Trip guided and report compiled by Andy Foster. Originally posted on www.serradostucanos.com.br
Wednesday 1st February
Having arrived with British Airways into Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday evening, the group transferred to the Linx Hotel, just a stone’s throw away from the airport to spend the night and were collected by the Itororo lodge driver at 07.00. Prior to departing from the hotel, some of the group saw Band-tailed Hornero, Masked Water Tyrant and several Orange-winged Amazons. The journey out of Rio and up over the mountains was uneventful with a few species being seen along the route, these included Cocoi Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Magnificent Frigatebird, Neotropic Cormorant and Southern Lapwing.
After a journey of just under 3 hours, the group arrived at the lodge and were greeted by myself and Rainer, the owner of Itororo lodge. We quickly got to work with the overwhelming number of species coming in and out of the feeders, boosted by a small mixed flock that was also moving through at the same time, we did however find time to grab some tea, coffee and cake! Action was thick and fast and we soon had several new species under our belts which included Blond-crested Woodpecker, Brassy-breasted Tanager, Golden-chevroned Tanager, Sayaca Tanager, Azure-shouldered Tanager, Palm Tanager, Ruby-crowned Tanager, Great Kiskadee, Burnished-buff Tanager, Pale-breasted Thrush, Rufous-bellied Thrush, White-throated Hummingbird, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Brazilian Ruby, Black Jacobin and a brief visit from a beautiful male Amethyst Woodstar. Birds in the flock included Yellow-eared Woodpecker, Buff-fronted Foliage Gleaner, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Scaled Woodcreeper, Planalto Tyrannulet and Chestnut-crowned Becard.
With things going a little quieter at the feeders, we managed to pull ourselves away to be shown to our rooms, meeting up shortly afterwards for a tour briefing, after which we took a short walk towards the White Trail within the lodge grounds getting spectacular views of a young Common Potoo, Blue Manakin and a pair of Bertoni’s Antbirds. Lunch was served at 13.00, followed by a short break and a Dusky-legged Guan!
We met up again at 14.45 to walk back into the forest in search of some of the endemic specialities to be found within the Itororo lodge grounds. It was a productive afternoons walk picking up Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Golden-crowned Warbler, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Black-goggled Tanager, Variable Antshrike, stunning views of a female White-barred Piculet, Rufous-capped Spinetail, Pin-tailed Manakin and both Planalto and White-throated Woodcreepers, followed shortly afterwards by a rather uncooperative White-breasted Tapaculo.
We arrived back at the lodge shortly before 18.00 and met up again for dinner at 18.30, followed by our daily checklist.
Thursday 2nd February
We all met up for breakfast at 06.00 and just after 06.30 we were heading off for a full day birding the higher reaches of the Serra do Mar Mountains. As we approached our parking spot, clouds were slowly forming over the peak, but we set off with positive thoughts for a good days birding ahead!
Our first new bird of the day was a Grey-capped Tyrannulet that although perched way up in the canopy, showed it’s id features well, shortly afterwards, Roger spotted a female Black and Gold Cotinga in a distant tree. A Brazilian Antthrush started to call, but despite some effort, it refused to come any closer, but we did get great views of a female Green-crowned Plovercrest at the same spot. A little further up the track we used some playback to call in a female Giant Antshrike and a Rufous-tailed Antbird, which both gave good views. We arrived at a small viewpoint were I picked up a Swallow-tailed Cotinga, but unfortunately this didn’t stick around long enough for the whole group to see, hopefully we would catch up with the pair back at the lodge grounds later in the week.
We continued our way up the steep track and stumbled upon a mixed flock which contained Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Thick-billed Saltator, White-rimmed Warbler and a pair of Orange-eyed Thornbirds. Next up were several Scaly-headed Parrots perched out nicely in the open, a Plumbeous Pigeon, Pale-vented Pigeon, our first Diademed Tanagers, Blue-billed Black-Tyrant and a Rufous-browed Peppershrike, things were going well! Howard announced he had a bird, which turned out to be another of our endemic targets of the day, Bay-chested Warbling Finch, this was followed shortly afterwards by a Velvety-black Tyrant, Serra do Mar Tyrannulet and an Olivaceous Eleania.
We had now reached our look out point for Grey-winged Cotinga and although this vocalised frustratingly close, it refused to show itself! We spent around an hour at the spot, scanning for the Cotinga, but only picking up a Yellow-legged Thrush, Diademed Tanagers, male Green-crowned Plovercrest and another Velvety-black Tyrant.
The cloud had amazingly cleared and we were rewarded with stunning views across Nova Friburgo and beyond, it was clearly time to head onto the last section of the trail and find ourselves another localised endemic, the Itatiaia Thistletail. Some of the group decided not to go up further and remained at the viewpoint whilst we headed up towards the security guards hut and the 621 steps that followed. There was a fair bit of activity in this area, with more male Green-crowned Plovercrests and on about step 50, thankfully, an Itatiaia Thistletail…this saved us some serious time and a long walk, quite a relief! On the way back down the steps, we had great views of a pair of Pallid Spinetails and a female Blue-billed Black-Tyrant.
We started the slow walk back down towards the minibus picking up amazing views of a Mouse-coloured Tapaculo along the way and trying hard to call in a Large-tailed Antshrike, which unfortunately, refused to play ball. We did get great views of a male Black and Gold Cotinga and our final new birds of the day, a Rufous-backed Antvireo. It had been a tiring but incredibly productive days birding, arriving back at the lodge a little earlier than usual at 16.30, as we had been lucky enough to see the Thistletail so quickly. Upon arrival at the lodge, there was fresh tea, coffee and cake awaiting us and we continued birding from the decking area for a short while, before heading off for showers etc. Dinner was served at 18.30, followed by our daily checklist.
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