A safe Journey back to Brazil

by Richard Raby on October 14, 2007

Well it’s back to guiding and research work in Brazil for the Northern Winter. I arrived a week ago from England after an uneventful flight using British airways for the first time in many a year.

Upon my arrival I have noted an un-seasonal dry spell, with little to no rain falling over the past couple of months, it has apparently been unusually cold too. Local reed-beds are suffering from a minor (at present) drought and a few species normally considered as resident (Pinnated Bittern, Black Skimmer, Roseate Spoonbill etc) are either absent or present in much reduced numbers.

The first northern waders have arrived with reasonable numbers of greater and lesser Yellowlegs on most mud-flats and the odd spotted sandpiper around the grassier lagoon edges. I saw a nicely plumaged Osprey on my first day out after arrival and the local grassland species that occur between the lagoons and the Restinga appear to be doing ok (wedge-tailed grassfinch, Capped seedeater and Grassland sparrow). There is a distinct absence of migrant duck/waterfowl (we often get coot, White-faced whistling Duck, Southern pochard and Great grebe visiting at this time of year), maybe it is still a little early or maybe the conditions are unsuitable this year?

In the Marica lodge gardens I have added a new species to the garden list, Brazilian Tanager. Whilst reasonably common in the restinga and often seen feeding on the cactus fruits to be found there, this species is rarely encountered outside of this or a second habitat of lush streamside low-growth, in hot lowlands. Orange-headed Tanager has also been seen in the Garden and both species appear to be attracted to a neighbour’s bird-bath, another sign of local drought?

My garden Cotton-eared Marmoset monkeys appear to have had an easy winter and the band now comprises of at least Ten individuals including two new youngsters, and an obviously pregnant female.
I head off to Ubatuba and Itatiaia next week and early in November I lead a semi-research trip to Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais.

I plan to conduct another research trip to Minas Gerais (Rio Doce state park) in February.

My first inquiries for the spring season, 2008 have started to arrive.

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