Southeast Brazil (Itatiaia National Park, Canastra National Park, and Ubatuba) - January 14th - 20th 2009

Published by Jim McConnell (jomdsh AT aol.com)

Participants: Jim McConnell

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Trip reports from groups birding in southeast Brazil are reasonably frequent. Similarly, expert led tours are not at all uncommon. However, I decided to attempt my southeast Brazil trip solo. My reasons for doing this were simple. I was in the mood to walk pristine jungle trails alone. The workaday world would be gone for a week or so. I knew that a brief visit would only scratch the surface of what Brazil had to offer. Still, in early 2009, I decided to limit myself to a small part of the country, specifically southeast Brazil, and begin my own personal exploration, hoping to visit other parts of the country at some future date. I was curious about whether a solo English-speaking birder from the US could travel to the country and handle the logistics of getting around safely and effectively. Would it be as easy as visiting, say, the Mexican Yucatan, or Costa Rica? If so, could I see enough species on my own without a guide to make it a worthwhile venture? There was really only one way to find out, so off I went.

Of course, there were a few little logistical items that had to be taken care of prior to travel:

A Brazil travel visa was easily and quickly obtained through Passportsplus.com, based in Texas. Just call 1-888- 821-8472 (if in the US) to ask how to get one. I think the visa was around a hundred bucks, if I remember correctly, and it took about a week to receive through US Priority Mail. I already had a US Passport.

An Intranational (not international) Drivers License was obtained at the AAA store in my hometown, for around 14 bucks, and was nice to have, but no one in Brazil ever asked to see it, rental car agency or otherwise. The guidebooks say they are required. It only took 15 minutes to get the Intranational Driver’s License from my hometown AAA store anyway. Incidentally, they did indeed ask to look at my regular US driver’s license at the Hertz kiosk when I arrived for my rental car, so that is the license of most import, it seems.

The round trip ticket to Sao Paulo airport (Guarulhos Airport) was surprisingly cheap from New York City, at a little over 700 bucks. The fight went from NY City to Miami, Florida, and then from Miami to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Tickets were obtained through Orbitz.com. TACA Airlines was used, and was quite decent. The Guarhulos airport is just a few kilometers to the north of Sao Paulo, making it unnecessary to enter the crowded urban world of Sao Paulo itself.

I reserved the cheapest car available at Hertz’s website while still in the US, and had no trouble at the Guarulhos Airport finding the row of rental car kiosks, and picking up my tiny chevy hatchback. The car was in fine shape and worked well.

The field guide book of choice these days is Van Perlo’s “A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil”. Get this one. Do not get the one by Souza (which was, however, the only one available for me in 2009).

No vaccinations were required for southeast Brazil. If I had gone to the Amazon Jungle, vaccinations would have been required.

I changed plenty of US dollars for Brazilian reis at a money exchange kiosk at the Miami Airport. I changed so much money (I think it was around 700 US dollars) that I never had to use a bank or ATM while in Brazil. This was pretty smart in retrospect as there were not a lot of the latter in rural Brazil. A few hotels did allow me to use my credit card for room charges though. When I returned to Miami on the flight back, I changed the Brazilian money that was left back into US dollars.

Learning at least an hour’s worth of Portuguese was worth it:

I learned only a few Portuguese phrases which came in very handy indeed. The most handy was the phrase “ONDE E?” (pronounced “Own-day ay”), which is equivalent to the Spanish phrase “Donde esta? (Where is…) I used the phrase to ask directions when driving about. Usually, I placed the name of a town or city after the phrase, and was rewarded with much pointing of the hands in the correct direction of travel.

Another phrase of great use was “OBRIGADO” (Oh-bree-gah-doh), which means ‘thank you’, and another was “BOM DIA” (bahm-dee-ah), which means ‘hello’ , literally ‘good day’.

The phrase, “Now fowl-oh Portoogays” means ‘I don’t speak Portuguese’ and always worked to excuse myself from any social awkwardness of not being able to converse well.

Unlike Portuguese, Spanish is a language I speak relatively well . By using it, I was able to collect a rental car and get hotel rooms more easily. Most Brazilians don’t really speak Spanish, but seem to understand it a bit anyway, at least enough to intuit the train of thought.

For accommodation, I used a small tent two nights, a jungle hammock another two nights, a car one night, and a hotel three nights. I was basically winging it with whatever presented itself each night.

I made a good map of the travel area by printing off several pages from googlemaps.com and taping them together prior to the journey.

Day One (January 14)- The flight over the Amazon jungle en route to Brazil from Miami was really interesting. I could tell that Venzuela agriculture gradually gave way to jungle in that country’s more southerly regions , and after that there were only occasional tiny lighted settlements as we flew on towards Brazil. The Amazon jungle seemed to have rather frequent folds of low ridges that looked very inviting indeed to a birder like me. Flat jungle was also present. I could only imagine the birds (as well as possible jungle hazards) way down below the plane. I engaged in day-dreamy in-flight speculation about it all.

I was exhausted when I arrived at Guarulhos Airport and was quite happy to find a smallish Microtel hotel still inside the airport terminal. The hotel allowed me to pay for my sleep on an hourly basis. After 4 hours or so, I was rejuvenated and ready to go. It was early morning at that time, just perfect for a birding start.

The Via Dutra highway, which runs straight north to Itatiaia National Park, happens to flow right next to the airport, so it was only too easy to get on it and get going. The drive north to Itatiaia National Park took about two to three hours. The cars on the highway were in a hurry and attention had to be paid to driving. However, good birds could be seen from the highway anyway. Southern Crested Caracaras were fairly common. I saw one Chimango Caracara perched on a termite mound in a field. An Aplomado Falcon was perched in a tree near some dwellings. An American Kestrel was seen. A Peregrine Falcon flew along the road at one point. A couple of Yellow-headed Caracaras were seen at random spots. Some interesting brown ibises were in an open marsh but there was no place to pull over. So, I was unable to stop the car and identify them. Southern Lapwings rested on a few fields. A number of dove and pigeon species were fly-bys and these are covered in the final species list enclosed. I stopped at two places total en route to Itatiaia National Park. The first place I stopped was a gas station with a small patch of trees next to it. I was trying to get gas when I noticed the area was teeming with birds – a good sign of things to come. Swallow-tailed Hummingbird put on a show right in the parking lot, as did Masked Water Tyrant. Chestnut-capped Blackbirds were in a moist area here, and a single Chopi Blackbird. Sayaca and Palm Tanagers were in evidence. A Tropical Parula showed nicely.

I stopped at a roadside eatery right before the turnoff to Itatiaia National Park from the main Via Dutra highway. Some Sooty Swifts were feeding in the air above the facility. A Guira Cuckoo or two were seen along the Via Dutra highway just prior to this, as was a Blonde-crested Woodpecker. There had been at least two rather pricey toll plazas along the length of the Via Dutra highway which had to be paid. A river also paralleled the highway near its end, with Olivaceous Cormorants in and about it.

I got off the Via Dutra highway at an exit on the south edge of Itatiaia National Park, at BR 354, at the town of Engenheiro Passos. The road goes left (northwest) from the Via Dutra highway (at Engenheiro Passos). I stopped at a patch of lowland jungle and fields only a couple kilometers from the exit. White-eyed Parakeets put on a fine show here, as did a flock of Curl-crested Jays. The road began to ascend up some hilly pasture habitat that held Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Campo Flicker, Savannah Hawk, Ruby-crowned Tanager, Grey Monjita and Crested Black-Tyrant. After 20 kms or more, a small stream crossed the road at a patch of reasonable jungle. Here, Varied Antshrikes, a Greyish Mourner, Lineated Woodpecker, Crested Oropendolas and Gilt-edged Tanager foraged about at eye level (more exactly, the topography was such that I was viewing the treetops from the road at eye level).

I continued on up the road, getting higher and higher in elevation. After a while, Aracauria trees began to appear. They were like pine trees designed by Dr. Seuss, having large round balls of stalks and needles at the end of branches. I stopped at the roadside at this elevation and enjoyed fine views of Brassy-breasted Tanager, Warbling-Finches, Swainson’s Flycatchers, and Gilt-edged Tanagers.

After a half hour or so of driving I reached the top of the ridge which the BR 354 road had been ascending for its entire length. There was a small dirt parking lot on the right here, and a dirt road (in pretty good condition) that ran along the ridge line to the right as well. This was the Algulhas Negras Road (of birder and hiker fame mostly), inclusive within the Itatiaia National Park. There was no checkpoint or guard house. The road was open to anyone. I parked at the very beginning of the Algulhas Negras Road, in the dirt parking lot. At the edge of the parking lot, I was instantly entertained by a White-spotted Woodpecker. A Velvety Black-Tyrant female sat on a telephone wire. Just ten feet opposite the road from the parking lot. I ‘swished’, and a group of Warbling-Finches showed up. Also, a snazzy family of Rufous-crowned Greenlets joined them in the branches of some low trees. Near the ground, in the roots, needles, and leaves, a couple of Grey-bellied Spinetails moved around shyly. Plain Xenops and Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner appeared in some upper branches of the low trees.

I began to walk up the road which offered only a gradual ascent through low height excellent jungle. After only 100 meters, I entered the forest at a moist stream seepage on the left side of the road. Almost immediately, birds responded to my ‘swishing’. A female Blue Manakin investigated. A beautiful male Brazilan Ruby, perched right next to me and showed off all colors. A pair of Brown-breasted Bamboo-Tyrants couldn’t get enough of the ‘swishing’ noise. Also, a Thick-billed Saltator put on a show, which was itself near a Blackish-blue Seedeater.

I drove on and encountered a Variable Antshrike at the next stop, then a Yellow-headed Caracara. After a few more miles, there was a little opening full of bushes on the right side of the road. Investigation revealed a lek of Plovercrests. They have a high squeaky, buzzy song, and are quite tame when singing. A Diademed Tanager was seen, and eventually I would see this tanager at almost all points along this road, but mostly it was commonest in the upper mid-section of the drive. I came to a little house or hut of some sort, with a flowery yard. The shrubs in the yard held a Grey-capped Tyrannulet and a Rufous-browed Peppershrike. A little further on along the road, a Serra do Mar Tyrannulet was well seen in the roadside vegetation. Also, several close looks were had at the rather range-restricted Itatiaia Spinetail. There was one patch of extensive Aracauria Pines along the road. Although this patch seemed like a good spot for Aracauria Tit-Spinetail, I was unable to locate any. The only bird here was a female Fork-tailed Woodnymph. Further up the road, near its end, the vegetation opened up a bit. Here, a Bran-colored Flycatcher perched in the open for a while. A Campo Flicker showed off. Warbling Finches were frequent. Rufous-collared Sparrows were around.

After messing about a bit at the end of the Algulhas Negras Road, I turned around and headed back down its length. The total distance of the road would take a disinterested person about half an hour to drive, I suppose. About midway along the length of the road, a quick stop revealed a perched Dusky-throated Hermit, not too different from the Long-tailed Hermits of Costa Rica. Rufous-bellied Thrush and Yellow-legged Thrush were here too.

I drove back to the Via Dutra Highway on the BR 354 again and continued along the Via Dutra for another few miles before again heading left off of the highway, this time through the small town of Itatiaia and up into the forest of Itatiaia National Park. There was a gate with a small fee charged by the attendant as I entered the national park. I drove a few miles up the road inside the park until coming to Itatiaia Hotel (formerly called Hotel Simon). Even though it was a rainy night by now, and I had no reservations, the desk clerk quickly assigned me a room, and told me that they would serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. The room was just great and so welcome at this point. After a quick list tally and a Bible read, I drifted off to sleep. This, then, ended my first birding day in southeastern Brazil.

Day Two – I awoke early and headed out the hotel door and into their well-treed yard abutting the jungle. Cliff Flycatchers frolicked about the roof of the establishment. Southern Rough-winged Swallows, Blue-and-white Swallows, and Grey-breasted Martins did the same. A Picazuro Pigeon perched on a branch at the yard edge. A Dusky-legged Guan flapped up from the roof of a neighbor’s hut. A partially-treed hillside next to the hut held a couple Green-billed Toucans. A Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher moved about the branches of these trees. Shiny Cowbird was around the yard edges, and occasional flocks of Maroon-bellied Parakeets would perch about the yard, first this tree, then that.

I noticed that the yard had a bird feeder. Tanagers and hummingbirds were frequenting it, as was a lone Bananaquit. The most attractive Tanager species at the feeder was Golden-chevroned Tanager, although Green-headed Tanagers were also nice. Hummingbird species were: White-throated Hummingbird, Gliitering-throated Emerald, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Versicolored Emerald and Black Jacobin.

At the far edge of the front yard a trail entered the jungle through some excellent habitat. When I tried it, I began to pick up good birds almost immediately. Ferruginous Antbirds were singing and showing off in the jungle tangles. Plain Antvireos were pretty common. Golden-crowned Warblers were easy to see. Olivaceous Woodcreeper was the most common woodcreeper, but great looks were had at individuals of other types: White-throated Woodcreeper, Planalto Woodcreeper, and Scaled Woodcreeper. Incidentally, White-throated Woodcreeper was large and imposing, resembling very much Strong-billed Woodcreepers of different range status. A really close nice look was had at a singing male White-shouldered Fire-eye. I really enjoyed this guy with his black and white neatness, and bright red eyes. A Green-backed Trogon investigated my ‘swishing’ for a while. A Saffron Toucanet was in the upper branches of the trailside trees, but later on pairs were seen even right in the hotel yard. What sounded like an antthrush or antpitta called repeatedly from the tangles, but I never could get a glimpse. White-collared Foliage-gleaner was here and there along the trail. Singles of Spot-breasted Antvireo, Star-throated Antwren, and Ochre-rumped Antbird were all seen well. Fork-tailed Woodnymph and Squirrel Cuckoo were present; Olive-green Tanagers too. A pair of Buff-browed Foliage-gleaners was confiding. The trail itself was rather short, only a couple hundred yards, so I soon had to retrace my steps back to the yard. Trees at the edge of the yard now held Blue-winged Parrotlets, Grey-hooded and Sepia-capped Flycatchers, Double-collared Seedeater and Chestnut-crowned Becard.

It was time for breakfast and what a feast it was. The selection seemed limitless, and everything tasted yummy.

After breakfast, I walked the kilometer or two of road connecting my hotel with another great hotel (Hotel do Ype). Hotel do Ype is twice as expensive as Hotel Itatiaia and it is arguably not as good for birds, although it does have a swimming pool. Along the connecting road, many new birds were seen: Black-billed Scythbill, Pileated Parrot, Sombre Hummingbird, White-barred Piculet, Yellow-throated and Yellow-fronted Woodpeckers, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Plain-winged and Lesser Woodcreepers, Streak-capped Antwren, Rufous-headed and Guira Tanager and Black-tailed Tityra. A Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail jumped onto the road and ran down it a ways before dodging back into the woods.

Hotel do Ype had a lot of Magpie Tanagers around its bird feeders, and plenty of Green-headed Tanagers and Black Jacobins. A House Wren was in the hedge and a fairly tame Dusky-legged Guan. I continued on past the hotel and eventually came to the dead-end of the road. This was at a tourist-attended short path to a waterfall. Despite the tourists, beautiful looks were had at two separate Sharp-tailed Streamcreepers. They seem to like dipper-type habitats, where they only walk about on moss-covered rocks most of the time. A gated trail ran further on from where the road had ended, but the “waterfall rangers” on duty were hesitant to allow me access. It appears that they were looking to leave work early. Still, I convinced them by giving them my “name, rank, and serial number”. Along the trail, I managed to see Black-goggled Tanager, Rufous-capped, Sooty-fronted, and Rusty-backed Spinetails. The walk back to my hotel yielded male Blue Manakin, Blue Dacnis and Pale-breasted Thrush.

At the hotel again, I engaged in gastronomic bliss, as lunch was even better than breakfast.
After lunch, well… more birding. The hotel yard held Greenish Tyrannulet, Plumbeous Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, White-winged Becard, Yellow-bellied Seedeater and Red-rumped Cacique. The trail at the end of the yard this time yielded White-throated Spadebill, Green-winged Saltator and Long-billed Wren. As evening drew on, I could not locate the Buff-fronted Owls that supposedly are easy enough o find right at the beginning of the trail from the hotel. It was raining a bit and I think that was probably the reason.

I retired to the hotel for a shower, and yet another delicious meal. Thus ended my second day in southeast Brazil.

Day Three – With the morning light, I dined and birded a bit more and then got antsy to move on to a new area. I left the national park, and noticed a bright yellow finch in the town of Itatiaia. It was called Saffron Finch. I drove back to the Algulhas Negras Road and , despite intermittent rain, birded it just a little. The high point of birding the road this time was a great look at a Mouse-colored Tapaculo in the tree roots at the road edge. Except for the fact that they are birds, they do resemble mice. Also, male Blue Manakins were around.

This time I continued driving on BR 354 over the ridge and down its other side, away from Itatiaia National Park. I had made up my mind to visit Canastra National Park, which was pretty far away in the state of Minas Gerais and thitherward drove I. As the forest gave way again to agriculture, I started seeing new birds. Rufous Horneros liked scrubby pastures, and White-rumped Monjitas appeared occasionally on wires. Savannah Hawks were not uncommon, and a White-tailed Hawk or two was seen. A Yellow-rumped Marshbird was in a moist field. I followed my googlemaps printeouts and connected to various highways enroute. At length, as night was well on, I approached the northern edge of Canastra National Park. To my dismay, I discovered that the final couple of hours of driving to the park would be on dirt roads, sometimes muddy, through cane fields offering little to recognize. Side roads cut off from the main dirt road with very infrequent signage. It was only by the grace of God that I stayed on the right road and eventually made it to the town at the edge of Canastra National Park. Burrowing Owls welcomed me to town. I had a couple of hours to sleep in my tent along the roadside before morning.

Day Four – Come the morning, I drove up a steep mesa edge to the park gate. A Toco Toucan flew into a tree just before the entrance gate and showed off his colors well. Also near the entrance gate, Cattle Tyrants milled about on the grassy terrain. Cattle Tyrants are a bit like Tropical Kingbirds that have decided to walk around on the ground for a living. Most exciting, near the park entrance, a Red-legged Sereima ran along the road in front of the car before hopping up onto a fence post. It was quite a bizarre bird, with long knee-jointed red legs, and a slender almost bustard-like body. At the park gate, there was an official structure (something of a glorified hut) with some friendly guards who collected the small entrance fee. I was now entering the top of a huge elevated mesa land with medium-high rolling grass in all directions. The road was dirt but passable without too much hassle. I began to encounter interesting grassland species: Black-masked Finch, Capped Seedeater, Plumbeous Seedeater and Blue-black Grassquit. Termite mounds were all around, and grew up about a foot high on average. A pair of very unusual-looking Cock-tailed Tyrants busied themselves about the grassy folds, perched like tyrants will on the grassy stalks. A nice look was had at a Wedge-tailed Grassfinch as it flew right by, in the heart of its grassy stronghold. White-rumped Monjitas were pretty common. I drove for an hour or two until I reached the top of the very large and spectacular waterfall at the far end of the park. It was a feature of the Rio Sao Francisco. Great Dusky and White-collared Swifts swarmed the air over the falls. At the falls parking lot, Brown-crested Flycatcher was present in the few bushes. A trail led up a nearby slope and then dropped down behind it, out of sight. The trail then continued on down a long hillside to the base of the falls and some decent riverside jungle. As I walked the trail up the first hill slope from the parking lot, a beautiful Blue Finch was flushed and perched in the open. This was one of the specialty birds of the region, and the only one that I saw. Further up the slope a band of scrubby trees hosted a whole family of very impressive White-eared Puffbirds. The bird book said that they were common in parts of Brazil, but they were also the only ones that I saw on the trip.

Over the ridge and down the trail to the waterfall, some patches of jungle existed in otherwise open country. I swished in a Black-goggled Tanager, Black-throated Saltator and a Creamy-bellied Thrush in the jungle growth. The open, sometimes bushy spaces held a nice family of Cinnamon Tanagers. I also flushed a Least Nighthawk from his day spot. In the jungle lining the river at the bottom of the waterfall, White-bellied Warblers were quite inquisitive. I scanned the river for any sign of Brazilian Merganser, but, alas, there were too many locals swimming at the base of the falls, and walking along the riverside trails. No mergansers here at the moment.

I was pretty thirsty when I arrived back at the car above the falls. The drive out of the park did not produce much that was new. I found a fold in the grasslands with a beautiful tumbling stream just outside the park gate and pitched my tent. As dusk drew on, I was startled by the arrival of a very busy large anteater searching a close rocky protuberance for termites or ants. I watched the fascinating animal for at least 15 minutes and then went to sleep.

Day Five – It had rained lightly during the night and getting back up the slope, from my makeshift campsite, via the car was not easy. Once back on the main dirt road and into the nearby town, I stopped at a small bunch of trees. The green leaves were moving. I was rewarded with fabulous close looks at Peach-fronted Parakeets and a beautiful Yellow-chevroned Parakeet. A Highland Elaenia was in the same trees as the Parakeets. Another quick birding stop a few miles further down the road revealed a little White-crested Tyrannulet and a very snazzy flock of a few Buff-necked Ibises. The ibises were very attractive, and somewhat noisy, birds, which seemed to like the little sink ponds in the folds of grassy farmland.

It became apparent that the daredevil trek that I had taken through dirt roads and cane fields to get to Canastra National Park in the first place had not really been necessary. I realized that I would not have to backtrack. There was a paved road leading from the town beside the national park all of the way back towards Sao Paulo. I stopped at a birdy-looking creek not too far from the national park, and was rewarded with fine looks at Hooded Tanager and Burnished-buff Tanager in some streamside trees. More Yellow-rumped Marshbirds were here too. Another close site after that yielded an excellent scope view of Golden-crowned Parakeet not more than 20 meters away.

It wasn’t long before a Ringed Kingfisher flew by, and then a Spotted Nothura crossed the road (at least I think that was the type of tinamou that it was).

After about a half hour of driving towards Sao Paulo away from the park, a large shallow vegetated pond appeared on my left a little ways from the roadside. I drove on a farmer’s track off of the road to where it was and began birding. Guira Cuckoos were occupying the fence posts. At the edge of the pond, on some stalks protruding from the water, male and female White-headed MarshTyrants were busy catching insects. The males were particularly cool, with their clean white heads and all. The lake itself held a few Masked Ducks, a species that I had been looking for for years its seems. When I finally saw these, I noticed just how easily they sink into vegetation and out of sight when they want to. Fortunately, the scope allowed fine views at times. Along the edge of the pond, I stumbled upon a very close Blackish Rail right in the open. I also disturbed a pair of nest-building Yellow-chinned Spinetails, an interesting species that builds an oven-shaped nest of reeds just over the water. Out on the lillypads of the pond, Wattled Jacanas stutted about. Least Grebes and Pied-billed Grebes were both present. A Rufescent Tiger-Heron was fishing the pond edge.

My next big destination was the coastal town of Ubatuba, a couple of hours north of Sao Paulo. There was considerable driving to be done from my location and it took all day to go from Canastra National Park to Ubatuba. En route, I saw another Red-legged Sereima. A Brown-chested Martin or two was another roadside acquisition, and Green Heron.

I approached the tourist town of Ubatuba by getting off of the Via Dutra Highway at Taubate and then travelling straight to the coast on SP 125. Just before Ubatuba, the road descends in elevation through a series of rather dramatic switchbacks to the coast itself. Just prior to these switchbacks, I pulled over to the side of the road. It was around midnight and I slept in my car until wee morning.

Day Six – Travelling into the coastal town of Ubatuba on SP 125, one comes to a roundabout (this is just north of Ubatuba’s big public beach). The roundabout is really the end of SP 125 as it connects with the coastal highway BR 101. One can go left, following the beach north on BR 101, or one can go right, following the beach south on BR 101. Should one decide to turn left, just a few miles up the coast is Fazenda Angelim birding preserve. Conversely, a few miles to the right is a generalized birding area known as Corcovado and Folha Seca. My first choice was to the right. En route, the Ubatuba public beach was beautiful but rather sterile birdwise – just a small flock of Kelp Gulls flew by. I continued south from the public beach until (a few kilometers later) I passed over a medium-sized bridge, at an inlet. Beyond the bridge a short ways was a turnoff to the right with a sign for the little town of Corcovado. I turned right and drove the dirt road to Corcovado( it was a couple of kilometers) until this road petered out near a small bridge over a crystal-clear large stream.

I parked the car by the bridge and investigated the far side of the bridge along the stream. Almost immediately, a large Saw-billed Hermit flew up to me, and paused a while in mid-air to investigate. There was a short path to some indigenous people’s huts near the stream and I walked over to see them. En route, but close to the huts, a mixed band of birds was encountered. The highlight here was a nice look at a Cresent-chested Puffbird, but other birds were around including Brazilian Tanager, Streaked Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, and Red-necked Tanager. Along the stream, Whiskered Myiobius was encountered, and Green Kingfisher. Just before the indigenous huts, a path branched to the left and headed over a tiny creek, through some patchy jungle and on into primary jungle up the mountain slopes. I spent a lot of time around the contact zone between patchy jungle and primary jungle. Plenty of bird species were encountered. A Tiny Hawk was perched in the jungle’s upper branches and was somewhat active, moving from this perch to that, and so on. Scaly-headed Parrots were flying around in small bands, landing in treetops occasionally. Grey-rumped Swifts and Sick’s Swifts were overhead from time to time. Tiny Reddish Hermits investigated me with frequency. One Reddish Hermit in particular was always at the same spot around a tiny stream crossing. A Festive Coquette liked a particular perch at the top of a second growth sapling in a partially regenerated field, surrounded by jungle. It was exciting to see an adult Black-cheeked Gnateater come through the understory vegetation, making its call. The combination of rufous cap, black face, and white underparts was very pretty. An Oustalet’s Tyrannulet was a very yellow little bugger, with a tail that sometimes cocked up a bit, and some sort of a weak face pattern. A Grey-crowned Flatbill gradually worked its way from perch to perch at about eye level in some secondary jungle. Bare-throated Bellbirds let loose with their loud ringing series of ‘boing’ calls that emanated from choice high perches along the jungle trail. However, despite their frequent calling, the jungle precluded me from ever viewing one. A male White-bearded Manakin hopped onto a branch right beside me at one point and gave great views. A Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher was in some secondary jungle. A pair of Flame-crested Tanagers seemed to be all about travelling as a duo. They perched for a while together on a branch nearby. A Chestnut-bellied Seedfinch was in a weedy jungle opening.

A walk back to the bridge and my car put me in the mood for a quick swim in the stream. Afterwards, I birded the field edge behind the car and came up with a nice Long-tailed Tyrant and some more Brazilian Tanagers.

I drove back to the turnoff for Corcovado on SP 101. Instead of getting onto SP 101, I bore left over a tiny bridge on a short dirt side road that quickly comes to a birding area known as Folha Seca. There is a loosely gated campground on this road, and the manager allowed me to string a hammock there for 7 US dollars per night.

Day Seven – I awoke from my jungle hammock, and drove the half kilometer to the end of the road at Folha Seca. There was a power line cut that was very broad through some major jungle. It was damp everywhere with intermittent light rain. A beautiful Whistling Heron was at a pool in the open power cut. I had nice looks of him, but, best of all, he whistled considerably when he flew (hence the name). The whistling that was produced was a vocalization and not a wing noise. A Streak-capped Antwren was in some dense border foliage, and a Spot-backed Antshrike popped into view for about two minutes in the same spot. There were mixed species flocks around the power cut edge - a few Brazilian Tanagers, a Crested Becard, a Chestnut-bellied Euphonia male, and a Blonde-crested Woodpecker.

I walked the road which runs through primary jungle for a little ways. A Blue-tailed Emerald was seen. A stunning male Violet-capped Woodnymph was singing from a low perch right beside the road. Bare-throated Bellbirds called here, just as they did a couple kilometers away at Corcovado. I could not glimpse one here either. Female White-shouldered Fire-eyes were in the undergrowth. Overhead, a Black Hawk-Eagle circled rather low in the air. A jungle slope had male and female Unicolored Antwren, which were thoroughly seen at point blank range. Scaled Antwren male and female were nearby. The male was flashy. Whiskered Myiobius was next to a rivulet.

It was time for lunch, and there was a nice deli in the town of Ubatuba. Afterwards, I drove north of town on BR 101 just a few kilometers and turned left off of the highway onto a short road for a small village. Then, very soon after turning, I turned right onto a side track and crossed a wooden bridge over a reasonable stream or small river. At the end of this dirt track (which was only a few blocks long) was a small parking area for Fazenda Angelim refuge. There was a very short trail to a large grassy yard with a house at the far corner. I had made no prior reservations to visit the refuge, so I hoped that they would let me in. A nice old lady welcomed me at the house door, and asked me to pay a small pittance fee, and sign a register. Then, I was free to birdwatch. A Plain Parakeet was perched in a tree in the yard for a little while, before flying away. A trail led from the house-end of the yard up through some secondary jungle and then into extensive primary jungle. A little stream paralleled the trail in both habitats. In the secondary jungle, a Grey-bellied Hawk was perched close beside the path. It was a beautiful adult bird with silvery underparts and bright yellow cere and bare face parts, and unfeathered yellow legs. I watched it a long time, then flushed it. A Riverbank Warbler greeted me in much the way a waterthrush might, when inspecting my ‘swishing’ noise. There was some hindquarters bobbing or general movement of the tail as I recall. Walking on into primary forest, I noticed a number of Brown and Olive-green Tanagers. White-throated Spadebills perched just over the trail and allowed nice views. One of my favorite finds, was a Rufous-capped Motmot at eye level, within hands reach. It was interesting to see a motmot that did not have its tail feathers removed in any way. In that sense, it reminded me of a Tody Motmot, but it was still the large size of regular motmots. A good look was had at Black-capped Foliage-gleaner, and also other foliage-gleaner species. Ferruginous and Bertoni’s Antbirds were seen. A pair of Salvadori’s Antwrens was special. They were in a slight jungle opening caused by a felled tree, or some such thing, an area that sported a bit of tangled re-growth. When I returned to secondary habitat, I turned up an adult male Squamate Antbird, in the thicket right by the stream. It gave great views and was somewhat inquisitive even. There sure are a lot of antbirds and antwrens in southeast Brazil.

I returned to my car to find that the bridge near the refuge was now flooded and impassable due to an upstream rain event. This was a bit worrisome as I was planning to get to the airport the next day, and could not miss my flight. I prayed for help, but at first it seemed like the rain simply came down harder. However (and perhaps miraculously), despite the heavier rain, the flood went down after a couple of hours, and the bridge became passable once again. I gratefully drove back through Ubatuba and ate again. The Rufous-thighed subspecies of Sharp-shinned Hawk that occurs in the area was perched on a power line in a jungle area of road. When I got out of the car to observe him, he refused to fly. After time, I left him there, without so much as a flap of a wing, and retreated to my campground hammock. I slept rather well, all things considered, and even heard the repeated trills of a Black-capped Screech-Owl during the night and early morning.

Day Eight - The drive back to Guarulhos Airport was rather uneventful, save for one very enjoyable stop at a roadside wetland. White-faced Whistling Ducks accompanied a male and a female Brazilian Teal here. Also, a South American Snipe or two were present. A Limpkin flew up to a low perch. Not far away, a small flock of snazzy White Woodpeckers flew beside the road, completely unexpected.

All told, the trip was delightful. Walking so many jungle paths alone did wonders to restore my general sense of well-being. The species list of 254 birds was not overly large, but was still respectable, and there were a lot of truly neat birds seen.

Trip Highlights:

1) Seeing a Giant Anteater rummaging for insects at Canastra National Park
2) Swimming in a crystal-clear jungle river at Corcovado
3) Seeing so many range-restricted birds while walking tranquil jungle paths
4) Viewing the extensive Amazon jungle from the plane window en route
5) Seeing a few showy desired species like Red-legged Sereima, Black-billed Scythbill, Saffron Toucanet, Brazilian and Diademed Tanagers, Golden-capped and Yellow-chevroned Parakeets, Toco Toucan, Plovercrest, Festive Coquette, Brazilian Ruby, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, White-eared and Crescent-chested Puffbirds, Blonde-crested and White Woodpeckers, Blue Manakin, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Cock-tailed and Long-tailed Tyrants, Blue and Saffron Finch, etc.

Species Lists

1. Spotted Nothura
2. Dusky-legged Guan
3. White-faced Whistling Duck
4. Brazilian Teal
5. Masked Duck
6. Least Grebe
7. Pied-billed Grebe
8. Buff-necked Ibis
9. Rufescent Tiger Heron
10. Green Heron
11. Striated Heron
12. Western Cattle Egret
13. Western Great Egret
14. Whistling Heron
15. Magnificent Frigatebird
16. Neotropic Cormorant
17. Turkey Vulture
18. Black Vulture
19. White-tailed Kite
20. Grey-bellied Hawk
21. Tiny Hawk
22. Sharp-shinned Hawk
23. Savanna Hawk
24. Roadside Hawk
25. White-tailed Hawk
26. Black Hawk-Eagle
27. Southern Crested Caracara
28. Yellow-headed Caracara
29. Chimango Caracara
30. Laughing Falcon
31. American Kestrel
32. Aplomado Falcon
33. Peregrine Falcon
34. Red-legged Seriema
35. Grey-necked Wood Rail
36. Slaty-breasted Wood Rail
37. Blackish Rail
38. Common Gallinule
39. Limpkin
40. Southern Lapwing
41. Wattled Jacana
42. South American Snipe
43. Kelp Gull
44. Picazuro Pigeon
45. Pale-vented Pigeon
46. Plumbeous Pigeon
47. Eared Dove
48. Ruddy Ground Dove
49. White-tipped Dove
50. White-eyed Parakeet
51. Golden-capped Parakeet
52. Peach-fronted Parakeet
53. Maroon-bellied Parakeet
54. Blue-winged Parrotlet
55. Plain Parakeet
56. Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
57. Pileated Parrot
58. Scaly-headed Parrot
59. Guira Cuckoo
60. Smooth-billed Ani
61. Squirrel Cuckoo
62. Black-capped Screech Owl
63. Mottled Owl
64. Burrowing Owl
65. Least Nighthawk
66. Sooty Swift
67. Great Dusky Swift
68. White-collared Swift
69. Grey-rumped Swift
70. Sick's Swift
71. Saw-billed Hermit
72. Dusky-throated Hermit
73. Reddish Hermit
74. Sombre Hummingbird
75. Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
76. Black Jacobin
77. Plovercrest
78. Festive Coquette
79. Blue-tailed Emerald
80. Glittering-bellied Emerald
81. Fork-tailed Woodnymph
82. Violet-capped Woodnymph
83. White-throated Hummingbird
84. Versicolored Emerald
85. Glittering-throated Emerald
86. Brazilian Ruby
87. Green-backed Trogon
88. Green Kingfisher
89. Ringed Kingfisher
90. Rufous-capped Motmot
91. White-eared Puffbird
92. Crescent-chested Puffbird
93. Saffron Toucanet
94. Green-billed Toucan
95. Toco Toucan
96. White-barred Piculet
97. White Woodpecker
98. Yellow-fronted Woodpecker
99. White-spotted Woodpecker
100. Yellow-throated Woodpecker
101. Campo Flicker
102. Blond-crested Woodpecker
103. Lineated Woodpecker
104. Rufous Hornero
105. Itatiaia Spinetail
106. Rufous-capped Spinetail
107. Grey-bellied Spinetail
108. Sooty-fronted Spinetail
109. Rusty-backed Spinetail
110. Yellow-chinned Spinetail
111. Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner
112. Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner
113. Black-capped Foliage-gleaner
114. Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner
115. White-collared Foliage-gleaner
116. Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper
117. Plain Xenops
118. Streaked Xenops
119. Plain-winged Woodcreeper
120. Olivaceous Woodcreeper
121. White-throated Woodcreeper
122. Planalto Woodcreeper
123. Lesser Woodcreeper
124. Scaled Woodcreeper
125. Black-billed Scythebill
126. Spot-backed Antshrike
127. Variable Antshrike
128. Spot-breasted Antvireo
129. Plain Antvireo
130. Star-throated Antwren
131. Salvadori's Antwren
132. Unicolored Antwren
133. Ferruginous Antbird
134. Bertoni's Antbird
135. Ochre-rumped Antbird
136. Scaled Antbird
137. Streak-capped Antwren
138. White-backed Fire-eye
139. White-shouldered Fire-eye
140. Squamate Antbird
141. Black-cheeked Gnateater
142. Mouse-colored Tapaculo
143. Rough-legged Tyrannulet
144. Greenish Tyrannulet
145. Grey-capped Tyrannulet
146. Highland Elaenia
147. White-crested Tyrannulet
148. Oustalet's Tyrannulet
149. Serra do Mar Tyrannulet
150. Grey-hooded Flycatcher
151. Sepia-capped Flycatcher
152. Bran-colored Flycatcher
153. Brown-breasted Bamboo Tyrant
154. Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher
155. Grey-crowned Flatbill
156. White-throated Spadebill
157. Cliff Flycatcher
158. Euler's Flycatcher
159. Crested Black Tyrant
160. Velvety Black Tyrant
161. Grey Monjita
162. White-rumped Monjita
163. Masked Water Tyrant
164. White-headed Marsh Tyrant
165. Cock-tailed Tyrant
166. Long-tailed Tyrant
167. Cattle Tyrant
168. Social Flycatcher
169. Great Kiskadee
170. Streaked Flycatcher
171. Boat-billed Flycatcher
172. Tropical Kingbird
173. Fork-tailed Flycatcher
174. Greyish Mourner
175. Swainson's Flycatcher
176. Brown-crested Flycatcher
177. Bare-throated Bellbird
178. White-bearded Manakin
179. Blue Manakin
180. Whiskered Myiobius
181. Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
182. Black-crowned Tityra
183. Black-tailed Tityra
184. Chestnut-crowned Becard
185. White-winged Becard
186. Crested Becard
187. Rufous-browed Peppershrike
188. Red-eyed Vireo
189. Rufous-crowned Greenlet
190. Curl-crested Jay
191. Grey-breasted Martin
192. Brown-chested Martin
193. Blue-and-white Swallow
194. Southern Rough-winged Swallow
195. Long-billed Wren
196. House Wren
197. Chalk-browed Mockingbird
198. Yellow-legged Thrush
199. Rufous-bellied Thrush
200. Pale-breasted Thrush
201. Creamy-bellied Thrush
202. House Sparrow
203. Chestnut-bellied Euphonia
204. Tropical Parula
205. Golden-crowned Warbler
206. White-bellied Warbler
207. Riverbank Warbler
208. Crested Oropendola
209. Red-rumped Cacique
210. Chopi Blackbird
211. Chestnut-capped Blackbird
212. Yellow-rumped Marshbird
213. Shiny Cowbird
214. Bananaquit
215. Rufous-collared Sparrow
216. Blue Finch
217. Brown Tanager
218. Cinnamon Tanager
219. Magpie Tanager
220. Hooded Tanager
221. Olive-green Tanager
222. Black-goggled Tanager
223. Flame-crested Tanager
224. Ruby-crowned Tanager
225. Brazilian Tanager
226. Sayaca Tanager
227. Golden-chevroned Tanager
228. Palm Tanager
229. Diademed Tanager
230. Green-headed Tanager
231. Red-necked Tanager
232. Brassy-breasted Tanager
233. Gilt-edged Tanager
234. Burnished-buff Tanager
235. Blue Dacnis
236. Guira Tanager
237. Rufous-headed Tanager
238. Black-masked Finch
239. Bay-chested Warbling Finch
240. Black-and-rufous Warbling Finch
241. Buff-throated Warbling Finch
242. Saffron Finch
243. Wedge-tailed Grass Finch
244. Blue-black Grassquit
245. Plumbeous Seedeater
246. Lined Seedeater
247. Yellow-bellied Seedeater
248. Double-collared Seedeater
249. Capped Seedeater
250. Chestnut-bellied Seed Finch
251. Blackish-blue Seedeater
252. Green-winged Saltator
253. Thick-billed Saltator
254. Black-throated Saltator