terça-feira, dezembro 27, 2011

Birding Innuendo in Brasil - II

In the first chapter I covered some of the basics of preparing your trip to Brazil, now I will start to go over my personal experience of birding in Brazil when not birding, during my recent visit to the country.

The main goal of my trip to Brazil was to attend the wedding of two Brazilian friends who live in Campinas, about 100 km north-west of São Paulo, so this was the starting point to my trip. If, like me, you are unexperinced with South American birds, even a little walk inside a large urban area like Campinas may reward you with some novelties. Some of your first sightings will probably be the omnipresent black vulture Coragyps atratus and the very vocal great kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus. Be on the lookout for the tinny Columbina doves, the most common is the ruddy ground-dove Columbina talpacotii, easily identified by its grey head contrasting with the brown back with black stripes, but an alert observer may spot a couple other species among the mixed flocks, as we will discuss in later chapters. Of course, much to my disappointment, the two most abundant species in Campinas were the house sparrow Passer domesticus and the rock pigeon Columba livia. I had a nice surprise when I found out that burrowing owls Athene cunicularia can be easily spotted during the day in open grassy areas inside the city.

Ruddy ground-dove Columbina talpacotii (photo from ttnaturelink.com)
While spending a day at my friends country house I had the chance to look at birds in a rural area, where I quickly spotted grey-rumped swifts Chaetura cinereiventris, rufous horneros Furnarius rufus and rufous-collared sparrows Zonotrichia capensis with their typical striped head pattern. Even easier to spot than the rufous hornero is its nest, a large hoven-like structure made of mud and clay, often placed on top of telephone or electrial posts. The area was also full of raptors and, although the most abundant was still the black vulture, it was relatively easy to find the exuberant southern caracara Caracara plancus and the beautifull yellow-headed caracara Milvago chimachima with its unmistakable creamy body and black eye-stripe. I was lucky to have three aplomado falcons Falco femuralis land on a tree right next to me, giving me a great chance to see them at close range. Ground doves were also common here, but I was better impressed with the picazuro pigeon Patagioenas picazuro with its typicall wing pattern. The parrots are also common, both in the city and in the rural areas around it, but I found they are very hard to identify because of their very fast flight and tendency to land in the tree-tops where they are hidden by the rich tropical foliage. Eventually I managed to spot one that was landed in an open area and could identify it as a peach-fronted parakeet Aratinga aurea due to its orange forehead and lime-green belly.

Yellow-headed caracara Milvago chimachima (photo from avesderapinabrasil.com) 
Here ends chapter two of this Birding Innuendo in Brazil. On the next chapter we will continue our visit to Brazil with the trip to Ilha Bela, in the coast of São Paulo state. Both the trip and the time spent in Ilha Bela were an excellent opportunity to get to know a few more Brazilian birds.

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