Sunday, 7 August 1988

BRAZIL July/August 1988: Rio Grande do Sol & Canastra

30 July.  After a reasonable night in the airport we caught the morning flight to Porto Alegre where we hired a VW Beetle for 4 days.  We drove north to Aparados da Serra buying some food on the way and arriving late afternoon.  We had a quick look around before putting up the tent.  Birds seen included Guira Cuckoo, Field Flicker, Grey and Black & White Monjitas and Yellow-rumped Marshbird.

coastal Rio Grande du Sol from the air
Chimango Caracara
31 July.  All day at Aparados da Serra.  Open grasslands and scattered Araucaria (monkey-puzzle) pines around a very deep gorge, the Itaimbezinho canyon. Birds seen included Red-legged Seriema, Long-tailed Cincloides, Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Striolated and Araucaria Tit-Spinetails, Firewood-gatherer, Chestnut-backied Tanager and Long-tailed Reed-Finch.
Aparados da Serra grasslands
Itaimbezinho canyon

me as close to the Itaimbezinho Canyon as I wanted to get

Black and White Monjita
Araucaria trees by the canyon

it was surprising how close to the canyon edge the trees were growing
more open grassland at Aparados

Red-legged Sereima
Field Flicker
Long-tailed Cinclodes
Green Kingfisher
Aparados grasslands, distant Nick and our car
moon over Aparados
1 August.  We spent the morning in Aparados da Serra before packing up the tent and left  early afternoon to drive to the coast.  We stopped at some wetland areas on the way and arrived at Capao da Canoa at dusk.  With some searching we found a hotel nearby, one of the few still open out-of-season.  Birds seen included Brown Tinamou, White-faced Ibis, Aplomado Falcon, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Red-legged Sereima, Picui Ground Dove, Burrowing Owl, Mottled Piculet, White-rumped Swallow and Azure Jay.

Waterfall into the Itaimbezinho Canyon
grassland fires at Aparados
American Black Vulture
Field Flicker
White-tailed Hawk, its namer presumably overlooked the black bar!
Long-tailed Reed-Finch
Sooty Tyrannulet

driving to the coast
Yellow-billed Pintails on a roadside marsh
2 August.  All day along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul, we drove to Quintao and back to Cidreira birding on beach and roadside pools.  We then drove to Porto Alegre at dusk where we found a very seedy hotel.  It only had single rooms, possibly with hourly rates, but we were too tired to look further.  At that time it was probably the worst place I’ve paid more than a pound to stay in.  Nick was so unimpressed with his room that he slept on the floor of mine.  I must have been shattered as I had a really good night’s sleep.  Birds seen included Magellanic Penguin, White-tufted Grebe, White-chinned Petrel, Yellow-nosed Albatross (12+), Southern Screamer, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Rufous-chested and Tawny-throated Dotterel, 3 species of skua, Trudeau’s Tern, Firewood-gatherer, White Monjita, Spectacled Tyrant, Creamy-bellied Thrush and Chestnut-capped, Scarlet-headed and White-browed Blackbirds.
Nick and friends
they weren't so keen on me
Magellanic Penguin

South American and Trudeau's Terns
not that you can tell much from these images
Night Heron
Black-necked Stilt
Southern Lapwing
almost as smart as ours
Spectacled Tyrant
White-faced Ibis
White Monjita
an immaculate bird
Tawny-throated Dotterel
Burrowing Owl
Rufous Hornero
3 August.  We left our ‘hotel’ before it got light to drive to the airport but soon took a wrong turning and ended up quite lost before common sense prevailed and we found our way back to the main road and airport.  We dropped off the car and flew back to Rio and, with a change of planes, to Belo Horizonte.  The internal flights running very smoothly, which was just as well as here, as previously arranged, we met Bruce Forrester, Simon Cook, Davis Finch & Doug Trent. We were joining them for a three day trip to Serra da Canastra and we soon left in a hired minibus heading for Sao Roque de Minas.  We arrived late evening not helped by missing a turning on the motorway although the distances were much greater than I’d anticipated. We stayed in an excellent hotel in Sao Roque de Minas, the closest town to the park entrance.  Few birds were seen on what was a travel day but they included Red-legged Seriema, Toco Toucan (from the van, not ideal for such a good new bird) and Red-crested Cardinal.
approaching Rio from the air
4 August.  The disadvantage of there not being anywhere to stay nearer to the park than Sao Roque de Minas was brought home the next morning when we had to get up at some unearthly hour to arrive at the park at dawn.  We birded until dusk and returned to Sao Roque de Minas.  During the day we saw Spotted Nothura, Burrowing Owl, Toco Toucan, Brasilia Tapaculo, White-rumped Monjita, Cock-tailed and Sharp-tailed Tyrants, Hellmayr’s Pipit, White-bellied and White-striped Warbler and Cinnamon Tanager.  A search for Brazilian Merganser along the superb looking river above the waterfall proved unsuccessful.  Nothing however would have matched seeing nine Giant Anteaters, two with babies!
Serra da Canastra
Chalk-browed Mockingbird
it was easy to imagine seeing Brazilian Merganser along this river but imagination was as close as I came

above Canastra waterfall

Peach-fronted Parakeet
5 August.  Another pre-dawn start had Nick and me thinking that we would have been better off camping at the park entrance.  Again we birded until dusk and returned to Sao Roque de Minas well after dark.  During the day we saw Greater Rhea, Burrowing Owl, Planalto Hermit, Campo Miner, Helmetted Manakin, White-rumped Monjita, Cock-tailed and Sharp-tailed Tyrants, White-browed Warbler and Blue Finch.  A more determined effort to find Brazilian Merganser was equally fruitless, the river being far from easy to walk alongside for more than a short distance.  Another six Giant Anteaters, one with a large youngster on its back, were superb.
more Serra da Canastra grassland
Giant Anteater
Giant Anteater carrying a baby, one of the most endearing animals I've seen

Helmetted Manakin, it is hard to hide with such a bright red head and upper back
White-rumped Monjita
6 August.  We left Sao Roque de Minas before dawn intending to drive outside of the park to the bottom of the waterfall.  The road was poor and progress was much slower than anticipated, not helped by a lengthy but productive stop in scrub along the way.  We eventually gave up on the waterfall and late morning started out on the long drive back to Belo Horizonte were we arrived in the early evening at Doug's villa in the outskirts.  During the day we saw Blue-winged Macaw, Golden-capped Parakeet, White Woodpecker, Rufous-winged Ant-shrike, Rufous Gnateater and Rufous Casiornis but the best was saved for last when Doug took us to a site near his house for Scissor-tailed Nightjar where we had excellent views of a male and female.

7 August.  Nick and I were back on our own and caught the morning flight to Sao Paulo and a connection to Foz do Iguaçu where we arrived at 15.00.  We didn’t feel we needed a car for this part of the trip and instead caught a taxi to a campsite just outside the National Park entrance, although we discovered that the distance wasn’t that far and could have been walked.  After putting up the tent we birded on edge of park.  Birds seen included Small-billed Tinamou, Ruddy Quail-Dove and Plush-crested Jay.  It was a lot hotter here than anywhere else we’d visited on the trip so far.

Sao Paulo from the air, most of our internal flights involved changing planes either here or in Rio

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