With the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions on travel, as with so many places around the world, REGUA tourism levels have collapsed.
Rainforest Trust, who have helped to raise funds for us over the years, came to our aid and helped us support Adilei, REGUA’s bird guide until guests can return.
With this hiatus in his usual work Adilei has been able to do many regular walks around the reserve as well as maintaining the trails. On a recent survey of the wetlands, Adilei spotted a female Masked Duck in the middle of one of the wetland lakes. He played the call and to his surprise the bird flew toward him and landed a few metres away. The bird called with a series of short high-pitched calls in a falling crescendo.
Masked Duck is associated with wetlands which have rafts of water plants on the surface. They use these plants as camouflage and hide out of sight. As it is small duck and sits rather low in the water it can be very hard to find. Adilei’s photograph actually shows the bird in relatively clear water, maybe it was reassured by the call and Adilei’s calm, quiet enjoyment.
REGUA’s wetlands have always had this species and many guests have seen it here, however as the wetlands have matured and with the growth of the planted trees, and increased weed growth, sightings have reduced and they have become increasingly hard to see.
A male was seen last year and with this latest sighting, hopefully we will be able to see more of them in the future.
Professors Marcelo Marinho and Tim Moulton returned to REGUA with their 3rd year Biological sciences at the RJ State University. Their field of interest is “Limnology and Oceanograph”, and they come to REGUA to study the biological, chemical, and physical features of lakes and other bodies of fresh water.
Every wetland is continually evolving and changing. Having followed the progress of REGUA’s wetlands since 2005, Professor Tim can state with authority that each of the three wetlands is vastly different from each other. The central wetland, created in 2005, is the healthiest with a small stream passing through; the second wetland lying below the lodge garden, created in 2007, receives a small amount of water that is diverted to maintain its level, and the wetland nearest the Conservation Centre, created in 2010, has water emerging from sources below the surface but offering a constant flow.
The central wetland is full of underwater plants/macrophytes and its water is almost transparent. The second has water seeping under the walls and does not overflow. As a consequence it has a greenish appearance, covered by “watermeal” (Wolfia sp), most appreciated by waterfowl, includingthe Masked Duck, a rare visitor. The 2010 wetland is occasionally covered by orange Euglenoid algae. As a scientist Tim is really perplexed and is coming up with many questions. Have the algae have choked out the macrophytes or vice versa? Have fish stirred up the bottom? Is the wetland turning eutrophic that might lead to the death of its fish?
Professors Marcelo and Tim are naturally very excited to learn more and have directed their students to study elements of the wetlands to reach the heart of the matter. This is a prime example of the benefits to both student and REGUA; whilst students gain experience, REGUA gains from the ongoing research that students are carrying out.
We are delighted to receive many students from diverse Universities and offer them such a wonderful outdoor laboratory. This offers us the opportunity to talk and explain what REGUA’s ambitions are and therefore provoke and reach to young thinkers who will help to shape society in the future.
These visitors will certainly be touched by the efforts and development of this project and take this model elsewhere.
Those who remember our first canopy hide with its wooden ladder, erected in 2005, will be delighted to know that the ladder has been replaced with a metal spiral staircase enabling a much easier ascent.
Looking at the earlier image below, one sees how the view around the hide has changed. In 2005 the hide was placed in cattle pasture. We then planted trees to link this area with our surrounding forest and now the tower situated with and below some of the nearby tree canopies. Our linked forests now tower over the wetlands.
Giving and excellent overview of the wetlands, this low altitude tower permits birders the chance to peer into the world of crakes and herons.
There are two slightly higher altitude towers for forest species and a great bird hide at the water level edge of the wetlands for you to enjoy at REGUA.
The Rufous-sided Crake (Laterallus melanophaius) is one of my favourite wetland bird species. Walking around the wetlands, if one hears a shrill resembling a rising crescendo, you can be sure that this little bird is quite close, yet very hidden.
To see it is quite another matter. The Rufous-sided Crake’s distribution is limited to Brazil and bordering countries, and though it’s considered “least concern”, not much is known about it as it is so incredibly secretive.
They are best found if you are walking around the wetlands early morning or late afternoon when if you are quiet, you can get good views of this bird as it scuttles across from one lake to another or watch as it probes around for small insects to eat.
Sometimes they forage in pairs and move around very quickly. The colours are gorgeous and when a little light catches the rufous feathers, it gleams.
The Moustached Wren (Pheugopedius genibarbis) is quite a common Troglodyte here at REGUA especially around the wetlands. A largish bird with unmistakeable black and white facial stripes, rufousy coloured back and wings, creamy under parts and the characteristic banded tail, it can be found in low undergrowth with its musical chirp feeding on insects.
Adilei attracted this male out of the brush and they had their moment of recognition, a brief duet and off he was looking for his insects.
Whilst counting Capybara, Katja and Helmut Seehawer found a wonderful green snake in the REGUA wetlands. It has been provisionally identified it as Chironius multiventris. If this is confirmed it would be a new snake for the REGUA snake species list.
The Chironius family of the Atlantic forest consists of five species of elegant green, grey, brown or black snakes. The green variants are especially difficult to identify.
The common name of Chironius multiventris is cobra-cipó – liana snake. It is a non-venomous snake that grows to nearly two metres. The snake is diurnal and actively hunts for its prey in trees and on the ground. It preys – good news for you birders out there! – mainly on amphibians.
The snake seen at noon right in the middle of the wetlands was 120 cm long and of a wonderful green colour with a blue shimmer reflecting from the sky above. It was observed for a while and obviously distracted by hunting.
With the growing number of species across many taxa in the wetlands the number of snakes will also increase. In intact Atlantic Forest habitat (without human snake killing) 80% of the snakes encountered will be nonvenomous.
On a separate occasion the Seehawer family encountered another large green snake on Green Trail. This snake was possibly Chironius exoletus or Chironius bicarinatus, but they were not able to make a reliable identification as the colour and back marking was in between these two snake species.
Give snakes their space and enjoy the rare adventure of seeing one.
N.B. it should be noted that snakes are not easy to find at REGUA, their natural defence means they are well aware of human presence and will slip away rather than be found. The Seehawer family are very experienced in finding snakes and walked in the forest with REGUA Rangers.
The Rio de Janeiro Birding Calender for 2017 successfully kicked off on March 11th and 12th at REGUA.
Some 30 local birders came to enjoy the wetlands and waterfall trail. An early start, followed by Cirilo’s guiding enabled many first time birders to walk the yellow trail and see many of the over 180 species found in this habitat.
There were ample opportunities to present the work that REGUA has been devoted to and the project’s future plans.
People are always very receptive and positive and the end of the day was filled with promises of return visits and future enjoyment.
Elias Faraht school in Cachoeiras Municipality has visited Regua in the previous two years and developed a regular visitation programme. This third seminar was (as previously) drawing on their interest in our restored wetlands. Using them as a base for interdisciplinary studies on hydrology, soil diversity, fauna and tree composition.
The teachers organised the seminar which consisted of students aged 13-15 presenting their work to an audience of parents and school staff.
The Seminar opened with REGUA`s slide presentation and ended with the REGUA GGV Project restoration video.
Special thanks to Professor Denecir, Elias Faraht´s Headmaster and Teachers for the support and recognition given to the project and the wonderful opportunity to promote REGUA´s Conservation and Environmental Education work in the municipality.