Brazil: Northern Minas Gerais & Rio Araguaia: Mar 20—30, 2006
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Departs: Belo Horizonte (ends in Brasilia)
Tour Limit: 8
Download Itinerary: PDF (167.2 KB)
Past Field Lists:
Dry-season tour to some of the least known regions of Brazil: the tropical dry (deciduous) forests of northern Minas Gerais, and the Bananal region of the Rio Araguaia. Focus on endemics including Bahia Nighthawk, Moustached Woodcreeper, Great Xenops, Bananal Antbird, Minas Gerais and Reiser's tyrannulets, Scarlet-throated Tanager, Crimson-fronted Cardinal, and more.
This tour focuses on two unique regions of central Brazil that are little-known to birders, but which harbor a number of special birds with very limited distributions. The first half of the tour concentrates on the dry (deciduous) forests of northern Minas Gerais. The deciduous forests of South America have received little attention from biologists or birders compared to the more glamorous rainforests of the Amazon basin, but they have a higher degree of endemism, and are considered to be more at risk. The northern portion of the state of Minas Gerais still contains large expanses of dry forest, and it is here that we will seek out some of the most localized and rarest of Brazil's birds.
Amid a landscape dominated by swollen-trunked bombax trees and bizarre rock formations that include cavernous grottos and towering spires, we will search for such specialties as White-bellied Nothura, White-browed Guan, Golden-capped and Caatinga parakeets, the newly described Bahia Nighthawk, Spot-backed Puffbird, the impressive Moustached Woodcreeper, Great Xenops, Henna-capped Foliage-gleaner, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Black-bellied and Caatinga antwrens, White-browed Antpitta, Reiser's Tyrannulet, Minas Gerais Tyrannulet, Caatinga Black-Tyrant, White-naped Jay, Long-billed Wren, Forbes's Blackbird, Ultramarine Grosbeak, and the beautiful and only recently described São Francisco Sparrow. This is the first itinerary by a major tour operator to offer access to some of these birds, many of which are known from a relative handful of locations. Our time in this region will not be restricted to rarities; indeed, these dry forests are incredibly "birdy," and in this season the lack of foliage should make birds easy to see.
After several days of productive birding in Minas Gerais, a change of venue will find us in the state of Tocantins, along the mighty Rio Araguaia. This, one of the largest rivers in the region, is also one of the least birded. We will be based just north of massive Bananal Island, in an ecotone between the southern fringes of Amazonian humid forest and the savanna/cerrado regions of central Brazil. Here, much of our birding will be in seasonally flooded gallery forests and on river islands. The white-sand beaches of these islands are liberally spotted with rare Orinoco Geese, Black Skimmers, Large-billed Terns, Collared Plovers, and Pied Lapwings, as well as a variety of larger wading birds. The two most special birds of this region are the Bananal Antbird (known only from a limited area surrounding Bananal Island) and the dashing Crimson-fronted Cardinal, both of which we expect to find. Other birds of particular interest include Zigzag Heron, Sunbittern, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Red-shouldered Macaw, Yellow-faced Parrot, Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Least and Band-tailed nighthawks, Toco Toucan, White-wedged Piculet, Long-billed Woodcreeper, the simoni race of Plain-crowned Spinetail (a likely split), Glossy Antshrike, Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant, River Tyrannulet, Ash-throated Casiornis, Riverside Tyrant, Scarlet-throated Tanager, and many others. Special attention will be made to see an as yet undescribed spinetail species! A morning at Brasilia National Park may yield a couple of other localized specialties: the Planalto Foliage-gleaner and the White-striped Warbler.
Comfortable, air-conditioned accommodations throughout; a few long drives; short hikes over easy terrain; some birding by boats on the Rio Araguaia. Low elevations throughout.