The Ultimate In Birding Tours

South America (and its islands)

SOUTHEAST BRAZIL – The Ultimate Atlantic Forest Endemics tour

Saturday 26th October – Saturday 16th November 2024

Leaders: Carlos Gussoni, Fito Downs, and local bird guides in some areas

22 Days Group Size Limit 7
Rio Grande do Sul Extension

Saturday 16th November – Wednesday 20th November 2024

5 Days Group Size Limit 7
Sunday 26th October – Sunday 16th November 2025

Leaders: Carlos Gussoni, Fito Downs, and local bird guides in some areas

22 Days Group Size Limit 7
Rio Grande do Sul Extension

Sunday 16th November – Thursday 20th November 2025

5 Days Group Size Limit 7


Birdquest’s Southeast Brazil birding tours explore the extraordinarily endemic-rich but highly threatened Atlantic Forest region of this great birding country. Our Southeast Brazil birding tour is very comprehensive and surely deserves the epithet ‘ultimate’ as it produces an extraordinarily high proportion of the many endemic specialities of this birdy and vibrant part of the world, covering the richest part of the Atlantic Forest region that extends from the state of Espirito Santo southwards to the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Brazil! Everything about this romantic country is impressive – Brazil’s territory is larger than the whole of Western Europe, more than 3,300,000 square miles or 8,550,000 square kilometres, it contains almost the entire length (4311 miles or 6937km) of the world’s longest river, the mighty Amazon, and its human population of nearly 200 million people represents the greatest racial melting pot on earth.

To most of us, Brazil conjures up images of the noise and colour of Carnival, the excitement of the samba, the crowds on Copacabana Beach, unstoppable Pele dazzling his opponents and, most of all, the huge, gleaming white statue of Jesus and the famous sugarloaf mountain that dominate the beautiful harbour of Rio de Janeiro.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded cities, where the bulk of Brazil’s ever-expanding population is concentrated, are to be found some of the continent’s most magnificent wildlife habitats and some of its finest birding. Brazil contains some of South America’s least known and most endangered birds.

Although birdwatchers tend initially to associate Brazil with the vast Amazonian rainforests and their unbelievable avian diversity, or perhaps with the supreme waterbird spectacle of the Pantanal, it is the southeast corner of the country where Brazil’s richest concentration of localized, rare and little-known birds survive. Through a succession of ice ages and inter-glacial periods the largest concentration of endemic birds to be found on the 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 percent of the original Atlantic Forest of Brazil remains and this specially designed tour focuses on the highly threatened avifauna of the states of Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Paraná. These coastal forest ecosystems represent the most endangered continental flora and fauna on Earth.

During our travels on this very comprehensive Southeast Brazil tour, we shall seek to observe a very high proportion of its fabulous endemic birds, which include a splendid smattering of glittering hummingbirds, skulking antbirds, retiring tapaculos and alluring cotingas. The quality of the birding in this marvellous region of Brazil is rivalled by the excellent standard of accommodation, food and transportation.

Our Southeast Brazil tour starts at the city of Vitória, the capital of the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo. First, we shall explore the coastal forests, where a number of endangered birds maintain a precarious existence, protected by some fine reserves. On the way to the VALE Natural Reserve – where we hope to lay our eyes on treasures like Red-billed Curassow, White-necked Hawk and Red-browed Amazon – a brief stop at the Biological Station in Aracruz will provide the first extraordinary encounter with dozens, perhaps hundreds of hummingbirds, including the range-restricted Minute Hermit.

We will then visit Santa Teresa, the home town of the late Dr Augusto Ruschi, one of Brazil’s foremost naturalists and a world authority on hummingbirds. At the feeders, we can expect to be dazzled and overwhelmed by a profusion of vociferous, iridescent and gaudy hummingbirds zipping in and out as they consume the sugar solution as an alternative to their natural diet of nectar. About 15 species can be expected here, including the adorable Frilled Coquette and the astonishing Black Jacobin.

In the nearby hilly forests, a plethora of endemics may include the rare Wied’s Tyrant-Manakin, Spot-billed Toucanet and the secretive Short-tailed Antthrush. With luck, we will find Rufous-brown Solitaire here too.

Vargem Alta is our last port of call in Espírito Santo state, where a private reserve guards one of the rarest and most poorly-known species of birds in South America, the critically endangered Cherry-throated Tanager. Trying to find this enigmatic bird can be difficult and far from always successful, but this superb reserve always provides great rewards such as Cinnamon-vented Piha, Cryptic Antthrush and even chances for the rare Brazilian Laniisoma.

Next, we head southwards to the Rio de Janeiro region, where a visit to the famous REGUA research station and the higher altitudes of the Tres Picos State Park should yield the virtually unknown Grey-winged Cotinga, as well as Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Black-and-gold Cotinga and a second chance for the little-known Brazilian Laniisoma, while in drier habitats we should observe a fine but localized endemic, the perky Three-toed Jacamar. Not far away on the coast, the star attraction is the restricted endemic Restinga Antwren that shall be seen on our way before reaching REGUA.

In the cloudforests of the beautiful Itatiaia National Park, we shall enjoy some of the finest birding this superlative region has to offer and add Green-crowned Plovercrest, Itatiaia Spinetail and Large-tailed Antshrike to our already impressive bird list.

Along the scenic coastline of Rio de Janeiro state a tiny population of the striking Black-hooded Antwren survives, while, further to the south, evocative-sounding species like Buff-throated Purpletuft, Slaty Bristlefront and Tufted Antshrike inhabit the verdant hills surrounding the coastal resort of Ubatuba.

After looking for the rare Marsh Antwren, we leave the metropolis of São Paulo behind and travel southwards into the pristine forests of the Serra de Paranapiacaba. In this largest continuous Atlantic Forest remnant in the wider geographical area known as the Serra do Mar, our targets include such splendid birds as Black-fronted Piping-Guan, White-bearded Antshrike and Helmeted Woodpecker. After we finally leave the spectacular forested hilly country behind, we will look for Red-tailed Amazons in the coastal forests and mangroves situated below the southern portion of the Serra do Mar.

Further south along the coast, the dense humid bromeliad forest, restinga and marshes are home of peculiar and poorly known inhabitants such as Kaempfer’s Tody-Tyrant, Restinga Tyrannulet and Marsh (or Parana) Antwren. Later, as we explore the plateau again, the area surrounding Curitiba, the capital of Paraná state, with its Araucaria-dominated forests will provide unique species like Chestnut-headed Tanager, Canebrake Groundcreeper and Long-tufted Screech Owl.

During the optional extension we explore Rio Grande do Sul, the most southerly region of Brazil.

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-blue Grosbeak, Long-tailed Reed Finch, Black-bellied Seedeater, Green-chinned Euphonia, Chestnut-backed Tanager and hopefully the recently-described Tropeiro Seedeater. As well as the many specialities, there are plenty of other new birds awaiting here.

By the time the tour ends, we will have seen a high proportion of the avian wonders of Brazil’s highly-threatened Atlantic Forest.

Birdquest has operated Southeast Brazil birding tours since 1989.

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

Walking: The walking effort during our Southeast Brazil tours is easy for the most part, sometimes moderate.

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 Southeast Brazil tours are worthwhile.


  • Taking part in the 'Ultimate' birding tour itinerary in Southeast Brazil!
  • Starting the tour visiting a day roost site for the endemic Pygmy Nightjar near Vitória in Espirito Santo state
  • Watching the localised and threatened endemic Red-billed Curassow at VALE reserve
  • The night birding at VALE and the attempts to see the rare White-winged Potoo
  • The chances of visiting an active nest of Harpy Eagle
  • Finding Solitary Tinamous going to roost at dusk
  • The stay at Vita Verde Guesthouse in Santa Teresa and over 10 species of hummingbirds on the feeders, including the amazing endemic Frilled Coquette
  • The spectacular Atlantic Forest birding at Santa Teresa, home of so many special birds, including the localized Wied’s Tyrant-Manakin, Serra Antwren and the rare Russet-winged Spadebill
  • The nice stay at Hotel Monte Verde in Vargem Alta and the great forest and birds in its own private reserve of Aguia Branca
  • Finding the peculiar and much-wanted Swallow-tailed Cotinga around the Hotel Monte Verde, where it usually nests at this time of year
  • Looking for Cherry-throated Tanager at Caetés Forest, one of the world’s rarest tanagers
  • The wonderful stay at REGUA in the foothills of Serra dos Órgãos in Rio de Janeiro state with its bird-rich wetlands and forests
  • Looking for the rare Brazilian Laniisoma on the foothill trails and getting good views of Giant Snipe while staying at REGUA
  • The day trip to the steep Pico da Caledônia in Nova Friburgo, mainly in search of the rare and extremely localized Grey-winged Cotinga
  • Watching closely the charismatic endemic Three-toed Jacamar at Carmo in Rio de Janeiro state
  • Exploring Itatiaia National Park and the Agulhas Negras road, a world-famous Atlantic Forest birding site
  • Staying at the charming Hotel do Ypê at Itatiaia National Park, with many hummingbirds, tanagers, toucans and others
  • The dense bamboo undergrowth at Itatiaia National Park, where we will be looking for endemics such as Cryptic Antthrush and Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant
  • The stay in the beautiful cloud forest scenery at Hotel São Gotardo, high in the Serra da Mantiqueira
  • Closely watching the endemic Green-crowned Plovercrest at its lek on the Agulhas Negras road
  • Finding Rusty-barred Owl, the uncommon Black-capped Piprites and, in paramo-type habitat, the localised Itatiaia Spinetail along the Agulhas Negras road
  • Watching the extremely localized Black-hooded Antwren at Perequê
  • Spotting the tiny endemic Buff-throated Purpletuft and looking for the rare Salvadori’s Antwren at Fazenda Angelim in Ubatuba
  • The impressive hummingbird feeders at Sítio Folha Seca in Ubatuba, with dozens of Saw-billed Hermits and amazing Festive Coquettes
  • Having great scope views of Bare-throated Bellbird along the road at Serra do Mar State Park near Ubatuba
  • Getting close views of displaying Streamer-tailed Tyrants
  • Watching the recently discovered Marsh (Sao Paulo) Antwren and the shy Orange-breasted Thornbird at our site near São José dos Campos
  • Looking for the uncommon Southern Bristle Tyrant at Cantareira State Park near Guarulhos
  • The lovely stay surrounded by lush forest at Intervales State Park in southeast São Paulo State, simply the best Atlantic Forest site in Brazil
  • The fruit feeders at Intervales that attract the most colourful Atlantic Forest tanagers
  • The feeding stations at Intervales State Park that produce some amazing views of Solitary Tinamou, Spot-winged Wood Quail and Red-and-white Crake!
  • The many Atlantic Forest endemics possible along the world famous Carmo Road
  • Looking for Atlantic Forest rarities at Intervales such as Black-fronted Piping Guan, Helmeted Woodpecker and Atlantic Royal Flycatcher
  • Watching Giant Antshrike and the rare White-bearded Antshrike at Intervales
  • The productive nightbirding at Intervales State Park with species such as Long-tufted and Black-capped Screech Owls, and the best chances for the impressive Long-trained Nightjar
  • The boat trip at Paranaguá Bay and the spectacle of hundreds of Red-tailed Amazon coming to roost on a little island
  • The frequent encounters with large flock of Scarlet Ibis during our boat trip, making for one of the best sunsets on the tour
  • The gorgeous bromeliad-rich forest of Volta Velha Reserve in Santa Catarina State and trying to see the rare and local Kaempfer’s Tody-Tyrant
  • Getting close views of Mottled Piculet and the smart male Glaucous-blue Grosbeak near Borda do Campo in São José dos Pinhais, Paraná state
  • Finding the rare and recently-described Tropeiro Seedeater in Rio Grande do Sul
  • Nightbirding for the near-endemic Rufous-banded Owl
  • 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


  • Day 1: Morning start at Vitória airport. Drive via Aracruz to VALE reserve.
  • Days 2-3: VALE reserve.
  • Day 4: VALE reserve, then drive to Santa Teresa.
  • Day 5: Santa Teresa area, then drive to Vargem Alta. Visit Caeté Forest reserve.
  • Day 6: Caeté Forest reserve. Overnight at Vargem Alta.
  • Day 7: Drive to REGUA.
  • Days 8-9: REGUA and region.
  • Day 10: REGUA, then drive to Itatiaia National Park.
  • Day 11: Itatiaia National Park.
  • Day 12: Drive via Perequê to Ubatuba.
  • Day 13: Ubatuba area.
  • Day 14: Drive to São Paulo region.
  • Day 15: Drive to Intervales State Park.
  • Days 16-18: Intervales State Park.
  • Day 19: Drive to Caiobá. Boat trip from Paraguá.
  • Day 20: Drive to Itapoá area.
  • Day 21: Drive to Curitiba area.
  • Day 22: Curitiba area. Morning tour end at airport.
  • Day 1: Flight to 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 Porto Alegre airport for 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’.


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 for those taking the extension:

Curitiba-Porto Alegre

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)

2024: confirmed £6930, $8890, €8080, AUD13420. Vitória/Curitiba.
Rio Grande do Sul Extension: £1390, $1790, €1620, AUD2700. Curitiba/Porto Alegre.
2025: provisional £7010, $8990, €8180, AUD13570. Vitória/Curitiba.
Rio Grande do Sul Extension: £1390, $1790, €1620, AUD2700. Curitiba/Porto Alegre.

Single Supplement: 2024: £570, $740, €670, AUD1110.
Rio Grande do Sul Extension: £100, $140, €120, AUD210.
Single Supplement: 2025: £570, $740, €670, AUD1110.
Rio Grande do Sul Extension: £100, $140, €120, AUD210.

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.


Southeast Brazil: Day 1  Our tour begins this morning at Vitória airport in the capital of the state of Espírito Santo.

Our first birding stop will be nearby at the town of Aracruz, where we visit the Augusto Ruschi Biological Station in search for the localized endemic Minute Hermit.

We will then drive through cultivated country to the VALE Natural Reserve near Linhares for a three nights stay.

During the journey, we can expect to see such widespread species as Black and Turkey Vultures, White-tailed Kite, Roadside Hawk, Yellow-headed and Southern Caracaras, American Kestrel, Ruddy Ground Dove, Smooth-billed Ani, the unique Guira Cuckoo, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Shiny Cowbird and Chopi Blackbird.

In the late afternoon, we will begin our exploration of the reserve.

Southeast Brazil: Days 2-3  The private VALE Reserve and the adjacent state-owned Sooretama Biological Reserve protect the largest remnant of Brazil’s southeastern Atlantic coastal lowland rainforest. Both reserves are jealously guarded by their wardens, who keep a watchful eye out for illicit poaching or timber cutting. The extensive areas of level ground are dissected by deep, swampy gullies that drain into a lake on the eastern margin of the reserves.

This superb area is one of only five sites where one of the world’s rarest cracids, the huge Red-billed Curassow, can still be found. The total population is very small, but our chances of seeing this critically-endangered bird will depend largely on whether or not there are showers during our visit, as the birds regularly walk out on the trails after rain. Other species that are considered endangered or vulnerable include White-necked Hawk, Ochre-marked Parakeet, Red-browed Amazon and Black-headed Berryeater, and we stand an excellent chance of recording all of these exquisite birds during our visit. If we are very lucky, the rare Plumbeous Antvireo may show up here.

VALE boasts such an unusually rich avifauna that even experienced birdwatchers tend to be confused by the many different sounds coming from the canopy, understorey and forest floor. Rainforest, more so than any other habitat, provides birders with their greatest challenge, but with patience and perseverance it can prove to be the most exciting and rewarding habitat of all, whether we are tracking down the plaintive whistles of tinamous, checking fruiting trees for cotingas, tanagers, parrots and toucans, or listening for the distant churring of an antbird flock following a swarm of army ants.

Amongst the superb selection of other birds that we may well find during our stay are Solitary, Little, Variegated and Yellow-legged Tinamous (although, as always, they are much easier to hear than see), Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Grey-headed and Plumbeous Kites, Bat Falcon, Rusty-margined Guan, Rufous-sided and Ash-throated Crakes, Scaled and Pale-vented Pigeons, Blue Ground Dove, Peach-fronted and Maroon-faced Parakeets, the endemic Plain Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Scaly-headed, Orange-winged and Mealy Parrots, the parasitic Striped Cuckoo, the hard-to-locate Black-capped Screech-Owl, Least Pygmy-Owl, White-winged Potoo, Common Pauraque, Minute Hermit (perhaps displaying in the understorey), White-chinned Sapphire, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Amazonian and Collared Trogons, Swallow-wing, Black-necked Aracari, and Blond-crested, Ringed, Red-stained, Yellow-fronted, and White Woodpeckers.

Passerines include Plain-winged, Olivaceous and Buff-throated Woodcreepers, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner, Plain Xenops, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, White-flanked and Rufous-winged Antwrens, Rufous-capped Antthrush, the delightful Black-cheeked Gnateater, Screaming Piha, White-winged Becard, Black-crowned Tityra, Red-headed, White-crowned and White-bearded Manakins, Thrush-like Schiffornis, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Variegated, Boat-billed, Streaked, Social, Short-crested, Dusky-capped, Yellow-breasted, Sepia-capped and Grey-hooded Flycatchers, Greyish Mourner, Olivaceous Flatbill, Thrush-like Wren, Yellow-legged, Cocoa and White-necked Thrushes, Trilling (or Long-billed) Gnatwren, Yellowish Pipit, Red-rumped Cacique, Southern Yellowthroat, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Burnished-buff, Hooded and Yellow-backed Tanagers, Red-crowned Ant Tanager, Buff-throated Saltator, the garrulous Yellow-green Grosbeak, Dubois’s Seedeater and Pileated Finch.

Southeast Brazil: Day 4  After some pre-breakfast birding at VALE Reserve we will drive to Santa Teresa for an overnight stay.

We will make short stops in rolling pastures where possibilities include Neotropic Cormorant, Great, Snowy and Western Cattle Egrets, Striated Heron, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Wattled Jacana, Southern Lapwing, Picazuro Pigeon, Scaled Dove, Burrowing Owl, Ringed Kingfisher, the showy Campo Flicker, Rufous Hornero, Cattle Tyrant, Brown-chested and Grey-breasted Martins, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, House Wren, the gorgeous White-browed Blackbird, Blue-black Grassquit and Saffron Finch.

The small town of Santa Teresa was the home of the late Dr Augusto Ruschi, a world authority on hummingbirds. Ruschi found ‘hummers’ so difficult to study in detail in the wild that he resorted to suspending feeders brimming with sugar solution from the roof of his museum. The museum is a famous place among birders and during a short stop there we will be able to see just how successful he was when we visit this ‘hummingbird capital of Brazil’. However, we will spend more time at our accommodations, which is nowadays an even a better place to watch these marvellous creatures. The air is full of low-flying, hovering, trilling, buzzing and twittering hummingbirds of many different shades of colour, some consuming as much as 30 times their own weight in food every day! Here we will look for the endemic diminutive green, red, black and white, insect-sized Frilled Coquette and the large, almost bee-eater-like Swallow-tailed Hummingbird.

Other species often to be seen here include Rufous-breasted and Planalto Hermits, Black Jacobin, White-vented Violetear, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Glittering-bellied, Glittering-throated, Versicolored and Sapphire-spangled Emeralds, White-throated and Sombre Hummingbirds, Brazilian Ruby and Amethyst Woodstar. Dainty and opportunistic Bananaquits often join the hummers at the artificial flowers, whilst a walk through the gardens may produce the secretive Slaty-breasted Wood Rail, the strutting Wing-banded Hornero, the smart Masked Water Tyrant and both Rufous-bellied and Creamy-bellied Thrushes.

After a ‘mind-blowing’ hummingbird experience we shall visit some really good private hill forests that surround the town. Only a small fraction of the state of Espírito Santo is still covered in the primaeval natural forest which once stretched from horizon to horizon. However, the few forests that remain amongst a sea of cultivation have fortunately been well protected as reserves. These private forests around Santa Teresa are fine examples.

Here birds abound, probably concentrated by ‘island effect’ (the destruction of similar habitat nearby). The higher altitude and humidity mean that the forests are dense and full of epiphytes, and this is one of the few places that the rare Wied’s Tyrant-Manakin can be found. This is also the place where we will start understanding how abundant the birdlife can be in the hilly Atlantic Forest in Southeast Brazil. Short walks this afternoon will provide a major increase in our bird list, with great highlights and endemics such as the colourful Spot-billed Toucanet, Yellow-eared Woodpecker, Spot-backed Antshrike, Plain and Spot-breasted Antvireos, Streak-capped Antwren, Black-capped, White-collared and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaners, Pallid Spinetail, Planalto Woodcreeper, the strange Black-billed Scythebill, Short-tailed Antthrush, the impressive Grey-hooded Attila and Bare-throated Bellbird. With luck, we will locate the secretive Rufous-brown Solitare.

Southeast Brazil: Day 5  Long before sunrise the barking calls of Barred Forest Falcons emanate through the forest and at the crack of dawn the leisurely, piercing notes of White-throated Woodcreepers and the musical chatter and trills of Scaled and Lesser Woodcreepers dominate the morning chorus.

Other birds we may well find in this splendid area include Plumbeous Pigeon, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Squirrel Cuckoo, White-collared, Sick’s and Grey-rumped Swifts, Scale-throated Hermit, Black-throated and Surucua Trogons, Channel-billed Toucan (of the distinctive race ariel), White-barred Piculet, Green-barred, Yellow-throated and Yellow-browed Woodpeckers, Ferruginous Antbird, Green-backed and Chestnut-crowned Becards, Eastern Sirystes, Shear-tailed Grey Tyrant, Euler’s, and Yellow-olive Flycatchers, White-throated Spadebill, Drab-breasted and Eared Pygmy Tyrants, Oustalet’s Tyrannulet and Violaceous Euphonia.

The tanager guild is especially well represented here and includes such splendid species as Rufous-headed, Green-headed, Red-necked and Gilt-edged Tanagers and the less colourful Sayaca, Golden-chevroned, Flame-crested, Black-goggled, Palm and Ruby-crowned Tanagers. The endemic Azure-shouldered Tanager resembles the ubiquitous Sayaca and we will make a special effort to find and identify this localized species.

A small marsh near our accommodations often holds Blackish Rail and Spix’s (or Chicli) Spinetail, while the surrounding flowering and fruiting bushes are often alive with birds including the endemic Grey-headed (or Yellow-lored) Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, the endemic Grey-capped Tyrannulet, Pale-breasted Thrush, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Red-eyed Vireo, Tropical Parula, Blue Dacnis, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, Green-winged Saltator and Double-collared Seedeater.

On our way to Vargem Alta, where we will spend two nights, we plan to have lunch in a very nice private reserve called Cantinho dos Três Pontões, a scenic place that protects some great species of birds too.

The rocky outcrop on the top of a hill offers shrubby vegetation, perfect habitat for the stunning endemic Serra Antwren. Here we shall also look for some other good birds such as the endemic Hangnest Tody-Tyrant and Cinnamon Tanager, the imposing Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and, with luck, the well-camouflaged Pygmy Nightjar. A delicious lunch can be enjoyed in front of a bird feeder where Dusky-legged Guans, Scaly-headed Parrots and stunning Blue-winged Macaws are frequent visitors.

Providing we arrive in Vargem Alta in time, we will make a first visit to the private reserve at Caeté Forest. This outstanding forest remnant, linked to some other forest fragments, is nowadays the only known site with recent records of the beautiful and ultra-rare Cherry-throated Tanager. Finding any of the few surviving individuals is a challenging task, and our chances are not high, but it is surely a memorable and most rewarding moment when it does happen.

This amazing site is not just important for the Cherry-throated Tanager, for there are several other spectacular species living here, including stunning rarities such as the poorly known Brazilian Laniisoma, and great endemics like the noisy Cryptic (or Such’s) Antthrush and Cinnamon-vented Piha, White-bibbed and Ochre-rumped Antbirds, Star-throated Antwren, Pale-browed Treehunter, White-breasted Tapaculo, Hooded Berryeater, Pin-tailed Manakin and Brown Tanager.

Southeast Brazil: Day 6  Today we have a full day to explore much of Caeté Forest. Obviously, Cherry-throated Tanager will be the main target, if it eluded us yesterday, but the intention today is also to enjoy every new species that we come across. There is still a long list of charismatic birds to be seen here, such as the striking Red-breasted Toucan and Saffron Toucanet, the good-looking Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Rufous Gnateater, Variegated Antpitta, Swallow-tailed Manakin, Wing-barred Piprites, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tyrant, Greenish Tyrannulet, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Magpie and Brassy-breasted Tanagers, Uniform Finch and the much-wanted Sharpbill. Certainly, these species and more will be enough to keep us very busy during this remarkable day of birding.

Southeast Brazil: Day 7  Today we shall set off early because we have a long travel day in order to reach REGUA in the state of Rio de Janeiro where we will spend the next three nights.

Before reaching this fantastic private reserve in the foothills of Serra dos Órgãos, we shall stop in the vicinity of the town of Cabo Frio to search in the restinga habitat for the highly localized endemic Restinga Antwren (now lumped in Serra Antwren).

Southeast Brazil: Days 8-9  The attractive lodge at REGUA is situated at an altitude of about 120m in the foothills overlooking a beautiful lake, at the edge of the 45,000 hectares Tres Picos State Park, which lies to the northeast of Rio de Janeiro. This community-owned reserve is well known for its Brazilian Laniisoma population and with luck we will enjoy good views of this generally very rare and infrequently seen species. The hill forest here is also home to a good population of the similarly rare Russet-winged Spadebill which with perseverance we should also see.

Noisy flocks of endemic Olive-green Tanagers will hide in the dense canopy of fruiting trees, while mixed-species flocks often hold Unicolored Antwren (and sometimes the rare Salvadori’s Antwren) and Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant. Other new species are likely to include Brown Tinamou (much harder to see than to hear), Ruddy Quail-Dove, the splendid Rufous-capped Motmot, Lineated Woodpecker, Planalto Woodcreeper, the retiring Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Chestnut-vented Conebill and Black-throated Grosbeak. A nocturnal excursion may reveal the rarely seen Giant Snipe, Black-banded Owl and Tawny-browed Owl.

We will drive up to the higher reaches of the Tres Picos State Park to try for one of the least known and most localized of the Brazilian endemics, the Grey-winged (or Orgãos) Cotinga. This wary and elusive relative of the Black-and-gold Cotinga lives in elfin forest above 4600 ft (1400m) and emits its disyllabic song from within the fairly open canopy. It was only described in the 1940s and is known from only two fairly small mountain ranges. Until fairly recently, its haunts could only be reached after a long hike, but now there is a good possibility to see this bird with minimal physical effort. We will still need to be lucky with the weather, as low clouds can often interfere with our endeavours to find this rare endemic.

We will also have our first opportunity in the Tres Picos area for numerous montane specialities. A bird that everybody hopes to see in southeastern Brazil is the charismatic Swallow-tailed Cotinga and here we stand an excellent chance of spotting its unique and appealing silhouette. The birds often sit out sunning themselves in the crisp early morning air and then suddenly take off in rather parakeet-like flight. In addition, the memorable, eerie, high-pitched song of the stunning Black-and-gold Cotinga echoes through the often misty environment. Other species we may well find in Tres Picos include Rufous-capped Spinetail, Variable and Large-tailed Antshrikes, Rufous-tailed Antbird, the secretive Rufous-tailed Antthrush (easy to hear, sometimes hard to see), Mouse-colored Tapaculo, Serra do Mar and Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulets, the smart Diademed Tanager, Fawn-breasted Tanager, Thick-billed Saltator, Bay-chested and Buff-throated (or Red-rumped) Warbling Finches, and Hooded Siskin.

We will also visit an area of dry deciduous woodland in interior Rio de Janeiro state, near the town of Carmo, where the endemic and localized Three-toed Jacamar digs its nesting holes in high earth banks. This species often sits on exposed branches, watching the surroundings for flying insect prey. In the same woodland area we will also have chances to find the endemic Grey-eyed Greenlet and Rufous-fronted (or Common) Thornbird, and even have a second chance for Serra Antwren.

Southeast Brazil: Day 10  Today, after some early morning birding at REGUA, we head south to the beautiful Itatiaia National Park for an overnight stay in the lower section.

We plan to have lunch in the lower part of the national park and also to check in at our nice hotel, where spectacular feeders should give us a blast of tanagers and hummingbirds, including beauties that we could have seen before such as Black Jacobin, Brazilian Ruby and Green-headed and Olive-green Tanagers. Two really fantastic species are quite frequent at the feeders; the impressive Saffron Toucanet and Blue-napped Chlorophonia.

We will also spend hours in the dense bamboo of the Três Picos Trail, mainly in search of rare endemics, including Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant.

Southeast Brazil: Day 11  Itatiaia National Park is located between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in an inland branch of the Serra do Mar. The fantastic hills of the Serra da Mantiqueira hold some of the finest remaining cloudforests on the flanks of some of the country’s highest peaks, which here rise to 9177ft (2797m). Some 130 bird species endemic to southeastern Brazil and immediately adjacent areas have been identified in this superb area, a higher total than anywhere else in the region. Most of the species will be well known to us by now, but we will be focusing on the middle and higher elevation forests but several are more easily found here than elsewhere.

We will spend the night at another hotel, located at a high pass, that gives us easy access to the best high elevation forests in the park (the famous Agulhas Negras Road). The most important of the local specialities is the delightful Black-capped Piprites and every effort will be made to find this species. In the moss-encrusted, gnarled bushes and thickets of gloomy bamboo (it is often misty here) we shall also hope for encounters with the handsome Rufous-backed Antvireo and that remarkable ‘egg on legs’, the Speckle-breasted Antpitta.

Further rewards await us in the high temperate forest and above the treeline in the paramo-like grasslands. The Itatiaia Spinetail (or Itatiaia Thistletail) is restricted to a higher elevation zone than any other Brazilian endemic and can often be found at the edge of marshy clearings. This species is so different from other furnariids that it is usually placed in its own genus, Oreophylax. The dazzling Green-crowned Plovercrest is a stunning hummingbird that flits about the fuchsia bushes, while in an isolated copse of monkey-puzzle trees we will look for the pretty Araucaria Tit-Spinetail.

Other birds we may well find at Itatiaia include Sharp-billed Treehunter, Rufous-tailed (or Brazilian) Antthrush, Rufous Gnateater, Serra do Mar Tyrannulet, Brown-breasted Pygmy Tyrant, Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin, White-crested Tyrannulet, Olivaceous Elaenia, Buff-throated Warbling Finch and Golden-winged Cacique.

Southeast Brazil: Day 12  Today we transfer to Ubatuba on the Atlantic coast for a two nights stay.

We will stop on the way at Perequê, situated on the southern coastline of Rio de Janeiro state. Here the striking Black-hooded Antwren is one of the rarest of the antbirds and is only found in this small area. It had long been feared extinct, until its dramatic rediscovery in the late 1980s which caused quite a stir amongst Neotropical aficionados. There has also been a fair amount of debate about its exact taxonomic position, but this has been resolved and it is now firmly anchored in the genus Formicivora. The total population is minute, but luckily it manages to survive in second-growth. This morning we will focus on this little jewel, but we will also pay tribute to another endemic, the Orange-eyed Thornbird. Other birds in this area include Short-tailed Hawk, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, the attractive Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Yellow Tyrannulet and an isolated race of the Lemon-chested Greenlet.

Later, we will continue southwest along the scenic coastal road to Ubatuba. Upon arrival, we will begin our exploration of the surrounding area.

Southeast Brazil: Day 13  The lovely coastline between Santos, the harbour of São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro consists of immaculate white sandy beaches interspersed with rocky promontories, quiet secluded bays and a turquoise sea dotted with rocky islands. The whole scene reminds one a bit of the French Cote d’Azur, especially now that luxurious villas, preposterous condominiums and fancy yacht marinas are appearing here and there along the narrow coastal strip. During the week not much happens here, but at the weekend this is the playground of the better-off Paulistanos and Cariocas (as the inhabitants of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are respectively referred to in Brazil), who come here for a dose of sun, sea and surf.

The imposing verdant hills of the Serra do Mar rise up just behind this gorgeous coast and provide a haven for a rich array of rarely-encountered endemics and other specialities. During our stay, we will explore the lush surroundings of our lovely hotel in the town of Ubatuba and nearby forest, where our main targets include the tiny Buff-throated Purpletuft and the mysterious Slaty Bristlefront. The purpletuft favours exposed snags at the forest edge, usually not far from fruiting trees, but this aberrant cotinga is easily overlooked because of its diminutive size. The enchanting song of the bristlefront is one of the most evocative sounds of the Atlantic Forests. This strange tapaculo is an expert at hiding itself, but with a bit of luck, we should be able to admire its lovely frontal tuft and long tail.

A patient wait at a productive set of hummingbird feeders should produce the superb Saw-billed Hermit and the exquisite Festive Coquette. In dense clumps of bamboo, we shall hope to track down the large and very skulking Tufted Antshrike (and here we have a second chance if necessary for the cute, beautifully-patterned Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant). These forests harbour an excellent selection of antbirds and in the dark forest interior, we will prowl the undergrowth in search of three more endemic members of this appealing family: Star-throated and Salvadori’s Antwrens and the piebald Scaled Antbird. More diligent examination may add the awkward Russet-winged Spadebill and Sao Paulo Tyrannulet to our list. Here too, endemic Long-billed Wrens sing persistently from dense tangles and less often the secretive Spotted Bamboowren.

Additional species we may well encounter include Magnificent Frigatebird, Hook-billed Kite, Black Hawk-Eagle, Laughing Falcon, South American and Royal Terns, White-tipped Dove, Dusky-throated Hermit (the local nominate form of which is sometimes considered a separate species), Reddish Hermit, Black-throated Mango, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Piratic and Cliff Flycatchers, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, White-thighed Swallow and Crested Oropendola.

Southeast Brazil: Day 14  Today, after an early start, we head to a well-known area for the recently described Marsh (or Sao Paulo) Antwren near São Paulo. The rapidly diminishing marshes at this site mean that this species is already under considerable threat. Providing we find the antwren by midday, we will then visit the Cantareira State Park in the vicinity of São Paulo. There our main target will be the tiny and rare Southern Bristle Tyrant. We spend the night in the São Paulo area.

Southeast Brazil: Day 15  From São Paulo with its over 20 million souls we heading south into the Serra de Paranapiacaba for a four nights stay at Intervales State Park. This afternoon we will begin our exploration of Intervales.

Southeast Brazil: Days 16-18  Large parts of the Serra de Paranapiacaba and of the Serra do Mar in southeastern São Paulo state are still cloaked in pristine Atlantic rainforest and form the Mata Atlantica Biosphere Reserve, which was declared an International Biosphere Reserve in 1991 and a World Heritage Site in 1999.

We shall be spending much of our time in Parque Estadual Intervales (or Intervales State Park), a 121,000-acre (49,000-hectare) reserve that is part of a complex of two more adjacent reserves that protect a total area of around 460 square miles (1200 square kilometres) at altitudes varying between 60-3600ft (20-1100m). Between them, the reserves protect the largest contiguous Atlantic Forest remnant in Brazil!

Parts of the park consist of undulating limestone hills where deep caves add to the attraction. Sparkling streams tumble through these virtually untouched forests where patches of excellent bamboo are another major draw for visiting birders. A splendid set of wide and well-laid-out trails allows easy access to the forest, while nearby are lakes, areas of dense and impenetrable secondary growth and even some more open terrain.

During our visit to Intervales State Park, we shall encounter a succession of different forest types as we reach increasing altitude. At the lowest level is subtropical forest where the rich green tapestry is broken only by an occasional patch of gorgeous blue or red where a tree has come into flower. Higher up there is a transition to lush, bromeliad-laden cloudforest with its attendant mist, and finally, at the highest altitudes, temperate forest where birds hide in the dark tunnels amidst the bamboo.

The easiest birding is to be found around our pleasant hotel where several species of iridescent, multi-hued tanagers can be watched squabbling over who should be next to savour the delights of the fruit obligingly left for them on the bird tables.

While the sun is still below the horizon, we will position ourselves at a strategic viewpoint overlooking a forest edge with many exposed canopy snags, for here we have another good chance for the wonderful Swallow-tailed Cotinga. A wing-whirr display will alert us to the presence of the rare and declining Black-fronted Piping-Guan. This appealing cracid favours dense humid forests where its main food, the palmito, thrives. Small family parties of Blue-bellied Parrots can sometimes be seen hurtling over the treetops, but this unique species is never easy to observe well. As the thermals start to rise we will hope to see the distinctive black and white shape of the Mantled Hawk as it wheels effortlessly over the woods.

We will then enter the gloomy forest interior, where patient stalking and quiet waiting should add some more good birds to our tally. The strange stout-billed White-bearded Antshrike, the sole member of its genus, favours dense patches of tall, slender bamboo and sometimes joins mixed-species flocks. Careful examination of the undergrowth should reward us with such skulkers as Giant Antshrike, Dusky-tailed Antbird, the smart Squamate Antbird and Half-collared Sparrow. Rarities are regularly found in this superb park and we will concentrate our efforts on some breath-taking species such as Grey-bellied Hawk, Buff-bellied Puffbird, Helmeted Woodpecker and Atlantic Royal Flycatcher. We also have a second chance for Spotted Bamboowren.

Nightbirding is exciting here as Long-trained Nightjars show off their very unusual silhouette at dusk and later the rare Rusty-barred Owl will lure us into the forest with its hoarse grunts.

Other species we expect to encounter here include Spot-winged Wood Quail, Rufous-thighed Hawk, Grey-bellied Spinetail, the localized Orange-breasted (or Red-eyed) Thornbird, White-browed Foliage-gleaner, the gorgeous Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin.

Southeast Brazil: Day 19  Today we depart early, descending out of the hills of the Serra do Mar once again. Our destination is a huge bay in the coastline of Paraná state, the Bay of Paranaguá, where we will spend the night at the town of Caiobá.

On our way, we shall stop at the famous and scenic Graciosa Road. Here we shall find a similar avifauna to that at Intervales, but we also have chances to find the uncommon Blackish-blue Seedeater, the noisy Azure Jay and the stunning Chestnut-backed Tanager, as well as another opportunity to look for the skulking Speckle-breasted Antpitta.

Late this afternoon, from the harbour town of Paraguá, we will take a fast boat through the bay to some pristine lowland forest and mangroves. A spectacle happens just before sunset at a little island where hundreds of the localized endemic Red-tailed Parrot comes to roost. Other birds that we may well see here are Brown Booby, Roseate Spoonbill, Little Blue Heron, Grey-necked Wood Rail and Cabot’s Tern.

Southeast Brazil: Day 20  Today we will set off early so that we can enjoy some early morning birding in the tall Restinga woodlands that dominate the coastal area near the town of Itapoá, situated in the border area between Santa Catarina and Paraná, where we will overnight. The high humidity that persists in this lowland region makes the forests a bromeliad garden from ground-level to the canopy, and in areas with poorer soils we can find a stunted type of Restinga forest.

Close to the Saí Mirim River, we will be looking for threatened localized endemics. Here the star is the small Kaempfer’s Tody-Tyrant, which was poorly-known until recently, followed by the curious Restinga Tyrannulet and the marvellous Black-backed Tanager. We should also have fun with White-bearded and Swallow-tailed Manakins and search for Scaled Chachalaca and Three-striped Flycatcher.

Next, we focus on another main target, the little-known Marsh (or Parana) Antwren, which was only described in 1995, and which leads a quiet and secretive life in Typha marshes. These marshes are seriously threatened by real estate speculation along the coast, which has much reduced its already scarce habitat.

To the south of the marshes, we shall visit the lovely Volta Velha Reserve in the afternoon, where the pristine lowland forest offers numerous birds, including good chances to find Yellow-legged Tinamou. Nearby rice paddies may provide a dose of rails and crakes as well.

Southeast Brazil: Day 21  After any final birding around Itapoá if need be, we will head uphill to the capital of Paraná state, Curitiba, where we will overnight.

Exploration of the Araucaria-dominated forests on the Paraná plateau will give us the chance to observe the gorgeous Chestnut-headed Tanager and the skulking Canebrake Groundcreeper. We may also find Grey-throated Warbling Finch and Diademed Tanager.

During the afternoon we shall spend time in the habitat of yet another recently-described species, the Marsh (or Wetland) Tapaculo. This extreme skulker was discovered in 1998 in an area of humid lush grass, definitely an unusual environment for a tapaculo, and even today in southern Brazil it is only known from a few patches of this very restricted habitat in marshy grassland areas. Here we may also encounter Long-tailed Reed Finch, Lesser Grass Finch and Yellow-rumped Marshbird. We will remain in the area until after dusk, hoping to see the rare Sickle-winged Nightjar and the attractive little Long-tufted Screech Owl.

Southeast Brazil: Day 22  After some final birding, our tour ends this morning at Curitiba airport.



Southeast Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul): 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.

Southeast Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul): Day 2  We have a very special bird to try and 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! This rare bird sometimes arrives in the area in late October, sometimes in early November, perhaps according to the amount of rainfall.

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!

Southeast Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul): 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.

Southeast Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul): Day 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 be 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.

Southeast Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul): Day 5  After a final morning in the São Francisco de Paula region we will return to Porto Alegre airport where our tour ends this afternoon.

SOUTHEAST BRAZIL TOUR REPORT 2022 (excl Rio Grande do Sul)

by Eduardo Patrial

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SOUTHEAST BRAZIL TOUR REPORT 2021 (excl Rio Grande do Sul)

View Report


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by Eduardo Patrial

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Other Brazil birding tours by Birdquest include: