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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

North East Brazil (1 Viewer)

Day 9

There is a place nearby the hotel (around 20 minute drive), with a natural hummingbird garden full of ground cacti that blossom every day attracting many nice hummingbirds. Fortunately, this pristine and unique area is now owned and protected by a Brazilian couple of birders who are constantly improving facilities this is the famous “Lajedo dos beija-flores”.

We had a nice few hours here taking shelter from some showers but then getting a chance to see some good birds as the sun eventually broke through. We started by seeing a pair of Slender Antbirds at the rear of the property, these were joined by Great Antshrike and Silvery-cheeked Antshrike but once it was fully light activity took off with plenty of hummers coming to a mix of plants and feeders, in order we saw Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Planalto Hermit, Black-throated Mango, then my favourite of the morning Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Sapphire-spangled Emerald and finally Broad-tipped Hermit a pretty good haul. Other birds in the garden included Cactus Parakeet, Golden-capped Parakeet, Pale-legged Hornero, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Tropical Pewee, Violaceous Euphonia, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Green Honeycreeper and White-lined Tanager. Then Ciro was approached by a friend who works in the gardens, a couple of Tinamou were coming to area near his hut. We tried calling for a long period but with no success gave up and went to an area where some finches were being coming to seed, here we saw Pileated and Saffron Finch and Burnished-buff Tanager but Ciro said he heard the Tinamou calling pointed ahead and suddenly we had a couple of Small-billed Tinamou walking across the path below us. Later when I trying for better photos of the hummers Sarah found the two birds again but not quite as go for photos. We ahd one last surprise with possibly the rarest birds of the morning flying in Brown-backed Parrotlets unfortunately we couldn’t get round to photograph them before they flew off.

On the way pack to the hotel we tried for small waterbirds, and had a Rufous-sided Crake after much effort and Purple Gallinule and Blackish Rail with almost no effort. Only other bird was White Mojita.

After lunch it was raining and we decide to go into the Atlantic Forest trail which offered some cover, birding was steady and we saw some great birds but lighting wasn’t great for photography. Also the track was pretty wet and skiddy even in a 4x4 so we didn’t drive very much. We did quickly get two key targets Bahia Spintail and Striated Softtail and then White-eyed Foilage Gleaner and Crescent-chested Puffbird. The rain then got really heavy for 30 minutes and we sheltered under some trees, quite fortunate as we were underneath a Sharpbill which stayed in shelter with us for a couple of minutes until the sky brightened. After the rain had eased the birds were more of the same with some Thrushes and Flycatchers thrown in before we caught up with another cracker a Rufous-headed Tanager and then two new Flycatchers, Whiskered Flycatcher and Grey-hooded Atilla and finally a Buff-throated Saltator.


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Day 10

In the neighbouring municipality (Poções), there is a young birder (Mateus) who found some local rarities and has been taking out visiting groups to see them at areas he has staked out. Ciro was picking him up this morning.

We had been told that some areas above Poções are not reached even on 4-wheel drives after rain, a worry after yesterday’s downpours. The birding area that can be reached is a trail with a certain level of difficulty (steep) – Sarah was a little concerned by this.

Early on, we stopped on a fairly steep road and walked down a very steep trail and tried for the endemic Jacamar – no joy and after a while we had to walk back up to the road with only a Black-goggled tanager seen. Mateus was surprised as the birds had been there a few days before. Ciro knew another spot around the other side of the mountain, we would try later, but first we went to an area for a few more targets, the light was still pretty poor but we did get Bahia Tyrannulet, and then Greenish Schiffornis before getting fleeting views of Rufous Gnateater – 3 pretty good birds.

Now we went for the Jacamar, when we got there we found the track was pretty wet. We give it a go but could only get half way before an abandoned truck showed no further progress was possible. Only option was to walk, after a very muddy and slippy trek (Sarah was glad she had her walking poles) we stopped for a calling birds and finally saw a pair of Three-toed Jacamar, on the way down we added the skulking Rio de Janeiro Antbird before seeing and photgraphing the striking Orange-eyed Thornbird.

We also saw a Reid's Marmoset.

If the walk back down to the car was Ok, the drive to the road was not, in the end at the slippiest point Mateus was walking alongside trying to help stop the car skidding off the track (probably his most useful act of the morning if I’m brutally honest). The next stop was for Weld’s Tyrant Manakin, another steep climb and despite much calling and a long wait at the summit which Mateus had staked out no sign of the bird, Sarah was not amused having used the last of her energy to get up the steep trail, however Ciro saved the day by hearing and then getting us on a lovely little Buff-throated Purpletuft which was in the tree tops here. On the walk down we also added a female Frilled Coquette.

After lunch the afternoon was forest edge birding (without Mateus) in the same area as yesterday, with improved weather we enjoyed better views of many of the same birds and added Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, higher up Black-billed Scythebill, Pallid Spinetail, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Swallow-tailed Manakin, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Ferruginous Antbird, Gilt-edged Tanager and Cinnamon Tanager. Before Ciro give us the option of trying for the fantastic

Giant Snipe or getting decent views of Least Pygmy owl.
We opted for the snipe which meant a walk off the trail onto some marshy ground at the edge of the forest.

Ciro had not seen the bird on his last few trips so we weren’t very hopeful but just as it was starting to get dark he tried a quick call expecting to hear a distant call back and then to later spotlight the marsh for the bird, instead we had a massive Giant Snipe fly right at us, giving stunning views before it flew off into the distance. Further calling never did bring the bird back in for another view but we drove back to the hotel on a real high.


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Love the report as I'm planning a visit soon.

But if I'm brutally honest, show some more respect to local guides that spend all their time and effort into staking out / discovering / finding birds you take for granted, because they did all the field work leading up to your sighting.

Day 10

In the neighbouring municipality (Poções), there is a young birder (Mateus) who found some local rarities and has been taking out visiting groups to see them at areas he has staked out. Ciro was picking him up this morning.

If the walk back down to the car was Ok, the drive to the road was not, in the end at the slippiest point Mateus was walking alongside trying to help stop the car skidding off the track (probably his most useful act of the morning if I’m brutally honest).
Love the report as I'm planning a visit soon.

But if I'm brutally honest, show some more respect to local guides that spend all their time and effort into staking out / discovering / finding birds you take for granted, because they did all the field work leading up to your sighting.
I don't doubt he put in the work but the birds he staked out in our case weren't there, we got most of them at other places, and when we had birds in the bush his directions were pretty rubbish, and we didn't use him in the afternoon.
We usually just go with local guides so normally really appreciate them but both Sarah and I wondered why Ciro used this guy other than to encourage him and I certainly wouldn't recommend him based on that morning. It may be he had an off day in which cases I'm sorry.
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Day 11: Transfer to ITACARÉ

No birding first thing, instead we head down to Itacare. Our stop for lunch today was a really good restaurant (Café Com Cacau) with feeders it is just outside Itacare. The seafood selection here was excellent with a beautiful Cacau coffee to follow. Ciro does like his food and we dined very well on most places on this trip but today was really excellent.

On the feeders we had White-bellied Tanager (Tangara mexicana brasiliensis), Silvery-breasted Tanager (Tangara velia cyanomelas), Brazillian Tanager, Bananaquit, Palm Tanager, Blue Dacnis, Orange-bellied and Chestnut-bellied Euphonia.

After lunch we will travel to Maraú with some humid forest borders and tall secondary growth (it is not far north of Itacaré), we see Little Woodpecker, only hear Scaled Anbird, but get the nominal race of White-fronted Nunbird, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (another future split?), Streaked Xenops, Cinerous-breasted Spinetail, Blue-backed Manakin, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Roadside Hawk, and Chivi Vireo.

We then try to see the rare and endemic Bahia Tapaculo, which despite waiting for ages in an insect ridden marshy area and getting bitten to pieces at the stakeout we don’t see or even hear, however it is not a total loss as 4 Golden-tailed Parrotlet fly into a tree across the marsh from us, photos are pretty rubbish but Ciro says these birds are much harder to see than the Tapaculo as they are very unpredictable – and so Sarah walks back up to the road through the mud happy. We also add Black-throated Saltator and finally see Least Pygmy Owl.

Area description:
this region of South Coast Bahia is rich in endemism and special birds. With a vast area of remnants of lowland forest, some of them in private areas and other protected by Serra do Conduru State Park which we will go to tomorrow. We are based in Itacaré, a famous tourist destination with marvelous forest, beaches, and waterfalls. The town is very pretty and we enjoyed the local chocolate shop and the seafood restaurants. It certainly would be worth a longer stay here.


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I don't doubt he put in the work but the birds he staked out in our case weren't there, we got most of them at other places, and when we had birds in the bush his directions were pretty rubbish, and we didn't use him in the afternoon.
We usually just go with local guides so normally really appreciate them but both Sarah and I wondered why Ciro used this guy other than to encourage him and I certainly wouldn't recommend him based on that morning. It may be he had an off day in which cases I'm sorry.
fair enough.

At the one hand, I fully understand if you feel he didn't contribute anything to the day.

At the other hand (and I think guys like Ciro will concur), some of those guys (maybe applicable to Matheus, but I don't really know him) are much better in finding birds than in showing them, and guys like Ciro need those people to (just a short list):
1. (re)confirm the presence of certain birds that change territories / nesting places every season
2. to find new species / places (especially when a previous place gets degraded, or is far away and a closer location is logistically much better)
3. and / or to evaluate birding potential / accessibility of certain places (with our without involving permits of landlords), as some of those pockets are hardly ever birded.

Those are the jobs / work people like Ciro have much less time for as they are constantly guiding and moving, but local people can invest that time, and it's only fair that guides (like Ciro) hire those locals, if only to acknowledge all the work they have been doing.
Those are the jobs / work people like Ciro have much less time for as they are constantly guiding and moving, but local people can invest that time, and it's only fair that guides (like Ciro) hire those locals, if only to acknowledge all the work they have been doing.
To piggyback off of this, it could also be the way that Ciro (and Brazil Birding Experts) gives back to the local community by hiring someone and showcase the few green pockets left.

While in Kenya, we had the local guide training someone new in finding the birds the tourists wanted. This was to ensure the practice remained, even if he retired and to give back to the community. When we spoke with the new guide, she mentioned she didn't really care for the birds but was willing to learn and protect them because it was a steady and lucrative source of income, considering that all she was learning for now was to locate the roosting owls and coursers.

Ciro was probably doing the same with Mateus, not an amazing guide now, but investing in the future of the region and the birding potential.
Day 12 – we set off early to try another spot for the Tapaculo but again have no luck, the group before us and the one after us also missed out on this one, but like yesterday being in the right spot got us a great bird, today it was Black-cheeked Gnateater with a bonus Neotropical River Warbler. In the open area where we leave the thick vegetation we see a couple of cracking birds Bahia Piculet (Golden-spangled), Plain Parakeet, Southern rufous-winged Antwren, and then Black-capped Donacobius and the pretty little Yellow-backed Tanager.

We then stopped to explore the Serra do Conduru State Park, south of Itacaré. This State Park protects more than 9,000 hectares of Atlantic Forest and it is one of the most biodiverse areas of this biome. I think entry is restricted for those not staying and working in the park and we were limited on where we could go but we did get some good birds particularly manakins.

We started with a couple of woodpeckers, Yellow-throated and Red-stained Woodpecker and then Green-backed Trogon before getting into the manakins, Kinglet (striped) Manakin, White-crowned Manakin, Blue-backed Manakin, and then we found a perched Great-billed [Margaretta's] Hermit.
We then heard a Bellbird but either because of time or lack of access we couldn’t go for it, hopefully we could try for it later. Ciro had a message from his partner who was leading a trip coming the other way, they had seen male Banded Contingas in the area below the reserve we were heading to later so we would try for that before heading up the mountain this afternoon but before we finished we added a Green-backed Becard. We stopped on the side of the main road to look for a difficult bird, Ciro had a record of every time he saw a Graveteiro nest (a huge structure of twigs) and we tried one that was active last year. One call and we soon had a couple of Pink-legged Graveteiro, the birds stubbornly stayed at the top of the tree so photos were rubbish but at least we saw them well.

After lunch we went to lower area of the Serra Bonita Reserve – this area is still a working coffee planation but is managed for wildlife. There is a viewing area and some rooms for staff here, the view is over many palms with birds coming to feed on Açai Palm (ripe berries), unfortunately there is an abundance of ripe berries so finding key targets like the Cotinga will not be easy, we waited here as long as we could before taking on the steep road up the mountain to the main research centre. Whilst we didn’t get the Banded Cotinga today we did add some great birds like Ochre-marked Parakeet, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Peach-fronted Parakeet, Yellow Cacique, Campo Oriole and Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike.

We had time to go to the centre for a famous Serra Bonita Caipirinhas and a few birds on the feeders Sombre Hummingbird, Red-necked and Green-headed Tanagers back across from the rooms we heard some birds, and quickly added Black-throated Grosbeak and Pale-browed Treehunter but we then had some fun when a Spot-backed Antbird put in an appearance we saw the bird well but when Sarah started feeling bites she realised she was standing on the ant-nest and was covered in them, she had to do a quick strip off to get all the ants off while I got them off her shirt and trousers by banging them against the tree, the Antbird showed really well throughout;), I assume he enjoyed his feast. It was then off back for a shower and ant check before dinner.

We sleep well in the good research room and get to meet Vitor who set up and still manages the reserve.

Area description: The Serra Bonita Reserve is a pioneering, innovative private conservation enterprise, protecting the sub-montane forest in Southern Bahia. This initiative started thanks to Vitor Becker and Clemira, who after retirement decided to dedicate their lives to the protection of this important and unique fragment of forest. It aims to protect the Atlantic Forest of the region through a consortium of several rural property owners, whose properties contain RPPNs (private reserves). Altogether, they protect over 2,500 hectares. The RPPNs are managed by Instituto Uiraçu, through agreements with the owners. In addition to managing these private reserves and its own, purchased through donations, the Institute aims to extend the protection of the entire Serra Bonita Mountain Range, one of the last remnants of sub-montane forest in the region.


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Day 13

main targets for today are all in the highland area of the reserve and it doesn’t take us long to get started after a pep talk from Victor at breakfast. We soon have Bahia Tyrannulet, Plumbeus Antvireo, Salvadori’s Antwren, Lemon-chested [Bahia] Greenlet (Hylophilus thoracicus thoracicus), the rare Atlantic race (to be split) of Rufous-brown Solitaire but it is a new bird for us anyway as it was heard only last, a few repeats like Swallow-tailed Manakin, Spot-backed Antshrike, Spot-billed Toucanet, Sombre Hummingbird before we get great views of the Striated Softtail and then Scale-throated hermit before in the distance we hear an Antpitta. We try for a while for what Ciro describes as the invisible bird; before we get distracted by a displaying White-bibbed Antbird, in the same area we add Star-throated and Pectoral Antwren before the Antpitta calls again.

This time it is closer and responds to calls, Ciro lays his speaker the other side of the clearing and we watch a path, after a few minutes we see the bird in a tangle and then it crosses the path, I suppose I probably could have grabbed a record shot but we were happy just to get binocular views of Variegated Antpitta. I would have been happy with our morning haul at this point but on the last part of the circular trail we hear a big mixed flock, we see Grey-headed Spinetail, Pin-tailed Manakin, White-throated Woodcreeper, then in a nearby tree a calling Cinnamon-vented Piha, then the bird we were hoping for showed itself the very rare Bahia Treehunter (Heliobletus sp. nov.), which is still waiting for a formal description to be accepted but which we think only occurs here.

That was almost it for the morning but we did see Euler’s Flycatcher, Thrush-like Wren (possible split ?- Campylorhynchus turdinus turdinus) and Violaceous Euphonia before breaking for lunch.

In the afternoon we go down the hill slightly but don’t take on the horrible drive to the lowland area.
Instead we concentrate on a more open area of the reserve.

A calling Least Pygmy Owl does our work for us and gets a mixed flock around it, we have Rufous-headed, Yellow-backed and Green-headed Tanager, Orange-bellied Euphonia before the first lifer of the afternoon a Dubois’s Seedeater, we then add Golden-chevroned Tanager and Grey-capped Tyrannulet before finishing with Wedge-billed Woodcreeper.


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Day 14. On the morning we left the reserve, we spent some as much time as we had searching for the Banded Cotinga, we try all the fruiting trees within walking distance but don’t get the bird, there are more chances near Port Seguro but this was probably our best chance. However, we do see Maroon-faced, Ochre-marked and Golden-capped Parakeets, Reichenow’s parrot(Blue-headed), Yellow-rumped and Red-rumped Caciques, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Blonde-crested Woodpecker, Brazillean Grosbeak, Campo Troupial, Crested Becard and Reddish Hermit.

It was then onto Porto Seguro, we had lunch at a great restaurant on the sea front and checked in to our hotel before heading up to the Veracel Reserve.

Area description
: one of the most famous beaches on the southern coast of Bahia, Porto Seguro is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Brazil. However, we are hardly affected by the crowds in town since we will be birding mainly in the Veracel Reserve, only 30km from our hotel. This private area protects nearly 7.000 hectares of a unique type of Lowland Atlantic Forest known as “Mata de Tabuleiro”, which shares many elements (Fauna and Flora) with the Amazon Forest.

Ciro knew that the road in Veracel was not good, as his partner had sent him a video of his struggles earlier in the week but he thought he would be fine in his 4x4. Before we drove up the track we had to stop to check in a were issued with Snake Gaiters if needed (we had brought our own). We didn't come across any snakes

After about 2Km it became clear that our plan to drive up and down the main track stopping when we heard a call or in open viewing areas was a non-starter as the track was completely ruined by lorries (extracting sand from farms beyond the reserve), even the reserve vehicles with higher clearance were struggling to make the trip, with ruts on the road over a meter deep in places and the staff advised Ciro not to try to go further.

We just walked along the passable area for the rest of the afternoon and then left before dark to buy some rubber boots for the next couple of days.

The afternoon wasn’t a complete wash out we had Bahia Antwren, Atlantic Black-breasted Woodpecker (Ringed), Swallow-winged Puffbird, Black-necked Aracari, White-flanked Antwren, Thrush-like Schifornis and a Rufous-bellied Thrush all seen.



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Day 15 – today is Sarah’s birthday but a long lie is out of the question as we need to walk a couple of miles along the flooded track to the open area where the main targets will hopefully be found, so after a very early coffee and snack we get as far up the track as we can before it gets light.

We start with Brown-winged Schiffornis, and then we see some female Cotingas and then hear a Bellbird, Sarah finds the male Bare-throated Bellbird, and we then quickly see a male White-winged Cotinga but quite distant, Ciro tries to get it in the scope but the lens falls apart, so we try to get closer but just couldn’t get a good close view, so only a rubbish photo, but we see three females Cotingas feeding in a fruiting tree not far from the track (and decide to come here first thing tomorrow), heading further away from the entrance we keep being distracted by Swallow-tailed Puffbirds, they are everywhere, but then we get another rare cotinga type Black-headed Berryeater, photo is not brilliant as I left the camera on the setting for the distant Bellbird and Cotinga but at least it is a records of this rare bird.

The birds keep on coming with Drab-breasted Pygmy Tyrant, Hooked-billed Hermit Band-tailed Antwren, we then see a few bird species that are already recognised as valid species in the Brazilian List and should be split soon by the international lists: they are: Opal-rumped [Silvery-breasted] Tanager, Turquoise [White-bellied] Tanager (Tangara mexicana brasiliensis), Wedge-billed [cuneatus group] Woodcreeper (Glyphorynchus spirurus cuneatus) and we also see things like White-lored Tyrannulet, Pale-breasted Thrush and Yellow-backed Tanager.

We had the muddy walk back to the car, went back and washed our boots before changing our footwear. After a nice lunch and time updating our lists, notes, etc and Sarah opening birthday cards and a present we headed back to Veracel for a late afternoon / evenings birding.

First up, we stopped at the visitor centre for a look at some Palm trees where Banded Cotinga had been seen previously – no luck today only birds seen were those we had seen earlier.

Then it was into the forest trail to get in position for some night birding. We were trying for White-winged Potoo first (heard but no sighting but we weren’t too bothered as we had seen this a couple of years ago in Guyana) in fact we were very pleased when the bird that flew in on response to playback was an Oscellated Poorwill as this was a lifer for us and wasn’t even down on my list as a possible target. We then made our way back in darkness to try for owls, first up was the impressive Tawny-browed owl which we all saw but it didn’t pose for any photographs, we weren’t so lucky with Black-capped Screech Owl which didn’t respond in the spots we tried.

On return to the hotel ( we ordered a special birthday dinner before going up to shower and change and it was ready along with some special prawn starters and some beers that Ciro ordered when we came down at the agreed time. A pretty good birthday Sarah agreed.


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Day 16:
Our last day with Ciro – we head off early to get to the spot for the Cotingas, we find the White-winged Cotinga but they are further away, we have a couple of target birds s and Ciro hears one of them in the forest, a quick tramp through thick growth gets us underneath a Rufous-capped Motmot, despite lots of calling we only get flight and partial views before our other target starts calling near the track, we decide to go for that and leave the Motmot and quickly get the Red-browed Parrot only other birds are Swallow-tailed Puffbird, Bahia Antwren, Peach-fronted Parakeet, and Palm Tanager.

We then head to the mangrove area, the tide is too high for Rails but we try calling, unsuccessfully, we add Bicolored Conebill, Plain-bellied Emerald, Chestnut-backed Antshrike and Violaceous Euphonia it was then time to get back to the hotel for brunch and a change of clothes.

However at the hotel feeders we saw East Brazillean Chachalaca and a Geoffrey’s Marmoset (the 4th species of the trip), Ciro then dropped us off at the airport and three flights later (via Salvador and Recife) we were back in Fortaleza in time for dinner.


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We originally planned a couple of days in Intervales but we couldn’t make Sao Paolo flights work so in the end we had three nights relaxing in Fortaleza.

Last few days

Didn’t add any new birds and only trip bird was Magnificent Frigatebird.
However we did like Fortaleza and for anyone staying here before or after a trip you must visit the fish market where you buy what you want to eat (we had huge prawns and lobster tails for £6/$7 in total) and paid about the same to have them cooked in one of the attached eateries. This price included some sides and beers – incredible value and great fresh seafood (thanks to Ciro for the tip).

We had an unexpected stop-over in Lisbon – our flight to Manchester was cancelled when we got to the gate and then a flight back via Copenhagen after UK Air Traffic Control stopped working and screwed up flights to the UK for days, this happened just after we had arrived in Lisbon.
Fortunately we moved quicker than the crowd and got hotel and dinner vouchers for two nights from TAP but it did mean we did our city break in birding clothes – not a very happy Sarah as if the delay wasn’t enough being improperly dressed was a no-no!!.

We did a top 5 birds for Ciro – mine were Black-cheeked Gnateater, Bar-tailed Manakin, Slender Antbird, White-browed Antpitta and Hooded Visorbearer – with Collared Crescentchest getting an honourable mention.


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Sarah chose Horned Sungem, Lear’s Macaw, White-bibbed Antbird, Araripe Manakin and Bahia Piculet with Bare-throated Bellbird just missing out.

In all we saw 374 birds and had 4 heard only – over 170 lifers (20 more than expected) and had only two real disappointments, in missing the Banded Cotinga and the Bahia Tapaculo.


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