Wetland/Yellow Trail

Habitats: Restored wetland and replanted secondary forest
Post colour: Yellow (every 50 m)
Start: Outside the conservation centre
Grade: Easy – flat, wide trail, some mud after rain.
Length: 2.8 km (circular)
Time: 2-5 hours
Altitude: 35–50 m
What to take: Plenty of water (it can get very hot), hat, sunscreen and binoculars. A telescope is useful for birds.
Access: Open February to December, 24 hours to lodge guests and dawn to dusk to day visitors.
Price: Free for lodge guests if self-guided (leaflets are available at the lodge and the start of the trail). A guide is available for an additional fee. There is an entry fee for day visitors.

The REGUA wetland is one of REGUA’s resounding conservation success stories. This area was once a native swampy forest comprising water-loving Tabebuia cassinoides trees and large tree ferns, smothered with epiphytic plants including philodendrons, bromeliads and orchids, but during the 1980s the swamp was drained and the trees cleared to make way for cattle pasture and agricultural fields.

In 2005 REGUA began create a new wetland on the site, converting the fields to a mosaic of lakes, channels, reedbeds, wet grass, Tabebuia cassinoides stands and lowland forest. Since then the area has seen an enormous increase in biodiversity.

Over 220 bird species have been recorded at the wetland, including the scarce Masked Duck, the Near-threatened Black-legged Dacnis, Boat-billed Heron, Pinnated Bittern, Capped Heron, and several species of rails. The wetland is also an excellent place to watch for soaring raptors during the late morning, with Rufous-thighed Kite, Crane Hawk, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Laughing Falcon and Aplomado Falcon all frequently picked out amongst the kettling Lesser Yellow-headed, Turkey and Black Vultures.

Many local rarities have been recorded at the wetland, such as Sungrebe, South American Tern, Black Skimmer, Stygian Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Black-backed Water-Tyrant, along with two ‘firsts’ for Rio de Janeiro state – Greenish Elaenia and Azure Gallinule.

Reptiles such as the endemic Broad-snouted Caiman Caiman latirostris, have naturally moved back into the area, along with mammals such as Capybara Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris, Paca Agouti paca, Southern River Otter Lontra longicaudis, Crab-eating Fox Cerdocyon thous and top predators including Puma Puma concolor.

We recommend half day visits, with a suggested morning departure of 06:00 and suggested afternoon departure of 14:30. At dusk Chestnut-capped Blackbirds flock to the reedbeds to roost, Cattle Egrets gather in the bare trees, and rails become more active and vocal.

The wetland is situated at a very low altitude and has a hot and humid climate. Dehydration and sun exposure are the biggest risks so please ensure you take plenty of drinking water with you along with a hat and sunscreen.

Target species:

White-faced Whistling-Duck
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Muscovy Duck
Masked Duck
Least Grebe
Rufescent Tiger-Heron
Pinnated Bittern
Boat-billed Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Striated Heron
Capped Heron
Crane Hawk
Harris’s Hawk
Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle
Laughing Falcon
Aplomado Falcon
Limpkin
Grey-necked Wood-Rail
Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail
Russet-crowned Crake
Rufous-sided Crake
Ash-throated Crake
Blackish Rail
Wattled Jacana
Blue Ground-Dove
Pale-vented Pigeon
White-eyed Parakeet
Maroon-bellied Parakeet
Blue-winged Parrotlet
Orange-winged Parrot
Dark-billed Cuckoo
Pearly-breasted Cuckoo
Greater Ani
Barn Owl
Tropical Screech-Owl
Tawny-browed Owl
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Striped Owl
Common Potoo
Pauraque
Scissor-tailed Nightjar
Biscutate Swift
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Reddish Hermit
White-chinned Sapphire
Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Crescent-chested Puffbird
Channel-billed Toucan
White-barred Piculet
White Woodpecker
Yellow-eared Woodpecker
Chestnut-backed Antshrike
Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike
White-bearded Manakin
Green-backed Becard
White-winged Becard
Black-capped Becard
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher
Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Greenish Elaenia
Yellow Tyrannulet
Planalto Tyrannulet
Bran-coloured Flycatcher
White-headed Marsh Tyrant
Yellow-browed Tyrant
Lemon-chested Greenlet
Moustached Wren
Long-billed Wren
Black-capped Donacobius
Brazilian Tanager
Flame-crested Tanager
Pileated Finch
White-bellied Tanager
Burnished-buff Tanager
Fawn-breasted Tanager
Swallow Tanager
Black-legged Dacnis
Red-legged Honeycreeper
Yellow-backed Tanager
Chestnut-vented Conebill
Lined Seedeater
Red-rumped Cacique
Chestnut-capped Blackbird
Purple-throated Euphonia

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REGUA wetland (© Rachel Walls)
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The REGUA wetland remains one of the most reliable sites anywhere for the scarce and elusive Masked Duck, although sightings have become less frequent in recent years (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)
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Increasing numbers of Black-legged Dacnis are found around the wetland from January to May (© Lee Dingain)
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Walking the trail at first light is your best chance of seeing Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)