (Vodafone network) did not work at REGUA. Also there was free satellite internet access available to guests at the REGUA office.
The nearest international airport to REGUA is Rio de Janeiro Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim. We did not buy return flights from the UK to Rio de Janeiro, because we planned to visit part way though our trip. Instead we bought a series of single flights to cover most of our route. Assuming that most people would not be following the same route as us, there seems little point in giving details of our flights in this report. We booked our flights through Travelbag, who are worth mentioning because they were by far the cheapest and gave excellent customer service. They would be worth contacting for return flight prices (note that many flights from the UK to Rio de Janeiro go via São Paulo). For directions from Rio to REGUA see the Guapi Assu Bird Lodge website.
As we were staying for 11 weeks, we decided not to hire a car as this would be expensive for such a long period, and so I cannot advise on hire car options or prices. We did travel by road on buses and in the vehicles owned by the lodge, and overall the roads were in good condition, apart from the occasional pothole. Many of the minor roads around the reserve are unpaved but are no problem with a standard car and you definitely do not need a 4x4. During dry weather these roads got very dusty, and after rain quite muddy. They did dry out very quickly though, and the authorities levelled them out every so often, keeping them fairly easy to drive along. Toll booths are frequent on the main roads, costing between R$2.80 and R$6.50 per car. If you decide to hire a car then you will need some nerves to tackle the roads, especially in Rio, as Brazilians drive aggressively.
We arranged in advance for a private transfer to the lodge which cost us US$75 each way (it’s a 2.5 hour journey by car from Rio to REGUA). If we had hired a car, we would have visited a few additional birding sites nearby that we didn’t bother with, notably Itatiaia and the restinga for Restinga Antwren (Formicivora littoralis). However, the lodge offers excursions to many nearby birding sites (see below) and Itatiaia is accessible from REGUA by public bus, so you if really want to avoid hiring car then you can.
Timing and Climate
In the Atlantic Forest, October to March is the austral summer, when birds are breeding and calling much more. However, the weather during this time is hot (especially at low altitude sites such as REGUA) and wetter, with frequent rain. During the winter (April to September) the birds are not calling as much but they form large mixed species flocks which are an impressive sight. The weather is also dryer and cooler (and therefore more comfortable) at lower altitudes.
Many birders visit from August through to October and this is a good time as mixed flocks are still evident, many of the birds have started singing as spring is approaching, and the weather is cooler. It is worth noting that some species, such as Bare-throated Bellbird, can be very difficult to see if they are not singing. We visited between May and August and found mixed flocks to be common, and even though it was winter it still felt very hot. We had periods of weeks without rain, but when it did rain it could last for a couple of days at a time.
There is currently only one field guide to Brazilian birds - All the Birds of Brazil: An Identification Guide, Souza, D, 2006 (ISBN-10: 1905268017). Unfortunately the plates in this book are very poor and of limited use for the more tricky families such as flycatchers. Some of the plates contain mistakes and the text is also of limited use. I used the first edition, but the second edition was published in August 2006, which apparently has better distribution maps and corrected the mistakes in the plates.
Fortunately the lodge has an excellent library (by far the best I have seen at any ecolodge) which includes volumes 1 to 10 of the Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW), Edited by Josep Del Hoyo, Andrew Elliot and David Christie. These were extremely valuable when looking at subtle differences between similar species.
Several new books on Brazilian birds are due out, the most useful of which (for the Atlantic Forest) promises to be Guide to the Birds of Brazil: Volume 1: Atlantic Forest, Bret Whitney, which is apparently using plates from HBW. Unfortunately at the time of writing there is no publication date.
Note that all altitude measurements in this report are given in metres above sea level.
Reserva Ecologica de Guapi Assu (map)
REGUA is a large private reserve about 80 km north-east of Rio de Janeiro, now comprising 6740 hectares of Atlantic Forest in the Serra dos Órgãos mountains (part of the Serra do Mar range). REGUA is particularly important because it includes both low and high altitude forest (from 35 m to over 2000 m), the former now very scarce. In addition, the reserve also contains recently restored wetlands, similar to those that once existed in the lowlands, banana plantations and some farmland. This variety of habitats and wide altitudinal range supports a large diversity of avifauna, with 448 species recorded so far within the reserve's boundaries. 83 Atlantic Forest endemics and 51 Brazilian endemics occur here. Of these, nine are classified as threatened by Birdlife International and a further 24 as near threatened. REGUA is one of the most reliable sites for Shrike-like Cotinga (Elegant Mourner), and other specialities include the endemics Blue-bellied Parrot, Black-cheeked Gnateater and Eastern Striped Manakin. Rarities recorded include Brown-backed Parrotlet (Touit melanonota), Golden-tailed Parrotlet (Touit surda), White-bearded Antshrike (Biatas nigropectus) and Salvadori's Antwren (Myrmotherula minor).
As well a great birding site, REGUA is an active conservation project with the aim of preserving the Atlantic Forest of the upper catchment of the Guapi Assu river basin. Their work includes protection of forest, employing rangers to patrol the reserve daily (REGUA is the only patrolled area of Atlantic Forest), reforestation, an ongoing education program for local school children to help develop an interest in the forest, reintroduction of species and research programs. By staying at the lodge you will be contributing towards this important work. If you want to find out more about their conservation work then visit the REGUA website.
Birders not staying at the lodge but wishing to visit the reserve are able to do so. You need to check in at the REGUA office on arrival (drive through the entrance gate and the office is in the courtyard on your right – first door to the left of the gate) and pay the entrance fee (US$10 per person per day).
Guests at REGUA stay at the superb Guapi Assu Bird Lodge, located on the reserve overlooking restored wetlands and rainforest-clad mountains. The lodge is small (it sleeps a maximum of 12 people), very comfortable and well equipped. There is a large lounge to relax in after a day in the field, a swimming pool, patio and dining area. The rooms are clean, comfortable and air conditioned. Electricity (110v) and hot water are available throughout the day, and there is a laundry service (for a small charge) which was quick and useful after a hot day in the forest.
The lodge is owned and managed by Nicholas and Raquel Locke. Nicholas is from the UK and has been living in Brazil for many years and his wife Raquel is from Argentina. They are superb hosts and some of the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet. Their enthusiasm for the forest and its birds is infectious, and they would often put on great slideshows for guests about the history of the area, and the birds and other wildlife found on the reserve.
The lodge garden has hummingbird and fruit feeders doted around that attracted large numbers of tanagers, euphonias, woodpeckers, thrushes and several species of hummingbird. For more information about the lodge and a full list of birds recorded on the reserve, see the Guapi Assu Bird Lodge website.
We found the food at the lodge to be very good. The soups in particular were excellent, as were the empanadas (hot pastries filled with chicken, beef or cheese). Vegetarian meals are available as well. Guapi Assu village is a 40 minute walk away and has a couple of small shops where you can buy chocolate, crisps, fruit, drinks etc. There are also a few bars there as well.
Guapi Assu Bird Lodge is relatively new and only just starting out as a birding holiday destination. The lodge currently employs one local bird guide - Leonardo - who is an excellent birder and knows the birds very well. However, he is part-time (Monday to Wednesday) and speaks limited english. A special mention must be made of one of the reserve's rangers - Adilei (pronounced Ad-u-lay). Adilei is a local ex-hunter, now employed by REGUA as a ranger. He has a real passion for birds and is being trained as a bird guide. I went birding with him on several occasions, and although he cannot speak english, he simply pointed to the species in his Portuguese version of Souza, and had no problems pointing out the birds. He has an amazing skill of being able to mimic a huge number of species by whistling (including Blue-bellied Parrot, Slaty Bristlefront, Shrike-like Cotinga and a range of antbirds), and I often found Adilei better than Leonardo's tape. I would highly recommend that you give him a try for at least a day (he was available most days and doesn't charge).
The following is a description of the main areas I visited and the key species I recorded (target and less common species). For details of my sightings and a full list of all the birds I saw at REGUA, see the species list towards the end of this report.
Sometimes referred to as the New Wetland or São José Wetland, this is the larger of the two wetlands on the reserve and is located adjacent to the lodge (the other wetland, known as the Small Wetland, is located at the start of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal). Wetlands like this containing Tabebuia cassinoides forest once existed all over the lowlands here. The original wetland on this site was drained to make way for agriculture, but in May 2005 REGUA began restoring it and now an impressive 127 species have been recorded here. Some of the rarer species that have been found include Least and Pinnated Bitterns, Sungrebe and Toco Toucan.
Most birders walk from the lodge to the hide at the far end of the wetland and back, however, there is an unmarked path that leads all the way around the wetland. From the lodge, walk down the hill to the REGUA office and turn sharp right on the obvious track that passes the volunteer houses on your left. The track passes over a small concrete bridge and winds its way to the main dam. At the end of the dam the path turns sharp left at the base of a hill (you will see the blue posts of the Nursery Trail that emerges on your right), turn left here following the edge of the wetland and cross over the small wooden bridge to the hide. To continue around the wetland, walk through the gate at the edge of the field behind the hide, and when you reach the forest edge turn left along the wide track. Continue along here until you reach a wide track at the base of another hill where you turn left. Follow this track all the way and you will come to a gate by a dirt road, turn left along the road and then first left into the reserve entrance (immediately before the small bridge) and back to the lodge.
Target species here include: Whistling, Capped and Boat-billed Herons, Masked Duck, Crane Hawk, Laughing and Aplomado Falcons, Limpkin, Rufous-sided, Uniform and Ash-throated Crakes, Gray-necked and Slaty-breasted Wood-Rails, Blackish and Plumbeous Rails, Giant Snipe, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Sooty Tyrannulet, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee, Yellowish Pipit, Long-billed Wren, Hooded and Brazilian Tanagers, Lined and Yellow-bellied Seedeaters and Chestnut-capped Blackbird. There are also Broad-snouted Caiman (Caiman latirostris) present here.
Key species recorded:
Least Grebe, Capped, Cocoi and Striated Herons, White-faced Whisting-Duck, Masked Duck, Snail Kite, Aplomado Falcon, Limpkin, Ash-throated Crake, Blue-winged Macaw, Orange-winged Parrot, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Biscutate Swift, Ringed, Amazon and Green Kingfishers, White Woodpecker, Tail-banded Hornero, Common Thornbird, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Sooty Tyrannulet, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Yellowish Pipit, Long-billed Wren, Brazilian Tanager, White-bellied Seedeater and Chestnut-capped Blackbird.
The reserve itself is large and contains a vast network of trails (click here for a map). The main trails are very well maintained and are marked with an excellent system of coloured posts every 50 metres (each trail is marked in a different colour). This made it easy to note and follow up sightings. There are some trails that begin by the lodge, but most of the trails are on the other side of the reserve, a 10 minute drive away. All transport to and from the trails is provided free when staying at the lodge, and you also get a trail map and reserve bird list. I occasionally walked the 7 km (4.3 miles) along the farm roads to the furthest trails, as the farmland you pass through on the way is rich in species found in more open areas, such as Barn and Burrowing Owls, Tail-banded Hornero, Cliff Flycatcher, White-rumped Monjita, Grassland Sparrow and White-browed Blackbird. The walk takes about 1.5 hours and it can be very hot, so take plenty of water. You can arrange in advance for transport back to the lodge if you only want to walk one way.
Below I have given details of the main birding trails. At the time of our visit several other trails (that had not been named) were being marked out. I have not given descriptions of these unnamed trails, but in the REGUA bird list below I have referred to them by their post colours where possible, e.g. the Purple Trail.
4x4 Track to Casa Anibal
This track starts from the Small Wetland and leads up into good secondary lowland forest to an altitude of 352 m. This is the best area on the reserve for Eastern Striped Manakin (difficult) and Yellow-green Grosbeak. Black-legged Dacnis has also been seen here. Other target species here include: Tataupa Tinamou, White-necked Hawk, Mantled Hawk, Rusty-margined Guan, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Plain Parakeet, Ferruginous Pigmy-Owl, Frilled Coquette (the overgrown garden at Casa Anibal (now derelict) is the most reliable spot), Saffron Toucanet, Lesser and Scaled Woodcreepers, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (difficult) and Bare-throated Bellbird.
A good birding route is to walk up the 4x4 Track and at the top turn left onto the Lost Trail. This will lead you through some good primary forest before dropping back down to Casa Pesquisa (one of reserve's the research buildings), where you can arrange in advance to be picked up. Allow all day for this route. Alternatively you can arrange at the lodge to be driven by 4x4 to the top of the 4x4 Track and collected later from here.
Key species recorded:
Mantled Hawk, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Plain Parakeet, Channel-billed Toucan, Bare-throated Bellbird, Long-tailed Tyrant, Black-tailed Tityra, Long-billed Wren, White-necked Thrush, Brazilian Tanager, Brassy-breasted Tanager and Yellow-green Grosbeak.
Elfin Forest Trail (red posts)
This 3.3 km trail ranges in altitude from 400 m to 950 m and takes in primary evergreen and elfin forest. This trail is good for a number of higher altitude specialities. Target species here include: Solitary and Brown Tinamous, Dusky-legged Guan, Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Plumbeous Pigeon, Blue-bellied Parrot (regular near the top of the trail), Saffron Toucanet, Rufous-capped Spinetail, Pale-browed Treehunter, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, White-throated Woodcreeper, Giant Antshrike, Ferruginous Antbird, Variegated Antpitta, Rufous Gnateater, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Greenish Schiffornis, Brown Tanager, Green-chinned Euphonia, Blackish-blue Seedeater, Uniform Finch, Green-winged and Black-throated Saltators. The trail starts at post 2400 of the Waterfall Trail and ends at the top of the Lost Trail. It took a long time to complete and was very steep and difficult in places, however, the birds and spectacular scenery made all the effort very worthwhile. We arranged transport to and from Casa Pesquisa and started early. You need a full day to walk this trail. In many ways the hardest thing about doing this trail was ignoring all the birds we found along the Waterfall Trail on route to the start. This we had to do to allow ourselves plenty of time for the Elfin Forest Trail.
Key species recorded:
Solitary Tinamou, Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Plumbeous Pigeon, Blue-bellied Parrot, Rufous-capped Motmot, Green-barred Woodpecker, White-collared Foliage-Gleaner, Ferruginous Antbird, Short-tailed Antthrush, Sharpbill, Whiskered Flycatcher, Blue-billed Black-Tyrant, Grayish Mourner, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Blackish-blue Seedeater and Uniform Finch.
Lost Trail (blue posts)
The 4.2 km Lost Trail passes through secondary and primary evergreen forest and reaches 615 m. This is one of the best trails for Bare-throated Bellbird, and Swallow-tailed Cotinga has also been seen here, but they are very rare at REGUA. Other target species here include: Black Hawk-Eagle, Scaled Woodcreeper, Rufous-capped Spinetail, Pale-browed Treehunter, Star-throated Antwren, Scaled Antbird, White-bibbed Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Shrike-like Cotinga, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant and Black-throated Saltator.
Key species recorded:
Black Hawk-Eagle, Plain Parakeet, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Spot-billed Toucanet, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Scaled Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Bare-throated Bellbird and Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant.
Nursery Trail (blue posts)
This easy 1.2 km trail starts at the REGUA office and passes through the reserve tree nursery, newly planted trees, secondary lowland evergreen forest and along the edge of the lodge wetland. Target species here include: Tataupa Tinamou, Rusty-margined Guan, Striped Cuckoo, Rufous-breasted and Reddish Hermits, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Channel-billed Toucan, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, Long-billed Wren and Red-rumped Cacique. During our visit there was also a White-bearded Manakin lek by post 750.
Key species recorded:
Striped Cuckoo, Reddish Hermit, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Streaked Xenops, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, White-bearded Manakin, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Long-billed Wren, Brazilian Tanager and Red-rumped Cacique.
Papagaio Trail (black posts)
This 2.5 km trail climbs from 250 m to 600 m. The trail was in the process of being marked during our visit and not that much seemed to be known about the birds here. Although I only visited it once, this turned out to be one of my favourite trails. It is located at the far end of the reserve and so you need to arrange transport to and from the start. The trail is drivable by 4x4 until the river crossing, from here continue by foot until the end, and then walk back.
Key species recorded:
White-tailed Trogon, Spot-backed Antshrike, White-shouldered Fire-Eye, Slaty Bristlefront, Oustalet's Tyrannulet, Euler's Flycatcher and White-winged Becard.
São José Trail (unmarked)
This is a steep 3.5 km trail that leads through good secondary lowland forest up into primary forest to 800 m. At the time of our visit, the trail was unmarked but reasonably easy to follow. The main problem is that sections of the trail are very steep and hard going. REGUA are planning to mark out the trail and cut new paths to get around the steepest sections. There were also a number of short unmarked trails near the start of the São José Trail that were well worth birding. To access these short trails, start along the São José Trail and then turn right where the trail forks. Shrike-like Cotinga is regular on the main trail and the minor trails (even quite close to the edge of the forest). Target species here include: Shrike-like Cotinga, Blue-bellied Parrot, Unicolored and White-flanked Antwrens, White-bibbed Antbird and Black-cheeked Gnateater.
Key species recorded:
Brown Tinamou, Blue-bellied Parrot, Black-throated Trogon, Black-billed Scythebill, Unicolored Antwren, White-flanked Antwren, White-bibbed Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Shrike-like Cotinga, Greenish Schiffornis and Moustached Wren. We also encountered a horned frog species along this trail.
Waterfall Trail (green posts)
The Waterfall Trail is one of the most popular birding trails at REGUA and is particularly reliable for Shrike-like Cotinga. Other target species here include: Barred and Collared Forest-Falcons, Saw-billed Hermit, Black Jacobin, Brazilian Ruby, Spot-billed Toucanet, Pale-browed Treehunter, Black-capped Foliage-Gleaner, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Star-throated Antwren, Unicolored Antwren, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Slaty Bristlefront, Sharpbill, Bare-throated Bellbird, Pin-tailed Manakin, Southern Antpipit, Azure-shouldered Tanager and Golden-chevroned Tanager.
This 4.8 km trail starts in lowland forest at 170 m, climbing slowly up into primary forest to 1300 m. Most birders concentrate on the first 2.5 km up to the waterfall, after which the trail becomes more difficult to walk. The trail begins at Casa Pesquisa, where hummingbird feeders attracted Saw-billed Hermit, Swallow-tailled Hummingbird and Violet-capped Woodnymph. Often Black Jacobin and Brazilian Ruby can be seen here, but they were not present when I visited. Bananas were regularly hung up here for the birds and there was usually lot of activity. This was the most reliable place on the reserve to see Golden-chevroned and Turquoise Tanagers. These feeders were one of the better places for bird photography, as the birds seemed even more approachable than those in the lodge garden.
The bamboo section starting at post 900 is a traditional spot for Slaty Bristlefront, however, I only managed to hear one here despite a lot of searching. The best place for Shrike-like Cotinga is between posts 1350 and 1400 (and by the junction of the trail signposted to Poco Verde), just before you reach the hair-pin turns. I had some close views here and managed to get some reasonable photos. Rufous-capped Antthrush was regular between posts 1650 and 1700, Pin-tailed Manakin was often seen around post 1850 (sometimes feeding on berries beside the trail). Post 2100 has traditionally been a good area for Sharpbill although I never saw one here. Look for Spot-billed Toucanet and Bare-throated Bellbird all along the trail.
Key species recorded:
Saw-billed Hermit, Rufous-capped Motmot, Spot-billed Toucanet, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Black-capped Foliage-Gleaner, White-shouldered Fire-Eye, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Slaty Bristlefront, Shrike-like Cotinga, Bare-throated Bellbird, Pin-tailed Manakin, Gray-hooded Flycatcher, Southern Antpipit, Whiskered Flycatcher, Fawn-breasted Tanager, Turquoise Tanager and Brassy-breasted Tanager.
This list includes all the species that I recorded at REGUA. The taxonomy and nomenclature follows Clements, James F, Birds of the World: A Checklist, 5th edition (updated 2005).
(AF) Endemic to the Atlantic Forest
(B) Endemic to Brazil
|Solitary Tinamou Tinamus solitarius (B)||1 heard and seen poorly running along the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Brown Tinamou Crypturellus obsoletus||1 heard and another flushed on the São José Trail on 28 July.|
|Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus||Seen regularly at the lodge wetland, although the highest count was only 2+ there on 29 May.|
|Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus||Up to 2 seen regularly at the lodge wetland.|
|Capped Heron Pilherodius pileatus||Seen regularly at the lodge wetland. The highest count was 5 there on 2 June.|
|Cocoi (White-necked) Heron Ardea cocoi||1 at the lodge wetland on 7 July.|
|Great Egret Ardea alba||Seen regularly at the lodge wetland. Also 1 along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa on 22 May.|
|Snowy Egret Egretta thula||1 at the lodge wetland on 3 June, 7 July and 24 July.|
|Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis||Abundant. Birds roost every evening in trees at the lodge wetland, from about an hour before sunset and feed in nearby fields during the day. The highest count at the roost was 690 on 7 June.|
|Striated Heron Butorides striata||1 at the lodge wetland on 18 May.|
|Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax||1 ad. and 1 imm. at the lodge wetland on 29 May.|
|Rufescent Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma lineatum||1 at the lodge wetland on 3 June, 7 July and 25 July.|
|White-faced Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna viduata||11 at the lodge wetland on 7 July was my first sighting, after which birds were present throughout the rest of our stay. 16 at the lodge wetland on 24 July was my highest count.|
|Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata||1 at the lodge wetland on 29 May and 1 male at the lodge wetland on 7 and 9 July.|
|Brazilian Teal Amazonetta brasiliensis||Common at the lodge wetland.|
|Masked Duck Nomonyx dominica||A pair at the lodge wetland on 7 July, 1 male and 2 females at the lodge wetland on 9 July, 2 females and 1 female/imm. at the lodge wetland on 24 July.|
|Black Vulture Coragyps atratus||Abundant.|
|Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura||Common.|
|Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis||1 at the lodge wetland on 30 June.|
|Mantled Hawk Leucopternis polionotus (AF)||1 seen low over the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May.|
|Savanna Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis||Seen along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa.|
|Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris||Abundant, especially around the lodge wetland.|
|Black Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus||1+ seen displaying over the Lost Trail (by post 1900) on 14 June.|
|Southern Caracara Caracara plancus||Abundant. Regular around the lodge wetland and often seen on farmland bordering the reserve, following tractors with Yellow-headed Caracara.|
|Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima||Abundant.|
|Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis||1 over the lodge wetland on 12 July, 2 at the lodge wetland on 24 July and 1 there on 25 July.|
|Spot-winged Wood-Quail Odontophorus capueira (AF)||1 heard only on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Limpkin Aramus guarauna||1 at the lodge wetland on 24 July.|
|Ash-throated Crake Porzana albicollis||1 seen at very close range at the lodge wetland, mid morning on 1 July, climbing up through a bush beside the path at the start of the main dam.|
|Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica||Seen regularly in small numbers at the lodge wetland.|
|Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus||Common at the lodge wetland.|
|Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana||Common at the lodge wetland.|
|Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis||Common at the lodge wetland and farmland bordering the reserve.|
|Picazuro Pigeon Patagioenas picazuro||Seen frequently.|
|Plumbeous Pigeon Patagioenas plumbea||1 heard only on the Elfin Forest Trail, date not recorded.|
|Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti||Abundant around the lodge wetland and lodge garden.|
|White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi||1 seen well on the Nursery Trail on 30 June. Occasionaly seen poorly elsewhere on the reserve.|
|Blue-winged Macaw Primolius maracana||2 roosting in bamboo at the lodge wetland in the evening on 25 July.|
|Maroon-bellied Parakeet Pyrrhura frontalis (AF)||Seen frequently on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal. Also 2 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Plain Parakeet Brotogeris tirica (AF)||Many at the open area near the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May, several at a fruiting fig tree on the Lost Trail (by post 1950 on the west side of trail) on 11 July and several at the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 14 July.|
|Orange-winged Parrot Amazona amazonica||2 roosting in bamboo at the lodge wetland on 25 July.|
|Blue-bellied Parrot Triclaria malachitacea (AF)||1 heard only by post 1550 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July, and 1 heard only near the top of the São José Trail on 28 July. I was unlucky not to see the birds as others with me did.|
|Dark-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus melacoryphus||1 at the edge of the lodge wetland (along the trail leading to the wetland, just past the volunteer houses) on 14 June. Also, a probable seen at the lodge wetland a few days earlier.|
|Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana||Several seen poorly on the São José Trail and the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal. 1 seen well on the Nursery Trail on 24 July.|
|Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani||Abundant, especially around the lodge wetland.|
|Guira Cuckoo Guira guira||Small groups were common around the lodge wetland, lodge garden and nearby farmland.|
|Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia||1 seen well on the Nursery Trail on 24 July.|
|Barn Owl Tyto alba||1 roosting in the barn along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa (opposite the turning to the footbridge over the Guapi Assu river).|
|Tawny-browed Owl Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana (AF)||2 first heard by the REGUA office on 9 June, were subsequently seen and heard every few days or so throughout the rest of our stay. The tall trees in the lodge garden (behind the pool) were the best spot for good views (the lodge has a spotlight that guests may use), but they could also be heard in the tall trees around the REGUA office, where they proved impossible to see.|
|Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia||2 pairs seen frequently along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa.|
|White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris||The most common swift. Often seen over the reserve, especially at the lodge wetland.|
|Biscutate Swift Streptoprocne biscutata||1+ with White-collared Swifts over the lodge wetland on 12 July.|
|Gray-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris||Several over the Lost Trail on 25 May. Also seen at Casa Pesquisa and over the meadow at post 1150 along the Waterfall Trail, but the dates of these sightings were not recorded.|
|Saw-billed Hermit Ramphodon naevius (AF/B)||Seen on most visits to Casa Pesquisa (coming to the feeders), and also 1 on the Waterfal Trail (by the research hut) on 22 May.|
|Rufous-breasted (Hairy) Hermit Glaucis hirsuta||1+ in the lodge garden on 15 June.|
|Reddish Hermit Phaethornis ruber||1 visiting the red flowers by post 0 of the Nursery Trail (left of the gate to the REGUA office) on 30 July.|
|Swallow-tailed Hummingbird Eupetomena macrourus||Several in the lodge garden and around the feeders at Casa Pesquisa.|
|Black Jacobin Florisuga fuscus (AF)||1 imm. visiting flowers behind the pool in the lodge garden on 15 June.|
|Violet-capped Woodnymph Thalurania glaucopis (AF)||Several seen frequently around hummingbird feeders at Casa Pesquisa.|
|Glittering-throated Emerald Polyerata fimbriata||Common around the lodge garden.|
|White-tailed Trogon Trogon viridis||1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Black-throated Trogon Trogon rufus||A pair seen well on the São José Trail on 20 May.|
|Surucua Trogon Trogon surrucura||The most frequently seen trogon and encountered frequently around the reserve, often in pairs. The Lost Trail and the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal were the most reliable areas.|
|Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquatus||Seen regularly at the lodge wetland, and along the Guapi Assu River by the footbridge to Guapi Assu. Also a pair at the small lake on route to the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona||1 at the lodge wetland on 24 July.|
|Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana||1+ at the lodge wetland 29 May and 1 there on 24 July.|
|Rufous-capped Motmot Baryphthengus ruficapillus (AF)||Silent throughout most of our stay, they starting calling in July. 1 heard only on the Waterfall Trail on 25 July, and 1 heard only on the Elfin Forest Trail but date not recorded.|
|Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda||Seen frequently in the lodge garden (in the bare branches behind the pool), along the lodge drive and on the Nursery Trail. Also 1 pair on the Lost Trail on 6 June and 1+ on the Lost Trail on 14 June.|
|Crescent-chested Puffbird Malacoptila striata (B)||1 on the Lost Trail on 14 June was surprisingly my only record. They are usually much easier to see at REGUA and often occur in the lodge garden.|
|Spot-billed Toucanet Selenidera maculirostris||Seen and heard frequenly around the reserve. The Lost, Papagaio, São José and Waterfall Trails were the most reliable areas.|
|Channel-billed Toucan Ramphastos vitellinus||1 on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May. Also seen occasionally on the Nursery Trail by Rachel but dates not recorded.|
|White-barred Piculet Picumnus cirratus||Frequently seen in a variety of habitats ranging from forest to small bushes around the lodge wetland.|
|White Woodpecker Melanerpes candidus||Seen often around the lodge wetland and lodge garden. The highest count was 4 in the lodge garden on 29 July.|
|Yellow-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes flavifrons||1 visiting a fruiting fig tree on the Lost Trail (on the west side of the trail by post 1950) on 11 July.|
|Yellow-eared Woodpecker Veniliornis maculifrons (AF/B)||1 on the Lost Trail on 19 June, 1 on the Papagaio Trail on the 17 July and 1 on the São José Trail on 28 July.|
|Yellow-throated Woodpecker Piculus flavigula||1-2 along the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May, 1 on the Waterfall Trail on 25 July and 2 on the São José Trail on 28 July.|
|Yellow-browed Woodpecker Piculus aurulentus (AF)||1 on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July.|
|Green-barred Woodpecker Colaptes melanochloros||1 on the Elfin Forest Trail (by post 1500) on 18 July. This was a new bird for the reserve.|
|Campo Flicker Colaptes campestris||Seen regularly around the lodge wetland.|
|Blond-crested Woodpecker Celeus flavescens||1 on an unmarked trail on Schincariol land (adjacent to and managed by REGUA) on 14 June, 1 on the Lost Trail on 11 July, 1 on the Light Blue Trail by the lodge on 24 July and 2 on the Waterfall Trail on 25 July.|
|Tail-banded Hornero Furnarius figulus||Seen frequently around the lodge wetland.|
|Rufous Hornero Furnarius rufus||Abundant around the lodge wetland and fields.|
|Chicli Spinetail Synallaxis spixi||1 on the Light Blue Trail by the lodge on 24 July.|
|Yellow-chinned Spinetail Certhiaxis cinnamomea||Common at the lodge wetland.|
|Common Thornbird Phacellodomus rufifrons||1 at the lodge wetland on 20 May. Their huge nests were much in evidence and so I suspect they are easier to see when nesting.|
|Plain Xenops Xenops minutus||1 on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July was surprisingly my only record.|
|Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans||1 on the Lost Trail on 14 June and 1 on the Nursery Trail on 24 July.|
|Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner Philydor rufus||1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July and 1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July.|
|Black-capped Foliage-gleaner Philydor atricapillus (AF)||1 on the Waterfall Trail on 8 June and 1 on the São José Trail on 28 July.|
|White-collared Foliage-gleaner Anabazenops fuscus (B)||2 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July and 1 there on 25 July.|
|White-eyed Foliage-gleaner Automolus leucophthalmus (AF)||1 on the Waterfall Trail on 9 June, 1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Tawny-throated Leaftosser Sclerurus mexicanus||1 on the Lost Trail (by the junction with the Elfin Forest Trail) on 25 July.|
|Thrush-like (Plain-winged) Woodcreeper Dendrocincla turdina (AF)||2+ on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May, 1 on the Lost Trail on 14 June, 1 on the São José Trail on 28 July.|
|Lesser Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus fuscus (AF)||1 on the Purple Trail on 30 May.|
|Buff-throated Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus guttatus||1 on the Waterfall Trail on 22 May, 1 on the Lost Trail on 25 July.|
|Black-billed Scythebill Campylorhamphus falcularius||1 seen well but briefly on the São José Trail at high altitude in a mixed species flock on 20 May.|
|Spot-backed Antshrike Hypoedaleus guttatus (AF)||1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Tufted Antshrike Mackenziaena severa||1 male on the Light Blue Trail by the lodge on 24 July.|
|Chestnut-backed Antshrike Thamnophilus palliatus||Common, especially on the Nursery Trail, at the lodge wetland and around the volunteer houses. 1 also seen at the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 14 July.|
|Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike Thamnophilus ambiguus (B)||A pair on the Nursery Trail on 24 July.|
|Spot-breasted Antvireo Dysithamnus stictothorax (AF)||1 female on the Lost Trail on 11 July and 1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis||1 on Schincariol land (adjacent to and managed by REGUA) on 14 June and 1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Star-throated Antwren Myrmotherula gularis (AF/B)||2 on an unmarked trail (just off the Lost Trail) on 11 July and 1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July.|
|White-flanked Antwren Myrmotherula axillaris||Seen on the Elfin Forest, São José and Waterfall Trails. Note that there is some debate over whether the White-flanked Antwrens at REGUA are in fact a different species - Rio de Janeiro Antwren (Myrmotherula fluminensis). After subsequently seeing White-flanked Antwrens at other sites, the birds at REGUA did appear paler, however, they could equally be a subspecies. I believe at this time that most observers regard these birds as a variant of White-flanked Antwren.|
|Unicolored Antwren Myrmotherula unicolor (B)||Seen on the Lost, São José and Waterfall Trails.|
|Ferruginous Antbird Drymophila ferruginea (AF/B)||1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July and 3 there on 25 July.|
|Scaled Antbird Drymophila squamata (AF/B)||2 on the Purple Trail on 30 May, 2 females on the Lost Trail on 11 July, 1 female on the Lost Trail on 14 July, a pair on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|White-shouldered Fire-eye Pyriglena leucoptera (AF)||1 male on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July and a pair on the Papagaio Trail on the 17 July.|
|White-bibbed Antbird Myrmeciza loricata (B)||1-2 on the Lost Trail on 14 July and a pair near the top of the São José Trail on 28 July.|
|Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma||Seen on the Waterfall Trail, date not recorded.|
|Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona||1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July.|
|Black-cheeked Gnateater Conopophaga melanops (AF/B)||1 male on São José Trail on 21 May, a pair on the Waterfall Trail (post 2400) on 22 May, 1 male on the Lost Trail on 25 May, 1 male on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July, 1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Slaty Bristlefront Merulaxis ater (B)||1 female seen well and 1 male seen poorly on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July, 1 heard on the Waterfall Trail on 25 July.|
|Sharpbill Oxyruncus cristatus||1 heard only on the Elfin Forest Trail and 1 seen well in Nicholas and Raquel's garden (near Casa Pesquisa) on 18 July. 1 heard and another seen on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Shrike-like Cotinga Laniisoma elegans||1 seen poorly singing on the São José Trail on 20 May, 1 male seen and photographed at close range on the Waterfall Trail (by the trail signposted to Poco Verde) on 9 June, and 1 male on the São José Trail on 28 July.|
|Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis (AF)||Silent throughout most of our time at REGUA, birds started calling in July. A few heard at Casa Pesquisa and 2 seen on the Lost Trail on 14 July, 1 male seen on the Waterfall Trail on 25 July.|
|White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus||Fairly common around the reserve and regular in the lodge garden and at the lodge wetland. The Nursery Trail was the best area where lekking birds (mainly males) were seen on most visits (by post 750).|
|Blue Manakin Chiroxiphia caudata (AF)||Seen frequently (more often males) on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal, and the Lost, Purple, São José and Waterfall Trails. 2 males seen displaying on the São José Trail on 28 July were particularly noteworthy.|
|Pin-tailed Manakin Ilicura militaris (AF/B)||1 male on the Waterfall Trail on 22 May, 1+ on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July. Other times heard on the Waterfall Trail and on unmarked trails.|
|Greenish Schiffornis Schiffornis virescens||1 near the top of the São José Trail on 28 July.|
|Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster||Seen at the lodge wetland.|
|Sooty Tyrannulet Serpophaga nigricans||1 at the lodge wetland on 3 June and 2 there on 24 July.|
|Gray-hooded Flycatcher Mionectes rufiventris (AF)||Several poorly seen birds seen around the reserve. 1 seen well on the Waterfall Trail on 25 July.|
|Oustalet's Tyrannulet Phylloscartes oustaleti (B)||1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Planalto Tyrannulet Phyllomyias fasciatus||2 in the overgrown garden at Casa Anibal on 14 July.|
|Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant Hemitriccus orbitatus (AF/B)||1 on the Purple Trail on 6 June and 1 on the Lost Trail on 11 July.|
|Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum poliocephalum (AF/B)||Seen frequently at the lodge wetland, around the volunteer houses and on the Nursery Trail. Also 1 in the lodge garden on 15 June.|
|Southern Antpipit Corythopis delalandi||1 on the Purple Trail on 30 May, and 1 seen very well on the Waterfall Trail on 8 June.|
|White-throated Spadebill Platyrinchus mystaceus||1 just off the Lost Trail on 30 May, 1 along the São José Trail on 4 June and 1 on an unmarked trail on Schincariol land (adjacent to and managed by REGUA) on 14 June.|
|Bran-colored Flycatcher Myiophobus fasciatus||2 at the lodge wetland on 3 June.|
|Whiskered (Sulphur-rumped/Yellow-rumped) Flycatcher Myiobius barbatus (B)||1 on the Waterfall Trail in a species mixed flock on 22 May, and 1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Cliff Flycatcher Hirundinea ferruginea||1 by the barn along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa (opposite the turning to the footbridge over the Guapi Assu River) on 22 May, and 1 there on 14 July.|
|Euler's Flycatcher Lathrotriccus euleri||1 on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July, and 1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus||1 in the open area at the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 26 May.|
|White-rumped Monjita Xolmis velata||Seen frequently along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa. The highest count was 3 there on 22 May.|
|Blue-billed Black-Tyrant Knipolegus cyanirostris||1 on the Elfin Forest Trail (by post 1500) on 18 July.|
|White-headed Marsh-Tyrant Arundinicola leucocephala||Common at the lodge wetland.|
|Yellow-browed Tyrant Satrapa icterophrys||1 at the lodge wetland on 7, 19, 30 June and 24 July.|
|Long-tailed Tyrant Colonia colonus||1 in the open area at the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May, 1+ there on 26 May, 1 there on 14 July, 2 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July and 1+ on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July.|
|Cattle Tyrant Machetornis rixosus||Seen occasionally at the lodge wetland.|
|Gray-hooded Attila Attila rufus (AF/B)||1 on the São José Trail on 21 May, 1 on the Waterfall Trail on 22 May and 1 on the Waterfall Trail on 18 July.|
|Grayish Mourner Rhytipterna simplex||2 on the Elfin Forest Trail (by post 1600) on 25 July.|
|Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus||Abundant in open areas, especially at the lodge wetland.|
|Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua||1 on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 6 June and 1+ on the Light Blue Trail near the lodge on 24 July. I almost certainly overlooked this species.|
|Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis||Seen frequently at the lodge wetland and in the lodge garden.|
|Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus||Seen frequently at the lodge wetland.|
|Chestnut-crowned Becard Pachyramphus castaneus||1+ on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus||A pair on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Black-tailed Tityra Tityra cayana||1 seen in the open area at the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May.|
|Brown-chested Martin Progne tapera||Seen frequently.|
|Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea||Seen frequently.|
|Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca||Seen frequently.|
|Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis||Seen frequently, especialy around the lodge wetland.|
|Yellowish Pipit Anthus lutescens||Seen in grassy fields around the lodge wetland.|
|Moustached Wren Thryothorus genibarbis||2 on the São José Trail on 20 May and 2 on the Light Blue Trail by the lodge on 24 July.|
|Long-billed Wren Thryothorus longirostris (B)||Seen occasionally (but often poorly) on the Light Blue Trail by the lodge. The best spot was between where the trail enters the trees and where it meets the small stream on the left - around post 150. Look in the bushes on the left and also in the palms. The best views were 1 on the Light Blue Trail on 7 July and 2 at the open area at the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 14 July.|
|House Wren Troglodytes aedon||A pair, probably breeding, seen regularly in a disused building behind the volunteer houses, and 1 at the lodge wetland on 24 July.|
|Chalk-browed Mockingbird Mimus saturninus||Seen regularly at the lodge wetland and in the lodge garden.|
|Yellow-legged Thrush Platycichla flavipes||2 on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May, 1 male on the Purple Trail on 3 May, 1 female on the Lost Trail on 11 July, 1 male on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July, 2 males on the Lost Trail on 14 July and 1 male on the Lost Trail on 18 July.|
|Rufous-bellied Thrush Turdus rufiventris||Seen frequently, especially at the fruit feeders in the lodge garden and at Casa Pesquisa. Other sightings were 2 on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May and 1 on the Nursery Trail on 30 June.|
|Pale-breasted (bellied) Thrush Turdus leucomelas||1 in the lodge garden on 15 June, 1 in the lodge garden on 4 July and 2 at the lodge wetland on 7 July.|
|Creamy-bellied Thrush Turdus amaurochalinus||3 in the lodge garden on 4 July.|
|White-necked Thrush Turdus albicollis||1 on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May and 1 on the Purple Trail on 6 June.|
|Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild||2 at the lodge wetland on 3, 7 and 30 June.|
|Red-eyed (Chivi) Vireo Vireo olivaceus||Seen regularly around the reserve.|
|Rufous-crowned Greenlet Hylophilus poicilotis||1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July.|
|Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis||1 on the Lost Trail on 6 June.|
|Tropical Parula Parula pitiayumi||Seen infrequently around the reserve.|
|Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culicivorus||1 on the Lost Trail on 14 June and 1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July.|
|Bananaquit Coereba flaveola||Seen regularly around the feeders in the lodge garden and at Casa Pesquisa.|
|Chestnut-vented Conebill Conirostrum speciosum||1 on the Waterfall Trail on 22 May and 1 at the lodge wetland on 2 June. Also seen on a number of other occasions at the lodge wetland but dates not recorded.|
|Rufous-headed Tanager Hemithraupis ruficapilla (AF/B)||1 on the São José Trail on 20 May, 1 on the São José Trail on 21 May, 1+ on the Waterfall Trail on 22 May, 1 just off the Lost Trail on 30 May, 1+ males on the Waterfall Trail on 19 June, 1+ males on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July, 1 male on the Eflin Forest Trail on 18 July and 1 on the Waterfall Trail on 25 July.|
|Yellow-backed Tanager Hemithraupis flavicollis||Seen frequently around the reserve.|
|Flame-crested Tanager Tachyphonus cristatus||Seen frequently around the reserve.|
|Ruby-crowned Tanager Tachyphonus coronatus (AF)||Seen frequently around the reserve.|
|Black-goggled Tanager Trichothraupis melanops||Frequently seen around the reserve, often in small groups. They were the dominant species present at the ant swarms we encountered. Females/imms. seemed more common than males.|
|Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Habia rubica||1 male on the Waterfall Trail on 22 May. Others seen occasionally around the reserve but date of sightings not recorded.|
|Brazilian Tanager Ramphocelus bresilius (AF/B)||Frequently seen around the reserve, often in small groups of up to 4 birds (males were more common). The most reliable sites were the lodge garden, lodge wetland and the open area at the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal.|
|Sayaca Tanager Thraupis sayaca||Seen regularly in the lodge garden and at Casa Pesquisa. Also 3 at Casa Anibal on 14 July.|
|Azure-shouldered Tanager Thraupis cyanoptera (AF/B)||1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Golden-chevroned Tanager Thraupis ornata (AF/B)||Several coming to bananas at Casa Pesquisa on 7 June, and 1 on the Lost Trail on 11 July.|
|Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum||1+ in the lodge garden on 4 July was my only record.|
|Fawn-breasted Tanager Pipraeidea melanonota||1 on the Waterfall Trail between posts 0 and 50 on 9 June.|
|Violaceous Euphonia Euphonia violacea||Common at the feeders in the lodge garden and at Casa Pesquisa. Also 1 male on the Lost Trail on 11 July.|
|Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster||1 male on the Purple Trail on 30 May.|
|Chestnut-bellied Euphonia Euphonia pectoralis (AF)||Seen regularly around the reserve. The Lost and Waterfall Trails were the best areas.|
|Blue-naped Chlorophonia Chlorophonia cyanea||A few seen on the Purple Trail on 30 May, 1 coming to the fruit feeders in the lodge garden on 4 July.|
|Turquoise Tanager Tangara mexicana||2 seen on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May and a few coming to bananas at Casa Pesquisa on 7 and 8 June.|
|Green-headed Tanager Tangara seledon (AF)||Seen frequently around the reserve. They also often visited bananas hung up at Casa Pesquisa.|
|Red-necked Tanager Tangara cyanocephala (AF)||1+ on the Waterfall Trail on 9 June, several on the Waterfall Trail on 19 June, 2+ on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July, 4 at Casa Pesquisa on 14 July, 1 on the Waterfall Trail on 25 July, 2 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Brassy-breasted Tanager Tangara desmaresti (B)||1 on the Waterfall Trail (by post 1050) on 13 July and 1 at the top of the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 14 July.|
|Burnished-buff Tanager Tangara cayana||2 in the lodge garden on 27 May, 1 in the lodge garden on 15 June, 2+ in the lodge garden on 4 July. Also seen on the Nursery Trail but date not recorded.|
|Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana||Seen frequently around the reserve and often coming to feeders.|
|Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina||Several on the Nursery Trail on 30 June. Note that many grassquits were seen frequently around the lodge wetland and nearby farmland, and were presumably this species (note that I did neglect the grassquits).|
|Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis||1 male along the road by Guapi Assu village, just outside the reserve.|
|Double-collared Seedeater Sporophila caerulescens||1 male along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa on 14 July. Also seen on other occasions but dates not recored (note that I did neglect the seedeaters).|
|White-bellied Seedeater Sporophila leucoptera||1 male at the lodge wetland on 3 June.|
|Blackish-blue Seedeater Amaurospiza moesta||Fairly common at higher altitudes on the Eflin Forest Trail on 18 July.|
|Uniform Finch Haplospiza unicolor||2 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola||Abundant around the lodge wetland and in open areas.|
|Red-cowled Cardinal Paroaria dominicana||2 on a farm driveway along the road just outside the entrance to the reserve on 8 June.|
|Grassland Sparrow Ammodramus humeralis||2 along the dirt road just outside the entrace to the reserve on 8 June.|
|Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus||Seen in the lodge garden.|
|Black-throated Grosbeak Saltator fuliginosus (AF)||A pair on the São José Trail on 20 May, 1 on São José Trail on 21 May, 1 on Lost Trail 25 May, 1 on Waterfall Trail on 19 June, 1 on the Waterfall Trail on 13 July, 2 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July and 1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 18 July.|
|Yellow-green Grosbeak Caryothraustes canadensis||Several just before the house on the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal on 25 May.|
|Chestnut-capped Blackbird Chrysomus ruficapillus||Many seen at the far end of the lodge wetland, associating with Shiny Cowbirds.|
|White-browed Blackbird Sturnella superciliaris||3 males and a few females in fields along road leading to Casa Pesquisa (near the junction of the Mitumbo Road) on 13 July.|
|Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis||Many seen at the far end of the lodge wetland, associating with Chestnut-capped Blackbirds.|
|Red-rumped Cacique Cacicus haemorrhous||Seen frequently around the reserve, especially at the lodge wetland, Nursery Trail and in the lodge garden.|
|House Sparrow Passer domesticus||A pair along the dirt road just outside the entrance to the reserve on 8 June was my only record.|
Large mammals are generally scarce in the Atlantic Forest due to the extensive hunting that continues there. At REGUA rangers patrol the reserve daily to deter hunters, and large mammals are starting to make a comeback. Notably, REGUA holds a population of the rare Woolly Spider Monkey (Brachyteles arachnoides) which are being seen more regularly. These are the mammals we recorded at REGUA.
|Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth Bradypus variegatus||Seen regularly on the Waterfall Trail. Also 1 on the Papagaio Trail on 17 July, and 1 on the Elfin Forest Trail on 25 July.|
|Nine-banded Long-nosed Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus||1 by the volunteer houses on the edge of the lodge wetland on 9 July.|
|Brown Howler Monkey Alouatta fusca||Heard only on the Elfin Forest Trail, date not recorded.|
|Brown Capuchin Monkey Cebus apella||2+ on the Waterfall Trail (by post 2300) on 19 June, and 2+ on the Elfin Forest Trail (by post 1500) on 18 July.|
|Crab-eating Fox Cerdocyon thous||1 on farmland just outside of the reserve, date not recorded.|
|South American Coati Nasua nasua||2+ on the Lost Trail (by post 1350) on 14 June.|
|Greater Grison Galictis vittata||1 on the Nursery Trail in the replanted area (before post 650) on 30 June.|
|Capybara Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris||Seen at the lodge wetland, date not recorded.|
|Guianan Squirrel Sciurus aestuans||2 on the São José Trail on 20 May.|
|Azara’s Agouti Dasyprocta azarae||1 on the Nursery Trail (by post 1250) on 30 June.|
Other Sites Visited
There are several excursions that run from the lodge to other nearby birding sites. By joining a few of these and also visiting some other areas independently, I managed to see a further 58 species. Many more species are possible at other sites closeby, however, as this was not a dedicated birding trip I didn't manage to visit many of these.
Macaé de Cima – 15 July
A high altitude site at around 1400 m in the Serra dos Órgãos mountains near the city of Nova Friburgo. The reserve is privately owned by orchid expert David Miller, and access has been negotiated for birders staying at Guapi Assu Bird Lodge. This is one of the easiest sites to access the high altitude birds. Target species here include: Scale-throated Hermit, Plovercrest, White-throated Hummingbird, Brazilian Ruby, Pallid Spinetail, Black-billed Scythebill, Rufous Gnateater, Black-and-gold Cotinga and Hooded Berryeater.
I didn’t have a hire car so I joined one of the full day excursions from the lodge. We left at 05:00 to arrive at the prime time for bird activity (it’s a 1.5 hour drive from REGUA). It cost us US$80 to hire the driver and van (which can carry a maximum of 11 guests), and a further US$80 to hire the lodge bird guide. However, this was split per person, and so worked out as good value for our group. The lodge provided a packed lunch (no extra charge). Leonardo, the lodge bird guide, knew exactly where to look for each species, and we saw most of our target birds within a couple of hours.
We stopped to bird at various points along the road leading to the reserve entrance, but the best birding area was past the reserve entrance, along the last kilometre or so of the road before reaching the top, where David Miller’s house is located. The garden here was also very productive and contains hummingbird feeders that provided excellent photographic opportunities.
Key species recorded:
White-necked Hawk (1), Black Hawk-Eagle (1-2), Scale-throated Hermit (1+ at the feeders), Plovercrest (1 feeding on roadside flowers just before the garden entrance), Violet-capped Woodnymph, White-throated Hummingbird (Several at the feeders), Brazilian Ruby (Several at the feeders), Spot-billed Toucanet (2 in the garden), White-browed Foliage-Gleaner (1), Buff-browed Foliage-Gleaner (1), Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner (1), White-collared Foliage-Gleaner (1), Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper (1), Olivaceous Woodcreeper (1), Black-billed Scythebill (1), Plain Antvireo (1), Brazilian (Rufous-tailed) Antthrush (1), Rufous Gnateater (1 seen by the group I was with but poorly by me), Sharpbill (1), Black-and-gold Cotinga (1 female in the garden seen and many heard), Hooded Berryeater (2 along the road just outside the garden), Pin-tailed Manakin (1 female), Greenish Schiffornis (1), Gray-hooded Flycatcher (1), Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet (2), Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher (1), Cliff Flycatcher (1), Rufous-crowned Greenlet (3), Rufous-browed Peppershrike (1-2), White-rimmed Warbler (1), Azure-shouldered Tanager (2) and Brassy-breasted Tanager (1).
Rio de Janeiro - 24 May, 2 and 6 July
For any birders visiting Rio, a visit to the coast and the botanical gardens is well worthwhile. The botanical gardens (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro) are a good place to spend a few hours, and many of the birds are quite used to people and approachable (in fact the guans are ridiculous). The 140 hectare gardens are located in the Jardim Botânico district and have two entrances, one at 920 and another (with a car park) at 1008 Rua Jardim Botânico (Jardim Botânico Street). The gardens are very safe to walk around and have a cafe, gift shop and toilets. They are open 08:00 to 17:00 daily and the entrance fee is R$4 per person (plus R$4 for parking). Target species in Rio include: Brown Boobie from the beaches, and Rusty-margined Guan, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail and Channel-billed Toucan in the botanical gardens. Introduced White-tufted-ear Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus jacchus) are also easy to see in the botanical gardens.
Key species recorded:
Brown Boobie, Magnificent Frigatebird, Rusty-margined Guan, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Kelp Gull, Channel-billed Toucan, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Red-necked Tanager and White-tufted-ear Marmoset.
Serra dos Órgãos National Park – 16
This 12,000 hectare national park, just outside the city of Teresópolis (about an hour and a half drive from REGUA), offers excellent high altitude birding. Target species at higher altitudes here include Pallid Spinetail, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Diademed Tanager and Bay-chested Warbling-Finch. The park is also one of the best places to try for the vulnerable Gray-winged Cotinga, although this requires a lengthy dedicated hike (three hours non-stop) to the right area (above 1800 m along the Pedra do Sino Trail, often around the hillside opposite the first camp site at 1900 m). At lower altitudes Black-throated Piping-Guan can be found, but they are difficult.
I joined a birding excursion from the lodge. It cost US$80 for the van and driver and another US$80 to hire the lodge bird guide, split between all of us and the lodge provided a packed lunch (no extra charge). The park is open 08:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Sunday and it cost R$12 (about £3) per person to get in. We left at 06:30 to arrive at opening. There are camping facilities available. Due to time constraints we visited on a weekend and found the trails to be very busy with hoards of noisy people. Although the crowds didn’t seem to bother the birds too much, it was sometimes difficult to listen for them. If possible try and choose a day during the week as it will be much quieter.
We concentrated on birding the high altitude Pedra do Sino Trail which starts at 1100 m climbing to 2263 m. To reach the trail drive through the park to the last car park. The trail is sign posted and climbs steadily but not too steeply. To start with you pass through evergreen and bamboo forest, but the trees gradually reduce in size as you gain altitude. Where the trail opens out towards the top the scenery is very dramatic. We spent about four or five hours walking leisurely up but walked more or less straight down, taking only about 1.5 hours to get back to the van.
Key species recorded:
Pallid Spinetail (1), White-browed Foliage-Gleaner (1), Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper (1), Olivaceous Woodcreeper (2), Rufous-backed Antvireo (1), Rufous-tailed Antbird (1-2), Mouse-colored Tapaculo (1), Sharpbill (1 heard only), Swallow-tailed Cotinga (13 together in the same tree as a singing Black-and-gold Cotinga, at the point in the trail about 45 minutes past the small bridge, where the view opens out and you can see down to the city of Teresópolis), Black-and-gold Cotinga (1+ male), Hooded Berryeater (1+), Pin-tailed Manakin (1 heard only), Olivaceous Elania (1), Blue-billed Black Tyrant (1), Shear-tailed Gray Tyrant (2+), Diademed Tanager (2-3), Brassy-breasted Tanager (Many), Bay-chested Warbling-Finch (A good sized flock seen), Green-winged Saltator (1).
Serra dos Tucanos - 15 July
Serra dos Tucanos is another birding lodge about an hour's drive from REGUA. This lodge is owned and run by British birder Andy Foster, who now lives in Brazil with his wife Christina (they are good friends with Nicholas and Raquel at REGUA). Serra dos Tucanos is a beautiful lodge located at a higher altitude than REGUA. It has easier access to some higher altitude species, although some lowland species are absent. I spent a couple of hours birding around the lodge grounds and watching the feeders.
Key species recorded:
Maroon-bellied Parakeet (4), Sombre Hummingbird (1+), Black Jacobin (1), Spot-billed Toucanet (a pair), Ferruginous Antbird (1-2), Chestnut-crowned Becard (1-2), Rufous-browed Peppershrike (1), Golden-chevroned Tanager (1), Orange-bellied Euphonia (1 male), Chestnut-bellied Euphonia (a pair), Red-necked Tanager (a few) and Rufous-collared Sparrow (1).
Sumidouro – 20 July
I was invited by Andy Foster to join him and his guests on one of his excursions to Sumidouro - one of the best sites to see the endangered and endemic Three-toed Jacamar. Other target species on this trip include Red-legged Seriema, Blue-winged Macaw, White-eared Puffbird, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Curl-crested Jay and Gilt-edged Tanager.
Sumidouro lies on the other side of the Serra dos Órgãos mountains. The landscape here is a stark contrast to the lush forests of the coastal slope, with vast open grassy fields and tiny patches of degraded dry forest. This trip entailed spending most of the day driving (covering a fair distance), making numerous stops at known sites beside the roads on route to Sumidouro. We had a very successful day, with Curl-crested Jay being about the only target bird we missed. I would highly recommend Serra dos Tucanos and Andy’s day trips to anyone. This excursion is also available from Guapi Assu Bird Lodge.
Key species recorded:
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (1), Bicolored Hawk (1), Crowned (Solitary) Eagle (1 seen on route on the RT-144. This species is being seen more regularly in this area), White-tailed Hawk (3), American Kestrel (1), Bat Falcon (2), Red-legged Seriema, Blue-winged Macaw (A few at Sumidouro), White-eyed Parakeet (Several), Blue-winged Parrolet (1), Scaly-headed Parrot (2), Barn Owl (1 at Sumidouro), Sapphire-spangled Emerald, (1 at Sumidouro), Three-toed Jacamar (2 at Sumidouro), White-eared Puffbird (1 at Sumidouro), Firewood-gatherer (1), Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet (1), Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher (1), Hangnest Tody-Tyrant (1), Common Tody-Flycatcher (1 at Sumidouro), Yellow-olive Flycatcher (1 at Sumidouro), Streamer-tailed Tyrant (5), Tawny-headed Swallow (2), Black-capped Donacobius (3), Orange-headed Tanager (1), Gilt-edged Tanager (Several), Uniform Finch (Several), Crested Oropendola (1 at Sumidouro), Hooded Siskin (1). Also White-tufted-ear Marmoset was seen at Sumidouro.
During our trip we visited many amazing places including the Amazon, Andes, Galapagos, Patagonia and the Pantanal, and it is no exaggeration to say that REGUA remains one of our favourites. The Serra dos Órgãos mountains are beautiful and it was fascinating to spend so long in one place and get to know it well. We both hope to return in the near future. REGUA are making a huge effort to protect the Atlantic Forest of the Guapi Assu area, and most importantly, they are doing so by involving the local community. We had an unforgettable experience and thoroughly enjoyed making a contribution to the project. You can help them simply by visiting.
I really enjoyed the birding at REGUA and the mixed species flocks were some of the largest and most diverse I saw anywhere on our whole trip. Even as a novice in Brazil birding mainly alone, I recorded a total of 268 species - 210 at REGUA and the rest on just a few excursions from the lodge - and that was with me being unfamiliar with the birds, leaving many unidentified, and not trying for a high species total. The variety of species available make REGUA a very worthwhile visit on any birding itinerary to the Atlantic Forest.
If you have any questions then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel and I would like to express our sincerest thanks to Nicholas and Raquel Locke for making our stay at REGUA so welcome and enjoyable, to Andy Foster for an excellent excursion to Sumidouro, and to Sam Woods of Tropical Birding for putting us in touch with REGUA in the first place.
(i) Conservation International website.
(ii) Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation, Stattersfield, AJ, et al, BirdLife International (1998).