Brazil: Iguacu Falls Extension Aug 31—Sep 05, 2016
Posted by Kevin Zimmer
This short extension was centered on three days of birding in Iguaçu Falls National Park (Paraná state, Brazil), where the spectacle of the world’s greatest waterfalls provided the backdrop for some great birding. Our hikes along the river from our lovely hotel were highlighted by close encounters with Toco Toucans, mobs of elegant Plush-crested Jays, restless pairs of kaleidoscopic Green-headed Tanagers, and, for those who stayed out until near dusk, hordes of Great Dusky Swifts.
Most of our birding at Iguaçu was conducted in the interior of the forest, along the Poço Preto Road. Being out before dawn allowed us fabulous views of Variable (Black-capped) and Tropical screech-owls, as well as the opportunity to hear the forest awaken. There is an undeniable magic in hearing the changing of the shift, as the trills of screech-owls and the incessant tooting of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls yield to a reverberating chorus of Rufous-capped Motmots, wing-rattling displays of guans, ringing whistles of Solitary Tinamous, and the steady barking cadence of Barred Forest-Falcons. All of this presaged some exciting birding to come, as we spent most of two days birding the 11 km of jeep track through lush Atlantic Forest.
Highlights were many, ranging from superb eye level views of a magnificent Red-ruffed Fruitcrow to displaying Spot-billed Toucanets, a Southern Antpipit glued to a branch as it belted out its memorable song just 15 feet in front of us, a male Guira Tanager that descended to within a foot of the ground, a spotlighted Solitary Tinamou on its evening roost, and multiple pairs of endemic Creamy-bellied Gnatcatchers mobbing my owl calls. There were also confiding Southern Bristle-Tyrants and Rufous Gnateaters, skulking Short-tailed Antthrushes, tail-wagging Riverbank Warblers, impressively coiffed Blond-crested Woodpeckers, and multiple incandescent male Band-tailed Manakins.
This short extension added a whole new suite of Atlantic Forest birds to our trip list from the main Brazil: Pantanal Safari (Birds & Jaguars) tour, and proved a perfect “up-country” complement to our time in the “outback” of the Pantanal. It was great fun introducing each of you to the scenic, floral, and faunal wonders of this region, and I hope to see you all on future tours in Brazil or some other part of the world.