Since 2001 there have been 74 species of hawkmoth (Sphingidae) found at REGUA, from the 110 or so that have been recorded in the Serra dos Órgãos mountains. Arguably one of the nicest is Oryba kadeni which has a distinctive shape and colouring.
Widespread throughout Central and South America, this is this was my first sighting, though it has been recorded at REGUA twice before, once by Nicholas at his house and once by his father Robert Locke. To be more precise, Robert found the unmistakable wings of this moth by his front door, the remains of a meal for a large bat.
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.
The Red-ruffed Fruitcrow Pyroderus scutatus is high on visitors wish-lists, but it is scarce and a very hard bird to see well. However this splendid bird appeared in the lodge garden on the 2nd July and was seen by two lucky people sitting quietly on the veranda. It stayed in the garden for a few minutes allowing a series of photos to be taken before flying off when someone came up the drive.
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 SpinetailSynallaxis 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 (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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sylvia and Chris Knight recently stayed at REGUA with their two children. They opted to stay in the relaxed environment of the research accommodation, and here is their review of their stay with us.
“We have just returned home after four wonderful days at the REGUA reserve. As a family with two primary school aged children, we knew that having the chance to spend time at the reserve was going to be incredible, but was slightly concerned about how long the girls would last before they got tired or bored. We needn’t have worried!
The combination of incredible birds, mammals, insects, plants and reptiles together with the most wonderful swimming spots we have ever encountered meant they were totally engrossed and as sad to leave as their parents were.
Having visited two other places in Rio state before arriving at REGUA, they particularly appreciated the amount of space and the freedom that gave them – for example being able to go and visit the capybara group on their own before breakfast. A mini ‘project’ for the visit was to make a seed collection – we were just short of 100 types, but I’m sure it could have been much more.
In 2013 we started our most ambitious plan – to plant over 160,000 native trees in a 100 hectare area bridging the gap between the forest of the Green Trail and the Guapiaçu River and village. The first major tranche of planting started in November 2013.
We completed planting the 100 hectare site in 2016 – and there are already a large number of diverse species taking advantage of the new habitat created by these young trees. Many of these trees fruited in the first year, providing food for many insects and birds. As the trees have grown and shaded the ground the under-storey has started to clear and mammal tracks are visible in the ever increasing leaf litter.
One of the best ways to assess the improvement in the planting is to survey the bird species seen. Our resident bird guides have been surveying some of the newly planted areas, and good species indicators of the increasing quality of the new forests that we area already finding are Saw-billed Hermit, Black-cheeked Gnateater and Channel-billed Toucan.
Many other species are also moving into the area including White Woodpecker, Scaly-headed Parrot, Olivaceous and Lesser Woodcreeper, and Laughing Falcon.
A large flock of Maroon-belled Parakeet have been feeding in the area for several weeks, along with White-bearded Manakin, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Yellow Olive Flycatcher. Tanager species have also been seen including Green-headed, Red-necked Tanager, Flame-crested and Yellow-backed.
The birds will disperse the seeds from these trees back into our established forest and strengthen the bio-diversity across the whole reserve and beyond. What better evidence could we wish for to encourage our work.