Whos keeping an eye on me....

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

NE Brazil 2017 - Pt11 (Veracel reserve)

An early start and a short 30 minute drive to the Veracel reserve outside Porto Seguro. A few specials were on the list especially a pair of Cotingas, White-winged and Banded, plus a few Parrots and Parakeets..

We parked up pretty much in the middle of the reserve in a spot that would allow open views of the skyline and a 360 degree view of the tree tops. It worked pretty well as in all directions we were able to scope dozens of White-Winged Cotingas, in almost every direction. One particular distant tree held upto 8 birds including immature birds. The rain that was fairly heavy during the drive to the reserve had subsided to annoying showers that were heavy enough to make us take cover but not prolonged enough to affect the bird activity too much, it was more about keeping the optics dry. A Rusty Margined Guan was perched in the gloom just inside the forest edge and a pair of Red-browed Parrots flew directly over our heads against a very dark sky, without Ciro IDing the call from way off it was one that we would certainly have missed if we were on our own.
Red-browed Parrot ...... you will have to take my word for it.

We ate breakfast under the shelter of the hatchback and continued in vein to scope every tree for the Banded Cotinga. As it happened this spot was pretty good for the more common species as Blue Dacnis, Red-Legged Honeycreepers, Bananaquits, White-crowned Manakins were abundant. We stayed here for the best part of three hours with Ciro constantly scanning for the Cotinga, but every now and again picking up some great birds and some of the target birds. Another Black-necked Aracari show a little nearer than our last sighting from Serra Bonita a few days ago. We had heard Plain Parakeets early this morning and Ciro was confident we would see then later, of course he was right, a small flock flew overhead and landed a short distance infront of us and an Ochre-bellied Flycatcher gave great views in some bushes near the car, it would be joined by a Bahia Antwren, which was now becoming a common bird during the last 24hrs. When we finally got onto a single flyover Ochre-marked Parakeet giving us the full set (or so we thought), Ciro suggested we go hunting the Banded Cotinga in other locations. The rain and showers slowly subsided giving us some sunshine, Grey-rumped Swifts astonishingly the first we had seen in two weeks and Southern Rough-winged Swallows took advantage of the better weather. We found a patch of thinly vegetated and open forest edge that Ciro thought we may have a chance of a Frilled Coquette, he even though for a second that one had just flown off as we turned towards a flowering bush, we never made contact with it (would have been a highlight if we had), we did  manage yet another female Manakin, this time a Red-Headed Manakin, a Black-eared Fairy was no consolation for the missed Coquette, but the Eared Pygmy-tyrant was a lifer as was the Silvery-breasted Tanager.

Ochre-marked Parakeet
Southern Rough Winged Swallow

Silvery-breasted Tanager

We continued to drive looking for possible Cotinga locations, and at one of these we were able to park up and enjoy some spectacular wildlife for an hour or more. Unfortunately a Black-headed Berryeater (good bird to get and certainly on the must get wish list), called, called, called and didn't show, Ciro tried hard for us  but couldn't work his magic. A Zone-tailed Hawk had been patrolling the area for a while and everybird in the location had become agitated. This natural flushing proved to be pretty good for us as a pair of White-winged Cotingas came down into the trackside trees giving super close views, miles better than the scoped views this morning in the drizzle. Buff-throated Saltators, Saffron Finches, Rufous Horneros, a trip first pair of Swallow Tanagers all congregated in the area to check out the hawk. High above two King Vultures were being mobbed by a spec in the sky, the spec that to my eyes initially could have been a Sparrow turned out to be a Roadside Hawk, the King Vulture is huge, it was a great size comparison moment.
Ciros eared pricked up, he got excited and couldn't get his words out, "there, quick, follow..... Brown-backed Parrotlets" six flew over, not great views as it all happed abit quickly.  Ciro started to tell us the tale of one of only a few ever Brazilian Twitches that he has ever made, one being a 2000km Twitch for the extremely rare and hard to find Brown-backed Parrotlet, while grinning from ear to ear and relating the tale, blimey more flew over coming right at us overhead giving better views, I counted another eleven, could have been more. Certainly the highlight of the morning, so far!! while the Berryeater continued to frustrate us. 

Pair of King Vultures being mobbed by a Roadside Hawk
White-winged Cotinga male

and the female

We watched a Sloth in a distant tree and we hadn't noticed Ciro taking a call on his phone, the next few minutes wer incredible. picture Ciro the local guide, arguably the best in NE Brazil, driving like a mad man (we wernt complaining), the bumps and craters in the track that he gently rides over were now launch pads as he hit everyone at speed, muttering Cotinga, Cotinga.

We arrived at the Veracel Station, way back through the reserve right on the forest edge. Security guard  let us in and Ciro was met with hugs by some very excited staff. This morning they had seen a pair of male Banded Cotinga feeding in the açai palm trees, almost immediately we were looking high up into the canopy where sat perched was the most stunning male Banded Cotinga. (The second male was not seen by us). A group of staff, Ciro, Jeff and myself strained our necks, it was incredible. It flew off to the other side of the garden, this time the view was pretty poor, but we couldn't complain. We had about twenty minutes of this bird perched, high above us, then it decided it wanted to feed. It flew to another açai palm tree just a few yards away and the following images kind of give you an idea of what we witnessed for the next 10 minutes or so. It fed and flew into the canopy again where it perched and digested the fruit.

What we had just witnessed were almost unprecedented views for birdwatchers, Ciro put the following message out onto a bird alert, it is of course translated by me from Portuguese into English for the purposes of this post.

MEGA, MEGA, MEGA!!! Very close views of Banded Cotinga today!!!
A very special day in the veracel station rppn!! was since dawn passarinhando in reserve, and as always the very rare banded cotinga was one of the main wishes of the observers that I'm driving. We had seen about 15 Anambé-of-a-Wing-White until 10.00 in the morning, and still nothing of banded cotinga; until 10:15 p.m. my brother of pity Luciano Lima, who is coordinating a project of observation of birds here on the coast of discovery, sends me a picture of the bug, newly taken at the headquarters of the veracruz station by Environmental Analyst of the reserve, Priscilla Sales Gomes. The Beast has been sighted (for the first time this season on the outskirts of the headquarters of the reserve) by the official veracel (and local guide) Jaílson Souza, which showed the beast to Priscilla, who photographed and sent the photo / news for Luciano, I knew I'd be in the region these days and warned me of the find. Were less than ten minutes between the receipt of the news until the arrival on the scene. The result was that in there, and it is the tip to the observers who can come to the place in the next few days. This bug fantastic giving soft is a rare event / opportunity. I, that I've seen the species several times, I shook me one more time to see that animal, mind-blowing, and practically hallucinogen so close again. I don't have more vague on the agenda of passarinhadas this year, but for those who want to come to take your chances (I would), I would recommend scheduling a visit with the Jaílson Souza; not only to the mind-blowing banded cotinga, but for several species that you have Great chances to observe in the discovery coast.

There were an accompanying pair of stunning Yellow-throated Woodpeckers, a variety of Tanagers, Thrushes,Masked Water-tyrants and Rufous Horneros in the grounds so the Cotinga didn't quite get all the attention.
Yellow-throated Woodpeckers

So there we have it, we could have been 2000 kms away, we just happened to be 15 minutes away, shear shear good fortune, incredible luck, incredible bird, incredible experience, incredible two hours of my life, but the bad news was that the bastard Black-headed Berryeater continued to give us the run around. We decided to head back for lunch in Porto Seguro at the incredible restaurant Portinha  where the food was fantastic, you must try this place for lunch if your ever in the city.

Mid afternoon we would head back in to the forest, we dare not go back for another sighting of the Banded Cotinga, it was hard enough to drag ourselves away this morning, we had a Potoo and Berryeater to find.

We were still buzzing and its a good job I keep a note book as I cant really remember much about the afternoon session, I can name a few birds that we saw, Black-capped Becard, Plain Winged Woodcreeper, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Black-throated Trogon, Screaming Phia. I had known that I would proably record my 2000th world species on this tour, and it came with a Ringed Woodpecker, pretty chuffed with the score, pretty chuffed that it was a Woodpecker.... I do like Woodpeckers.
Ringed Woodpecker..... a milestone bird

Rufous capped Antthrush

As the day drew on we planned to take a roiute that may give us a chance to catch a Tinamou or two as the light faded, we would then go and retry for the White-winged Potoo. We managed to get onto one of our last targets of the reserve with a Band-tailed Antwren and we set off down a track that was pretty dark with the intention of spotlighting roosting Tinamous, we didn't succeed, but we found a new location for a calling White-winged Potoo. We were close, probably right underneath it but for all our efforts we never managed even a snippet of a view, thinking back, we were so close, we didn't realise at the time how near yet so far away we were to getting this most wanted target bird. We continued to search in vein and returned to the previous nights locations and only heard distant calls. The saving grace to the evening session, was much like yesterday this time my lifer was a Tawny-browed Owl.

So for the second night we missed the Potoo, the consolation was the MEGA,MEGA, MEGA Banded Cotinga, we will sleep fairly happily tonight we, have another go tomorrow!



Simon Douglas Thompson said...

There's some pretty striking colours in these exotic images!

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

what a wonderful trip you had and these birds re so colourful. I am sorry these days I do not have the same time to comment on all your posts due to recent events but I appreaciae you posts and your comments on mine.

Dave said...

Thank you Margaret and Simon

sanpiseth40 said...

I appreaciae you posts and your comments on mine.

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