Birding Despite Disability

Obsessions Don't Care About Limitations

Brazil, April 2019

Just completed a week-long trip to Brazil, focusing on the Atlantic Forest area as well as the central Cerrado region. We spent most of our time (six days/nights) at REGUA (Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu) and did quite well there. All together we recorded 253 species and 134 lifers in about eight days of birding.

Maroon-Bellied Parakeets at REGUA

REGUA is a reserve with huge restored areas of the original South Atlantic rainforest. They have recorded 480 bird species on the site, with 118 being endemic to this area.

White-Flanked Antwren

There is an eco-lodge on the site; the food was good, the room was large, and every evening they served complimentary caipirinhas, a rum and lime drink. They also have a great bird guide (Adilei) available.

Rufescent Tiger-Heron

Getting to REGUA is quite easy, as it is only about a two-hour drive northeast of Rio de Janeiro. They arranged for transportation to and from the airport.

Crested Black-Tyrant

While everything went well at REGUA, getting around in other parts of Brazil was more of a challenge than we anticipated. We expected lots of Spanish-speakers, but this was not the case. Understanding written Portuguese was not too difficult, but most of our conversations were very confused.

Rufous-Fronted Thornbirds

At REGUA we did three days guided birding on the site, and three days with excursions to adjacent areas having different habitats. Specifically, Macaé de Cima, Sumidouro, and Pico da Caledônia. These are 2-3 hour drives from the reserve, and all worth visiting.

Black-and-Gold Cotinga
Immature Chaco Eagle
Surucua Trogon
Variegated Flycatcher

We did one night birding trip and found Giant Snipe, Rufous-browed, Mottled, and Tropical Screech Owls, as well as Common Paraque.

Tropical Screech-Owl
Mottled Owl

Best bird? Probably what we found in the Sumidouro region north of REGUA: many Three-Toed Jacamars, a species considered rare for the region. Few things are better than reporting a ‘rarity’ in eBird and having plenty of pictures to back it up.

Three-Toed Jacamar

After leaving REGUA, we spent a day and a half in Brasília, as it was on the way back and because it offers a different kind of habitat we’d never visited before – the dry Cerrado savanna.

Scaled Dove

The good news about birding in Brasília is that there is plenty of Cerrado to explore. The bad part is that transportation options are limited, and the large savannas are not particularly close to the city center.

Southern Caracara

One such area is the Jardim Botânico de Brasília, which lies about 18km from the center of the city. We spent the better part of our first day here, taking taxis both ways. Getting a taxi back to the city required some help from the guards at the entrance to the garden. You cannot hail a cab off the street out there.

Masked Gnatcatcher

In the savannas we had nice finds like Collared Crescentchest and Flavescent Warbler. On Saturday, we decided the spend the morning at Parque da Cidade Sarah Kubitschek – not the best hotspot in the area (that would be the National Park of Brasília, north of town, which we never made it to), but it was easy to access on foot. We we first rewarded with a Grey Monjita, previously unreported there.

Grey Monjita

This city park actually had rather good birding, and we picked up four lifers there, including the Monjita and oddly, a Toco Toucan. I’d never expected to see one of these outside of a rainforest, but there it was, in a small bare tree, overlooking the picnic tables and playgrounds.

Toco Toucan
Campo Flicker

This park also features Campo Flickers, Chalk-Browed Mockingbirds, Rufous Horneros, Chopi Blackbirds, and countless Burrowing Owls.

Burrowing Owls

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