All posts by Alan Martin

Taxonomic changes to Brazilian Sphingidae

<em>Xylophanes soaresi</em>, previously <em>X. porcus continentalis</em> (© Alan Martin)
Xylophanes soaresi, previously X. porcus continentalis (© Alan Martin)
<em>Xylophanes alineae</em>, previously <em>X. porcus continentalis</em> (© Alan Martin)
Xylophanes alineae, previously X. porcus continentalis (© Alan Martin)
<em>Xylophanes reussi</em>, previously <em>X. marginalis</em> (&copy; Alan Martin)
Xylophanes reussi, previously X. marginalis (© Alan Martin)

In 2011 REGUA published its first field identification guide, A Guide to the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil, which described and illustrated the 110 species to be found in our area. However, since then there have been a number of taxonomic changes, and a comprehensive paper in the European Entomologist (Vol 11, No 3+4) by Haxaire and Mielke provides the latest list of all the species occurring in Brazil as well as introducing several new species.

All of these species are covered on the website Hawkmoths of Brazil, but of particular interest to the REGUA area are:

A new species Protambulyx pearsoni has been split from P. sulphurea and replaces it in the Serra dos Órgãos.

A new species Manduca exiguus has been separated from M. contracta and has been recorded from the State of Rio de Janeiro but not yet to my knowledge from the Serra dos Órgãos.

Manduca paphus is now recognised as a separate species and has been split from M. sexta.

Nyceryx nephus has been elevated to species status based on a single specimen collected at Cachoeiras de Macacu.

Isognathus brasiliensis has been split from I. swainsonii and replaces it in the Serra dos Órgãos and south-east Brazil.

Eumorpha orientis is now recognised as a separate species and has been split from E. obliquus.

Xylophanes reussi has been split from X. marginalis, but both seem to share the same general distribution.

A new species Xylophanes crenulata has been separated from X. ceratomioides. Only X. crenulata is now thought to occur in the Serra dos Órgãos.

Two new species Xylophanes alineae and X. soaresi have been separated from X. p. continentalis and both are found in the Serra dos Órgãos.

Apparently it is likely that Errinyis ello will be split as well into the type that feeds mainly on manioc, and the type that lives in forest, and the entire complex Nycerx group is also under review.

So I would recommend always using the website now rather than the book, but if you find any errors on the website please let me know and I will correct them.

80 hawkmoth species now recorded at REGUA!

<em>Aellopos ceculus</em>, photographed at the lodge on 15 March 2020 (&copy; Alan Martin)
Aellopos ceculus, photographed at the lodge on 15 March 2020 (© Alan Martin)

There have been 110 species of hawkmoth recorded in the Serra dos Orgaos and only a further four in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

A recent visit to REGUA by Alan Martin in March 2020 added the 80th hawkmoth species for REGUA, Aellopos ceculus, a day flying moth somewhat similar to the European Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum. It was found laying eggs only a few hundred metres from the lodge.

A further 14 species have been found and photographed close to REGUA, but at higher altitudes than are easily reached within the reserve. Some expeditions to add some of these to the list along with some of the high altitude bird species has to be a priority for future visits.

New REGUA book off to print: Butterflies of the Serra dos Orgaos

Cover of A Guide to the Butterflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, due to be publoshed soon.
Cover to REGUA’s forth book A Guide to the Butterflies of the Serra dos Orgaos

Back in 2015 Alan Martin and Jorge Bizarro started work on a guide to butterflies to accompany the three REGUA books already published that are specific to the REGUA area (hawkmoths, dragonflies and birds). What started as a three year project has taken five years, partly because the number of species recorded in the area is more than had been anticipated but also because it proved very difficult to source photos of some of the rarer species.

The book is now about to be printed and it covers 803 species (excluding grass skippers) with descriptions, comparisons to similar species, global distribution and notes on the ecology, behaviour and host plants. All but three of the species are illustrated with over 1,300 photos of live specimens or where not available, photos of pinned specimens. There are also introductory texts for each family, subfamily and tribe.

The book will be distributed by NHBS, but in the UK is best ordered from Alan Martin at a reduced price of £30 plus £5 postage (please see our Publications page for details). All the profits from the sale of the book will go to REGUA.

Two new hawkmoths discovered in south-east Brazil

One of the two most common species of hawkmoth found at REGUA is Xylophanes porcus continentalis which is found from Central America to southern Brazil. At least that is what we thought until a new paper was recently published in the European Entomologist by Jean Haxaire and Carlos Mielke. Their paper describes two new species that occur in south and south-east Brazil, and suggests that the entire X. porcus family needs further investigation.

The species at REGUA is not X. p. continentalis but X. soaresi, named after Alexandre Soares of the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro and a co-author of A Guide to the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil, which was published in 2011.

The second species which also occurs in the REGUA area, X. alineae, is smaller, less well-marked and has more rounded wings, and is generally found at higher altitudes.

A review of all the photos taken at REGUA and surrounding areas shows that all but one of our records (photographed in October 2016) was X. soaresi, but we need to look much harder in the future!

Xylophanes soaresi, REGUA, 28 February 2016 (© Alan Martin)
Probable Xylophanes alineae, REGUA, 10 October 2016 (© Alan Martin)

Oryba kadeni – the third record for REGUA

Oryba kadeni, REGUA, 29 June 2017 (© Alan Martin)

Since 2001 there have been 74 species of hawkmoth (Sphingidae) found at REGUA, from the 110 or so that have been recorded in the Serra dos Órgãos mountains. Arguably one of the nicest is Oryba kadeni which has a distinctive shape and colouring.

Widespread throughout Central and South America, this is this was my first sighting, though it has been recorded at REGUA twice before, once by Nicholas at his house and once by his father Robert Locke. To be more precise, Robert found the unmistakable wings of this moth by his front door, the remains of a meal for a large bat.

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow – another garden bird

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (© Alan Martin)

The Red-ruffed Fruitcrow Pyroderus scutatus is high on visitors wish-lists, but it is scarce and a very hard bird to see well. However this splendid bird appeared in the lodge garden on the 2nd July and was seen by two lucky people sitting quietly on the veranda. It stayed in the garden for a few minutes allowing a series of photos to be taken before flying off when someone came up the drive.

The Theodora Trail

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.

Black-throated Trogon
Black-throated Trogon (© Alan Martin)

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.

Tapir Reintroduction update

The expected release of the first two South American Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) also known as Brazilian or Lowland Tapirs, has been delayed slightly but is still expected to occur before the end of the year.

The release compound where the animals will be held for a month to become acclimatised before release has been completed, and the reintroduction team are busy talking to all the local landowners and schools to ensure that everyone is aware of the project and is supportive.

In total it is planned to release about 50 animals over the next five years or so, and at least the first few will have collars fitted which will incorporate both satellite transmitters and radio tags so that their movements and behaviour can be monitored.    Tapirs are usually solitary animals and will range widely in the forest, but in hot weather they need to find ponds or rivers in which they can cool down.    The major concern is that they may start visiting local farmers’ crops and cause damage, which is why so much effort is being taken to inform locals of the releases and of the legal methods that can be used to prevent that damage.

Puma on the 4X4 Trail
Puma on the 4X4 Trail (© REGUA)

In addition to the collars, the team will be setting up a series of camera traps to monitor the released animals, and trials have already produced some wonderful photos of other mammals that inhabit the forest. This wonderful photo of Puma was taken on the 4×4 trail.

Toco Toucans found nesting near REGUA

Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco at nest, near REGA, 16 October 2016 (© Alan Martin)

On 15th October, REGUA volunteer Alan Martin and our bird guide Adilei spent a few hours driving around the roads towards the Vecchi area, about 9km from REGUA, looking for some of the ‘trash habitat’ birds that are often overlooked by visitors and not so easy to find at REGUA now that the reforestation is maturing.

Such species include Grassland Sparrow Ammodramus humeralis, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch Emberizoides herbicola, Grassland Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteola, Masked Yellowthroat Geothlypis aequinoctialis, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove Columbina minuta, Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix, Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia and many more.

Two weeks ago Adilei had seen a Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco in this area and as we were passing Adilei played a recording of the call, without any great expectation of a sighting. However almost immediately a Toco Toucan stuck his head out of a nest hole in a dead palm tree beside the road, then further down the same road another bird was seen doing the same thing.

Toco Toucan is only a very occasional visitor to REGUA, mainly to the wetland area. Now we know of at least two breeding pairs of Toco Toucans in the local area – how long will it be before they are regular visitors to the reserve?

Photos required for 4th REGUA book – Butterflies of the Serra dos Órgãos

One of REGUA’s objectives is to encourage a wider interest and knowledge of the incredible biodiversity of the Serra dos Orgaos. REGUA has already published three books covering Hawkmoths (2011), Dragonflies and Damselflies (2015) and Birds (2015).

Now Jorge Bizarro and Alan Martin are working on a 4th book covering the Butterflies of the Serra dos Órgãos. This is a mammoth task and will cover about 500 species, of which we have so far written the text for Papilionidae (28 species), Pieridae (36 species) and are now working on Riodinidae.

Each species text will include a description, notes on similar species, distribution and ecology plus of course photographs where available. An example is shown below.


We are still missing good photographs of many of the species that will be covered in the book, so we would welcome any photographs of butterflies taken at or near REGUA which should be sent to Alan Martin at It may take another year to complete the texts, so there is still plenty of opportunity to take those pictures, and of course every picture will be acknowledged if used.

The new odonata book is available in the UK

dragonflies-damselflies-front-coverTom Kompier’s excellent new book A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos is now available in the UK from Alan Martin. This book describes all 204 species known from the REGUA area and is illustrated with 560 photos.

Please send a cheque for £30.50 which includes postage and packing, made out to the ‘Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust’ with your name and address to Alan at Alureds Oast, Northiam, East Sussex TN31 6JJ.

Orders from other countries should be sent directly to Tom Kompier at

The perfect resting place

The long awaited garden platform has finally been opened, offering the most fantastic views across the wetlands and mountains. The remarkable tree growth around the lodge has gradually blocked off the panoramic views from the garden so we were faced with a choice: to chop some trees down or rise above them. The simple option was quickly forgotten as Nicholas’s plans to create a two-storey roofed viewing platform at the top of the driveway developed. Apart from the magnificent views, it has become a wonderful place to watch the roosting egrets coming and going as well as the flocks of tanagers that are at eye-level. And it isn’t too far away to carry the evening caipirinhas to see the sun go down.

The new viewing platform on the edge of the lodge garden (&copy; Alan Martin)
The new viewing platform on the edge of the lodge garden (© Alan Martin)
The incredible view from the garden viewing platform (&copy; Alan Martin)
The incredible view from the garden viewing platform (© Alan Martin)

World Land Trust US visits REGUA

World Land Trust US meeting at REGUA (© Alan Martin)
World Land Trust US meeting at REGUA (© Alan Martin)

Between the 25th February and the 1st March REGUA played host to the board of trustees of the World Land Trust US who are normally based in Washington. At the end of last year one of the trustees, Bob Ridgely, had visited REGUA and proposed it as an ideal location to hold the meetings whilst also providing the opportunity for all his colleagues to see and hear more about REGUA’s work and the challenges facing it. As well as the daily meetings in the lodge, everyone walked the Green Trail and most also visited Mount Caledonia, but the birding was rather disappointing and the weather not ideal. However the discovery of a small pale blue treefrog on the Green Trail, which we think may be the first record since 1980 of a species endemic to the Serra dos Orgaos and feared to be extinct, was a definite highlight and demonstrated perfectly how much more there is to learn about the threatened wildlife of the Atlantic Forest and its need for protection.

The success of the week has made us wonder whether there is a market in Brazil for corporates to hold small off-site meetings at REGUA during the quieter months. You don’t have to be a fanatical birder to enjoy the peace and quiet and hospitality at REGUA.

A three owl night

The lowland forest fragment close to REGUA is becoming well known for great night-birding, with regular sightings of Black-banded Owl and Tawny-browed Owl. On the evening of the 24th September the Black-banded Owl was sitting on its favourite perch without even needing to be encouraged with a tape, and the Tawny-browed Owl only needed a few seconds before it appeared right above the track. What made the evening more special was the Mottled Owl that came to the Tawny-brow tape as well, and the several Spot-tailed Nightjars that were found earlier on the edge of the village of Areal. Does night birding get much better?

Spot-tailed Nightjar <em>Hydropsalis maculicaudus</em> (&copy; Alan Martin)
Spot-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis maculicaudus (© Alan Martin)
Mottled Owl <em>Strix virgata</em> (&copy; Alan Martin)
Mottled Owl Strix virgata (© Alan Martin)
Tawny-browed Owl <em>Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana</em> (&copy; Alan Martin)
Tawny-browed Owl Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana (© Alan Martin)
Black-banded Owl <em>Strix huhula</em> (&copy; Alan Martin)
Black-banded Owl Strix huhula (© Alan Martin)

Yet another new Hawkmoth for REGUA

<em>Cocytius antaeus</em>, REGUA visitor centre, 15th April 2012 (&copy; Jorge Bizarro).
Cocytius antaeus, REGUA visitor centre, 15th April 2012 (© Jorge Bizarro).

On the 6th April, REGUA ‘s Research Coordinator, Jorge Bizarro, found a very large hawkmoth on the bridge to Guapiacu which he thought was Cocytius antaeus, but as he didn’t have his net with him it escaped. However on the 15th April he found another specimen attracted to the light at the REGUA visitor centre, and this one was duly captured and photographed before release.

Cocytius antaeus is the largest hawkmoth found in the Serra dos Orgaos and females (like this one) can be found with a wingspan of over 18 cms. It is surprising that we haven’t recorded this species at REGUA before as it should be relatively common and can be found throughout the year, but it takes our list to a remarkable 71 species of the 110 hawkmoths to be found in the region.

New amphibians for REGUA

In the last two years there have been further surveys of amphibians at REGUA by Vitor Borges, Carla Siquera, Thiago Silva-Soares, Mauricio Almeida-Gomes and Michael Patrikeev resulting in the addition of another 5 species to our list. The new species are: Brachycephalus didactylus, Dendrophryniscus brevipollicatus, Gastrotheca albolineata, Phyllomedusa burmeisteri, Scinax cuspidatus and Crossodactylus gaudichaudii. The latest of these was the G.albolineata (see photos) which is apparently very common but only found in the highest trees, so is rarely seen. These take out list to 53 amphibian species so far recorded within the reserve.

Male <em>Gastrotheca albolineata</em> at REGUA (&copy; Michael Patrikeev)
Male Gastrotheca albolineata at REGUA (© Michael Patrikeev)
Male <em>Gastrotheca albolineata</em> at REGUA (&copy; Michael Patrikeev)
Male Gastrotheca albolineata at REGUA (© Michael Patrikeev)

Another new hawkmoth for REGUA

Female <em>Enyo cavifer</em>, the first occurance of this species at REGUA (&copy; Jorge Bizarro)
Female Enyo cavifer, the first occurance of this species at REGUA (© Jorge Bizarro)

In February 2012 Jorge found an interesting hawkmoth by the kitchen that was later identified as a female Enyo cavifer. Although this species has a wide range in the Neotropics, it is a rare species in Brazil and the last record for the Serra dos Orgaos was collected by Henry Pearson in 1967.

This latest record is not only a first for REGUA, but a first for the municipality of Cachoeiras de Macacu. This takes the number of hawkmoth species recorded at REGUA to 69 out of the 110 known to occur in the region.

Amendments to hawkmoths book

Since the publication of A Guide to the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil in May 2011, there have been a number of taxonomic changes amongst the region’s Sphingidae, and in addition we have also found two significant errors on the identification plates. Therefore, we have produced an addendum to accompany the book, which also includes details of two new species for Rio state. To download the addendum, click here. If you would like a copy of the book then you can purchase it either through NHBS (who can ship worldwide), or by emailing Alan Martin at

The lodge flourishes

The year 2010 was a great year for visitor numbers at the lodge. The number of bed-nights was the highest ever at just over 1,500, and we have already received bookings of over 1,000 for this year. As the numbers grow it does put greater pressure on all the staff at REGUA, and therefore we are delighted to announce that one of our previous visitors, Helen Cavilla, has volunteered to help out. Helen will be at REGUA from June to November and amongst other things will be helping with the booking arrangements, ensuring the smooth running of the Lodge, and making sure that all the visitors have an enjoyable stay and leave with a better understanding of the project and its objectives. Nicholas and Raquel will of course continue to be responsible for the full range of activities at REGUA including acting as the principal hosts for visitors, but having a dedicated person looking after the guests during the peak months should help things run evenly more smoothly.

Hawkmoth bonanza!

At last the local authorities have replaced the footbridge across the River Guapiaçu that leads from the reserve to the village, and they have done it in style. The new strong tubular structure has a concrete footpath, and most importantly has a line of very bright white lights that are left on all night. These are proving irresistible to moths, and on just one night we found 18 hawkmoths of 16 species – a remarkable total, especially as it is still winter and not the peak flight period.

The photo shows 11 hawkmoths of 10 species, ranging from the largest Neococytius cluentius (second from bottom) to the smallest Enyo Ocypete (centre). We tried to get all the species in one photo but some wouldn’t play ball and flew off!