Southeastern Brazil Part II Oct 15—25, 2007

Posted by Kevin Zimmer

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Kevin Zimmer

Kevin Zimmer has authored three books and numerous papers dealing with field identification and bird-finding in North America. His book, Birding in the American West: A Han...

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Espírito Santo was, as always, excellent. We began with a search for the Cherry-throated Tanager, an ultra-rare species that we had scored on 7 occasions out of 8 prior attempts. This time we were not so lucky. The region was in the midst of a severe drought, which dampened vocalization and the responsiveness of many species. Although we heard the tanager, it was unresponsive, and eluded us despite much effort. Given that the entire known population of this species consists of fewer than 20 birds, finding it is never a given, and to have enjoyed our previous level of success is truly remarkable.

While searching for the tanager, we encountered lots of other birds, among them some of the most sought-after Atlantic Forest endemics. Topping the list was the elegant and rarely seen Shrike-like Cotinga (or Elegant Mourner), followed by the bizarrely beautiful Swallow-tailed Cotinga, and the seldom seen Black-legged Dacnis. A Brown Tinamou seen virtually at arm's-length was another real prize. The Santa Teresa area brought us a hummingbird feeder extravaganza, wherein one had to decide whether to ogle the whopping-big Swallow-tailed Hummingbird or the bee-sized Frilled Coquette. It was here that we were treated to a Ruby Topaz Hummingbird—a species that we regularly see in northeast Brazil, but a first for this tour. Nova Lombardia gave us tail-quivering Oustalet's Tyrannulets, singing Wied's Tyrant-Manakins, a pair of enigmatic Rufous-brown Solitaires, a spectacular low-soaring White-necked Hawk, and a superb Tawny-browed Owl, among many other highlights.

Then, it was on to Linhares, where we concluded our tour with a bang. Linhares CVRD Reserve offered up exceptional views of the ultra-rare Red-billed Curassow (male and female) and Plumbeous Antvireos, fine studies of flashy Red-browed Parrots, tiny Minute Hermits, Black-headed Berryeater, White-crowned Manakin, and many others. But top highlights here were shared between a dramatic Long-tailed Potoo on a roost, and a flock of stunning Ochre-marked Parakeets that we taped into some palms at point-blank range in beautiful afternoon sun. The mammals even gave the birds a run for their money here, as we were treated to fine views of two Brazilian tapirs and a daytime ocelot, which vied with our earlier spectacular views of buffy-headed marmosets (from Caetés and Nova Lombardia) for best mammals of the trip.

Along the way, we enjoyed numerous wonderful meals (including visits to multiple churrascarias), sinfully good icy caipirinhas, and loads of famously friendly Brazilian hospitality. All in all, a most congenial group of birders saw a bunch of really special birds, and had great fun in the process!

Favorite Birds of the Trip (as voted by the group):

1. Ochre-marked Parakeet

2. Tawny-browed Owl, Red-browed Parrot, Long-tailed Potoo, and Brown Tinamou (four-way tie)