1st RPPN Seminar held at REGUA

On August 24th, Regua hosted the Inaugural  RPPN(*) or “Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural” Scientific Seminar in Rio de Janeiro state.

The REGUA Seminar Team (© REGUA)

INEA – Rio de Janeiro State Environmental Agency – encourages land owners to create their own private reserves  which are officially recognized by the state government.   RPPN status allows no direct use of the land but allows activities such as environmental education, sustainable tourism and scientific research to be carried out.    Much of REGUA’s land has been granted RPPN status and three new areas were finalised last August.

There were over 100 participants attending the event that started in the morning and continued until the evening.

Studies on forest ecology, flora and fauna inventories were presented to a very interested audience.

Land owners, university professors, undergraduates, post graduates, state and municipal authorities enjoyed this seminar which enriched everyone´s knowledge on the Atlantic Forest.

Tom Locke

Fieldwork training (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

 

*The nearest English translation would be Private Natural Heritage Reserve

Long-billed Wren

Walking by the wetlands at REGUA along the Yellow or Brown trail, a small bird can surprise many with its fierce song of bravado.

One has to peer through the tangles of brush to catch a glimpse of the melodious Long-billed Wren (Cantorchilus longirostris), one of the Atlantic Rainforest endemic species. Though the call is well known, its intensity is surprising but it is merely reminding us that we are entering his territory.

Long-billed Wren (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

The Yellow and Brown trails at REGUA pass through the middle of replanted lowland forest, and the presence of this species indicates the forest has provided a new home for many avian species.

This is what we want, a new habitat we created that now provides many new homes for its true inhabitants.

Caiman with Quills!

Adilei, REGUA’s resident Bird Guide, was walking the wetlands on his usual patrol when he spotted an unusual Caiman.

Peering through his binoculars, he saw that either one of REGUA’s adult Broad-snouted Caiman (Caiman latirostris) had developed far too many bristles or had wrestled with an Orange-spined Hairy Dwarf Porcupine (Sphiggurus villosus).

The Caiman’s head and neck was completely covered in quills, resembling a dragon.

Adilei could not understand the motive that induced the Caiman to eat such an unappetizing animal and now wonders what will happen to the Caiman!

Broad-snouted Caiman with Quills (©Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)

Although it was not easy to get a clear view of the event with the camera,  Adilei got this photograph, which shows the quills quite clearly.

We are keeping a close eye out for any more sightings!

New Scorpion for REGUA

Scorpions are predatory Arachnid of the Scorpione order.   Triggering fear and respect, scorpions are in fact difficult to find in this region of the Atlantic rainforest, and here at REGUA, we have only photos of the common yellow scorpion, Tityus serrulatus which are still relatively uncommon.

Professor Renner Baptista of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro was therefore surprised with this latest find.

Unidentified Scorpion (© Nicholas Locke)

Whilst searching for other Arachnids along with students Hector and Gabriel, they came across an unusual scorpion, their first for REGUA.   Found lying under a log at night, this 6cm long little fellow still has to be identified. Promising!

 

Heliconia, Hummingbird and Soldierfly Research

Andrew Proudfoot, REGUA Volunteer, reports on research work at REGUA.

“The two men in the middle drop in on Caio Missagia (right) who, helped by his friend Juan, is working towards a doctoral thesis on the intricate relationship between Heliconia spathocircinata, three Hummingbirds (Violet-capped Woodnymph, Reddish Hermit and Saw-billed Hermit) and a Hoverfly (Syrphidae) and Soldierfly (Stratiomyidae) species.

Juan and Caio with Andrew and Thor (REGUA Volunteers) (© REGUA)

Who benefits, who loses and by how much?    Heliconia needs pollination visits from the hummingbird and could provide a plentiful nectar reward.   Larvae of the two fly species are kleptoparasites, gorging on the sugary tissues deep within the protected bracts of the plant’s familiar boat-shaped flowers.   If only those paired bracts were more open, marauding ants might rid the flower of its freeloading flies.

The Amazonian species has no hiding place for Diptera larvae and perhaps it has no trouble supplying its pollinators with nectar. Natural selection could have driven the development of a less enclosed host plant flower. As the Heliconia provides less resource for the hummingbirds, what is the impact on pollinator behaviour and fitness? Fewer birds are recorded visiting infected flowers.

As yet, Caio has no clear answers to these important questions and whether or not Heliconia spathocircinata might be pushed to control these unwelcome freeloaders? An unfolding story; at REGUA we await the next instalment with excitement!”

Andrew Proudfoot

Post-graduates at REGUA

REGUA was delighted to receive 35 students from Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University undertaking their first MBE field trip.

This is a renowned business post-graduate course in Environmental Management aimed at preparing students to face the world of green responsibility in industry and government.

The Post-graduates at REGUA (© REGUA)

The group was able to learn about REGUA’s reforestation programme and see all stages of planting progress.  They enjoyed the day and returned to Rio with a valuable experience in the efforts needed to restore the Atlantic Rainforest.

 

CEO of SAVE Brazil visits REGUA

REGUA was delighted to receive Pedro Develey, the CEO of Birdlife International Brazil partner “SAVE” (Sociedade das Aves do Brasil) at REGUA.   His visit was partly to discuss the future reintroduction of the Black-fronted Piping-guans (Pipile jacutinga).

Pedro Develey with Nicholas Locke (© REGUA)

Pedro’s stay at REGUA was also an opportunity to show off our current tree planting area and the success of the wetland restoration.   Pedro had a great time and returned to São Paulo with a decent bird list and was especially pleased to see the variety of avian species in REGUA’s two year old forest.

He left us happy and content with the news that the reintroduction project is still ongoing. It’s crucial that a project of this importance develops slowly and steadily and all the pieces are being placed firmly in position. Thanks Pedro!!

Ruy creates feeders for the release pen

Ruy’s creativity never ceases to surprise us and yesterday he brought down the feeding stations that he personally built for the Black-fronted Piping-guan release pen.

These small constructions will be suspended inside and outside the aviary as part of a “soft-release” method.

Nicholas, Ruy and João Rafael Marins from Desengano State Park with the Black-fronted Piping-Guan feeders. (© REGUA)

The birds can eat their ration and after the period of quarantine the aviary door will be opened for them to wander into freedom and around the reserve.

If they feel like returning and eating their ration, the stations will be waiting for them, but generally after three days they make a run for it as the instinct for seeking their natural preference for fruits and insects kicks in.

Well done Ruy, what would we do without you!!

 

REGUA’s 11th British Birdfair

REGUA’s UK ‘A Team’ at the stand at this year’s Birdfair – (from left) Lee Dingain, Rachel Walls and Sue Healey (© Trevor Ellery)
REGUA supporter and past lodge guest Nigel Marven came by the stand to say hello on Saturday (© Lee Dingain)

Last Friday to Sunday, tens of thousands of birders and wildlife enthusiasts descended on Egleton Nature Reserve at Rutland Water in the UK for the annual British Birdwatching Fair.

This was the 11th year in a row that REGUA has been represented at this internationally important event and our stand was once again organized and manned by our dedicated volunteers, Rachel Walls, Lee Dingain and Sue Healey. Past volunteer bird guide Ken Sutton was also on the stand on the Friday and Saturday and did a great job helping out the team.

The Birdfair is the ideal place for us to spread the word about the excellent birdwatching at REGUA and how international birdwatching tourism is crucial in helping REGUA carry out the important conservation work protecting the Atlantic Forest of the Guapiaçu valley.

Once again we had a huge amount of interest from birders and tour companies alike, and it was great to catch up with many past guests and supporters, as well as with our friends at the World Land Trust and Serra dos Tucanos.

We’d like to say thank you to everybody who came by our stand and for helping to once again make Birdfair such a special event for us. It gives the whole REGUA team, both in Brazil and the UK, such a boost to receive so many compliments and encouragement. Also, we’d like to give a special thanks to Mr and Mrs Lee for making such a generous donation towards our land purchase and tree planting.

If you have any enquiries about visiting REGUA then please drop us a email. We look forward to seeing some of you at REGUA soon.

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.