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After relaxing in the complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we board our scheduled British Airways flight direct from London Heathrow to Rio de Janeiro. We arrive into Rio in the evening, and transfer to the Guappi Assu Bird Lodge. The journey will take around 2 hours
The Guapi Assu Bird Lodge boasts a fantastic variety of habitats and species. After breakfast at the Lodge, we shall take time to orientate ourselves and take in the wonderful Serra dos Órgãos mountain views and to get to grips with our first hummingbirds and the commoner garden species. Violet-capped Woodnymph, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Black Jacobin and Glittering-throated Emerald should be easily found at the hummingbird feeders and a casual stroll around gardens should produce Brazilian Tanager, Burnished-buff Tanager, Sayaca Tanager, Palm Tanager, Violaceous Euphonia, Streaked Flycatcher and Tropical Kingbird.
In the late morning, we take a short trail down to the wetland. This amazing area was little more than a field of pasture just a few years ago, but thanks to the REGUA restoration project, it is now a 12ha wetland teeming with wildlife. We search for species including White-faced Whistling-Duck, Masked Duck, Least Grebe and a possible 13 species of heron including the very smart Whisting and Capped Herons. The wetland is also a very good area to get to grips with raptors, in particular Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, often seen soaring low over the nearby hillsides. We also watch for Grey-headed Kite, Crane Hawk, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Laughing and Aplomado Falcons. With a little perseverance and patience we shall collect a few crake and rail species that have become a bit of a speciality for the area. Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Rufous-sided and Ash-throated Crakes and Blackish Rail are all frequently seen. Kingfishers are also a possibility with Ringed, Amazon and Green Kingfishers being the most common. Some of the commoner passerines that we hope to find include Wing-banded Hornero, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Sooty and Yellow Tyrannulets, Bran-coloured Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Red-rumped Cacique and White-headed Marsh-Tyrant. If we have time, we shall search some of the adjacent forest in the hope of finding Rufous-capped Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Crescent-chested Puffbird and perhaps striking and colourful Blond-crested Woodpecker. Finally, birds are not the only wildlife to be found here as Capybara and Broad-snouted Caiman and even Crab-eating Fox are all possible.
A short walk back to the Lodge and we shall no doubt be ready for a lovely home-cooked evening meal before an early night!
After breakfast at the lodge, we collect our packed lunches and head out for a full day walking on the Waterfall trail, an easy/moderate trail of around 170-1,300M in elevation. There will be no hurry though, as we have a whole day to take in this wonderful 4.8Km trail. The possibilities are endless and we spend some time familiarising ourselves with many of the commoner species, but also keeping time to see some of the key targets of this trail. These include White-necked Hawk, Saw-billed Hermit, motionless and often difficult to find Buff-bellied and Cresent-chested Puffbirds, Scaled Antbird, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Pin-tailed Manakin, Turquoise Tanager and stunning Black-cheeked Gnateater.
We enjoy our picnic lunch at a very picturesque waterfall and local guide Adilei will demonstrate his extraordinary talent at imitating numerous bird calls and hopefully pull in a Spot-billed Toucanet with its strange croaking call or even a stunning Rufous-capped Antthrush with its diagnostic whistle. Next we try for the very shy and ground-dwelling Slaty Bristlefront, before spending time searching for perhaps one of the most wanted of all South American birds, Shrike-like Cotinga. We listen out for its mournful whistle and appreciate the old name of Elegant Mourner.
Other birds we may find on this day include: Surucua and Black-throated Trogons, Rufous-capped Motmot, Channel-billed Toucan, White-barred Piculet, Yellow-eared, Yellow-throated and Blond-crested Woodpeckers, Spot-backed Antshrike, Spot-breasted and Plain Antvireos, Star-throated, White-flanked, Unicoloured and Streak-capped Antwrens, White-shouldered Fire-eye, White-bibbed Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Variegated Antpitta, Slaty Bristlefront, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Plain-winged, White-throated, Planalto and Lesser Woodcreepers, Ochre-breasted, Black-capped, Buff-fronted and White-eyed Foliage-gleaners, Pale-browed Treehunter, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Plain and Streaked Xenops, Ochre-bellied, Grey-hooded and Sepia-capped Flycatchers, Southern Antpipit, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, White-throated Spadebill, Whiskered (Sulphur-rumped) Flycatcher, Greyish Mourner, Grey-hooded Attila and Sharpbill.
Today will be an early start and an early breakfast as we take a trip to the high altitude region of Pico da Caledônia. Pico da Caledônia is one of the highest peaks in the Serra dos Órgãos mountains reaching 2,219 m. On a clear day the views from the top are truly spectacular. Dependent on weather, we plan to visit the higher section of this stunning trail first where we hope to catch up with key species such as Large-tailed Antshrike, Mouse-coloured Tapaculo, Bay-chested Warbling Finch, Diademed Tanager and stunning Plovercrest. However, it is for two species in particular that this area is best known, extremely rare and elusive Grey-winged Cotinga and the Itaiaia Thistletail. We shall try our best to find these two very special birds before heading downhill to enjoy our lunch and look for more fantastic birds.
At around 1,500 metres we shall be in an area of Montane Forest and fields and here we spend time doing some general birding picking up some of the commoner species that we may not yet have connected with but focussing on three key species in particular, shy and nervous Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin, Dusky-tailed Antbird and what to many may be a highlight of the trip, the fantastically colourful and highly distinctive Swallow-tailed Cotinga.
On returning to the Lodge we shall have the opportunity after dinner to hear about the great conservation work that is going on at REGUA, with an evening presentation by Nicholas Locke, owner of the reserve.
After breakfast we shall set out straight from the lodge to explore another trail at a leisurely pace. This time we visit the Casa Anibal Trail, an easy/Moderate trail of around 2.8Km 60-350M elevation. This starts at the Small Wetland and leads steadily upwards through well established secondary forest to a derelict house (Casa Anibal) at an altitude of 352 m. Key birds we hope to find are, Turquoise Tanager, White-bibbed Antbird, Black Hawk-Eagle and Yellowish Pipit.
Other birds include: Surucua and Black-throated Trogons, Rufous-capped Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Buff-bellied and Crescent-chested Puffbirds, Channel-billed Toucan, Spot-billed Toucanet, White-barred Piculet, Yellow-eared, Yellow-throated and Blond-crested Woodpeckers, Spot-backed Antshrike, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, Spot-breasted and Plain Antvireos, Star-throated, White-flanked, Unicoloured, Rufous-winged and Streak-capped Antwrens, Scaled and White-bibbed Antbirds, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Plain-winged, Olivaceous, White-throated and Lesser Woodcreepers, Black-capped, Buff-fronted and White-eyed Foliage-gleaners, Plain and Streaked Xenops, Ochre-bellied, Grey-hooded and Sepia-capped Flycatchers, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, Rough-legged and Planalto Tyrannulets, Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, Euler's Flycatcher and Long-tailed Tyrant.
At the end of this trail, we have lunch before returning to the Lodge by Land Vehicle. The rest of the afternoon shall be spent relaxing or, for those that wish, a tour of the nursery to learn about the tree planting programme of REGUA. The vast majority of the trees planted have been grown here from local seeds collected in REGUA’s forests by staff and volunteers. The nursery has gradually expanded and can now provide about 20,000 seedlings a year of about 50 species!
In the early evening, we take a short walk from the lodge down to the wetland in search of some nocturnal species. There are many mouth-watering birds to be found and our primary targets will be Giant Snipe, fantastic Scissor-tailed Nightjar and beautiful Striped and Tawny-browed Owls. Other possibilities include Short-tailed Nighthawk, Tropical Screech-Owl, Barn Owl, Parauque and Common Potoo. Capybara and Broad-snouted Caimen should also be seen.
We shall enjoy a slightly later dinner at the Lodge.
Today sees another early start, as we make an all day excursion through some very different habitat of remnant Atlantic Forest, grassy plains and small wetland areas. This is a long day in the vehicle but well worth it for the number of new species that we hope to encounter. Most birding will be done at roadside stops. Amongst many others, key targets will be Blue-winged Macaw, Red-legged Seriema, Firewood Gatherer, Gilt-edged Tanager, Tawny-headed Swallow, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant and perhaps the highlight of the day, an endangered endemic with its subtle golden hues, Three-toed Jacamar.
Other birds we hope to find include: Dusky-legged Guan, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, White-tailed and Bicoloured Hawks, American Kestrel, Bat Falcon, Red-legged Seriema, Blue-winged Macaw, White-eyed Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrolet, Scaly-headed Parrot, Common Barn Owl, Planalto Hermit, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Three-toed Jacamar, White-eared Puffbird, Black-necked Aracari, Rio de Janeiro Antwren, Red-eyed Thornbird, Firewood-gatherer, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, White-rumped Monjita, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, Curl-crested Jay, Tawny-headed Swallow, Black-capped Donacobius, Magpie Tanager, Orange-headed, Hepatic and Gilt-edged Tanagers, Uniform Finch, Crested Oropendola and Hooded Siskin.
Today we visit another area for high altitude species as we explore the Macaé de Cima trail. Macaé de Cima is a private reserve owned by a renowned orchid expert, and contains montane forest up to an altitude of c.1,400 m. The forest here offers some of the easiest access to high altitude Atlantic Forest specialities, with most birding done from the road. Targets today are Black-hooded Berryeater, Black-billed Scythebill, Brazilian Antthrush, White-throated Hummingbird and Scale-throated Hermit. Not forgetting of course gorgeous Brazilian Ruby and Plovercrest, the tricky to see but fantastic Giant Antshrike, bright and distinctive Black-and-Gold Cotinga and one of the most classic sounds of the Atlantic Forest, Bare-throated Bellbird. We hope to have lunch at the wonderful Vale das Taquaras Bird lodge where Bare-throated Bellbirds are in profusion and there will be some great opportunities for photography.
Other birds we hope to find on this day include: Barred Forest-Falcon, Plumbeous Pigeon, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Amethyst Woodstar, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Tufted Antshrike, Rufous-backed Antvireo, Bertonis, Ochre-rumped and Dusky-tailed Antbirds, Rufous Gnateater, Rufous-tailed (Brazilian) Antthrush, Rufous-capped and Pallid Spinetails, Red-eyed Thornbird, White-browed, Buff-browed, Buff-fronted and White-collared Foliage-gleaners, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Southern Bristle-Tyrant, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Serra do Mar Tyrannulet, Shear-tailed Grey-Tyrant, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Chestnut-headed and Azure-shouldered Tanagers, Green-winged Saltator and White-browed Warbler.
We arrive back at the lodge in good time to do a second optional evening walk at the wetland for nocturnal species.
After an early breakfast, we shall travel to the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens. In the shadow of the world famous Christ the Redeemer Statue, this is a great place to end the tour. We shall spend the morning wandering around the great gardens where many species are very tame, such as Slaty-breasted Wood Rail, Rusty-margined Guan and Channel-billed Toucans, allowing for excellent photographic opportunities. Finally, we shall enjoy our lunch overlooking Ipanema Beach where we shall hopefully find Kelp Gull and Brown Booby before visiting the tourist site of Sugar Loaf Mountain before our tour ends back at Rio de Janeiro airport where we take an afternoon flight back to the UK.
Arrive back to UK.