The Ultimate In Birding Tours

South America (and its islands)

BRAZIL’S FAR SOUTH & SOUTHWEST – Rio Grande do Sul, the Southern Pantanal and Emas

Monday 24th October – Monday 7th November 2022

Leader: Eduardo Patrial

15 Days Group Size Limit 8
Tuesday 7th November – Tuesday 21st November 2023

Leader: Eduardo Patrial

15 Days Group Size Limit 8

BRAZIL’S FAR SOUTH & SOUTHWEST: OVERVIEW

Birdquest’s Brazil’s Far South & Southwest birding tours follow a unique itinerary that explores three contrastingly different regions, the wetlands, canyons, grasslands and Araucaria forests of Rio Grande do Sul, the farthest extremity of southern Brazil, the rarely visited Southern Pantanal and the even more rarely visited Emas National Park that protects a large tract of cerrado and savanna on the remote borderlands of Mato Grosso do Sul and Goiás states. These regions attract far fewer birders than the more famous Atlantic Forests of Southeast Brazil or the Northern Pantanal, yet the combined area holds a large number of special birds.

Among the most notable of the specialities are the marvellous Sickle-winged and White-winged Nightjars, Lesser Nothura, South American Painted-snipe, Blaze-winged Parakeet, Yellow-faced Parrot, Red-spectacled and Vinaceous-breasted Amazons, Hyacinth Macaw, Mottled Piculet, Campo Miner, Long-tailed Cinclodes, Hudson’s Canastero, Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Henna-capped and Planalto Foliage-gleaners, White-lored Spinetail, Araucaria and Striolated Tit-Spinetails, Bay-capped Wren-Spinetail, Planalto and Marsh Tapaculos, Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant, the extraordinary Cock-tailed Tyrant, Blacksmith Thrush, Green-chinned Euphonia, the critically endangered Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Glaucous-blue Grosbeak, Black-masked Finch, Long-tailed Reed Finch, Chestnut-backed Tanager, Black-bellied and Tropeiro Seedeaters, and Black-and-rufous Warbling Finch. There is even a slim chance of the very rare Cone-billed Tanager.

Although birdwatchers tend initially to associate Brazil with the vast Amazonian rainforests and their unbelievable avian diversity, it is the southern region of the country where Brazil’s richest concentration of localized, rare and little-known birds survive. Through a succession of ice ages and interglacial periods the largest concentration of endemic birds to be found on the South American continent (over 170 species) evolved in the southeastern region of this huge country and immediately adjacent areas, isolated from the mainstream of Amazonian evolution by the dry cerrado and caatinga of central Brazil. Attacked for centuries by its new human colonists, the coastal forests that once covered vast areas of Brazil have now shrunk to small remnants of what once was. Less than five per cent of the original Atlantic Forest of Brazil remains and now the cerrado woodlands of the interior are fast disappearing.

Our Brazil’s Far South & Southwest tour starts at the city of Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the most southerly region of Brazil. From there we will travel to a series of locations as we explore the eastern part of the state.

The undulating grasslands, impressive Araucaria forests and freshwater marshes of the warm temperate (subtropical rather than tropical) state of Rio Grande do Sul hold a large number of very special birds. These include the spectacular Red-spectacled and Vinaceous-breasted Amazons, Blue-bellied Parrot, the fascinating Sickle-winged Nightjar, Mottled Piculet, Long-tailed Cinclodes, Striolated and Araucaria Tit-Spinetails, Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Speckle-breasted Antpitta, Black-and-white Monjita, Planalto and Marsh Tapaculos, Blacksmith Thrush, Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Glaucous-winged Grosbeak, Long0-tailed cReed Finch, Black-bellied Seedeater, the recently-described Tropeiro Seedeater, Green-chinned Euphonia and Chestnut-backed Tanager. As well as the many specialities, there are numerous other new birds awaiting here, including an extraordinarily diverse selection of waterbirds.

Next, we will leave Rio Grande do Sul behind and fly northwestwards to Campo Grande, the capital city of the state of Mato  Grosso do Sul. Two new areas, each of which offers an extraordinary contrast to the first part of the tour, await us in this ‘off-the-beaten-track’ region of Brazil.

Our first port of call in Mato Grosso do Sul, a state that has borders with both Paraguay and Bolivia, will be the comfortable Pousada Aguape. Pousada Aguape is situated on the Arquidauana River in the western part of the state, in the area known as the Southern Pantanal. This area is little-visited by ecotourists compared to the famous Northern Pantanal in Mato Grosso state, mainly because Jaguars are harder to see here (although they are still regularly observed at Aguape and elsewhere). From the perspective of the birdwatcher, however, the area has a lot going for it, and in particular it is home to the near-endemic Blaze-winged Parakeet.

Other good birds include the amazing Hyacinth Macaw (awesome close views are a daily event at Aguape), Henna-capped Foliage-gleaner, White-lored Spinetail and Mato Grosso Antbird.

From the Pantanal habitats of Aguape, we travel to the remote Emas National Park, which straddles the northern border of Mato Grosso do Sul with Goiás state. Emas is rarely visited by birders, entirely owing to its remote location, for it holds some very special and indeed much-sought-after birds including the lovely White-winged Nightjar (this is the best location in Brazil for seeing this speciality). Other good birds at Emas include Lesser Nothura, Yellow-faced Parrot, Campo Miner, Planalto Foliage-gleaner, Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant, Bearded Tachuri, Cock-tailed and Streamer-tailed Tyrants, and Black-masked and Coal-crested Finches. The rare Cone-billed Tanager occurs at Emas but is very hard to find.

Emas is also a great place for seeing mammals (and there are not many places in Brazil where that is the case, away from the Pantanal). The star attraction here is the beautiful, long-legged Maned Wolf. This is the best ‘wild’ location in Brazil for seeing this endangered mammal and we have a good chance of an encounter during our visit. Other mammals we could well see include Giant Anteater (they are relatively numerous here), Pampas Deer, Hoary and Crab-eating Foxes and White-lipped Peccary. Brazilian Tapir is observed fairly regularly and there is even a slim chance of Puma or Pampas Cat!

With three such contrasting locations on a 2-week itinerary, we are not only going to record numerous regional specialities but also build up a substantial trip list.

Birdquest has operated Brazil birding tours since 1989.

Iguaçu (Iguazu) Falls Extension Option: We can easily arrange for you to visit these truly spectacular (indeed awesome!) falls before or after the tour, should you so wish. There are no birds at Iguaçu that we do not see during other Birdquest tours, and the birding there is complicated by park opening hours and the like. However, we can also arrange for a local bird guide if you would be interested in birding there. Iguaçu is a bird-rich area. Please contact us at the time of booking if you are interested in visiting the falls.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are mostly of a good standard, sometimes medium standard. Road transport is by minibus and roads are good.

Walking: The walking effort during our Brazil’s Far South & Southwest birding tours is easy throughout.

Climate: Generally warm or hot, dry and sunny at lower altitudes, but cool in upland areas overcast weather is quite regular and we may experience rain. It will be quite humid in places.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Brazil’s Far South & Southwest birding tours are good (very good in the southern Pantanal and at times elsewhere).

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Finding the rare and recently-described endemic Tropeiro Seedeater in Rio Grande do Sul
  • Nightbirding for near-endemics such as Long-tufted Screech Owl, Rufous-banded Owl and the impressive Long-trained Nightjar
  • Getting close views of Mottled Piculet and the smart male Glaucous-blue Grosbeak
  • Watching the tiny and rare Sickle-winged Nightjar at our feet on our evening in Vacaria, Rio Grande do Sul state
  • Getting close views of displaying Streamer-tailed Tyrants
  • The beautiful grassland and wetland habitats in the southern Araucaria plateau and beauties such as Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Black-and-white Monjita, Saffron-cowled Blackbird and the endemic Black-bellied Seedeater
  • Seeing the threatened Vinaceous-breasted Amazon in the early morning in the giant Araucarias
  • Watching a large flock of Red-spectacled Amazons going to roost at the end of the day at São Francisco de Paula
  • Having great scope views of Bare-throated Bellbird and hearing its weird call which is deafening at close range
  • The impressive centenary Araucaria tree at São Francisco de Paula national forest and our best chances to see the shy Blue-bellied Parrot and Speckle-breasted Antpitta
  • The view of Canyon Fortaleza at Serra Geral national park in Cambará do Sul with its superb scenery of Araucaria woodlands and grasslands
  • The amazing lagoon of Lagoa do Peixe national park and the encounters with the most-wanted South American Painted-snipe, Hudson's Canastero and Bay-capped Wren-Spinetail
  • Seeing the extraordinary waterbirds spectacle at Lagoa de Peixe, one of the finest wetlands in the Neotropics, but one of the least known
  • Encountering the rnear-endemic Blaze-winged Parakeet in the little-visited Southern Pantanal
  • Watching Henna-capped Foliage-gleaner, White-lored Spinetail and Matto Grosso Antbird along the Aquidauana River
  • Extraordinary close-up experiences with both Hyacinth and Blue-and-yellow Macaws at Pousada Aguape
  • Admiring unafraid Bare-facd Curassows and beautiful Golden-collared Macaws
  • Seeing the beautiful White-winged Nightjar at dusk at remote Enas National Park
  • Watching Yellow-faced Parrot, Campo Miner, Planalto Foliage-gleaner, Cock-tailed Tyrant and other special birds at Emas
  • Chances for Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot and even Pampas Cat in Mato Grosso do Sul
  • Hoping for the rare Maned Wolf at Emas – one of the best places to see this lanky creature

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Morning tour start at Porto Alegre airport in Rio Grande do Sul state. Drive to Caxias.
  • Day 2: Caxias area, then drive to Vacaria.
  • Day 3: Vacaria area, then drive to São Francisco de Paula.
  • Day 4: São Francisco de Paula and Cambará do Sul areas.
  • Day 5: São Francisco de Paula area, then drive to Lagoa do Peixe National Park.
  • Day 6: Lagoa do Peixe National Park.
  • Day 7: Lagoa do Peixe National Park, then return to Porto Alegre. Fly to Campo Grande in Mato Grosso do Sul state.
  • Day 8: Drive towards Paraguay border and Pousada Aguape.
  • Days 9-10: Pousada Aguape, southern Pantanal.
  • Day 11: Drive to Emas National Park.
  • Days 12-14: Emas National Park.
  • Day 15: Return to Campo Grande airport for early afternoon tour end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include this flight: Porto Alegre-Campo Grande.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)


2022: provisional £4030, $5690, €4770, AUD7790. Porto Alegre/Campo Grande.
2023: provisional £4110, $5790, €4860, AUD7930. Porto Alegre/Campo Grande.

Single Supplement: 2022: £340, $480, €400, AUD650.
Single Supplement: 2023: £340, $490, €410, AUD670.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

BRAZIL’S FAR SOUTH & SOUTHWEST BIRDING TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

Brazil’s Far South: Day 1  Our tour begins this morning at Porto Alegre airport in the capital city of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil.

(We will be pleased to assist with internal flight tickets in Brazil from your arrival city, even if you are arranging your international flights yourself).

From Porto Alegre will head northwards to Caxias do Sul for an overnight stay. We will arrive in time for some initial exploration this afternoon.

Brazil’s Far South: Day 2  We have a very special bird to see in the Caxias do Sul area – the highly localized and only recently described Tropeiro Seedeater. This little-known bird is only known from a small part of Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná states for a few months of the year and then vanishes northwards to unknown regions to spend the Austral winter!

Other birds we are likely to encounter in the Caxias do Sul area include some restricted-range species such as Biscutate Swift,  Mottled Piculet, Pampa Finch and the handsome Diademed Tanager, as well as  Sooty, White-collared and Sick’s Swifts, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Picazuro Pigeon, Eared Dove, Turkey Vulture, Campo Flicker, Crested, Yellow-headed and Chimango Caracaras, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Rufous Hornero, Firewood-gatherer, Crested Black Tyrant, Hooded Siskin, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Southern Yellowthroat. If we are lucky we will come across a Spotted Nothura.

After we finish our birding in the Caxias area we will head further north to the small town of Vacaria for an overnight stay.

A major highlight of the Vacaria area is the fantastic little Sickle-winged Nightjar. This unusual nightjar, with its strangely-shaped, sickle-like wings, can be found reliably in some undulating country with low ridges in the Vacaria area. We should enjoy wonderful close-up views of this star bird this evening, perhaps having one land just next to us!

Brazil’s Far South: Day 3  Although largely given over to agriculture, the surviving areas of natural habitat in the Vacaria area hold a series of sought-after birds. Here we will be checking out the wetlands, grasslands and areas of scrub and woodlands for such restricted-range specialities as Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Olive Spinetail, the critically-endangered Saffron-cowled Blackbird, the lovely Glaucous-blue Grosbeak, Black-and-rufous Warbling Finch, Lesser Grass Finch, Long-tailed Reed Finch, Tawny-bellied and Dark-throated Seedeaters and the handsome endemic Black-bellied Seedeater, as well as the uncommon Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant. If we are in luck we will actually see the ultra-secretive endemic Marsh Tapaculo rather than just hear one!

Another major target is the Long-tailed Cinclodes, which is endemic to northeastern Rio Grande do Sul and southeastern Santa Catarina (apart from a tiny, isolated population in the Cipó region of Minas Gerais, that may well represent a distinct species). It favours road cuts and the vicinity of water and behaves very much like other members of the genus.

Other new birds we are likely to encounter in this area include Red-winged Tinamou, Guira Cuckoo, Ruddy Ground Dove, White-tipped Dove, Buff-necked Ibis, Western Cattle Egret, Black Vulture, Savanna Hawk, the strange and noisy Red-legged Seriema, American Kestrel, Monk Parakeet, Freckle-breasted Thornbird, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Blue-and-white Swallow, House Wren, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Grassland Sparrow, Shiny Cowbird, Chopi Blackbird, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Double-collared Seedeater and Grassland Yellow Finch,

Afterwards, we will transfer to São Francisco de Paula for a two nights stay. We will arrive in time for some initial exploration this afternoon.

Brazil’s Far South: Days 4  São Francisco de Paula is situated on the top of the southern part of the Serra do Mar range. The extensive plateau country in this area is mainly covered by undulating grasslands interspersed with Araucaria (Paraná Pine) woodlands and areas of subtropical forest (rather transitional in character between the typical Atlantic forest and temperate forest). We will explore these habitats in the surrounding area, including in the São Francisco de Paula National Forest.

Major specialities in this superb area include Vinaceous-breasted Amazon, the cute endemic Striolated Tit-Spinetail, Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, Brown-breasted Bamboo Tyrant, Blacksmith (or Eastern Slaty) Thrush (a migratory species that occurs in variable numbers), Green-chinned Euphonia and the handsome Chestnut-backed Tanager. The national forest also offers good chances for Blue-bellied Parrot and Black-capped Piprites.

Another primary target will be the now very rare endemic Red-spectacled Amazon. This species has declined catastrophically in recent decades and is now only found in very few areas of southernmost Brazil with any degree of regularity.

After dark, we should come across three near-endemic nightbirds; Long-tufted Screech Owl, Rusty-barred Owl and Long-trained Nightjar. With a lot of luck, we will have an encounter with the widespread but hard to find Buff-fronted Owl.

Other special birds of the area include Dusky-legged Guan, Purple-crowned Plovercrest, White-throated Hummingbird, Slaty-breasted Wood Rail, Surucua Trogon, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Pileated Parrot, Planalto Woodcreeper, Grey-bellied Spinetail, Speckle-breasted Antpitta, Mouse-colored Tapaculo, Planalto and Greenish Tyrannulets, Olivaceous Elaenia, the beautiful Bare-throated Bellbird (a bird that delivers a deafening sound at close range), Blue Manakin, Azure Jay, White-rimmed Warbler, Grey-throated Warbling Finch and Chestnut-headed Tanager. More uncommon specialities include Large-tailed Antshrike, Rufous Gnateater, Rough-legged Tyrannulet, Blue-billed Black Tyrant and Rufous-tailed Attila.

More widespread species we may well encounter include Brown Tinamou (more likely to heard than seen), Plumbeous Pigeon, Grey-fronted Dove, Swallow-tailed Kite, Roadside Hawk, White-spotted Woodpecker, Scaly-headed Parrot, Olivaceous and Lesser Woodcreepers, Buff-fronted and Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, White-crested and Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulets, Swainson’s Flycatcher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Chivi Vireo, Yellow-legged, Rufous-bellied and White-necked Thrushes, Tropical Parula, Saffron Finch and Sayaca and Fawn-breasted Tanagers. More uncommon possibilities include Bicolored Hawk, Short-tailed Antthrush, Variegated Antpitta, White-throated Spadebill, Black-tailed Tityra, Hellmayr’s Pipit and Eared Pygmy Tyrant.

We will also visit one or two of the national parks near the neighbouring town of Cambará do Sul.

Aparados da Serra National Park contains the impressive Itaimbezinho Canyon and is mainly covered by Araucaria woodland. We shall be stopping along the way in search of the recently-described, near-endemic Planalto Tapaculo. A trail in the park leads to a superb viewpoint by the canyon’s cliff. Here, in the grasslands, we may come across the uncommon Ochre-breasted Pipit and we have second chances for such target species as Vinaceous-breasted Amazon, Mottled Piculet and Striolated Tit-Spinetail.

Serra Geral National Park is a beautiful grassland area with some narrow strips of Araucaria woodland. If we are lucky we will find the rare Ochre-breasted Pipit here, and we will also be looking for Grey Monjita.

Brazil’s Far South: Day 5  After a final morning in the São Francisco de Paula region we will transfer to our last destination, the Lagoa do Peixe National Park, situated right by the coast, where we stay for two nights at the small town of Mostardas.

Before reaching this fantastic national park we plan to stop along the way near the town of Tramandaí where the reedbeds are home to the tiny and skulking Crested Doradito. Getting to the site depends on the dirt road conditions, which are influenced by the amount of recent rainfall, and even then this species is uncommon.

Brazil’s Far South: Day 6  The amazing Lagoa do Peixe National Park consists primarily of a narrow shallow lagoon by the sea coast about 40 kilometres (24 miles) long and no more than two kilometres (a little over a mile) wide. It is surrounded by sand dunes, short grasslands and different types of marshes, lakes, reedbeds and even relict ‘restinga’ (stunted coastal) forests. It is an area that rivals the much more famous Pantanal for the density and diversity of its waterfowl and other wetland species.

The marshes and lakes around the little town of Mostardas will provide us with a great number of new waterbird species for our list, including the impressive Southern Screamer, White-faced and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Brazilian Teal, possibly the rare Ringed Teal, Wood and Maguari Storks, Roseate Spoonbill, Bare-faced and White-faced Ibises, Black-crowned Night Heron, Striated, Cocoi and Whistling Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, Neotropic Cormorant, Limpkin, Pied-billed Grebe, the impressive Giant Wood Rail, Plumbeous Rail, Common and Spot-flanked Gallinules, White-backed Stilt, Wattled Jacana, South American Snipe and Ringed Kingfisher.

Other typical birds of this area include Greater Rhea, Snail Kite, the imposing Long-winged Harrier, Picui Ground Dove, Smooth-billed Ani, Dark-billed Cuckoo (uncommon), Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Wren-like Rushbird, Curve-billed Reedhaunter, the smart White Monjita, the impressive Many-colored Rush Tyrant, the amazing Spectacled Tyrant, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, White-rumped Swallow, Grey-breasted and Brown-chested Martins, Yellowish and Correndera Pipits, the uncommon but striking Scarlet-headed Blackbird, White-browed, Chestnut-capped and Yellow-winged Blackbirds, Brown-and-yellow Marshbird, Red-crested Cardinal, Blue-and-yellow Tanager and Green-winged Saltator.

We will also be visiting the main lagoon in the national park, taking the Talha Mar trail. We will soon clearly understand that this place is an important stopover for resting and feeding for a number of migrant species, especially shorebirds. We will find both migrant species, mostly from the northern hemisphere, and resident species. We may find good numbers of Coscoroba and Black-necked Swans, Chilean Flamingo (nomadic, so not always present), Yellow-billed and Pintail, Silver and Yellow-billed Teals, American Golden Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Hudsonian Godwit, White-rumped and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Kelp and Brown-hooded Gulls, Large-billed, Yellow-billed and Snowy-crowned Terns, and Black Skimmer.

We will be leaving the trail in search of such important targets as the skulking, restricted-range Bay-capped Wren-Spinetail, the restricted-range Hudson’s Canastero and the fascinating South American Painted-snipe, all three of which we have a high chance of finding.

We will also take a look at the coastal beaches, which usually attract American Oystercatcher, Sanderling and Cabot’s, Common and Royal Terns. The ‘restinga’ habitat often holds Spix’s Spinetail, Small-headed Elaenia, Sooty Tyrannulet, Masked Gnatcatcher and Great Horned Owl.

Among the rarer or more difficult to observe species in the park are White-cheeked Pintail, Red Shoveler, Rosy-billed Pochard, Spotted Rail, Rufous-sided, Red-and-white, Dot-winged and Ash-throated Crakes, White-tufted Grebe, Collared Plover, Grey-headed Gull, South American Tern and Pinnated Bittern.

Brazil’s Far South: Day 7  After some final birding at Lagoa do Peixe, we will return to Porto Alegre and catch a flight to Campo Grande in Mato Grosso do Sul state for an overnight stay.

Brazil’s Far South: Day 8  This morning we will head westwards towards Brazil’s borders with Paraguay and Bolivia. Our destination is the comfortable eco-lodge known as Pousada Aguape, where we will stay for three nights. This afternoon we will commence our exploration of the large estate on which the lodge is situated.

Brazil’s Far South: Days 9-10  Pousada Aguape is situated in the midst of an extensive tract of savanna, forest and wetlands in the far less-often-visited Southern Pantanal.

Like the entire Pantanal region, a vast area of wetlands that hug Brazil’s southwestern borders, the area around Pousada Aguape is very rich in birdlife, but there is one simple reason why we are starting the tour here, and that is our quest for the pretty Blaze-winged Parakeet, a near-endemic species with a very restricted range that is not seen on any other bird tour! Fortunately for us, this attractive bird is not difficult to find at Aguape, and is often very approachable, so we should soon be adding it to our tally.

There are many other more or less restricted-range birds at Aguape. We should encounter Chaco Chachalaca, the impressive Bare-faced Curassow (sometimes even wandering around the lodge grounds!), Buff-bellied Hermit, Gilded Sapphire, Long-tailed Ground Dove, White-wedged Piculet, White-fronted Woodpecker, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Nanday (or Black-hooded) Parakeet, Turquoise-fronted Amazon, the extraordinary Hyacinth Macaw, the beautiful Golden-collared Macaw, Henna-capped Foliage-gleaner (Aguape is one of the best places for this localized species), Greater Thornbird, the near-endemic White-lored Spinetail, Chotoy Spinetail, Grey-crested Cacholote, Large-billed Antwren, Mato Grosso Antbird, Plain Inezia, the delicate White-rumped Monjita, Purplish and Plush-crested Jays, Unicolored Blackbird, Greyish Baywing, Black-throated Saltator, Rusty-collared Seedeater and Yellow-billed Cardinal.

A very special feature of Pousada Aguape are the macaw feeders at the lodge. We are sure to enjoy absolutely stunning close-up views of flocks of huge Hyacinth Macaws feeding on palm nuts, and also have equally close encounters with beautiful Blue-and-Yellow Macaws. Plenty of other birds and even armadillos and raccoons visit the lodge feeders.

Mammals are well represented at Aguape and we have a good chance of seeing Nine-banded and Yellow Armadillos, Giant Anteater, Black-and-gold Howler Monkey, Tapeti (or Brazilian Cottontail), Capybara (the world’s largest rodent), Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Raccoon and Grey Brocket Deer. There is also a chance of Jaguar and Ocelot, although the former is nothing like as easy here as in the northern Pantanal.

Aguape is not just about its avian specialities and mammals of course, and it has a very rich avifauna. Among the widespread new species that we can expect at Aguape are Undulated Tinamou, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Muscovy Duck, Common Potoo, Pauraque, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Greater Ani, Striped and Squirrel Cuckoos, Pale-vented Pigeon, Scaled Dove, Grey-cowled Wood Rail, Purple Gallinule, Pied Plover, Solitary Sandpiper, the huge and impressive Jabiru, Anhinga, Plumbeous and Green Ibises, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Western Osprey, Black-collared Hawk, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Blue-crowned Trogon, Amazon, Green, Green-and-rufous and American Pygmy Kingfishers, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Toco Toucan (the classic Guinness toucan!), White, Green-barred, Lineated and Crimson-crested Woodpeckers, Aplomado Falcon, Yellow-chevroned, Peach-fronted, Blue-crowned and White-eyed Parakeets, Orange-winged Amazon and Red-and-green and Red-shouldered Macaws.

Among the widespread passerines that we should find during our visit are Red-billed Scythebill, Pale-legged Hornero, Rusty-backed Spinetail, Rusty-backed and Large-billed Antwrens, Barred and Great Antshrikes, Forest and Yellow-bellied Elaenias, Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, Rusty-margined, Boat-billed, Short-crested and Brown-crested Flycatchers, Black-crowned Tityra, White-winged Becard, White-winged Swallow, Black-capped Donacobius, Thrush-like and Buff-breasted Wrens, Pale-breasted Thrush, Crested Oropendola, Solitary and Red-rumped Caciques, Orange-backed Troupial, Giant Cowbird, Golden-crowned Warbler, Greyish Saltator, Silver-beaked Tanager and Chestnut-bellied Seed Finch.

Brazil’s Far South: Day 11  We have a travel day today as we return to Campo Grande and then head northwards to the vicinity of Emas National Park, on the border with Goias state, where we will spend four nights. This afternoon we will commence our exploration of Emas.

Brazil’s Far South: Days 12-14  Emas National Park protects a huge swathe of ‘cerrado’ habitat on the border between the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Goiás. Covering 1320 square kilometres (about 510 square miles), the park protects dry cerrado woodland, savanna and grasslands, as well as areas of gallery forest and swamps. The park is part of the vast Pantanal Biosphere Reserve. Much of the attractive landscape at Emas is grassland dotted with giant termite mounds and scattered trees.

Emas has many good birds, including many cerrado specialities, but our major targets here will include three key near-endemics; Yellow-faced Parrot (easy to see at Emas but truly difficult in most of its range), Campo Miner (a species that prefers burnt areas of savanna) and Planalto Foliage-gleaner (which is probably easier to find at Emas than anywhere else in its range). With luck, we will come across the uncommon and secretive Lesser Nothura.

At dusk, we will be wanting to see the lovely, restricted-range White-winged Nightjar and Emas is definitely the most reliable place in Brazil for finding this attractive and much-sought-after species.

Other special restricted-range birds regularly seen here include the near-endemic Collared Crescentchest (a beautiful tapaculo), Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant, Bearded Tachuri, the awesome Cock-tailed and Streamer-tailed Tyrants, the near-endemic Coal-crested Finch and Black-masked Finch.

The very rare endemic and thinly-distributed Cone-billed Tanager does occur in Emas, but the tiny population is scattered across a huge park and the birds are very hard to find (unlike at Jardim da Amazônia on our Pantanal & Mato Grosso tour). Indeed, one could spend a week searching for this endangered tanager and yet still miss it! We will check out known sites for the species, but we need to devote most of our time to those Emas specialities that are easier to find.

Species of restricted distribution (or not much more than that) that we may well come across include Spotted Nothura, Ocellated Crake (only likely to be heard), Planalto Hermit, White-vented Violetear, White-eared Puffbird, Helmeted Manakin, Rufous-sided Pygmy Tyrant, Chapada Suiriri, Rufous Casiornis, Scarlet Flycatcher, Tawny-headed Swallow, Creamy-bellied Thrush, Curl-crested Jay, White-striped Warbler, White-banded and White-rumped Tanagers and Lesser Grass Finch.

Emas is also a superb park for mammals. Best of all, it is one of the very best places to see the rare, long-limbed Maned Wolf! There are many sightings here each year and during our stay we have a high chance of an encounter with this very special creature.

Pampas Deer are common at Emas as are Giant Anteaters (with their numbers now recovered from a disastrous fire in 2010), while other species we should encounter include Hoary and Crab-eating Foxes and White-lipped Peccary. We will go out spotlighting at night in the hope of encountering a Brazilian Tapir, a Puma or even a Pampas Cat! The rarely-seen Giant Armadillo also occurs at Emas, so we can always live in hope!

Among the more widespread bird species that we may well encounter at Emas are Greater Rhea, Pearl and Plumbeous Kites, Long-winged Harrier, Crane, Short-tailed and White-tailed Hawks, Laughing and Bat Falcons, Blue-headed Parrot, Western Barn Owl, Burrowing and Short-eared Owls, Common Potoo, Least and Nacunda Nighthawks, Grey-rumped Swift, Neotropical Palm Swift, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Plain-crested and Highland Elaenias, Common Tody-Flycatcher, White-throated Kingbird, Grass Wren, Purple-throated and Thick-billed Euphonias, Flavescent Warbler, Grey-headed, Palm, Burnished-buff and Swallow Tanagers, Blue Dacnis, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Plumbeous, Capped and Double-collared Seedeaters, and Wedge-tailed Grass Finch.

Brazil’s Far South: Day 15  This morning we must leave wonderful Emas behind us and return to Campo Grande airport for an early afternoon tour end.

ULTIMATE SOUTHEAST BRAZIL TOUR REPORT 2019

by Eduardo Patrial

 

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ULTIMATE SOUTHEAST BRAZIL TOUR REPORT 2018

by Eduardo Patrial

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ULTIMATE SOUTHEAST BRAZIL TOUR REPORT 2016

by Eduardo Patrial

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