Carajas, Para, Brazil

September 20-29, 2008

Field Guides Leader: Bret Whitney with local guides Brandon and Jefferson

Thanks to fellow trip partipants: Chris Spagnoli, Barbara Watkins, Ron Whitney, John and Mary Kormendy and Martin Selzer

Narration by Martin Selzer

September 19, 2008 (Friday)
With a full day of travel to look forward to, I picked Lynn up at 07:15 and we headed to Pacifico Ford to leave my car with their Valet service. The morning rush hour traffic was fairly light or we just missed it and we were at the airport and through security by 08:45 sitting at the gate waiting for a plane to take us to Miami.

Somewhat surprising, but indicative of the rest of the trip, we took off more or less on time and arrived in Miami at 13:55. Now we had several hours to kill in Miami; however, we did have to walk virtually all the way across the airport to check in with TAM airlines for our flight to Belem. From there we had to again go through security. We still had at least 2 hours till our flight and we hadn’t had lunch so it was time to get something to eat.

Our TAM jet showed up at 18:45 and the ground crew prepped her and we boarded and took off at 19:25 (only 15 minutes late). TAM service turned out to be quite nice with personal amenities on all flights and food (even on the short domestic flights we took).

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September 20, 2008 (Saturday)
Sometime between 01:30 and 02:00 we landed in Manaus, a ground crew cleaned the cabin, a new set of passengers boarded and next thing you knew we were up in the air for Belem with continuing service to Fort Aliza. Shortly after 04:10 we landed in Belem and made our way through customs. There were only about 10 people who needed to go through customs so it didn’t take very long. We found our luggage which we had checked straight through from Philadelphia and went looking for our ride to the hotel. It was not to be found so we got a cab with Mary and John. We checked into our room in the Hotel Vila Rica at 05:15 and met the group 45 minutes later for breakfast and some birding behind the hotel. There was a pond immediately behind the hotel and a marshy area that held some nice birds including yellow-headed caracara, guira cuckoo, striated heron, forked-tail palm and short-tailed swifts, spotted tody-flycatcher, variegated and sulphury flycatchers and silver-beaked, blue-gray and palm tanagers.


Horned Screamer

About 09:00 we retired to our rooms to pack for our flight to Maraba (some of us hadn’t actually unpacked yet). In Maraba we would meet our local guide Jefferson and pick-up our van and driver, Brandon for the rest of the trip in the Carajas area. Before leaving we had lunch at the Hotel Vila Rica. This flight was a bit delayed taking off at 14:20 and arriving in Maraba at 15:05 but we were on the road to Carajas by 15:30. We didn’t bird much except from the moving vehicle although we did stop for a pair of horned screamers that Brandon spotted as we drove along. We pulled through the gates of Carajas at 19:05, checked into the Jatoba Hotel within 10 minutes and had walked to the town square and restaurant for dinner by 20:00.

September 21, 2008 (Sunday)
The plan today was to bird the area of “canga” which is a savannah or scrubby habitat at first light and than once the sun came up and the temperature rose move into some forested trails to avoid the heat. We met at 05:15 and walked to the central square for breakfast at the bakery/luncheonette from 05:30-06:00. As we walked to the bakery we heard baby barn owls begging. We would hear them every morning. Later we would remember to bring a torch and would find the parents.

Once we headed out of the “nucleo”, we were sidetracked when Jefferson spotted the first of several rusty-margined guans feeding at the side of the road. Not realizing that this would be a daily occurrence, we stopped and made sure we got a good look.

We then loaded back into our van and headed back out of town when Bret announced that he had been talking with Jefferson and Brandon and they knew of where we had a good chance for bare-faced and razor-billed curassows. Hunting is prohibited in Carajas so all the Cracids are both tame and rather plentiful. Armed with this sudden influx of new information, we did a u-turn (what’s a birding trip without a u-turn or two) and went in search of the curassows. The curassows were found around one of the mining operation facilities so we parked nearby and walked the road into the facility. We managed to hit pay dirt with a female bare-faced curassow that was used to being feed by the workers at the facility.


female Bare-faced Curassow

We also had good luck here with lettered and black-necked aracari, plumbeous kite, cliff flycatcher (although several were nesting back at the Jatoba), and rusty-margined flycatcher. No one seemed to mind the delay as we finally headed off to the canga and made our first crossing of the mine. In order to reach our birding areas once we would leave the Carajas nucleo (or town center) we would have to cross through the one of the iron ore mines themselves. There were several guarded crossings to ensure there were no traffic accidents as working trucks of all sizes, buses carrying workers and other vehicles had no option other than this road.


We made our first stop in the canga at approximately 07:45 and the skies were threatening with some light rain showers but nothing that would stop us from birding. It would just cause us to put our umbrellas up for a few moments ever now and then but they passed quickly. Our first stop resulted in a nice workshop on elaenias as we had white-crested, plain-crested, yellow-bellied and lesser all within minutes of each other. Obviously they all have different calls to help you distinguish them but they also can be distinguished by their crowns: plain-crested peaks in the front and therefore looks most like a titmouse, yellow-bellied peaks in the middle and lesser peaks at the back. In this first field we also had creamy-bellied thrush and pearly-vented tody-tyrant. Needless to say tropical kingbirds were with us here and just about everywhere we went.

At our second stop we encounter a nice mixed flock of birds as we moved away from the road. The flock included several blue dacnis, streaked flycatcher and planoalto tyrannulets. We moved into a second field well away from the road noise. Here we were able to call in some really nice birds including male and female white-fringed antwren, sooty-fronted spinetail, versicolored emerald and flavescent warbler. Bret had just finished saying how difficult the warbler can be to coax into view when it popped right up onto an open perch and sang for us. I guess that individual hadn’t read the field guide very closely (wait a minute, there isn’t a good field guide for Brazil). Anyway, in the middle of all of this, a small flock of Jandaya Parakeets were flying overhead and Bret hit the “tape” to lure them into the tree tops in front of us. Well sometimes in pays to be lucky and the entire flock of 5 birds landed within 50 yards of us.

We walked back to the van and were having a snack when we finally found a pair of red and green macaws in a nearby tree. We had been hearing them all morning but it was really nice to get them perched finally!

Our last stop of the morning produced a rufous-winged antshrike and soaring white-tailed hawk before we headed back to town for lunch. Lunch would be at the buffet place where you load up your plate with rice, beans and whatever you want from the grill. While we were eating we were entertained by the red-handed howler monkeys in the trees and some yellow-crowned tyrannulets and masked tityras. We had a 90 minute siesta before heading back out birding.


Rufous-winged Antshrike

While waiting for the group we birded from the veranda of the Jatoba and enjoyed the resident cliff flycatchers, yellow-bellied seedeater and fly-by black-necked aracari. A short walk down the road in search of a carajas woodcreeper (unsuccessful, I must report) did turn up a slender-footed tyrannulet. So at 15:30 (not 15:00 as originally planned) the group minus John and Mary, who were taking the afternoon off, were heading to Esteril Sul a large lake/reservoir about 25 minutes from the hotel.


We would bird the trail around the lake from approximately 14:30 until 18:30. Immediately upon arriving at the base of dam that created the lake, 3-4 black caracaras flew over our heads. On the wires crossing the dam were multiple grey-breasted martins, white-winged swallows and a lone purple martin. Swimming out in the lake was a least grebe and on the far bank was a pair of black-capped donacobius.

At the trail head was a buff-throated saltator and a little cuckoo. Bret was able to call in a curve-billed scythebill and dusky-billed woodcreeper, bar-breasted piculet, and white-faced nunbird. We were losing light and would be starting our day here tomorrow so we headed back to town to freshen up for dinner which was back at the town center at 19:30. Night at the Hotel Jatoba in Carajas.

September 22, 2008 (Tuesday)
This morning on the way to breakfast we were successful is seeing the barn owls so breakfast was a bit delayed. We ended up arriving at Esteril Sul at 06:45 and along the shore we had the black-capped donacobius again and a few southern lapwings. Across the lake was a tree full of cattle egrets. All along the trail were bar-breasted piculets and we picked up several slate-headed Tody-flycatchers early on the walk and a co-operative wing-barred piprites and both black-necked and Gould’s Toucanet.

Our small hummingbird list grew with the addition of grey-breasted saberwing and our raptor list added swallow-tail kite and a distant, perched bat falcon. We came across a blackish pewee which led Bret to comment that he wasn’t 100% sure what this population represents as it is significantly disjointed from the blackish pewee populations in the Andes and the paper describing them and the lone collected specimen in the museum in Rio are not of the highest standard. Still until someone refutes it, it is going down as a blackish pewee. He did record its vocalization and on video.

We finally came across of flock of Hellmyrs parakeets that perched and allowed us to get the scope on them and “they are real and they are spectacular”. The parrot family can be so frustrating as they go squawking through the canopy not allowing you to really see them. To finally have some sit still long enough to see them was very rewarding. These were split from pearly another striking species that we would catch up with later in the tour.

We finally came across one of those “every birder for themselves mixed flocks of birds.” Fortunately, this flock actually moved towards us and in doing so, came down to lower trees so it was not as overwhelming as it could have been. Had it stayed in the tall canopy where we first spotted it, it would have been a nightmare but since it worked its way towards us, we had lots of time to work the flock. Using a pygmy-owl call Bret helped pull the flock to us.

Highlights of the flock included: slaty-capped shrike-vireo, ash-throated casiornis, flame-crested, guira and white-shouldered tanagers, gray antwren, slate-colored grosbeak and gray elaeniae. Even so, a foliage-gleaner got away from me and the grosbeak got away from some people. There were also red-rumped caciques. Also along the trail were rufous-tailed and para foliage-gleaners. We then came across a small mixed group of becards made up of male and female green-backed, and single white-winged and chestnut-crowned becards. In with the becards we found the first ornate antwren for the tour.

We headed back to town for lunch and to check out of the Jatoba as we would be moving down to Parauapebas for the next few nights. We had planned to go to the Carajas Zoo and bird there as there is plenty of natural vegetation but it turns out the zoo is closed on Mondays. So we birded the trail by the Carajas airport from 14:00-16:00 before heading down to Paraupebas. The trail is a good birding spot and here we added fork-tailed woodnymph and the first purple-throated fruitcrows of the tour, Snethlage’s tody-tyrant, ruddy-tailed flycatcher and spotted tanager.


Morpho sp.

We then took a quick walk along the Parauapebas River (we would start our day along here tomorrow) before a heavy thunderstorm rolled in. We checked into our hotel as the weather cleared and picked a nearby restaurant for dinner. We’d go there every night we were in town. Highlights of dinner were an excellent cipriani, chicken in pumpkin sauce (very similar to a mild curry sauce) and green corn ice cream. I know is doesn’t sound good but it was!! Night at the Hotel Rendentor in Parauapebas.
September 23, 2008 (Wedneasday)
Breakfast was at the Hotel at 05:30 and we left at 06:00 to bird the Parauapebas River Trail. This is the most accessible known area for the black-chested tyrant in Amazonia. It was discovered here less than 10 years ago and fortunately, Brandon can drive the van to within 1km of where we need to be. This would be a lifer for everyone except Jefferson and Brandon, even Bret has never heard nor seen this bird in the wild. Before we started on the trail around 06:30, we had a pair of cinnamon attila so we had at least one life bird to start the day.

Our progress on the trail was slowed by a pair of crimson-crested woodpeckers and then some blackish antbirds. We then had some modest success with a moustached wren followed by increasing success coaxing white-browed antbird and then Amazonian antshrike into view. However, whenever we tried to callout a tyrant, no one wanted to play along. It was getting close to 10:00 and looking like the tyrant was going to win the day when we came to a good looking area for the tyrant, when Bret thought he heard a black-spotted bare-eye. Before he could try to call-out the bare-eye, he heard the tyrant and the tyrant responded to the first note of the tape. We then played the tyrant back and forth until we all got good looks and Bret even was able to video record it. Now while all of this was going on, I didn’t realize we had switched target birds and was having trouble getting on the bird. So as people were getting on the “bird” they would quietly move out of the way as you should in the forest so those having trouble would get in better position. When I finally got in the right spot and a black-chested tyrant and not a black-spotted bare-eye popped in front of my eyes, I was PLEASANTLY surprised. Of course everyone else knew what we were looking for so I was also promptly ridiculed. As Homer Simpson would say, “DOH!” A very happy group of birders emerged at the van at 10:40 and agreed that for awhile there it looked like we might have been returning to this trail again the next day, happily we wouldn’t have to. Bret replayed the video he had made and it looked excellent. It was decided that a celebratory round of ciprianis was called for that night at dinner and we headed into town for an early lunch at 11:30 to 12:15 and siesta until 13:30.

We would head back up to the forest adjacent to the canga for an afternoon of birding. Unfortunately, because this tour was a replacement for the Caxiauna tour and we had to relocate to Parauapebas we would have a few long drives such as this afternoon drive. Ou first stop was short and not productive but the second trail we went down was incredibly productive with a small flock of birds including long-winged antwren, Spix woodcreeper, whiskered flycatcher (split from sulphur-rumped flycatcher in Central America), white-eyed, gray, and plain-throated antwrens, and plain xenops. We also had cinereous antshrike, flame-crested and bay-headed tanagers.


The day ended with chestnut-belted gnateater. The race here has almost no chestnut and will almost surely be split some day.

We arrived back at the hotel at 19:00 to find out that a truck had taken out a power pole and the electricity was out. The hotel owner gave everyone a candle to light our rooms as we cleaned up in the dark before dinner. The power had been restored by the time we returned from dinner. Night at the Hotel Rendentor in Parauapebas.

September 24, 2008 (Thursday)
We left the hotel at 04:30 to have breakfast at the bakery up in the Carajas nucleo before heading out the Saloba Road for the day. We would be bringing a picnic lunch so it would enable us to have a full day out in the field. It was a rainy ride to the nucleo but fortunately, the rain stopped as we pulled through the town gates a little after 05:00 and the skies started to clear as we ate breakfast. That’s a very good thing because the tables at the bakery are outside. By 06:00 we were on the road and at approximately 07:10 we made our first stop along Saloba Road. Besides the usual tanagers and a blue dacnis we had a male red-headed manakin and golden-crowned warbler. The area was very good for calling white bellbird but finding one calling in the treetops was the challenge. We finally had one that we coaxed across the road twice and then managed to find it on an open perch. Then we had some cotinga magic first with a male purple-breasted cotinga and then in the same field of view a male white-tailed cotinga. Along with all the screaming piha, we had a 4 cotinga 15-minute moment of fame.

We kept walking along the road, dodging all the heavy trucks and construction vehicles when we came across a red-billed pied tanager, red-legged honeycreeper, a couple Natterer’s slaty antshrike, Spix’s warbling antbird and long-winged antbird. We jumped back in the van and moved about 5-10 minutes down the road. When we got out, we found our second mixed flock that fit the “every birder for themselves” classification. This one also was at low level and in good light (boy were we lucky again). It contained green honeycreeper, whiskered flycatcher, fasciated antshrike, sharpbill, yellow-shouldered grosbeak, white-shouldered shrike-tanager and rufous-rumped foliage-gleaner as well as the usual tanagers.

It was back into the van for a short ride until we came to a wonderful overlook of the Itacaiunas River valley. It was a magnificent sight. It was quiet but we did manage to find a long-tailed tyrant, magpie tanager and red-billed toucan perched in the canopy. A short way down from the overlook stop, we came across another good group of birds including chestnut-vented conebill, 3 white-browed purpletufts (another Cotingudae), nesting thrushlike wrens, dusky-chested flycatchers and we finally started to put a dent into the woodpecker portion of the checklist with red-stained (at least for me as I missed them the day before), white-throated and scaly-breasted.

Lunch was set up down Groto Road where Bret, Brandon and Jefferson set out our picnic from 12:30-13:15. We then birded along the road for about 2 ½ hours. Our walked started with great views of male and female white-backed fire-eye, rose-breasted chat and slate-colored grosbeak. We also had pearly parakeets, pygmy antwren, band-tailed manakin (a beautiful bird), pectoral sparrow and lineated woodpecker. We had a wonderfully successful encounter with an Amazonia antpitta that Bret heard as we walked along the road and then called into view.

At 15:45 we headed back to town but made a stop for russet-crowned crake in the canga. After a few minutes of trying, we had one answer the tape and then he came walking in to the calls. Barbara and I were initially blocked from view but this crake was a very curious creature and eventually he walked in front of us too. Tonight at dinner, the lights went out at the restaurant but this obviously happens frequently as quickly candles appeared on the tables. We had green corn ice cream again for desert. Night at the Hotel Rendentor in Parauapebas.

September 25, 2008 (Friday)
Bret had been successful with the local agent in getting us moved back to the Hotel Jatoba a day early. Therefore we had to be packed and ready to relocate this morning. We would be leaving again at 04:30 for breakfast at the bakery. Brandon and Jefferson dropped us off for breakfast and then dropped our bags off at the hotel before rejoining us for breakfast. We would then head off again to the Aqua Claras Road area. After passing through the first major crossing in the mine, we had a pair of little chachalaca cross the road and perch in view. They had one chick that we could see. We arrived at a good overlook area and scanned for cotingas and raptors. There were a few swallow wing puffbirds, a quick look at black-faced dacnis and both white-vented and rufous-bellied euphonia. Although the euphonies were up the hillside, they sat still long enough that we could get them in the scope and all get several turns looking at them. We also had scope views across the valley at a gray-bellied goshawk.

The real targets of the area were white-crested guan and a visit to a harpy eagle nest. The eagles fledged a chick in July of this year. The chick would still be near that nest and the adults not very far away as they would still be feeding it about once a week. The nest was in a large Brazil nut tree immediately beside the road that we could drive up to. We played a call and the chick called back. Now all we had to do was find it, sitting in the tree tops, waiting for mom or dad to come and feed it.

While we were waiting a barred forest-falcon called and Bret was able get it to fly across the road. Only Lynn was able to see it perched but at least I can now say I’ve seen (all be it fleeting and in flight) a forest-falcon now. Anyway, we now turned our attention to the eagle chick and found it. It turns out it was banded. Using a helicopter to scare off mom and dad, the bander climbed the tree to gain access to the nest and the chick.


juv. Harpy

Having gotten this gem of a bird we started to walk down the road and were able to get looks at screaming piha, Guiana red-cotinga and purple-throated fruitcrows to seriously clean-up on the cotingas. We then got black-tailed trogon and a white hawk. These hawks in South America are much darker than the birds of Central America.


We had another picnic lunch from 11:30 to 12:30 at the work camp for the carpus leaves that are dried for processing to make pilocarpus drops to treat glaucoma. While we were eating lunch a high school field trip invaded us and had fun taking pictures of the gringo tourists. After lunch we walked down the side road and picked up a black-bellied gnateater (voted bird of the trip by many), red-necked woodpecker and gray antbird. The tail also had was the only place I found ticks or rather ticks found me although none of them had time to bite before we got back to the hotel and I could clean up.

The ride back to the nucleo provided several funny episodes. Firstly, Brandon missed the first gate into the nucleo which wasn’t a big deal as long as long as he pulled into the second gate. When he cruised by the second gate it seemed was kind of funny but Bret was busy filming everything so he didn’t really notice. Well he finally realized Brandon’s mistake and asked him what was going on, to which Brandon said he forgot we didn’t have to go back to Parauapebas so we did a u-turn and pulled into the “2nd” gate. Good thing all this happened otherwise we wouldn’t have seen the green oropenola that were building nests near the gate. These were the only ones we would see on the tour. Additionally, as we were driving to the hotel we came across a troop of 50-60 coati mundi feeding on fruit along the road. We’d have missed these too if Brandon had turned in the “1st” gate. Dinner was at the usual place in the town square at 19:30. Night at the Hotel Jatoba in Carajas.
September 26, 2008 (Friday)
Breakfast was at 05:00 at the bakery. Today we were going to head out the Salobo Road without stopping until we reached the Itacaiunas River. We had hoped to reach the river the other day but the birding had been so good along the road we never made it that far. We left the nucleo at 05:30 and two hours later we were standing on the “Bridge over the River Itacaiunas” birding.

We spent two hours birding from the bridge and to say it was wonderful would be an understatement. In fact, Bret had tried for 60 minutes to get us off the bridge but the birds wouldn’t cooperate. The change in habitat being down by the river was a great reward. To begin with we had perfect sunlight at our backs and the bridge served like a canopy walkway. The morning started with perched yellow-crowned parrots. Next thing you knew, Lynn calls out, “sungrebe, sunbittern, sungrebe, sunsomething or other.” Turns out we had one of the most cooperative sunbitterns on the planet. It flew back and forth between the banks of the river and walked on the sandbars for at least 25 minutes. For my lifer sunbittern and if I never see one again, I couldn’t have asked for a better show. If you got bored with the sunbittern, there were at least a dozen swallow-wings hawking insects from the treetops and a small flock of dusky-billed parrotlets. This population of the parrotlets has a unique and distinguishable call and is a safe bet for being split as soon as someone writes the paper. In a small island of vegetation below the bridge we had a pair of glossy antshrikes, spotted tody-flycatchers, and rufous-tailed jacamars. Overhead we had plumbeous and swallow-tailed kites and greater yellow-headed vultures.

Chestnut-fronted macaws and red-fan parrots provided unsatisfactory fly-by looks but that was more than made up by 6 hyacinth macaws that gave us long views coming and going and a blue and yellow macaw that perched in a tree above the river for us. Along with the omni present red and green macaws we had a 4 macaw morning. When the blue and yellow macaw came into view I started calling out all sort of color combinations I was so excited that I might as well have been calling out tutti-frutti but when it finally perched I felt vindicated. Of all the birds I wanted to see on this trip, I wanted to see macaws and to see them so well this morning was very exciting. One of the reasons it took so long to move off the bridge was Bret heard a striolated puffbird just after he said time to go, so we had to go find it. Once we found the puffbird we had a pileated finch pop into view right next to it. Two nights later after reviewing our notes, Lynn and I questioned the identification of the finch and the bird was properly identified as a red-crested finch. Both finches have a similar crest but no one questioned the difference in body color at the time. Almost lost in the excitement of macaws and the puffbird was an amazing variety of Hirundinidae at the bridge including brown-chested and grey-breasted martins, southern rough-winged, white-winged, white-banded, and black-collared swallows.

By now the sun was getting high and it was also getting very hot so we sought so refuge out of the sun along Pojuca Road and birded there from10:00-11:45. This is a side road just a short distance from the bridge back towards the nucleo. The best birds here were short-tailed pygmy tyrant, cinereous tinamou that Bret coaxed into view and nearly convinced to cross the path, white-lored euphonia and for some (not myself) ruddy spinetail.

We returned to the nucleo for lunch and then went to the Carajas zoo. The zoo has some nice exhibits and forest. Here we had two more sharpbills, a uniform woodcreeper, a pair of red-billed toucans and blue-headed parrots. Night at the Hotel Jatoba in Carajas.


September 27, 2008 (Saturday)
Since Bret had heard a spectacled owl the other night walking back to the hotel we went owling before breakfast since it would be quieter than trying to owl at night after dinner. We therefore met at 04:00 to give us about an hour to walk to the bakery leisurely. Suffice it to say no owls, no nightjars, no nothing but an amazing Luna moth on Ron and Chris’s room door before leaving the hotel. Breakfast was from 05:00-05:45 and we again headed out Aqua Claras Road. We made our first stop around 06:45 and worked a small mixed flock of birds for about 30 minutes. The flock included a long-tailed tyrant, epaulet oriole, blue dacnis, white-lined and silver-beaked tanagers and the best squirrel cuckoo of the trip. There was of course screaming piha calling and blue-headed parrots and white-eyed parakeets.

We moved about 10 minutes down the road when we came to a tree and spot that just “felt right” to Bret so we stopped to take a look. I took the opportunity to leave my mark on this stretch of roadway and when I came back from behind the van, Lynn asked if I had gotten a good look at it? When I replied at what? I realized my timing of a “potty break” was not so good until a large bird flew up and into a large tree across the gully. Fortunately, the white-crested guan, major target for the area and morning, would stay in view for the next 20 minutes or I would have regretted that 2nd cup of coffee for a long time.


White-crested Guan

While we watched the guan we soon realized that the line of trees behind the “guan tree” had tons of fruit in them as lots of birds we flying in and out of the crown. We quickly realized that besides yellow-rumped caciques, there were male and female spangled cotingas, female white-tailed cotingas and another male purple-breasted cotinga. The guan tree was soon home to a cream-colored woodpecker and two yellow-tufted woodpeckers. Bret was also able to call in a grey-chested greenlet. All of this was pretty darn good for just checking out a spot that felt right!

From 08:30 to 11:00 we walked the main road from the side road where the ticks were to the carpus drying camp (a distance of a few km). New birds for the trip or those seen notably well were black-faced antbird, blue-cheeked jacamar (Chris’s 1000th life bird), spot-backed antbird (a really sharp looking bird), two ruddy pigeons feeding on the road, McConnell's flycatcher, a pair of short-tailed pygmy-tyrant (not 6 feet over our heads). Another picnic lunch ensued at the carpus leaf drying camp, this time without the high schoolers and we then walked back to a small waterfall. There wasn’t much back at the waterfall as far as birds but there were lots of butterflies.


Metalmark sp.

On the way back to the nucleo we stopped and walked a trail that some herpetologist cut for a research study transect. We were on this trail from 14:15 until about 16:15. On this trail we finally had a scaly-breasted wren that responded to Bret’s tape and that made the final score: scaly-breasted wrens 4-birders 1.

We also had a land tortoise along the trail. The tortoise must have been about 15 inches from head to tail on the carapace and like just about everything else in the area, a rusty-orange color from the iron-ore in the earth. We finally were about to find a dwarf-tyrant manakin and a Guiana (para) gnatcatcher when we returned to the road.


Jefferson and friend


Tapir tracks

Dinner was at our usual place in the town center and then we would have to pack as this would be our last night in Carajas. Night at the Hotel Jatoba in Carajas.

September 28, 2008 (Sunday)
Today we would be leaving Carajas, driving to Maraba and catching our flight to Belem where we would be spending our last night in Brazil. Breakfast was at 05:30 one last time at the bakery/luncheonette. After dropping us off the night before, Jefferson had received a phone call that he had a family emergency he had to attend to, so he had caught a flight to Belem. This meant we had not had a chance to say thank you and good-bye to him and we would only have our friend Brandon with us today.

We loaded up the luggage and then went to breakfast. After breakfast, we noticed that even more than other mornings, the square was covered with numerous exquisite moths. Lynn, Barbara and Bret proceeded to photograph them. They took about 20 minutes to take photos. On other mornings, we had noticed them on the restroom walls and around the square but not in the numbers that we noticed them today.


We stopped along one trail that actually was too short to amount to anything but we did pick-up a pair of neotropical river warblers. We then stopped along the highway at a couple marshy areas and picked up red-breasted blackbird, lesser kiskadee, and much more satisfactory views at brown-chested martin. A stop at a farm pond let us pick up snowy egret, a black-necked stilt, a pair of Brazilian teal and a white-headed marsh-tyrant.
We made our last stop at a grove of Moriche palms in hope of a palm creeper but the grove was set back a bit too far from the road to probably have a realistic chance of calling the bird into view. At the airport we said good-bye and thank-you to Brandow who now would have to drive back to Paraupebas alone. We then caught our flight to Belem. Dinner was along the Amazon at the refurbished waterfront. It was a wonderful dinner and a great place. So now I’ve been to two South American cities that have created vibrant waterfronts and yet I live in the 5th largest city in the “greatest” country in the world and we can’t develop our waterfront. That tells you something about something. Night at the Hotel Vila Rica in Belem.

September 29, 2008 (Monday)
We all had a 12:45 flight to Manaus with a connecting flight to Miami. Bret had arranged for some birding at the Cosanpa Reservoir in Belem. Before meeting for breakfast I took a quick walk out behind the hotel and had the nesting yellow-headed caracara and also had the limpkin that must feed in the pond behind the hotel before moving to the marshy area. Breakfast was supposed to be at 06:00 but the restaurant didn’t open until closer to 06:15 and left for the reservoir about 06:30. The reservoir is open to the public and lots of people use the roadway for running and walking. There also is a boardwalk area.

It was a very nice final 2+ hours of birding and a very pleasant surprise. I thought we might have either just birded behind the hotel again or just had the time to ourselves. As it turned out, we had visited a new habitat and added some nice birds to the trip list including: hook-billed and gray-headed kites, waved woodpecker, plain-crowned spinetail, white-tailed trogon, blue-chinned sapphire and anhinga. We also had many of the usual suspects such as ashy-headed greenlet, wedge-billed woodcreeper (this subspecies is a sure fire split someday), silver-beaked, turquoise, palm and blue-gray tanagers and tropical gnatcatchers.

Bret accompanied us to the airport where we all said good-bye and thanked him for his expert leadership and excellent company. He has been coming to Brazil for about 20 years and has plans to move here permanently eventually. He interacts with the locals as if he is one of them and it seems like the transition has taken place. Our flight from Belem to Manaus was a typically uneventful and on-time TAM flight and we found our way through the airport in Manaus where things got a bit more interesting. During our security check, our carry-on bags were CLOSELY scrutinized to the point that every zipped compartment was opened and the contents of every container questioned. Lynn and Barbara lost eyeglass repair kits because they contained “screwdrivers”; Barbara lost a set of small nail clippers, tweezers, a disposable razor, and several safety pins. They both lost some hand cream and tooth paste (they were in 4oz containers). All stuff that has gone through screening 10s of times but on this day in Manaus, Brazil it wasn’t passing muster. Having finally satisfied security, everyone checked in with Customs and we waited for our flight to Miami. We took off and landed on time, again made it through customs, picked up our luggage and found the shuttle to the Wyndham to spend the night in Miami.

September 30, 2008 (Tuesday)
Who knew it would take three days to get home when we signed up for this tour. Of course when we first signed up we weren’t going to Carajas now were we? But once Field Guides sorted that all out it worked out wonderfully and someday we will get to Caxiauna and see the golden parakeets. However once TAM and American finished changing flight times on the 29th it turned out making connections would be way too tight so common sense prevailed and everyone spent the last night in Miami as the late morning flight from Belem meant we all arrived too late in Miami to catch a flight home.

Lynn and I caught an early shuttle ride to the airport with Ron and after checking our bags had breakfast with him and again said goodbye once again. He was flying home to the west coast and had to go to a different concourse. We made it home uneventfully and by noon, I was back at my house. It was a wonderful trip to east Amazonia rain forest Brazil and a fantastic replacement tour to the trip to Caxiauna that we had initially signed up. Field Guides did a wonderful job pulling together this trip after access to the research station in Caxiauna was denied. Birding with Bret in Brazil was a real treat. I can’t wait to do it again.