16 June 2012

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 16 June

It was our last day in Brazil today, but with a late evening flight we had almost the whole day. Nicholas, Rachel and I decided to walk the route of two new trails we want to develop - a circular route taking in the new canopy tower, and a rough unmarked trail that branches off the São José Trail and passes through selectively logged primary forest before emerging at the far side of the wetland. Both trails will provide lodge guests with access to older forest without the need for transport.

There was a little more bird activity in the lodge garden this morning, although the feeders are still very quiet. 3-4 White Woodpecker made a typically brief and noisy visit to the feeders, and 1m White-bearded Manakin, 1 Bananaquit, 1f Ruby-crowned Tanager, a pair of Brazilian Tanager, 1f Burnished-buff Tanager, a large flock of Blue Dacnis, and a pair each of Purple-throated Euphonia and Violaceous Euphonia were amongst the other birds seen.

Female Blue Dacnis




With so much natural food around it's no surprise that the lodge feeders are
quiet. This female Violaceous Euphonia has clearly been feasting on berries.

Before meeting Nicholas, Rachel and I had a look at the regular pair of roosting Tropical Screech-Owls, and then spent some time studying and photographing butterflies with Jorge near the conservation centre. Jorge is incredibly knowledgeable and not only found several interesting butterflies but also found lots of caterpillars as well. I managed to get a few more photos for the butterfly checklist and I'm getting quite into insects with scaly wings.

Tropical Screech-Owls at a regular roost site near the conservation centre

We then set off at a quick pace and walked part of the Wetland Trail, the loop to the canopy tower and then the rough trail leading off the São José Trail that we want to develop. If we do everything that we plan to do then these trails will be excellent birding trails.

Male White-bearded Manakin, lodge garden, 16 June 2012

Birds seen during the walk include 1m and 1f Masked Duck, 2 Rufescent Tiger-Heron, 13+ Maroon-bellied Parakeet, 1 Wing-banded Hornero, 2 Rufous Hornero (apparently scarcer than Wing-banded at REGUA nowadays), 3 Planalto Tyrannulet, 1-2 Yellow-browed Tyrant, 2 Grey-breasted Martin, 1 Bananaquit (there's a lot of these around at REGUA at the moment), 1f Swallow Tanager and 1f Black-legged Dacnis at the wetland. 3 Scaled Antbird were heard on the Canopy Loop and a Black-cheeked Gnateater was heard on the São José Trail.

Spent the rest of the day photographing butterflies around the wetland before it was time for last minute packing and driving to the airport. This has been a very relaxed trip, which I really needed, and one of favourites. Each visit brings something different and hopefully I'll be able to return in September.

15 June 2012

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 15 June

We finally had some hawkmoths come into the moth light during the night and so I spent an hour or so this morning getting some photos. In total there was 3 hawkmoths of 3 different species: Adhemarius gagarini, Adhemarius palmeri and Hemeroplanes ornatus. I cannot recommend highly enough A Guide to the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil, by Alan Martin, Alexandre Soares and Jorge Bizarro. I know almost nothing about hawkmoths and how to identify them, but I found the guide very easy to use from the start. Lets hope Alan doesn't take too long writing a similar guide to all the micros!!

Male Adhemarius gagarini

Adhemarius palmeri

Male Hemeroplanes ornatus

?

?

There were also a lot of other smaller moths on the wall this morning, which I'm even more clueless about. But this morning's mothing got cut short by the appearance of a superb Pearly-breasted Cuckoo perched out in the open and at close range on the lodge pergola for almost half and hour. The bird later moved to the drive where it fed on caterpillars at very close range. 4 Orange-winged Parrot and 2 Ringed Kingfisher over, and a pair of Yellow-backed Tanager were the best of the other birds seen around the lodge this morning.

Pearly-breasted Cuckoo on the lodge pergola
photographed from room 2

The cuckoo would shake hairy caterpillars to remove the hairs (click to enlarge)

A walk around the Light Blue Trail focusing on butterflies resulted in Rachel finding a good butterfly for the reserve - a Malachite Siproeta stelenes, which REGUA's Research Co-ordinator, Jorge Bizarro, says should be present at REGUA in good numbers but for some reason are not. In fact even though it is a widespread species throughout Latin America, this is only the second record for REGUA (the other also occurred in June)!

Malachite Siproeta stelenes - only the second record for REGUA

Birds seen on the Light Blue Trail included a pair of White-flanked Antwren, 1 Plain Xenops, 1 Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, 1 Euler's Flycatcher and a superb Grey-hooded Attila, and on the Forest Trail a Long-billed Wren showed very well but refused to pose for photos.

In the evening Rachel and I teamed up with Sue and her group for some night-birding along the Onofre Cunha Trail. Unfortunately things were very quiet with virtually no birds vocalising, however, we did hear at least 2 Mottled Owl and had distant views of a Black-banded Owl. A brief Crab-eating Fox Cerdocyon thous from the truck on the dirt road back to the lodge was an added bonus.

14 June 2012

Curassow conundrum

The Red-billed Curassow Crax blumenbachii is a cracid endemic to the Atlantic Forest in south-east Brazil. Prized by hunters, it is thought to have become extinct in the Guapiaçu valley, Rio de Janeiro state, during the 1960s. It is now found only in a few isolated forest fragments in Bahia and Espírito Santo states, and currently classified as Endangered by the IUCN, but with as few as 130-170 adults estimated to be remaining in the wild, they are close to qualifying as Critically Endangered.

As part of an action plan set up by IBAMA and SAVE Brasil to save the Red-billed Curassow, REGUA teamed up with CRAX Brasil to reintroduce captive bred birds into the wild. Between 2006 and 2008, 48 birds were released at REGUA and all were ringed and fitted with radio transmitters so they could be tracked. A study by Christine Steiner of Paulista State University (UNESP - campus Rio Claro), and sponsored by the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust, found that the birds ranged widely, some well outside of the reserve. 15 birds are known to have died, the majority due to natural predation and 4 to domestic dogs, and when Christine's study ended, about 18 individuals remained. One pair showed signs of breeding, with the male recorded constructing a nest, before the transmitter batteries died in 2009. Random sightings by guests and rangers become fewer with a lone female hanging around the lodge in 2010 amongst the last to be seen, but others likely remained elsewhere in the forest.

Then a couple of months ago a male Red-billed Curassow suddenly and mysteriously appeared at a property in the village of Estreito located on the very edge of REGUA. REGUA guide Adilei, who lives in Estreito, went to see it and noticed that the bird was unringed and had no radio transmitter. It therefore couldn't possibly be a released bird, so where had it come from? The bird had taken up residence in the local's chicken coop and so on the afternoon of the 14 June Rachel and I went with Raquel and Robert Locke to take a look at it. We wanted to try and establish the birds age, observe its behaviour and ascertain whether it was now being kept captive.

Male Red-billed Curassow, Estreito, 14 June 2012. This bird took up residence in
this chicken coop two months ago.

Fresh plumage and lack of wattles on the lower mandible indicate the bird is an
immature male.

The bird is very wary of approach - always keeping its distance and often hiding behind vegetation, and if approached too closely it became clearly agitated, frequently calling and several times climbed a tree inside the coop for cover. The plumage is very fresh and the lack of red wattles on the lower mandible indicate that it is an immature male, also the caretaker who accompanied us told us that when it first arrived it still had some downy feathers. He also confirmed that they make no attempt to keep it captive and each night the bird sleeps in the tall trees on the edge of the coop.

We watched it for about an hour and during this time it occasionally fed on leaves of plants growing inside the coop and visited the water to drink, but not once did it feed with the chickens. In my view, this is almost certainly offspring from a pair of released curassows. Given that they were found to cover a huge area and only half the released birds were fitted with a radio transmitter, the idea that at least one pair survives on the reserve and this bird represents successful breeding doesn't seem unreasonable.

The bird fed only on plants growing inside the coop.

Generally very wary, when agitated it would call continuously and occasionally
hop into the only large tree in the coop to hide.

It rather nervously ventured into the open to take a drink.

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 14 June

Spent the day birding the lowland forest adjacent to the wetland and around the new canopy tower. The short circular trail that leads to the canopy tower (about a 30 minute walk from the lodge), dubbed the Canopy Loop, is a reliable winter site for the Shrike-like Cotinga, and two or three birds can usually be found here between April and August. Today we had fantastic views of an adult male (down to just 4 metres at times), but with such little light available below the canopy I only managed a few blurry record shots (below).




The Canopy Loop was otherwise very quiet but 1 Southern Antpipit, 1m Black-cheeked Gnateater (and another heard), 1 White-eyed Foliage-gleaner and a Yellow-olive Flycatcher were amongst the birds seen. From the tower itself 1 Black Hawk-Eagle, 1f Surucua Trogon, 1 Greyish Mourner, 3 Flame-crested Tanager and 3-4 Yellow-backed Tanager were seen and 2 Scaled Antbirds were heard.

Black Hawk-Eagle from the canopy tower

Black-cheeked Gnateater

Avian highlights at the wetland this morning included 1 Cocoi Heron (still scarce at REGUA), 1 Bran-coloured Flycatcher and a female White-bellied Seedeater, with 2 Rufescent Tiger-Heron, 5 Capped Heron, 1 Reddish Hermit, 1 White-barred Piculet, 1 Yellow-bellied Elaenia, 4 White-bearded Manakin, 1 Red-eyed Vireo, a very showy male Saffron Finch and 1 Tropical Parula amongst the commoner species, and a Broad-snouted Caiman showed reasonably close.

Saffron Finch

13 June 2012

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 13 June

Spent a few hours this morning mothing at the lodge. The diversity of moths at REGUA is phenomenal and there are thousands of species, but with the exception of hawkmoths (Sphingidae) there has been very little fieldwork on moths carried out anywhere in South America and there is currently no field guide to the moths of Brazil. Identification is difficult and I haven't got a clue about the identity of any of them, even to family, so any help with identification would be greatly appreciated. There's still not been any more hawkmoths coming in to the moth light, but I guess the recent spell of cold wet weather hasn't helped.

?

?

?

?

?

Rosema epigena

?

?

Birds in the lodge garden this morning included a male Rufous-tailed Jacamar visiting the moth wall, 1m Brazilian Tanager, Sayaca Tanager, 1m Burnished-buff Tanager attacking its reflection in the windows, 3 Blue Dacnis, Red-rumped Cacique and 2 Orange-winged Parrot over.

I'm about to start writing a REGUA butterfly checklist, similar to the bird checklist, and so I spent most of the rest of the day photographing butterflies around the wetland and on the Forest Trail (separate post to follow). Birding highlights throughout the day were 8+ Black-legged Dacnis (males, females and at least two immature males) feeding on fruiting trees around the wetland, along with 1 Red-legged Honeycreeper, 1 Blue Dacnis, c.8 Blue-winged Parrotlet, 1 Bananaquit, 1+ Snowy Egret, 6+ Guira Cuckoo and 1+ Chalk-browed Mockingbird - the later two open country species becoming increasing rare at the wetland now that the reforested areas are becoming more established. In the evening 1 Rufous-sided Crake showed well and both Russet-crowned and Ash-throated Crakes were heard calling.

Pan-species listing tropics style! This insect looks superficially like a praying mantis
but is actually a mimic. I haven't a clue what it is though?

12 June 2012

Sitio Rosimery, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 12 June

Adilei mentioned that he wanted to explore a fairly large area of virtually untouched primary lowland humid forest, an extremely rare habitat in the Atlantic Forest, close to the Rio de Janeiro Primatology Centre (Centro de Primatologia do Rio de Janeiro), about 45 minutes drive south-west of REGUA. The site, rather conveniently called Sitio Rosimery, or Rosimery's Site, has a narrow but easy trail that could also potentially be a good excursion for guests staying at REGUA. On his only previous visit Adilei found several Thrush-like Schiffornis, but intriguingly the Rio de Janeiro Birdwatchers' Club had also recorded the rare Black-headed Berryeater Carpornis melanocephala here in the past and Adilei was hoping for a lifer or two. It sounded an interesting place so Adilei, Rachel and I borrowed REGUA's old red Scooby Doo van and set off early.

Our route took us along dirt roads through areas of low intensity agriculture (mainly corn, guava and manioc) and rough pasture following the Guapiaçu river and we hadn't been going long when I saw an unfamiliar dark raptor with rufous under wing-coverts pass low of the van. It landed in a palm on the opposite bank of the river but was distant, largely obscured and we were looking into the sun. It was clearly something interesting but we couldn't get any closer for better views, and not wanting to arrive at Sitio Rosimery too late we drove on. A few minutes later we found two more, again on the opposite bank, but this time giving better views. A narrow white band on the rump and white vent, contrasting with the almost black plumage, rufous wing coverts and 'trousers' were distinctive, but we just couldn't put a name to it. Luckily I managed some reasonable record shots and we were able to clinch the ID back at the lodge as Harris's Hawk - a rare bird locally, so much so that it was a lifer for Adilei as well as me! We were surprised to have seen three birds, but later found out that Harris's Hawks hunt in groups and so were probably moving together.

One of the three Harris's Hawks seen near REGUA today and my second lifer of this trip (click to enlarge)

Other open country birds seen on route include 2 Savanna Hawk, lots of Southern Caracara, Southern Lapwing, a Yellow-bellied Elaenia, 1 White-rumped Monjita, 3 Chalk-browed Mockingbird, several Grassland Sparrow and Blue-black Grassquit, as well as flocks of the introduced Common Waxbill.

On arrival at Sitio Rosimery 2 Plain Parakeet and 3 Channel-billed Toucan showed. Once we'd negotiated the obligatory yapping dogs we started out along the trail, where a small mixed-species flock produced an Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, 1 White-throated Spadebill, 5 Flame-crested Tanager, several Green-headed Tanager and 1m Orange-bellied Euphonia, before the distinctive whistle of a Thrush-like Schiffornis eventually led to fantastic views of this charismatic bird (which unfortunately was too quick for the camera).

The trail was fairly quiet with only small flocks encountered, but we still logged 2 more (1H) Thrush-like Schiffornis, 1 Black-tailed Tityra, 1 Surucua Trogon, 1-2 Reddish Hermit, 1-2 Rufous-winged Antwren, 1m White-flanked Antwren, 3(2m, 1f) Unicoloured Antwren, 1 Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, 1 Plain-winged Woodcreeper, 1 Lesser Woodcreeper, 2 Black-capped Foliage-gleaner, 1 White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, 1-2 Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, 2 Yellow-olive Flycatcher, 1 Sepia-capped Flycatcher, 1f White-bearded Manakin, several Blue Manakin, 3 Black-capped Becard, 1 Yellow-legged Thrush, 1m Ruby-crowned Tanager, 1f Yellow-backed Tanager, a pair of Chestnut-vented Conebill and 1f Violaceous Euphonia. Best of all though was a very showy Southern Antpipit that conveniently perched up on an exposed branch singing. A few good birds were also heard along the trail including Black Hawk-Eagle, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Dusky-capped Flycatcher and Yellow-green Grosbeak.

Southern Antpipit might look like a pipit but they are actually a terrestrial tyrant-
flycatcher. You can frequently hear them bill snapping as they forage for insects
on the forest floor. One of the advantages of the Canon EOS 7D DSLR is the ability
to shoot in very low light without flash. This image was captured at 1/30
second on ISO-2500.

Ochre-bellied Flycatchers are actually almost entirely frugivorous. During the
breeding season they do take insects but by gleening them from vegetation rather
than traditional 'flycatching'. Some manakins 'gleen' fruit in this way and this,
together with the lekking behaviour shown by Ochre-bellied Flycatcher suggests
there is an evolutionary link to manakins.

We very occasionally find evidence of hunting in the Atlantic Forest while birding at REGUA and elsewhere, but today we actually came face to face with a hunter in full camo gear and carrying a 23 calibre rifle. We didn't know what to expect but he was very friendly and stopped to chat for about 20 minutes, telling us where the various small trails led to and explaining that later in year the forest here was very good for Bare-throated Bellbird. Hunting is illegal in Brazil and the sign at the entrance to Sitio Rosimery states no hunting, but it is accepted culturally and very difficult to police. The hunter claimed he was carrying the rifle in case he encountered a Puma, but Adilei, an ex-hunter himself, explained that this calibre is typically used for small mammals such as Paca and agouti. To further illustrate the extent of the problem, we later also removed two mammal traps that Adilei found here on his previous visit.

Mammal cages found at Sitio Rosimery. This type of cage is typically used to catch
small mammals such as opossums, armadillos and agoutis. The traps are baited
and have a one-way trap door to prevent the poor animal escaping.

On the journey back to REGUA we added a Laughing Falcon, 2 Limpkin, several Guira Cuckoo, 6 Burrowing Owl, another White-rumped Monjita and 8 Chopi Blackbird. A quick look around an area of scrub where Adilei has seen Streamer-tailed Tyrant in the past produced 2 Rufous-fronted Thornbird, 2 Short-crested Flycatcher and a long dead Laughing Falcon. We had a great day out to a very interesting patch of very good quality lowland forest, and I'm definitely going to try and get back to Sitio Rosimery again in the future.

11 June 2012

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 11 June

The morning dawned sunny and clear and I decided to spend some time checking out the moth light at the lodge. No hawkmoths but a few stunning looking moths regardless (blog post to follow). In terms of birds, a quick look at the lodge garden produced just a pair each of Brazilian Tanager and Burnished-buff Tanager, 1f Purple-throated Euphonia, 2 Violaceous Euphonia and several Red-rumped Cacique of note.

A careful look around the fruiting trees at the start of the Forest Trail and the end of the Wetland Trail this morning found another mixed-species flock with a similar composition to the flock seen yesterday, made up mainly of large numbers of Social Flycatchers and Tropical Kingbirds, with good numbers of Blue Dacnis and 5(1m, 4f) Black-legged Dacnis. 2f Red-legged Honeycreeper, 1 Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, 1 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, 1 White-barred Piculet, 1+ Bananaquit, Sayaca Tanager, 1 Palm Tanager and 1m Burnished-buff Tanager.

Male Blue Dacnis

A further 4+(2m, 2+ immature m) Black-legged Dacnis feeding with several Blue Dacnis were noted along the Wetland Trail, along with a very confiding Short-crested Flycatcher by Amanda's Hide (photos below).





In the early afternoon a storm suddenly blew up, with strong winds with heavy persistent rain putting an unexpected end to the day's birding. The rain didn't seem to effect the hummers though, and 1+ Rufous-breasted Hermit, several Swallow-tailed Hummingbirds and Violet-capped Woodnymphs and a White-chinned Sapphire were all seen, along with 1+ male White-bearded Manakin.

10 June 2012

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 10 June

Rachel and I are currently in the process of producing leaflets for the main birding trails at REGUA, and after completing the marking of the new Forest Trail (brown posts) last November we wanted to walk the trail today to note the main points of interest and key junctions for the leaflet. Also, as it had now stopped raining I was keen to try for some half decent photos of another of REGUA's speciality birds - Black-legged Dacnis, so after a quick look at the lodge garden, which produced just Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, 1f Violet-capped Woodnymph, 1m Brazilian Tanager, a Palm Tanager, Burnished-buff Tanager, 1m Violaceous Euphonia and a few Common Marmosets, we set off.

A nice mixed-species flock at the start of the Forest Trail (between posts 0 - 50) was comprised largely of Tropical Kingbirds and Social Flycatchers, also included 4+ Black-legged Dacnis (1+m, 2+ imm. m & 1+f), several Blue Dacnis, a fantastic male Swallow Tanager, 1 Reddish Hermit, 1m Rufous-tailed Jacamar, 1 White-barred Piculet, 1 Streaked Xenops, 1 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, 1 Red-eyed Vireo, 2+ Bananaquit, a pair of Brazilian Tanager, Sayaca and Palm Tanagers, 1f Burnished-buff Tanager, a few Red-rumped Cacique and 3 Violaceous Euphonia. Seemingly almost every tree here is currently fruiting and are covered with birds gorging themselves. This might explain the lack of birds on the feeders in the lodge garden at the moment.

Male Swallow Tanager, Forest Trail, 10 June 2012. The peak period for this species
at REGUA is January to March, but there are a lot around the wetland area at the
moment, probably attracted by the abundant fruiting trees.

Male Black-legged Dacnis, Wetland Trail, 10 June 2012. There are good numbers
of this rare dacnis around the wetland at the moment.

Further along the Forest Trail several male White-bearded Manakin were seen, along with an Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, 1 Euler's Flycatcher, 1f Crested Becard, a pair of Yellow-backed Tanager, 1 Chestnut-vented Conebill and 1m Pauraque accidentally flushed from its daytime roost low down in a tree. A day-flying Sterrhinae moth (Family: Geometridae) near the end of the trail is probably a Cyllopoda claudicula.

Cyllopoda claudicula?

The wetland was still fairly quiet but 2 Blue Ground-Dove, 1m White-bellied Seedeater, 1 Ringed Kingfisher, an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron, 2 Creamy-bellied Thrush were noted and 2 Capped Heron allowed close approach for once. Outside the REGUA Conservation Centre 1 Tropical Screech-Owl was at the usual roost site.

Capped Heron

The weather continued to hold so this evening we joined the guests at the lodge for an excursion to an area of rough pasture near the nearby village of Areal for Giant Snipe. A surprise Toco Toucan flew in to roost as dusk fell (followed by another shortly afterwards that I missed), and Ash-throated Crake, Striped Cuckoo, Tropical Screech-Owl and Pauraque were all heard calling. It wasn't long before we heard the strange flight display call of Giant Snipe overhead and before long we had excellent close views of 1 bird in flight and another on the ground.

9 June 2012

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 9 June

We decided to push ahead with today's planned trip to Rio de Janeiro despite the continued heavy rain. I was hoping to get some decent photos of the habituated Channel-billed Toucans that inhabit Rio de Janeiro's Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro), but decided there was no point taking my DSLR considering the current weather conditions.

We logged a few species from the minibus as we entered Rio via the President Costa e Silva (or Rio–Niterói) Bridge including 1 Cocoi Heron, 2 Little Blue Heron, a Brown-hooded Gull, several South American Tern and close views of the ever present Magnificent Frigatebirds. We met Nicholas, Raquel, Robert and Micaela Locke at about 8:30 at the Botanical Garden and immediately dived into the new cafe for an espresso and a pain au raisin, temporarily avoiding the monsoon conditions outside.

Splashing around the partly flooded gardens we managed close views of several Rusty-margined Guan, 7 Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail and 5+ Channel-billed Toucan - three species that are very shy elsewhere, but otherwise birding was difficult with little in the way of activity and further sightings totalled just 1 Cocoi Heron, 1 Great Egret, many Black Vulture, 1 Southern Caracara, c8 White-eyed Parakeet, 1 Wing-banded Hornero, 3 Masked Water-Tyrant, Great Kiskadee, 1 Southern House Wren, several Rufous-bellied Thrush, 1 Pale-breasted Thrush, 2 Palm Tanager, several Green-headed Tanager, 2 Rufous-collared Sparrow, 6 Saffron Finch and 2m Double-collared Seedeater, with both Maroon-bellied and Plain Parakeets being heard only. A troop of around 8 Brown Capuchin Monkeys Cebus apella and a Brazilian Squirrel Sciurus aestuans made up slightly for the lack of bird sightings. Despite the weather the botanical garden was excellent and I really enjoy birding here whenever I get the chance (proper posts about birding in Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro here and here).

The Avenue of Royal Palms

Meu bom amigo Adilei and me in Rio Botanical Garden (Photo by Rachel Walls)

Magnificent Frigatebirds constantly patrol the skies over downtown Rio

Phallus indusiatus, Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro

In the afternoon the rain eased a little, so being complete masochists we decided to visit Forte de Copacabana - a military fort at the southern end of Copacabana Beach and one of the venues for Rio+20 - where we could be sure to find some strong onshore winds to get battered around in. Birding from the end of the fort was actually pretty good, with many Brown Boobies streaming north close inshore in strong south-easterlies, along with 4 Kelp Gull and 2 South American Tern, and a mental Snowy Egret trying to catch fish in perhaps the most exposed spot in Rio! Hoards of Magnificent Frigatebirds and Black Vultures were constant companions over the tower blocks of downtown Rio and a single Ruddy Ground-Dove and House Sparrow feeding amongst the Feral Pigeons completed the day's list.

Rio+20 venue under construction at Forte de Copacabana

Bonkers! REGUA supporter Sue Healey, Nicholas Locke and me looking good and
battling the wind at Forte de Copacabana in Rio. (Photo by Rachel Walls)