BRAZIL’S SOUTHERN AMAZONIA BIRDING TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Day 1 Our tour begins this evening at Porto Velho, where we will stay overnight.
Porto Velho is the capital of Rondônia State, with a population close to 450,000 and is located on the border of Rondônia and the state of Amazonas. The town is an important trading centre for cassiterite, the mining of which nowadays represents the most important economic activity in the region, and is also a transportation and communications centre. Porto Velho lies on the eastern shore of the Rio Madeira, one of the many tributaries of the Amazon River, which is an important geographic barrier between the two centres of endemism we focus on during this special tour, Rondônia and Inambari. Rondônia state was once almost entirely covered in tropical forest, but with the mining in the 50s came also a trend of human migration to the state (almost a million people), who were allowed by the government to settle on large cattle farms in the region, and for a long time this led a huge area of Rondônia to suffer from unbridled deforestation. Despite the vast loss of forest in Rondônia, there are still some extensive regions of continuous forest and we will be visiting some of these in the northeastern and northwestern parts of the state.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Days 2-3 From now on the emphasis will be on the west bank of the Rio Madeira, where we will be giving special attention to the Inambari specialities. Taking the road BR-319, we cross the Madeira River to the state of Amazonas, the largest in Brazil. We head north towards the town of Humaita, where we will initially spend three nights.
Humaita is situated about 200 kilometres or 120 miles from Porto Velho and we will spend our time in the region exploring good areas on the west bank of the Madeira between the surroundings of Porto Velho and Humaita. The Humaita region is famous for its unusual enclave of ‘Cerrado’ vegetation amidst the Amazon rainforest, so besides covering areas of ‘terra firme’ and ‘varzea’ forests, special attention will be given to the savanna habitats, including areas of ‘campina’ and ‘campinarana’.
We shall visit a superb area of ‘varzea’ on the east bank of Madeira, where we expect to find such species as Horned Screamer, Speckled Chachalaca, Black-collared Hawk, Sunbittern, Hoatzin, Little Cuckoo, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Tui Parakeet, Short-tailed Parrot, Festive Amazon, Zimmer’s and Striped Woodcreepers, Plain Softtail, Rusty-backed and Plain-crowned Spinetails, Blackish and Black-chinned Antbirds, Leaden Antwren, Cinnamon Attila, Varzea Schiffornis and Masked Crimson Tanager.
We shall also cover some ‘terra firme’ forest on the west bank of Madeira at Ramal Novo Horizonte. This area has great potential for rarities and we will search for such near-mythical species as Undulated Antshrike, Black Bushbird and Reddish-winged Bare-eye. Besides these, birding here can be very rewarding with a number of uncommon and delightful species including Rufous-necked and Brown-banded Puffbirds, Blue-necked Jacamar, Pearly Antshrike, White-throated, Hairy-crested, Humaita and Sooty Antbirds, the Inambari-speciality Predicted Antwren, Madeira Stipplethroat, Curve-billed Scythebill (ssp. gyldenstolpei, known as Tupana Scythebill), Rufous-tailed Flatbill, Citron-bellied Attila, White-crested Spadebill, an undescribed species of Hemitriccus, Spangled and Pompadour Cotingas, Blue-crowned, Red-headed and Fiery-capped Manakins, Cinnamon Neopipo, Inambari Gnatcatcher, Cinereous Mourner, Musician Wren, and Masked, Opal-rumped and Paradise Tanagers.
During our time in the Humaita region we can also expect to record Red-winged, Small-billed and White-throated Tinamous, Slender-billed Kite, Slate-colored and Black-faced Hawks, Ocellated, Russet-crowned and Ash-throated Crakes, Long-tailed Ground Dove, Pale-winged Trumpeter, Amazonian Pygmy Owl, Needle-billed Hermit, Green-tailed Goldenthroat, Pavonine Quetzal, Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots, Paradise, Bronzy and Great Jacamars, White-necked, Spotted, White-eared, Western Striolated and Semicollared Puffbirds, Gilded Barbet, Brown-mandibled and Curl-crested Aracaris, Golden-collared Toucanet, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Bar-breasted Piculet, Lined Forest Falcon, Crimson-bellied and Santarem Parakeets (and with luck Bonaparte’s Parakeet), White-bellied Parrot, Mealy Amazon, Fasciated, Glossy, Mouse-colored, Barred and Spot-winged Antshrikes, Black and Southern Chestnut-tailed Antbirds, Pygmy, Sclater’s, Rusty-backed and Southern White-fringed Antwrens, Peruvian Warbling Antbird, Inambari, Long-billed and Bar-bellied Woodcreepers, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail, Slender-billed and Rufous-tailed Xenops, Olive-backed Foliage-gleaner, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Pompadour Cotinga, Stripe-necked and Zimmer’s Tody Tyrants, Amazonian Scrub Flycatcher, Black Manakin, Azure-naped Jay (ssp. hafferi, known as Campina Jay), Red-breasted Blackbird, Black-faced Tanager, Plumbeous, Chestnut-bellied and Wing-barred Seedeaters, Rufous-bellied Euphonia and with luck the rare Black-masked Finch.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Day 5 Today we will head eastwards to the remote town of Vila do Carmo and from there we will travel upriver to the remote Pousa PiraAçu where we will stay for five nights. We will arrive in time for some initial exploration.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Days 6-9 Here at PiraAçu we will be concentrating our attention on the ‘Rondonian’ centre of endemism (which extends to adjacent Amazonas). Pousada PariAçu is surrounded by a huge area of forest and in this area we can explore the varied habitats on both banks of the River Aripuana and its tributaries, including areas of ‘campina’ and ‘campinarana’ (the terms ‘campina’ and ‘campinarana’ both describe white sand savannas that are very poor in nutrients, with stunted vegetation). ‘Campina’ is distinguished as being completely treeless and ‘campinarana’ represents the transition to the rainforest. We will also explore both ‘terra firme’ and ‘varzea’ rainforests, as well as the banks of the river.
Recent surveys have recorded a huge number of species of birds in the PariAçu area. Every site visited in the area will provide good birding, both in terms of quality and quantity, and with our long stay at PiraAçu we are sure to do very well indeed.
In this area, we will be searching in particular for the wonderful Rondonia Bushbird (this is currently the most reliable area for the species, which we shall look for in specific areas of dense vine-tangles) as well as for the rare Buff-cheeked Tody Flycatcher, the newly described Aripuana Antwren, Predicted Antwren, Manicore Warbling Antbird, Madeira Stipplethroat (ssp. dentei, known as Roosevelt Stipplethroat) and Chico’s Tyrannulet.
During our stay in the area we should also expect to record Undulated, Variegated and Brazilian Tinamous, Razor-billed and Bare-faced Curassows, Spix’s Guan, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Capped and Zigzag Herons, Green Ibis, Slate-colored and White-browed Hawks, Sunbittern, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Pied Plover, Large-billed Tern, Black-bellied Cuckoo, Tawny-bellied Screech Owl, Spectacled and Black-banded Owls, Amazonian Pygmy Owl, Great Potoo, Blackish and Ladder-tailed Nightjars, Sand-colored Nighthawk, Mato Grosso Swift, Great-billed Hermit, Crimson Topaz, Blue-tailed Emerald, Green-tailed Goldenthroat, Collared Trogon, Pavonine Quetzal, Green-and-rufous and American Pygmy Kingfishers, Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots, Blue-cheeked, Bronzy and Great Jacamars, White-necked, Eastern Striolated, Pied and Spotted Puffbirds, Rusty-breasted Nunlet, Black-girdled Barbet, White-throated and Channel-billed Toucans, Red-necked Aracari, Scaly-breasted, Ringed, Red-necked and Red-stained Woodpeckers, Red-throated and Black Caracaras, Cryptic Forest Falcon, Scarlet, Red-and-green, Blue-and-yellow, Chestnut-fronted and Red-bellied Macaws, Yellow-crowned and Kawall’s Amazons, Orange-cheeked and Red-fan Parrots, and Golden-winged, Dusky-headed, Santarem and Crimson-bellied Parakeets.
Among the passerine birds: Fasciated, Glossy, Amazonian, Plain-winged, Chestnut-backed, White-shouldered, Natterer’s Slaty, Cinereous, Saturnine and Pearly Antshrikes, Silvered, Rufous-faced, White-browed, Black-faced, Spot-backed, Dot-backed, Ferruginous-backed, Southern Chestnut-tailed, Common Scale-backed, Banded and Wing-banded Antbirds, the amazing White-breasted Antbird, Pale-faced and Black-spotted Bare-eyes, Southern White-fringed, Dot-winged, White-eyed, Amazonian Streaked, Grey Long-winged and Aripuana (this last newly-described) Antwrens, Yellow-browed, Manicore and Rondonia Warbling Antbirds, the uncommon Black-bellied and Chestnut-belted Gnateaters, Variegated, Thrush-like and Alta Floresta Antpittas, Black-faced Antthrush, the endemic Hoffman’s Woodcreeper, Rondonia and Uniform Woodcreepers, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Ruddy Spinetail, Slender-billed Xenops, Snow-capped, Flame-crowned, Blue-backed and Black Manakins, Screaming Piha, Spangled Cotinga, Black-necked Red-Cotinga, Cinnamon Neopipo (or Cinnamon Tyrant-Manakin), White-crested and Golden-crowned Spadebills, Snethlage’s and Zimmer’s Tody Tyrants, the rare Buff-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, the newly-described Chico’s Tyrannulet, Yellow-throated Flycatcher, Little Ground Tyrant, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Pale-bellied Mourner, Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo, Grey-chested Greenlet, Plush-crested Jay (ssp. diesingii), White-banded and Black-collared Swallows, Southern Nightingale and Musician Wrens, Yellow-browed Sparrow, Green and Olive Oropendolas, Rose-breasted Chat and Amazonian (or Rothschild’s) Grosbeak. There are even chances for the uncommon Red-and-black Grosbeak.
As is to be expected, this remote area holds hundreds of bird species, including some of the finest Amazonian birds, such as Razor-billed Curassow, Sand-colored Nighthawk, Striolated Puffbird, Rusty-breasted Nunlet, Great Jacamar, Pavonine Quetzal, Gould’s Toucanet, Red-necked Aracari, Cryptic Forest Falcon, Santarem Parakeet, Orange-cheeked Parrot, Kawall’s Amazon, Saturnine and Pearly Antshrikes, Banded and Ferruginous-backed Antbirds, Yellow-browed Warbling Antbird, Dot-backed, Spot-backed, Common Scale-backed and Rufous-faced Antbirds, the endemic ant-swarm followers White-breasted Antbird and Pale-faced Bare-eye, Elegant and Striped Woodcreepers, the rare Black-bellied Gnateater, Alta Floresta Antpitta, Rusty-belted Tapaculo, Snow-capped and Flame-crowned Manakins, the rare Black-necked Red Cotinga, Snethlage’s Tody-Tyrant, Little Ground Tyrant, Southern Nightingale-Wren, Musician Wren, White-winged Shrike-Tanager, Masked and Paradise Tanagers, and Slate-colored Seedeater.
Among the more interesting riverine species present in the area are the endemic Glossy Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Silvered and Blackish Antbirds, Amazonian Streaked Antwren, White-browed and Dot-backed Antbirds, Straight-billed and Cinnamon-throated Woodcreepers, Cinnamon Attila, Spotted Tody-Flycatcher, the rare Buff-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, Grey-chested Greenlet, Yellow-browed Sparrow and many others.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Day 10 After some final birding around PiraAçu we will retrace our steps to Humaita for an overnight stay.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Day 11 Following our very rewarding visit to southeast Amazonas, we will drive back into Rondônia on our way to the town of Jaci-Paraná, situated by the Madeira River in the northwestern part of Rondônia, near the border with Bolivia and the state of Acre, where we will spend two nights.
Our day on the road starts early after departing from Humaita. We will have time for some birding stops along the way and in particular, we will explore the area around Abunã, covering the west bank of Madeira.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Days 12 Around Jaci-Paraná we will also concentrate our efforts on the west bank of the Madeira. We will access pristine terra firme forest, river islands and other habitats.
Both in this fine area and around Abunã the previous day, we will be looking for the uncommon Orinoco Goose, Cinereous, Undulated and Bartlett’s Tinamous, Razor-billed Curassow, Pied Plover, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, Black Skimmer, Sand-colored Nighthawk, Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots, the shy Pale-winged Trumpeter, Scaled Pigeon, Short-tailed Swift, Chestnut-eared and Curl-crested Aracaris, Golden-collared Toucanet, both uncommon Collared and Semicollared Puffbirds, Western Striolated Puffbird, Fulvous-chinned Nunlet, the Stunning Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Bluish-fronted Jacamar, Lined and Slaty-backed Forest Falcons, Crimson-bellied and Cobalt-winged Parakeets, White-bellied and Red-fan Parrots, Blue-winged Macaw, Pearly and Undulated Antshrikes, Reddish-winged Bare-eye, White-throated and Hairy-crested Antbirds, Peruvian Warbling Antbird, Striated and Southern Chestnut-tailed Antbirds, White-chinned and Plain-brown Woodcreepers, Buff-throated and Olive-backed Foliage-gleaners, Ruddy Spinetail, Short-billed Leaftosser, Thrush-like Antpitta, Large-headed and Rufous-tailed Flatbills, Yellow-margined Flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila, Drab Water Tyrant, Snethlage’s and White-bellied Tody Tyrants, Screaming Piha, Spangled and Pompadour Cotingas, Bare-necked and Purple-throated Fruitcrows, White-banded Swallow, Blue-crowned and Band-tailed Manakins, Dwarf Tyrant Manakin, Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo, Buff-cheeked and Ashy-headed Greenlets, Green Oropendola, Slate-colored Grosbeak and Dotted Tanager.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Day 13 After some superb birding by the bank of the mighty Rio Madeira we will finally reach the state of Acre, situated still further west in the Brazilian Amazon, where we will spend four nights at the state capital, Rio Branco.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Days 14-16 Located in the valley of the Acre River, the city of Rio Branco is bisected by the river with a population of more than 350 thousand people. The settlement in the region started in the early 19th century and the development of the municipality increased during the long period called the ‘rubber cycle’. Nowadays wood is the main export from Acre, besides being a big producer of Brazil nuts, Assai and copaiba oil.
During our time in this part of Brazil, we will be exploring the surroundings of Rio Branco, mainly areas of ‘terra firme’ with large clumps of bamboo. As part of the same rich bamboo zone found in southeast Peru, the ones near Rio Branco also hold a number of bamboo specialities. Birding here has a lot in common with the Tambopata region in Peru, a mega-diverse area which certainly holds some of the best Amazonian birds.
During our pleasant stay at Rio Branco we have three full days to enjoy our final birding, with a list of birds that includes Cinereous, Little, Brown and Black-capped Tinamous, Speckled Chachalaca, Grey-headed and Double-toothed Kites, White-browed Hawk, Chestnut-headed Crake, Ocellated Poorwill, Silky-tailed Nightjar, White-bearded Hermit, Black-tailed, Green-backed, Blue-crowned, Collared and Amazonian Trogons, Broad-billed and Amazonian Motmots, White-throated and Bluish-fronted Jacamars, White-necked, Chestnut-capped and Western Striolated Puffbirds, Rufous-capped Nunlet, White-fronted and Yellow-billed Nunbirds, Lemon-throated Barbet, Lettered, Brown-mandibled, Chestnut-eared and Curl-crested Aracaris, Rufous-breasted and Fine-barred Piculets, Red-stained, Little, Spot-breasted, Chestnut, Cream-coloured, Red-necked and Rufous-headed Woodpeckers, Barred and Collared Forest Falcons, Chestnut-fronted and Blue-headed Macaws, Dusky-headed, Black-capped, Tui and Cobalt-winged Parakeets, Dusky-billed Parrotlet, White-bellied Parrot and Mealy Amazon.
Passerines include Speckled Spinetail, the uncommon Orange-fronted Plushcrown, Peruvian Recurvebill, Bamboo, Buff-throated, Brown-rumped, Ruddy and Chestnut-crowned Foliage-gleaners, Dusky Leaftosser, Bamboo and Bluish-slate Antshrikes, Dot-winged, Ornate, Sclater’s, Plain-throated, Grey and Pygmy Antwrens, the recently described Bamboo Antwren (IOC still treats as ssp. of Ihering’s Antwren), Grey, Riparian, Black and Manu Antbirds, Yellow-breasted Warbling Antbird, White-lined, Southern Chestnut-tailed, Black-throated, Goeldi’s, Plumbeous and Striated Antbirds, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Black-faced and Rufous-fronted Antthrushes, Amazonian Antpitta, Wing-barred Piprites, the newly described Acre Tody Tyrant, Johannes’s Tody Tyrant, Flammulated Bamboo Tyrant, Long-crested Pygmy Tyrant, White-cheeked Tody Flycatcher, Rufous Twistwing, Olivaceous, Large-headed and Dusky-tailed Flatbills, White-eyed Attila, Black-faced and Purple-throated Cotingas, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Band-tailed and Fiery-capped Manakins, Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Yellow-cheeked Becard, Southern Nightingale-Wren, Black-billed Thrush, the rare Black-and-white Tanager, Opal-crowned Tanager, Lesson’s Seedeater and White-lored Euphonia.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Day 17 Morning tour end at Rio Branco.
(We will be pleased to arrange your internal flight from Palmas to your departure city in Brazil on request, even if you are arranging your own international tickets. Kindly note that there are only a limited number of flights serving Rio Branco.)
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia (Tocantins): Day 1 We will take an early flight to Brasilia, the country’s capital, followed by a short onward flight to Palmas, the capital city of Tocantins state. From Palmas we will head southwestwards to the Bananal area of the mighty Araguaia River region for a three nights stay (divided between two locations).
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia (Tocantins): Days 2-3 The star attractions here at Bananal are four very restricted-range endemics, the beautiful Kaempfer’s Woodpecker, Bananal Antbird, an as yet undescribed species of Certhiaxis spinetail (known as Bananal Spinetail) and the handsome Crimson-fronted Cardinal. In addition, the very restricted-range, river-island specialist simoni form of the White-lored Spinetail probably represents a distinct species: Araguaia Spinetail.
Other specialities of the area include the fast-declining Orinoco Goose, the very patchily-distributed endemic Chestnut-bellied Guan, such endemics as Jandaya Parakeet, Glossy Antshrike and Smoky-fronted Tody-Flycatcher and such near-endemics as Red-throated Piping Guan, Cinnamon-throated Hermit (of the form maranhoensis, which may represent a distinct species), Eastern Striolated Puffbird and Santarem Parakeet.
Many other species will be recorded during our stay and in this area, there are strong influences from both Amazonia (we are in a transitional zone at the Araguaia) and the Pantanal in the composition of the local avifauna.
Likely species include Little Tinamou, Brazilian Teal, Great Potoo, Band-tailed Nighthawk, Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Greater Ani, Little Cuckoo, Pale-vented and Ruddy Pigeons, Sungrebe, Purple Gallinule, Collared Plover, Wattled Jacana, Spotted Sandpiper, the huge Jabiru, Anhinga, Neotropic Cormorant, Roseate Spoonbill, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Striated, Cocoi and Capped Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, the strange Hoatzin, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Western Osprey (a seasonal visitor), Swallow-tailed Kite, Long-winged Harrier, Black-collared, Great Black and Short-tailed Hawks, Tawny-bellied Screech Owl, Black-banded Owl, Green-backed and Blue-crowned Trogons, Green, Green-and-rufous and American Pygmy Kingfishers, Amazonian Motmot, Spotted and Swallow-winged Puffbirds, Black-fronted Nunbird, Lettered and Black-necked Aracaris, Gould’s Toucanet, Channel-billed Toucan, Red-stained and Red-necked Woodpeckers, Barred Forest Falcon (uncommon), Blue-headed Parrot, Orange-winged Amazon and the lovely Golden-collared Macaw.
Among the likely passerines are Plain-brown, Long-billed, Striped, Buff-throated and Straight-billed Woodcreepers, Southern White-fringed Antwren, Band-tailed Antbird, Forest Elaenia, Ringed Antpipit, Amazonian Inezia, Zimmer’s Tody-Tyrant, Rusty-fronted and Spotted Tody-Flycatchers, Grey-crowned and Rufous-tailed Flatbills, Piratic, Rusty-margined and Variegated Flycatchers, Greyish Mourner, Cinnamon and Bright-rumped Attilas, Purple-throated and Bare-necked Fruitcrows, Spangled Cotinga, Blue-backed and Band-tailed Manakins, Masked Tityra, Green-backed Becard (uncommon), Ashy-headed Greenlet, White-winged Swallow, Moustached and Buff-breasted Wrens, Violaceous Euphonia, Yellow-browed and Pectoral Sparrows, Red-breasted Blackbird, Solitary and Yellow-rumped Caciques, the stunning Rose-breasted Chat, White-shouldered and Magpie Tanagers, Lined Seedeater and Chestnut-bellied Seed Finch.
Brazil’s Southern Amazonia: Day 4 After some final birding we will return to Palmas. We will stop along the way to look for an undescribed form of antwren that is currently included in Caatinga Antwren but is possibly a good species. Our tour ends this afternoon at Palmas airport.
(We will be pleased to arrange your internal flight from Palmas to your departure city in Brazil on request, even if you are arranging your own international tickets. Kindly note that there are only a limited number of flights serving Palmas.)
PFRIMER’S PARAKEET EXTENSION
Please see the information given in the tour Overview section.