Whos keeping an eye on me....

Friday, 21 April 2017

NE Brazil 2017 - Pt5 (Lencois and Chapada Diamantina area)

We had arrived yesterday early evening at the town of Lencois and were booked into Pousada Casa de Geleia. We wouldn't have time to venture out but the birding around the garden feeders and fountain was excellent. 2 lifers for starters with a Variable Oriole and a Red-rumped cacique. The hummingbird feeders were a little quiet probably due to the aggressive Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, but every now and again a rare (for these parts), Brown Violetear tried to get a quick feed before being chased off, leaving the way clear for the Glittering-bellied Emeralds to snatch a quick feed. Planalto and Reddish Hermits kept their distance and fed on the other side of the garden.
Reddish Hermit

Planalto Hermit

Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
Glittering-bellied Emerald

We had seen a scattering of Red-cowled Cardinals in most places prior to today, Ciro had been fairly cool towards them as we had travelled from place to place, often muttering that we would see plenty so don't worry, now I know why.......  Dozens upon dozens fed merrily in this garden, both adults and juveniles.
Red-cowled Cardinal


As we enjoyed a cool beer on the veranda a host of birds came down to the path to feed on the seed or the fruit that had been put out by out hosts. Pale Baywings, Blue Dacnis, Palm and Sayaca Tanagers, BananaquitPale Breasted Thrush, Rufous Bellied Thrush and upto 6 White Naped Jays, all in the garden and all together, a great relaxing way to spend the last hour of daylight. A single Sooty Swift flew over the town whilst a Violet-capped Woodnymph added a new hummingbird species to the garden feeders, and just as the light faded dozens of Bats came from under the eaves of the Pousada and flew off into the dusky skies.
Pale Baywing

Rufous Breasted Thrush

There was  excitement about this morning s birding as we were heading to the Diamantina mountains and to the iconic Morro do Pai Inácio, one of the most well known and popular of the Chapada Diamantina’s attractions, the Morro do Pai Inácio, has an altitude of 1,120m. This popular tourist attraction in the Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina, is found in the region of Palmeiras and we were heading off in search of some good regional endemic birds including the Hooded Visorbearer.

Morro do Pai Inácio

and the view from the top

Our guide Ciro enjoying the spectacular vista

We arrived with low cloud and some drizzle and as we parked the vehicle we were met with Chopi Blackbirds and Blue & White Swallows hawking over the Caatinga scrubland. A walk through the Caatinga quickly brought us a singing Grey-backed Tachuri, it sat atop some bushes but quickly dived back down, it did this a few times, with a quick photo taken we moved on and decided to try later when the light improved (alas we didn't get to see it again on the way back), a female Sincora Antwren showed really well, and further along two males gave fleeting views. We were heading to find enough plants that could be holding a Hooded Visorbearer on territory, and soon enough Ciro found a patch that looked promising. A White eared Puffbird called out from a nearby forest (which looked fairly impenetrable from where we were and one that we didn't try further for), a Rusty-winged Antshrike and Plain-crested Elaenia kept us company until Ciro heard the Visorbearer call, then suddenly dropped onto the flowers behind us. We moved into a better position and waited for it to return, it did. Ciro suggested that this species is fairly obliging and would allow us quite close, unfortunately the poor light never really improved but this fabulous Hooded Visorbearer gave us all wonderful views over the next few hours. A small party of Cinnamon Tanagers foraged in bushes and trees close by and a Cliff Flycathcher sat on a rooftop of an abandoned building. We tried for a Pale-throated Pampa finch but none were calling.

Gray-backed Tachuri

Cinnamon Tanager

Hooded Visorbearer
and displaying for us
Sincora Antwren male
female Sincora Antwren

As we headed back to the vehicle a Collared Crescentchest called but extensive searching didn't allow any views but we stumbled onto a lively area of Caatinga that held a good few species including some lifers. Lesser Elaenia wasn't a lifer but the Highland Elaenia was, as was the beautiful endemic Gilt-edged Tanager, four or five birds were busy with one in particular coming very close, too close to focus at one stage. Green-winged Saltator, Sayaca Tanagers, the first White-lined Tanagers of the trip and the now regular Red-cowled Cardinals and Blue Dacnis made this a very lively flock.
Gilt-edged Tanager

Ciro wanted to try another location for a Pale-throated Pampa finch and sure enough one was calling but we had been stopped in out tracks by a very showy pair of Sincora Antwrens, while just over the track a Masked Yellowthroat and Black-throated Saltator shared the same tree. It took a while to locate the finch and eventually Ciro located one in the scope.

Black-throated Saltator

Ciro and Jeff in search of .......

We finished the morning looking for one more species and it would mean hiking up the Morro do Pai Inácio. An American Kestrel greeted us in the car park and we hiked three quarters of the way up the Tipui where we found a single Velvety Black-tyrant, Ciro and myself continued to the top and were greeted by stunning views across the mountains and another male Velvety Black-Tyrant. Unfortunately at this point I was able to take only a few pictures before my battery ran out on the camera..... it was a long way down to fetch another, so the Stripe-tailed Yellow-finch got away without having its portrait taken.
Velvety Black-tyrant

After lunch in the wonderful town of Lencois we headed off to another area for the afternoon. The birding slowed down a bit but a Purple-throated Euphonia and Gray Elaenia were new for me and a host of new trip birds were added such as Tropical Parula (cant believe this was our first sighting), Golden Crowned Warbler, Streaked Xenops, Pectoral Sparrow, Planalto Slaty-antshrike, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher and a female Blue-backed Mankin (our first of many females and not many males).

It had been a fantastic day and a half, especially with the Hooded Visorbearer this morning. The pousada and garden birding were exceptional and the town of Lencois had a reall "Hippy" vibe to it and is a hive of activity with hikers and hiking shops mingled in with loads of restaurants and  cobbled street café s.

Tomorrow we bird along the way to Boa Nova

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