Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brazil Day 3, We Rhea-lly Like this Place!

Morning came awfully early. Despite being a bit jet lagged I was anxious to get out, as there were a couple of big goal birds I wanted to see, and I do mean big! After breakfast we headed out into the cerrado.

We drove down a farm road where we had seen the Horned Sungem the day before, hoping to get a better look. We spotted a Pearl Kite, a beautiful little white and black raptor sitting on a utility line. We stopped to get a better look when a gutsy little hummingbird took a swipe at him, another Horned Sungem! I did get a slightly better look, though still not as good as I would like. Its ok, though, as it gives me a reason to go back!

Many birds popped up out of the brush, including Curl-crested Jays. Martin and I both like jays a lot, and these were pretty cool looking. Flycatchers were thick, with several species of Elaenia and the endemic Chapada Flycatcher. A Checkered Woodpecker played hide and seek with us, teasing us with his calls every time we looked away. We finally got a brief glimpse. Brad assured us it was a rather unattractive woodpecker, though I think he was just trying to make us feel better. We did get good looks at a White-wedged Piculet, a very tiny woodpecker relative.

The Checkered Woodpecker wasn't the only bird teasing us with song. We could hear several species of tinamous calling. Brad finally got a Small-billed Tinamou to make a brief showing using a tape. Its amazing to me that a bird as large as a tinamou can be so darn hard to see! In the distance we could also hear one of our "big" goal birds, Red-legged Seriema, Brazil's answer to the Secretary Bird. Unfortunately they were on the other side of a hill where we couldn't go. Brad said not to worry as we would be in better territory later in the day.

A Collared Crescent-chest began calling just down hill in a thicket. One of my favorite birds in Ecuador is the Elegant Crescent-chest. Crescent-chests are members of the tapaculo family, most of which are drab birds who are a pain in the neck to see. Crescent-chests are the exception, at least as far as drabness goes. We got down to the thicket and could hear the bird very close by, but couldn't get a glimpse. It was very frustrating! Brad continued playing the tape, sometimes lowering the volume and moving around a bit to mimic the movement of a bird. (Brad was more than skilled with tapes! We learned a lot) Finally our target popped up and gave us astonishing looks! We were more than pleased.

We had also seen several members of the toucan family, Lettered and Chestnut-eared Aracaris and Channel-billed Toucan. I really like this family. I had seen all three species in Ecuador, but was still happy. There was one Toucan that I wanted to see pretty badly. I said "What chance is there of seeing a Toco Toucan?" No sooner had the words left my mouth than we spied a Toco in a distant tree!

After leaving the farm fields we birded a nearby forest fragment. My favorite birds in this wooded area were three species of manakins,White-bearded, Band-tailed and Firey-capped. Manakins are tiny birds with some great behavior. They have unusual calls and display in leks. The Firey-capped was tough to find initially, but well worth it! We also had Pectoral and Saffron-billed Sparrows, both of which are really showy for sparrows.

We had accidentally kept a key from the Pousada, so we made a side trip back to return it. While zipping down the road I spotted a large bird in a field under a tree. My first impression was that it was a tall skinny Turkey. I later realized it was the Red-legged Seriema. We went to town for a great lunch and my only souvenir shopping. After buying a really tacky gift for my brother (I can't say what since he might be reading my blog and I haven't given it to him) we left for the farm fields where our two big birds were hopefully waiting for us.

The "biggest" target we had was the Greater Rhea, a relative of the Ostrich. We turned off of the main road onto a dirt tract through soy bean fields and in the distance we could see some very big lumps. Brad said "There they are!" We got the scopes out and sure enough there were several huge ratites in the field. It was hard for me to fathom something that big just running around in soy bean fields. Unfortunately the Seriemas were not so cooperative, so Martin has a reason to go back, too! We did get very close looks at the Rheas as we were driving out of the fields. Rhea puns were flying, but I will only use the one in the title.

Martin loves swifts. There is a fabulous overlook where they fly by on eye level. We were blown away by Biscutate Swifts, which are very large with a broken white collar. The view was spectacular, too. We had to catch a late flight to Alta Floresta for the next part of our trip, so we headed back to Cuiaba, stopping for a quick drink and an even quicker peak at a Cliff Flycatcher. We got back into town. Brad returned the rental car and we settled into the airport to wait for our flight. Martin alarmed some German tourists by hand catching a huge dragonfly in the terminal. For some reason they didn't want to see it! He got some photographs of it and we boarded the plane.

Day List
Undulated Tinamou
Small-billed Tinamou
Red-winged Tinamou
Greater Rhea
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite
Pearl Kite
Plumbeous Kite
Gray Hawk
Roadside Hawk
White-tailed Hawk
Yellow-headed Caracara
American Kestrel
Red-legged Seriema
Southern Lapwing
Rock Dove
Picazuro Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Ruddy Quail-Dove
Red-and-green Macaw
Blue-winged Macaw
Red-shouldered Macaw
White-eyed Parakeet
Peach-fronted Parakeet
Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
Blue-headed Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Smooth-billed Ani
Guira Cuckoo
Pheasant Cuckoo
Pavonine Cuckoo
Burrowing Owl
Striped Owl
Common Pauraque
Little Nightjar
Biscutate Swift
Cinnamon-throated Hermit
Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
White-vented Violet-ear
Black-throated Mango
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
Horned Sungem
Blue-crowned Trogon
Blue-crowned Motmot
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
White-eared Puffbird
Black-fronted Nunbird
Lettered Aracari
Chestnut-eared Aracari
Channel-billed Toucan
Toco Toucan
Bar-breasted Piculet
White-wedged Piculet
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker
Checkered Woodpecker
Campo Flicker
Lineated Woodpecker
Olivaceous Woodcreeper
Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper
Buff-throated Woodcreeper
Rufous Hornero
Cinereous-breasted Spinetail
Great Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Rufous-winged Antshrike
Rufous-capped Antshrike
Plain Antvireo
Large-billed Antwren
Rusty-backed Antwren
Collared Crescent-chest
Band-tailed Manakin
White-bearded Manakin
Fiery-capped Manakin
Sepia-capped Flycatcher
Chapada Flycatcher
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Forest Elaenia
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Plain-crested Elaenia
Lesser Elaenia
Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant
Cliff Flycatcher
Gray Monjita
Tropical Kingbird
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Streaked Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Crested Becard
Masked Tityra
Purplish Jay
Curl-crested Jay
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Red-eyed Vireo
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Rufous-bellied Thrush
Pale-breasted Thrush
Chalk-browed Mockingbird
Thrush-like Wren
Moustached Wren
House Wren
Brown-chested Martin
Gray-breasted Martin
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
House Sparrow
Yellowish Pipit
White-bellied Warbler
Flavescent Warbler
Grassland Sparrow
Pectoral Sparrow
Saffron-billed Sparrow
Black-faced Tanager
White-rumped Tanager
White-lined Tanager
Silver-beaked Tanager
Sayaca Tanager
Palm Tanager
Purple-throated Euphonia
Thick-billed Euphonia
Blue-black Grassquit
Plumbeous Seedeater
Buff-throated Saltator
Green-winged Saltator
Black-throated Saltator
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Chopi Blackbird

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