Saturday, March 17 - Santa Catarina State
An odd weekend to pick up some star birds in a couple of Southern Brazilian states. Saturday started with a long, twisting drive across a low mountain range (Dramamine please!) before a lunch stop at the best restaurant in Itapoá in Santa Catarina State. The restaurant was good, largely filled with little old ladies, but close to a beautiful beach full of attractive Brazilian surfers. Birding trips aren't always dull ...
First up was PARANÁ ANTWREN, a super-range-restricted species that had previously been recorded in a trashy-looking marsh area in the port district. We heard them quickly but it took quite a while to coax one out into view and the sound of trucks thundering by on the road didn't help much. The habitat here seems so vulnerable but it doesn't look like it's protected in any way, things may be bleak for this species. While we were working the antwrens we got two bonus prizes, the locally common Azure Jay dropped by, then a big flock of BROWN-BACKED PARROTLETS flew over. The big flock, 50+, was a huge surprise and this super-range-restricted (tiny spot on the map) and rarely seen species wasn't really one I'd held any hope of actually encountering. Eduardo played a recording to try to get them to turn, but too late, and they carried on flying over. Still, a nice piece of luck and nice add for the trip.
|Scaled Chachalaca and Striped Cuckoo|
Sunday, March 18 - Paraná State
With our targets cleaned up, we got up super early and headed back to the city of Curitiba where first stop surprisingly was an urban park. Park Barigui was a great piece of habitat with several fairly large areas of native forest, but it is an urban park with lots of people and at the first stop a whole bunch of drunk teenagers finishing a long night of drinking. Still, we were intrepid birders and so pressed on, entering "the forest" and playing for my target bird here, the CANEBRAKE GROUNDCREEPER a very cool Southern Brazilian specialty with a very evocative name. The Groundcreepers popped up on request and we worked our way though the "forest" adding a few more lifers for me, namely Olive Spinetail and Gray-throated Warbling-Finch. In a way I felt quite at home ... joggers, shady characters of various types, drunk teens, and older cruising gay men all reminded my of Central Park. Birding sure does take you to interesting places.
And so out last stop was an area of marshes, woodland and fields near the airport where we added a few more goodies like Chestnut-backed Tanager and made a heroic effort to see the recently described MARSH TAPACULO. I know this species as the Tall-Grass Wetland Tapaculo and had read about it's discovery (in 1997) and really wanted to see one. Eduardo's (my guide) heart visibly sank though when I mentioned it, clearly this was not an easy bird to see. We spent a couple of hours at the Estrada do Curralinho marsh, a known hotspot for the species, and positioned ourselves around an area where other birders had cut a path through the impenetrably dense marsh vegetation to see the bird. Dense actually doesn't even begin to describe this habitat ... the chest-high grass was so tightly woven together that walking through it was quite impossible and yet, this little bird loves the stuff and scrambles around completely safe from predators in the almost solid mass of tangled vegetation. We heard the bird ... it responded readily to tape ... but it did not come to the edge of the grass. Still it was a memorable experience to encounter a bird I'd read so much about and eventually I released Eduardo from his torment and said that "heard only" was just fine.