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A Very Casual World List - part 1: Brasilia, Brasil.

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Old Tuesday 15th October 2019, 01:04   #1
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A Very Casual World List - part 1: Brasilia, Brasil.

This is part one of a log of bird (and other) species I've seen without making any special effort beyond showing up in a new place.

First day in Brasilia, obligatory visit to National Cathedral, ditto Museum, and Plaza of the Three Powers.

Outside the National Museum, an egret.

(Inside the museum, rather disappointing "modern" art pieces ... at least there was no charge for admission.)

On an embankment overlooking the Congress building, some very cute burrowing owls.

On grassy medians and traffic circles, southern lapwings a.k.a. "quero-quero".

At a viewpoint across the JK bridge, rufous hornero in its nest. (I have a photo of the nest, but won't link to it from here.)

Brasilia is a strange city - some ultramodern buildings under construction, lots of sixties/seventies high-rises in some disrepair - kind of feels like Eastern Europe if you ignore the tropical heat and the red clay soil. Despite the high-rises, the city doesn't feel dense, nor pedestrian-friendly. It feels like a city made for cars. There is no subway, though there are lots of buses. Crosswalks are in short supply. The city planners were obviously aiming for grand Parisian-style avenues, but forgot to provide any shade, so the effect is more oppressive than it is impressive. Putting the TV transmitter at the center of the grandest avenue felt strange to me at first, but it makes sense that the Fourth Estate should have its monument within view of the Three Powers (Executive, Legislative, Judicial).

Locals have been friendly and we have yet to encounter any pickpockets, police extortion, etc. Brasilians will tell you their city is safe, but regale you with crime stories about other cities. Also, whenever you ask, the local drinking water is safe to drink, but nobody drinks it because it's "not very clean."
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Old Sunday 20th October 2019, 01:39   #2
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Sounds a bit like Skelmersdale in some respects
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Old Sunday 20th October 2019, 11:27   #3
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This is part one of a log of bird (and other) species I've seen without making any special effort beyond showing up in a new place.

First day in Brasilia, obligatory visit to National Cathedral, ditto Museum, and Plaza of the Three Powers.

Outside the National Museum, an egret.

(Inside the museum, rather disappointing "modern" art pieces ... at least there was no charge for admission.)

On an embankment overlooking the Congress building, some very cute burrowing owls.

On grassy medians and traffic circles, southern lapwings a.k.a. "quero-quero".

At a viewpoint across the JK bridge, rufous hornero in its nest. (I have a photo of the nest, but won't link to it from here.)

Brasilia is a strange city - some ultramodern buildings under construction, lots of sixties/seventies high-rises in some disrepair - kind of feels like Eastern Europe if you ignore the tropical heat and the red clay soil. Despite the high-rises, the city doesn't feel dense, nor pedestrian-friendly. It feels like a city made for cars. There is no subway, though there are lots of buses. Crosswalks are in short supply. The city planners were obviously aiming for grand Parisian-style avenues, but forgot to provide any shade, so the effect is more oppressive than it is impressive. Putting the TV transmitter at the center of the grandest avenue felt strange to me at first, but it makes sense that the Fourth Estate should have its monument within view of the Three Powers (Executive, Legislative, Judicial).

Locals have been friendly and we have yet to encounter any pickpockets, police extortion, etc. Brasilians will tell you their city is safe, but regale you with crime stories about other cities. Also, whenever you ask, the local drinking water is safe to drink, but nobody drinks it because it's "not very clean."
Great egret...
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Old Sunday 20th October 2019, 16:26   #4
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Part 2: Pirinopolis

A weekend vacation town outside Brasilia. We spent a couple of days in a valley down a dirt road, waking early each morning to a great variety of birdsong, plus a loud selection of cicadas and grasshoppers.

On first arriving, near sunset, I thought I saw a buteo perched atop a nearby tree. Thanks to a powerful zoom lens I was able to ID it as a Picazuro Pigeon. It was pretty big!

The loudest were the parrots or parakeets - smallish green things with a bit of red on the forward edge of the folded wing, similar to lots of greenish parrots but perhaps IDable by location?

We had blue-winged tanagers nesting in our roof and a few other tanagers passing through;
euphonias too small and quick to ID with confidence, at least two species of honeycreepers, small ground-doves, some large swallows (nesting at a nearby waterfall - the next fall upstream was home to bats), vultures (I think all Black at this location), a variety of flycatchers, and more.

A pewee-like bird struck our window and died a few minutes later. Plain brownish above, all pale below, a few yellow feathers at upper center breast; but I didn't know what field marks to look for and I didn't photograph the corpse.

Among the few birds that posed for the camera was one I at first took for an icterid, but now I think might be a seedeater. Hummingbirds were seen repeatedly but proved very camera-shy, with this one exception. All I can say that might help with ID is it was green, and not large by local standards: hummingbird

A rufous-collared sparrow was an easy ID, and its habit of returning to search for table scraps allowed a decent photo.

Glimpsed in a restaurant garden in town, a wood-rail and its chick ( grey-cowled looks like a good match, not sure what else is in range).

Elsewhere around town, a canary-like yellow bird with a red-orange head: saffron finch?

Finally, on a park lawn (and sometimes seen overhead): buff-necked ibis
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Old Sunday 20th October 2019, 17:21   #5
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part 3: Alto Paraiso

Driving north from Brasilia, you pass through endless fields of grain until you see some remarkable hills. Climbing into these as the afternoon wanes, you get a sense of the vastness of the South American continent. Except for the road, the landscape is practically empty, and yet you're still only a hop and a skip from the coast. At the same time, the hand of man was very obvious, in the form of smoke from wildfires. After dark we could see lines of flame licking the distant hills.

Tucked into the hills is Alto Paraiso, a combination hippy enclave and tourist trap. The forest here is thicker and a bit wetter than in Pirinopolis - mosquito nets advised, even in the dry season. More fruit trees, and more loud parrots. No new bird species, but I did manage my first decent photos of a blue-and-gold macaw and of a fork-tailed flycatcher.
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Old Thursday 24th October 2019, 19:26   #6
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Part 4: Return to Brasilia

A brief stay before catching an early-morning flight. A walk in a local park netted a tropical mockingbird, many good views of rufous horneros, a rufous-bellied thrush. I'll also include a close-up of a southern lapwing, showing the red eye and iridescent shoulder patch.

Seen but not photographed: more saffron finches, house sparrows, some tiny wrens.
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 01:55   #7
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Part 5: Rio de Janeiro

Looking out the window of a descending aircraft, it's immediately obvious that Rio de Janeiro is a city of six million people. High-rise hotels crowd the beaches, favelas claw up the steep hills, and the whole writhing mass spills across the bay and over the horizon, like a cellular slime mold that's outgrown its petri dish.

From the beach, you see frigatebirds passing high overhead, and vultures (mostly Black) circling the hills. Something gull-like cruises just above the breakers, while pigeons walk the sand and house sparrows dart under restaurant tables.

New birds include a masked water-tyrant poolside at the Copacabana Palace, some chacalacas (perhaps rusty-margined guans) at an overlook near Corcovado, and an unidentified (as always) hummingbird near the aquarium. More of those tiny wrens were abundant near the aquarium, but they always evaded my lens.
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Old Tuesday 29th October 2019, 21:37   #8
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Part 6: Gramado, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil.

Gramado is a well-to-do tourist town in the hills north of Porto Alegre. We arrived just in time for "Natal Luz", a festival of Christmas lights, plus shows and music and so on, that lasts from October until late January. The town has a certain German architectural flavor, and the Christmas decorations at first reminded me of a Weihnachtsmarkt, but after a few days I decided the sheer overabundance was more American than German. </p>



The town does have a lot of fondu restaurants, a proportion of blue-eyed residents, and even the tourists are paler, on average, than we'd seen so far in Brasil. Plus, the town is proud of a freak snowstorm a few years ago. You can get your photo taken against a snowy backdrop. You can also try out indoor skiing or one of seemingly dozens of theme parks, half of them sponsored by a local chocolate company. On the one hand, there were plenty of things to do, but on the other, parking was terrible, prices were high, and the constant commercialism was wearing.


Still, with bracingly cool weather (including some sharp afternoon thunderstorms), excellent scenery including a spectacular waterfall, and a large zoo, the town is well worth a visit.

Not counting birds seen at the zoo, new species included a seriema alongside the road just above Lago Negro, and a Surucua trogon near Caracol waterfall.
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Old Wednesday 30th October 2019, 10:26   #9
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Among the few birds that posed for the camera was one I at first took for an icterid, but now I think might be a seedeater. Hummingbirds were seen repeatedly but proved very camera-shy, with this one exception. All I can say that might help with ID is it was green, and not large by local standards: hummingbird

Elsewhere around town, a canary-like yellow bird with a red-orange head: saffron finch?
Reckon your seedeater is either a Shiny or Screaming Cowbird. I'm out of practice telling the two apart!

Hummer looks like a Glittering-bellied Emerald

Finch is Saffron
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Old Wednesday 30th October 2019, 13:47   #10
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Reckon your seedeater is either a Shiny or Screaming Cowbird. I'm out of practice telling the two apart!

Hummer looks like a Glittering-bellied Emerald

Finch is Saffron
Thanks. As mentioned, the black bird seemed similar in shape, jizz, etc to icterids I know, but I don't think it can be a Shiny Cowbird - I've never seen one, but I don't think my bird is nearly shiny enough. Also I saw the same species (I think) in pairs and small flocks, so I don't think it's sexually dimorphic. Looking for local black birds turned up some promising seedeaters, but if you think the beak shape is wrong for a seedeater, then it would have to be a Screaming Cowbird.

PS I'm in Porto Alegre today, waiting out a big rainstorm by working on my laptop. A few minutes after typing the above, a Greater Kiskadee came and strutted on my windowsill, so close I could hear its wings rustle against its body with each step. It pecked indignantly at the window for a moment, puffed out a dazzling yellow crest, then flitted away before I could remember where I'd left my camera. Not a new bird for me, but I'd never seen the crest before, so I had to double-check it wasn't some look-alike species.
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Old Wednesday 30th October 2019, 15:58   #11
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Reckon your seedeater is either a Shiny or Screaming Cowbird. I'm out of practice telling the two apart!

Hummer looks like a Glittering-bellied Emerald

Finch is Saffron
Shiny, I think (bill shape/thickness)
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Old Wednesday 30th October 2019, 16:12   #12
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Looking out the window of a descending aircraft, it's immediately obvious that Rio de Janeiro is a city of six million people. High-rise hotels crowd the beaches, favelas claw up the steep hills, and the whole writhing mass spills across the bay and over the horizon, like a cellular slime mold that's outgrown its petri dish.

From the beach, you see frigatebirds passing high overhead, and vultures (mostly Black) circling the hills. Something gull-like cruises just above the breakers, while pigeons walk the sand and house sparrows dart under restaurant tables.

New birds include a masked water-tyrant poolside at the Copacabana Palace, some chacalacas (perhaps rusty-margined guans) at an overlook near Corcovado, and an unidentified (as always) hummingbird near the aquarium. More of those tiny wrens were abundant near the aquarium, but they always evaded my lens.
Not absolutely certain, but hummer looks to be Swallow-tailed hummingbird. Angle makes the tail foreshortened, I think (it normally is longer), and makes the bird appear unusually dull.
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Old Wednesday 30th October 2019, 16:16   #13
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A brief stay before catching an early-morning flight. A walk in a local park netted a tropical mockingbird, many good views of rufous horneros, a rufous-bellied thrush. I'll also include a close-up of a southern lapwing, showing the red eye and iridescent shoulder patch.

Seen but not photographed: more saffron finches, house sparrows, some tiny wrens.
Mockingbird is Chalk-browed IMHO
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Old Tuesday 5th November 2019, 13:26   #14
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Part 7: Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre, city of underachievement. Arriving by air you notice a large new bridge under construction with complex interchange ramps. Later you learn that construction has been halted "due to corruption." By road, the approaches are mostly ugly industrial districts, complete with belching smokestacks. The residential neighborhoods are dotted with small parks that ought to be very pleasant, but most are abandoned. Even the soccer fields are overgrown and unused - something I can't imagine for Rio, where people played all night long under lights.

Porto Alegre ended the trend of Brasilians reporting that their home city is safer than all the others. Our hosts warned us not to dawdle when unlocking the front door in broad daylight; walking at night was not to be considered, outside of a couple of specific downtown locations with extra lights and security cameras (and even there, discarded drug paraphernalia could be found by an inquisitive eye.) Even a service call from my sprinkler service back home ended with the employee, Brasilian by origin, warning me to be extra careful in Porto Alegre.

On the birding front, nothing new to report besides a lone bananaquit. Some thrushes, some horneros, some wrens, a passing vulture, a few lapwings, some parrots, and the aggressive kiskadee I mentioned above.
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Old Sunday 10th November 2019, 01:50   #15
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Part 8a: Foz do Iguacu, Brasil: Parque das Aves

I'll post about birds seen at the falls themselves once I finish triaging hundreds of waterfall photos. Before the falls, though, we stopped at the bird zoo. I won't count birds seen there for any lists, but I did get some good photos in my own humble opinion. The gallery is at https://davidalbeck.com/blog/?p=267 .

Notably, my first in-person views of a southern screamer (I saw two in the wild some days later, but didn't get very good photos), and of a cassowary (which I'm not in any particular hurry to get close to without a strong fence between us).
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Old Saturday 16th November 2019, 16:18   #16
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part 8b: Iguacu Falls (Brasil side)

Actually, there isn't much to report about new birds at the falls - at least, not that I can remember. The plush-crested jays were cute at first, but annoyingly aggressive - same as the coatis. Honeybees coming for our sweat were a bigger menace - two stings in one day out of a party of three.

Of course we saw lots of vultures - mostly black, some turkey. Some kind of swallow near the falls. Various unmemorable passerines. And cormorants - neotropic I guess. (Very similar to my familiar double-crested.)



I'll end this thread here and start a new thread for "A Very Casual World List" - Argentina
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