NE Brazil - Endemics!
Monday 11th February - Monday 25th February 2019
With an amazing amount of endemic and seriously threatened birds North-East Brazil has become a fantastic area to visit. It’s a vast region with a substantial diversity of habitats to provide for an extremely varied avifauna. Until recently it has been neglected by ornithologists until the recent discovery of many new species to science. Our tour is devoted to seeing many of the regions spectacular endemics and highly sought-after species such as the incredible Araripe Manakin, Lear’s Macaw, Great Xenops, Scarlet-throated Tanager, Slender Antbird, Hooded Visorbearer, Banded Cotinga and Pink-legged Graveteiro. The region is characterised by humid Atlantic rainforests on the coast, and endless rolling hills with dramatic canyons called the Caatinga. The Caatinga is home to a dry thorny forest with areas of more open grassland. It has its own special suite of endemic species that we will enjoy looking for on our many days of spectacular birding. With only 200 birds in the wild it is here that we will find the endangered Lear’s Macaw quietly feeding on palm trees, while Atlantic forest and woodlands at Boa Nova with thick vine tangles and terrestrial bromeliads hold some of South America’s most endangered species. We will also visit the Serra da Diamantina National Park at Lencois to explore some higher elevation habitats before heading back to the coast. A final visit to some mangroves and an area of cerrado will complete our tour of this complex yet fascinating region. Our local guide Ciro Albano has an unsurpassed knowledge of this region and an enviable reputation for success and finding the target species and we are sure this very special tour will meet the highest of expectations.
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Today we plan to arrive at Fortaleza, the capital of the Brazilian state of Ceará. After arrival we will drive 120km south to the mountain range of Serra de Baturite (800m) for a night stay. Night at Guaramiranga.
Day 2 Serra de Baturite - Quixada
Days 3 - 4 Quixada – Chapada do Araripe
Our morning around Quixada will hopefully connect us with a few caatinga species such as the very localised and rare White-browed Guan, which is often seen near the hotel. We also have chances for other species such as Pygmy Nightjar, Cactus Parakeet, Ochraceous Piculet, Ochre-backed Woodpecker, Broad-tipped Hermit, Black-bellied Antwren, White-naped Jay, Sooty-fronted Spinetail and Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant. As we leave this area of dry and thickly wooded landscapes we will make several stops to acquaint ourselves with some of the commoner species. We should see the recently split Caatinga Cacholote at its huge stick nest and find the stunning north-eastern form of Capped Seedeater, plus Caatinga Antwren , Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet and many others. The isolated plateau of Chapada do Araripe is surrounded by massive red and grey cliffs and it is here amongst the lush growth at the base of this escarpment that we will look for outstandingly beautiful and critically endangered Araripe Manakin. This species was only discovered very recently and we stand a very good chance of seeing it. The males pearly white body with jet black wings and bright red head make a striking impression amongst the greenery of the forest. The rest of our time will be taken up in search of many regional endemics and in these stunning dry forests we will look for the elusive White-browed Antpitta and the striking White-browed Guan, while one of the real prizes in these woodlands is the Great Xenops which can often be found chiselling away at loose bark in search of food. We will also search out Tawny Piculet, Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Caatinga Antshrike, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Grey-eyed Greenlet and hopefully come across a marauding flock of beautiful White-naped Jays. Others species that will hopefully put in an appearance include Caatinga Antwen, Tawny Piculet, Black-capped Antwren, Stripe-backed Antbird, Long-billed Wren, Glittering-throated and Glittering-bellied Emeralds, Blue-crowned Trogon, Bearded Bellbird, Flavescent Warbler and a good selection of the more widespread South American flycatchers such as Forest and Grey Elaenias, Sepia-capped, Grey-crowned, Fuscous, Swainson’s and Short-crested. Finishing off with the endemic Ash-throated Casiornis we should have done this wonderful area justice. Nights in Juazeiro do Norte.
Day 5 Araripe Manakin Site - Lear's Macaw Site
After some early morning birding in the Serra do Araripe area we will drive across cattle country with its numerous wetlands. We should see Cattle and Snowy Egrets, Purple and Spot-flanked Gallinules, Limpkin, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Brazilian Teal and if we are lucky, Southern Pochard. Other common birds should include Guira Cuckoo, White-winged Swallow, Cattle Tyrant, and both White-browed and Chopi Blackbirds. Crossing the Sao Fransisco River we head south-east to the small town of Canudos in the heart of the Caatinga. On our travels through this extraordinary habitat we will pass numerous short and tall cacti in search of Caatinga Parakeet, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Scarlet-throated Tanager, Red-legged Seriema, Pectoral Antwren, Broad-tipped Hermit and White-bellied Nothura, as well as the unique Red-shouldered Spinetail - a distinctive species put into a genus of its own. Accompanying these species will be the Caatinga Cacholote, Black-bellied Antwren, Aplomado Falcon, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Spot-backed Puffbird, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant and White Monjita. Further along the road in this impenetrable thorny scrub we will search out the endemic White-throated Seedeater and the Campo Oriole (split from Troupial). We should also hear the dawn whistles of Small-billed Tinamou and see Stripe-backed Antbird, Lesser and Greater Wagtail-Tyrants - both of which represent isolated populations in this area and so potential splits, White-naped Xenopsaris, Caatinga Barred Antshrike, Pileated Finch, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Southern Scrub Flycatcher and the abundant Bay-winged Cowbird. Night at Lear's Macaw Lodge.
Day 6 Lear’s Macaw - Chapada Diamantina
Leaving Canudos we head across endless rolling country, red-rock escarpments and cactus studded Caatinga for the Rasa da Catarina, home to the very rare and endangered Lear’s Macaw. It is here that the Lear’s Macaw has managed to survive, nesting in crevices in the rugged canyon walls. One of the rarest birds in the world about 250 mature individuals remain in this area rediscovered by Helmut Sick, the famous Brazilian ornithologist. These birds will be an important target for us this morning and with luck we may even find this rare species feeding in the local Licuri palms. This stunning landscape will give us more chances for species such as the highly threatened Pectoral Antwren, Tataupa Tinamou, Broad-tipped Hermit, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Turquoise-fronted Parrot, Harris’ and Savanna Hawks, Aplomado Falcon, Burrowing Owl and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. Amongst the other open country species we could see are Cattle Tyrant, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Guira Cuckoo, Pearl Kite, Yellow-headed Caracara, Chopi Blackbird, Red-cowled Cardinal, White-winged Becard and Green-barred Woodpecker. With luck we could come across the extraordinary Scarlet-throated Tanager, this intriguing species is currently classified as a tanager but is certainly more reminiscent of an icterid. Continuing on our long drive we may get the chance to stop at ponds where both Masked Duck and Spotted Rail are present. Night at Lencois.
Day 7 Chapada Diamantina
Days 8 - 9 Chapada Diamantina to Boa Nova
This morning we set off on the long drive (500kms) to Boa Nova for a two-night stay. In this famous area we will divide our time between two habitats; the drier Mata de Cipo or vine forest and the lusher fragments of Atlantic rainforest. It is in the Mata de Cipo that we shall search for the rarer endemic species and this transitional habitat sits between the arid Caatinga proper and the wet Atlantic rainforest. It is characterised by a profusion of terrestrial bromeliads and thick vine tangles covering a rather open low-canopied forest. It is in this strange forest that we look for Slender Antbird and Narrow-billed Antwren along with the more widespread Stripe-backed Antbird, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike and Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant. We will also visit an area for the recently described Diamantina Tapaculo, and as we move further east towards the wetter habitats we shall be looking for species more closely associated with south-east Brazil such as Grey-hooded Attila, Frilled Coquette, Buff-throated Purpletuft, Crescent-chested Puffbird Yellow-eared Woodpecker, Pallid Spinetail, Striated Softtail, White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Oustalet's Tyrannulet, Gilt-edged Tanager, Reddish-bellied Parakeet, Scale-throated Hermit, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Black-eared Fairy, Black-throated Trogon, Swallow-wing, Black-necked Aracari, the red-throated race of Yellow-throated Woodpecker, Plain-winged, White-throated, Planalto and Scaled Woodcreepers, Black-billed Scythebill, Ochre-breasted and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaners, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Sharpbill, Swallow-tailed Manakin, Hang-nest Tody-Tyrant, Greenish Mourner, Chestnut-crowned Becard, White-necked and Cocoa Thrushes, White-browed Warbler, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, and both Black-goggled and Golden-chevroned Tanagers. An area of marshland could produce Giant Snipe, as well as Rufous-sided Crake and Blackish Rail, and nearby areas hold Campo Flicker, Pale-legged Hornero, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Brown-chested Martin, White-bellied Seedeater and maybe Least Pygmy-Owl. We will also visit other nearby areas for the range restricted Bahia and Pallid Spinetails, Ferruginous Antbird, Striated Softtail, Rio de Janeiro Antbird, Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, Pin-tailed Manakin, Gilt-edged Tanager and Mantled Hawk. Nights in Boa Nova.
Day 10 Pocoes - Boa Nova
Days 11 - 12 Serra Bonita Reserve
Days 13 - 14 Porto Seguro
Day 15 Transfer to Porto Seguro airport - 25th February
Leader: Ciro Albano
Ground Price: £3250.00 - Fortaleza/Porto Seguro
Airfare: £750.00 - £1050.00 (Approx) - UK/UK
Single supplement: £425.00
Group Size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6 and a maximum of 8.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms, en-suite, all meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 15, all transportation within Brazil in Mercedes Vans or Minibuses, all entrance fees, bottled water, and services of the leaders.
Not included: International & Domestic flights (for arrival/departure), insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: Our hotels and lodges vary in quality but all are within easy reach of the areas we wish to bird. Most of the lodges are of a very high standard.
Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with all day birding. No particular strenuous walks are planned although some forest trails can be muddy and wet. To see a good amount of endemics and specialities you need to be prepared for full days. We will generally start early and either have an early breakfast or return for breakfast. Lunches will be either picnics or at the lodge depending on our schedule. We can expect all types of weather from warm and hot to cool and rain. Please be prepared for this.