All posts by Nicholas Locke

Update on the Sungrebes at the wetlands

Female Sungrebe, REGUA wetland, (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

Whilst walking the Yellow Trail which meanders around the wetlands, Adilei took this splendid image of a female Sungrebe (Heliornis fuluca). Since the appearance of REGUA’s third Sungrebe in June 2016, at least three and perhaps four birds have been regularly sighted at REGUA.

Almost a year passed with a pair regularly seen on the wetlands, until recently when they became very elusive. It could be that they are hiding in the dense undergrowth around the wetland, breeding or nurturing their young.

According to literature this species has a unique feature – a small pocket under their wings in which they are able to carry their young, even in flight. Though a species of least concern (IUCN Red data list), many birders from Rio de Janeiro have visited the wetland keen to photograph them. Very little is known of their habits so we have our fingers crossed that they will be back in the near future.

New bird for Adilei!

Pale-breasted Spinetail, REGUA, 22 June 2017 (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

Adilei Carvalho da Cunha, one of REGUA’s resident bird guides, spends his working life showing birds to visitors to the reserve. It is therefore not common for him to find a new species for his personal bird list. Imagine his delight therefore, when on 22nd June he found a Pale-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis albescens.

Although widespread throughout South America, this species is not normally found in the Atlantic Forest, as it is more associated with central Brazil and the Cerrado habitat. Maybe this individual knows about global weather change for he can be seen on the edge of our reserve in open grasslands.

This is the second record of this species for REGUA.

Shrike-like Cotinga

Shrike-like Cotinga (Laniisoma elegans) is classified as ‘near threatened’ with a ‘decreasing population’ on the IUCN red list.   However, we are delighted that this enigmatic species can still be found in low numbers on the REGUA reserve.

We only found the species in the lowland a few years ago, and today many birders visit REGUA to view and photograph the species.

It is seen in high altitude forest towards the end of the year (our spring and summer) where it probably breeds, and at low elevation in the middle of the year (our autumn and winter).   Juvenile birds have been identified feeding with parents on REGUA’s lowland forest, on various fruits.   This altitudinal movement has highlighted to us the importance of the continuous forested mountain gradient and confirms the value of extending the forest from the top of the mountain ridge to the valley floor.

Shrike-like Cotinga (Laniisoma elegans) (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

Shrike-like Cotinga is sparsely recorded along coastal Brazil and is very similar to its cousin, the Andean Laniisoma (Laniisoma buckleyi).   This latter species is found in several Andean countries also in primary and good secondary forest but populations are also said to be low.   The species were lumped and only recently split after much study.

REGUA is one of the best places to see this shy bird with its wonderful penetrating long call, and our Bird Guides are expert in finding them as they move around the reserve.

The Knight Family continue their visit

The Knight Family at REGUA with Jorge (left), Raquel and Micaela (right) (©Loan Heringer)

Sylvia and Chris Knight visited REGUA recently with their two children, and one of the tasks they undertook was to see how many different seeds they could find in the forest.

However, that was not the only thing they did in their visit – here’s more from Sylvia.
“As a family, some of the real highlights were our night-time walk where we were spotting caiman, opossums and nightjars as well as other sightings of sloths, a gorgeous orange spined hairy dwarf porcupine, two male blue manakins displaying to a female, watching 1743 cattle egrets come in to roost, and so much more.

We’d like to reiterate our thanks to all the people at REGUA who made us feel so welcome, and made our stay so enjoyable by ferrying us around, feeding us, finding us incredible wildlife and answering a lot of questions!

The Knight family

Roger Wilson

It is with great sadness that we heard that  World land Trust colleague and friend Roger Wilson passed away recently.

Roger was an experienced tropical forester and helped REGUA from day one with words of encouragement and the belief that we were capable of planting and delivering our forests.

Alan Martin, Roger Wilson and Nicholas Locke (© REGUA)

REGUA’s restoration programme is well known within Brazil and I can say with assurance that we owe so much to him for starting this work and putting us on the map. Tropical forestry loses a great ambassador and we were proud to have known him.  The photograph, taken in London in 2014, was the last time we were together.

Nicholas Locke

Crab-eating Fox

Crab-eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous), is quite a common South American mammal confined mainly to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and labelled “of least concern” on the IUCN red list.

Crab-eating fox (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

It is seen mostly on open areas and on REGUA’s lowlands this is no exception.   They are most often seen at REGUA on our night excursions when caught in the torchlight as they roam the fields around the Reserve.   It is, however, a timid animal and if one is fortunate to see one streaking across the road and into the bushes to hide, the observer is left content.

Adilei (REGUA resident Bird Guide) was walking the Yellow Trail by the wetlands recently and came across this resting female lying on the path.   As Adilei crept up to steal a closer image, she jumped up and took off.    Sadly you cannot see its fine bushy tail.

Restoration Pact Workshop takes place at REGUA

REGUA recently hosted the Atlantic Rainforest Restoration Pact workshop.   The Restoration Pact is made up of all the environmental projects that are in some ways contributing to increasing forest cover in the biome.

Headed by the Brazilian organization CEPAN, and funded by German development bank, KfW, REGUA hosted this three day workshop with professionals in the field o

Course Participants (© REGUA)

f restoration from all over Brazil.

Severino and Ludmilla, led the group and the aim of the three days here was to test and improve monitoring techniques needed for the Pact restoration process.

Itself a member, this was also an opportunity to present REGUA’s work and the group was divided into three teams to test the techniques the Pact had developed.   Out in the field the groups were very impressed with REGUA’s forest restoration process which left us not only proud of our efforts but committed to continue reforesting.

This is often the type of support needed to reach out and keep up the motivation factor. We are only too happy to contribute.

REGUA Ranger receives joint Conservation Award

Sometimes one feels that there seems to be a lull like the wind has dropped leaving the sails slack.   This year appeared that way; fewer visitors and reforestation grants contributing to the lack of needed momentum at a precious time.

Admittedly land purchases have been tough and it’s been hard to close the available areas with their respective owners.   I guess socio-economic conditions are constantly changing and these naturally affect the efficiency of our proposal.

Muriqui Research Team André and Rildo centre left and right resp. (© REGUA)

Then I received an email that the Global Conservation Leadership Programme winners had been announced and found the page to seek the name of those prizewinners.

The Young Conservationists is a great programme that seeks young researchers in Biology and provides them with a grant to continue with their studies.   I have often been asked by friends to submit a proposal but I do consider I am in the correct age range to compete.   Imagine my delightful surprise when checking this year’s prizewinners to find the Muriqui Monkey Project in SE Brazil.

The picture of André Lanna and Rildo as winners of the 2017 prize gave me a huge confidence boost. Well done André, REGUA ranger Rildo and Muriqui Team!

André had mentioned that REGUA may be the last bastion of the Southern Muriqui primate and suspect that there could be three populations here.   May their project continue to enjoy the success it deserves and place REGUA healthily on the map.

The wind is picking up my friends!

Warmly

Nicholas Locke  

http://www.conservationleadershipprogramme.org/project/muriqui-serra-do-mar-brazil/

 

Insect life Research

REGUA received a visit by the eminent biologists Dr. David Redei and his colleague, Dr. Qiang Xie from Nankai University last December.    Working in partnership with Brazil’s Fiocruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation) and invited by Dr. Felipe and Dr.Elcio, they spent a day looking at REGUA’s insect life.

Dr David Redei inspecting the Conservation Centre Moth Trap (© N Locke)

David and Qiang are working on phylogeny using morphological and molecular characters used in establishing taxonomic differences.   David is classifying insects according to tribe, family and genus.   Their interest in South America is evident once one knows that the continent has its own endemic and specialized insects.   David’s specialty is Hemiptera or Stink bugs, but he became very excited to learn that REGUA has its fair share of Phloeidae, a family existing only in the Neotropics of the Atlantic rainforest.   These are barnacle like insects that can be found mainly lurking on tree trunks in quality forest.

Now we will keep our eyes peeled to photograph and send images to these fascinating visitors. Thank you both for visiting and sharing your interests with us!

A weekend of Birding at REGUA

The Rio de Janeiro Birding Calender for 2017 successfully kicked off on March 11th and 12th at REGUA.

Some 30 local birders came to enjoy the wetlands and waterfall trail.    An early start, followed by Cirilo’s guiding enabled many first time birders to walk the yellow trail and see many of the over 180 species found in this habitat.

Some of the group with Cirilo (© Raquel Locke)

There were ample opportunities to present the work that REGUA has been devoted to and the project’s future plans.

People are always very receptive and positive and the end of the day was filled with promises of return visits and future enjoyment.