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

SE Brazil: Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo to Rio Grande do Sul (3 weeks in July 2023) (1 Viewer)


Daniele Mitchell
Just back from a three week trip to one of the world's most threatened centers of endemism, SE Brazil. An isolated mountain chain in one of the most populated centers in Brazil, many of these species are just hanging on in remnant forest fragments. This three week trip report will cover many of the key sites and what is possible in southern hemisphere winter, where bird song is limited, days are short but the weather is sunny, comfortable and dry. https://ebird.org/tripreport/141667

In total, I recorded 442 species, of which 227 were new. Having previously travelled to the Iguazu / Misiones province of Argentina, I had already made a head start through some of the regional endemics, in particular Black-fronted Piping-Guan, Vinaceous-breasted Parrot, Tufted and Giant Antshrikes, Wing-barred Piprites were not looked for. In total, I would say that if you're looking to have maximum success rate, November in the prime season is best, but if you're looking for a smooth trip with less concern about losing time to weather conditions, winter is very doable.

In order to accommodate such a large geographical range between sites, there was a lot of nighttime driving (sunset was at 5:30 pm). Typically covered between 3-5 hours per evening between sites. Road conditions were generally very good for the region, with many highways in the coastal region, but some areas especially inland between Linhares and Serra do Cipo and then further towards Serra da Canastra were unpaved (but still well graded). I rented a small SUV to have more peace of mind in terms of clearance, but I believe with care a sedan could handle most roads.

São José dos Campos--Sítio Bicudinho: Marsh conveniently located between Sao Paulo and Itatiaia NP
Key species: Marsh Antwren, Orange-eyed and Orange-breasted Thornbird
All easy enough to observe even in the heat of midmorning. A short walk into the marsh area where both the Antwren and Orange-breasted Thornbird could be spotted from the same vantage point.

Itatiaia NP: This park is divided into two segments an hour apart which feature two different elevational species mixes. A small entrance fee is required to access the lower section, but the birding is done before the entrance gate to the upper section

Lower section
This part of the park doesn't feature many species which can't be found at other sites, but does hold a solid diversity of Atlantic Forest endemics to whet the appetite. Over two afternoons, I walked two trails, the first from Hotel Donati to the abandoned hotel, and the second from the abandoned hotel (Trilha dos Tres Picos), that climbs up a set of stairs up a hill. A large flock moved around the grounds of the hotel while I was waiting in vain for the Black-eared Fairy and there was a watering feature that attracted tanagers including Brown Tanager, which is the one species best found at this site on my route. I didn't wind up doing the Trilha dos Picos justice as a cursory review of other trip reports (admittedly often in the morning) show but it definitely is the trail to do with limited time featuring specialties such as Slaty Bristlefront (seen elsewhere), Fork-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant (dipped) and a wide variety of antbirds.

Highlights seen infrequently elsewhere on route:
Hotel Donati Trail: White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Pin-tailed Manakin
Abandoned Hotel Grounds: Rufous Gnateater, Yellow-legged Thrush, Brown Tanager

Widespread but first recorded: Violet-capped Woodnymph, Brazilian Ruby, 3 Parakeets (Plain, Yellow-chevroned and Maroon-bellied), Planalto and Lesser Woodcreepers, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Drab-breasted Pygmy-Tyrant, Gray-hooded Flycatcher, Planalto Tyrannulet, Velvety Black-Tyrant, Olive-green Tanager, Black-goggled Tanager, Golden-chevroned Tanager, Brassy-breasted Tanager, Rufous-headed Tanager, Green-winged Saltator

Key species missed and not recorded elsewhere: Black-eared Fairy (flowering trees around the abandoned hotel), Fork-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant
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