Highlights of the 2010-11 Season

by Richard Raby on June 27, 2011

After a September start with Mammal photography in Minas Gerais and Rio state that went remarkably well, with all major targets, including Giant Anteater, Maned Wolf & 6 primate species photographed well, I started to lead my more usual Bird watching oriented trips to Itatiaia, Ubatuba and my personal favourite place, the upper Serra da Bocaina over the months of October though to January.
Major ornithological novelties this past season included a number of that elusive Campo Miners, a cerrado speciality, at the Serra da Canastra (typically on recently burnt grassland in the upper park). At the State park on the Rio Doce river (also in Minas Gerais state) I added both Serra Antwren and Great Antshrike to my local bird-list. Serra Antwren was also recorded singing at the Caratinga private Woolley Spider-Monkey reserve, increasing my localities for this species threefold (previously I had only found this endemic regularly at the Caraca monastery reserve).
I have been finding the delightful Eye-ringed-tody tyrant (another local endemic) on each and every visit to the Silver Jardim private reserve (in Rio state) in the same dry forest where I find Golden-lion Tamarins. This is a distinct habitat change from the normal preference for hot and humid forest, at sea-level, in the Ubatuba region. Interestingly I also find Rufous –tailed Jacamar in both of these distinctly separate habitats at these localities.
My lightning trip to Pirapora, in North-western Minas Gerais was an outstanding success with a wealth of unusual species (for South-eastern Brazil) encountered in this 3 day visit. The major triumphs were finding both Minas Gerais Tyrannulet AND Bahian Nighthawk, but nesting Henna-capped Foliage gleaner, Coal-crest Finches and White-naped Jay were also up there on the “best moments” board.
On a trip to Ubatuba in Late January we were most fortunate to arrive immediately after a flock of that ultra rare parrotlet, Brown-backed Parrotlet had been located & visiting a fruiting tree on a daily basis. We staked-out the tree and on our second attempt we got mind-boggling & up-close views as these seemingly fearless little parrots bickered amongst themselves whilst messily enjoying a fig-type native fruit.
Also in Ubatuba we observed nesting material (lichens) being gathered, low-down, by the now famous Purple-tufts at fazenda Angelim. And we found a Stygian Owl roosting in the local town.
At Itatiaia upper we managed to call-in a Rusty-barred Owl at the end of an overcast afternoon IN DAYLIGHT !! Whilst at Serra da bocaina I discovered a new location for both Speckle breasted Antpitta & Hooded Berryeater, my first reliable stakeout at this location for this species. I also found a roosting area for Grey Potoo and I finaly managed to find a place to call-in Slatey Bristle-front. I new that this last species was present at Bocaina for a couple of years now, but the birds were always singing from an inaccessible forested ridge. This time I found one in a valley and next to the access road.
Also at Serra da Bocaina the resident? Swallow-tailed Cotingas continue to flourish seemingly where-ever there are clearings with tall look-out posts along with suitable nesting trees (lowish apple or pear like trees often adjacent to human habitation)
It was at Serra da Bocaina where I also photographed a number of unusual and apparently rare/ butterfly species this southern summer.
Whilst talking butterflies……….. the garden visit of a wonderful male Agrias claudina at my Marica Lodge on January the 6th 2011, continues to enthral me (please refer to the previous blog entry of that same date). This was without doubt one of my “Wildlife lifetime moments” and captured on film to boot!

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