The Virtual Birdfair is now live. Visit the REGUA stand here:
Please note that if you want to donate to REGUA and help to support our project in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest you need to do this via our website here. Your money will go towards land purchase, tree planting and the restoration of the area, creating vital corridors between fragmented forest.
The donate buttons on the Birdfair site will go to this year’s BirdLife International project to protect the Helmeted Hornbill in Indonesia from illegal poaching and trading.
We hope you will enjoy the new virtual Birdfair experience.
REGUA are delighted to be able to attend the Virtual Birdfair which is taking place online this year. So although travel throughout the world is disrupted the Birdfair will still be there, just a click away. REGUA will be present, and the UK team will be with you all in spirit throughout the weekend. Once live we will publish a link to bring you closer to our “stand”.
All the usual favourites will be there with live and pre-recorded talks, films, a photography competition and the familiar auction. The full Birdfair programme of lectures and events will be fully operational from 18-23 August, but until then you can follow the link to the Virtual Birdfair here to take a look at the first Virtual Birdfair.
The Birdfair was in full swing this time last week, and REGUA had an amazing time. Many friends came along to find out the latest news of the project and we kept in touch here in Brazil via messages and photographs. Our UK team received vital help over the weekend, so a big REGUA “thank you” to Alan, Sue, Stuart, Ken, Tracy, and Ian, who gave their time.
Everyone who visited our stand showing continued interest and support in the project really makes a difference and keeps us pushing forward with new impetus to protect and restore more land. Without our amazing team of workers, volunteers, visitors, donors and support from so many people across the globe we would not have been able to achieve so much in so short a time. You are all playing a vital role in continuing to build the reputation and success of REGUA.
For the 13th year, REGUA will have a stand at the British Birdfair at Egleton Nature Reserve, Rutland Water, Leicestershire. Why not come along and catch up with all the latest news from the reserve. We will be in different Marquee this year, marquee 8, stand 12, so make sure you don’t miss us!
A conservation project of this dimension is not possible without constant support from a whole team. In REGUA’s case some of our team are based in the UK. The UK team, led by Alan Martin, include Lee Dingain, Rachel Walls and Sue Healey. They have been a pillar of strength to this project. All volunteers, they started by visiting REGUA to see birds and were smitten by the REGUA bug; a desire to get involved and ensure the continuation of this project. It seems only yesterday we first met them and within a couple of days they were asking how they could help. With zillions of contributions, Alan with his experience in business administration, Lee with website skills, Rachel who runs our Volunteer Programme, and Sue with her communication skills, this incredible team has helped increase the capacity of REGUA to promote its work.
Today these efforts are responsible for its international success. The team have also been promoting REGUA and our steady progress over the last twelve years at the British Birdfair, so go along and see the latest updates at this years fair at Rutland Water, Leicestershire, Marquee 8, Stand 12 from 16th to 18th August 2019. You can follow the progress of our project here on our website, or follow the links below to our Facebook page and Twitter feed. Every visitor is welcome at REGUA and your time here contributes to its perpetuity. All of us at REGUA wish to thank the volunteer team who have devoted so much time to this project and continue to shine in every respect.
Our readers will no doubt be following new on the construction of our extraordinary Orchid Cathedral, made possible by a generous grant from the San Diego Orchid Society and Peter Tobias.
Though progress is slow, the Cathedral will be ready for our dear friend Helmut Seehawer, set to arrive this coming April. Helmut, now 82 is to continue his inventory of the orchids here at REGUA. We are delighted because he still has the energy and all the experience in identifying the species on the mountains here at REGUA.
To think that the total number of species of orchids in the world stands at 20 thousand of which 5% or one thousand are found in the mountains here at REGUA and environs. Bathed in cloud forest and stretching from over 2,000 metres to sea level, we can only being to appreciate how lucky we are.
The Orchid Cathedral, a sun-screened area of 300m², will feature a rocky base, tree ferns mixed with palms, ground plants and some native small Myrtle trees, such as Eugenia sp, to which orchids will be attached. Posts will also hold some of these epiphytes. A path meandering through the house will allow visitors to see why these plants are so special, and interpretation signage will help the visitor understand the delicate role they play in nature and why so many people get excited about them.
Should any volunteer wish to come and help us organize the interior, we would love to hear from you!!
It is getting exciting around here and already an air of expectation is setting in.
For more information on volunteering at REGUA see here.
Michael Patrikeev, a long standing friend and supporter of REGUA is always coming up with amazing information on his sightings while at the Reserve. The latest concerns two species of large grasshopper found at REGUA. Here’s Michael’s report and excellent photographs.
“I have identified two species of Tropidacris from REGUA
Tropidacris cristata (Giant Red-winged Grasshopper) is the largest known grasshopper, reaching up to 14 cm in length, and 24 cm wingspan. The adults are olive or brownish-green, with orange hindwings. The nymphs are striped with black and yellow, and likely toxic. This species inhabits forested areas of Central and South America from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, and the island of Trinidad. In flight it resembles a small bird.
Tropidacris collaris (Giant Violet-winged Grasshopper) is found in tropical forests and grasslands of South America east of the Andes, from Colombia to Argentina. Along with T. cristata, this is one of the largest known grasshoppers (length around 10 cm, wingspan 18 cm). The adult is mostly green, yellow-green or brown, with blue hindwings. This species is more common than T. cristata.
I have photographed only nymphs of these species in REGUA, but would expect one of these to come to a light at the Reserve sooner or later – they are quite a sight!”
Both species are widely distributed in the Neotropics, and common. T. collaris occurs in both forests and savanna, and T. cristata is mostly a forest species.”
More details and photos can be seen on Michael’s website here:
REGUA received a visit on Thursday 18th October from the Rio based British Consul General, Simon Wood, along with his wife Pippa and colleague Clarissa Vargas. The focus of the consular work is to promote trade and friendship between Brazil and the UK. Arriving in time for a “cafezinho” (British style, with milk!) the party then set off around the Wetland Trail, looking out for wildlife and hearing about the history and biodiversity of REGUA along the way.
Living in Rio for over a year (following assignments in Tokyo and then Copenhagen), this was Simon’s first visit to REGUA which had been recommended to him by a neighbour. Nicholas and Raquel shared with them about the ambitious reforestation project and other activities including REGUA’s education work with local schools and universities.
After a lunch featuring Brazilian rice and beans alongside English cottage pie, they visited the lodge to see for themselves the warm welcome and cosy accommodation available for visiting birdwatchers and tourists.
Volunteers Fiona and Colin Daborn report on their second week at REGUA.
We’ve now come to the end of our second week volunteering at REGUA and there has been plenty of work on trail maintenance, tree planting and nursery tasks. We’ve also chalked up a surprisingly extensive species list. We love the outdoors and all things nature but we wouldn’t classify ourselves as serious birders. At home in the UK we love seeing birds when we are out and about hiking or camping but we don’t normally keep a log. Life at REGUA is different. Whilst doing our volunteering we have so far seen an incredible 48 species of birds not to mention numerous butterflies and moths. My favourite bird is the bright red Brazilian TanagerRamphocelus bresilius, easy to spot and still breathtakingly colourful even after a few sightings.
But there is more to REGUA than just birds. Our volunteer shared house backs on to the wetlands and most mornings before breakfast we have been down to the water’s edge to watch the group of 12 or so Capybara Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris who have made a small island their home. It has been a real treat to see them so close and they are great subjects for photos because they stay relatively still.
From the same location you can sometimes also catch a glimpse of a Broad-snouted Caiman Caiman latirostris gliding slyly through the water, keeping a low profile and watching out for his next meal. Sometimes the only part showing is a bulging glassy eye. Just once so far we have been able to see a sloth up high in the bare branches of a tree – standing just outside Casa 3 (another volunteer/visitors house) with binoculars it was great to watch him as he moved at glacial speed down the trunk.
We’ve also had the privilege (?) of seeing two snakes this week. We disturbed the Tiger Rat Snake Spilotes pullatus while clearing debris on the Brown Trail – it must have sensed us coming and the first indication was a steady rustling noise as it slithered away through the leaves and then up a tree. Obviously feeling safe at that point it stayed still watching us watching him/her! Our other sighting was whilst walking back to the truck after tree planting as we followed a small stream, I glanced down and saw a venomous Jararacussa Bothrops jararacussu coiled on a rock on the lookout for lunch. As we were up on the bank at a safe distance there was plenty of time to study the impressive patterning and triangular head.
Most evenings around 5 pm you can find us sitting at the top of the observation tower, reclining in the comfy chairs and having a definite sense of being “on top of the world”. The view from there is amazing (you must come and see!) and truly hopeful – there are trees as far as the eye can see. We’ve spotted lots of hummingbirds from this viewpoint but on the walk back from the tower to our house we’ve also been lucky enough to see tapir. REGUA is in the midst of a Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris reintroduction programme so it has been fascinating to learn about that but even more exciting to see the tapir themselves snuffling around in the undergrowth rediscovering their native landscape.
We’re looking forward to exploring more of this landscape ourselves in Week three of our volunteering adventure. Coming soon!
Follow Fiona and Colin’s adventures at REGUA on their blog.
Volunteers Fiona and Colin Daborn report on their volunteering at REGUA.
One thing we didn’t expect when we signed up as “General Volunteers” with REGUA, was that there would be an on site orchestra… but now, two weeks into our stay we are very much tuned in to the soundtrack of REGUA. The music begins before first light with a Brazilian dawn chorus; lots of high twitterings like the flute section joining the mix, preceded only by one or two mournful cicadas who emit a piercing monotone anguished cry – perhaps they just don’t like mornings.
During the day different sections of the orchestra have their turn; working in the plant nursery it is common to hear the cheerful melody of the Great Kiskadee announcing his arrival (“kis-ka-dee”), trail clearing in the forest we enjoy additional percussion from the White-bearded Manakin who sounds the high hat cymbal (if you’ve heard a Stonechat it is very similar) and while we are raking leaves by the wetlands we are interrupted by the occasional double bass bark of the placid Capybara.
As evening approaches, and especially after heavy rain, it is the turn of the baritone section – a rhythmic baseline of rich gurgling is added by the numerous frogs and toads in the soggy undergrowth. Their song is surprisingly deep and loud, each croak followed by another just one tone higher or lower. Before long, our friendly Tropical Screech-Owl, who regularly visits to choose his dinner from the many moths by our refectory lights, sounds the final haunting note of today’s symphony. Time for bed before it all begins again!
Follow Fiona and Colin’s adventures at REGUA on their blog.
Volunteers Fiona and Colin Daborn report on their first week at REGUA.
Nearly at the end of our first week as general volunteers at REGUA and we are loving it so far. After a warm welcome from Nicholas, Raquel and the team on Monday (8th October) we were out with Jorge (REGUA Research Coordinator) on the lush “green trail” in search of butterflies. When we got back we had time to settle into our room in one of the volunteer houses, complete with well stocked bookshelves and a table perfect for writing up our sightings.
Tuesday saw us working in the plant nursery with Mauricio and Bruno planting seedlings and preparing new soil bags. Bruno turned out to be a fantastic Portuguese teacher too, so we expanded our vocabulary whilst weeding!
On Wednesday the sun was shining as we joined the hard-working ranger team led by Rui, planting out young trees to help reforest bare slopes. It was impressive to see the team workflow with each person having their own task – hoeing, preparing holes, adding compost, bringing the plants up to the steepest slopes in two baskets on the back of a mule, then passing the young trees across the slope so that the rest of the team could do the final stage of planting.
After a dramatic thunder and lightning storm, Thursday dawned wet and the air was filled with the sound of contented frogs! After a morning back in the nursery we joined the rest of the team for a short drive out to have lunch with one of the families who have a small holding adjoining REGUA land. Our host was so grateful to REGUA for protecting the land in the valley surrounding his farm that he wanted to provide a Thank You lunch. The table was laden with rice and beans, manioc, various salads, pasta, a local speciality of baked cod with boiled eggs and two meat dishes including one prepared in the blood of a chicken. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another mouthful, dessert appeared – homemade passion fruit mousse or Brazilian trifle! After lunch we joined Professor Carlos back in REGUA classroom for the weekly session of the Young Rangers. Colin shared a presentation on his work as a National Trust ranger in the UK and there were plenty of lively questions about the size of snakes in Dorset! (photo 3)
It has been a great opportunity so far to share our skills and experience with REGUA but also to learn a lot about our new environment from the team and the many visiting scientists. We’re looking forward to seeing what next week brings!
Follow Fiona and Colin’s adventures at REGUA on their blog.
This was the 12th year in a row that REGUA has attended the British Birdwatching Fair, and what a successful Birdfair it was!
Held each year at Egleton Nature Reserve at Rutland Water in England, the Birdfair is the world’s largest conservation fundraising fair and this year (the 30th Birdfair) is helping to fund the creation of the Ansenuza National Park in Argentina.
Our stand was once again organized and manned by our dedicated volunteers, Rachel Walls, Lee Dingain and Sue Healey, with assistance from Alan Martin, and Ken Sutton and Stuart Housden also both helping out for a day. It was good we had so many people helping because we had a large number of visitors to the stand, new faces, past visitors and volunteers and volunteers signed up to our volunteer programme.
REGUA is now well and truly on the birdwatching map and we are a firm believers that international birdwatching tourism is crucial in helping REGUA carry out our urgent conservation work protecting the Atlantic Forest of the Guapiaçu valley.
A huge thanks to everybody who visited our stand and also to all the Birdfair volunteers for making the event run so smoothly. We would also like to give a special thanks to Guto Carvalho of Avistar (the Brazilian Bird Fair) for mentioning REGUA in their excellent talk, and to Rachel Walls for all her hard work behind the scenes organising the REGUA stand each year and for baking her amazing cakes!
We look forward to seeing some of you at REGUA soon! If you have any enquiries about visiting REGUA then please drop us a email.
Ants belong to the Formicidae family, one of the most important in Nature, pillars of the ecosystem. Divided into Tribes, the Attaand Acromyrmex are very common in our Neotropical forests and though we worry about their action in freshly planted forests, they are very important in the established forest harvesting and cultivating their fungus on which they feed in their underground homes.
Their vast system of perfectly ventilated tunnels and chambers permits precious nitrogen to reach the roots of trees.
We are trying to identify the most common species at REGUA but we expect to have between 400 and 450 different species. Taking photographs is notoriously difficult, for aside being small, they move and are often camera shy.
If you want a challenge and wish to visit us spending your time helping us to get some images to help with developing a field guide, drop us a line and we would really love your company.
Ever wonder what the loudest bird on Earth is? The outrageous Bare-throated Bellbird (Procnias nudicollis) is certainly a top contender! While hiking up the Green Trail here at REGUA, singing males can be heard from over a kilometre away.
The call each male belts from his featherless blue-skinned throat sounds like a mallet striking an iron pipe, and echoes down the valley in rhythmic series. As we climb higher up the mountain trail, the boinks and bonks of competing males get louder and louder, but we can often only catch glimpses of them perched high in treetops.
Today, volunteer bird guide Bobby found our lucky visitor group, front row seats to an ear-splitting performance by a young male singing close beneath the canopy. Bare-throated Bellbirds are endemic to the Atlantic Forest, found nowhere else on Earth. These large, fruit-loving passerines perform crucial seed dispersing services for many lowland and montane trees. Unfortunately, drastic logging of the Atlantic Forest for development, combined with illegal poaching for the caged-bird trade, has led to declining populations of this spectacular species and a Vulnerable designation by IUCN. But thanks to REGUA, the forest home of these contending males along the Green Trail is safe into the future. And they can return the favor by dispersing their favorite fruit trees throughout the reserve, helping the forest to grow!
As I was patrolling the Brown Trail today, I noticed a pair of Silvery-flanked Antwrens (Myrmotherula luctosa) gathering dry leaves and taking them into the branches of a small tree. I carefully followed their lead and discovered a little cup nest taking shape! In order to avoid disturbing their work with my observation, I set up my camera on a tripod and left.
This short highlights reel reveals that male and female team up to weave a safe place for raising a family.
Volunteer Bird Guide
If you would like to volunteer at REGUA, see our Volunteer page for more details
Kaitlin and Bobby are currently volunteering at REGUA. Their main project is to help Adilei and Cirilo show the wonderful bird- and wild-life to visitors, but they still find time to do some exploring . . .
“Today Bobby and I were asked to survey a potential trail that winds through an area reforested in 2011-12 with the help of Petrobras. We were amazed to see such a dramatic amount of growth for such a short amount of time, as well as the diversity of tree species used to jumpstart this section of forest which was once open pasture. Most of the trees were well above our heads!
It was a hot and sunny day, which can effect bird activity, but we still managed to count over 40 bird species using the area already! It will be exciting to see how species composition changes as the forest progresses.
Andrew Proudfoot, REGUA Volunteer, reports on research work at REGUA.
“The two men in the middle drop in onCaio Missagia (right) who, helped by his friend Juan, is working towards a doctoral thesis on the intricate relationship between Heliconiaspathocircinata, three Hummingbirds (Violet-capped Woodnymph, Reddish Hermit and Saw-billed Hermit) and a Hoverfly (Syrphidae) and Soldierfly (Stratiomyidae) species.
Who benefits, who loses and by how much? Heliconia needs pollination visits from the hummingbird and could provide a plentiful nectar reward. Larvae of the two fly species are kleptoparasites, gorging on the sugary tissues deep within the protected bracts of the plant’s familiar boat-shaped flowers. If only those paired bracts were more open, marauding ants might rid the flower of its freeloading flies.
The Amazonian species has no hiding place for Diptera larvae and perhaps it has no trouble supplying its pollinators with nectar. Natural selection could have driven the development of a less enclosed host plant flower. As the Heliconia provides less resource for the hummingbirds, what is the impact on pollinator behaviour and fitness? Fewer birds are recorded visiting infected flowers.
As yet, Caio has no clear answers to these important questions and whether or not Heliconia spathocircinata might be pushed to control these unwelcome freeloaders? An unfolding story; at REGUA we await the next instalment with excitement!”
Last Friday to Sunday, tens of thousands of birders and wildlife enthusiasts descended on Egleton Nature Reserve at Rutland Water in the UK for the annual British Birdwatching Fair.
This was the 11th year in a row that REGUA has been represented at this internationally important event and our stand was once again organized and manned by our dedicated volunteers, Rachel Walls, Lee Dingain and Sue Healey. Past volunteer bird guide Ken Sutton was also on the stand on the Friday and Saturday and did a great job helping out the team.
The Birdfair is the ideal place for us to spread the word about the excellent birdwatching at REGUA and how international birdwatching tourism is crucial in helping REGUA carry out the important conservation work protecting the Atlantic Forest of the Guapiaçu valley.
Once again we had a huge amount of interest from birders and tour companies alike, and it was great to catch up with many past guests and supporters, as well as with our friends at the World Land Trust and Serra dos Tucanos.
We’d like to say thank you to everybody who came by our stand and for helping to once again make Birdfair such a special event for us. It gives the whole REGUA team, both in Brazil and the UK, such a boost to receive so many compliments and encouragement. Also, we’d like to give a special thanks to Mr and Mrs Lee for making such a generous donation towards our land purchase and tree planting.
If you have any enquiries about visiting REGUA then please drop us a email. We look forward to seeing some of you at REGUA soon.
It’s that time of year again – the annual British Birdwatching Fair, better known simply as the Birdfair, returns to Rutland Water in the UK next weekend.
This huge event attracts over 20,000 people and raises thousands of pounds for nature conservation every year. The Birdfair is the perfect place for us to spread the word about the excellent birding at REGUA and on our excursions in surrounding Serra dos Órgãos mountains and beyond, our beautifully situated bird lodge, and also to demonstrate how birding tourism is helping REGUA to conserve and restore one of the best preserved areas Atlantic Forest remaining in Rio de Janeiro state.
REGUA has had a stand at the Birdfair since 2007 and this year it will once again be manned by Rachel Walls, Sue Healey and Lee Dingain, along with past volunteer bird guide Ken Sutton will also be on the stand on Friday and Saturday. All of our publications will be available to buy (with a special Birdfair discount) and you’ll also be able to grab some free RAW Baking goodies from Rachel including her now legendary “Bristlefront Brownie” and “Fruitcrow Flapjack”!
If you are going to the Birdfair then why not drop by the REGUA stand and say hello at stand 37, marquee 1. We look forward to seeing you there!
The Birdfair will be taking place at Egleton Nature Reserve, Rutland Water, UK, from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th August 2017.