BRAZIL 2010: Chapada dos Guimaraes (Part 1)

Northeast of Cuiaba we entered the Chapada dos Guimaraes region. Unfortunately, the picturesque cliffs and valleys were heavily obscured by a strong haze of smoke. Local ranchers burn the ground to encourage fresh growth for livestock. Following lunch in the thriving village of Chapada dos Guimeros, and a few hours break at our pousada, we headed back out to the Parque Nacional to explore the area known as “Bridal Veil Waterfall,” (below) one of many this region is known for.

Eduardo expected better views of the falls than birds, but he was pleasantly mistaken. Walking down the boardwalk trail, we spotted Black-faced Tanager which reminded me of a very small purplish jay, White-eared Puffbird, Cliff Flycatcher, Blue Dacnis, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper and Lesser Eleania.

The viewpoint of the falls attracted more than just camera-toting visitors. Blue-winged Macaws (above) and pairs of Swallow Tanagers perched in a tree right over our heads, for great views that we shared with local Portuguese visitors, who enjoyed them as much as we did! Red-and-green Macaws flew across the valley below us, then perched for good scope views. Dozens of White-eyed Parakeets flitted about between cervices in the cliff face shrubs and Blue-headed Parrots flew by us. A Thick-billed Euphonia showed his brilliant cobalt and gold coloring, not far from a Bananaquit.

We watched several Brazilian Cavy’s (above), that looked like a cute tailess rat, nose around the concession building. Our day ended with a pair of Burrowing Owls perched on posts quite close to the road, and a White Woodpecker clinging to the highest point of a palm tree.

Leaving the Pousada Penhasco before day break we crossed the sleepy town and took the dirt Aqua Fria “Cold Road” road to work the cerrado habitat with the goal of finding the elusive Collared Crescentchest (above). With persistence this beautiful small bird that acted more like a lark, running through the ground cover, did pop up in front of us for a stunning look. Another small bird, Blue-black Grassquit, showed well though these were molting non-breeders. A Plain-crested Eleania was rather boring compared to the Curly-crested Jays, Black-throated Saltators, Rufous-backed Antwren and three fidgety White-rumped Tanagers that alighted in the top of a bare tree. Though all this time we neglected to notice a pair of Pearl Kites that had been roosting in one of the taller trees near us. Across the sandy road a large patch of thicker cerrado quickly produced two Chapada Flycatchers that co-operated nicely though our looks were backlit.

A short distance away we worked another sandy road known as the “Refrigerator Road” (to someone, this must be a colder road). While watching White-eared Puffbird and White-banded Tanagers, ten Red-shouldered Macaws flew over this open cerrado habitat (above). The birds were sparse but we did squeak out Suiriri Flycatcher, Plumbeous Seedeater and a nice looking Rufous-winged Antshrike.

Moving further down the road the habitat thickened and got taller. In the denser cerrado that sloped towards the river, Lettered Aracaris (above) showed well, as did our second puffbird, a Spot-backed. Red-crested Finches were all around the lower levels as a Glittering-bellied Emerald feed on flowers, and our first White-collared Swifts could be seen zipping through the skies. A calling Blue Ground-Dove was tracked down and found cooing in a tree that held a pair of Brown Jacamars. Before heading for a well deserved full buffet breakfast we completed this section by picking up Guira Tanagers and Burnish-buff Tanagers.

all photos © adrian binns

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