Wednesday 27 December 2023

2023 Part 2: Early March through April (Brazil)


On March 4, Laura and I landed in São Paulo. It was our first time in Brazil. Even though we had planned to spend much of the next two months exploring Brazil, the country is so large that we could only see a small portion of it. We restricted our route to only include southeast Brazil as this would allow us to do the Atlantic Forest justice. We could always return in the future to see more of the country.  

For our first couple of weeks, two fellow naturalists from Canada  - Luke Berg and Andrew Keaveney - joined us for a whirlwind route of the Atlantic forest between São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and southward to Santa Catarina state. We covered a lot of ground but it was worth it given our sightings and experiences. 

After dropping Luke and Andrew off at the airport, Laura and I continued northeastward. We traveled at a bit of a slower pace, taking our time to thoroughly visit each area. By the end of the month, we had made it all the way to the Vitoria area. 

South American Coati (Nasua nasua)

Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu)

Ithomia agnosia

Bare-faced Ibis

Birding at Campos do Jordão, São Paulo, Brazil

Double-collared Seedeater

Black-capped Piprites

Serro do Mar Tyrant-Manakin

Siphocampylus sp.

Birding at PN do Itatiaia, Río de Janeiro, Brazil

Itatiaia Spinetail

Pinnated Bittern

Comb Ducks

Burnished-buff Tanager

Colobura dirce

Black Capuchin (Sapajus nigritus)

Luke birding at PN do Itatiaia, Río de Janeiro, Brazil

White-bibbed Antbird

Aulacizes sp.

Green-backed Trogon

White-necked Hawk

Military Ground Snake (Erythrolamprus miliaris)

Psychotria nuda

Serra Snake (Tropidodryas serra)

Bare-throated Bellbird

Brazilian Ruby

Saw-billed Hermit

Violet-capped Woodnymph

Festive Coquette

Common Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus)

Wied's Keelback (Helicops carinicaudus)

Blond-crested Woodpecker

Mangrove Root Crab (Goniopsis cruentata)

Star-throated Antwren

Brown-breasted Pygmy-Tyrant

Paraná Antwren

Burrowing Owls

Kaempfer's Tody-Tyrant

Spot-backed Antshrike

Long-tailed Cinclodes

Buff-necked Ibis

Araucaria forest, Urupema, Santa Catarina, Brazil

Paraguay Hairy Dwarf Porcupine (Coendou spinosus)

Red-spectacled Parrots

Planalto Tapaculo

Unidentified tiger moth (subfamily Arctiinae)

Eurata hilaris

Isia intricata

Perusia sp.

Iporanga, São Paulo, Brazil

Spot-billed Toucanet


Riverbank Warbler

Mottled Owl

Black-footed Pygmy Rice Rat (Oligoryzomys nigripes)

Unidentified moth (subfamily Scoliopteryginae)

Idaea zoalma

Ferrariana trivittata

Black-headed Berryeater

Scea auriflamma

Black-fronted Piping-Guan

Laothus phydela

Yarará Lancehead (Bothrops jararaca)

Atlantic Royal Flycatcher

Spot-winged Wood-Quail

Paromenia auroguttata

Enoclerus miniatus

Paradaemonia meridionalis

Phenax variegata

Elysius conspersus

Russet-winged Spadebill

Neuwied's False Fer-de-Lance (Xenodon neuwiedii)

Two-headed Sipo (Chironius bicarinatus)

Boana bischoffi

Tropical Screech-Owl

South American Tapir (Tapirus terrestris)

Trosia fumosa

Phaegoptera depicta

Parque Estadual Intervales, São Paulo, Brazil

Greenish Schiffornis

White-throated Spadebill

Charis cadytis

Red-and-white Crake

Streamer-tailed Tyrant

Ash-throated Crake

Brassy-breasted Tanager

Serro do Mar Bristle-Tyrant

Southern Tropical Pewee

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Three-toed Jacamar

Unidentified free-tailed bat (family Molossidae)

Proceratophrys boiei

Brazilian Laniisoma

Denivia hemon

Paraselenis normalis

Calpodes sp.

Cabo Frío, Río de Janeiro, Brazil

Mangrove Rail family

Bicolored Conebill

Roseate Spoonbill


Laura and I continued on our route up the coast of Brazil, making it as far north as Porto Seguro before cutting inland. We found that extensive forest could be found further south in Brazil - despite the presence of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the steep mountain slopes helped to limit deforestation. But as we worked our way up the coast, there was less topographic relief and as a result, forest patches were few and far between. Most of our birding was in the remaining woodlots where we searched for species that are becoming increasingly rarer by the day. Several birds have gone extinct in recent years, and some of the ones that we found may follow suit in the coming decades. 

A couple of our targets (Cherry-throated Tanager, Banded Cotinga, Plumbeous Antvireo) were missed, but we found most of them. Still, we found the birding tough during this leg of the trip. The breeding season was over, birds weren't really singing, and the remaining forest patches held fewer birds per hectare than continuous forest would. Our search for the Red-billed Curassow near Linhares was successful, but depressing since the remaining forest seems far too small to support a viable population of curassows in the long term. 

We cut inland towards Montes Claros. Here, we visited parks that don't receive a lot of foreign tourists. We really enjoyed the birds (and surprise coral snakes!) of Cavernas do Peruaçu, and the flock of Bahian Nighthawks foraging low over a river at dusk. Our inland route also brought us to Botumirim, a beautiful area that is the only known location where Blue-eyed Ground-Doves reside. We saw two of them, a full 10% of the known population. One can only hope that there are other populations somewhere out there in the caatinga, undiscovered by humans. 

Laura and I tried to savour each moment in the last few weeks as we drove south towards São Paulo. The beautiful mountains at Lapinha da Serra produced a whole suite of interesting bird species, while we had fun tracking down Blue Finches and Chapada Flycatchers near Pompeu. Our last destination was the grasslands and crystal clear rivers of Serra da Canastra, the only stronghold for the critically endangered Brazilian Merganser. In addition to the merganser, we enjoyed finding species like White-striped Warbler, Cock-tailed Tyrant and Dwarf Tinamou in the extensive grasslands, as well as a half-dozen Giant Anteaters and a glass lizard. We made it back to São Paulo by April 26 where we flew back to Canada. 

Despite the extensive deforestation in many areas, we really enjoyed our visit to Brazil and will definitely be back, hopefully before too much time elapses. 

Black Jacobin bathing in a waterfall

Sooty Tyrannulet

Rhetus periander

Amazon Lava Lizard (Tropidurus torquatus)

Frilled Coquette

White-vented Violetear

Cosmosome auge

Nachaba sp.

Wied's Tyrant-Manakin

Brown Howler Monkey (Alouatta guariba)

South American Dead Leaf Mantis (Acanthops falcataria)

Maroon-faced Parakeets

Red-billed Curassows

Minute Hermit

Ochre-marked Parakeets

White-bellied Tanager

Unidentified hummingbird

Birding at RPPN Estação Veracel, Bahia, Brazil

Brown-winged Schiffornis

Red-headed Manakin

Double-toothed Kite

Blue-backed Manakin

Micrathena fissispina

Amiga arnaca

White-throated Seedeater

Masked Duck

Brazilian Monkey Lizard (Polychrus acutirostris)

Botumirim area, Minas Gerais, Brazil

White-eared Puffbird

Silvery-cheeked Antshrike

Heliconius ethilla

Blue-eyed Ground-Dove

Botumirim area, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Drosera graomogolensis

Pale-throated Pampa-Finch

Rusty-backed Antwren

Horned Sungem

Helmeted Manakin

Gray-eyed Greenlet

Botumirim area, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Wagler's Snake (Xenodon merremii)

Small-headed Elaenia

Hyacinth Visorbearer

Cinnamon Tanager

Anteros lectabilis

Pale-legged Hornero

Diaethria candrena

Caatinga Black-Tyrant

Temenis laothoe

Southern Coral Snake (Micrurus frontalis)

Rock Cavy (Kerodon rupestris)

Common Punaré (Thrichomys apereoides)

Tataupa Tinamou

Brazilian Blindsnake (Trilepida brasiliensis)

Xyleus discoideus

Ochre-backed Woodpecker

Callicore sorana

Guira Cuckoo

Chapada Flycatcher

Black-masked Finch

Least Nighthawk

PN da Serra do Cipó, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Horned Sungem

Hellmayr's Pipit

Lapinha da Serra, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Rock Tapaculo

Peach-fronted Parakeet

Serra del Cipo Lava Lizard (Eurolophosaurus nanuzae)

Cipó Cinclodes

White-rumped Tanager

Saffron Finch

Gray-headed Tanager

Black-tufted-ear Marmoset (Callithrix penicillata)

PN Serra da Canastra, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Swallow Tanager

Cock-tailed Tyrant

Pampas Deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus)

Crested Black-Tyrant

Brazilian Merganser

Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

Burrowing Owl

Laura with a Striped Worm Lizard (Ophiodes striatus)

Striped Worm Lizard (Ophiodes striatus)

Golden-capped Parakeet

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow

Buffy-tufted-ear Marmoset (Callithrix aurita)

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