Trip report: Eastern Brazil custom tour (August 2011) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Athanas.

Brazil is truly a huge country. It’s slightly bigger than the lower 48 US states, yet almost all of it is located within the tropics, resulting in one of the largest and most spectacular birdlists on the planet, including over 200 endemics, more than any other country in the Western Hemisphere by far.

This trip had a specially designed itinerary incorporating parts of southeastern and northeastern Brazil. The organizer of the trip had been to some of the key sites already, both in the Northeast and Southeast, so this tour visited a rather unique set of locations, skipped some of the sites covered on “traditional” itineraries; we covered a huge amount of ground and targeted a very ambitious number of endemics. We started in the city of Vitoria in Espirito Santo, and worked our way north, eventually finishing in Fortaleza in the far Northeast, using a couple of internal flights to speed things along near the end.

By all accounts the trip was very successful; we saw the vast majority of our targets (over 80 Brazilian endemics) and logistically the trip went near perfectly. Like any trip, we had our share of misses, some of them painful, but they were drowned out by very memorable sightings of the likes of Red-billed Curassow, Banded Cotinga, Buff-throated Purpletuft, Sincorá Antwren, Pink-legged Graveteiro, Hooded Visorbearer, Lear’s Macaw, Pygmy Nightjar, and Gray-breasted Parakeet to name just a few. Weather was very good for most of the trip, wonderfully cool in some areas, but a couple of days of rain in Pernambuco cost us a couple of key birds and left us feeling rather waterlogged – We could consider ourselves lucky though; if there had been any MORE rain up there, the muddy tracks would have been impassable even in 4WD and we could not have even reached the birding sites.

Despite the long distances, the three weeks went by in a flash thanks to the good accommodations, friendly people, great food, icy caipirinhas, and of course the great company! We’re already thinking about the next one – there are plenty of more endemics to seek out.

Click this link to view the full report in PDF format (1.6 MB)