Tuesday 16 February 2016

Birding the Atlantic Rain Forests of Brazil

This blog describes a ten night birding trip to Brazil by four birders from the Buckinghamshire Bird Club in the UK.   Jim Rose, Neil Fletcher, Dave Parmenter and Rob Andrews had all been birding abroad previously, with a trip to Sri Lanka in 2014 being the only trip for the same group of individuals.  Several of the group had already visited other countries in South America but Brazil was a new destination for all four.  The Atlantic Rain Forest area was chosen partly on the recommendations of other birders and the relative ease of getting there (just fly to Rio and arrange to be picked up).

The team on the balcony Itororo Lodge
Andy, Rob
Dave, Neil and Jim
The first eight nights at the Itororo Lodge with Andy Foster of Serra dos Tucanos Tours.  Andy has run birding tours in this part of Brazil for thirteen years.  Previously his base was the Serra dos Tucanos lodge but from 2015, he moved base to Itororo Lodge, which is not too far from the town of Nova Friburgo  and is high up in the mountains. The new lodge offers excellent accommodation, food, is in a quiet remote area and most importantly, has some excellent birding trails.  (Apparently the previous lodge was close to a busy road and noise had become a problem).  Andy was our birding guide for the first eight days and proved to be a brilliant guide.  His knowledge of the area, the birds and the calls was exceptional and his ability to be the first to spot an approaching bird in the dense undergrowth was incredible.  Perhaps the best birding guide we have come across.  High praise indeed!

The sign above the door at the reception at Itororo Lodge
The reception/dining room at Itororo Lodge

Itororo Lodge - the gardens

Itororo Lodge grounds
Typical lodge trail
View from one of the highest points in the lodge grounds

We then moved to the lowlands and spent two nights at the Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu, which is more commonly referred to as REGUA.  The reserve is managed by Nicholas Locke, although his son Thomas was in charge during our stay.  The Again the accommodation and food was excellent.  The bedrooms at REGUA were air conditioned, which was just as well!
Our guide at REGUA was Adilei, the top bird at REGUA. Adilei certainly showed just why he is regarded as such as he found many key birds over the three days we were on site.

REGUA - the lounge area.

REGUA - Views over the Hummingbird feeders

Impressive scenery at REGUA

Our guide at REGUA

The lake at REGUA viewed from the tower.

REGUA - View from the tower hide.

REGUA - Rob climbing the ladder to the tower hide

We arranged our flights ourselves and opted to fly with Air France from London Heathrow to Rio de Janerio, via Paris.  We choose Air France due to the low cost (£430 each return flight, a bargain price!) and the fact that we arrived early morning (8am approx) allowing us to go birding on the day of arrival.

While rain can be a problem at this time of year and we had a soaking on our first afternoon on one of the trails at Itororo Lodge.  However, this was the worst we experienced and we were never really troubled again.  At Itororo Lodge the evenings were cool and the temperature during the middle of the day was hot, but somewhat lower due to the relatively high altitude.  At REGUA the temperature was significantly higher and by about 11am it was almost 40 DegC and too hot for birding, plus the birds went extremely quiet in the middle of the day.

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