Trip Report

Birding at Rio Claro Pantanal, MG Brazil Brazilian Merganser PN Canastra, MG Brazil Festive Coquette Ubatuba, SP Brazil Jaguar Pantanal, MT Brazil Streamer-tailed Tyrant Canastra, MG Brazil
  • Birding at Rio Claro Pantanal, MG Brazil
  • Brazilian Merganser PN Canastra, MG Brazil
  • Festive Coquette Ubatuba, SP Brazil
  • Jaguar Pantanal, MT Brazil
  • Streamer-tailed Tyrant Canastra, MG Brazil


Southeastern Brazil Trip Report: Itatiaia National Park, Pantanal,
Chapada, Canastra, Santuario do Caraca and Cipo.

October 6-27, 2018



October 5 Sao Paolo Several of us decided to come in a day ahead of the tour in case of delayed flights, lost baggage and general travel weariness. Thankfully all arrived on time without delays and we spent the day relaxing, sampling a couple of the local Brazilian beers and catching up on sleep. I had stayed in the same hotel on my last visit to Brazil 12 years ago; the name had changed, but the duck pond in the garden was a giveaway! The weather was gray and somewhat gloomy which alas, made for some even gloomier bird photos.

October 6 Sao Paolo to Itatiaia National Park After a buffet breakfast and more birding around the garden, where we watched a pair of Rufous Horneros calling loudly and carrying food into their distinctive mud nest. A bare tree was used by both Sayaca and Palm Tanagers and a migrant Yellow-browed Tyrant stopped by. The others in the group planned to arrive this morning, so after a short delay we picked them up and set off towards Itatiaia National Park. The van was very comfortable, despite the heavy window tinting which made the outdoors look way darker than it was in reality. Our driver Leandro, seemed to be quite proficient in navigating the roads and the crazy traffic. Lunch along the way was at a roadside buffet – plenty of delicious options, even for the vegetarians amongst us! The system is as follows. One fills up a plate from the buffet, these are then weighed and then we pay by the kilo – quite a good idea. We drove northeast towards Rio and eventually got to Itatiaia National Park by 4:30 PM. The clouds hung over the forest, but we still had a few nice sightings at the overlook, including very close Swallow Tanagers and several very cooperative Red-breasted Toucans that called from nearby trees. We continued uphill to the very comfortable Hotel do Ype, our base for the next 3 nights.

October 7 Itatiaia National Park Today was a full day birding in this section of this spectacular park. Breakfast was at 5:30 AM followed by birding from the porch. Both hummingbird and fruit feeders brought in lots of birds, so many photographs were taken of Green-headed, Ruby-crowned and Golden-chevroned Tanagers coming in for the fruit. Black Jacobins, Brazilian Ruby and White-throated Hummingbirds were the most common at the feeders, and there were always plenty of birds to enjoy. Moths, attracted by the nights overnight, also brought in many birds for their morning feast. Despite the somewhat gray and drizzly conditions with low cloud that blew in from time to time to plunge us into whiteness, we walked along the main road and along the Butterfly Trail. It was often difficult birding due to bad light and we saw plenty of silhouette birds! The afternoon was along the Tres Picos Trail, a fairly level trail that meandered around a ridge to end at the old Hotel Simon, which had been defunct for the last 5 years. A small flock along the way included the beautiful Ferruginous Antbird and a pair of delightful Eared Tody-Tyrants. A pair of Tawny-browed Owls called near the old hotel and with a little effort and patience, we managed to see one of them before it flew off into the forest. Dinner was excellent at the hotel with a large, well-stocked buffet and lots of veggies, salads and desserts!

October 8 Itatiaia National Park (higher elevations) It was another early start this am with a 4:30 AM breakfast. Our aim was to bird the higher elevations of Itatiaia National park which was a 1.5 hour drive to Algunhas Negras Road (Black Needles). We started birding at around 2300 Meters with still cloudy and drizzly conditions. Thankfully it never rained very hard so we were able to continue birding all morning. According to Giuliano, our local guide, Itatiaia Spinetails were very cooperative this morning and we had several great views of this shy bird. The habitat in this region of the National Park was a little like Paramo, but with patches of Elfin forest that increased in height as we descended in elevation. A White-browed Warbler sang it delightful song from the dense vegetation and some of us glimpsed the Speckle-chested Antpitta that otherwise hid in the bamboo thickets. More highlights included the strange electronic song of the Black and Gold Tanager and looking down on a pair of stunning Brassy-breasted Tanagers. We slept most of the way back to the hotel for lunch, followed by a walk back on Hotel Simon trail. We had no luck seeing the Such’s Antthrush or White-breasted Tapaculo, but still enjoyed a very bird-rich trail and at last everyone got to see the Rufous-headed Tanager! Dinner and Wi-Fi was at 7:30 PM before we crashed into bed – a great day.

October 9 Itatiaia National Park to Ubatuba We slept in a little this morning with breakfast at 6 AM – we could hear the steady rain on the rooftops of our cabins, so we knew that we would not be out birding immediately after breakfast. Despite the rain the feeders, (once they were refilled) were very active and the normal contingent was soon there awaiting their breakfast. A walk up behind the cabins produced Robust and Yellow-fronted Woodpeckers – in the fog! Certainly better view desired! A pair of nesting Black-legged Dacnis had been reported at the old Hotel Simon, so despite the lingering rain we decided to spend some time looking for them; thankfully they were not difficult to find and we watched them building a nest in some hanging moss in a Norfolk Island Pine. Both birds hung around for the photographers in the group! A brief stop at the visitor center to see the exhibits was certainly worthwhile; the black and white camera-trap photos of the big cats were particularly good. We decided to walk the last mile back to the lodge. Yes, we knew the driveway was steep, but we had not realized it was that steep! Anyway, we all made it in time for lunch. It was about a 3 hour drive to the seaside town of Ubatuba, which is in a bay on the ruggedly forested South Atlantic coast of Brazil. A couple of stops along the way were quite fruitful, although the Bare-throated Bellbirds were all too distant. An Orange-breasted Thornbird and a Shear-tailed Gray Tyrant at Serra do Mar NP were nice highlights of the short stop. The Palace Hotel in Ubatuba was very nice and the evening buffet was, once again, pretty good.

October 10 Ubatuba Breakfast was at 5:30 AM and we spent all morning at the very bird-rich farm just on the edge of town. Fazenda Angelim is a very popular birding spot and is a very reliable spot for the uncommon Buff-throated Purpletuft, a tiny Cotinga/Becard that prefers to sit on a bare branch high in the canopy. Thankfully we had great views of a pair. We also had brief views of the very unusual Slaty Bristlefront as it crossed a small window in the dense undergrowth! Some of these skulking birds really live up to their reputation. Lunch was back at a nice restaurant in town before we took a quick walk to the beachfront (Kelp Gull was the only gull on the tour!) before heading out to Sitio Folha Seca, the famous hummer spot about 5 miles from town. The owner of the farm, Jonas, was very gracious and obviously enjoys chatting to all of the visiting birders. The hummer show was stunning, if exhausting, and we ended up with great shots of all of the regularly-occurring species, plus our only Azure-shouldered Tanagers of the tour were coming to the fruit feeders. Dinner was back at our hotel in Ubatuba (Gosh, another buffet!) but very pleasant sitting in the open air near the pool.

October 11 Ubatuba to Cuiaba It had rained a little overnight so our morning at the coast was fairly cool. After an early breakfast we went back to Sitio Folha Seca, but not to the hummer feeders this time. We birded a damp weedy track, did our best to coax out a Gray-breasted Crake (with no luck) but did get great views of Long-billed Wren and a Yellow-throated Woodpecker was excavating a nest cavity along the river. The rain began again, so we decided to go back to the hummer feeders for the exhausting hummer show. It was then a drive back to Sao Paolo and our flight to Cuiaba in Mato Grosso. It was about a 2 hour flight so we just spent the night at the airport in Varzea Grande. Good and convenient and ready for the drive into the Pantanal tomorrow.

October 12 Cuiabá and Trans-Pantaneira to Rio Claro A nice quiet start to today as we had a leisurely breakfast at 7 AM for an 8 AM pick-up. The airport is actually in the sister city of Varzea Grande and, from our 5th story hotel window, we could look across the river to the skyscrapers of Cuiaba. With a new driver, Amilton, it didn’t take long before we were out of the city and into the open Cerrado and ranchland. A Toco Toucan (the Guinness logo) flew across the road and sat atop a light pole – hardly the typical habitat for this bird! Once we had passed through the small town of Pocone, we were soon on the unpaved Trans-Pantaneira Highway. Of course we wanted to stop for every bird, but thankfully we continued as many of these species would be way more common as one travels down the Trans-Pantaneira. After the obligatory gateway photo we drove south to our lodging for the next 2 days – Pousada Rio Claro. It was quite popular and there were several foreign groups passing through, including one birding group from New York City. The highlight of the day had to be the afternoon boat trip on the Rio Claro. Waterbirds were abundant and we had all 5 South American Kingfishers, including the uncommon Green-and-Rufous. The hot day culminated in a spectacular sunset over the river – blood-red and orange – wow!

October 13 Rio Claro to Porto Jofre As always we had a pre-breakfast hike. This morning we explored some trails along entry road looking for species of the dry bush. Highlights included both Green-backed and White-winged Becards, Great Rufous Woodcreeper and a pair of Great Antshrikes. As always breakfast was a buffet before we again went out and explored some of the local trails around the lodge. Despite the heat and a few annoying gnats the birding was pretty good. An Amazonian Motmot showed well and several small, obscure flycatchers were seen in the dense brush – Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher and Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant! After lunch it was on the road again with some excellent birding as we drove south to Porto Jofre. The marshes were vast and full of Muscovy Ducks and Jabirus, as well as many other water and marsh birds. The wooden bridges seemed a little rickety at times and with some road work going on, we decided to walk across a couple of them! After a stop at Giuliano’s friends at the organic honey farm, we got to the hotel just before dusk so could only hear the Hyacinth Macaws roosting in the nearby trees. They would have to wait until tomorrow.

October 14 Porto Jofre Today was a day we had all been looking forward to – an early morning boat trip on the Cuiaba River to look for Jaguar! We were not the only people doing the same and the river that morning was abuzz with the sound of outboard motors and tourist groups armed with cameras and large telephoto lenses! It didn’t take too long for the boatman to locate 2 Jaguars resting on the banks of the river – along with at least 6 other boats of tourists. It was hardly a wilderness experience, but watching the Jaguar was fantastic. We found another on the sandy riverbank who eventually slinked back into the long grass. He had probably made a recent kill as the vultures were hanging around on nearby trees. A fourth animal was laying on a log across a small tributary, but he moved off as soon as the boats started to gather! Originally I had some misgivings about all of the tourists, but the Jaguars were barely bothered and also the money brought into the local community ensures that the animals are not shot! We also watched several families of Giant River Otters, lots of Capybara, White-lipped Peccary and Black-and-Gold Howler Monkey. Both the morning and afternoon boat trips were wonderful and allowed us to see a lot of birds and wildlife without bothering them at all. As well as Chachalacas, Piping-guans and Curassows, the river islands had pairs and small colonies of Large-billed Tern, Black Skimmer and Pied Lapwing. As the evening progressed the sunset became intense and small numbers of Band-tailed Nighthawk were feeding over the river and large numbers of Greater Fishing-Bats were coming out from their daytime roosts to feed; all in all some awesome wildlife experiences. Porto Jofre was certainly tropical and the combination of insects and frogs were the classic nighttime sound, although we certainly couldn’t sleep without air-conditioning.

October 15 Porto Jofre to Pousada Piuval This morning was our last in Porto Jofre, so we walked around the gardens and along the rickety boardwalk. The marshes were quite productive with lots of photos taken of the Wattled Jacanas walking on the huge lily pads of the Victoria amazonica water lily. Small groups of the amazing Hyacinth Macaws were flying around the property and it was entertaining to watch a pair as they hung upside down from the branch of a tall tree. After breakfast we started north again along the Trans-Pantaneira Highway. As we slowly drove and birded our way over the many bridges, the sky looked black to our north and very much like rain. The birdlife was rich along the way with the wetlands full of Southern Screamer, Muscovy and every conceivable heron and egret. Several Spinetails called from the wet thickets and birds of prey were common overhead. We ran into some light rain, but it was obvious from the very muddy road conditions that it had rained heavily earlier in the day. Lunch was at the Mato Grosso Hotel and it was after that when we noted many Caimans all moving north along the roadside; some even in the road. We concluded that this must have had something to do with the rain that morning. We arrived at Pousada Piuval in the early afternoon and I immediately loved the place. It was small and the older buildings being a converted traditional Brazilian ranch. Many of the fields and pastures were flooded with large flocks of Whistling-Ducks, Brazilian Teal and many wading birds everywhere. Cattle grazed in the distance and this was certainly a scene evocative of the Pantanal! An afternoon drive was wonderful with birds everywhere. We eventually had brief looks at the gorgeous male Helmeted Manakin, but the mosquitoes were pretty Impressive in the shady woodlands. Dinner was once again a buffet- always the best for hungry birders, and this lodge even made special meals for the vegans in the group!!

October 16 Pousada Piuval After hearing the Zigzag Heron Last evening, we decided that it would be worth our effort to head out early in search of this very uncommon and shy heron. Once we heard the bird, we slowly moved into the gallery forest to do our best to find the bird. It didn’t take long before Giuliano saw it move in some dense thickets ahead of us. Eventually we all got great views of a pair of this very hard to see bird – and surprisingly the mosquitoes were not bad at all. After a little more exploring and a White-fronted Woodpecker we headed to breakfast for some much-needed coffee. We spent the morning walking the shady trails within the forest looking for some of the specialties of this section of the northern Pantanal. The heat seems to hit with a vengeance after 9 AM, so we stayed in the shade as much as possible until we were forced to turn around when we came upon a badly washed stretch of road. A drive along the road looking for Giant Anteater, alas only produced a Six-banded Armadillo. We will have to try again later! Today was hot – 97F with high humidity and the sweat just ran down our backs. After some down time during the heat of the day we went out again at 3:30 PM, but this time in an open-sided vehicle. Good to have such great visibility. The fields had already started to dry out after the rain yesterday and the ducks had moved further away. We did find the staked-out Great Potoo and a fairly obliging Aplomado Falcon. A walk along the boardwalk took us to a fairly rickety tower which overlooked some impressive marshes with large breeding colonies of Great Egrets and Neotropic Cormorants. We decided to take a short walk back to the lodge to look for night birds, which seemed to have vanished. Some eye-shine produced several Caiman (one quite close!) and a Tapir – rather nice. The local cattle herd had amassed near the lodge and we had to pass near them, which was a little disconcerting as they were grunting and making a lot of noise! Thankfully we made it to the fence and back to the lodge grounds without any incidents and to dinner!

October 17 Pousada Piuval to Chapada An early morning drive and walk through some of the forest was rather quiet and very buggy, although we did add Gray-headed Tanager and Forest Elaenia. There were quite a few Undulated Tinamous singing and yes, one eventually walked across the track giving us excellent views. We had another excursion after breakfast and once again missed Giant Anteater (!). Thankfully the rapidly rising temperatures didn’t affect the birding too much and we had a nice flock or two along the track, including our first Chestnut-vented Conebill of the trip. A Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl came in to investigate, as did a pair of spectacular Red-billed Scythebills. Lunch was early as we had a 3 hour drive north along the Trans-Pantaneira Highway to Cuiaba and onto Chapada dos Guamaraes National Park. After a very rapid stop and shop at a Cuiaba grocery store we got to the waterfall in time to enjoy a late afternoon parrot show. Lots of White-eyed Parakeets were wheeling around the falls and a couple of Blue-winged and Red-and-Green Macaws added to the show. Flocks of swifts screamed over the cliffs and several tanagers bathed in a clifftop seepage. Storm clouds were brewing as we left for the 20 minute drive to our Pousada. The lodge was on the edge of national park with views stretching to the horizon. An open-air dining room allowed us to enjoy some outdoor dining, but when the storms finally hit with wind and torrential rain, it was a little tough to do our daily birdlist under these conditions!

October 18 Chapada An early start this morning found us out in the Cerrado habitat; a stunted woodland type on poor soils that has a unique avifauna. As soon as we had parked we heard a Small-billed Tinamou which amazingly soon walked across the track – Tinamou # 3! Tanagers included Black-masked, White-rumped and White-banded; the latter having the coloration very reminiscent of a Loggerhead Shrike. A Collared Crescentchest (Tapaculo?) sat atop a bush and allowed scope views but by 9 AM it was already very hot and the birdlife had quietened down a lot. We then decided to do some forest birding down a shady road – actually where Giuliano grew up and his father still lived. A small antswarm had Planalto Woodcreeper, a pair of White-backed Fire-eyes and a somewhat cooperative Southern Antpipit. A walk on the trail behind Giuliano’s father’s house produced Tataupa Tinamou (Tinamou #4 – amazing). Lunch was in Chapada before heading back to the lodge for some afternoon relaxing. Rain came in later that afternoon, but not until we had walked down a track looking for more Cerrado specialties. The last bird of the day was a Spot-backed Puffbird and then the very impressive storm hit! It must have rained heavily at the lodge as a brief stop looking for nightjars along the access road left us with red mud caked onto our boots and a very muddy van for Amilton to clean up – again! Dinner and birdlist was back at the lodge when thankfully the rain moved off into the distance.

October 19 Chapada to Belo Horizonte Today we took some time to enjoy the lodge property. A walk down the access road was pretty good and we added Red-legged Honeycreeper and a pair of Black-throated Saltator. Giuliano glimpsed a Tayra crossing the road and half the group had a close experience with a Tapir as it crashed out of the bushes and crossed the road in front of them. The view from the breakfast table was spectacular with forest and rocky escarpments stretching to the horizon. A guava tree in the foreground was very attractive to fruit-eating birds and before we left that day 2 pairs of Red-shouldered Macaws came in to feed. Our post-breakfast birding was down on the forest trails where the forest type changed from moist to dry as we walked along the paths. Before the rain forced us back we managed to find Band-tailed, Fiery-capped and Pale-bellied Tyrant Manakins. Luckily the rain didn’t last too long, but the distant storms cracked and ripped for the rest of the day. Giuliano and Amilton left us at the airport as we boarded our Azul flight to Belo Horizonte. Thankfully Bruno, our new guide, was there waiting for us and we spent the night at a very convenient airport hotel.

October 20 Belo Horizonte to Sao Roque das Minas It really was nice to sleep in! The Linx hotel was modern and clean and had a good breakfast buffet, although there were a few unidentified options! I wandered outside to check the birding potential – better than Cuiaba with the highlight being our first Grassland Sparrow of the tour. We then got on the highway and drove west for about 6 hours through the urban sprawl of Belo and adjacent cities en route to Canastra. Lunch was at a truck stop where the luncheon buffet wasn’t bad at all- these are pretty reliable lunch spots with overall good quality food. A stop at Cabrestos Marsh was very good with about 50 species being seen in 35 minutes – pretty well non-stop bird activity. A stop at another marsh closer to Sao Roque gave us pretty good views of the shy Rufous-sided Crake, as well as enjoying a very nice evening watching Cattle Egrets and Bare-faced Ibis coming in to roost; listening to Red-legged Seriemas and coaxing Spinetails out of the dense vegetation. Our hotel in Sao Roque was very nice with local cheese and crackers plus Cachaca shots. This doesn’t happen too often! Dinner was in town – pizza and hot sauce of course.

October 21 Canastra National Park Today was going to be special and a full day in Canastra National Park. We had a 5 AM breakfast followed by a ride up the bumpy mountain road in a large 4 wheel drive vehicle. Our driver was Jose Maria (!) and he was very talkative – in Portuguese, so most of us didn’t understand very much of the conversation. The road went through cow pastures where Bruno had to clear the cows out of the road to allow us to pass! Canastra National Park is a vast upland plateau covered with tussock grassland, small groves of stunted forest and clear rivers. Our aim was to see the highly-endangered Brazilian Merganser, of which at least 6 pairs are supposed to live in the park. We were lucky enough to immediately see a pair where we hoped and had good, but distant views of this critically rare duck. We spent the rest of the day exploring this beautiful park with some of the best birds being Brasilia Tapaculo, Cock-tailed Tyrant (what a cool little bird!), Black-masked Finch and the delightful Sharp-tailed Tyrant. We had our picnic lunch by the river (with some Blue Finches). Mammals were also in evidence with Pampas Deer grazing in the thick grass and yes, at last, the very, very cool Giant Anteater. By the end of the afternoon we had seen 6 adults with the last one carrying a youngster on her back. Dinner was back at the Zagaia Restaurant in town and surprisingly there were other birders staying at our hotel – a group of French guys!

October 22 Canastra National Park Breakfast was again at 5 AM. It doesn’t take long to get light and we were soon off again up the bumpy road to Canastra National Park. Our guide, Jose, was as chatty as ever and kept Paolo and Bruno entertained the whole way. It was cloudy with low cloud hanging over the mountains, so we didn’t stop until we reached our goal – the Brazilian Merganser spot down at the river. Only the Least Grebe was present along the river so we birded a little until amazingly, a single Merganser flew in to land near us. For the next 10 minutes we watched it fishing and preening until it decided to fly off upriver. A great start to the day! Also the sun had now burned through the clouds so we headed deeper into the park to look for a recently burned over area. Our target bird was waiting in the middle of the road as we arrived; the small and very rufous Campo Miner. A pair of Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finches also allowed some great photo opportunities. Lunch was in a private home in the tiny village of Sao Joao Bautista: delicious tasty food prepared in a local kitchen. The afternoon was spent birding our way back to Sao Roque. Most of the land was coffee plantations and cow pastures with remnant forest patches. It was also the heat of the day so birding was quiet at times, but we did get great views of Helmeted Manakin, Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaner and a pair of Shear-tailed Gray Tyrants. Dinner was again back in town, but to Malibu Restaurant this time and the normal buffet washed down with a cold beer!

October 23 Sao Roque to Santuario do Caraca It was time to leave Canastra this morning and after a leisurely 7 AM breakfast we made another stop at the bird-rich Combrestos Marsh. It again was excellent with a Blackish Rail emerging from the vegetation for some great looks. It was a long drive to Caraca with the obligatory luncheon buffet along the way. The menu may not change a lot, but having the ability to decide what one eats is a good and timely way for us to eat. A slight surprise when exiting the lonchonete was a helicopter in the parking lot. There may have been an aviation group having lunch at the time, so this may explain it! It was then through the sprawl of Belo and onto the new road that was being built. This may have been the main thoroughfare to connect with Rio and Salvador, so the road was packed with trucks and curves. A rest stop along the highway had an amazing selection of paraphernalia with even a jet and plane in the parking lot and I must admit I had never seen such huge fudge pies. The 1774 Monastery at Caraca was beautiful in the moonlight-very atmospheric indeed, but the real attraction for us was the Maned Wolf that comes in to be fed every evening. We were not disappointed as he came in for his dinner on cue – wow! It was incredible to be so close to such a magnificent animal. And, judging by the number of folks there waiting for him, he had plenty of fans and photographers. Dinner was an amazing buffet with boiling water under the pots to keep food hot- all wood stoked. The rooms were a little monastic; simple but comfortable.

October 24 Santuario do Caraca We met at 5:30 AM for a walk before breakfast in the monastery dining room at 7:30 AM. The Serra Antwren is endemic and fairly easily found in the scrubby vegetation. Thankfully it showed nicely, along with a pair of beautiful Swallow-tailed Cotingas. Breakfast was a little different as we cooked our own eggs on a very hot griddle, and the coffee was good and hot and needed! We walked the Tapir Trail after breakfast. This patch of forest holds several troupes of Capuchin and Titi Monkeys and we enjoyed great views of the former as they glared at us from the treetops. A lek of Swallow-tailed (Blue) Manakins also occurs on the trail and we stood still for a while to enjoy a real nature spectacle. At least 6 brightly-colored males were lining up on a small branch in front of a female and one by one, they flew up in front of the female fluttering and calling as they displayed. What a show this was and we were very lucky to have been witness to a very special event. We also found a Male Pin-tailed Manakin at last. Lunch was back in the Monastery dining room with a crucifix over us and a very unusual version of the Last Supper on the nearby wall! After an afternoon rest we walked the Piscina Trail for Cerrado/Forest scrub birds – and had great views of Pale-throated Pampa Finch and the stunning Hyacinth Visorbearer. The rain had started again and the wolf was a no-show before dinner. A couple of us decided to go owling after dinner and both Rusty-barred and Tawny-browed Owls showed well despite the rain, plus both a Crab-eating Fox and a Maned Wolf (probably the habituated individual) wandered past. It was then back to the front steps where it was obvious that the wolf had been for his dinner – albeit a little late.

October 25 Santuario do Caraca to Serra do Cipo It rained most of the night and was still raining a little in the morning as we assembled for our morning excursion. The trail was a little dark to start with and the Rock Tapaculos must have still been in bed! After breakfast we began our drive to Belo; stopped for lunch in the rather spiffy town of Lagoa Santa- on our way to Serra do Cipo. This is quite a touristy area with plenty of Pousadas and restaurants along the town’s main street. Our Pousada was a little way out of town and very nice and quiet. Cabins were under large trees and against the woods in the extensive gardens. The afternoon was spent hiking in the rocky hills above town. It was fascinating but walking was a little tough in the tussocky vegetation; plus the rocks were quite brittle. We didn’t find the endemic Cipo Canastero, but did get the delightful Horned Sungem. Dinner tonight was pizza in town before heading back to our comfortable cabins where the very loud cicadas almost drowned out conversation!

October 26 Serra do Cipo Breakfast was at 5:30 AM (again!) and it was about an hour drive to Lapinha, a small village at the foot of the dramatic mountain cliffs. The habitat was now Cerrado so we did some birding stops along the way. Our target today was the Long-tailed (Cipo) Cinclodes, a species only discovered in 2012 and is a long way from any other Cinclodes population in Southern Brazil. We easily found the bird foraging on the ground near a football pitch where it posed for photos! Several Inga trees were in bloom and these attracted several hummingbirds, including our only Ruby-Topaz of the tour. It was then along the windy, rocky road back to Serra do Cipo for yet another buffet luncheon. After a rest we made any attempt (unsuccessfully!) for the Cipo Canastero, but it was still a beautiful place to walk with a fascinating flora. Today was the start of the weekend, so the restaurants were packed with people and live music was blaring. Tired!

October 27 Serra do Cipo to Belo Horizonte and home Our last breakfast was once again at 5:30 AM, but the birds always seem to start early, plus we had a thunderstorm and heavy rain overnight. Our main target this morning was the very smart-looking Silvery-cheeked Antshrike. We walked a very quiet (for a change) road for about 2 miles finding our quarry, plus several Pileated Finches, Black-capped Antwren and a flyby Toco Toucan. It never takes too long for the heat and humidity to build and by the time we got back to the van at 8:15 AM our shirts were already soaked. It was back to Belo Horizonte around 10 AM and an early lunch before we got to the airports for our long travel day ahead of us. We finished the tour with excellent mammals and birds, saw some great scenery and enjoyed seeing some of Brazil with our excellent local guides and drivers.

Simon Thompson

Birds and Mammals seen on our Brazil trip (Underlined indicates species endemic to Brazil)


Greater Rhea

Brown Tinamou

Undulated Tinamou

Small-billed Tinamou

Tataupa Tinamou

Red-winged Tinamou

Southern Screamer

White-faced Whistling-Duck

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Muscovy Duck

Brazilian Teal

Brazilian Merganser

Chaco Chachalaca

Rusty-margined Guan

Dusky-legged Guan

Chestnut-bellied Guan

Blue-throated Piping-Guan

Bare-faced Curassow

Spot-winged Wood-Quail (Heard)

Least Grebe

Rock Pigeon

Pale-vented Pigeon

Scaled Pigeon

Picazuro Pigeon

Plumbeous Pigeon

Ruddy Ground-Dove

Scaled Dove

Picui Ground-Dove

Blue Ground-Dove

Long-tailed Ground-Dove

White-tipped Dove

Gray-fronted Dove

Eared Dove

Guira Cuckoo

Greater Ani

Smooth-billed Ani

Striped Cuckoo (Heard)

Pavonine Cuckoo

Little Cuckoo

Squirrel Cuckoo

Dark-billed Cuckoo

Short-tailed Nighthawk

Band-tailed Nighthawk

Common Pauraque

Little Nightjar

Scissor-tailed Nightjar

Great Potoo

Great Dusky Swift

White-collared Swift

Biscutate Swift

Sick’s Swift

Black Jacobin

Saw-billed Hermit

Cinnamon-throated Hermit

Planalto Hermit

Hyacinth Visorbearer

White-vented Violet-ear

Horned Sungem

White-tailed Goldenthroat

Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird

Black-throated Mango

Frilled Coquette

Festive Coquette

Brazilian Ruby

Long-billed Starthroat

Amethyst Woodstar

Glittering-bellied Emerald

Green-breasted Plovercrest

Swallow-tailed Hummingbird

Fork-tailed Woodnymph

Violet-capped Woodnymph

Sombre Hummingbird

White-throated Hummingbird

Versicolored Emerald

Glittering-throated Emerald

Sapphire-spangled Emerald

White-chinned Sapphire

Blackish Rail

Gray-cowled Wood-Rail

Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail

Common Gallinule (Heard)

Rufous-sided Crake

Gray-breasted Crake (Heard)



Black-necked Stilt

Pied Lapwing

Southern Lapwing

Collared Plover

Wattled Jacana

White-rumped Sandpiper

South American Snipe

Solitary Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Kelp Gull

Yellow-billed Tern

Large-billed Tern

Black Skimmer


Maguari Stork


Wood Stork

Magnificent Frigatebird


Neotropic Cormorant

Zigzag Heron

Least Bittern

Rufescent Tiger-Heron

Cocoi Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Little Blue Heron

Cattle Egret

Striated Heron

Whistling Heron

Capped Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Boat-billed Heron

Green Ibis

Bare-faced Ibis

Plumbeous Ibis

Buff-necked Ibis

Roseate Spoonbill

King Vulture

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture


White-tailed Kite

Swallow-tailed Kite

Ornate Hawk-Eagle

Black-collared Hawk

Snail Kite

Rufous-thighed Kite

Mississippi Kite

Plumbeous Kite

Long-winged Harrier

Crane Hawk

Savanna Hawk

Great Black-Hawk

Roadside Hawk

White-tailed Hawk

Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle

Mantled Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Tropical Screech-Owl (Heard)

Tawny-browed Owl

Great Horned Owl

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Burrowing Owl

Rusty-barred Owl

Green-backed Trogon

Blue-crowned Trogon

Surucua Trogon

Black-throated Trogon

Amazonian Motmot

Rufous-capped Motmot (Heard)

Ringed Kingfisher

Amazon Kingfisher

American Pygmy Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher

Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher

White-eared Puffbird

Spot-backed Puffbird

Black-fronted Nunbird

Swallow-winged Puffbird

Brown Jacamar

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

Saffron Toucanet

Lettered Aracari

Chestnut-eared Aracari

Toco Toucan

Channel-billed Toucan

Red-breasted Toucan

White-barred Piculet

White-wedged Piculet

White Woodpecker

Yellow-tufted Woodpecker

Yellow-fronted Woodpecker

White-fronted Woodpecker

White-spotted Woodpecker

Little Woodpecker

Yellow-eared Woodpecker

Robust Woodpecker

Crimson-crested Woodpecker

Lineated Woodpecker

Cream-colored Woodpecker (Heard)

Pale-crested Woodpecker

Blonde-crested Woodpecker

Yellow-throated Woodpecker

Green-barred Woodpecker

Campo Flicker

Red-legged Seriema

Southern Caracara

Yellow-headed Caracara

Laughing Falcon

American Kestrel

Aplomado Falcon

Bat Falcon

Monk Parakeet

Plain Parakeet

Yellow-chevroned Parakeet

Pileated Parrot

Scaly-headed Parrot

Blue-headed Parrot

Turquoise-fronted Parrot

Orange-winged Parrot

Blue-winged Parrotlet

Maroon-bellied Parakeet

Hyacinth Macaw

Peach-fronted Parakeet

Nanday Parakeet

Golden-capped Parakeet

Blue-winged Macaw

Blue-and-yellow Macaw

Red-and-green Macaw

Blue-crowned Parakeet

Red-shouldered Macaw

White-eyed Parakeet

Spot-backed Antshrike

Tufted Antshrike (Heard)

Great Antshrike

Silvery-cheeked Antshrike

Barred Antshrike

Rufous-winged Antshrike

Planalto Slaty-Antshrike

Variable Antshrike

Star-throated Antwren

Spot-breasted Antvireo

Plain Antvireo

Black-capped Antwren

Large-billed Antwren

Rufous-winged Antwren

Serra Antwren

Black-bellied Antwren

Rusty-backed Antwren

Ferruginous Antbird

Rufous-tailed Antbird

Ochre-rumped Antbird

Scaled Antbird

Streak-capped Antwren

Mato Grosso Antbird

White-backed Fire-eye

White-shouldered Fire-eye

Band-tailed Antbird

White-bibbed Antbird

Squamate Antbird

Collared Crescentchest

Black-cheeked Gnateater

Rufous Gnateater (Heard)

Speckle-breasted Antpitta

Spotted Bamboowren

Slaty Bristlefront

White-breasted Tapaculo

Brasilia Tapaculo

Rufous-capped Antthrush (Heard)

Such’s Antthrush (Heard)

Rufous-tailed Antthrush (Heard)

Campo Miner

Olivaceous Woodcreeper

Plain-winged Woodcreeper

Planalto Woodcreeper

Great Rufous Woodcreeper

Lesser Woodcreeper

Buff-throated Woodcreeper

Straight-billed Woodcreeper

Red-billed Scythebill

Black-billed Scythebill

Narrow-billed Woodcreeper

Scaled Woodcreeper

Streaked Xenops

Wing-banded Hornero

Pale-legged Hornero

Rufous Hornero

Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper

Long-tailed (Cipo) Cinclodes

White-collared Foliage-gleaner

Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner

Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner

Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaner

White-eyed Foliage-gleaner

Araucaria Tit-Spinetail (Heard)

Rufous-fronted Thornbird

Greater Thornbird

Orange-eyed Thornbird

Orange-breasted Thornbird


Itatiaia Spinetail

Rusty-backed Spinetail

Pallid Spinetail

Rufous Cachalote

Yellow-chinned Spinetail

Chotoy Spinetail

White-lored Spinetail

Rufous-capped Spinetail

Cinereous-breasted Spinetail

Spix’s Spinetail

Pale-breasted Spinetail

Sooty-fronted Spinetail

Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Suiriri Flycatcher

Chapada Flycatcher

Mouse-colored Tyrannulet

Yellow Tyrannulet

Gray-backed Tachuri

Subtropical Doradito

Forest Elaenia

Yellow-bellied Elaenia

Large Elaenia

Olivaceous Elaenia

Plain-crested Elaenia

Lesser Elaenia

Highland Elaenia

Sooty Tyrannulet

White-crested Tyrannulet

Gray-hooded Flycatcher

Sepia-capped Flycatcher

Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet

Serra do Mar Tyrannulet

Planalto Tyrannulet

Gray-capped Tyrannulet

Southern Scrub-Flycatcher

Sharp-tailed Tyrant

Southern Antpipit

Eared Pygmy-Tyrant

Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant

Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant

Hangnest Tody-Tyrant

Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant

Fork-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant

Ochre-fronted Tody-Flycatcher

Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher

Gray-headed Tody-Flycatcher

Common Tody-Flycatcher

Yellow-olive Flycatcher

White-throated Spadebill

Cliff Flycatcher

Whiskered Flycatcher

Bran-colored Flycatcher

Euler’s Flycatcher

Fuscous Flycatcher

Crested Black-Tyrant

Velvety Black-Tyrant

Blue-billed Black-Tyrant

Yellow-browed Tyrant

Gray Monjita

White-rumped Monjita

Streamer-tailed Tyrant

Shear-tailed Gray-Tyrant

Black-backed Water-Tyrant

Masked Water-Tyrant

White-headed Marsh-Tyrant

Cock-tailed Tyrant


Long-tailed Tyrant

Cattle Tyrant

Dull-capped Attila

Gray-hooded Attila

Sibilant Sirystes

Swainson’s Flycatcher

Short-crested Flycatcher

Brown-crested Flycatcher

Lesser Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

Boat-billed Flycatcher

Rusty-margined Flycatcher

Social Flycatcher

Streaked Flycatcher

Piratic Flycatcher

Variegated Flycatcher

White-throated Kingbird

Tropical Kingbird

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Hooded Berryeater (Heard)

Swallow-tailed Cotinga

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow

Black-and-gold Cotinga

Bare-throated Bellbird (Heard)

Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin

Serro do Mar Tyrant-Manakin (Heard)

Helmeted Manakin

Blue (Swallow-tailed) Manakin

Pin-tailed Manakin

White-bearded Manakin

Band-tailed Manakin

Fiery-capped Manakin

Black-tailed Tityra

Black-crowned Tityra

Masked Tityra

Greenish Schiffornis

Buff-throated Purpletuft

Green-backed Becard

Chestnut-crowned Becard

White-winged Becard

Crested Becard

Rufous-browed Peppershrike

Gray-eyed Greenlet

Rufous-crowned Greenlet

Ashy-headed Greenlet

Red-eyed (Chivi) Vireo

Purplish Jay

Curl-crested Jay

Blue-and-white Swallow

Tawny-headed Swallow

White-thighed Swallow

Southern Rough-winged Swallow

Gray-breasted Martin

Brown-chested Martin

White-winged Swallow

White-rumped Swallow

Cliff Swallow

House Wren

Sedge (Grass) Wren

Thrush-like Wren

Moustached Wren

Buff-breasted Wren

Long-billed Wren

Fawn-breasted Wren

Long-billed Gnatwren (Heard)

Masked Gnatcatcher

Black-capped Donacobius

Pale-breasted Thrush

Yellow-legged Thrush

Rufous-bellied Thrush

White-necked Thrush

Eastern Slaty-Thrush

Creamy-bellied Thrush

Chalk-browed Mockingbird

Yellowish Pipit

Hellmayr’s Pipit

Ochre-breasted Pipit

Purple-throated Euphonia

Violaceous Euphonia

Thick-billed Euphonia

Golden-rumped Euphonia

Chestnut-bellied Euphonia

Hooded Siskin

Grassland Sparrow

Pectoral Sparrow

Rufous-collared Sparrow

Crested Oropendola

Solitary Black Cacique

Yellow-rumped Cacique

Red-rumped Cacique

Variable Oriole

Orange-backed Troupial

Screaming Cowbird

Shiny Cowbird

Giant Cowbird

Scarlet-headed Blackbird

Chopi Blackbird

Grayish Baywing

Pale Baywing

Unicolored Blackbird

Chestnut-capped Blackbird

Yellow-rumped Marshbird

Masked Yellowthroat

Tropical Parula

Golden-crowned (White-bellied) Warbler

White-striped Warbler

Flavescent Warbler

White-browed Warbler

Riverbank Warbler (Heard)

Olive-green Tanager

Ultramarine Grosbeak

Brown Tanager

Red-crested Cardinal

Yellow-billed Cardinal

Black-faced Tanager

Cinnamon Tanager

Magpie Tanager

White-banded Tanager

Hooded Tanager

Orange-headed Tanager

Rufous-headed Tanager

Buff-throated Warbling-Finch

Cinereous Warbling-Finch

White-rumped Tanager

Black-goggled Tanager

Gray-headed Tanager

Flame-crested Tanager

Ruby-crowned Tanager

White-lined Tanager

Brazilian Tanager

Silver-beaked Tanager

Diademed Tanager

Fawn-breasted Tanager

Sayaca Tanager

Azure-shouldered Tanager

Golden-chevroned Tanager

Palm Tanager

Burnished-buff Tanager

Green-headed Tanager

Red-necked Tanager

Brassy-breasted Tanager

Gilt-edged Tanager

Swallow Tanager

Black-legged Dacnis

Blue Dacnis

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Green Honeycreeper

Chestnut-vented Conebill

Blue Finch

Bay-chested Warbling-Finch

Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch

Saffron Finch

Grassland (Misto) Yellow-Finch

Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch

Great Pampa-Finch

Pale-throated Pampa-Finch

Blue-black Grassquit

Lined Seedeater

White-bellied Seedeater

Copper Seedeater

Pearly-bellied Seedeater

Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch

Yellow-bellied Seedeater

Dubois’s Seedeater

Double-collared Seedeater

Plumbeous Seedeater

Rusty-collared Seedeater

Black-masked Finch

Pileated Finch

Red-crested Finch


Black-throated Saltator

Buff-throated Saltator

Grayish Saltator

Green-winged Saltator

Thick-billed Saltator

Black-throated Grosbeak
House Sparrow



Pampas Deer

Marsh Deer

Red Brocket-Deer

Brown Brocket Deer


Giant River Otter

Maned Wolf

Crab-eating Fox

SA Squirrel (Guianan)

Giant Anteater

Black-and-gold Howler Monkey

Brown Capuchin

Tufted Capuchin

Black-tailed Marmoset



Azara’s Agouti

Greater Fishing-Bat

Lesser Fishing-Bat

Collared Peccary

White-lipped Peccary

European Wild Boar

Nine-banded Armadillo

Six-banded Armadillo

Brazilian Tapir

Brazilian Cavy (Guinea Pig)


Reptiles and Amphibians:

Marine Toad

Tegu- Golden, Black and white

Legless Lizard

Leaf Toad

Yacare Caiman

House Gecko

Green Iguana

Blue-tipped Tree Lizard


Giant Earthworm