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

Laudato si/Care for the Common Home

REGUA attended the second International Congress “Laudato si and large cities” organized by the Antonio Gaudi Foundation in Barcelona.   Pope Francis’s triumphal encyclical “Laudato si” or “Care for the Common Home” published in 2015 with the support of 1,000 scientists is, according to many, the greatest Manifesto on environmental concerns regarding planet Earth.

Laudato Si (© Nicholas Locke)

It is an appeal for reflections and dialogue to every person on how we are shaping our world.

In this second Congress, guest speakers presented their views and experiences on key issues facing an increasingly burgeoning population of which 80% of us live in cities.   The topics continue to be of great relevance; water supply, atmospheric pollution and waste management.    The issues are common around the world but the consequences are increasingly dramatic. The four day Congress showed that many share preoccupations and provided glimpses of successful solutions.

Our delegates returned to REGUA with renewed enthusiasm and commitment to continue the work already started.

Paraty Literary Festival founder visits REGUA

World Land Trust/UK Founder and acting Chief Executive, John Burton informed us a week ago that Liz Calder wished to visit, so you can imagine how delighted we were to receive her together with her son Toby and partner Gislane.

Liz is well known in Brazil as being responsible for establishing the Paraty Literary Festival (FLIP).   It all started when she and her husband came to work for Rolls Royce in the 1960’s and she fell in love with this country.

Liz Calder with Raquel and Nicholas Locke (© Toby Calder)

At the time Paraty, the colonial gold route town, could only be reached by sea but when Liz finally visited, she recognized its potential as an international venue.   Many literary celebrities have passed through Paraty and this year marked its 15th anniversary.

Based on this global success, Liz has decided to take FLIP to the UK and this year an Arts Festival named FLIPSIDE will be held between 6th and 8th October at Snape Maltings  in Suffolk, UK.

The REGUA video narrated by Michael Palin, will be shown to the public and we hope this contributes to generate awareness on our work here within the same forests that extend to shape that town called Paraty!