Southern Brazil Specialties

Southern Brazil Specialties

Curitiba will be our jumping-off spot for exploring the southern Atlantic Forest habitats of Paraná state. Among the numerous specialties that we will search for here are Yellow-legged and Solitary tinamous, Blue-bellied and Red-capped parrots, Ochre-collared Piculet, Canebrake Ground-creeper, Pale-browed Treehunter, Red-eyed Thornbird, Spot-backed and Giant antshrikes, Squamate Antbird, White-breasted Tapaculo, Spotted Bamboowren, Hooded Berryeater, Bare-throated Bellbird, Azure-shouldered and Black-backed tanagers, and many more. Open habitats may yield Lesser Grass-Finch and the recently described Wetland Tapaculo. We will also visit Superagui NP where our main target is the small island where Red-tailed Parrots come to roost every afternoon, over 500 individuals could be seen in their noisy routine to find a good spot to roost. Very few birders visit this park, and we are happy to have the local community involved in the tour as owners of the lodge we will stay for a night. We’ll also visit marshes and restinga woodlands in Santa Catarina state in search of the unique and recently described Marsh Antwren, as well as the highly localized Unicolored Antwren, Squamate Antbird, Restinga Tyrannulet, and Kaempfer’s Tody-Tyrant.

Rio Grande do Sul is a different world of strange araucaria forests, high plateau grasslands and small marshes, scenically spectacular canyons and enormous lakes and wetlands hosting a spectacular number of birds, resident and migratory, most of them common to southern South America but very localized and rare in Brazil. The birds are equally unique, with such specialties as Plumbeous Rail, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Vinaceous-breasted Parrot, Rusty-barred Owl, Long-tufted Screech-Owl, Mottled Piculet, Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, Long-tailed Cinclodes, Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Black-and-white Monjita, Azure Jay, Chestnut-backed Tanager, Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Chilean Flamingo, Black-necked & Coscoroba Swans, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Spectacled Tyrant, Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Correndera Pipit, Crested & Warbling Doraditos, Sulphur-bearded Spinetail, Great Grebe, representing just a few of the many highlights that await us in Rio Grande do Sul.

A variety of habitats encompassing some spectacular scenery, a pleasant, largely temperate climate, good food and accommodations throughout, and one of the world’s most unique and endangered avifaunas combine to make southern Brazil an unforgettable birding experience.

12 Days / 11 Nights Birding Southern Brazil Itinerary

Day 01: Porto Alegre to Sao Francisco de Paula. This morning we should arrive in Porto Alegre, an important shipping center of southern Brazil situated at the junction of five rivers. Upon arrival we’ll head north to Sao Francisco de Paula and the Hotel Veraneio Hampel, located adjacent to a lovely araucaria forest. We should arrive early enough for some late afternoon birding on the grounds, with an opportunity for owling after dinner. Rusty-barred Owl and Long-tufted Screech-Owl are good specialties from here

Days 02 and 03: Aparados da Serra National Park and the São Francisco de Paula Area. We will have two full days to explore this interesting region, which will yield a number of species not seen elsewhere on this tour. On one day we’ll leave early to drive north through high plateau grasslands to the Aparados da Serra National Park. These are beautiful rolling grasslands, dotted with small marshes that harbor Yellow-billed Pintail, Plumbeous Rail, Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Spix's Spinetail, Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Lesser Grass-Finch, Long-tailed Reed-Finch, and others. The grasslands themselves may yield such species as Spotted Nothura, Red-legged Seriema, Whistling Heron, Maguari Stork, Buff-necked Ibis, Firewood-gatherer, Gray Monjita, Black-and-white Monjita, Hellmayr’s Pipit, and Great Pampa-Finch. We will also look for the very localized Long-tailed Cinclodes (a bird described new to science in 1969!) This open grassland contains islands of araucaria forest. Araucarias are a group of ancient conifers restricted to the southern hemisphere, another example being the Norfolk Island Pine. One of the largest remaining stands of araucarias is preserved in the Aparados da Serra National Park. Birdlife is limited here, but includes some rare and/or local species such as Vinaceous-breasted Parrot, Mottled Piculet, Striolated and Araucaria tit-spinetails, Azure Jay, and Red-rumped Warbling-Finch. We would be remiss not to mention spectacular Itaimbezinho Canyon, one of the true scenic wonders of Brazil. At various times of the day impressive squadrons of big Biscutate and Sooty swifts wheel in and out of the deep-cut gorge, lending avian counterpoint to the geologic marvel.

Should weather conditions allow (meaning no fog to obscure the view), we will make visiting this spectacular canyon a priority.

On the other day in this region we’ll bird the grounds of the Hampel (which boasts a nice stand of araucaria forest complete with excellent trails) and other areas closer to home. Birds abound here. A variety of hummers buzz about the gardens and we may see Brown Tinamou; Dusky-legged Guan; Long-tufted Screech-Owl; Mottled Piculet; Planalto, Lesser, and White-throated woodcreepers; Araucaria Tit-Spinetail; Olive Spinetail; Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner; Variable Antshrike; Variegated Antpitta; Blue-billed Black-Tyrant; Rough-legged Tyrannulet; Azure Jay, White-rimmed Warbler; Green-chinned Euphonia; and Diademed Tanager among others.

We’ll pay special attention to the hotel feeders, which regularly produce eye-level views of the stunning Chestnut-backed Tanager. A visit to nearby bamboo-dominated forest on the rim of the escarpment may also yield such prizes as Vinaceous-breasted Parrot, Giant and Large-tailed Antshrikes, Dusky-tailed Antbird, Brown-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, and Chestnut-headed Tanager.

Day 04: Sao Francisco de Paula to Lagoa do Peixe NP. We should have a couple of hours of early birding on the Hampel grounds to search for anything we might have missed, or simply to enjoy repeat looks at many of the special resident birds. Afterwards, we’ll drive to Lagoa do Peixe NP with lunch on route. If time and weather conditions allow we will do a visit to the park this afternoon.

Day 05: Lagoa do Peixe NP, then drive to Cassino. Most of the day wil be spend in this amazing National Park. Lagoa do Peixe NP is well known in Brazil to be the migratory stop for many norh and south american migrants, specialties in the area includes Chilean Flamingo, Black-necked & Coscoroba Swans, Red-gartered & Red-fronted Coots, Common Miner, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Spectacled Tyrant, Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Correndera Pipit, Austral Negrito, South-american Snipe and many more.

Day 06: Taim Ecological Station A full day visit to one of the most impressive wetlands in southern Brazil, Taim Ecological Station harbors an impressive number of birds, Southern Screamers could be seen in flocks with over hundreds individuals at once. Maguari Stork, Great Grebe, White-faced Íbis, Crested & Warbling Doraditos, Sulphur-bearded Spinetail, Chimango Caracará, Speckled Teal, Giant Wood-Rail and many others. By mid-afternoon we will head to Porto Alegre to catch up our flight to Curitiba

Day 07: Curitiba to Serra da Graciosa. We will start from Curitiba, our jumping-off spot for exploring the Serra da Graciosa and the coastal lowlands of southern Paraná and northern Santa Catarina states. The entire morning will be devoted to birding the highlands of the Serra da Graciosa, a southern extension of the Serra do Mar. Although only 3000 ft. in elevation, the forest here has a decidedly montane feel to it. Our primary target bird is the rare and poorly known Canebrake Groundcreeper, a large furnariid whose exact taxonomic affinities are uncertain. The groundcreeper is only one of many avian prizes to be found in these lush forests. We will also be seeking Spot-winged Wood-Quail; Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail; Blue-bellied Parrot (rare); Scale-throated Hermit; Versicolored Emerald; Brazilian Ruby; Ochre-collared Piculet; Scaled, Lesser, and Olivaceous woodcreepers; Black-billed Scythebill; Rufous-breasted Leaftosser; White-browed Foliage-gleaner; Sharp-billed Treehunter; Gray-bellied Spinetail; Giant, Large-tailed, and White-bearded (rare) antshrikes; Dusky-tailed Antbird; Variegated and Speckle-breasted antpittas; Short-tailed Antthrush; Rufous Gnateater; White-breasted Tapaculo; Hooded Berryeater; Bare-throated Bellbird; Rufous-tailed Attila; Mottle-cheeked, Greenish, and Gray-capped tyrannulets; Azure Jay; Rufous-crowned Greenlet; Azure-shouldered, Chestnut-backed, Brassy-breasted, and Gilt-edged tanagers; Thick-billed Saltator; Red-rumped and Bay-chested Warbling-finches; and Blackish-blue Seedeater.

Day 08: Superagui NP . This morning we will depart to the remote Superagui National Park. This large park straddles the boundary between São Paulo and Paraná states, and preserves a number of pristine offshore islands, as well as coastal mangroves and Serra do Mar forest. The scenery alone is worth the trip, but our goal was to reach a particular island that is the roosting site for large numbers of the spectacular and endangered Red-tailed Parrot. This parrot is one of the rarest and most localized of the Atlantic Forest endemics, being confined to a narrow littoral strip between the Serra do Mar and the nearshore islands, from southern São Paulo state in the north to northernmost Santa Catarina state in the south. The global population is estimated at less than 5,000 birds.

Day 09: Superagui NP to Itapoa. Once the access to this National Park is by boat, we will explore the mangroves throught the channel rivers, with some luck we may see the near mythical Rufous Crab-Hawk and the beautiful Scarlet Ibis. We will back to the continent and take the ferry to the State of Santa Catarina, where we should explore some marshes looking for the recently described Marsh Antwren.

Days 10, 11 and 12: Paraná/Santa Catarina Lowlands. We’ll have three full days to bird the rich coastal lowlands on the border of these two Brazilian states. Much of our time will be spent exploring restinga woodland, a unique, stunted forest that grows on the sandy soils near the coast. Our biggest targets here include four of Brazil’s most localized endemics: the Unicolored Antwren, the recently rediscovered (and still very poorly known) Kaempfer’s Tody-Tyrant, the Restinga Tyrannulet, and the spectacular Black-backed Tanager. The presence of these four specialties would be reason enough to spend time here, but these woodlands are home to many more species of only slightly wider distribution, including many endemics. Among the many birds that we will be searching for are Yellow-legged Tinamou; Speckled Chachalaca; Plain Parakeet; Saw-billed Hermit; Violet-capped Woodnymph; Spot-billed Toucanet; Blond-crested, White-spotted, and Robust woodpeckers; Lesser and Plain-winged woodcreepers; Black-capped and White-eyed foliage-gleaners; Pale-browed Treehunter; Rufous-winged Antwren; Squamate Antbird; Rufous-tailed and Gray-hooded attilas; Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant; Fuscous, Sulphur-rumped, and Gray-hooded flycatchers; Azure Jay; Fawn-breasted, Red-necked, Black-goggled, Rufousheaded, and Azure-shouldered tanagers; and Violaceous and Chestnut-bellied euphonias.

Not all of our time will be spent in the restinga. Taller, more diverse forests nearby may yield a number of other species, including Planalto Woodcreeper, Spot-backed Antshrike, Spotted Bamboowren, White-breasted Tapaculo, Southern Bristle-Tyrant, São Paulo Tyrannulet, and Green-headed Tanager.

Regardless, we will leave time for the recently discovered Marsh Antwren. Described in 1998, this antbird is currently placed in the monotypic genus Stymphalornis, although it does seem to have many affinities to the genus Formicivora. Unique among antbirds is its preference for cattail marshes. If nearby rice fields are flooded, we could also be treated to good numbers of shorebirds, as well as for other treats such as Blackish Rail, Spix’s Spinetail, Long-billed Wren, and the dazzling Brazilian Tanager. Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Boobies, and Kelp Gulls can often be seen flying along the beaches near our hotel.

Afternoon on Day 12, we will drive to Curitiba. This afternoon we’ll probably visit the marshes and more open habitats closer to Curitiba. Here we will search for the recently described Wetland Tapaculo, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Lesser Grass-Finch, Black-and-rufous Warbling-Finch, Great Pampa-Finch, Glaucous-blue Grosbeak, and others. If conditions are favorable, we’ll plan a nighttime excursion to look for nightjars, with the rare Sickle-winged Nightjar as a particular objective.

INCLUDED: Tour start in Porto Alegre and ends in Curitiba, 11 overnights, all meals from lunch at day 01 to lunch at day 12, entrance park fees, outings as described, ground transportation, local English speaking ornithologist guide.

NOT INCLUDED : Air tickets to Curitiba and Porto Alegre, any kind of beverages including mineral water, medical costs or hospitalization, insurance, personal expenses as laundry, phone calls, etc.

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