21 March 2014

Highland specialities at Pico da Caledônia, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 21 March

The day got off to a great start with a Saw-billed Hermit flying around the REGUA lodge dining area at breakfast! A new species for the lodge grounds for me, this forest-interior hummer appears to be moving into the area around the lodge now that the reforested areas are become more mature. It won't be long before these birds become a permanent part of the lodge garden avifauna.

Spent the day off reserve on one of the birding excursions run by REGUA to Pico da Caledônia (Mount Caledonia), one of the highest peaks in the Serra dos Órgãos mountains, reaching 2,219 m. The montane forest here is one of the very best sites for Atlantic Forest endemics restricted to high altitudes, and is one of only two known sites for Grey-winged Cotinga (discovered as recently as 1980) as well as an isolated population of Itatiaia Thistletail. We were also keen to look for invertebrates and plants restricted to higher elevations.

The road to the top of Caledonia failed to produce any sign of Grey-winged Cotingas (and we decided not to climb the stairs to the summit for the thisletail), but 1 superb Collared Forest-Falcon and 2 Serra do Mar Tyrannulets here were both long overdue lifers for me. The following high altitude specialists were also seen here: 5+ Plovercrest, 1m Brazilian Ruby, 1 Yellow-browed Woodpecker, 2 Rufous-tailed Antbird, 1 Pallid Spinetail, 2 Velvety Black-Tyrant, 1f Blue-billed Black-Tyrant, 1 Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, 2+ Diademed Tanager, c3 Brassy-breasted Tanager, 2 frustratingly brief Bay-chested Warbling-Finches and 1+ Rufous-collared Sparrow.

Male Plovercrest Stephanoxis lalandi - a beautiful high altitude hummer that is endemic to the Atlantic Forest


The lower trail is one of my favourite high altitude birding trails in the Atlantic Forest, and didn't disappoint today. Highlights were 2+m Black-and-gold Cotinga, 4 Swallow-tailed Cotinga, 1 White-browed Warbler, 1+ Dusky-tailed Antbird, 4 (2m, 2f) Variable Antshrike, 1 Rufous Gnateater, 1 Mouse-coloured Tapaculo, 2+ Shear-tailed Grey Tyrant, 1 Glittering-bellied Emerald, 1 Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, 2 Orange-eyed Thornbird and 1 Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper. Notable 'padders' included 1 Rufous-capped Spinetail, 1 Spix's Spinetail, 1 Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, 1 Planalto Tyrannulet, 1 Golden-crowned Warbler, 1 Chestnut-crowned Becard, 1 Squirrel Cuckoo, 1 Rufous-browed Peppershrike, 1 Yellow-olive Flycatcher, 1 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and another f Blue-billed Black-Tyrant, Plovercrest and Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet.

Also found a lot of high altitude butterflies today, including a stunning Vivid Painted Lady Vanessa myrinna,a Juliette Eueides aliphera aliphera, 1 Theagenes dichrous, a superb Vettius diversa diversa and plenty of Tegosa claudina and Telenassa teletusa. Many thanks to Jorge Bizarro from REGUA and Olaf Mielke, formally from Universidade Federal do Paraná, for helping with some of the identifications.

Vivid Painted Lady Vanessa myrinna. Found above 1800 m in the Atlantic Forest. This species and the closely related Brazilian
Painted Lady Vanessa braziliensis are the only Vanessa species to have this vivid pink colour on the upperside.

Tegosa claudina

Telenassa teletusa

Juliette Eueides aliphera aliphera

Theagenes dichrous - a type of skipper (Hesperiidae)

Vettius diversa diversa

Hawkmoth sp. - hopefully I'll be able to identify this to species eventually

The road back down the mountain from the lower trail added 1 Red-legged Seriema, 1 Curl-crested Jay, 2 Crested Oropendola and 5+ Campo Flicker.

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