Whos keeping an eye on me....

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

NE Brazil 2017 - Pt8 (Boa Nova - Serra Bonita Reserve)

This morning we head off on a short drive to the town of Poções to pickup our local guide Mateus Gonçalves. A young lad who birds with his ears and without binoculars, and rediscovered a thought to be locally extinct species, on his patch..... how cool. This afternoon we transfere to the Serra Bonita reserve in the Municipality of Camacan.

Even before reaching the town we had disturbed three species of Nightjar, firstly a male Scissor-tailed Nightjar flew across the road soon followed by a Little Nightjar and the Common Paraque which really are a common species. Soon after we were picking up Mateus from home, Ciro, Mateus, Jeff and myself drove to his local patch in search of the Wields Tyrant-Manakin.

We parked up and would have to trek up a steep Caatinga forested hill where we would eventually encounter dense, thick  moist forest. The contrast in birding couldn't have been different the higher we got. The Caatinga species near the bottom still provided some new species as well as the ones that had followed us around for the past fortnight. Cactus Parakeets (our seventh and last day of seeing them) and Silvery-cheeked Antshrikes gave way to a large flocks of  Maroon Bellied Parakeets which were new for the trip. Before we started climbing we encountered a pair of Planalto Tyranulets, a Yellow-olive Flycatcher and a White-crested Tyranulet which was a life bird, but we heard and couldn't locate a calling Buff-throated Purplefuft, it would  continue to call for a while until we turned our attention to a pair of Blue Winged Macaws. They flew overhead and then came to land in front of us, although the angle wasn't the best I managed some shots, Ciro explained that his wife worked on conservation programs for this species.
Cactus Parakeet

White-crowned Tyrannulet

Blue-winged Macaw

We reached a mid point that we would search for the Wieds Tyrant-Manakin, it called but from some distance away, A Pallid Spinetail was about the best we would get from this location. We hiked further up the mountain hoping to find a Greenish Schiffornis, this normally reliable bird changed tact today and kept out of sight, we didn't locate one on the way down either. A second sighting of a White-throated Spadebill and yet another female of the Manakin family, this time a Swallow-tailed Manakin was all we could find during the hike to the top. By now it had started to rain, we had reached the top of the mountain and could go further as we had reached a fence that indicated private land. We were in a moist and dense part of the forest, and Mateus said that it was a very reliable spot for the Wieds Tyrant-Manakin. We waited for an hour or so and didn't hear anything despite some taped play-back. We did hear a White-Throated Woodcreeper. After a while Ciro decided we should walk along the fence line a little in search of the Woodcreeper. We saw movement on the track ahead and found a smart White-bibbed Antbird. A little further along a White-shouldered Fire-eye, then more movement and for the second day running a stunning small bird in a Ochre-faced Tody-flycatcher. We had a very mixed wave of birds and they were feasting on a huge army of ants. It was hard to keep up with the birds movements as Planalto Slaty-Antshrikes, Varaiable Antshrikes, a new trip species with a Rufous Gnateater, another great showing of a Narrow-billed Antbird,
Rufous Gnateater
White-shouldered Fire-eye
Planalto-Slaty Antshrike


then suddenly perched at head height, the target, a Wieds Tyrant-Manakin. For a few minutes it moved around and gave pretty good views and some decent photo opportunities. A Black-Goggled Tanager add another life Tanager species, an Olivaceous Woodcreeper (the only one of the trip) showed time and again, as did a Plain-winged Woodcreeper (a lifer) but the White-Throated Woodcreeper had now disappeared. Then the unexpected happened, the Wieds Tyrant-Manakin came out into the open, giving unprecedented views as it landed on the fence post that Ciro was leaning on and started taking the ants that had started smarming around us. Even local guide Mateus was overwhelmed with the stunning view's and closeness that the bird gave us. Even a beautiful Flavescent Warbler, scurried around the vegetation enjoying the feast. The ants started to bite back and the rain started up again, we decided to leave them in peace and start down the mountain.
Weids Tyrant-manakin


White-tailed and Short-tailed Hawks came into view as me headed into less dense forest, and the abundant Reddish Hermits were new for the mornings list. We still had a bird to find before we left and dropped off Mateus. We never picked up the Buff-throated Purplefuft this morning, but back at the car we didn't have to look too far as one called out just behind us while we were taking a break at the car. It showed well and flew to an isolated tree a hundred meters away allowing some good shots. With all our targets accounted for Ciro thought we could afford a little time looking for a species that we had come across during the past week. We had looked without success for a Scarlet-throated Tanager, and after a little searching we found  small flock that had a few juveniles and a male amongst the mainly females. Mission accomplished, we could drop off Mateus and head to Camacan and the Serra Bonita Reserve.
Buff-throated Purpletuft

What should have been a fairly mundane afternoon transfer turned out to be incredibly special. One of the big targets for the next few days at Serra Bonita is the recently discovered, Pink -legged Graveteiro, which was only discovered as recently as 1994. This bird would be a tricky on e to see well as it is predominately a canopy species. It has an unusual but conspicuous nest and Ciro was on the lookout for some on the journey through the Cocoa plantations which is ideal habitat. Only at the second nest site that we spotted alongside the busy main road that we were travelling along did we find a pair. Not only did we find a pair but they came down from the canopy to a tree that was more or less at eyelevel with us. Brilliant close views and a big target out of the way for when we arrive at Serra Bonita.
Pink-legged Graveteiro

The drive through the lower lying villages brought two  new species of Parakeet, a pair of White-eyed Parakeets and a single Golden-capped Parakeet. All in all that's not a bad set of birds to see for what could have been a mundane afternoon journey.

We arrived late afternoon at the splendid Serra Bonita reserve. The pioneers of this reserve and who invested their personal assets in making this reserve the success it is today are Clemira and Vitor Becker. Vitor is a world leading entomologist (who has the biggest private collection of moths in South America and is quite breath-taking to see). We booked into our lodge and returned to the main building for a well needed beer and to watch the bird feeders that are alongside the veranda. In the next hour  and without moving a muscle I would get four lifers at the feeders. We had already become accustomed to the daily sightings of  Sayaca and Palm Tanagers so nothing new there, the Green Honeycreeper was a first of the trip. The single hummingbird feeder gave me two lifers with a Black Jacobin and a very feisty Sombre Hummingbird. A quick visit from a pair of Red-necked Tanagers and upto a dozen Maroon-bellied Parakeets on the banana feeders were the last of the day.
Red-necked Tanager

 Maroon-bellied Parakeet


We have a full days birding in the forest tomorrow.


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