David Nemazie of University of Maryland visits REGUA

We were fortunate to receive birders David Nemazie and René Santos at REGUA recently. David is chief of staff for Environmental Science at University of Maryland USA, and René is a super bird guide who brought him here.

The State of Maryland is twinned with the State of Rio de Janeiro with both Chesapeake Bay and Rio’s Guanabara Bay having geographical and environmental similarities. Both coastal bays have similar environmental issues due to large populations and associated problems with waste water treatment, storm water, and habitat degradation.

In 2014, the Governor of the State of Rio concerned with the Olympics in 2016 approached Maryland’s governor and asked him and the University for guidance in cleaning Rio’s Bay following their success.   Rio’s governor obtained support from INEA (RJ Environmental State Agency), UFRJ (RJ University) and other partners to provide the first step, the elaboration of the “Guanabara Bay Report Card”

David Nemazie with Nicholas and Raquel (© REGUA)

The report cards (https://ecoreportcard.org/report-cards/guanabara-bay ) have been successful in other regions and offer a snap shot of the state of the Guanabara Bay as it is today.   It gives ‘scores’ on health and condition, identifying the issues at heart.

It now is up to all of us to engage the wider public with programmes in awareness and education to help the Government define priorities and actions that will contribute to a better care for our Guanabara Bay, home to river dolphins and seahorses.

We are ready to help and do our part.

 

Birdfair 2017 is almost upon us

The REGUA stand at Birdfair 2016 (© Edson Endrigo)
The REGUA stand at Birdfair 2016 (© Edson Endrigo)

It’s that time of year again – the annual British Birdwatching Fair, better known simply as the Birdfair, returns to Rutland Water in the UK next weekend.

This huge event attracts over 20,000 people and raises thousands of pounds for nature conservation every year. The Birdfair is the perfect place for us to spread the word about the excellent birding at REGUA and on our excursions in surrounding Serra dos Órgãos mountains and beyond, our beautifully situated bird lodge, and also to demonstrate how birding tourism is helping REGUA to conserve and restore one of the best preserved areas Atlantic Forest remaining in Rio de Janeiro state.

REGUA has had a stand at the Birdfair since 2007 and this year it will once again be manned by Rachel Walls, Sue Healey and Lee Dingain, along with past volunteer bird guide Ken Sutton will also be on the stand on Friday and Saturday. All of our publications will be available to buy (with a special Birdfair discount) and you’ll also be able to grab some free RAW Baking goodies from Rachel including her now legendary “Bristlefront Brownie” and “Fruitcrow Flapjack”!

If you are going to the Birdfair then why not drop by the REGUA stand and say hello at stand 37, marquee 1. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Birdfair will be taking place at Egleton Nature Reserve, Rutland Water, UK, from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th August 2017.

Half-collared Sparrow

One of the species everyone anticipates on REGUA’s excursion to Mt Caledonia is the Half collared Sparrow, or Pectoral Sparrow (Arremon taciturnis).

Half-collared Sparrow (© Nicholas Locke)

This stunning Sparrow is not an endemic to the Atlantic Rainforest for it occurs in the Amazon basin, but here in Rio state it can be seen only in the mountain regions of the Serra do Mar.

Its typical high pitched “bis-bist” gives it away and play-back can draw it in.   From then on, it flies quickly around the birder perching occasionally on an open branch to help the photographer.

When that happens one can glimpse its exceptional colours and beauty –  What a gem!!

 

REGUA’s Trees are reaching for the Sky!

We are delighted to report that the donation from the Danish Travel Fund that led to the acquisition of Anderson’s property in 2014 has resulted in a dramatic change within the Matumbo Valley.

The highly degraded and eroded area is on the road towards the Waldenoor trail on the way to Matumbo.   Until last year cattle were being grazed there and it is amazing how quickly birds and insects come into land after planting.

REGUA planted 25,000 native trees on this 13 hectare site between November 2016 and January 2017 and the weather has been most favourable.

The trees are growing very well.   Thank you Danish Travel Fund for helping to acquire this strategically important area and to the World Land Trust through their “Plant a tree Fund” for financing the tree planting.

Pai Velho November 2016 (© Nicholas Locke)
Pai Velho June 2017 (© Nicholas Locke)

Voluntary Forestry Brigade visit REGUA

REGUA received members of the Rio de Janeiro voluntary Forestry Brigade, a grass roots organization made up of professional people from Rio city who are committed to conservation.

The Team arrived on a lovely Saturday morning to enjoy a walk around the wetlands and discuss opportunities to support REGUA’s work.   Among the issues discussed during the day were potential for help in combatting hunting and forest fires, first aid courses and community engagement through education programmes, these are all issues which could be used to support landowners across the globe.   With REGUA’s successful Ranger Team, Community, Young Ranger and School education programme we were delighted to host the event and share our own experiences.

The Forestry Brigade with Nicholas and Raquel Locke (© Jorge Bizarro)

The Brigade would like to include REGUA as a place where they can stage weekend events including hiking on the forest trails on the prowl for any hunters.

Many members are retired but totally committed to forest protection and very keen to support REGUA activities.

Young Rangers get a surprise!

As in many of our Young Ranger programmes, the students are taken to the latest area of reforestation – eleven years on and this year was no different.

Boots for the Young Rangers. Raquel with João (© Nicholas Locke)

On one recent visit to the Morro Pai Velho, local resident João and his wife saw the group of Young Rangers on their work without adequate footwear.   He decided there and then to order 30 pairs of wellington boots to equip the students.

He said that when he was growing up, he hadn’t any to wear and was so impressed by REGUA’s commitment to the younger generation that he wanted to find a way to reward them with this generous present.

Many thanks for your generosity João!

Bird sightings for June and July 2017

Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift over the wetland, 3 July 2017 (© Alan Martin)
White-bellied Tanager from the lodge belvedere, 2 July 2017 (© Alan Martin)
Black-banded Owl hunting bats in the lodge garden, 5 July 2017. The bird was seen again in exactly the same spot the following night. (© Alan Martin)
Scaled Antbird, 29 June 2017 (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

The austral winter months see fewer visiting birders than the spring, when birds are more vocal and on territory, but winter birding in the Atlantic Forest brings its own rewards and is equally exciting. Some species are actually much easier to find at this time of year, including the rare Black-legged Dacnis and large mixed-species flocks in the forest make for exciting experiences. Also, the lodge garden feeders are much busier, with many species that breed at higher elevations moving lower where temperatures are higher. Here are the avian highlights on the reserve for June and July.

Casa Anibal/4×4: Black Hawk-Eagle, Spot-billed Toucanet, Saw-billed Hermit, Spot-breasted Antvireo, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Black-capped Foliage-gleaner, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Green-headed Tanager and Red-necked Tanager.

Forest Trail: White-bibbed Antbird (an excellent record for this trail), Surucua Trogon, Rufous-capped Motmot, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, Reddish Hermit, Lesser Woodcreeper, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Unicoloured Antwren, Scaled Antbird, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, White-throated Spadebill, Southern Antpipit, Long-billed Wren, Moustached Wren, Hooded Tanager, White-bellied Tanager, Rufous-headed Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager and Swallow Tanager.

Lodge garden: Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (the first record for the garden on 2 July), Black-banded Owl (5-6 July), up to 5 Black-legged Dacnis, Common Potoo, 1 White-eyed Parakeet (6 July), Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Toco Toucan, lots of Channel-billed Toucan, Tropical Parula, White-bellied Tanager, Azure-shoulder Tanager, Yellow-backed Tanager, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Purple-throated Euphonia and Buff-throated Saltator.

Waldenoor Trail: Mantled Hawk (very reliable here), Frilled Coquette, Toco Toucan, Plain Parakeet, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Rufous-capped Motmot, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Blue Manakin and Black-throated Grosbeak.

Waterfall Trail: Solitary Tinamou, Brown Tinamou, White-necked Hawk, Saw-billed Hermit, Surucua Trogon, Black-throated Trogon, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, Scaly-headed Parrot, Planalto Woodcreeper, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Spot-backed Antshrike, Scaled Antbird, Star-throated Antwren, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Rufous-capped Antthursh, Slaty Bristlefront, Pin-tailed Manakin, Blue Manakin, Southern Antpipit, Grey-hooded Attila, White-bellied Tanager, Rufous-headed Tanager, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager and Yellow-green Grosbeak.

Wetland Trail: Grey-bellied Spinetail, female Masked Duck, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Tataupa Tinamou, Boat-billed Heron, up to 12 Capped Heron (an excellent number), lots of Snowy Egret (they seem to be increasing at REGUA), Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle, Laughing Falcon, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift (small numbers over the wetland in the evenings), Rufous-sided Crake, Blackish Rail, Limpkin, Amazon Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike, Grey-capped Tyrannulet, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant (both very unusual here), Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Hooded Tanager and Black-capped Donacobius.

Elsewhere at REGUA, Shrike-like Cotinga, a male Tufted Antshrike and White-bibbed Antbird were all seen along the trail to the São José Tower, a Harris’s Hawk, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle and Rufous-fronted Thornbird (the later now much scarcer at REGUA now that the reforestation is becoming more established) were seen along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa, and the 2 Tropical Screech-Owls were still roosting by the conservation centre.

On our night-birding excursion Giant Snipe, Mottled Owl, Scissor-tailed Nightjar and Collared Forest-Falcon were among the birds seen.

Yellow-rumped Marshbirds close to REGUA

Yellow-rumped Marshbirds Pseudoleistes guirahuro near REGUA, 24 July 2017 (© Nicholas Locke)

On 24 July, Raquel and New Zealand volunteer Marc Vanwoerkom were helping me to map a property that has been offered to REGUA adjacent to the João Paulo Farm. Clambering up steep hillsides is never fun, but the work has to be done to accurately map properties with GPS and avoid issues on property size and location.

The day ended well and we were walking home when to our surprise we found a chattering bunch of Yellow-rumped Marshbirds Pseudoleistes guirahuro perched on a shrub in the pastures. This is rare bird in Rio de Janeiro state and Marc got some great photos and I managed a register shot.

Yellow-rumped Marshbird is a species of marshland and grassland, with a distribution covering much of southern Brazil but also east Paraguay, northern Uruguay north-east Argentina. They are not usually found in Rio de Janeiro state and this is the first time we have seen this bird so close to REGUA land. Perhaps it is spreading eastwards? Nevertheless, it is a stunning bird and I am hopeful we can get some better images soon.

Butterfly rarity

Ortilia polinella
Female Ortilia polinella, REGUA, 15 October 2013 (© Duncan McGeough)

Work on the next REGUA field guide, Observation Guide to the Butterflies of the Serra dos Órgãos, is progressing at good pace, and with it lots of new knowledge about the local butterfly fauna, together with some novelties, new records from guests, volunteers and visitor’s photographs have been consistently pouring in.

One notable rarity was found by Duncan McGeough, a volunteer from Germany in October 2013, just 30 metres from the REGUA office. Ortilia polinella (A. Hall, 1928), a crescent butterfly, is a cousin of the Glanville Fritillary Melitaea cinxia from Europe. Known from less than a half-dozen localities in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo, and also very seldom found in collections (only three females and six males in the Natural History Museum, London) this was a superb find!

Adults are mainly forest species that dwell in sunlit areas like trails, clearings, forest edges, etc. It’s biology is unknown, but other species in the genus use Justicia spp. as foodplants (Acanthaceae). The photo depicts a worn female sun basking, probably in between short exploratory flights to find a suitable plant for ovipositing.

Duncan has also helped with the creation of the REGUA moth leaflet that guests can pick up at the lodge, featuring 60 common moths easily spotted in the moth wall.

Further information about Ortilia polinella can be found here:

Type specimens photos: http://butterfliesofamerica.com/L/t/Ortilia_polinella_a.htm

Higgins revision of Phyciodes/Ortilia: http://archive.org/stream/bulletinofbritis43entolond#page/119/mode/1up

Spider-hunting Wasp

Michael Patrikeev has been working on the identification of species he found at REGUA during his stay and has more news for us.

Pepsis-inclyta (© Michael Patrikeev)

“I have identified another species for the reserve this time it is a giant black-blue spider-hunting wasp, which has very likely been seen when it was busily looking for its prey in the forest understorey. The size is impressive, 50-55 mm, and its sting is very painful, apparently scoring 4.0 on the Schmidt sting pain index, next to the bullet-ant (4.0+).

The species is Pepsis inclyta Lepeletier, 1845. It is  “commonest in southern Brazil to central Argentina, but ranges over most of South America” (Vardy 2005).

More images and details on identification can be seen here (http://www.wildnatureimages.org/Insects/Hymenoptera/Pompilidae/Pepsis-inclyta.html).”

Michael Patrikeev