Miguel Ferreira de Conceição is a young lad from the local community of Matumbo who has a passion for nature.
He comes from a humble background and is now 21 years old, but since joining the Young Ranger programme seven years ago, he found his desire for the future – wanting to work in tourism.
REGUA’s resident teacher Professor Carlos has always been supportive and encouraged him, and a month ago Miguel participated in a test that offered opportunities for a professional “Park visitor guide” course organized by the State Government Institute (INEA).
We were all thrilled that of the 50 applicants, Miguel took third place; a testimony to the value and contribution of REGUA’s Young Ranger programme.
Miguel has started the course and is rightly proud of his achievements. It is rewarding and very satisfying for us to see direct life-changing benefits that can reach deep into other people lives.
The forests at REGUA are growing! The area known to friends as the Protestant land in the Matumbo Gap was an area of pasture that REGUA had long wanted to reforest. It represented a corridor that could link precious areas to the main REGUA block of forest.
The World Land Trust had helped us acquire the land in 2014 but the thick mat of imperata or brachiaria grasses was not permitting trees to germinate and gain a foothold. The answer lay in an assisted planting scheme.
The World land Trust helped us again with a grant “Forests of the Future Fund” and Seotaiji the great South Korean singer helped us with the necessary funds to enable the planting of 10,000 REGUA nursery native trees. Only a year later the results show for themselves.
We have taken many guests and specialists who have been bowled over with the rapid growth of the trees showing that the trees are anxious to form a forest once again. The weather was kind to us after an initial drought and since we have been looking very well after the forests. I wish all forests could grow so quickly!
We are now preparing another area for the World Land Trust “Forests of the Future” programme, but thank you World Land Trust and Seotaiji so much for this important support.
REGUA’s Young Rangers programme has been very successful this year with a huge participation by local adolescents.
REGUA’S teacher, locally known as ‘Professor Carlos’ has divided the entire group of 30 children into two age groups helping to keep them focused on the subjects he believes important.
This year marked its 11th anniversary and the results could not be more positive.
The aim of the programme is to remind the children that not only do they live in a precious environment but they are responsible for its care. The weekly visits to REGUA provide opportunities for lessons in the environment, social development punctuated with walks and visits, activities in the local community, lectures by resident researchers and excursions. The Young Rangers love it and every year increasingly more children want to join the programme.
We are well into the austral spring and the weather in October has been rather mixed, with hot temperatures much rainfall, including a couple of days of full rain. Many bird species have now moved to higher, cooler elevations for the spring and summer, whilst activity around the wetland and lodge garden is increasing as more species are breeding.
On the reserve, the wetland continues to provide excellent birding opportunities with an amazing four Sungrebe now being reported – surely a record count for Rio de Janeiro state? Also at the wetland, Boat-billed Heron, Greenish Eleania (very scarce in Rio de Janeiro state), Uniform Crake, Russet-crowned Crake, Rufous-sided Crake, Pauraque and Red-cowled Cardinal (scarce at the wetland nowadays). The adjacent Brown Trail continues to bring in yet more forest interior species, with White-bibbed Antbird and Scaled Antbird making appearances, along with the more usual Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike and Tawny-browed Owl.
Highlights on the Green Trail include Shrike-like Cotinga, Temminck’s Seedeater, White-necked Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle, Pin-tailed Manakin, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Southern Antpipit, Saw-billed Hermit, Spot-billed Toucanet, Bare-throated Bellbird, Rufous-capped Motmot and Rufous-capped Antthrush.
On the Grey Trail another of REGUA’s specialities, Russet-winged Spadebill, was seen along with Salvadori’s Antwren, Buff-bellied Puffbird and Least Pygmy-Owl, On the 4×4 Trail the very rarely encountered Tufted Antshrike was heard but not seen, and nearby a Bare-throated Bellbird seen on the area planted two years ago near the Guapiaçu river.
At the other end of the reserve on the Waldenoor Trail, another Tufted Antshrike was heard, as was Salvadori’s Antwren, but 2 male Frilled Coquette, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, White-throated Woodcreeper and Spot-billed Toucanet were amongst the birds seen.
On our night excursions, Giant Snipe, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, South American Snipe, Ash-throated Crake, Streamer-tailed Tyrant and White Woodpecker were all seen.
Excursions offsite have been equally popular and productive. Cabo Frio and its rare coastal restinga habitat produced Restinga Antwren, Roseate Spoonbill, American Oystercatcher, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, Lemon-chested Greenlet and of course, the Andean Flamingo.
Our trips to the Atlantic Forest mountains produced a good number of high altitude Atlantic Forest endemics. Pico da Caledônia produced great views of the extremely rare Grey-winged Cotinga, nesting Swallow-tailed Cotinga, a female Chestnut-headed Tanager (rare on the coastal slope), Large-tailed Antshrike, Dusky-tailed Antbird, Rufous-tailed Antbird, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Plovercrest, White-throated Hummingbird, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Black-billed Scythebill , Shear-tailed Grey Tyrant, Saffron-crested Tyrant-Manakin, Diademed Tanager, Bay-chested Warbling-Finch and Cinnamon Tanager. While at Macaé de Cima, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Bertoni’s Antbird, Giant Anshrike were among the species noted.
On our excursions to the remnants of the Dry Atlantic Forest around Sumidouro we found the highly sought-after Three-toed Jacamar, as well as other open-country species including Blue-winged Macaw, Magpie Tanager, Serra Antwren, Half-collared Sparrow, Sooty Tyrannulet, Firewood-gatherer, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, Masked Yellowthroat, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Plumbeous Kite and White-tailed Hawk.
Finally a belated sighting from September – a Swallow-tailed Cotinga on the Waterfall Trail!
One very desirable bird found in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is Sharpbill Oxyrincus cristatus. This enigmatic bird with its distinctive orange eye is never easy to find and many of REGUA’s visitors wish to see it during their visit.
It has a wide distribution and is not uncommon, with a call resembling the sound of a falling bomb without the explosion at the end. It appears to be more concentrated in areas of mature secondary or primary Atlantic Forest where it is often found high in the canopies searching for fruit.
Imagine Gustavo Pedro de Paula’s surprise as he spotted the bird feeding low down on Trema micrantha fruit by the REGUA wetlands recently. Gustavo took several photos and suggested that the presence of this species denoted the maturity of the forests by the wetlands, a real sign of the success of our reforestation project. Gradually the more common open ground species are being displaced as the trees around are growing and maturing.
Upon closer examination of the image one could think that the bird was inspecting some chrysalides left by a butterfly. Some tasty morsels so to speak! In any case we extend a big thank you to Gustavo for sharing the image with us.
The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that our news post about a Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis seen at Cabo Frio on 16 October has been removed. Well, there is an exciting reason for this – the bird has been correctly re-identified as an Andean Flamingo Phoenicoparrus andinus, and the first record for Rio de Janeiro state!
Initially thought to be a Chilean Flamingo, thankfully Alan Martin was able to take a few photos and it was only after subsequently checking the photos a few days later that the true identity of the bird became clear. News of the bird was put out and a major twitch (in Brazilian terms) ensewed, with several local birders making the trip to Cabo Frio to see it. It was still present on 6 November and photos from many photographers can be seen on WikiAves.
Andean Flamingo is the scarcest flamingo species, mostly restricted to the salt lakes of the altiplano of southern Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile and north-west Argentina. They are altitudinal migrants, moving to lower elevations for the winter, and vagrants have made as far as Buenos Aires province in Argentina, the Brazilian Amazon, and Brazil’s southern coast, where flocks of up to 32 individuals together have been found. The Cabo Frio bird is by far the most easterly occurrence of this species.
Very well done to Alan Martin and the Limosa birding group for finding and photographing the bird, and to Gabriel Mello for re-identifying the bird.
Our Young Ranger project covers many aspects of the REGUA project and the biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest. Sara Colmenares, a Colombian lady undertaking her doctorate degree at REGUA, is studying palm diversity along the altitudinal gradient at REGUA and within the Serra dos Órgãos National Park. Sara recently gave an excellent talk to the Young Rangers about palms and we’d like to say thank you to Sara for a most interesting talk.
Few people from REGUA visit the Theodora Trail which is a shame as it has some great birds and is probably the easiest trail for walking.
The trail starts beside the main road from Cachoeiras to Nova Friburgo at about 1,200m and follows the route of a long-gone railway line – so it has a very gentle downhill gradient ending back at the main road only a few hundred metres lower.
In October I walked the trail with Adilei and amongst the good birds seen were great views of Shrike-like Cotinga, Spot-winged Wood Quail, Black-throated Trogon, Bertoni’s Antbird, Sharpbill, Greenish Schiffornis, Bellbird, Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, Barred Forest Falcon and many many more.
The weather at REGUA has been very wet this October but laced with hot sunny days.
The Planting Team are getting ready to plant the area that caught fire earlier in the year. This is an area of degraded grass. It is a good area and the burning actually accelerated the process of clearing the grass as we prepared the land for planting the trees.
The trees waiting in the nursery to be planted out, and we have been gathering seeds and making new seedlings for next year’s planting already.
We aim to start planting in November and will be planting around 25,000 trees in this area.
Last years area of 10,000 trees looks great with strong growth, we have continued to maintain the land by clearing the grass from around the young trees and keeping an eye out for fires and pest damage.
The largest areas REGUA planted in 2013/2015 are also looking fantastic with a Bare-throated Bellbird Procnias nudicollis calling around the trees.