Mantled Hawk, Black and White Hawk-eagle and White-necked Hawk are three very special
bird species found at REGUA, they are stunning to see with their white plumage contrasting against a blue Brazilian sky. These three species are in the family of Accipiters which comprises hawks, eagles and kites.
Mantled Hawk is an Atlantic Rainforest endemic feeding on a variety of prey including small birds, lizards, large insects and small mammals. They sit on perches and ambush their prey sometimes staying in the same area for several days. Often it is the call that alerts us that the bird is around. It is classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN red data list.
Black and White Hawk eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucu) is slightly larger than Mantled Hawk, it also has a much larger distribution and is considered of least concern by the IUCN. REGUA’s bird guide, Adilei Carvalho da Cunha says it can be regularly seen from trails around the reserve.
A third member of the accipiter family found at REGUA is White-necked Hawk, a smaller hawk which is white with black upper parts. This species is harder to see than the previous two species with its habit of gliding above the trees and remaining mostly within the forested areas. It also tends to perch in the mid-storey of the forest or within the canopy making it harder to find. The diet is similar to the previous two species, but may feed lower to the ground.
These birds can be seen around the reserve at REGUA and on some of our offsite trips.
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.
The REGUA conservation project attracts bird guides from around the world. People interested in spending prolonged periods of time studying birds in the area, and showing them to our visitors. REGUA’s volunteer co-ordinator, Rachel Walls, receives applications and arranges to interview the candidates.
REGUA has established itself on the world circuit and most birders staying at the lodge wish to see as many birds as possible of the daunting list of 464 species registered to date.
Taking advantage of REGUA’s student research accommodation facilities, volunteer birders are happy to accompany the groups of guests staying at REGUA. The guides have heard of our resident guide, Adilei’s, field skills and once at REGUA can share on-site and off-site excursions accompanying the visitors. This is the best opportunity to see and study the birds.
Volunteer bird guides Wes and Jerome are such examples and after a couple of months at REGUA are just awesome in the field. Wes is a field biologist from Indiana, USA and has been a dedicated birder for many years – having specialized in Hawaiian birds. Prior to arriving at REGUA, Wes volunteered at a lodge in Ecuador and is due to start work as a guide for Tropical Birding. He is soft spoken and his field skills, perseverance and uncanny ability to find the shyest of birds is a pleasure to witness. He has familiarised himself with all the birds at the reserve in record time and is now to embark on a tour of Western Australia.
Jerome is a passionate and accomplished bird guide who works in the summer to help fund his own research, and spends the rest of the year as a volunteer guide. He has specialized in the avi-fauna of South America which he knows well. Jerome also leads tours in Europe and being at REGUA was an opportunity to learn South Eastern Brazil Atlantic Rainforest species. He specialises in vocalisations and as one may imagine after a couple of months at REGUA his knowledge of the difficult species calls is almost as good as that of Adilei.
Jerome confided that his favourite family is Flycatchers. Though they are notoriously difficult to tell apart and seemingly plain, he sees their identification as a deliciously satisfying challenge and is happy to spend hours in the field recording the different calls and studying their habits. His generous and tireless nature makes him great company and he is constantly looking at improving his collection of recordings that are uploaded regularly on the internet and readily available to those interested.
This is not the first time REGUA has been visited by expert guides and the benefits are clear to both parties. It is nice to hear from the guides that aside the birds they see, they fully approve of what REGUA is doing in establishing the reserve and protecting bird habitat for the future.
Their energy, drive and interest, their recognition and support for Adilei , their appreciation of REGUA’s objectives make us thoroughly appreciate their visits. We are certain they will remain passionate and can communicate that conservation is possible when it is undertaken in a serious and objective manner.
Thank you all for helping us!
If you want to volunteer at REGUA as bird guide, please contact Rachel Walls at firstname.lastname@example.org
REGUA is always eager to establish an exciting new trail for visitors to enjoy. The Anil Valley looks to be a good find. Only an hour’s drive away from the reserve, the lowland area had been studied by Igor Camacho, one of REGUA’s bird guides, for several years whilst doing his biology degree.
He has found many species there including, Yellow-green Grosbeak, White-tailed Trogon and Pale-browed Treehunter as well as the enigmatic Little Tinamou which had been hunted almost to extinction.
On the way there is also a site where it is possible to see Buff-necked Ibis. This sounded exciting and Nicholas and Raquel Locke decided to visit the area. The forest path started at 80 metres above sea level and provides easy walking. A most promising start as Black hawk-eagle was spotted soaring above. Very soon a bird flock was found which contained Pale-browed Treehunter – which looks like the Streaked Xenops without an upturned bill.
A little further along the forest path Thrush-like Schiffornis called, whilst further on Rufous-capped Anthrush displayed on the ground. The Yellow-green Grosbeak, associated with quality forest, fed in the low canopy. A Bare throated Bellbird called and was found easily, a giant of a bird not too far away and intent on making his presence heard.
The species that are normally associated with quality forest are all here and what a pleasure to find them so close by. Adilei – REGUA’s local bird guide – returned a couple of days later to walk the same path and took some fine shots of the White-tailed Trogon, surprisingly uncommon on the REGUA reserve, yet common here. Adilei saw the endemic Thrush-like Woodcreeper as well as the Yellow-green Grosbeak. He also photographed White-bellied Tanager another great bird to see.
With such a positive start, REGUA hopes to add this to the off-site programme, once several more surveys have been carried out. Hopefully this will prove to be a popular destination for guests.