13 October 2013

Atlantic Forest moths, REGUA, Brazil: 13 October

Our final day at REGUA. As part of an ongoing study by a small group of us to identify the moth species present at REGUA, I've been keen to photograph more moth species on this trip. So like on most other days over the last week or so, I spent some time this morning at the lodge photographing moths and bugs at the moth wall. In particular I've been hoping for another specimen of the unusual Bombyciid I found in September 2012 to make an appearance.

October is spring in south-east Brazil and usually an excellent time of year for moths. But unfortunately, due to the relatively low temperatures and humidity at REGUA at the moment, the number and variety of moths appearing at the light traps has been rather poor. Just one species of Bombyciid was logged on the whole trip (see below), however, we did find a number of very beautiful and bizarre looking species, including one (as yet unknown) species not previously found at REGUA. Here's a selection from the trapping sessions over this last week or so.

Olceclostera amoria, REGUA, 13 October 2013 - the only Bombyciid to visit the light traps this trip. You can see why this family
has earned the name 'head-standers'.

Pachylioides resumens, REGUA, 13 October 2013. This mid-size Sphingid is distributed throughout the Neotropics and is very
common in southern Brazil and the Serra dos Órgãos region of the Atlantic Forest, where REGUA is located.

Bellatrix Prominent Crinodes bellatrix, REGUA, 9 October 2013 - this amazing Noctuoid mimics a nut (the seed, not a crazy person)

Langsdorfia franckii, REGUA, 9 October 2013 - a member of the Cossidae family

Green-windowed Deadleaf Trygodes musivaria, REGUA, 12 October 2013 - a beautifully patterned Geometrid

Pale-winged Gray Iridopsis ephyraria, REGUA, 5 October 2013 - a rather pug-like Geometrid

Automeris annulata, REGUA, 5 October 2013 - one of the more common Saturniids at the light traps here. The eye-spots
on the hindwings are revealed to ward off predators.

Unidentified Geometrid sp., REGUA, 13 October 2013 - this moth, whatever it is, is new for REGUA

Cosmosoma sp., REGUA, 6 October 2013 - species in this genus of Arctiids are very tricky to identify.

12 October 2013

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 12 October

Nicholas, Rachel, Sue and I spent the morning assessing an area of land adjacent to REGUA in the upper Matumbo Valley that is up for sale. A stunning property situated at about 400 m altitude, acquiring this plot would help us stem the rapid growth of holiday homes appearing in the forest bordering the reserve and preserve some good quality lowland forest, but at the moment funding is unfortunately difficult to come by.

Birds seen during our short visit here include a superb Rufous-thighed Kite hunting cicadas, 1 Sepia-capped Flycatcher, 1f Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, and a few Green-headed Tanagers. On a neighbouring property a group of kids pointed out the male Red-billed Curassow, first seen in this area back in June 2012, calling from the top of a tree, and nearby a very unhappy Black-fronted Grosbeak was calling from a cage in the garden. Thankfully, around REGUA at least, caged birds appear to be becoming less commonplace - perhaps REGUA's values are beginning to rub off?

Male Red-billed Curassow Crax blumenbachii, Matumbo Valley, 12 October 2013 - believed to be the only surviving
offspring from REGUA's reintroduction programme

Also noted today, a Cliff Flycatcher, 2 Fork-tailed Flycatcher, 2 White-rumped Swallow, 1 Grey-breasted Martin, 1 Rufous-capped Motmot, and a large flock of very low Biscutate Swifts with a few White-collared Swifts mixed in were logged in the morning along the dirt road from Casa Pesquisa to the reserve, and in the lodge garden an Argentine black and white Tegu Tupinambis merianae showed well (these appear to be getting a little less shy).

Spent the afternoon chilling with a BBQ and wine on the veranda of Nicholas and Raquel's house with, Rachel, Andy and Cristina of Serra dos Tucanos and their daughter Olivia, Nicholas, Raquel and Thomas Locke, and Sue Healey.

10 October 2013

Pauraques at the wetland: 10 October

Not much birding done today, but had time for a walk around REGUA's rapidly maturing restored wetland. Spent some time watching and photographing 2 incubating female Pauraques - one sitting on two eggs, the other on a single egg. The second bird (pic 2) was quite nervous and, nesting right on the edge of the trail, a little vulnerable to disturbance. Amazing birds, and fantastic to observe them at close quarters.

Female Pauraque incubating two eggs

Second female incubating a single egg on one of the unmarked trails

The nest is a barely discernible scrape in the leaf litter, but the egg not as camouflaged as I expected.

Nice facial hair!

Also at the wetland, 1 Rufous-sided Crake, 5 Neotropical Cormorant, 2 Capped Heron, a singing Chestnut-capped Blackbird, 1 Blackish Rail (H), 1 White-chinned Sapphire, 1+ Ringed Kingfisher, 2 White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, 1 Rufescent Tiger-Heron, 2 Short-crested Flycatcher, a Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher building a nest were noted.

Warmer and sunny today, and much better at the lodge moth wall this morning. 1 superb fresh Xylophanes tyndarus hawkmoth was the highlight, and a cracker butterfly was also present. At the lodge, a probable Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over briefly, and a White-browed Blackbird was noted along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa.

Xylophanes tyndarus on the moth wall

9 October 2013

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 9 October

Much sunnier today with no rain, but still very cool. Still very few moths coming into the moth wall, with a huge saturniid, an Automeris larra, being the highlight.

A walk up the Casa Anibel Trail today was also quiet, but a small ant swarm towards the top of the trail attracted a pair of Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, 2 Black-goggled Tanager, 2 Thrush-like Woodcreeper, and a White-necked Hawk. 1 Blonde-crested Woodpecker, 1m Surucua Trogon, 1 Plain Xenops, another Thrush-like Woodcreeper, an immature Blue Manakin, 1 Boat-billed Flycatcher, and a Rusty-margined Guan (with another heard) were also noted on the trail.

A Burnished-buff Tanager was noted in the lodge garden, and long the the dirt road road to Casa Pesquisa, 2 White-rumped Monjita, 1-2 White-rumped Swallow, 1 Rufous-capped Motmot and a Savanna Hawk were logged.

Automeris larra, REGUA moth wall

Automeris larra, REGUA moth wall

In the afternoon this superb Syssphinx molina silkmoth was found resting by the garage light at Nicholas and Raquel's house.

Female Syssphinx molina at Nicholas and Raquel's house this afternoon

8 October 2013

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 8 October

Spent the day birding an area of REGUA known as Waldenoor. A male White-shouldered Fire-eye and a pair of Black-tailed Tityra were the highlights on a rather quiet visit. Other birds noted include 2 Blue-winged Parrotlet, several Plain Parakeet, 4 Scaly-headed Parrot, 1 Grey-rumped Swift, 2 Saw-billed Hermit, 1m Rufous-tailed Jacamar, 1m White-flanked Antwren, 2 Streak-capped Antwren, 1 Plain-winged Woodcreeper, 1 Grey-hooded Flycatcher, 1 Sepia-capped Flycatcher, 1 Planalto Tyrannulet, 1 Yellow-olive Flycatcher, 1 Streaked Flycatcher, 1 Variegated Flycatcher, 2 Large-headed Flatbill, 2m Blue Manakin, 4 Chestnut-crowned Becard (including a pair at a nest), 2(1H) Red-eyed Vireo, 1 Bananaquit, 1+f Black-goggled Tanager, 1m Ruby-crowned Tanager, 2 Azure-shouldered Tanager, Golden-chevroned Tanager, 3 Green-headed Tanager, 7+ Red-necked Tanager, 1m Yellow-backed Tanager, 2m Blue Dacnis, 3 Violaceous Euphonia, 1 pr Orange-bellied Euphonia and 1 pr Chestnut-bellied Euphonia. Also, 2 White-eared Puffbird, 2 Cliff Flycatcher and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher were noted on the dirt road from Matumbo to Waldenoor.

Female Black-tailed Tityra

Female Black-tailed Tityra

Huge longhorn beetle sp. I hope to find out which species soon.

7 October 2013

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 7 October

Spent the day organising signs around the Wetland and Forest Trails that we marked out and mapped back in 2011. Little birding done, but birds seen at the wetland include 1 Common Potoo roosting/nesting by post 300 of the Wetland Trail, 1 Lemon-chested Greenlet, 1m Brazilian Tanager, 1 White-necked Heron, 11 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (my highest site count), 1 Blond-crested Woodpecker, 1 singing Chestnut-capped Blackbird (most seen here are roosting birds), and a Streaked Flycatcher (one of my favourites). A Rufous-tailed Jacamar was also noted along the Forest Trail.

This evening 2 Tawny-browed Owls showed very well in Nicholas and Raquel's garden.

One of this evening's Tawny-browed Owls

6 October 2013

A few bugs at REGUA: 6 October

Spent a very enjoyable morning walking the first kilometer of the Waterfall Trail photographing some cool bugs with Rachel, Sue and Nicholas. Highlights were a superb Brazilian Crab Spider Epicadus heterogaster in the orchid garden (these things mimic white flowers in order to ambush pollinating insects), a male Long-tailed Bromeliad Guard Leptagrion perlongum - a member of the Coenagrionidae family or Narrow-winged Damselflies, and the second record for REGUA (many thanks to Tom Kompier for help with identification), and several species of tortoise beetle (Cassidinae). Bird highlights along the Waterfall Trail include 1-2m Temminck's Seedeater (a long overdue lifer) and 1m Sooty Grassquit feeding on seeding bamboo, 1 White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, and a Yellow-green Grosbeak.

Brazilian Crab Spider Epicadus heterogaster, Waterfall Trail

Brazilian Crab Spider Epicadus heterogaster, Waterfall Trail

Male Long-tailed Bromeliad Guard Leptagrion perlongum, Waterfall Trail - the second record for REGUA

Male Long-tailed Bromeliad Guard Leptagrion perlongum, Waterfall Trail

At the REGUA conservation center the MV light had attracted two hawkmoths: a Xylophanes chiron nechus and a Manduca diffissa petuniae.

Xylophanes chiron

Manduca diffissa petuniae

4 October 2013

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 4 October

Arrived at REGUA very late last night and spent most of today taking it easy catching up with our good friends Nicholas, Raquel and Adilei. No birding today but 2 Blonde-crested Woodpecker and 2 (H) Tawny-browed Owl at Nicholas and Raquel's house, and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher and a Burrowing Owl nearby were a nice start to the trip. At the Conservation Centre, c.13 White-eyed Parakeets, 2 Orange-winged Parrots and a Green-barred Woodpecker (H) were noted, and the hummer feeders at the lodge were busy with lots of Black Jacobins, Swallow-tailed Hummingbirds, Violet-capped Woodnymphs and Glittering-throated Emeralds. Also notable was a Red-cowled Cardinal just outside the reserve entrance. Rained quite heavily for much of the day so no photos.

1 October 2013

Variation within Square-spot Rustic

Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa is a very common moth throughout Britain, flying in August and September. But every year the huge variation in colour and pattern found in this species really throws me - not helped by varying degrees of wear. I've put this plate together showing some of the variety I've seen, and hopefully other mothing novices will find this helpful. Many thanks to everyone on Twitter (#teammoth) for their invaluable help with identifying these tricky little buggers over the last month or so.

Right-click and open in new tab to enlarge

All these pics were taken in Worcester Park, Surrey.