Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brazil Day 5, Rio Azul

Pousada Rio Azul was to be our home base for four nights. Set on the Rio Azul just across the border from Mato Grosso in the state of Para, this fishing lodge has recently proved to be a cracker jack birding spot. The lodge sits in a clearing surrounded by good forest, though not as large a tract as Cristalino Lodge, our next destination. It has a white sand campina (stunted forest) along the entrance tract, which contains some species of birds not found in the canopy forest.

We started the day birding the campina, hoping for another species of Jay, the Plush-crested Jay. Unfortunately that was not to be. We did hear them calling briefly, but never got a look. We soon forgot our disappointment with the jay when we spotted one of our other target birds, Red-fanned Parrots. These are a very unusual parrot with a large ruff around the neck. A flock flew in and we got great looks at the group feeding. Many macaws were flying over. We had incredible looks at a Spotted Puffbird, a real looker!

Hummingbirds were zipping around everywhere. The first of many Black-throated Mangos made an appearance, along with Versicolored Emerald, White-throated Sapphire, Green-tailed Goldenthroat and Long-billed Starthroat. My personal favorite that day was an Amethyst Woodstar. Woodstars are very tiny hummingbirds that are bumble bee mimics. They don't really look like bumble bees, but they move like them. This allows them to sneak by larger hummingbirds who are guarding flowers.

After a fantastic lunch (I could rave for paragraphs about the food at Rio Azul) I made a batch of butterfly bait. This concoction of over ripe bananas, beer and molasses is guarenteed to bring in butterflies, particularly large tropical species like morphos and owl. Martin and I divided it up and spread it around the edges of the clearing with great results. Within five minutes there were several huge bugs feeding on it. If you look at my photo page you can see some of these great insects, www.flickr.com/sngcanary. We spent most of our post lunch "siesta" time photographing butterflies, instead of resting!

Later in the afternoon we walked through the forest down to the river. White-banded Swallows, which I think is the prettiest of the swallows that I have seen, skimmed over the water. A Green-and-rufous Kingfisher was working a small clear lagoon off of the main channel. An observation deck was on the other side of the lagoon which we planned on birding from later in the visit.

We then returned to the lodge and drove back to where we had seen the Hyacinth Macaws the night before, hoping for a better look. A small lake with trees surrounding it was down the hill from the main road. We drove down and parked. The macaws come into this area to roost at dusk. The sun was still quite high in the sky, so we walked the road. Amazonian Oropendalas were doing flips accompanied by their crazy mechanical calls. The trees were heavy with their pendelous nests. Carlo, the owner of the lodge, pointed down at the muddy road. There was a set of large cat paw prints. A Jaguar had walked through recently. We really wanted to see a Jaguar, but the owner of those paws was long gone.

We got back to the lake and started our Hyacinth vigil. Large numbers of large and small macaws flew in and even more flew by. We had great looks at Scarlets, Blue-and-yellows, Red-and-green, Chestnut-fronted and Red-bellied. A group of Red-bellieds landed right in front of me, preening and playing. It was a great way to spend the early evening. Unfortunately the star was a no show. We did hear a distant Hyacinth calling, but we never had a sighting. Despite this we were quite happy and throughly enjoyed the evening meal.
Day List
Gray Tinamou
Great Tinamou
White-throated Tinamou
Brazilian Tinamou
Least Grebe
Muscovy Duck
Brazilian Teal
Great Egret
Striated Heron
Black Vulture
Greater Yellow-headed Vulture
King Vulture
Pearl Kite
White-tailed Kite
Gray Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Red-throated Caracara
Barred Forest-Falcon
American Kestrel
Rusty-margined Guan
Red-throated Piping-Guan
Gray-breasted Crake
Ash-throated Crake
Solitary Sandpiper
Southern Lapwing
Picazuro Pigeon
Plumbeous Pigeon
Ruddy Pigeon
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Blue-and-yellow Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
Red-and-green Macaw
Chestnut-fronted Macaw
Red-bellied Macaw
White-eyed Parakeet
Painted Parakeet
Golden-winged Parakeet
Vulturine Parrot
Kawall's Parrot
Yellow-crowned Parrot
Orange-winged Parrot
Mealy Parrot
Red-fan Parrot
Smooth-billed Ani
Guira Cuckoo
Striped Cuckoo
Barn Owl
Burrowing Owl
Common Nighthawk
Gray-rumped Swift
Pale-rumped Swift
Short-tailed Swift
Fork-tailed Palm-Swift
Rufous-breasted Hermit
Black-throated Mango
Fork-tailed Woodnymph
White-chinned Sapphire
Green-tailed Goldenthroat
Versicolored Emerald
Long-billed Starthroat
Amethyst Woodstar
Black-tailed Trogon
White-tailed Trogon
Collared Trogon
Amazon Kingfisher
Green-and-rufous Kingfisher
Blue-crowned Motmot
Blue-cheeked Jacamar
Spotted Puffbird
Black-fronted Nunbird
Black-girdled Barbet
Red-necked Aracari
Chestnut-eared Aracari
Gould's Toucanet
Channel-billed Toucan
Bar-breasted Piculet
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker
Scaly-breasted Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Red-billed Woodcreeper
Black-banded Woodcreeper
Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Striped Woodcreeper
Lineated Woodcreeper
Pale-breasted Spinetail
Glossy Antshrike
Spot-winged Antshrike
Streaked Antwren
Dot-winged Antwren
White-fringed Antwren
Manu Antbird
White-backed Fire-eye
Warbling Antbird
Black-throated Antbird
Black-faced Antthrush
White-browed Purpletuft
Screaming Piha
Spangled Cotinga
Bare-necked Fruitcrow
Fiery-capped Manakin
Forest Elaenia
Yellow-breasted Flycatcher
Grayish Mourner
Short-crested Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Piratic Flycatcher
Lesser Kiskadee
Great Kiskadee
Thrush-like Schiffornis
Masked Tityra
Plush-crested Jay
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Gray-chested Greenlet
Black-billed Thrush
Lawrence's Thrush
Black-capped Donacobius
Thrush-like Wren
Moustached Wren
House Wren
Long-billed Gnatwren
White-winged Swallow
Gray-breasted Martin
White-banded Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Rufous-collared Sparrow
Grassland Sparrow
White-lined Tanager
Silver-beaked Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
White-lored Euphonia
Rufous-bellied Euphonia
Turquoise Tanager
Blue-necked Tanager
Black-faced Dacnis
Short-billed Honeycreeper
Blue-black Grassquit
Lined Seedeater
Yellow-bellied Seedeater
Buff-throated Saltator
Amazonian Oropendola
Yellow-rumped Cacique
Epaulet Oriole
Giant Cowbird

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