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Field Guides Tour Report
Safari Brazil: The Pantanal & More 2018: Brazilian Merganser Extension
Oct 6, 2018 to Oct 7, 2018
Marcelo Padua

This Brasilia Tapaculo was extremely cooperative. Normally very shy, this one came out and posed for us, allowing participant Sylvia Hanson to get this lovely image.

This was a challenging year for us at Canastra in terms of seeing the Mergansers. Heavy rains muddied the waters and pushed the Mergansers further up the streams making it hard to locate them. We searched for a couple of days with no luck but enjoyed great views of other birds in the process, such as the beautiful Blond-crested Woodpecker we saw by the river as well as great views of Helmeted and Pin-tailed Manakins. We eventually got a tip that the Mergansers had been spotted along the river in a property we usually don’t visit, so we headed that way and saw 5 birds flying along the river from afar. Needless to say that it was a bit disappointing to have such a quick view and from a great distance, but this is the way birding goes sometimes.

Having located the Mergansers, we pondered changing our plans a bit and trying to see them the next morning but decided instead to invest our efforts in the upper reaches of the National Park and our decision definitely paid off. We spent a full day at the top of the mountain at Canastra and had some of the most memorable encounters with wildlife I have ever experienced.

We reached the Park’s gates early in the morning with gray clouds threatening to ruin our day but pushed forward into the park making a stop that produced the most incredible views of a Brasilia Tapaculo anyone could have hoped for. We continued our journey into the Park and suddenly spotted two Maned Wolves right in the middle of the road. This alone would have made this a special encounter, as Maned Wolves are typically solitary, but things got even better when one of them decided to walk straight towards our vehicle and then calmly walked around our car and continued to walk down the road. This was by far the best sighting I have ever had of this species in the wild. Our day at Canastra continued to produce excellent sightings, including a close up view of Ochre-breasted Pipit and Great Dusky and White-collared Swifts flying low and so close to us that we could hear their wings cutting through the air.

All in all this was another great year at Canastra and the long drive out there proved once again to be totally worth our visit. I am already looking forward to coming back next year.

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Rheidae (Rheas)
GREATER RHEA (Rhea americana) – A few individuals seen on the plateau of Canastra.
Tinamidae (Tinamous)
RED-WINGED TINAMOU (Rhynchotus rufescens) – A couple of individuals seen along the road at the Plateau of Canastra.
SPOTTED NOTHURA (Nothura maculosa) [*]
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata) – Several individuals seen along the Sao Francisco River.
BRAZILIAN MERGANSER (Mergus octosetaceus) – After searching the river for a couple of days we managed to see five individuals flying upstream from afar. [E]

A male Pin-tailed Manakin also put on a real show, allowing us to see him up-close and personally! Photo by participant Brian Stech.

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
DUSKY-LEGGED GUAN (Penelope obscura) – Seen right around the lodge at Canastra.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – Close inspections of one individual at the top of the Casca D'anta Waterfall.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
BUFF-NECKED IBIS (Theristicus caudatus)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea)
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis)
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus) – We saw both the dark and the light morph.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
GRAY-COWLED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – Formerly known as Gray-necked Wood-Rail.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)
PICAZURO PIGEON (Patagioenas picazuro)
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)
SCALED DOVE (Columbina squammata)
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata)
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GUIRA CUCKOO (Guira guira)
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)
Strigidae (Owls)
BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)
Apodidae (Swifts)
GREAT DUSKY SWIFT (Cypseloides senex) – A common sight around the Casca D'anta Waterfall.
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – Seen side by side with the Great Dusky Swifts feeding over a field. A great comparison.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
BLACK JACOBIN (Florisuga fusca)

Savanna Hawk is widespread in Brazil, but we were still pleased to get a good look at this perched individual. Photo by participant Sylvia Hanson.

PLANALTO HERMIT (Phaethornis pretrei) – Great looks at this hermit feeding right at the gardens of our lodge at Canastra.
SCALE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis eurynome)
WHITE-VENTED VIOLETEAR (Colibri serrirostris)
HORNED SUNGEM (Heliactin bilophus) – We had one feeding on some flowers on the upper reaches of Canastra.
STRIPE-BREASTED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster squamosus) – Great looks at this scarce endemic in the gardens of our second lodge at Canastra. [E]
GLITTERING-BELLIED EMERALD (Chlorostilbon lucidus)
VIOLET-CAPPED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania glaucopis)
VERSICOLORED EMERALD (Amazilia versicolor)
Trogonidae (Trogons)
SURUCUA TROGON (Trogon surrucura)
Momotidae (Motmots)
RUFOUS-CAPPED MOTMOT (Baryphthengus ruficapillus) – Seen right behind our rooms at Canastra.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
WHITE-EARED PUFFBIRD (Nystalus chacuru)
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
TOCO TOUCAN (Ramphastos toco)
RED-BREASTED TOUCAN (Ramphastos dicolorus) – A pair of birds feeding low along the Sao Francisco river outside the national park in the lower Canastra area.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
CAMPO FLICKER (Colaptes campestris)
BLOND-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Celeus flavescens) – A show stopper. We had a couple along the riparian forest of the Sao Francisco River.
Cariamidae (Seriemas)
RED-LEGGED SERIEMA (Cariama cristata) – Multiple looks at this iconic Cerrado specialist.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
SOUTHERN CARACARA (Caracara plancus)
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima)
APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis)
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
MAROON-BELLIED PARAKEET (Pyrrhura frontalis)
GOLDEN-CAPPED PARAKEET (Aratinga auricapillus) – We had great looks at this Parakeet that is endemic to Brazil.
WHITE-EYED PARAKEET (Psittacara leucophthalmus)
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis)
BLACK-CAPPED ANTWREN (Herpsilochmus atricapillus) [*]
Melanopareiidae (Crescentchests)
COLLARED CRESCENTCHEST (Melanopareia torquata) [*]
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
BRASILIA TAPACULO (Scytalopus novacapitalis) – Certainly one of the highlights of our tour. We managed to pull one of these shy birds out of the forest for close up studies.
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
RUFOUS HORNERO (Furnarius rufus)
RUFOUS-FRONTED THORNBIRD (Phacellodomus rufifrons)
FIREWOOD-GATHERER (Anumbius annumbi) – Great looks at these birds and its nest that gives the name to the species.
SPIX'S SPINETAIL (Synallaxis spixi) [*]
PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens) [*]

We found this handsome Yellow-browed Tyrant on the extension. Photo by participant Sylvia Hanson.

SOOTY-FRONTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis frontalis)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
GRAY-BACKED TACHURI (Polystictus superciliaris) – Another Brazilian endemic seen nicely on the upper reaches of Canastra.
SOOTY TYRANNULET (Serpophaga nigricans) – Common along the Sao Francisco river.
SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus) [*]
SHARP-TAILED TYRANT (Culicivora caudacuta) – One of the little jewels of the grasslands of Cerrado.
SOUTHERN ANTPIPIT (Corythopis delalandi) [*]
GRAY-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum poliocephalum)
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum)
CLIFF FLYCATCHER (SWALLOW) (Hirundinea ferruginea bellicosa)
BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus fasciatus)
EULER'S FLYCATCHER (Lathrotriccus euleri)
CRESTED BLACK-TYRANT (Knipolegus lophotes)
YELLOW-BROWED TYRANT (Satrapa icterophrys)
GRAY MONJITA (Xolmis cinereus)
STREAMER-TAILED TYRANT (Gubernetes yetapa)
MASKED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola nengeta)
COCK-TAILED TYRANT (Alectrurus tricolor) – We had several displaying males on the upper reaches of Canastra.
LONG-TAILED TYRANT (Colonia colonus)
CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa)
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus)
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) [*]
WHITE-THROATED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus albogularis)
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

The large and colorful Toco Toucan was seen on the extension as well as on the main tour. Participant Brian Stech got this wonderful portrait of one.

Pipridae (Manakins)
HELMETED MANAKIN (Antilophia galeata) – Great looks at an adult male in the lower area of Canastra National Park.
PIN-TAILED MANAKIN (Ilicura militaris) – One of the highlights of the extension was seeing an adult male close up and below eye level.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
PLUSH-CRESTED JAY (Cyanocorax chrysops)
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca)
TAWNY-HEADED SWALLOW (Alopochelidon fucata)
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Great looks at these scarce swallows on the upper reaches of Canastra.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)
WHITE-RUMPED SWALLOW (Tachycineta leucorrhoa)
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)
SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis) – This tiny wren occurs all the way from Canada to Tierra del Fuego, and has a total of 18 known subspecies and there is certainly more than one species involved. The subspecies we saw is polyglottus.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
PALE-BREASTED THRUSH (Turdus leucomelas)
RUFOUS-BELLIED THRUSH (Turdus rufiventris)
CREAMY-BELLIED THRUSH (Turdus amaurochalinus)
SLATY THRUSH (EASTERN) (Turdus nigriceps subalaris) [*]
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
OCHRE-BREASTED PIPIT (Anthus nattereri) – We saw them displaying waaay up in the sky but we did not settle for that and tracked down one individual on the ground just a few feet away from us.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
MASKED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis aequinoctialis)
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
CINNAMON TANAGER (Schistochlamys ruficapillus)
RUBY-CROWNED TANAGER (Tachyphonus coronatus)

This lovely female Blond-crested Woodpecker is one of a pair that we saw along the Sao Francisco River. Photo by participant Brian Stech.

WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus)
SAYACA TANAGER (Thraupis sayaca)
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)
SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis)
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana)
SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola)
WEDGE-TAILED GRASS-FINCH (Emberizoides herbicola)
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)
YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis) – Seen at the gardens of our hotel in Sao Roque de Minas.
DOUBLE-COLLARED SEEDEATER (Sporophila caerulescens)
BLACK-MASKED FINCH (Coryphaspiza melanotis) – We had a couple of these scarce Cerrado specialists on the upper reaches of Canastra.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)
GREEN-WINGED SALTATOR (Saltator similis)
Passerellidae (New World Buntings and Sparrows)
GRASSLAND SPARROW (Ammodramus humeralis)
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus)
GOLDEN-WINGED CACIQUE (Cacicus chrysopterus)
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)
CHOPI BLACKBIRD (Gnorimopsar chopi)
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BLACKBIRD (Chrysomus ruficapillus)
YELLOW-RUMPED MARSHBIRD (Pseudoleistes guirahuro)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
PURPLE-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia chlorotica)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

GIANT ANTEATER (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)
CAPYBARA (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris)
MANED WOLF (Chrysocyon brachyurus) – One of the highlights of the extension was seeing a pair of these magnificent animals running towards our car on the road and then watching as one of them calmly went around our car and continued on its way.
PAMPAS DEER (Ozotoceros bezoarticus)


Totals for the tour: 135 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa