Trip report: Southeast Brazil (Oct 2019) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Athanas. This was a set-departure tour.

The vast nation of Brazil hosts well over 200 endemic bird species, and that number is ever increasing as more are split or newly discovered. Many of these endemics are concentrated in the Atlantic Rainforest of Southeast Brazil and a lot of them are among the most colorful and spectacular birds in all of South America. On this tour we saw the vast majority of the possible endemics in the region as well as hundreds of other fantastic birds while visiting a great selection of parks and private reserves. Cotingas like Bare-throated Bellbird and Swallow-tailed Cotinga featured high on the list of top picks along with perennial favorites like Spot-billed Toucanet, Frilled Coquette, Brassy-breasted Tanager, and Swallow-tailed Manakin. Antbirds deserve a special mention, as no where else are they so easy to see and so beautiful, from the small and intricately patterned Ferruginous Antbird to the hulking Giant Antshrike. Towards the end of the trip, we ventured north into the interior, where savanna and drier forest dominated, and it was almost like a totally different tour with its own set of superb highlights like Cock-tailed and Streamer-tailed Tyrants, Hyacinth Visorbearer, Red-legged Seriema, Toco Toucan, Chaco Eagle, and even a Maned Wolf. After a day of near-record heat at the start, a series of fronts swept through for most of the rest of the trip bringing pleasantly cooler temperatures. Fortunately we managed to dodge the worst of the rain and lost only a small amount of time to it. We had a wonderfully friendly tour group that was a pleasure to be with, and the caipirinhas flowed freely during dinner at the end of most days – cachaça is another Brazilian endemic that we all came to appreciate. Eduardo, our stalwart and always entertaining driver kept up his enthusiasm throughout the entire trip has safely navigated Brazilian traffic over the course of several thousand kilometers.

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