South East Atlantic Forest
15th – 22nd October 2023
The Atlantic rainforest of south-east Brazil is well known for its high number of endemic species, this tour will highlight this as we spend 8 days based at the wonderful Itororo lodge. Tucked away in its own private valley of 50 acres, the property is located within the 58.790ha Tres Picos State Park. The lodge offers comfortable accommodation together with great birding opportunities and easy access to a whole host of other birding sites within the local area. Expect to see a wonderful diversity of birds including some dazzling Tanagers, aerobatic displays from iridescent Hummingbirds, Toucans and Toucanets and of course, a birding trip to the neotropics would be incomplete without Antbirds, Woodcreepers and Tapaculos!
Our tour will start at Rio de Janeiro International Airport where we will be met by our driver and we will take the 2.5 hour transfer up to Itororo Lodge. As we leave the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro behind and slowly make our way out of the suburbs, we will start to see some of the remnants of lowland Atlantic rain forest. About 1.5 hours into the journey, we will start to climb in altitude as we pass the entrance to the Tres Picos State Park. For the next 30 minutes we will drive through some spectacular Atlantic forest as we reach an altitude of 1100m and then head towards the town of Nova Friburgo. Shortly before Nova Friburgo we will take a turning and start heading up towards Itororo Lodge, just some 20 minutes further along the track. Upon arrival at the lodge we will quickly settle into our comfortable rooms (where we have the luxury of staying for the whole tour) and spend the remainder of the day birding around the lodge grounds and trails. Itororo lodge is our base in Brazil and we have spent several years birding within the lodge grounds and have recorded some 220 species. During the week ahead we have a chance of seeing approximately 300 species, of which approximately 100 will be Atlantic forest endemics!
Species we hope to see during the rest of the day will include Black Hawk-Eagle, Black and White Hawk Eagle, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Plain Parakeet, Scale-throated Hermit, Violet-capped Woodnymph, White-throated Hummingbird, Brazilian Ruby, Black-throated trogon, Spot-billed Toucanet, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Pallid Spinetail, White-collared Foliage-gleaner, White-throated Woodcreeper, Planalto Woodcreeper, Scaled Woodcreeper, Black-billed Scythebill, Bertoni’s Antbird, Ochre-rumped Antbird, Brazilian Antthrush, Such’s Antthrush, Blue Manakin, Pin-tailed Manakin, White-rimmed Warbler, Fawn-breasted, Golden-chevroned Azure shouldered, Ruby-crowned, Gilt-edged and Brassy-breasted Tanagers, Uniform Finch and Green-winged Saltator. The feeding stations at Itororo Lodge are now well known for the spectacular number of colourful species they attract, these together with the hummingbird feeders making for excellent photographic opportunities.
After breakfast, we will take an hours drive as we head towards the higher peaks of the Serra do Mar Mountains (Pico da Caledonia) where we will spend the day in search of the endemics that inhabit this beautiful area. Once at our destination we leave the transport behind for the remainder of the day and start our days birding. As we gain altitude and continue our walk up a steep road we see a change in the habitat, small stunted trees surrounded by bamboo and other low vegetation provide the first areas in which we hope to see Bay-chested Warbling Finch, Diademed Tanager, Green-crowned Plovercrest, Thick-billed Saltator, Rufous-backed Antvireo, Blue-billed Black Tyrant and Rufous-tailed Antbird. As we continue heading up the road, we begin to enter the habitat where we stand a good chance of seeing the rare and endemic Grey-winged Cotinga, Serra do Mar Tyrannulet, Swallow-tailed Cotinga and Black and Gold Cotinga. We shall also try in this area for Brazilian Antthrush and Mouse-colored Tapaculo. Almost at the summit we hope to encounter the rare and endemic Itatiaia Thistletail together with Velvety-black Tyrant, Rufous-capped Antshrike and Large-tailed Antshrike. We will then take the long walk back down to the minibus looking out for any other new species or trying to improve on views of species seen earlier in the day. Arriving back at Itororo Lodge there will be fresh tea, coffee and homemade cake available.
After another delicious freshly prepared breakfast, we will spend a full day in the Lodge grounds walking the Blue Circular Trail and the Orchid Garden Trail. These two trails offer fantastic birding through native bamboo, primary and secondary forest giving us the chance of seeing many Atlantic forest endemics without even leaving the Lodge grounds! Today we hope to see some of the following species: Brown Tinamou, Dusky-legged Guan, Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Black Hawk-Eagle, Black and White Hawk-Eagle, Barred Forest-Falcon, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Scaly-headed Parrot, Scale-throated Hermit, White-throated Hummingbird, Plovercrest, Brazilian Ruby, Surucua and Black-throated Trogon, Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanet, Yellow-eared and Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Rufous-capped, Pallid, Grey-bellied and Chicli Spinetail, White-browed, White-collared, Buff-browed and Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner, White-throated, Lesser, Scaled and Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Black-billed Scythebill, Giant and Variable Antshrike, Star-throated Antwren, Bertonis, Ochre-rumped and Dusky-tailed Antbird, Rufous-backed Antvireo, Rufous-tailed Antthrush, Cryptic Antthrush, Rufous Gnateater, Spotted Bamboowren, Mouse-colored Tapaculo, White-breasted Tapaculo, Gray-capped Tyrannulet, Gray-hooded Flycatcher, Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, Gray-hooded Attila, Bare-throated Bellbird (absent April – July), Sharpbill, Greenish Schiffornis, Rufous-crowned Greenlet, Yellow-legged Thrush, White-rimmed Warbler, Half-collared Sparrow, Chestnut-headed, Black-goggled, Ruby-crowned, Azure-shouldered, Golden-chevroned, Fawn-breasted, Brassy-breasted and Burnished-buff Tanager, Uniform Finch and Green-winged Saltator. A cooked lunch will be served at the lodge today.
Today we will take a drive of just over an hour to the Reserva Ecologica de Guapi Acu where we will spend a full day exploring the wetland areas together with the lowland forest. Species we expect to see here amongst others include Whistling and Capped Heron, Brazilian Teal, Masked Duck, Grey-headed Kite, Savanna Hawk, Limpkin, Brazilian Tanager, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, White-headed Marsh Tyrant and Chestnut-capped Blackbird. Surrounding the wetland is lowland forest, a habitat very difficult to encounter as much of this habitat has been destroyed in the past, we venture into this forest in the hope of finding species such as Reddish Hermit, Eye-ringed Tody Tyrant, White-chinned Sapphire, Rufous-capped Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, White-flanked Antwren, Unicolored Antwren, Brazilian Laniisoma (Shrike-like Cotinga), Plain-winged Woodcreeper, Lesser Woodcreeper, White-bellied Tanager, Yellow-backed Tanager, Flame-crested Tanager and Long-billed Wren.
Many birders who visit south-east Brazil go in search of the endemic Three-toed Jacamar. On this full day excursion, we visit several sites where this bird is regularly found. Along the way we pass through a variety of habitats and cover a fair distance (140 km) stopping regularly en-route to look for other species. Our target bird is the Three-toed Jacamar, however there are many other wonderful birds to see along the way, these include Whistling and Capped Heron, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Savanna Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Laughing Falcon, Aplomado Falcon, Red-legged Seriema, Blue-winged Macaw, White-eyed Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Striped Cuckoo, Planalto Hermit, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Amethyst Woodstar, White-eared Puffbird, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Black-necked Aracari, White Woodpecker, Band-tailed Hornero, Orange-eyed Thornbird, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Gray and White-rumped Monjita, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, White-rumped and Tawny-headed Swallow, Black-capped Donacobius, Curl-crested Jay, Magpie, Hooded, Hepatic, Brazilian and Gilt-edged Tanagers and Hooded Siskin.
After a 40 minute drive from the lodge we arrive at the beginning of the Cedae Trail. We will spend the morning birding this great trail that starts at approximately 600m in altitude. Our targets for this morning include Plain Parakeet, Saw-billed Hermit, Black-throated Trogon, Rufous-capped Motmot, Buff-bellied Puffbird, Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanet, Channel-billed Toucan, White-barred Piculet, Yellow-eared Woodpecker, White-browed Foliage Gleaner, Pale-browed Treehunter, Black-capped Foliage Gleaner, White-eyed Foliage Gleaner, Plain-winged Woodcreeper, Lesser Woodcreeper, Spot-backed Antshrike, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Spot-breasted and Plain Antvireo, Star-throated Antwren, Ferruginous Antbird, Streak-capped Antwren, White-shouldered Fire-Eye, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Blue Manakin, Pin-tailed Manakin, Gray-hooded Flycatcher, Oustalet’s Tyrannulet, Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, Black-tailed Tityra, Rufous-headed, Yellow-backed, Olive-green, Flame-crested, Green-headed and Red-necked Tanagers and Black-throated Grosbeak. After birding this trail we will then take a short drive to the beginning of the Theodoro Trail where we will have our packed lunch. Commencing at 1100m in altitude this path offers superb birding. Birds that can be seen include Mantled Hawk, Plain Parakeet, Scale-throated Hermit, White-throated Hummingbird, Surucua Trogon, Yellow-eared Woodpecker, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Streaked Xenops, White-browed Foliage Gleaner, Buff-fronted Foliage Gleaner, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, White-throated Woodcreeper, Variable Antshrike, Star-throated Antwren, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Slaty Bristlefront, Brazilian Antthrush, Variegated Antpitta, Sharpbill, Gray-hooded Atilla and Brazilian Laniisoma.
Today will unfortunately be our last full day of the tour as we take the 45 minute drive from the lodge and arrive at the beginning of the track towards Macae de Cima. We will spend the remainder of the day driving along this fantastic track that runs through some excellent primary and secondary rain forest. We will have many stops throughout the day looking for species such as Plumbeous Pigeon, Scale-throated Hermit, Green-crowned Plovercrest, White-throated Hummingbird, Brazilian Ruby, Yellow-browed Woodpecker, Rufous-capped Spinetail, Pallid Spinetail, Orange-eyed Thornbird, White-collared Foliage-Gleaner, Giant Antshrike, Tufted Antshrike, White-bearded Antshrike, Bertonis Antbird, Ochre-rumped Antbird, Rufous Gnateater, Black and Gold Cotinga, Bare-throated Bellbird, Pin-tailed Manakin, Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin, Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant, White-rimmed Warbler, Chestnut-headed Tanager, Azure-shouldered Tanager, Brassy-breasted Tanager, White-bibbed Antbird and Green-winged Saltator. We will have a packed lunch along the way and continue our birding until mid afternoon when we start to make the drive back to the lodge.
If time allows the morning will be spent birding the lodges grounds and trails in search of any new species before departure back to Rio de Janeiro where the tour will end.
Night Birding: Within the Itororo Lodge grounds we are lucky enough to have Long-trained Nightjars, Pauraque, Short-tailed Nighthawk, Common Potoo, Tropical Screech-Owl, Rusty-barred Owl and sometimes Stygian Owl. During the course of the week we will go out searching for various species on 2 or 3 nights.
What to expect:
Itororo lodge is located at an altitude of 1200m, therefore we can expect daily temperatures of between 15-25 degrees centigrade at the lodge. During the early evening and overnight, temperatures can fall to around 8 degrees centigrade. As we cover a multitude of altitudes and habitats during this tour, the temperature and weather conditions will be varied. In the lowlands you can expect temperatures between 25 degrees to 35 degrees centigrade and in the mountains, temperatures could fall as low as 8 degrees centigrade. The usual daily weather pattern is for humidity to build during the day, followed by a thunderstorm of an hour or more late afternoon into the evening. If we do experience a weather front moving through, we could see longer periods of cooler weather with some rain.
The accommodation is very comfortable with excellent home cooked meals, most lunches will be packed lunches as this allows us to maximise our time birding rather than travelling back to the lodge or going into local towns for lunch. Some of the rooms are located a short walk away from the main lodge.
Each day we will set off from the lodge to go and bird different areas, returning to the comfort of the lodge each evening. Most drives are short with the longest taking 1.5 hours. Most days we will be on local trails which vary in degree of terrain. For people with an average level of fitness you should not encounter any difficulties, however, the day when we visit the higher peaks at Pico da Caledonia is a strenuous walk, although the minibus will stay in the same place throughout the day, so if you wish to turn back at any point, you may do so.
Itororo lodge has bird fruit feeders and hummingbird feeders. There are good photographic opportunities on this tour.
LEADER: Andy Foster
GROUND PRICE: £1895.00 per person. Single supplement: £300.00
GROUP SIZE: Minimum of 6 required to run the tour, maximum group size of 8
DEPOSIT REQUIRED to secure your place on the tour: £300.00
TOUR STARTS at Rio de Janeiro International Airport (GIG) on 15th October 2023, time to be confirmed
TOUR ENDS at Rio de Janeiro International Airport (GIG) on the 22nd October 2023, time to be confirmed
Included in our tour price:
All ground transportation from Rio de Janeiro International airport on the 15th October back to Rio de Janeiro International airport on the 22nd October
Full board accommodation on a twin/double share basis in en-suite rooms (please note that superior rooms and cabins are available for a supplement, please ask for further details)
All meals and packed lunches from lunch on the 15th October through to lunch on the 22nd October.
Admission fees to all National Parks and Nature Reserves
WiFi at Itororo lodge
Not included in our tour price:
International or domestic flights
Airport taxes where applicable
All other meals other than what’s specified above
Personal travel and medical insurance
Tips of any kind
Items of a purely personal nature