Venture to Southeast Brazil

November 19 – 27, 2023

with Mark Welford

Narrative by Mark Welford; Photos by Mark Welford and Bruno Renno

The three of us, Terry, Tom, and me, arrived separately on Saturday, November 19 at Vitoria, Brazil and met at our hotel. After signing in, we went off to the nearby marsh where we got Ash-throated and Rufous-sided Crakes and Plumbeous Rail, Crested Doradito, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Wattled Jacana and Unicolored Blackbird, We also picked up White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Whistling Heron, Burrowing Owl, and an evil-smelling dead horse!

Early next morning found us at REBIO de Duas Bocas – an amazing patch of isolated Atlantic Coastal rainforest forest! We got 53 species including a rare Long-tailed Potoo, which caused our guide Bruno to reach seventh heaven as this is quite a rare bird for Southeastern Brazil. We also got Crescentchested Puffbird, White-barred Piculet, Sooretama SlatyAntshrike, Streak-capped Antwren, Black-billed Scythebill, three Swallow-tailed Manakins, two Kinglet Manakins, and seven Red-headed Manakins and six assorted tanager species.

From here it was off to a lunch spot and Pygmy Nightjar location! At Sitio Ouro Velho we had a great lunch, even for vegetarians, at a Brazilian BBQ and got the a crazy Pygmy Nightjar running/hopping away from us. From there we drove north along the coast toward  getting Tropical Mockingbird and Magnificent Frigatebird along the way.

The next day we started a two-and-half day birding exploration of Linhares specifically – Reserva Natural de Vale do Rio Doce – aimed at getting the endemic and critically-threatened Red-billed Currosaw! Arriving at the preserve on the 21st for the first day and just before the entrance to Linhares we got an awesome Red-cowled Cardinal – our only one of the trip. Once in the reserve, despite the rain, that was heavy at times, we had a bonanza of birds including our first of six Red-billed Currosaw, Red-browed Parrots, Ochre-marked Parakeets, six Sooretama Slay-AntshrikeWhite-flanked Antwrens, Rufous-margined Antwren, a Black-headed Berryeater, Eared Pygmy-Tyrants, a Ochrelored Flycatcher, several  Grayish Mourner and countless White-rumped Swallows.

The next day we got 55 species in the reserva even though our birding was interrupted by lots of rain! Highlights included: one Scaled Pigeon, one King Vulture, a Swallow-tailed Kite and Lesser Pygmy-Owl, Black-necked Aracari, Blue-winged Macaws, Maroon-faced Parakeets all from their tower. We also saw Lesser Woodcreeper, Brown-winged Schiffornis, Sibilant Sirystes and a Greenheaded Tanager.

On the 23rd and our final day at the reserva we got the additional birds: Veriscolored Emerald, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Crested Becard, Violaceous Euphonia and a sub-species of the Turquoise Tanager. Before lunch we left to make our way to Saint Teresa in the foothills of the Atlantic Rainforest. Behind the town we luckily got six Pileated Finches and at a stakeout we got a beautiful Serra Antwren, two beautiful Long-tailed Tyrants, and two Wied’s Tyrant-Manakin. We also got Ruby-crowned Tanager. From there we went to our lodge – Pousada Vita Verde and it’s hummingbird feeders! We got Black Jacobin, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Planalto Hermit, White-vented Violetear, Frilled Coquette, Amethyst Woodstar, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Sombre Hummingbird, Veriscolored Emerald, White-throated Hummingbird and Sapphire-spangled Emerald.

The next day we drove to the Cherry-throated Tanager reserve! But not before getting Golden-Chevrons Tanager, several Saffron Finches, a Cinnamon Tanager, a Chestnut-bellied Euphonia and three Blackish Rails at Pousada Vita Verde. Before the CTT site, we also visited Reserva Biologica Augusto Ruschi where we were treated to a Spot-billed Toucanet, a Ferruginuous Antbird, a plain but incredibly named Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, a Short-tailed Antthrush, two Gray-hooded Attilas, nine Gilt-edged Tanagers, several Saffron Finches, and a Black-throated Trogon. Along the river, we also got a very noisy but amazing Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper.

Finally, at Reserva Kaetes in the early afternoon we met up with three graduate students who we were paying to help locate the family group of Cherry-throated Tanagers (CCTs) that inhabit the reserva. Only 25 or so CTTs are known to science, although, it is thought that a population of between 250-400 exist within a radius of 50-75 kms but on private, non-accessible, forests. Late in the day we saw, fleetingly, our first CCT high up in the canopy! Both Tom and Terry missed it! Nevertheless, we also heard several Brown Tinamous, saw a Whitenecked Hawk, a very cool White-binned Antbird, heard several Bellbirds, saw two Pin-tailed Manakins, two Hooded Berryeaters, one Greenish Schiffornis, a Ochre-baced Tody-Flycatcher, heard a Such’s Antthrush, and saw several Black-goggled, Ruby-crowned and Rufuousheaded Tanagers, and lots of other species.

Early the next day, the 26th, we returned to Reserva Kaetes! We were not to be denied – we found a family party of five Cherry-throated Tanagers and followed them for 0.5 kms over 15 minutes! At one point we had all 5 in one binocular view. Wow! Tom and Terry were ecstatic, as was I! What birds. Amazing! We also got Dusky-legged Guan, Frilled Coquette, both Surucua and Black-throated Trogons, Yellow-eared Woodpecker, Ochre-rumped Antbird, two Planalto Woodcreepers, a Sharpbill, a Sooretama Flycatcher and Sibilant Sirystes, seven Brassy-breasted Tanagers, among many others.

The next day we returned to Vitoria and then went our separate ways and returned to the US.

A few more birds…

2022 North America

Venture to Florida’s Space Coast

Dec 11-16, 2022 With Aaron Steed Narrative and Photos by Aaron Steed Our quick getaway to the ‘Space Coast’ of Florida was really just 4.5 days long, which is not a huge amount of time to explore this rich area! We focused our efforts on the classic hotspots of the region, making a few adjustments […]

Read More
2022 Africa

Venture to South Africa

October 25 -November 14, 2022 With Simon Thompson Narrative and photos by Simon Thompson After our long flights from the US we all met at the Africa Moon guesthouse in Johannesburg. It was good to relax for the evening before our first full day out on the African continent. We met our local guide, Grant, […]

Read More
2022 North America

Hawk Mountain, PA, Delaware Bayshore & Cape May, NJ

September 21-29, 2022 With Simon Thompson Narrative and Photos by Simon Thompson Despite some of the mileage, this is one of my favorite trips which visits three great birding destinations in the Mid-Atlantic states. We always start the tour in Philadelphia which has good connections to both domestic and international destinations; the latter important on […]

Read More