BRAZIL 2010: Chapada dos Guimaraes (Part 2)

Late morning was spent in the Jamaca Valley walking narrow forest trails. Yellow-rumped Caciques worked a clearing as the first of three Tatalpa Tinamous quietly stalked through the leaf litter. Colorful male Band-tailed Manakins (above) displaying by shuffling along a branch was memorizing.

A second manakin species, Fiery-capped Manakin, perched above the trail in a spot well familiar to Eduardo. Many birds were calling including a Gray-fronted Dove. We soon saw Swallow Tanager (above), Squirrel Cuckoo and Plain Antvireo, and added Pectoral Sparrow, Sepia-capped Flycatcher and White-bellied Warbler to the list. Time was spent patiently waiting for a Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper to appear. Positioning ourselves in an opening with a view of the shallow, slow flowing winding stream, the bird finally appeared on the sandy edge and worked its way up stream, reminiscent of a dipper without going into the water! Planalto Woodcreeper called and alighted briefly before going to the back of the trunk and we all cleaned up the Buff-throated Saltator.

On our was back to lunch we stopped at the geographical center of South America (above) where Red-and-Green Macaws made several passes and Debbie spotted an Ornate Hawk-Eagle being chased by an Aplomado Falcon.

The afternoon hours were spent in the Benca Valley (above) walking a lovely stretch of forest road that we had all to ourselves. It is always wonderful to see Blue-crowned Motmots, and this road proved to be bonanza with many pairs showing well. A Ruddy Quail-Dove was often heard calling but from too far in the forest to be coaxed out. Another woodcreeper was added to our list, this time Olivaceous. We got looks at bits and pieces of a Blue-crowned Trogon, but given a little time we managed to complete the jigsaw.

A spiffy looking Saffron-billed Sparrow an inquisitive Sooty-fronted Spinetail (above) popped into view. Swallow Tanagers, Blue Dacnis and Purplish Euphionias rounded out the first half of the walk.

The view at the end of the road opened up to farmland with a Yellow-ridged Toucan perched high on the ridge. A Masked Yellowthroat was amongst the scrub while White-lined Tanager, Double-collared Seedeater and Rufous-browed Peppershrike caught our attention. The highlight for us was undoubtedly a couple of Swallow-tailed Hummingbirds that fed and perched in a flowering tree – all to briefly. On the way back the loud calls of a Great Tinamou exploded out of the undergrowth very close to us, catching us by surprise. We finished watching a Double-toothed Kite actively looking for its last meal of the day.

There was one more chance to look for a couple of specialties, and we returned to the “Refrigerator Road” at first light. Before disembarking from our vehicle, we stopped to watch a Rusty-margined Guan cross the road, just like any chicken! “Chit-chit” calls alerted us to a hummer, and we soon found that it was a begging immature Horned Sungem (above) waiting to be fed. Sure enough its mother alighted on the same branch and she nervously looked from side to side before plunging her long bill down its throat – brilliant stuff to see so close.

Yellow-bellied Eleanias and Swainson’s Flycatchers were reasonably active as were numerous Swallow-winged Puffbirds and Black-throated Saltators (above). There was a better views of Yellow-ridged Toucans since they were closer. A Scaled Pigeon flew over and perched nicely for a scope view. All the time Eduardo was working to find a Blue Finch, a bird that is in rapid decline in this area. As Small-billed and Red-winged Tinamou called Eduardo managed to hear one up the cerrado slope and locate it on a open branched tree. The only problem, was that the lighting was so bad all be could see was a silhouette. He was determined to show us this bird in all its glory and it was not long before it flew to the other side of the road and we got the look that he so desperately wanted us to see – he was right it is stunning, and the books drawing does not do it justice. Mission accomplished it was off to breakfast.

As we were leaving the Pousada Penhasco a cooperative Gray Monjita, that looks like small cleaner version of a mockingbird with a orange-red eye, made up for the brief glimpse earlier in the morning. We finished this exellecent trip with a handful of raptors along the way back to Cuibaba, including three Swallow-tailed Kites, White-tailed Hawk, Pearl Kite and not surprsingly a Roadside Hawk.

all photos © adrian binns

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