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Old Wednesday 6th August 2008, 16:37   #1
Andrew Whitehouse
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Birds fae REGUA

As Iím away from beautiful Torry for a few months, I thought Iíd compensate by writing a regular diary about birding at the place Iím currently staying. Iím at the Reserva Ecolůgica de GuapiaÁu, or Regua as itís more commonly known. Regular viewers will recall that I visited this reserve in southeastern Brazil two years ago. Iíve been keen on the idea of a return ever since. My research provided one or two good reasons and so Iím here for a while to look into various aspects of bird sounds and how people listen to them. This means I have the arduous task of listening to and sometimes seeing lots of birds. Of course Regua is nowhere near as good as Torry for birding, well except if one considers diversity, but I will try to make do.

The reserve has changed a bit in the two years since I last visited. New wetlands have been created, more trees planted, and existing plantings have matured. Itís also become a more popular destination for birders and the lodge was full when I arrived on Sunday evening. Iím actually staying in the volunteers digs below the lodge but was invited for dinner by the proprieters of Regua, Nicholas and Raquel Locke. The dinner was really good, as it usually is at Regua, and Nicholas gave a talk about the reserve and some of the issues they have to deal with.

Anyway, some birds ensued. The next morning dawned cool and damp after some overnight rain and it stayed overcast for most of the day. There was a lot of activity in the trees around Casa Treis where Iím currently staying. Best of the action included a pair of stout Crested Becards, some trilling White-barred Piculets and a few Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulets. I was pleased to see a pair of Hooded Tanagers, which I had seen in exactly the same area two years ago. Iíve never seen this species anywhere else. There were lots of hummingbirds visiting two flowering trees in front of the house, with most being Glittering-bellied Emeralds or Violet-capped Woodnymphs.

I spent some of the morning walking around the restored wetlands. Along the first part of the trail, which goes through scrub, there was a good mixed flock comprised of Brazilian, Fawn-breasted and Ruby-crowned Tanagers, a lovely Yellow-browed Tyrant and my first new bird at Regua: a pair of White-winged Becards. Iím not sure how Iíve conspired to miss this species before but it goes to show how the diversity of the tropics always means there are some obvious gaps on most peopleís lists. The wetlands were covered in Moorhens (which sound a bit weird out here), Brazilian Teal, Purple Gallinules, Masked Ducks and White-faced Whistling-ducks. I was pleased to get great views of a Pileated Finch, which Iíd only seen briefly two years ago. Itís a bird that can look rather plain and grey much of the time, but comes alive when it unfurls its fiery red crest. Other birds around the wetlands included Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Tropical Parula and Masked Yellowthroat.

Early afternoon I was doing some reading in front of Casa Treis, a task from which I was regularly distracted by the comings and goings of hummingbirds. Every thirty minutes or so various small hermits would come visiting. There was one that was obviously a Reddish Hermit, showing the diagnostic black spot on the chest. Another was more problematic and the books I had didnít always help that much. This hermit was the same size as Reddish but had more extensive white at the tips of the tail feathers, a duller, greener rump and no chest spot. I think it might have been a female Minute Hermit but this picture by Nick Athanas makes me a bit uncertain. Maybe female Reddish Hermits in southeast Brazil can look like this.

Late in the afternoon I had a walk around the Nursery Trail which goes through some good lowland forest. On the first part of the trail I had good views of a Fuscous Flycatcher. I have the aim of getting a bit better at tyrants while Iím here and it was useful to see this species well. I get the feeling that a lot of the apparently tricky tyrant flycatchers in southeast Brazil arenít really all that tricky but that the books arenít really good enough to give you the confidence to sort them out. The illustrations are famoulsy no good (particularly in Sousa) but the lack of text makes things harder. Reckon Iíll be needing a good browse of Ridgely & Tudor and HBW soon. Also putting in welcome appearances were a male White-bearded Manakin, a Long-billed Wren (which really do live up to their name when you get a good look) and a Chestnut-backed Antshrike Ė a species itís hard to avoid at Regua.

A scan of the forest canopy across the valley put me onto a couple of Channel-billed Toucans and a distant male Swallow Tanager. I was more surprised to see a pair of elegant Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts, a species Iíve not seen in southeast Brazil previously. The highlight of the day came with a splendid Crescent-chested Puffbird that perched very close to the trail for several minutes. I was frustrated to miss this endemic on my previous trip so it was good to have such fine views on my first day back at Regua. Puffbirds are what the kids are into.

At dusk the valley behind the wetlands was filled with the hulking shapes of White-collared Swifts and on my way back to the house I had views of a Pauraque perched on the trail. A few were whistling as night fell. In the evening I got to sample the delights of Guapi Assuís pizzeria and the peculiar sweet maltzbier they brew round here. A couple of Burrowing Owls were seen along the way and an Oppossum crossed the road on our wa back. Despite having birded Regua and nearby areas pretty extensively two years ago, I ended the day with three lifers and several other birds Iíd only seen once previously.

Yesterday morning I went out to get some recordings. My greatest success came with a Tufted Antshrike along the Nursery Trail, another bird remaining faithful to where Iíd seen one two years ago. Then it was a hard bird to see, keeping resolutely in thick cover, but this morning it was much more cooperative, sometimes coming into the open within a couple of metres. Some other highlights were a family of Capybara on the wetlands, a pair of Moustached Wrens, lots of White-flanked Antwrens and a Blond-crested Woodpecker.

When I got back to the house, I decided to check the books for a bird that Iíd seen on the wetlands yesterday and was delighted with the realisation that it had been a Pinnated Bittern. Iíd thought maybe it had just been a funny looking immature Rufescent Tiger Heron, but the dark streaking on the mantle and pale bill would suggest otherwise.

If youíre really good, I may at some stage write up a trip report for my recent travels around Mato Grosso (Amazonia, the Pantanal and Chapada dos Guimaraes). Itís a 440 species epic, if you think you can handle it. Come on then. Outside. You think youíre hard donít you.
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Old Wednesday 6th August 2008, 19:33   #2
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Thanks, Andrew - makes a change fae a' thae purple sandpipers. Have a great time.

Best wishes,
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Old Wednesday 6th August 2008, 20:11   #3
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If that's what you call work then I'm in the wrong job.

Glad to see you're having a good time though. Waiting with baited breath for the pics-after all we know your track record with wrens

Or maybe even some sound recordings as that is what you are allegedly up to.
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Old Wednesday 6th August 2008, 20:28   #4
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allegedly
Now why would you use this word Mark?
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Old Thursday 7th August 2008, 23:47   #5
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And now we have: An Update

Yesterday was another rather cloudy day and I pottered about the wetlands in the morning. The best bird was a Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, which is a bird Iíve not seen previously at Regua. In fact Nicholas, who owns Regua, later told me that he hadnít seen one here either. I actually had rather a good view, and very fine birds they are too, with a deep crimson throat set against jet black. I was surprised to see a Velvety Black Tyrant so low down Ė perhaps the cloud had caused it to move downhill. I also managed to figure out a Hangnest Tody-tyrant in the scrub on the hillside by the wetlands. This bird always gets a bit of a hard time in the books. Souza, arguably not the most authoritative of fieldguides, puts it concisely: ďNo outstanding fieldmarksĒ. Well Mr Souza, Iíd suggest you dust down your binoculars and have a good look at one because theyíre really rather tidy looking things: bright green above, with a pale eye, clear fore-supercillium and some neat streaking on the underparts. Quite a distinctive call too. And when youíve done that, get over to Europe and check out a few Acrocephalus warblers if you want to see a lack of outstanding fieldmarks. I did cop myself a tick yesterday morning too: a Wedge-tailed Grassfinch. Quite a neat, streaky fellow with a long tail.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I saw was a Broad-snouted Caiman catching a fish. It was quite a big fish that was noisily splashing about in the shallows. Fatally splashing about in fact. The caiman made a move towards it, pausing occasionally. In between the caiman and the fish were a pair of Brazilian Teal. They noticed the caiman was coming and, rather wisely, decided to move a few metres out of the way. The caiman paused one last time before springing sharply out of the water and down onto the fish. It sat in the water for a minute or two, fish in mouth, before sidling back to the rushes to eat it.

In the afternoon I just went for a short walk around the Nursery Trail and the wetlands. I was pleased to ID Yellow Tyrannulet and to pick up on the call of a Black-cheeked Gnateater. A female came in very close with what we Neotropical birders refer to as Ďencouragementí. There were several Pauraques along the track as I walked back to my house.

Today I spent the morning with a group of visiting British birders on the 4x4 Trail. We were with the two resident bird guides, Adilei and Leonardo and this meant we saw lots of birds and other wildlife. We were soon onto a Rufous-crowned Motmot, giving a pigeon-like trilling call. Some other interesting species were Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Scaled Antbird, Yellow-legged Thrush, Large-headed Flatbill and Eulerís Flycatcher. Then the highlight of the morning for me, one, or possibly two, Ferruginous Pygmy Owls, which showed very well as they perched in the treetops. The local bird population was rather less enthusiastic about their presence. I would say they looked rather like European Pygmy Owls, but Iíve never seen one of those, so I wonít. Then followed splendid views of a Bare-throated Bellbird belting out its resounding song. Even better were what birders over many generations have described as Ďcripplingí views of a White-bibbed Antbird. Iíve seen a few antbirds in Brazil but if pushed I reckon White-bibbed might be the best of them. And this was almost at our feet. Thus Ďcrippledí we continued on down the hill, enjoying some decent views of a Sooretama Slaty-antshrike and a Crescent-chested Puffbird, which youíll notice Iím now getting rather blasť about. On the track was a dead Nine-banded Armadillo, the first Iíve ever seen in any state of being. A more extraordinary sighting was of a Porcupine (I assume Orange-spined Dwarf Porcupine) roosting up in a dense tangle of branches. I shall go to my grave having no comprehension whatsoever of how Adilei spotted this. It was barely visible even with bins, but it was possible to pick out some prickly hairs and a snout.

When we returned to base camp, Raquel came up to the Landrover to tell us that some of the workers had found a Boa Constrictor whilst cutting grass. It was now residing, not entirely to its pleasure, in a bin. We had a quick look in there but decided it would be better placed out on the grass, where it posed for photos. Boa Constrictors are not the most willing of models, nor indeed the most willing residents of bins. I would post a picture, and loads of recordings, but the Internet connection here doesn't quite seem to be swift enough for either I'm afraid.

Late in the afternoon I headed around the wetlands. I had reasonable views of a couple of Rusty-margined Guans near the lodge and there were plenty of Chestnut-capped Blackbirds and Shiny Cowbirds coming into roost. As night fell, a dark shape flew past me and in the torchlight I could see a long straight bill. It was a Giant Snipe, one of Reguaís specialities. Iíll return again another evening to try to get better views.
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Old Thursday 7th August 2008, 23:56   #6
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Well, there's steam spurting out the back of the computer, but the Boa Constrictors are getting through! Aww, ain't he purty.

The second picture is today's quiz question. In the word's of Lloyd Grossman, what kind of bird would live in a hole like this?

And by crikey I think we've got sound. A Tufted Antshrike giving it laldy in fact.
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Old Friday 8th August 2008, 01:24   #7
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Hey Andrew,

Congrats for the trip, and I hope your enjoying Brazil's biodiversity! REGUA is really a fantastic place (though I've never been there myself!!!), you can find quite some interesting birds and other wildlife (your report is a proof!). Who is accompanying you over there?

Cheers!
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Old Friday 8th August 2008, 10:59   #8
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The second picture is today's quiz question. In the word's of Lloyd Grossman, what kind of bird would live in a hole like this?
Well, drawing on my extensive knowledge of Brazilian birds or rather by reading your first posting again I would hazard a rather outrageous guess at burrowing owl.
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Old Friday 8th August 2008, 12:13   #9
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You're a swine Dr. W., just thought I'd say that ...

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Old Friday 8th August 2008, 15:51   #10
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I visited REGUA in June 2005, when it was still in its early stages of development, but it was a fabulous spot. Where else can you see Tawny-browed Owls whilst sipping a Caipirinha.

Have you seen any sign of the released Red-billed Currasows? They are really spectacular birds, I managed to see a couple at Linhares, hope they are able to establish a decent sized population in the reserve.
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Old Friday 8th August 2008, 16:22   #11
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Oh, you think you're *so* clever, don't you, Whitehouse?

Well, for your info, my job has sent me to the exotic climes of Halifax this week (West Yorkshire, not Nova Scotia). Even now, I can see a Carrion Crow, a Wood Pigeon and 4 Starlings through the window.

Try to contain your jealousy, you bitter, bitter man.

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Old Friday 8th August 2008, 22:22   #12
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Hmm, would my professorial senses be putting me onto a touch of envy here? Actually it was a bit cloudy today and I got a few mosquito bites. Does that make you feel better?

Didn't see anything too amazing but did see my first Pied-billed Grebes and Vermillion Flycatchers (a nice male!) for southeast Brazil. The Tawny-browed Owls don't seem to be calling around the lodge at the moment but I did hear one at the back of the wetlands this evening whilst I was looking for Giant Snipe. I again had flight views of the latter and also heard Common Potoo and Tropical Screech Owl while I was there.

Talking of owls, Dr G is certainly showing of his knowledge of Brazilian birds. The hole wasn't made by a Burrowing Owl. I was rather surprised to be told what had made it. The hole is pretty big - maybe 20-30cm across.

Jo„o - I'm travelling on my own, but there're plenty of other people about. Regua seems to be full of British people at the moment. We could probably do with some more Brasileiros so please come and visit - it's not too hard to get to!
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Old Friday 8th August 2008, 23:05   #13
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We could probably do with some more Brasileiros so please come and visit - it's not too hard to get to!
Well... It gets hard there cause I'm still 16... As soon as I've got my driving license, I'll sure do! Meanwhile, enjoy your trip!

Cheers!
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Old Sunday 10th August 2008, 23:35   #14
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Another Purple Sandpiper-free update.

Yesterday was my day off, so I decided to go birding. The visiting group of birders were going on a road trip to Sumidouro, so I tagged along with them. It turned out to be rather a good day, despite some damp and misty conditions to begin with. I ended the day having seen 107 species, with several more heard. Highlights were numerous but we easily saw Three-toed Jacamar, with at least four practically in someone's garden by the side of the road. A calling Red-legged Seriema was wonderfully weird, as were a crazily displaying pair of Streamer-tailed Tyrants. We had lots of good mixed flocks which included a couple of new birds for me: White-chinned Sapphire and White-bellied Seedeater. Good ones to see were a very obliging Striped Cuckoo and a small flock of Curl-crested Jays. A group of three huge Crowned Eagles were soaring about for much of the morning. There were also a couple of groups of Brown Howler Monkeys, including a very big looking male who sat in the tree looking very much like he'd ate all the bananas.

Bird of the day actually came at sundown when I was back at Regua. I was having a quick look around the wetlands and came upon a tall dark shape with long bushy ear tufts sitting on top of a small shelter in the grass, just ten metres or so distant. It was a Striped Owl - a new one for me. It sat and looked at me for a moment before floating into the night.

Those of you in rain-lashed Britain will perhaps be cheered to know that it rained for most of the day here at Regua too. I still managed a new bird though - a Yellow-breasted Flycatcher which was calling noisily in my garden. The call sounds remarkably like a Yellow-browed Warbler. I got out around the wetlands late in the afternoon and enjoyed long views of a fishing Pinnated Bittern. Like all Bitterns, they're strange and wonderful birds.

I'll try to post some Three-toed Jacamar pictures tomorrow, just to keep Dr G happy.
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Old Monday 11th August 2008, 15:59   #15
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Here are some Three-toed Jacamar shots, as promised. Not the most colourful members of their family but rather characterful nevertheless.
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Old Monday 11th August 2008, 16:03   #16
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And where do these incredibly rare, restricted range species live? Pristine rainforest? Extensive undrained wetlands? No. They live in a few scabby looking trees by someone's garden in a mostly deforested area next to a main road, with a bus going past.
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Old Monday 11th August 2008, 16:51   #17
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Very nice reports Andrew, keep them coming. I'm just waiting for my new lens to arrive to maybe visit REGUA for some photos at the wetland. Specially interested in the masked ducks, need good photos of them.

Now that quiz question... let me see if I can get it right.... a hole in a steep bank inside the forest... Rufous-capped Motmot or White-eyed Foliage-gleaner. Placing my bet on the first one, is that right?
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Old Monday 11th August 2008, 18:00   #18
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Enjoying these reports very much.
Will be arriving at REGUA on Sept 28.
Can't wait!!
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Old Monday 11th August 2008, 20:40   #19
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Hope to see both Martin and Octavio at Regua soon. And Octavio is absolutely correct with the quiz question. The hole was apparently made by a Rufous-capped Motmot, which quite surprised me when I was told.

It was nice weather again today, but I didn't see anything too unusual. Best was probably a Rufous-thighed Hawk perched at close range.
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Old Tuesday 12th August 2008, 22:31   #20
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The highlights today were mostly non-avian. Perhaps the best was a huge Atlas Moth that was caught last night at the Lodge. A group of around five baby Capybara were gathered under a bush in the wetland and I had great views of a White-tufted Marmoset in the forest. Otherwise I just enjoyed watching the tanagers and hummingbirds at the feeders and had good views of two different Crescent-chested Puffbirds.
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Old Wednesday 13th August 2008, 22:40   #21
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Smile

My favourite time of day at Regua is late in the afternoon, as the darkness begins to arrive. The day shift looks for somewhere to roost and the night shift begins to take over. I usually try to get out around the wetlands for an hour or so, and every day is different. My usual circuit is to walk around the lakes to the observation tower from where I can watch birds coming to roost. Then, as it gets dark, I walk around the back of the wetlands to look for night birds, torch at the ready.

This afternoon the weather was cool and cloudy, with the mist hanging low on the Serra dos Orgaos. A few Chestnut-vented Conebills were working their way through the scrub that fringes the trail. I was distracted from watching them by two birds that were flying to the new wetlands up ahead. They immediately looked different - large birds but with their long necks strangely kinked. At first they almost reminded me of geese, but then I realised they were herons. They gave away their identity when they landed on a snag and begin bowing at one another and giving a shrill whistle that soon turned into a strange donkey-like braying. These were Whistling Herons, a bird that had previously eluded me in Brazil. They were much stranger birds than I expected. Not only was there the bizarre call but there was the peculiar appearance of the birds in flight, necks outstretched but kinked in the middle and a striking bowed wing action. They stayed on their snag for a few minutes before moving to another tree on the other side of the wetland, perhaps to roost there.

From the tower I could see and hear a lot of what was going on. Hundreds of Cattle Egrets came in from all directions to roost on the woody islands in the main lake. Swarming into the rush beds were Chestnut-capped Blackbirds and this evening they were joined by lots of iridescent blue-black Shiny Cowbirds.

As the amphibian and insect chorus gathered momentum, the rails and crakes begin to call. From either side I could hear the intense trilling of Rufous-sided Crakes and the contrasting duet song of Ash-throated Crake. Several Blackish Rails squealed invisibly from the rushes and in the distance I could make out the peculiar yammering of Slaty-breasted Wood-rail.

I walked around the back of the wetlands and played out a recording of Giant Snipe. Eventually I heard some distant birds responding but I didn't see any fly in. A few Black-crowned Night Herons flew out of the wetlands as the last few Great Egrets came into roost. A pair of Muscovey Ducks were lurking on the furthest pools and several groups of Brazilian Teal made there way off up the valley, as they seem to every evening, going who knows where. A Tropical Screech Owl called a few times from the forest but not many other night birds were making a sound. Perhaps the almost full moon was inhibiting their nocturnal habits. Pauraques were less concerned and there were several giving their distinctive tremulous whistle. I saw at least four in the torch light as I walked back around the edge of the wetland.
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Old Thursday 14th August 2008, 19:38   #22
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Very nice, the whistling heron does look very strange in flight.

Are you going to stay only at REGUA or are you going somewhere else too?
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Old Thursday 14th August 2008, 22:52   #23
Andrew Whitehouse
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Very nice, the whistling heron does look very strange in flight.

Are you going to stay only at REGUA or are you going somewhere else too?
I saw the Whistling Herons again this evening - very nice.

I spent three weeks travelling around Mato Grosso, visiting Cristalino, Pousada Rio Azul, the Pantanal and Chapada dos Guimaraes. One day I'll write this up, although it will have to be when I'm less busy! I may visit a few other places in southeast Brazil at weekends, although I'm not sure where yet. Otherwise, I'll basically be at Regua doing research till the end of September. Are there any places you'd particularly recommend Octavio? I've been to Itatiaia before, and quite enjoyed it.

I managed a new bird this morning - a pair of Lemon-chested Greenlets in a mixed flock along the Nursery Trail. Nice little warblery birds. In the same area I had great views of two Crab-eating Foxes that came wandering along the track towards, both stopping and turning into the forest when they were around 20 metres away. I think they smelt me before they saw me. Must remember to change my clothes.
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Old Friday 15th August 2008, 02:42   #24
Aracari
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Andrew... one place I like very much, mostly for its extensive pristine forest and rare birds is the Parque do Zizo private reserve, in southern S„o Paulo State (more or less near Intervales). Not very close from where you are though... but I guess far is relative from someone who came all the way from Scotland, hehe...

This year we have located quite a few nice birds there, including Solitary Tinamou and Black-Fronted Piping-Guan (both quite common there), Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Buff-fronted Owl, Helmeted Woodpecker and Atlantic Royal Flycatcher, among many others. If you wanna go there just catch a bus to the city of Campinas and we'll go on my car, free of charge, hehe... I'm not a birding guide.

There are also Crab-eating Foxes there, a family comes every night near the lodge. They are quite tame. The nice thing there is that there's no electricity or any car noises, the place is very isolated yet comfortable enough with great food. Since you are studying bird sounds... well, you will certainly hear all kinds of birds there. Right now is the time of the year when the Bare-throated Bellbirds starts singing in full power.
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Old Friday 15th August 2008, 21:57   #25
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quite a few nice birds there, including Solitary Tinamou and Black-Fronted Piping-Guan (both quite common there), Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Buff-fronted Owl, Helmeted Woodpecker and Atlantic Royal Flycatcher, among many others.
Nice? I'd say they're pretty much more than that!

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there's no electricity
They were planning to get eletricity there, weren't they?
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