Last Updated on 18 August 2016

Trip Report to Brazil (including a small section of Argentina)

27-08-2015 to 19-09-2015

Black Jacobin - Guapiau - 2015-09-17 - 05 copy X

Black Jacobin at the garden of Guapiacu Birdlodge.

General Information
This is a report on a birding trip we made to Brazil in august-september 2015. Being one of the prime birding destinations in the world this country was high on our wanted list. The main goal of the trip was to see as many bird species as possible, as well as taking loads of pictures of them whenever possible. During the trip we recorded 499 species of bird and 26 mammal species. The places we visited included Pirai, Itatiaia, Pantanal, Chapada dos Guimaraes, Iguacu falls, REGUA, Serra dos Orgaos and Macae de Cima. From Iguacu town we also visited the Argentinan side of the falls and birded one full day in Argentina (Urugua-I State Park and San Sebatian de la Selva) with a guide.

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White-bearded Antshrike along one of the Excellent hiking trails at Itatiaia.

Among the best birds seen during this trip were Itatiaia Spinetail, White-bearded Antshrike, Brown-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, Hooded Berry-eater, Plovercrest, Sharpbill, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Riverbank Warbler, Half-collared Sparrow, Black-legged Dacnis and Bay-chested Warbling-Finch. On the mammals we did particularly well as we managed to find most targets and even more than that: Brazilian Porcupine, Brazilian Cavy, Tayra, Azara's Agouti, Giant Anteater, Crab-eating Racoon, Southern Tamandua, Giant Otter, Jaguar and South American Tapir all put in an appearance. The star of the mammals was undoubtedly the Maned Wolf (or wolves) that we found on two separate nights at Chapada dos Guimaraes. In this report we will discuss the areas we visited and elaborate in detail which species we saw there.

 Plovercrest - Itatiaia - 2015-08-30 - 06

Plovercrest, one of the many rare bird species we found during this trip.

We stayed in a variety of accommodations including hotels and chalets all of which were of good quality. For a discussion of all accommodations in more detail please refer to the "Accommodations" section further on in this report.

All photographs displayed are produced during this trip. For each photo details are included about what it depicts and where the picture is taken. All photographs produced during this trip can be found at the travel picture gallery. All pictures are copyrighted but we are happy to provide you with a high res copy upon request. All the major bird (and other) observations of this trip can also be found at Observado, a website where one can enter their nature-related sightings. Details include the location, number of birds seen and sometimes details of the particular sighting as well. All other observations recorded during various other trips can be found at Observado as well.

In this report the names of each bird and of all important places we visited are typed in bold. This should make it easier to scan through the report for the information you’re after or skip the parts you are not interested in.

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Giant Otter at the Sarare River near Mato Grosso Hotel.

If any questions still remain after reading this report or if would like some help while you're planning a trip to Brazil yourself, please do not hesitate to contact us and we'll try to help you as much as possible. For future reference you may want to download this report in PDF format.

Guides in Brazil

As safety might be an issue and considering this was our first visit to the country we decided to join a guide straight upon arrival to Rio de Janiero. Ricardo Barbosa picked us up from the airport and guided us around Itatiaia and surrounding areas for the first 5 days. Ricardo, besides a really excellent guide, was great to hang out with and we had the best of times together.

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Ricardo Barbosa, our guide during our stay in Itatiaia. Besides being a great guide who knows his way around the Brazilian birds, he's nothing short of a pleasure to spend time with!

At REGAU (Guapiacu Bird Lodge) we made no prior arrangements for guiding, which worked out fine. REGUA works with lots of volunteers that stay there for some time and show tourists around. Their knowlegde varies according to the length of their stay, so "investigate" who will be joining you if you have special requests. Besides that, one (native Brazilian) guide, Adelay, has been at Guapiacu Bird Lodge for ages and knows every thing there is to know, including the sounds, of course. If you want to maximize the results of your stay at REGUA, be sure to have him guide you as much as possible. It's impossible to book one particular guide when staying at REGUA, as well as wanting to keep one for yourself. At REGUA all guests will be joining one another whenever they want to visit the same spots. This might cause conflicts if one part of the group has other wishes or demands than the other but in our case it did not.

In the Pantanal we birded on our own, although we did two full day boat tours in order to find Jaguar. The guide that accompanied us during these trips had no knowlegde of the birds so birding was restricted to the species we identified ourselves. Consquently we missed out on a lot of Pantanal specialties.

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Black-fronted Piping-Guan at Urugua-I State Park.

Finally, in Argentina we birded one full day in the San Sebastian de la Selva and Urugua-i State Parks under the skilled guidance of Guy Cox. Although he charges an outrageous rate this was a very productive day with lots of species recorded that we didn't see anywhere else.


Itinerary

 27-28 Aug - Flight Amsterdam - Rio de Janeiro.

 28 Aug - Drive to, Itatiaia including lenghty birding session at Pirai. Stay at hotel Do Ype

 28-31 Aug- Visiting Itatiaia (lower and higher section) and some small area nearby

 01-04 Sep - Birding Chapada dos Guimaraes, stay at Pousada do Parque

 04-10 Sep - Birding Pantanal including two days boat trip for Jaguar, Stay at Pouso Alegre, Mato Grosso Hotel, Jaguar Ecolocigal Reserve and Pousada Piuval.

 11 Sep - Domestic flight to Iguacu, stay at San Martin Hotel

 12 Sep - Full day birding in San Sebastian de la Selva and Uruga-i State Park

 12-13 Sep - Visit to Brazilian and Argentinian side of Iguacu falls. Birding at San Martin Hotel

 14 Sep - Domestic flicght to Rio de Janeiro, stay at Guapiacu Bird Lodge

 14-18 Sep - Birding at REGUA area as well as Macae de Cima and Serra dos Orgaos

 18-19 Sep - Flight Rio de Janeiro - Amsterdam


Transportation and getting around

Contrary to most of our other foreign travels we only hired a car when visiting the Pantanal and Chapada dos Guimaraes. This was picked up and returned at the airport of Cuiaba, very conveniently. Driving was easy and except finding the way back to the Cuiaba airport all planned destinations were easy to find using a navigation app on our mobile phone. One downside of this app (which we therefore do not recommend) is that it sometimes did not show all roads that we were driving on and in the case of finding the Cuiaba airport even sent us to a spot far away from it which almost caused us to miss our domestic flight to Iguacu!

Besides the car that we rented for about a week, we were guided around by Ricardo Barbosa who used his own vehicle for the four days at Itatiaia. At Iguacu we booked an accomodation next to the entrance of the Brazilian sides of the falls, so no transport was needed there. The daytrip to Argentina was conducted by a taxi driver (who will no doubt be mentioned in this report later on). The transport to and from REGUA was arranged by the accomodation.

Weather

Due to the vastness of the country and the many different habitats the wheater system in Brazil is complex, although generally it can be described as being tropical or subtropical. We visited 4 different regions which varied from being warm and humid (Itatiaia, REGUA), very hot and very humid with some heavy rains (Pantanal), to more temperate (Iguacu and higer elevations near REGUA). Nights were cold in Iguacu but pleasantly cool in all other places. Generally we had lots of sunshine with hardly any rain, and we were lucky to have just departed before the rain (Itatiaia) or heaving arrived after (a week of torrential) rain at REGUA.

We did not totally escape bad weather though as we had 24 hours of heavy downpour while staying at the Pantanal just prior to our departure from Jaguar Ecological Reserve. This meant that the Transpantaneira was almost impossible to drive on as the road surface had turned into one giant muddy mess. A sticky muddy mess actually, made even worse by the many big trucks that already tried to beat the road conditions. We had to drive over some very nasty parts and, miraculously, we managed to get through without getting ourselves stuck despite the many trucks and pickup trucks (which were much better equiped for this) that had slipped off the road before us.

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Driving the Transpantaneira in less-than-ideal conditions.

Safety

Safety in Brazil can be a very serious risk. Especially the reputation of the city of Rio de Janeiro is very bad (although that of Sao Paolo is even worse) and for this reason we decided not to drive this part of the country on our own. Looking back it would have been possible but on beforehand the risk of ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time (and be exposed to some nasty experiences) did not really appeal to us. Ricardo Barbosa, who lives in Rio (and admitted hearing gunshots that very same morning from his home and even pointing out the very place on the highway at which he fell victim to a car robbery) knows the roads very well as well as many spots that are worth visiting along the way to or from your next birding destination. Despite it's bad reputation the city of Rio did not live up to it and we actually never felt unsafe there. Driving ourselves around Cuiaba, Chapada dos Guimaraes and Pantanal was excellent and we felt safe everywhere. The same is true for the REGUA and Iguacu areas. As always it's wise to be careful and inquire the local do's and dont's wherever you go.

Currency

The Brazilian national currency is the Real which at the time of our trip was worth around 0,25. ATM's are available everywere but we had difficulties getting money out of one with our Maestro bank cards and even our credit card. After a few days we discovered that the amount to withdraw should be fairly low (around 200) after that all went well. Acutally, not all went well as during one of our many attempts to withdraw money our creditcard got skimmed, after which the credit card company decided to block all transaction attempts on it. After that we got much more careful and hoped that our bank cards would not suffer the same, which we where glad didn't happen. Two illegal attempts were made to withdraw money from the credit card which both were blocked bij VISA.

Literature

For identification of the birds we used "A field guide to the birds of Brazil" by van Perlo. Despite the sometimes poorly detailed images it is still one of the main resources to carry along when visiting the country.

In addition, in a gift shop in Pocone we bought the Portugese photographic bird guide "Aves do Pantanal" by Endrigo. One of the main advantages of this book is that it's very concise and only deals with the species that are found in and close to the Pantanal. This guide helped us out on several occasions where the van Perlo guide depicted the bird in question plain wrong (for instance Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant) and was therefore considered a welcome addition to our library.

For preparation and local reference on the spots we visited we bought "A Birdwatching guide to south east Brazil" by Honkala and Niiranen. This 380 page book is actually a "Where to watch birds" and photographic bird guide all in one as the first 180 pages deal with the best places to visit in this sub region. The rest depicts photographs (and if none were available, drawings) of all birds to be encountered in the south eastern region.

If visiting REGUA (Guapiacu Birdlodge) one thing to consider is to purchase "Aves da Serra dos Argaos" by Mello & Mello, a very neat photograpic guide of the birds of the Serra dos Orgaos region with a unique presentation. Like the afore mentioned guides this one focusses on the birds in the main birding ares around REGUA and features many high quality images of them as well. Descriptive texts are both in Portugese and English.


Food & Accommodation

During this trip we stayed in accommodation ranging from hotels to spaceous cabins, all of which were of good quality (although the Cuiaba hotel was extremely hot inside the rooms). Most of them included all meals. Having lunch in Brazil is typically more like having dinner with a high variety of food items including meat, salads and vegetables. Food quality was usually good and left nothing to wish for. Staff was always friendly and served any needs that we had. Many accommodations were selected to be in a natural habitat although the ones in Rio de Janeiro and Cuiaba were at the heart of urban areas. Best accommodation in terms of birding were Hotel do Ype at Itatiaia and Pousada do Parque at Chapada dos Guimaraes. Many of the accommodations featured feeding stations and/or hummingbird feeders which made leaving the hotel difficult at times. Especially at Hotel do Ype many good species visit the feeders and offer the best chance to see some most wanted birds, for instance Saffron Toucanet was only seen in the direct vicinity of the hotel and at extremely close range at the feeders.

 Hotel do Ype, Itatiaia

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The setting of the Hotel do Ype cabins is nothing but spectacular.

There is no better place for Hotel do Ype than in the heart of the Itatiaia National Park. It hosts many spaceous cabins as well as hotel style rooms. A stay in Hotel do Ype includes all meals, although any Brazilian lunch is typically more of an extensive diner. Hotel do Ype is a very popular get away during weekends when lunch is usually served in Brazilian barbeque style (lots of meat and even more side dishes, salads and vegetables) which adds to the Brazilian experience. We experienced some difficulties getting in contact with the hotel to make a reservation but were helped out by Ricardo Barbosa who made the arrangements for us.

The main attraction for any birdwatcher is the large extent of trails close to the hotel which makes up for easy doorstep birding in a spectacular scenery, not to mention loads of great species. To see the localized Itatiaia Spinetail one has to travel to the higher elevations of the National Park, many other species are to be found in this habitat as well. Another feature of Hote do Ype are the feeders that provide seeds, fruit and ofcourse the hummingbird feeders. All of them allow for close viewing (and photographing!) some very good birds.

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White-throated Hummingbird near the hummer feeders at Hotel do Ype.

Best birds seen at Itatiaia include Dusky-legged Guan, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Blue-winged Macaw, Plain Parakeet, Tawny-browed Owl. Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Bare-throated Bellbird, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and Uniform Finch. Hotel do Ype was the only place that we found Lowland Paca.

 Novotel Santos Dumont, Rio de Janeiro

We stayed at this hotel because of it's location right across the Santos Dumont domestic airport from which we flew to Iguacu the next morning. This business hotel is located right in dowtown Rio de Janeiro, has very spaceous rooms and a great shower. In terms of quality this was probably the best hotel we stayed at during our trip. No interesting birds were seen here, although Magnificent Frigatebirds were seen right from the doorstep.

 Pagaias Palace Hotel, Cuiaba

Like tho previous accommodation this one was selected to be close to the airport as well as being in a convenient location to leave for Chapada dos Guimaraes the next day. Rooms in this hotel (or at least the one we were in) was quite small and extremely hot while the air condition did not seem to do much to lower the temperature. Maybe the extremely high temperatures in Cuiaba (just over 40 °C) had something to do with it.

Pousada do Parque, Chapada dos Guimaraes

For anyone who will be visiting Chapada dos Guimaraes and with an interest in mammals, Pousada do Parque is THE place to stay! The property measures 500 hectares and is located 5 kilometres off main road 251. The entrance gate is somewhat unobtrusive but can be found with some help from the staff. From here an unpaved road runs takes you to the lodge.

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Main building of Pousada do Parque. You can just make out the rooftop of the sauna to the left, where a Maned Wolf appeared one night!

The view from the restaurant is stunning and although the accommodation features everything that one could wish for (including a swimming pool, gym and sauna) the best attraction is no doubt the mammals that can be found at the property. Very conveniently we brought our infrared wildlife camera to film whatever roamed around..

Among the mammals recorded at Pousada do Parque are Crab-eating Fox, Brazilian Porcupine (an arboreal species), Brown Capuchin Monkey and Brazilian Cavy. The star of this place however is Maned Wolf! Sightings of this great, strangely built mammal, seem to be fairly easy here as we found one on both two nights of our stay. One was on the entrance road, about 300 metres from the lodge, the other roamed around our cabin the second night and allowed excellent views! This species is notoriously difficult to see but sometimes it is found at Pousada Piuval and other places at the Pantanal. The unpaved road between the main road and the lodge was explored both during night and daytime, despite lots of Tapir footprints, suggesting that actually a lot occur there we did not find any.

Maned Wolf

Without any doubt Maned Wolf is the star attraction of Pousada do Parque, Chapada dos Guimaraes. Still image from wildlife camera.

For birds the accommodation is also very good. A trail starts not far from the restaurant which takes you down to a river (which was almost dry during our visit) from which some specialties of Chapada dos Guimaraes can be found, especially Red-and-green Macaw, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Tropical Screech-Owl, White-vented Violet-ear, White-throated Toucan, Large-billed Antwren, Band-tailed Manakin, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Purple Honeycreeper and Black-throated Saltator.

At night lots of nightjars were found around the restaurant, including Common Pauraque, Little-, Spot-tailed- and Rufous Nightjar.

Pouso Alegre Lodge, Pantanal

Pouso Alegre is located about 27 kilometres south of Pocone city a few kilometres off the MT-060, better known as the Transpantaneira. Its among the more basic accommodations in which we stayed in the Pantanal and serves communal meals in buffet style. The accommodation has a strong focus on wildlife and offers guided tours for both birdwatching and mammal viewing. All guides and other excursions are included in the rates and they go to great lenghts in arranging anything you'd like to do. We did not attend their services but went out on ouw own instead.

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Many good mammals can be found around the Pousada Piuval Lodge, including South American Tapir, Giant Anteater and Azara's Agouti (photo above).

Best birds seen at Pouso Alegre Lodge: South American Snipe, Monk Parakeet, Biscutate Swift, Red-billed Scythebill and Musician Wren.

 Pousada Rio Claro, Pantanal

Although we had booked a one night stay at Pousada Rio Claro, upon arrival we were told that they overbooked us. After some telephone calls they found us a place at Mato Grosse Hotel, some 35 kilometres further down the Transpantaneira. As we definitely wanted to do the night excursion at Pousada Rio Claro this meant that we would leave way after dark for Mato Grosso Hotel. During the excursion we did not see animals in big numbers but the quality was good, with Crab-eating Racoon and our second South American Tapir of the trip!

 Mato Grosso Hotel, Pantanal

Mato Grosso is a very popular hotel among local tourists and therefore can be quite busy at times. It features a swimming pool, pool table and lots of other things to keep one busy when not birding. As most other hotels meals are in buffet style and as always quite extensive.

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Mato Grosso hotel offers boat tours over the Sarare River to see Giant Otters, which was a chance not to be missed! During an early morning walk around the property lots of birds were found. Although most were common ones we also find some goodies including Blue-fronted Piping-Guan, Bare-faced Ibis, Turqouise-fronted Amazon, Little Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Greater Thornbird, Tropical Pewee, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee and Baywinged Cowbird.

 Pousada Piuval, Pantanal

Pousada Piuval is located at the beginning of the Transpantaneira, about 2 km off the main road and about 13 km from Pocone. The chalets we stayed in were clean although we'd not call it big by any means.
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 Some of the cabins at Pousada Piuval, Pantanal.

It's no problem te have an early breakfast and it's possible to attend excursions for general tourists, mostly to see the more tourist orientated stuff and less so in search of the special animals. For any avid nature lover it would probably be best to go out on your own as the succes rate will be much higher. This part of the Pantanal is filled with termite mounds which makes it the ideal place to find Giant Anteater. We had to put in quite some effort to see one but at Pousada Piuval we finally connected with it, just on the unpaved road that takes you from the Transpantaneira to the lodge. The Tayra and Southern Tamandua that we saw crossing the same road as well are eauwlly worth mentioning!

 Giant Anteater - Pantanal - 2015-09-10 - 27 copy X

We searched everywhere for Giant Anteater but only found it at Pousada Piuval during the very last hours of our stay at Pantanal!

In terms of birds Pusada Piuval held little surprises, many of the birds we saw here were also found elsewhere. In this respect Giant Wood-Rail, Chapada Flycatcher, Common Ground-Dove, Forest Elaenia, Rufous Cachalote and White-bellied and Seed-eater are worth mentioning as we only saw them at Pusada Piuval. Adding to the mammals mentioned earlier Collared Peccary was seen only at Pousada Piuval too.


Hotel San Martin, Iguacu

The Iguaca area appeals to many more than just the bird watcher which makes it very easy to find accommodation of any standard. After some research we found good reviews of the San Martin Hotel which has a few advantages over other accommodations in town. First it's situated 500 metres from the entrance to the Brazilian side of the falls. Second the helicopter landing platform is even closer, convenient for anyone who would like to take a helicopter ride over the amazing Iguacu Falls. Last but not least the hotel features 3 kilometres of walking trails through good forest, making it easy to see some of the areas specials right in the backyard of the hotel! Having said that I must add that birding in this forest on your own is quite difficult because of the tall and thick vegetation.

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Plush-crested Jay at the San Martin hotel grounds.

 Guapiacu Birdlodge (REGUA), Guapiacu

Of all the hotels we visited during this trip, Guapiacu Bird Lodge (a.k.a. REGUA) is most dedicated to birdwatchers. It actually started as a nature conservation program and accommodation for nature lovers. Since their start in 2004 lots of Atlantic rainforest has been restored and hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted in order to regrow what was once cut down. Although prices they charge are rather extreme this should not be a reason not to visit the place as any visitor doing so contributes to restoring the Atlantic rain forest piece by piece. Contrary to most other accommodation daily excursions are not included in the rates, expect about € 35,- for a half day excursion and between € 70,- to € 110,- for a full day excursion, depending on the distance covered that day.

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Common Marmoset.

In order to enjoy birds and mammals from the restaurant feeders are set up which attract Common Marmoset and a variety of hummingbirds, euphonias and tanagers.

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Violaceous Euphonia female at the feeders at Guapiacu Birdlodge.

Sites visited

Below all important sites we visited are described and discussed. For all sites usually only the species are mentioned that we only saw at 3 sites/occasions or less. This does not necessarily mean that those birds are among the most rare or sought-after. It just gives an impression of how commonly that species was encountered. If a species is a target bird we tried to give it extra attention as that particular bird may only, or most reliably, be found at that particular site. All recorded sightings can be found in the trip list and Observado.org.

 Pirai

The first stop on our way to Itatiaia was near the village of Pirai, a half open area with lots of good birds where we spent some hours. Ricardo Barbosa made a big impression right away by finding one new bird after another, identifying many of them by call. We were in for an excellent four days! No less than 102 species were recorded in a few at this magical place.

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Bran-colored Flycatcher at Pirai.

Within the first hours of birding in Brazil we found Brazilian Teal, Grey-headed Kite, Black Hawk-Eagle, Ash-thraoted Crake, Blackish Rail, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Reddish Hermit, White-eared Puffbird, Yellow-eared- and Green-barred Woodpecker, Band-tailed Hornero, Rufous-fronted- and Orange-eyed Thornbird, Streaked Xenops, Tufted-, Chestnut-backed- and Chestnut-capped- Antshrike, White-crested- and Yellow Tyrranulet, Bran-colored- and Yellow-Olive Flycatcher, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Crested Becard, Lemon-chested Greenlet, Curl-crested Jay, White-rumped Swallow, Long-billed Wren, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Cinnamon-. Flame-crested-, Brazilian- and Gilt-edged Tanager and Blue-black Grassquit. What a way to start off this trip!

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Rufous-capped Antshrike at Pirai.

Itatiaia

The Atlantic rain forest of Itatiaia National Park is among the best sites in Brazil for birdwatching. The park has many trails to explore, most of them easy to walk and all of them full of birds. We divided our attention between the hotel grounds of Hotel de Ype, the trails along the road going up to the lodge and the higher elevations of the park along the Agulhas Negras road. Due to the altitudinal- and vegetation differences each place has its own set of species that occur there. Best birds seen in and around Itatiaia National Park include Giant Snipe, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Aruacaria Tit-Spinetail, Itatiaia Spinetail, Red-eyed Thornbird, White-bearded Antshrike, Black-cheeked Gnat-eater, Serra do Mar Tyrannulet, Brown-breasted Bamboo-tyrant, Half-collared Sparrow, Brown Tanager, Diademed Tanager and Bay-chested Warbling-Finch.

In four days we recorded 217 species at Itatiaia. Mammals were not very common but Lowland Paca was only seen at Itatiaia, while Brazilian Rabbit and Brazilian Squirrel were recorded as well.

Hotel do Ype

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Green-headed Tanager ranks among the most beautiful birds at Itatiaia and should be easy to find. They even come to the feeders!

The hotel is managed very environment friendly resulting in a very large biodiversity that can be found by just walking around the hotel or sitting down at one of the viewing decks, or even from the pool. The feeders at Hotel do Ype attract lots of hummingbirds, finches etc. including Brazilian Ruby, White-throated Hummingbird, Dusky-throated Hermit, Frilled Cocquette, Amethyst Woodstar (both feeding on the planted flowers), Saffron Toucanet (coming at arms lenght!), Brown-, Burnished Buff- and Green-headed Tanager, Uniform Finch and Double-collared Seedeater, most of which offer excellent photograpic opportunities.

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Frilled Coquette feeding in the flowergarden.

Walking around the hotel, either during daytime or at night, added Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Barred Forest-Falcon, Bat Falcon, Blue-winged Macaw, Plain Parakeet, Tawny-browed Owl, Green-billed Toucan, Blue-chinned Sapphire, Black-throated Trogon, Planalto Woodcreeper, Eastern Syristes, Grey-hooded Atilla, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and Curl-crested Jay,

Tracks around the hotel

Many tracks can be explored many of which start at the unpaved road going up the hotel. The unpaved road itself makes for good birding too by the way and the species seen along it are included in the following text.

We explored the Tres Picos trail a few times, taking detours every now and then or exploring a few side tracks that seemed promising. The Tres Picos trail is good for a large variety of species and goes all the way to hotel Simon (an abandoned hotel and well-know stake-out for Swallow-tailed Cotinga in the breeding season). The distance to Hotel Simon is not too big (about an hour of hiking) but non-stop birding adds sufficient time to the journey. Make sure to cary enough water as it tends to get warm and humid during the day.

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Yellowish Pipit was found at Alegria Farm, Itatiaia village, a breeding pair of Aplomado Falcon was found there too.

The best species seen at the Tres Picos Trail is undoubtedly White-bearded Antshrike which is rare and difficult to find. The track towards Hotel Donati and Simon is ver rewarding and is best explored with a guide as most of the birds are obscured by the thick vegetation. Ricardo Barbosa was excellent in shifting out the good birds from the common ones and showed us many great birds like Blue-winged Macaw, Plain Parakeet, Biscutate Swift, Dusky-throated Hermit, Black-throated Trogon, Eastern Syristes, Grey-hooded Atilla, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Pin-tailed Manakin, Yellowish Pipit, Scaled Woodcreeper, Black-billed Scythebill, White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Star-throated Antwren, Ferruginous Antbird, Bertoni's Antbird,  Ochre-rumped Antbird, White-bibbed Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Slaty Bristlefront, Variable Antshrike, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Cryptic Ant-Thrush (very vocal!), Crested Becard, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Rufous-headed Tanager, Buffy-fronted Seed-eater, and Black-throated Grosbeak.

In the breeding season Hotel Simon is an excellent place to look for Swallow-tailed Cotinga which breeds at the abandoned complex. The place is excellent for birding as the garden still exists although it's not maintained anymore. We did stake out for it for about an hour but unfortunately they had not yet returned to breed.

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Spot-breasted Antvireo along the Tres Picos Trail.

Agulhas Negras road

The Agulhas Negras road is located in the northern part of the National Park and hosts a large variety of high altitude species that can not be found at other plaes in the park. One of the most well-known and sought after species is ofcourse Plovercrest which is another one of those stunning hummingbirds (my favorite bird family actually). The beginning of the road is somewhat far from hotel do Ype making it essential to leave early to maximise the time to find the targets. Right from the beginning of the road birding is good with Plovercrest (common from there on), White-eared Pufbird, White-spotted Woodpecker, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Spix's Spinetail, Large-tailed Antshrike, Rufous-tailed Ant-Thrush (seen very well from an almost overgrown sidetrack next to the road, Grey-capped Tyrannulet, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Black-capped Piprites, Brown-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant and many more.

Driving al the way up to the end of the road the altitude increases and the species keep changing, stands of Aurucaria are very wortch checking for Auracaria Tit-Spinetail, the more open areas hold Shear-tailed Grey Tyrant and Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Hooded Siskin, Yellow-rumped Marshbird and Ash-throated Crake occur in marshy areas.

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Ash-throated Crake is common in many marshy areas, it may require some patience seeing it well.

Coming towards the far end of the road the chance of seeing the Itatiaia Spinetail increases, Plovercrest leks are at dedicated places usually making good photographic opportunities. Among the best birds seen at the higher altitudes are Black Hawk-Eagle, Yellow-browed Woodpecker,Greenish Tyrannulet, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, White-throated Spadebill, Blue-billed-, Crested- and Velvety Black Tyrant, Lemon-chested Greenlet, White-bellied Warbler, Diademed Tanager and Thick-billed Saltator.

 

Chapada dos Guimaraes

Chapada dos Guimaraes is an attractive destination, not the least for the scenery of red rock cliffs that are found everywhere. The information we had about birdwatching was somewhat outdated but with some improvisation we found lots of good birds, mainly around the military base (mostly along the road going to and beyond the base), the river (the river and the forest around it can be reached following the dirt track marked in this sighting) and at Pousada do Parque accommodation.

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Red rock cliffs at Chapada dos Guimaraes.

As mentioned earlier in this report mammals steal the show at Chapada dos Guimaraes. Besides Brazilian Porcupine (feeding in the palm trees next to the pool), Brazilian Cavy and Crab-eating Fox the best gem is Maned Wolf which we found on both nights of our stay. One scurried near our cabin at only 20 meters distance, stopping every now and then to check us out. Very impressing considering they are supposed to be very shy and hard to come by!!

 During the three days of our stay we recorded 116 birds and 4 mammal species of which Maned Wolf was by far the best.

Pousada do Parque

This accommodation is situated in a property of 500 hectares of forest and ha;f open areas.The accommodation features some trails leading through thick forest to the river which was practically dry. During two walks along this trail we found Planalto Hermit, White-vented Woodnymph, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Amazonian Motmot, Lettered Aracari, White Woodpecker, Little Woodpecker, Large-billed Antwren, Large Eleania, Variegated Flycatcher, Band-tailed Manakin and Black-tailed Tityra.

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 Common Pauraque was among the many nightjars at Pousada do Parque.

 The dirt road connecting the lodge to the main road was birded a few times during which we saw Red-and Green Macaw, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker,  Purple Honeycreeper and Black-throated Saltator. At night the grassy fields in front of the restaurant were teeming with nightjars, including Little-, Spot-tailed- and Rufous Nightjar, as well as Pauraque. Tropical Screech-Owl was calling from the forest opposite the lodge. This road was explored by night as well and we found many nightjars there too as well as one of two Maned Wolves we saw during our stay. Despite the many Tapir footprints we found during the day we did not see a single one here.

Road to and beyond the military base (for location see above)

Finding the best spots at Chapada dos Guimaraes proved rather difficult and therefore we explored the road leading along the military base which was good for birding. The first few kilometres are paved but unpaved after you have passed the base itself. The road is usually not too busy but still stopping is not advised everywhere as most drivers keep a high speed. We found several spots to stop, although most property is private and therefore fenced. At several stops we found nice birds including Scaled Pigeon, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Blue-crowned Trogon, Black-fronted Nunbird, White-throated Toucan, Little- and Golden-green Woodpecker, Sooty-fronted Spinteail, Firewood-gatherer, Plain-crested Elaenia, Suiriri Flycatcher, Black-crowned Tityra, White-banded Mockingbird and Blue-black Grassquit

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A common inhabitant of the Chapada dos Guimaraes region: Pale-vented Pigeon.

River and forest

Some trip reports mentioned a track leading to a small river and forest which held some good birds. After some searching we found a track that indeed took us through a forest an eventually coming to a small river. Although we found this spot by taking a side road from the one going to the military base, it can be also reached by taking this dirt road and follow it southwards. The forest here (although only a small stretch can be explored) is excellent birdwise. In two visits we recorded Harris's Hawk, Planalto Hermit, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Amazonian Motmot, Golden-green Woodpecker, Large-billed Antwren, Subtropical Doradito, Variegated Flycatcher, White-banded Mockingbird, Flavescent Warbler, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Grey-headed Tanager and Blue-black Grassquit.


Pantanal

Our visit to the Pantanal served two purposes: enjoying the tremendous amount of birds that are in the area and finding Jaguar for which the Porto Jofre area is probably the best in the world. We had no guide and no special preparation for the best birds in the area, consequently we missed a lot of the targets here. The guides that accompanied us during our two full day boat rides had no real knowledge of birds so we had to rely on our own skills. We visited 4 different accommodations (for details about them see the "Food & Accommodation" section earlier on in this report) of which some are rather dedicated to birding. Many of them offer birding guides but we dit not hire any of them. Nearly all lodges we stayed at in Pantanal charge a large amount of money to stay at but the prices include any excursion you wish to do. The two full day boat rides (including back and forth transportation to Proto Jofre - 60-70 kilometres one way) are all included.

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Large-billed Tern is common at Pantanal and can be found anywhere near water.

The time we spent in the Pantanal found us 202 birdspecies of which Red-throated Piping-Guan, Maguari Stork, Sungrebe, South American Snipe, Great- and Common Potoo, Buff-bellied Hermit, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Chotoy Spinetail, Mato Grosso- and Band-tailed Antbird, Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, Musician Wren, Blue Finch, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Wedge-tailed Grassbird and Rusty-collared Seed-eater were amond the best species recorded. The mammals appeared in good numbers as well, many species were seen only in the Pantanal including Red Howler Monkey, Tayra, Giant Anteater, Collared Pecary, Crab-eating Racoon, Brown Brocket Deer and Southern Tamadua.

Near Pousada Piuval

The area around this accommodation was not birded very thoroughly as we stayed for one night only and the main goal was finding a Giant Anteater. During any visit to the Pantanal one has a very good chance of finding one or more of this great beasts. It took us the whole 6 nights / 7 days and great perseverance to finally find one. At Pousada Piuval we spent one evening and one morning searching for it, after which we finally saw one, at close range and extremely well. This accommodation has no special aim for birders nor birding but is relying more on the ordinary Brazilian tourist that like to do some horseback riding and stuff like that. The unpave entrance road is excellent for exploring it by foot but, like the accommodation itself, holds little interesting birds. We recorded Giant Wood-Rail, Yellow-billed Tern, Common Ground-Dove, Yellow-tufted- and Lineated Woodpecker, Rufous Cachalote, Forest Eleania, Chapada Flycatcher, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Red-crested Cardinal, Grey-headed Tanager and White-bellied Seed-eater at the lodge, the unpaved entrance road or along the Transpantaneira close to Pousada Piuval. Other than the Giant Anteater, Tyra (crossing the road allowing only brief views), Collared Pecary, Southern Tamandua and Marsh Deer were among the mammals that we found.

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Rufous Cachalote, Pousada Piuval.

Near Pouso Alegre

This accommodation is orientated both to "normal" tourists and birdwatchers, they offer skilled guides (by hearsay, we did not hire any of them) who are perfectly capable of showing you around. The accommodation has a large number of horses, the cradles of which attract many (most common) birds. Hyacinth Macaws roost in the trees surrounding the property and can be found with ease early morning and late afternoon. Several walking trails take you to swamps and forests and hold a diverse set of birds.

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Great Antshrike at the grounds of Pouso Alegre.

At the Pouso Alegre grounds, including a small pond a few kilometres from the entrance we found Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Muscovy Duck, Rufous-thighed Kite, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Crane Hawk, South American Snipe, Monk Parakeet, Golden-collared Macaw, Nanday Parakeet, Biscutate Swift, Ringed- , Pale-crested- and White Woodpecker, Blue-crowned Trogon, Chotoy Spinetail, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, Great Antshrike, Mato Grosso Antbird, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Rusty-fronted Tody-Flyactcher, Musician Wren and Yellow-billed Cardinal. A stunning male Blue Finch was found some 3 kilometres from the lodge along the unpaved road going to the Transpantaneira.

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South American Tapir at a small pool at Pouso Alegre Lodge. It was accompanied by a small calf which we were unable to photograph :-(.

Mato Grosso Hotel

As mentioned before in the "Food & Accommodation" section the Mato Grosso Hotel was only visited because the Rio Claro Lodge had overbooked us. We arrived there at night and left the next morning but not before taking a boat trip to see Giant Otters. We explored the lodge grounds for about one hour before breakfast and found only a small amount of birds of which Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Little-, Golden-green- and Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Greater Thornbird and Masked Gnatcatcher were the least recorded ones during this trip. The accommodation offers birdfood in large quantities therefore attracting loads of common birds including cardinals, cowbirds, aracari's tanagers, saltators and many more. During the heat of the day this is a pleasant way to spend your time and maybe add another 1 or two species to the list.

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Buff-throated Saltator at the bird feeding station at Mato Grosso Hotel

The boat ride along the Pixaim River was dedicated to seeing Giant Otters, a species we would likely see during one of our trips from Porto Jofre later on. Nonetheless we took no chances and went out for them anyway. This trip was a great succes as we had extremely close encounters with a family of six animals, playing, swimming preening and marking their territory. This surely was one of the better sightings of our three weeks stay. For us it was a surprise that these animals were fed Piranhas by the boat driver, one thing that downgraded the experience somewhat at the time. These animals were tame to the point they would come up the boat and even climbed the boat railing to obtain their fish......

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One of the six playful Giant Otters at Pixaim River

As we had time left to do some birding we pointed out some birds in the birdbook (the driver spoke little to no English) which he recognized. The remaining two hours were spent seeing Sungrebe, Red- and Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Golden-collared Macaw and Greater Yellow-headed Vulture. Lots of effort was made to find Agami Heron which does occur but is rare in this season.

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Grey-necked Wood-Rail was also found during our boat trip along the Pixaim River.

Jaguar Ecological Reserve

The Jaguar Ecological Reserve is located about 45 kilometres from Porto Jofre and focusses, besides visiting tourists, on research on a variety of animals. During our stay an American lady had all sorts of camera traps set out on a number of locations to study which animals use the main trails in the Pantanal. Over a period of several months she recorded mouth watering species like Puma, Jaguar and Ocelot. All very appealing but hard to see. As with all other accommodations in the Pantanal Jaguar Ecological Reserve offers nightdrives (which, like the Jaguar boat rides, are all included in the rates) to have a try at all that roams around at night. The only mammal "prize" here was Brazilian Rabbit and a Great Potoo put in an appearance as well. We drove around ourselves one night and additionally found Crab-eating Fox.

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White-headed Marsh-Tyrant near Porto Jofre.

Birding was done mainly around the lodge in the few hours that we did not spend on the Rio Sao Lourence and Rio Piquiri to search for Jaguar. As said in the "Food & Accommodation" section the guides that accompanied us during our Jaguar quest had little to no knowledge of birds and as such birding during these two days was very limited. The transfer from the lodge to Porto Jofre (where all boat tours depart) makes for excellent birding and we stopped a few times for quality birds including Maguari Stork, Buff-bellied Hermit, Gilded Sapphire, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Rusty-backed Spinetail, Band-tailed Antbird, Chapada Flycatcher, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Red-crested Cardinal and Plumbeous- and Rusty-collared Seed-eater.

The boat rides from Porto Jofre were succesful in finding Jaguar. Although we found the same Jaguar (apptly named "Pirat" as he lost one eye in a fight with a cayman) on both tours we were able to follow it for hours and take thousands of pics of it. This Jaguar is actually one of the most famous Jaguars of the Pantanal and already seen by many. Although we hoped for a kill or fight with a cayman this did not happen although we witnessed a few attacks. Seeing Giant Otter is always special, the two we found during the second boat drive, Red Howler Monkeys were heard and seen from a large distance.

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 Jaguar "Pirat" looking out for fresh Cayman.

Besides the Jaguar quest some (mostly low quality) birds were recorded including Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Muscovy Duck, Crane Hawk, Pied Lapwing, Spotted- and White-rumped Sandpiper, Black Skimmer, Yellow-billed Tern, Cinnamon-throated Hermit and Masked Gnatcatcher.

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Pied Lapwing scurrying the beach along the Piquiri River.


Iguacu falls

The main reason for our visit to Iguacu was to see the spectacular waterfalls at both the Brazilian and Argentinan side. Consequently birding was at a lower pace compared to the other areas we visited. We explored both sides for one full day. All viewing points can be reached by an extensive trail system which would take one many hours to explore all of them. Another option is to take a bus to the farthest (or any other) viewing point and walk back to the main entrance. Both the Brazilian and Argentinan side features viewing points from which a spectacular overview of many waterfalls can be enjoyed. The Brazilian side features a waterfall with a tower next to it with an elevator taking you down to water level. At this lowest point a trail system takes you right in front of the waterfall getting you soaked but also letting you experience the power of the falling water. The Argentinan side gives one the opportunity to walk all the way up to the heart of the waterfalls were water pounders down from all directions. A very spectacular sight!

During our visits to Iguacu Falls and the San Martin Hotel grounds 74 bird species were recorded. This is excluding the birding excursion to Argentina.

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Boardwalk in front of waterfall at Brazilian side of Iguacu.

As the main goal was sight seeing the natural wonder of Iguacu Falls we did not devote a lot of time birding around the falls but surely we lifted our bins at anything that was flying around. During our visits to either side we took the bus (Brazil) or train (Argentina) all the way to the last viewing point and walked our way back to the entrance. The Argentinan side surely atttracts more visitors and it therefore advised to be there early as possible to avoid this.

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"El Gorge del Diablo" at the Argentinan side of the falls. It's hard to imagine that birds acutally nest under these waterfalls!

The common opponion is that birding at the Argentinan side is better than accross the river. This may be true but since we hired a guide to have some fun in Argentina we did not put in any effort to see the specialties. Birds seen at Iguacu falls included Rusty-margined Guan, Eared Dove, Sooty Swift, Great Dusky Swift, Green-billed Toucan, Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Plush-crested Jay, and  Green-chinned Euphonia.

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A flock of Great Dusky Swifts hanging out at their favorite place: besides the deafening roar of a waterfall. Strange animals........

The San Martin Hotel was chosen for our stay on the basis of online testimonials to a really good birding garden. This was true indeed although it must be sayd that birding without a guide was difficult due to the thick vegetation. A walking trail goes beyond the hotel gardens for about 1,5 kilometres which eventually leads to a viewing point over the Iguacu river. The trails was quiet on all our visit (in terms of people) but full of birds, most of which managed to stay in cover all the time. During two visits we recorded Rusty-margined Guan, Great Dusky Swift, Rufous-capped Motmot, Green-billed Toucan, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Rufous-winged Antwren, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Ochre-breasted Foliagegleaner, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant Plush-crested Jay, Green-chinned Euphonia, Tropical Parula and Giant Cowbird. At night Azara's Agouti was walking around the gardens, no owls or other nightbirds were found.

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Southern House Wren is common anywhere in Brazil.

REGUA/Guapiacu Birdlodge

The Guapiacu Birdlodge also known as REGUA is one of the most famous sites in Brazil for birders. The owners are dedicated to restoring as much of the Atlantic Rain Forest as possible and consequently have planted many thousands of trees. New land is still being acquired and new reforestation is done every year again. This project deserves all the support it can which made us decide to visit this excellent place despite their outrageous rates.

Besides restoring Atlantic rainforest a wetland has been constructed to attract some of the aquatic wildlife that was once common in the area. Miraculously Capibara and Cayman found this site within a few months after they were made and now thrive there. Bird guides are on offer in various grades of experience, from rather novice to expert (and beyond). Adelai is the best guide in town, formerly a hunter he has know become the birding master of this lodge. Although it is not possible to book a specific guide, it can be sometimes agreed that Adelai is the one accompanying you, depending on the number of guests and the places they wish to go.

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Female Blue Manakin at Guapiacu Birdlodge.

Several excursions are on offer to see some of the best birds that do not occur outside of the park. This is not included in the accommodation rates as well as it is impossible to have a private guide unless no other guests want to do the same excursion that you do. Outside the park we visited Serra dos Orgaos and Macae de Cima, the latter being rather unknown but has top quality birds. Due to the difference in altitude to REGUA both spots hold a different array of species. Inside REGUA we mainly birded privately although we hooked up with other groups sometimes when we crossed paths.

Birding in this place is astounding and many new species were recorded to the list including White-faced Whistling-Duck, Azure Gallinule (actually the first record for the REGUA wetlands), Greater Ani, White-chinned Sapphire, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, White-flanked- and Unicolored Antwren, Greyish Mourner, Chestnut-capped- and White-browed Blackbird, Hooded Tanger and Black-legged Dacnis. Total number of birds recorded: 144 (excluding Serro dos Orgaos and Maca de Cima).

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The first Azure Gallinule to ever be recorded at the REGUA Wetlands.

REGUA (trails and wetland)

Many good walking trails have been constructed throughout the entire REGUA property, all of which are covered by their own leaflet which include detailed descriptions on the route itself but also in extreme detail which birds can be found and at which spot. In order to make this as detailed as possible each 50 metres of the track is signposted. This has another advantage: it's near impossible to get lost. Accessibility depends on previous weather conditions so inquire for any lockdowns from the staff.

We spent lots of time on the Yellow and Brown trails (the latter also known as the Tree trail) which follow through a variety of habitats from dense forest to the wetland. Many trails can be combined as they cross or overlap each other at some point. Best birds found along the Brown Trail included Reddish Hermit, Glittering-throated Emerald, American Pygmy Kingfisher (rare at REGUA), White-eared- and Crescent-chested Puffbird, Pale-browed Treehunter, White-eyed Foliagegleaner, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, White-flanked-, Unicolored- and Streak-capped Antwren, White-winged Becard, Long-billed Wren and Flame-crested Tanager.

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Not nearly as spectacular as the male: the female Flame-crested Tanager.

The Yellow Trail delivered many good birds too, the last section will take you along the edges of the wetland. Birds seen along the trail White-faced Whistling-Duck, Muscovy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Greater Ani, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Chestnut-capped Blackbird and Yellow-backed Tanager. One evening we spent some time with one of the guides specifically trying to chase crakes. Although sightings were few we heard at least three different species: Rufous-sided- and Ash-throated Crake and Blackish Rail.

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Masked Water-Tyrant at the REGUA wetlands.

Spending some time around the accommodation itself (including the concrete tower opposite the road) was certainly no waste of time either. We encountered a large mixed species flock which held White-barred Piculet, Southern Bristle Tyrant, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Greyish Mourner, White-winged Becard, Hooded- Flame-crested and Yellow-backed Tanger and Black-legged Dacnis. With Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift and Swallow-tailed- and Rufous-thighed Kite overhead this was an afternoon well spent!


The lodge has some feeders at the lawn which attract a fair number of birds altough the variation of species is quite low. For photographing the setup could be better thought, we hope that the staff will adopt some of our comments on this as this will improve photographing opporunities significantly. We placed some branches besides the hummingbird feeders which were occupied immediately, mainly by Swallow-tailed Hummingbirds which are a nuisance as they chase away al other birds that try to approach the feeders, even more so than other hummers do.

Macae de Cima

This spot can only be visited by arranging this with the REGUA staff as they agreed with the owners that they can access the property in the company of birdwatchers.

Basically you're birding the entrance road to the house of a deceased Brazilian orchid expert. This might take you several hours, depending on the amount of birds you encounter. Once the house is reached, the hummingbird feeders are filled by the guides and you wait and see what happens. Many hummers may visit the feeders allowing great photograpic opportunities. Due to the high altitude many species here are the same as the ones at Itatiaia, including White-throated Hummingbird and Plovercrest, which does come to the feeders here!

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View from along the road leading up to the house at Macae de Cima.

We were seriously abstained by the weather conditions, experiencing lots of wind and the already lower temperatures were consequently even lower. The birds themselves were hardly active and even if they were, their sounds were either difficult to hear, the would not really show (the wind again) or both. Despite al this our guides tried their best to deliver us some birds which they did well regarding the circumstances: Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Black-billed Scythebill, Large-tailed- and Rufous-winged Antshrike, Star-throated Antwren, Bertoni's-, Ochre-rumped and White-bibbed Antbird, Rufous-tailed Antthrush (good views in the forest opposite the house), Slaty Bristlefront, Planalto- and Mottle-cheeked Tyrranulet, Grey-hooded Flycatcher, Drab-breasted Bamboo-tyrant, White-throated Spadebill, Velvety Black Tyrant, Shear-tailed Grey Tyrant, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Sharpbill, Greenish Schiffornis, White-thighed Swallow and Azure-shouldered Tanager were all lured in by our two fanatic guides. Not bad at all considering the weather but it also shows the potential of this area on a better day.

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Brazilian Ruby

Once the house of the deceased orchid expert was reached we set up the hummingbird feeders. We had plenty of time to wait for them as we arrived at the house exceptionally early and waiting we did. Again, the wind played against us as hardly any hummers came to the feeder, and if they did, the were gone quickly or perched deep inside a tree or bush after feeding. Anyway, the hummers we recorded here included Planalto Hermit, Black Jacobin, Versicolored Emerald, Plovercrest, Amethyst Woodstar, Brazilian Ruby and White-throated Humminbgbird.

The best and most welcome surprise at Maca de Cima was the pair of Swallow-tailed Cotinga that landed in a barebrached tree for a few minutes and then left again. Usually this species is not seen here!

In total we recorded 87 species at Macae de Cima, which is not bad considering the circumstances.


Serra dos Orgaos

During our visit to Serra dos Orgaos we were accompanied by Adelai, the top guide of Guapiacu Birdlodge. Adelai has many years of experience with all sorts of wildlife. At a young age he started to track down animals and hunt them just for fun. At some point he realised that he could use his skills for a better purpose. He bandoned hunting and began studying animals, in the meantime specialising in birds. He has a phenomanol hearing and eye sight and knows all sounds of each and every bird. The fact that he doesn't really speak English (besides the English bird names) makes communicating with him difficult at times but with the aid of the other guides, who acted as translators, things worked out fine.

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The rugged peaks of Serra dos Orgaos National Park.

We birded Serra dos Orgaos for one mornin with Adelai and two less experienced guides. We parked at the entrance of the park near the visitor centre (which appeared not to be in operation) and walked down the paved road which is rather steap all the way down. The number of birds along this road was stunning, we encountered a few mixed flocks which had a good variety of birds. As with our visit to Macae de Cima weather conditions during this morning session were less than ideal with lots of wind. Due to the high density of trees this did not affect birding as bird activity was high. A second stop was made some ten minutes away from the first place but unfortunately we were unable to retrace this spot.

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Probably the bird of the day: Spot-billed Toucanet at Serra dos Orgaos.

A total of 118 species were recorded ath the Serra dos Orgaos National Park of which an impressive 15 were not seen on any other place we visited. Highlights of the birds at Serra dos Orgaos included Violaceous Quail-Dove, Saw-billed Hermit, Spot-billed Toucanet, Channel-billed Toucan, Green-barred- and Blond-crested Woodpecker, White-browed- and Black-capped Foliagegleaner, Pale-browed Treehunter, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, White-throated- and Scaled Woodcreeper, Plain Xenops, Black-billed Scythebill, Star-throated-, Rusty-backed- and Streak-capped Antwren, Oustalet's Tyrraynulet, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, White-throated Spadebill, Grey-hooded Atilla, Hooded Berry-eater, Pin-tailed Manakin, Green Schiffornis, Crested Becard, White-thighed Swallow, Azure-shouldered- Red-necked- and Yellow-backed Tanager and Sooty Grassquit.


Birding Argentina

Besides the above sites in Brazil we birded the Misiones area in Argentina for one full day with birdguide Guy Cox of Toucan Birding. Birding the Argentinan side of Iguacu Falls is recommended by many as this is supposed to be more productive than staying on the Brazilian side. As we made contact with Guy he suggested to go further south than the usual places as the two sites we visited have a wider variety, and bigger number of species.

We visited 2 sites in Argentina; Uruga-I Ecological Park and San Sebastian de la Selva. The former site is rather unknown but a really good birding site. As we visited San Sebastian in the afternoon birding was somewhat slow but still we found some nice birds. In Uruga-I we finally connected with bogey bird King Vulture for which we specifically asked Guy to keep an eye out for. Many good and difficult birds were found this day and Guy gave his best to find them for us. Besides the King Vulture we saw Black-fronted Piping-Guan, Grey-bellied Spinetail, Greenish Eleania, Southern Atpipit, Piratic Flycatcher (another bogey bird), Andean Slaty Thrush, Riverbank Warbler and Guira Tanager.

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Secondary forest in San Sebastian de la Selva. Home of many good birds.

Ecological Park Urugua-I (Argentina)

We were picked up from the San Martin Hotel before sunrise and drove straight to Urugua-I Ecological Park, about 1,5 hours away. We parked at the visitor centre and started exploring the area south of the river and east of the main road. Urugua-I holds a fair amount of native bamboo, therefore containing lots of bamboo specialties like Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, a species we heard only at Urugua-I but seen very well at San Sebastian de la Selva! Early morning birding was clearly much better than the after mid day hours we spent at San Sebastaian de la Selva with the quality of species being much higher.

Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper - Uruga-i - 2015-09-12 - 04 copy X

Sharp-tailed Stream-creeper at Urugua-I Ecological Park.

Guy was, like all other guides we hired, pushing hard for the birds. He turned out to be very skilled in the sounds as well. In Uruga-I Ecological Park the best birds recorded were Black-fronted Piping-Guan, King Vulture, Eared Dove, Ochre-collared Piculet, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Grey-bellied- and Olive Spinetail, Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner,  White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Tufted Antshrike, Bertoni's Antbird, Greenish Elaenia, Southern Antpipit, Southern Bristle Tyrant, Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, Piratic Flycatcher, Eastern Sirystes, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Plush-crested Jay, Andean Slaty- and White-necked Thrush, White-rimmed- and Riverbank Warbler, Orange-headed- and Guira Tanager and Blackish-blue Seed-eater.

San Sebastian de la Selva (Argentina)

San Sebastian de la Selva is a relatively unknown birding site despite the fact that is has some good specialties from the Misiones region. It is a rather small privately owned reserve which has it's own accomodation. A bird feeder is behind the restaurant which was only visited by common species during the short time we spent there. It has a potential for good species to turn up though. A network of trails takes you through forests and open areas and a lake as well, these biotopes combined makes for a large amount of species to be found. We mainly birderd the forest as most targets we still had left were awaiting us there. During a three hour afternoon session Guy showed us Brown Tinamou, Collared Forest-Falcon, Eared Dove, Ochre-collared Piculet, Yellow-fronted- and Green-barred Woodpecker, Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Variable Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Short-tailed Ant-thrush, Yellow Tyrannulet, Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, Black-tailed Tityra, Plush-crested Jay, White-necked Thrush, Violaceous Euphonia, Masked Yellowthroat and White-rimmed Warbler.

 Especially the Antthrush gave us the run arounds as it was calling from one of the track and suddenly from the other, having crossed the track some distance away from us but we did not notice it doing so....