Roundup of the 2010 birding year at REGUA

Bird photographer and author, Edson Endrigo and Rafael Bessa got the birding year off to a flying start by finding the first new bird for the reserve for 2010 – not one but at least 2 Yellow-billed Cuckoos. The birds showed extremely well for several days in February feasting on catapillars in the lodge garden. Also in February, a pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks bred at the wetland producing 8 young. This constitutes the first breeding record for Rio State and the birds are still present at the time of writing.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo <em>Coccyzus americanus</em> in the lodge garden (&copy; Edson Endrigo)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus in the lodge garden (© Edson Endrigo)
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck <em>Dendrocygna autumnalis</em> at REGUA, the first breeding record for Rio State (&copy; Nicholas Locke)
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis at REGUA, the first breeding record for Rio State (© Nicholas Locke)

The higher reaches of REGUA (above 900 m) are extremely remote and inaccessible and therefore have been explored very little so far. REGUA bird guide, Leonardo, spent some time surveying the higher altitude forest and found an incredible eight new bird species for the REGUA list: Plovercrest, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Red-eyed Thornbird, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Greenish Tyrannulet, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Shear-tailed Grey Tyrant and Hellmayr’s Pipit. Although these species are difficult to see at REGUA, guests can see most of them quite easily on several of our excursions.

The REGUA bird list then stood at 450, but it wasn’t long before the 451st species was found. On 22 April, Adilei and REGUA volunteer Scott Watson found a fantastic male Rufous-capped Antshrike at the wetland, and the bird remained in the area, on and off, for much of the year. In the same month, birder, author and BBC broadcaster, Bill Oddie, visited us for a few days with World Land Trust CEO John Burton. Bill was very impressed with the work we are doing to restore the Atlantic Forest and kindly made a short video about REGUA while walking around the wetland (to watch, click here). Later, Bill also stopped by the REGUA stand at the Birdfair to find out how things were progressing.

Rufous-capped Antshrike <em>Thamnophilus ruficapillus</em> at the wetland, the 451st bird species recorded at REGUA (&copy; Scott Watson)
Rufous-capped Antshrike Thamnophilus ruficapillus at the wetland, the 451st bird species recorded at REGUA (© Scott Watson)

In May, Luciana Barcante, from Rio de Janeiro State University, began a two year study of hummingbirds at REGUA. Leonardo has been assisting her and has found a number of scarce birds in the mist nets, such as Barred Forest-Falcon, Dusky-throated Hermit, Planalto Woodcreeper and White-browed Foliage-gleaner. Also in May, while studying a roosting Long-tailed Potoo on the Waterfall Trail, REGUA supporter Lee Dingain discovered what appears to be a previously undescribed feature that is unique to this species. Lee is currently preparing a short paper for publication (more here). In June another new bird for REGUA was found when Adilei came across a Grey-bellied Spinetail on a newly purchased part of the reserve.

2010 was a record year for tourism at REGUA, with both independent birders and several tour companies visiting us. Most of the REGUA specialities showed well, with plenty of good sightings of Shrike-like Cotinga, Spotted Bamboowren and Masked Duck, as well as record numbers of Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Salvadori’s Antwren, Russet-winged Spadebill (at least four birds) and Black-legged Dacnis being recorded. A number of species only rarely recorded at REGUA were also seen, including the second record of Black-necked Aracari and the third record of Great Black-Hawk, as well as memorable sightings of Bat Falcon, Blue Ground-Dove, Brown-backed Parrotlet, White-vented Violet-ear, Amethyst Woodstar, White-bearded Antshrike, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Hooded Berryeater and Gilt-edged Tanager. But the action didn’t stop at dusk. Up to three Black-banded Owl showed very well at times, along with frequent encounters with Giant Snipe, Tawny-browed Owl, Mottled Owl, Striped Owl, Long-tailed and Common Potoos and Short-tailed Nighthawk.

Black-banded Owl <em>Strix huhula</em> (© 2010 Sacha Haywood)
Black-banded Owl Strix huhula (© 2010 Sacha Haywood)

In October Leonardo did it again and found yet another new species for the REGUA list, this time in the form of a beautiful Plumbeous Rail at the wetland. It is perhaps surprising that this widespread species hadn’t been recorded before and hopefully they will become a permanent addition to the reserve’s avifauna. The number of bird species recorded at the wetland area alone is now more than 220!

Plumbeous Rail <em>Pardirallus sanguinolentus</em> at the wetland (&copy; Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)
Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus at the wetland (© Adilei Carvalho da Cunha)