Birding Brazil - North-East Endemics

11birdPhotographer: Frederico Tavares

A tour aimed at seeing the spectacular endemic Araripe Manakin, Lear's Macaw, Great Xenops, Seven-coloured Tanager, Hooded Visorbearer, White-browed Antpitta and Slender Antbird and much more. Brazil is vast and even the north-east of Brazil is a huge region within which, not surprisingly, there are a substantial diversity of habitats and landscapes providing for a very varied avifauna. In spite of this it has been neglected by ornithologists until recently, with the discovery of many new species to science, not least of these being the superb Araripe Manakin. The region is characterized by humid Atlantic rainforests on the coast, the endless rolling country with dramatic canyons of the interior, called the Caatinga and the montane Serra do Espinhaço in the south. The Caatinga is a dry thorny forest with areas of more open grassland. It has its own special suite of endemic species that we will enjoy looking for on many spectacular days of birding in this bleak but beautiful landscape. It is here that we watch almost the whole World's population of the endangered Lear's Macaw fly by us as they leave their dormitories.

This tour starts on the coast at Fortaleza and crosses the Caatinga southeastwards to Murici on the coast, visiting a number of Atlantic forest fragments in the process. It is in these fragments of forest that some of the most exciting ornithological discoveries have been made and where we will devote much time to finding the regional endemics. We then head south through the coastal rainforests, before cutting inland to the transitional Mata do Cipo, between the Atlantic forest and woodlands at Boa Nova. At this famous site, now much degraded, we will spend much time exploring the woodlands with thick viny tangles and terrestrial bromeliads for some of South America's most endangered species. Finally we shall visit the Chapada Diamantina National Park at Lencois to explore some higher elevation habitats before heading back to Salvador on the coast. Here we will have time on our final day an area of cerrado and a patch of Atlantic forest to complete our tour of this complex region.

Day 1:Arrival in Forteleza. 2 hours and 30 minutes drive to the town of Guaramiranga. Afternoon birding Remanso Hotel area. Overnight in Guaramiranga. B:L:D
Day 2:Full day exploring and birding the montane forests at Guaramiranga. Our targets species here are the Ochraceous Piculet, the endemic Ceara Gnateater, Gould's Toucanet and rather pretty Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant. This tiny isolated range has many interesting species and a good selection of endemic species from eastern Brasil. Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Gray-breasted Parakeet, Planalto Hermit, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Blue-crowned Trogon, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Little Woodpecker, Wing-banded and Pale-legged Horneros, the beautiful Gray-headed Spinetail, Ochre-cheeked Spinetail, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Variable Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Short-tailed Antthrush, Planalto Tyrannulet, Cliff (Swallow) Flycatcher), Band-tailed Manakin, the beautiful Red-necked Tanager, and Purple-throated Euphonia. Among the commoner woodland species we will see White-tipped Dove, Squirrel Cuckoo, Straight-billed and Lesser Woodcreepers, Sooty-fronted and Ochre-cheeked Spinetails, White-throated Spadebill, Black-tailed Flycatcher and Pectoral Sparrow. We will also encounter a selection of open country species such as Turkey and Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, Snail kite, Savanna Hawk, Wattled Jacana, Southern Lapwing, Masked Water-Tyrant and Grey-breasted Martins. Night Guaramiranga. B:L:D
Day 3:After early morning birding we drive south to Crato for two nights in southern Ceara. In so doing we pass through our first Caatinga habitats. In this dry and thickly wooded landscape we will make some stops to acquaint ourselves with some of the commoner species. We should see the recently split Caatinga Cacholote at its huge stick nest and find the stunning north-eastern form of Capped Seedeater, Caatinga Antwren , Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Mouse-colored Tyrannulet and many others. Night in Crato. B:L:D
Day 4:Full day birding the fantastic Caatinga area around Crato. At the base of the massive red cliffs edging the Serra do Araripe we will search for the outstandingly beautiful Araripe Manakin. This species was only discovered very recently and we do have a very good chance of seeing it. The male has a pearly white body with jet black wings and red head making a striking impression in the cool green forests. We will also be exploring the Floresta Nacional de Chapada do Araripe in search of the regional endemics. In these stunning dry forests we will give time in the early morning to find the elusive White-browed Antpitta. In the same woodland of the chapada we will also look for Tawny Piculet, Caatinga Antwren, , Gray Elaenia, Green-backed Becard, Pale- bellied Tyrant-Manakin, the striking White-naped Jay, Moustached Wren, Rufous-bellied and Pale-breasted Thrushes, Gray-eyed Greenlet, Flavescent Warbler and the striking White-browed Antpitta. Our real prize in these woodlands is the Great Xenops which we have often found as it chisels away at loose bark on these huge old trees in search of food. We will also search out the Pale-bellied Manakin, an odd tyrannid whose strange calls can be commonly heard. The beautiful White-naped Jay will hopefully put in an appearance and we may see the endemic Ash-throated Casiornis. Of the commoner species we should see Caatinga Antwen, Grey-eyed Greenlet, Long-billed Wren, and a good selection of the more widespread South American flycatchers. Night in Crato. B:L:D
Day 5: After some early morning birding in the Serra do Araripe we drive south to with a 5 hours drive to Canudos. Arrive at in the afternoon we spent the rest of the afternoon birding Canudos area. This drive takes us across cattle country with a number of wetlands. We should see Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Brasilian Teal and maybe Southern Pochard if we are lucky. There are also Eared Doves, Guira Cuckoo, Cattle Tyrant, White-browed and Chopi Blackbirds. Overnight in Canudos. B:L:D
Day 6: Full day birding Canudos area. In remnant patches of caatinga near Canudos will be our destination today as we look for Cactus Parakeet, Spot-backed (Caatinga) Puffbird, Spotted Piculet, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Black-bellied Antwren, Stripe-backed Antbird, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, both Greater and Lesser Wagtail-tyrants, Ash-throated Casiornis, Long-billed Wren, Tropical Gnatcatcher, White-throated Seedeater, and Red-cowled Cardinal among others. On our travels through this extraordinary habitat we will be searching for the unique Red-shouldered Spinetail, along with Silvery-cheeked Antshrike. Accompanying these species will be the Caatinga Cacholote,  Aplomado Falcon, Picazuro Pigeon, Campo Suriri and White Monjita. Further along the road in this impenetrable thorny scrub we search out the endemic White-throated Seedeater and the Campo Oriole. We should also hear the Small-billed Tinamou, and maybe see, Xenopsaris, Pileated Finch and the abundant Bay-winged Cowbird. In the early evening we can look for Least and Pygmy Nighthawks. We should also see a good selection of open country species such as Cattle Tyrant, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Guira Cuckoo, Pearl Kite, Yellow-headed Caracara, Chopi Blackbird and Green-barred Woodpecker. If we are lucky we may see Scarlet-throated Tanager. Night in Canudos. B:L:D
Day 7: It is here at canudos that the Lear's Macaw has managed to survive. About 200 pairs of this magnificent macaw remain in this area discovered by Helmut Sick, the famous Brazilian ornithologist. In this stunning landscape of red sandstone cliffs and endless rolling country we go pre-dawn to a spectacular overlook and see almost the hwole population fly by and pairs perch as they leave stheir dormitories. Leaving Canudos we continue towards the coast of Sergipe and União dos Palmares. 6 hours drive to União dos Palmares. We will stop to search some gallery forest for the Pectoral Antwren. Night União dos Palmares. B:L:D
Day 8-9:Visiting the Murici and Jaqueira reserves over the next two days we will have time to see the avifauna of a once vast forest that was cotiguas with the Amazon and stretched south to Argentina. It has sadly been reduced to remnant patches throughout this range now. As such, many of the species found here are critically endangered. Notwithstanding this, we have a good chance of seeing most of the endemics present. Indeed it is from these tiny patches of forest that so many new species to science have been discovered in the last twenty years or so, making our visit all the more interesting. In this fascinating forest we look for the endemic Long-tailed Woodnymph, Plain-bellied Emerald, Tawny Piculet and Seven-colored Tanager. Others include Mantled Hawk, Red-shouldered Macaw, Jandaya Parakeet, Plain Parakeet ,Pinto's Spinetail, Alagoas Antwren very rare, known almost exclusively from this patch of forest Orange-bellied Antwren, White-backed Fire-eye, Scalloped and Willis's Antbird, Black- cheeked Gnateater, Alagoas Tyrannulet (very rare, described only in 1987), Smoky-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, White-winged Cotinga, Black-headed Berryeater (rare), Buff-throated Purpletuft (rare, isolated subspecies leucopyga), Sharpbill, the spectacular (and endangered) Seven-colored Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, and Black-throated Grosbeak. We will spend some time looking for Alagoas Foliage-Gleaner but this may already be extinct. All of these species are restricted in distribution to the northeast of Brazil. Accompanying these species we will hear and see the more widespread Cinereous Antshrike, the much commoner White-backed Fire-eye and the Screaming Piha. In birding the reserve over the next few days we should encounter Red-headed and Blue-backed Manakins are also present and we will spend some time trying to watch these birds display. Sadly there have been some losses in this region through habitat destruction, although surprisingly few. One of these, the White-collared Kite, has only been re-found recently and the Alagoas Currassow has not been recorded in the wild since the 1970's. There is a long term project to reintroduce the species from a captive population working alongside forest regeneration. Our visit here will enthuse the local conservation workers and contribute to their work. Nights in Uniao dos Palmares. B:L:D
Day 10:Today we have a 6 hours drive from União dos Palmares to Estância. Afternoon birding the Atlantic Forest area around Santa Luzia do Itanhy, 10 minutes driving from Estância. Golden-capped Parakeet, Red-shouldered Macaw, Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike, Fringe-backed Fire-Eye, Red-legged Honeycreeper. Night in Estancia B:L:D
Day 11:Drive the 570 km that separates Estância to Itacaré. We spend the afternoon birding the Atlantic Forest area near Itacaré in search of Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Golden-spangled Piculet, White-winged Cotinga, Band-tailed Antbird, Striped Mnakin. We may also see a great many other Atlantic forest species including Blue-chinned Sapphire, Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Brazilian Tanager, Silver-breasted Tanager, White-bellied Tanager. B:L:D
Day 12:Full day birding Itacaré area. We shall do to an area where we may have a chance of seeing the extremely rare and endemic Bahia Tapaculo s well as enjoying the evening delights of good food and Caiparhinas in the bohemian surfing town B:L:D
Day 13:Early morning birding at Itacaré and then drive south to Camacan, about 3 hours. This is the place to see the endemic, and very localized Pink-legged Graveteiro. We will visit the Serra Bonita Private Reserve. It is a very important remnant of submontane Atlantic Rainforest in the state of Bahia. Apart from the Pink-legged Graveteiro there are several good birds in the reserve area. We will end at the refectory area watching the hummingbirds on the feeders and drinking Caipirinha's! Black-capped ScreechOwl should be singing. Serra Bonita Reserve - Camacan
Day 14:Full day birding RPPN Serra Bonita area. We have chances for Least Pygmy-Owl, Spot-billed Toucanet, Scale-throated Hermit, White-wedged Piculet, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Pink-legged Graveteiro, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Plumbeous Antvireo, Salvadori's Antwren, Star-throated Antwren, White-bibbed Antbird, Rufous-browed Solitarie, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Red-necked Tanager. Serra Bonita Reserve - Camacan B:L:D
Day 15:After some early morning birding in the coastal forests we drive to Boa Nova for a three night stay. B:L:D
Day 16-17:In this famous area we will divide our time between two habitats; the drier mata do Cipo or vine forest and the lush Atlantic rainforest fragments. It is in the Mata do Cipo that we shall search for the rarer endemic species. This transitional habitat sits between the arid Caatinga proper and the wet Atlantic rainforest. It is characterized by a profusion of terrestrial bromeliads and thick vine tangles covering a rather open low-canopied forest. It is in this strange forest that we look for the Slender Antbird and Narrow-billed Antwren along with the more widespread Stripe-backed Antbird and Silvery-cheeked Antshrike. We should also find the Hangnest Tody-Tyrant. As we move further east towards the wetter habitats we shall be looking for species more closely associated with south-east Brazil such as Grey-hooded Attila, Blue Manakin, Eared Pygmy Tyrant, Brasilian Tanager and others. However, we shall search for the more range restricted and rarer Bahia Spinetail, Striated Softtail, Rio de Janeiro Antbird and Mantled Hawk. Nights in Boa Nova. B:L:D
Day 18:We head north to Mucugê. It is here, in the Chapada Diamantina that we are in a mixed landscape of grasslands, cerrado scrub and tall deciduous woodlands with rocky outcrops and tall quartzite cliffs. The newly described Diamantina Tapaculo is possible.  It is here that we hope to find the Hooded Visorbearer, Horned Sungem, Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant, Grey-backed Tachuri and Buff-throated Pampa-Finch in the rocky Cerrado or 'Cerrado sujo' typical of this huge park. We should see King Vulture, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and other raptors patrolling the skies together with a good variety of other cerrado species from eastern Brasil. These will include White-eared Puffbird, White-vented Violetear, Chicli Spinetail, Cinnamon Tanager, Rufous-winged Antshrike and many others. Night Mucugê. B:L:D
Day 19:Morning Mucugê to look for the recently described Sincora Antwren. If necessary we will try  species of the previous afternoon. This is one of the best areas to look for Hooded Visorbearer and Pale-throated Serra-Finch. Apart from the birds we will enjoy a fantastic sunset and the stunning landscape from Chapada Diamantina. Afternoon drive to Lençóis. Night Lençóis. B:L:D
Day 20:Full day birding Lençóis area. We'll be looking for Sao Francisco Sparrow, Pale-throated Pampa-Finch, White-eared Puffbird, Collared Crescentchest, White-vented Violet-Ear, Hooded Visorbearer, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Broad-tipped Hermit and the brilliant Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Scarlet-throated Tanager and Ash-throated Casiornis. Night Lençóis. B:L:D
Day 21:5 hours driving from Lençóis to Salvador International Airport. From Salvador we take our flights home.B
Itinerary: We reserve the right to change the above itinerary as conditions dictate. This may mean the discovery of a new species of bird or a washed out bridge.
Accommodation: The best available accommodation is always used. However, this may mean basic hotels in some locations but all with en suite bathroom
Does not include flights to Salvador or out of Bahia but we can do these for you by request you can check flights at CAN BE COMBINED WITH THE EMAS NATIONAL PARK TOUR


Customer Testimonials

Jan Smith - USA

Hi Barry, I am safely back at home after an absolutely great trip in Brazil. Hopefully Fred is getting to know his family again. Fred is just a great, amazing guy. I understand that he sent you some updates. My preliminary trip count is 821 species but I need to confirm.

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Hi Barry, I am safely back at home after an absolutely great trip in Brazil. Hopefully Fred is getting to know his family again. Fred is just a great, amazing guy. I understand that he sent you some updates. My preliminary trip count is 821 species but I need to confirm.

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