ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS
Thursday 17 September†††††††††† :††††††† Flight Amsterdam-Rio via Lisbon arriving the next morning
Friday 18 September††††††††††††††† :††††††† Arrival 5:30. Transfer to Serra dos Tucanos. AM lodge grounds. PM lodge trails
Saturday 19 September†††††††††† :††††††† High altitude excursion. AM birding upper part at 2000m. PM at 1600m.
Sunday 20 September††††††††††††† :††††††† AM birding Portao Azul. PM at Macae de Cima.
Monday 21 September†††††††††††† :††††††† Three-toed Jacamar excursion.
Tuesday 22 September††††††††††† :††††††† AM Theodoro Trail. PM lodge grounds.
Wednesday 23 September†††††† :††††††† Serra dos Orgaos NP. AM lower section. PM upper section.
Thursday 24 September†††††††††† :††††††† AM Bamboo Trail. PM transfer to Guapi Assu Bird Lodge.
Friday 25 September†††††††††††††† :††††††† Wetland Trail, Sao Jose Trail, Nursery Trail.
Saturday 26 September†††††††††† :††††††† 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal. Late PM Wetland Trail and night birding.
Sunday 27 September††††††††††††† :††††††† AM Waterfall Trail. PM transfer to Rio airport. Flight to Iguacu.
Monday 28 September†††††††††††† :††††††† Visit Argentinean side of the falls.
Tuesday 29 September†† †††††††† :††††††† Visit Uruguai-I State Park in Argentina
Wednesday 30 September†††††† :††††††† AM Brazilian side of the falls. PM transfer to Airport and flight to Rio.
Thursday 1 October†††††††††††††††† :††††††† AM city tour Rio. PM botanical gardens and Ipanema.
Friday 2 October††††††††††††††††††††† :††††††† AM beach walk Ipanema. PM transfer to airport for flight home.
Saturday 3 October††††††††††††††††† :††††††† Arrival in Amsterdam at 11:30 followed by a 21/2 hours train ride home.
We arrived at Rio International Airport on schedule at 5:20. Going through customs went smoothly but onwards we had to wait for about 45 minutes before our luggage arrived. Our driver was already waiting for us in the arrivals hall and after changing money we left the airport for the one and an half hours drive to Serra dos Tucanos. The weather was sunny and while crossing the long bridge over the bay we had our first birds: Black Vultures and many Magnificant Frigatebirds. I saw my first lifer of the trip from out of the car: Guira Cuckoo. Other birds seen on route included Wattled Jacana, Southern Lapwing and Long-tailed Tyrant. We arrived at the lodge at 8:30 and were immediately welcomed by Cristina who showed us around the lodge. Meanwhile Andy had joined also. While explaining us how everything works in the lodge I was constantly distracted by the birds flying on and off from the hummer feeders and bird feeding tables. Initially we were supposed to join a Japanese group during the excursions but Andy had changed the plan. Because the Japanese group was fairly big (9 people) he had decided to guide us by himself using his private car which was excellent news. During the excursions we were joined by another English couple: Peter and Rosemary. Andy already had set up an excellent itinerary for the next 7 days with several different sites and habitats on the program. The itinerary would definitely increase our chances to see as many birds as possible. As we walked out onto the patio we were immediately treated to one of the star birds of the Atlantic Forest: four beautiful Saffron Toucanets on the canopy feeders. Andy immediately set up his scope and we enjoyed close up views of this cracking bird. What a great start that was!! The rest of the morning we enjoyed the many birds in the garden. The hummer feeders attracted beauties like Black Jacobin, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Violet-capped Woodnymph and Sombre Hummingbird. The feeding tables in the back of the garden attracted an array of beautiful birds which was quite overwhelming after being just three hours on Brazilian soil. Within an hour or so we saw some 30+ bird species like Green-headed, Yellow-chevroned and the staggering Brazilian Tanager, Maroon-bellied and Plain Parakeets, Blue Dacnis, Green Honeycreeper, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia and the iridescent Blue-naped Chlorophonia. There were already quite some birds building nests in the garden like Great Kiskadee, Pale-breasted Thrush, Masked Water-Tyrants (near the pool) and the endemic Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher. Because it was sunny weather I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the birds at the feeders from the photo hide. Time flies when you have fun and it was already time for lunch. We were introduced to Peter and Rosemary (our fellow birders for the coming days) who had been birding the lodge trails on their own this morning. After an excellent lunch we had a short rest on the patio when we saw our only White-throated Spadebill of the trip. We then headed out to explore the forest trails surrounding the lodge together with Andy, Peter and Rosemary. It was soon obvious that Andy was an excellent and experienced bird guide. Equipped with an iPod and a laser pen he called in and pointed out several interesting skulking birds like Olivaceous, Thrush-like and Lesser Woodcreeper, Black-capped, Buff-fronted and White-eyed Foliage-gleaners, Plain Antvireo, Scaled Antbird and the beautiful Black-cheeked Gnatcatcher. Other birds seen included amongst Channel-billed Toucan, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, a female Pin-tailed Manakin and a gorgeous Black-throated Grosbeak. On our way back to the lodge we added another endemic to our bird list: Gray-hooded Attila. We arrived back at the lodge at around 17:00 where we had a Saw-billed Hermit at the feeders. During the evenings we mostly followed the same ritual. First a cool beer on the veranda followed by a nice hot shower. Around 18:30 we mostly made our daily checklist while having a beer or Brazilian local rum. At 19:00 it was dinner time followed by a nightcap on the veranda. Most evenings we were joined by Pete Forrest who works for Andy as bird guide. He was guiding the Japanese group this week. Around 9:00 it was bed time. Our day list ended up at 65 species of which 31 were lifers for me. Bird of the day: Saffron Toucanet.
Saturday 19 September
We were up at 6:00 for our
onwards breakfast. The weather forecast after today predicted cloudy days with rain.
Andy advised us to do the high altitude excursion today because it is often
covered in mist on cloudy days. We agreed on that and were off at 7:00. As we
drove up towards Nova Friburgo dark clouds came in which did not promise any
good. Luckily the skies opened as we reached Nova Friburgo on the other side of
the mountain ridge. It looked like we had chosen the perfect day to do the high
altitude excursion. As we entered Nova Friburgo we took a cobblestone road to
the left that leads all the way up to Pico Caledonia at an altitude of
Sunday 20 September
It was heavily clouded when we left the
lodge at 7:00 the next morning. Todayís plan was to first visit the Portao Azul
site near Nova Friburgo in the hope that the weather on the other side of the
mountains would improve. Again this plan worked out well and while it rained
most of the day at the lodge we had excellent weather at Portao Azul: partly
cloudy but dry. The site is located at an altitude of about
Monday 21 September
It was cloudy again when we woke up the next morning and it rained lightly. We tried to avoid the rainy weather by doing the Three-toed Jacamar excursion because it is located in a dryer environment then the mountainous area around the lodge. Todayís target is of course the endemic Three-toed Jacamar but the strategy was also to cover a variety of different habitats and thus a variety of new birds. After leaving Friburgo behind us we headed towards Bom Jardim and later took a turnoff to the left into drier and more open habitat. We made several birding stops along this route having some excellent birds like Guira Cuckoo, Black-necked Aracari, Tail-banded Hornero, Serra Antwren, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Streamer-tailed Tyrant and Black-capped Donacobius. We had a short break in the pretty village of Duas Barras before heading further towards Carmo near the border with Minais Gerais state. A damp grassy area just beyond Duas Barras produced Ash-throated Crake and Blackish Rail, and a bit further towards Carmo we had some excellent birds like Toco Toucans and a flock of 14 Blue-winged Macaws. We onwards birded the area around Carmo for a couple of hours which produced new birds like Whistling Heron, Burrowing Owl, White Woodpecker, Firewood Gatherer, Tawny-headed Swallow and Planalto Hermit. We tried hard to find White-eared Puffbird but unfortunately without success. While having our packed lunch it started to rain so we decided to head further towards Sumidouro before the weather got worst. When we reached Sumidouro it luckily stopped raining for a short while. Our first stop along the road was immediately successful having four Three-toed Jacamars perched in the trees along the road. Other birds seen during the stop included amongst Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, White-crested Tyrannulet and a White-headed Marsh-Tyrant a bit further along the road. Meanwhile it started raining again and we decided to make our way back towards Friburgo. Two more attempts to find White-eared Puffbird on the way to Friburgo unfortunately were unsuccessful again. We approached Friburgo via a different route and arrived back at the lodge (were it was still raining) at around 5:30 PM. Our day total ended up at 96 species. With 44 new ones for the trip our list is now at 215 species. Bird of the day: Three-toed Jacamar with a very good second place for the beautiful Toco Toucans.
Tuesday 22 September
Todayís plan was to visit the Theodoro Trail in the morning which is located only a 20 minutes drive from the lodge at an altitude of 1100m. Again it was heavily clouded when we left the lodge but when we reached the trailhead it cleared up a bit and it stayed dry the entire morning. We birded our way up and down this excellent trail which runs along a mountain ridge and was fairly wide in some places. The first birds we found included Slaty Bristlefront, Scale-throated Hermit and a female Spot-billed Toucanet. A Variegated Antpitta was calling but we did not manage to see it. Halfway up the trail we found an excellent ant-swarm feeding flock which included amongst Pale-browed Treehunter, Lesser Woodcreeper, White-browed Foliage-gleaner, Bertoniís Antbird, Streak-capped Antwren, Eared Pygmy-Tyrant and dozens of Black-Goggled Tanagers. At a look-out point over the valley we saw a large flock of 500+ White-collared Swifts which was a really amazing sight. We heard several Sharpbills calling but we did not manage to find one. On our way back we found an excellent and highly unexpected bird: Shrike-like Cotinga. According to Andy this was the first sighting at Theodoro Trail this season. We arrived back at the car at around noon and went back to the lodge where we had an excellent lunch. The rest of the afternoon we stayed at the lodge to relax a bit but not without checking out the lodgeís garden and feeders for possible new birds. The trees surrounding the pool produced amongst a beautiful male Pin-tailed Manakin, Red-necked Tanagers, Crested Becard and a Red-eyed Vireo. At the feeders we had a male Pileated Finch, a first time visitor to the lodges feeders as Andy told us later that afternoon. Todayís list produced 69 species. We added 15 birds resulting in a total trip list of now 231 species. There was no doubt about choosing the bird of the day: Shrike-like Cotinga!!
Wednesday 23 September
Today the Serra dos Orgaos NP near Teresopolis was on the program. This very scenic park ranges in altitude between 400 and 2200m and it is Brazilís third National Park created in 1939. The drive took about one hour where we first birded the lower section of the park. It was cloudy again and apart from a short light drizzle we kept it dry again. The lower section was very birdy and produced several great new birds like Black Hawk-Eagle, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Rufous-winged Antwren, Rufous Gnateater, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher and Yellow-green Grosbeak. After about two hours of birding we headed further to the upper section of the park. Halfway we made a coffee stop at a restaurant from where we had an excellent view on the famous ďFinger of GodĒ rock formation. We then headed on for another ten minutes before reaching the trailhead of the upper section of the park at an altitude of around 1500m. With our packed lunch in our backpack we started our walk up at around 11:00. Unfortunately the birding was very slow possibly as a result of the heavy wind. Two and a half hours of birding produced very few birds with only two birds new for the list: Sharpbill and Uniform Finch. We tried several times to call in Hooded Berryeater but without success. After having our packed lunch we decided to turn back also because the wind only became stronger. Back at the beginning of the trail we walked a newly built boardwalk which produced excellent close-up views of two Brown Tanagers. We left at around 16:00 and after a short stop with excellent views of the parkís scenery and Rio de Janeiro in the back we headed back to the lodge where we arrived at 17:30. It rained heavily for almost the whole evening. Our daily checklist produced only 64 species mainly because of the disappointing birding at the upper section. We saw 15 new ones for the trip with a trip list of now 246 species. Bird of the day: Sharpbill.
Thursday 24 September
This was our last day at Serra dos
Tucanos. It was raining when we got up and it remained like that for almost the
whole day. We planned to do the Bamboo Trail this morning but the ladies stayed
at the lodge this time. So it was Andy, Peter and me who had to conquer the
rain this morning. We arrived at the start of the trail at 7:30. It is located
practically opposite to the Theodoro Trail and leads up through excellent
forest and bamboo stands to an altitude of
After it became dark several nectar eating Bats visited the hummer feeders. As on all evenings we had a very delicious and varied dinner. We went to bed at around 9:30 PM hoping for an excellent day of birding tomorrow.
Friday 25 September
We were up at 6:15 and our breakfast was already served. At 7:00 Adelei, our bird guide for the coming three days arrived. Before we went out we discussed todayís plan and we agreed on doing the wetland trail and surrounding forest trails in the morning. It was again cloudy but dry and being on a lower altitude (50m) the temperature was warmer then we were used to around Serra dos Tucanos. We ventured out at 7:15 and Adelei soon appeared to be a more then excellent bird guide and a very nice and polite guy. Today became one of the highlights of our trip. We really enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the reserve and saw loads of birds. We first walked towards the volunteer buildings where Adelei showed us a roosting Tropical Screech-Owl. We then started walking the wetland trail where we had many new birds including amongst Purple Gallinule, Brazilian Teal, Muscovy Duck, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Masked Duck, Capped Heron, Green Kingfisher, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Chestnut-capped Blackbird and many more. On the other side of the wetland we took a trail into the forest were Adelei showed us a roosting Common Potoo with a chick. Further on we followed the gradually ascending Sao Jose Trail. We again saw loads of new stuff which included amongst Rufous-capped Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Unicolored Antwren, White-bibbed Antbird, Moustached Wren and Long-billed Wren. It was already nearly noon when we got out of the forest and walked back to the lodge via the wetland trail where we saw a group of Capybara. We had an excellent lunch at the lodge where we met Raquel before heading out again around 14:30. This time we followed a different trail around the wetlands that partly followed the Nursery Trail. New birds did not come in as thick as this morning but still we had several good ones like Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Short-tailed Hawk and White Woodpecker. At the watchtower we tried for Pinnated Bittern which sometimes can be seen from the hide in the reedy areaís. Unfortunately not this time. We then walked a circular trail around a newly replanted area. New birds included Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher and White-bellied Seedeater. On our way back to the lodge a Greater Grison (which looks a bit like our Badger) crossed the trail in front of us. Together with Adelei I made our daily checklist. We saw an amazing 117 birds of which 34 were new for the trip. Bird of the day: Common Potoo. After a hot shower we again enjoyed the cool caipirinhaís and a delicious dinner.
Saturday 26 September
Todayís plan was to do the 4x4 Track to Casa Anibal. The wide trail starts at the small wetland and gradually leads up through the forest to an altitude of 350m. Today we had excellent sunny weather. The view over the wetland was marvellous with the forested mountains in the back bathing in the early morning sun. To get to the start of the trail we had to take the 4WD Jeep. Since there was no driver around Adelei was willing to drive by his own. Although it was only a couple of km to the start of the trail it was soon obvious that his skills as a bird guide were far much better then his driving. We parked the car along the unpaved road and crossed a field and a small bridge over a creek. The open fields near the small wetland produced amongst Grey-hooded Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Black-capped Donacobius, Hooded Tanager, Double-collared Seedeater and Red-rumped Cacique. After crossing the open fields we entered the forest and followed the trail up for a couple of hours. We saw an excellent set of new birds but we sadly dipped on Eastern-striped Manakin at the stake-out. Some new birds recorded on our way up included Yellow-throated and Blond-crested Woodpecker, Spot-backed Antshrike, White-flanked Antwren, Eulerís Flycatcher, Greyish Mourner and Tropical Parula. Halfway the track we had a brief glimpse of a Brown Tinamou and Adelei spotted a Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth. We did not get until the Casa Anibal because we did not want to return back too late to the lodge as we also wanted to do an evening birding session later today. We had our packed lunch and walk back down at 12:30. The birding was pretty slow and another attempt to find the Striped Manakin again failed. While walking back to the car we had two Yellowish Pipits at the open pastures. For safety reasons I decided to drive back to the lodge myself. A field just before the turnoff to the volunteer buildings produced a new bird for the list: White-browed Blackbird. We arrived back at the lodge at 2:30 where we met Nicholas. Both Nicholas and his wife Raquel are very enthusiastic and friendly people. Kelly who was about to leave to the airport was still there. She was astonished when we showed her the picture of the Sloth for which she had been looking for during the whole week. After saying goodbye to Kelly we relaxed on the veranda enjoying a cool beer. The tree in front of the lodge attracted a group of White-woodpeckers. Around 16:30 we decided to head out again walking the wetland trail followed by some night birding until 19:00. Although we did not see any new birds at the wetlands we enjoyed the walk very much with the low evening sun striking over the forested mountains. Just before dusk we walked a short forest trail that ended up at a damp grassy area. Here we added Laughing Falcon to our list. While waiting for dusk in the grassy field we saw a Limpkin flying towards the wetlands. For about half an hour we tried to call in our target bird Giant Snipe. The bird was calling several times but unfortunately did not show. Instead we had a Barn Owl and several insect hawking Short-tailed Nighthawks. On our way back we saw a juvenile and recently fledged Common Pauraque just a few metres in front of us on the trail. Back at the lodge we had an excellent fish dinner together with Nicholas and Raquel and afterwards Nicholas showed us a very interesting slide-show about the history and future of their magnificent Conservation work at REGUA. Our daily checklist produced 125 birds of which 20 new ones resulting in a trip list of 309 species. Bird of the day: Limpkin.
Sunday 27 September
Unfortunately this was our last day at REGUA. The plan was to do the lower part of the Waterfall Trail. We decided to leave earlier than usual because we had to leave the lodge right after lunch and we still wanted some extra time to pack and take a shower before. This time we were brought to the trailhead by Alcenir, who was also going to be our driver for our transfer to Rio airport this afternoon. Alcenir appeared to be a very kind and funny man. We arrived at the start of the trail at 7:00 and birded our way up to a beautiful waterfall. It was sunny but as a result of the strong wind the birding was fairly slow this morning. The only new birds recorded included a roosting Variable Screech-Owl and Rufous-breasted Leaftosser. Other good birds included amongst Rufous-capped Motmot, Spot-billed Toucanet, Pin-tailed Manakin and Star-throated Antwren. After a short rest at the waterfall we headed back to the start of the trail where Alcenir was already waiting for us. We arrived back at the lodge at 11:30. We a hot shower and packed our luggage before having another sumptuous and delicious meal. Onwards we said goodbye to Nicholas, Raquel and Adelei and thanked them for all the good services and care. We really had a fantastic time at REGUA and hopefully we will have the opportunity to come back again in the future. We experienced it as a Top class lodge with a Top class bird guide, wonderful scenery and loads of birds right at your front door. Is there anything more to wish for? The two hours drive to Rio airport was very entertaining with Alcenirís funny stories. At the bridge over the bay we again saw many Magnificent Frigatebirds and a couple of Kelp Gulls. We arrived at the airport at 15:30. We said goodbye to Alcenir and checked in for our flight to Iguassu at 5:05 PM. Before boarding we had a drink and snack at the airport where we met Brian Shirley and his Japanese group. Theyhad just arrived back from Iguassu and were waiting for their flight home. Our flight left on schedule and two hours later we arrived at Iguassu airport at 19:05. As we got out of the plane we immediately felt the sweltering heat. It had been 37 degrees in Iguassu today. Our driver and guide were already waiting for us in the arrivals hall and the transfer to Hotel San Martin took only 5 minutes. After checking in at the hotel we agreed with our guide to leave at 8:00 the next morning. Because we were not hungry we opted for a snack in the hotelís bar accompanied by a cool beer. Todayís checklist produced 69 species with only 3 new ones for the trip. Bird of the day: Variable Screech-Owl.
Monday 28 September
We were up at 7:00 for a sumptuous
breakfast buffet. When we got outside it appeared to be cool and cloudy. Over
the night the temperature had dropped from 37 to a cool 18 degrees. Todayís
plan was to visit the Argentinean side of the falls. We first went to the house
of our guide who had some feeders in his backyard. Here we had some new birds
like Black-throated Mango, Gilded Sapphire, Blue-tufted Starthroat and a
Blue-and-yellow Tanager. We then headed on to the Argentinean border and
after going through customs we arrived around 9:00 at the entrance of the
National Park. While walking from the entrance to the start of the Macuco Trail
we added Solitary Sandpiper and Masked Yellowthroat to our trip
list. The rest of the morning we walked up and down the Macuco Trail. Our guide
wasnít allowed to use playback equipment what made forest birding a lot more
difficult. Despite that we found some new birds which included amongst Rusty-breasted
Nunlet, Ochre-collared Piculet, Guira Tanager and Thrush-like
Woodcreeper. Back at the start of the trail we walked to a restaurant for
lunch having Blue-winged Parrotlets, several Toco Toucans, Greenish
Elaenia and Epaulet Oriole. During lunch we saw Magpie Tanager and
many stunning Plush-crested Jays. After lunch we decided to visit the
spectacular falls. It had rained a lot the previous weeks and as a result of
that the roaring falls held six times more water then usual. The view on the
fantastic falls was really awesome with dozens of Great Dusky Swift soaring
around. We then walked back to the Cataratas station to take the train to the
Devilís Throat station. On the way we found a pair of beautiful Yellow-fronted
Woodpeckers. The walkway to the Devilís Throat produced some excellent new
birds such as the endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan and a Green
Ibis flying by. The
Tuesday 29 September
For today a full day of birding was
planned at Uruguai-I State Park in Argentina. This slightly hilly park is
Wednesday 30 September
Today was our last day in the Iguassu
area. Some pre-breakfast birding in the hotelís garden produced a group of Yellow-fronted
Woodpeckers and the spectacular Robust Woodpecker. After breakfast
we birded our way towards the entrance of the National Park on foot. Before
leaving the hotelís garden our guide found us a very scarce bird for the area:
a Thrush-like Wren. After passing the entrance gate we continued by car
to the falls area. We first birded a trail in the back of the hotel near the
falls which produced new birds like Sirystes and Rusty-margined Guan.
The rest of the morning we enjoyed the spectacular view of the falls. The
Brazilian side provides a more panoramic view of the falls stretching in length
Thursday 1 October
After an excellent breakfast at the rooftop restaurant we were picked up by Felippe for a half day city tour. Fortunately the weather had improved a lot compared to yesterday. We went to the foot of the Corcovado mountain where we took the cog train up to the Christ Statue. It was partly cloudy but we still could enjoy the spectacular view of the city below us. After taking the cog train back we went to Leblon beach and onwards to the Botanical Gardens. In the afternoon we had a nice walk through Ipanema and had a couple of beers on a terrace at a street corner. We walked back to the hotel via the beach. In the evening we had an excellent dinner in a Churascaria called El Porcao. The grilled meat was really outstanding.
Friday 2 October
Our last day in Brazil had arrived. It was warm and sunny and we decided to fill in the morning with a nice beach walk along Ipanema beach. We really enjoyed the scenery and walked all the way to the end of the beach towards the Copacabana. Several Brown Boobies were seen along the beach together with several Kelp Gulls and many Frigatebirds. Just before we walked back to the hotel we had our last Brazilian beer at a stall along the beach. After having a hot shower we packed our luggage and waited in the lobby for our transfer to the airport. Pelippe picked us up at 13:30 and while we drove to the airport the radio announced that Rio was elected to host the 2016 summer Olympics. After checking in we had lunch and afterwards boarded for our flight back home. The last day produced two new birds and our final trip list ended up at an excellent 355 species. In total we saw 209 lifers of which 92 were Atlantic Forest endemics.
Saturday 3 October
With an half hours delay we landed early the next morning in Lisbon. Our onwards flight to Amsterdam went smoothly. We arrived on schedule in Amsterdam at 12:00 and took the train back home. Another excellent trip has come to an end again Ö
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