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NORTHWEST BRAZIL

Monday 10th July - Wednesday 26th July 2006

Luciano Naka

Once again the Brazilian Amazon was going to be visited by a group of hard-working Birdquesters, whose only wish was to see every single specialty in the region. And so we did, as we virtually cleaned up all specialities from the white-sand forest (campinas), and the flooded forests (varzea and igapó). Terra firme forests usually needs much more effort, but we did very well finding most Guianan Shield endemics, including some of its most well hidden secrets. By visiting both banks of the Rio Negro, a major Amazonian biogeographic barrier, we made a tour into one of the most scientifically interesting areas of Amazonia. We found well over 400 bird species, which is an impressive number when we consider that most species were secretive forest birds, which would not give up easily. No easy waders, no ducks or waterfowl. Two weeks of intense forest birding. A simple tally of numbers wouldn’t make justice to our trip, but they are still impressive. After all, recording 21 species of raptors, 22 species of parrots, 6 species of swifts, 18 species of hummers, 5 species of jacamars, 10 species of toucans and barbets, 8 species of spinetails, 15 species of woodpeckers, 15 species of woodcreepers, 49 species of antbirds, 6 species of cotingas, and 13 species of manakins, is not an everyday endeavour. But a tour like this is not made of numbers, but of ecological interactions. Whether we think of professional understorey or canopy mixed-species flock attendants or professional ant-swarm followers, we need to congratulate ourselves for having found almost all of them. That’s Amazonian Brazil. That’s daily life in the Amazon.

(NOTE: This itinerary did not include the optional Roraima extension, available as of 2008.)