Wednesday (Day 1)
Following an overnight flight, we landed at Rio mid morning, and were picked up from the airport by our guide from Serra dos Tucanos lodge, Cirilo. The journey from here to the lodge took around 1Ĺ hours, during which we picked up a few early birds for the trip. Lunch was due to be served at 1pm, and since that left half an hour free by the time we arrived, suitcases were torn apart for valuable birding gear and we were camped out in front of the bird feeders in the garden in no time. Andy, co owner of the lodge with his wife Cristina, has laid out the garden with spaced nectar and fruit feeders, which attracts a plethora of visitors from the surrounding thick forest. The balcony behind the building is bedecked with seats to casually watch the birds from, but we preferred to be much more up close and personal. Also, with no other birders in the lodge at the time, we didnít have to consider anyone else.
First and most obvious are the hummingbirds, which flash past your nose at every opportunity, while touring the range of feeders non stop, as well as harrying other species. Most volatile of the hummers seemed to be the Sombre Hummingbirds, which were not only the most numerous, but also the most aggressive. They seemed particularly partial to harrying the larger Saw-billed Hermits, which then landed away from the throng in the denser vegetation. Violet-capped Woodnymphs were only slightly less common, and slightly less aggressive. Once watched, we tried to pick up their regular perches, which were used at irregular times. The Brazilian Rubies kept their own company, and also preferred one set of feeders.
We had expected to see a greater range of Tanagers on the fruit feeders, although the few that were present didnít disappoint. The male of a pair of Ruby-crowned Tanagers had been usurped by an earlier lone male, which proudly boasted the red crown which the replacement lacked. A trio of Golden-chevroned Tanagers kept together, while a Burnished Buff Tanager was represented by a lone drab female. Euphonias were in various states of dress, from rich male Chestnut-bellied, Violaceous, & Orange-bellied, to the more confusing females and ragged transitional males (Violaceous of the latter). A pair of Blue-necked Chlorophonias were stunning.
We spent over 3Ĺ hours in the garden, adding Parakeets (Plain & Maroon-bellied), Long-billed Wren, and pairs of Blue Dacnis amongst others, before deciding to venture further afield and tackle the lodge trails. These are reached from a gate in the corner of the gardens, and lead straight into some quite dense forest. There are only a couple to follow, and the order of the day was to walk slowly, quietly, and to listen for calls rather than look for the birds. We spent almost two hours here, and while the birds were quite hard work, due to sparse distribution and concealment in the leaves, we were rewarded well, with emphasis on the antbirds which we unearthed. First and easily the treasure of the finds was a Rufous-capped Antthrush, skulking in the undergrowth not far from the track. We were lucky to pick it up, since it was silently walking the wet leaves on the damp ground, but did afford excellent views. Eared Pygmy Tyrant was calling, but needed craned necks to pick out this tiny bird in the canopy above. The two pairs of Plain Antvireos that we saw were a little easier, but still enjoyed the safety of denser leaves. When we exited the forest, it was around 5pm, and the light had already started to go, with action around the feeders much less than earlier.