Brad was kind and let us sleep in, with breakfast at 5:00AM! We felt like total slackers. We took the boat across the river to a new trail, at least new for us. This was to be the morning of the Furnariidae, aka ovenbirds. These are the true ovenbirds, not the misnamed warbler that we see in the states. This family contains horneros, spinetails, woodhaunters, foliage-gleaners, leaf-tossers and xenops, among other birds. They are mostly brown. They can be tough to see and I love them!
We had seen various furnarids in the past days, but we scored nicely on this morning. We had a couple of foliage-gleaners, Rufous-tailed and Rufous-rumped, a Striped Woodhaunter and two Leaf-tossers, Short-billed and Black-tailed. Leaf-tossers seemed particularly difficult to see. They were on the forest floor, moving very quietly, just flipping leaves over. In the undergrowth it was hard to make them out.
We heard several species of manakins, but only saw one, Wing-barred Piprites. (Are these not some of the best bird names ever?) We ran into a mixed flocked. One bird in particular stumped Martin and me for a few minutes. It was a fairly dark brown flycatcher with a pale throat and a huge crest, held to the back of the head. There was a flash of orange in the crest. It has almost a hammer-head look. Brad never saw it. After puzzling over it for a few minutes, Martin realized what it was, an Amazonian Royal Flycatcher! This is a great looking bird. When it spreads its crest, which is a very rare event, it goes side to side, like the hat Napolean wore.
The weather was becoming a bit threatening so we headed back to the lodge. We birded the lodge area until lunch, seeing the usual Silver-beaked, Palm and Blue-and-gray Tanagers. After lunch I tried to be a bit wiser with my siesta time, after the bad experience of the day before. I did lay down for a bit, but it was almost impossible to rest, thinking about what I was missing! I finally got up and decided to go for a short walk. For some reason that I can not remember, I did not have either my binoculars or my camera. Well, of course, I found a good bird. A Bare-faced Currasow jumped out of a tree over my head. He strolled down the path at a leisurely pace. I could have taken killer photos! Arrgghhh! I was happy to see him anyway, as I had been extremely jealous that Martin had seen him the day before.
At 3:30 PM we headed back to the boat launch. We were going up river to the research island. This large island has dormitories where different students and scientists live while exploring the flora and fauna of Cristalino. Its quite large and has some very interesting habitat. The river floods every year during the rainy season. The island is underwater most years during this time. The vegetation is a bit stunted and is quite different.
We were looking for Amazonian Antpitta. I have mentioned antpittas in previous trip reports, but for any new readers, I will review. These stubby tailed long-legged birds look like overgrown chicks. They are extremely stealthy and have a well earned reputation for being hard to see. We worked our way down the island listening for the birds call.
We came to an interesting area, a natural lagoon with a salt lick. Unfortunately the lagoon was close to being dried up. It did still contain a couple of water birds, an adult Rufescent Tiger-heron and a Capped Heron, one of the prettiest herons I have ever seen. Martin was more than happy to see a large number of dragonflies circling the little water that was left. Then we heard it, the antpitta.
Of course the bird was calling from an incredibly thick twist of vines and branches. This tangle was almost impossible to see into. Brad got out his I-pod and started playing the call. The antpitta became a bit agitated and we could tell it was moving around in the thicket, but it wasn't coming out. Brad searched and searched the thicket and finally found a place where we could see in, a bit of a clearing under the overhanging vines. He lay down on his belly and shimmied under the vines. He put his rain jacket on the ground and laid the I-pod, still playing the call on a loop, on top of it. He quickly and silently slid out, remaining on his belly.
Martin and I came up behind Brad, staying as still and quiet as possible. Suddenly I saw the antpitta jump up on a log next to the I-pod. He was still calling away. He looked down at the I-pod and I seriously thought he was going to grab it and run. He studied it for a second or two and then flew up into the brush above it. He was still visible and Martin got a few pictures. Finally the bird realized we were there and took off. We felt totally victorious.
Leaving the clearing we headed back to the river for some after dark water birding (and batting!) As much as fun as birding the river during the day is, its even more fun at night. Brad spot lighted the bank. Most of the eye shine was from Spectacled Caiman, sliding into the water as we disturbed them. Long-nosed Bats flushed up from the snags as we passed. A Greater Bulldog Bat, a type of fishing bat, flew in front of the boat. As Brad scanned with the light, it looked like it was snowing there were so many insects in the air. We got great looks at a Ladder-tailed Nightjar perching on a branch hanging over the water. A Paca, a large rodent that Brad said, perhaps teasing, was the best tasting animal in South America, was drinking from the river. I was disappointed when we got to the lodge!
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture
Southern Rough-winged Swallow