Trip report: Northeast Brazil custom tour (March 2018) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Andrés Vásquez. This was a custom tour.

Northeast Brazil is a land of rarities, sought-after specialties, and amazing South American birds. It is a destination that is not visited by too many birders yet, but I hope that in the near future more will want to visit these areas. At the moment TB runs only custom tours there, but we may start running set-departure tours too, and I hope that with this trip report I can encourage that.

This was another superb custom tour that we put together for (and I happily guided) our friend Rick Goldfarb who has been in with us in several other custom tours like this in the past; this was already our 9th tour together, and his 3rd in Brazil after visiting the Southeast Atlantic Forest and the Pantanal and Amazon regions.

This time we were looking for some of South America’s rarities and simply for specific lifers located in isolated spots of NE Brazil. The prevailing ecosystem of the region is the dry caatinga (scrub) which holds lots of taxa restricted to this biome. Scattered along the flat plains there are some serras and chapadas (upland ecosystems) that retain the humidity and are covered in lush green forests that hold a different variety of bird life. This combination results in several great birding spots that are quite isolated from each other, and in order to access them all, we had to cover many miles, fortunately the vast majority on fast roads.

Sites that we birded included: 1.Serra de Baturité where we got Gray-breasted Parakeet, Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant, Gray-headed Spinetail, Ceara Gnateater, Ceara Leaftosser, Lesser (Northern) Woodcreeper among others; 2.Quixadá where the Pygmy Nightjar, White-bellied Nothura, and the White-browed Guan were highlights; 3.Chapada do Araripe, where the astonishing Araripe Manakin could not get all of the attention due to other “stunners” like Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Great Xenops, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Red-shouldered Spinetail, and Scarlet-throated Tanager; 4. Canudos, where the new research station allow us to sleep facing the cliffs where Lear’s Macaws roost and Least Nighthawks fly at dusk; 5.Murici and Frei Caneca, a couple of reserves that hold some of the most restricted range birds in Brazil like Alagoas Tyrannulet, Orange-bellied Antwren, Scalloped Antbird, and White-collared Kite.

Other highlights found in a few different spots along the route included the cute Racket-tailed Coquette of which we saw an immature male well, Southern Pochard and Masked Ducks, Cactus Parakeet, Broad-tipped Hermit, Frilled Coquette, Long-tailed Woodnymph, Tawny and Ochraceous Piculets, the very local Forbes’s Blackbird, Caatinga Cachalote, and a total of 36 Brazilian endemics.

Click here for the full Northeast Brazil trip report (3 MB PDF file).