Volunteer bird guides Wes, Jerome and Clive have worked hard in supporting Adilei (our resident guide) in guiding our guests over the last two months and they deserved a well-earned break. A window of opportunity presented itself with a few days without guests and I suggested a trip to the southern area of Pereque, Ubatuba and Itatiaia, where we might find some new birds.
We left early one morning and in spite of the rain, we saw our two most wanted species Black-hooded Antwren, and Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant. These species have a tiny distribution, and Pereque which is located at sea level is one reliable area to see them. The latter species has been seen at REGUA, but is by no means a regular sighting.
We steamed off for Ubatuba to prepare ourselves for the next day. Leaving early for our hotel we birded the renowned Fazenda Angelim where we had great views of Ferruginous Antbird, Buff-throated Purpletuft and Spotted Bamboowren, all equally challenging species.
The afternoon saw us at the Sitio de Jonas. This is a world famous spot for hummingbirds with sixteen species possible. Mr Jonas retired from a job in Sao Paulo city and is now feeding hundreds of hummingbirds – using over 4kg of sugar daily! The two species everyone wants to see are Festive Coquette and Sombre Hummingbird. We had great views of both species and with time available, headed up to Engenheiro Passos to spend the night in a magnificent hotel visited by the Emperor Don Pedro himself over 100 years ago.
Needless to say the birding along the first six kilometers of the road leading to Mount Itatiaia was just amazing. The road is easy to bird, the species kept popping up and the guides just kept finding new species. Red-breasted Toucan, Red-breasted Warbling-finch, Thick-billed Saltator, Golden-winged Cacique, Plovercrest, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Mouse-coloured Tapaculo , Serra do Mar Tyrannulet, Olivaceous Elaenia and Black-capped Piprytes were all seen here.
With Black Hawk-eagle at the higher areas we also added Araucaria Tit-Spinetail and the Itatiaia Spinetail amongst many-many other species, everyone was left deeply impressed. Wes patiently called in the spectacular Speckled-breasted Antpitta, and we craned our necks to get a view within the tangled undergrowth – a joy that left us all enraptured.
Finally, we arrived to spend the night at the Ipé hotel and in the evening still had a chance to see Buffy-fronted Seedeater, a nesting Blue-winged Macaw, Magpie Tanager at the feeders and before turning in, Tawny-browed Owl.
The following day, an early start once again, and we had Robust Woodpecker flying into the mist During the course of day we had magnificent views of the Large-headed Flatbill, White-throated Spadebill, with more Buffy-fronted seedeaters all around chirping in the high canopy whilst they fed on bamboo. Brown Tanager, Brown-breasted Bamboo-tyrant and Drab-breasted Bamboo-tyrant, Lesser Woodcreeper, Slaty Bristlefront, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Star-throated Antwren were all seen here and finally after a tough climb through the bamboo undergrowth we found White-bearded Antshrike.
Soon it was time to return to REGUA – a thoroughly tired but satisfied group.
Well done everybody!