Brazil part 5: Serra Bonita, Porto Segura and Itacare, Bahia – 29th Jan – 1st Feb 2015   Leave a comment

This is the fifth and final report on my north-east Brazil trip.

From Boa Nova we continued south to the Serra das Lontras range and the Serra Bonita reserve. From here we headed south-east reaching the coast at Porto Segura before heading north towards Salvador for our flight home.

IMG_1739 Serra Bonita

We spent three nights at the private reserve of Serra Bonita near the town of Camacan which produced some excellent birding.

IMG_1970 view Serra Bonita

There was a beautiful panoramic view over the town from the restaurant, especially first thing in the morning.

IMG_1647 RT Jacamar

Here are a few birds from the Serra Bonita forests – Rufous-throated Jacamar ….

IMG_1807 Crescent-chested Puffbird

…. Crescent-chested Puffbird ….

IMG_1981 Blue Mannakin

…. Blue Manakin ….

IMG_2149 Treehunter sp nov

…. but the star bird was this undescribed species of Heliobretus treehunter. A full description is in the pipeline and it will probably be given the vernacular name of Serra das Lontras Treehunter. This is a copy of a print by Ciro Albano and is used with permission.

IMG_1827 rainbow Serra Bonita

A middle of the day shower produced a stunning rainbow over the town

IMG_1818 rainbow

… giving some most unusual effect when I engaged the maximum zoom setting.

IMG_1837 Wn thrush

Feeders around the HQ gave some great photo opportunities – here a White-necked Thrush with two Green-headed Tanagers.

IMG_1928 GH Tanager & G Honeycreeper

A Green-headed Tanager with a Green Honeycreeper.

IMG_2056 Green Honeycreeper

Female Green Honeycreeprs are just that, but the male is more of a blue colour.

IMG_1956 Chestnut-bellied Euphonia

Chestnut-bellied Euphonias were out numbered by their orange-bellied cousins but I have kept a photo of that species for later.

IMG_1924 RN Tanager

and finally the incredible Red-necked Tanager.

IMG_2103 Serra Bonita feeders

The hummingbird feeders were filled just before dusk to give the birds some calories before their overnight fast. Here Sombre Hummingbirds and a Black Jacobin vie for position.

IMG_1883 VC Woodnymph

A male Violet-capped Woodnymph catches the light just right.

IMG_1885 imm Black Inca

Only the immature Black Inca shows this brown moustachial stripe.

IMG_2157 Frilled Coquette

A tiny female Frilled Coquette. The smallest hummer in the world is the Bee Hummingbird of Cuba but the coquettes are not far behind.

IMG_2077 Serra Bonita views

Our final success at Serra Bonita was distant views of the rare Mantled Hawk from the highest peak.

IMG_1468 Hawk moth

The owner of Serra Bonita is a moth expert and runs a mercury vapor light regularly. Of the 24,000 species known from Brazil, he has identified 12,000 just on this reserve. This contrasts with just 2,500 ever recorded in the UK where there are thousands of moth enthusiasts trapping on a regular basis. I’ve no idea of the name but presume this is some species of Hawk-moth.

IMG_1476 moths

An unidentified micro-moth, a clearwing and what I presume is a one of the Geometridae.

IMG_2170 Variagated Fly

From Serra Bonita we continued to the most southerly point of the trip at Porto Segura. On route we saw many interesting species varying from the widespread Variegated Flycatcher ….

IMG_2209 Olivaceous Flatbill

…. Olivaceous Flatbill ….

IMG_2298 Southern Roughwing

…. and Southern Roughwing ….

IMG_2207 Eastern Striped Manakin

…. to the range restricted Eastern Striped Manakin ….

IMG_2222 Least Pygmy Owl

…. and Least Pygmy Owl.

IMG_1479 1st Portugeuse in Brazil - hotel foyer

Porto Seguro is famous as the first place in modern Brazil to be visited by Europeans, being first visited by the Pedro Álvares Cabral expedition in April 1500. As the area lay within the part of the world allocated to Portugal by the Treaty of Tordesillas, a Papal Bull declaring that all newly discovered lands were to be divided up between Spain and Portugal, the region was claimed for Portugal. This characature of Pedro Álvares Cabral was painted on the wall of the foyer of our hotel.

IMG_2066 Golden-bellied Euphonia

From Porto Seguro (the southernmost point of the trip) we headed north to Itacaré, our final birding destination. On route we stopped at our guide Eduardo’s brother’s house where we could see lots of nice birds coming to the feeder such as this Orange-bellied Euphonia ….

IMG_2335 RL Honeycreeper

…. Red-legged Honeycreeper ….

IMG_2344 Brazillian Tanager f

…. and a female Brazilian Tanager

IMG_2418 Aracari to ID

The following day we birded nearby forests seeing many species such as this Black-necked Aracari ….

IMG_2395 B& W Hawk-eagle

…. and this magnificent Black-and-White Hawk-eagle. This is the first time I have seen an adult of this species and the first time perched.

IMG_2435 mangroves

Later in the day we called in at an extensive area of mangroves in the hope of see the two species of rail that we had failed to find earlier in the trip, Little Wood-rail and Mangrove Rail. It was very hot and we had no luck. We hoped to return the next day but unfortunately it didn’t pan out that way.

IMG_2443 beach resort at Itarce

We had lunch by the beach at Itacaré ….

IMG_2444 Eduardo and brother

… at a beach restaurant run by (on the left) Eduardo’s brother Leo.

IMG_2484 lake

In the afternoon we visited the Catitu private reserve.

IMG_2450 BH Berryeater

We saw four excellent species of cotinga, both Black-headed Berryeater

IMG_2289 WW Cotinga

…. and White-winged Cotinga showed well. Bare-throated Bellbird was seen at a distance (but I only got very poor photos) but the best of all, the rare Banded Cotinga, was seen perched at such a distance that it couldn’t be identified until it flew.

IMG_1486 Itacire

Our final night was again spent in the pleasant holiday resort of Itacaré. The following morning we revisited Catitu in the hope of better views of Banded Cotinga. We had a very birdy morning but failed with our primary target. This was the only day on the whole trip when I failed to pick up a life bird.

IMG_1490 fiesta

Then it was  long drive north to Salvador for our flight to Lisbon and home. Initially following the coast road, the journey was delayed by poor roads, heavy traffic, a funeral procession and (above) a fiesta, but we arrived at the airport in good time, so concluding an excellent trip. I personally recorded just short of 500 species. I had expected 65 life birds, 70 if I was very lucky, I got 78 and saw a couple of fantastic species that I didn’t know were even possible on this itinerary. There is a lot of driving on this trip but the results make it more than worthwhile.

WW Potoo IBC Ciro Albano

But I will finish this narrative with another bird that deserves the epithet of ‘bird of the trip’ and one that wasn’t on my radar at all at the start. We bumped into Ciro Albano and his group at Veracel reserve near Porto Segura and after dark we all were able to get great views of two White-winged Potoos. Photo by Ciro Albano from the Internet Bird Collection.



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