Rio in October

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7 years 1 month ago #31559 by Johan van Rensburg
Johan van Rensburg created the topic: Rio in October
I am flying out to Rio de Janeiro this Saturday. I'll spend 11 days in Brazil with five days set aside to do some serious birding in and around the Serra dos Tucanos Lodge, in the rain forest some 100 km north-east of Rio de Janeiro. While in Rio I'll snatch moments between meetings to start on my Brazilian birding list, with planned visits to the Botanical Gardens and Guanabara Bay.

Expect some weird (for me) birdy names to pop up in this section soon... (Toucanet, Tanager, Tinamou, Motmot, Euphonia, Hermit, Woodnymph, Coquette, just to mention a few <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: --> ) Hopefully the mention will be illustrated with a few good pix!

The trip came about as a bit of a surprise, so I am not very well prepared. I would have loved being able to get hold of a bird guide for Brazilian birds to practice a bit before embarking on this, my first ever overseas excursion.

The forests surrounding Serra dos Tucanos reputedly support an abundance of bird life. To date they have recorded 480+ species, of which 121 are endemic to the Atlantic forest. Together with what I get so see in Rio, I have hopes of chalking up around 200 species.

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7 years 1 month ago #31573 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: Rio in October
Don't be surprised to open your suitcase on the other side and find me in there.... <!-- s:spin: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/spin.gif" alt=":spin:" title="Spinning" /><!-- s:spin: --> <!-- s:spin: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/spin.gif" alt=":spin:" title="Spinning" /><!-- s:spin: -->

Looking forward to seeing some of your lifers!! <!-- s:yes: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/yes.gif" alt=":yes:" title="Yes" /><!-- s:yes: -->

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7 years 1 month ago #31621 by Johan van Rensburg
Johan van Rensburg replied the topic: Re: Rio in October
You are going to find that suitcase extremely crowded, Gordon <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) -->

I started packing my camera gear last night. I have a small space left between the flash compartment and the pocket containing the flash extender <!-- s:twisted: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_twisted.gif" alt=":twisted:" title="Twisted Evil" /><!-- s:twisted: -->

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7 years 1 month ago #31628 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: Rio in October
You'll be amazed as to what tiny spaces desperate birders can fit into, even fat ones like me.... <!-- s:bouncy: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/bouncy.gif" alt=":bouncy:" title="Enthusiastic" /><!-- s:bouncy: --> <!-- s:bouncy: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/bouncy.gif" alt=":bouncy:" title="Enthusiastic" /><!-- s:bouncy: --> <!-- s:bouncy: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/bouncy.gif" alt=":bouncy:" title="Enthusiastic" /><!-- s:bouncy: -->

Don't worry I will keep your camera equipment warm on the flight over... if you would not mind supplying a small bottle of oxygen... it would be appreciated... <!-- s:yes: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/yes.gif" alt=":yes:" title="Yes" /><!-- s:yes: -->

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7 years 1 month ago #31662 by robbie
robbie replied the topic: Re: Rio in October
Hi Johan
Hoping when you get back i will at least have the privelage to see some of your pics taken over their.
Cant wait to see your pics taken their and the day we go birding together in Standerton.
Enjoy the trip.
Cheers.
Robbie.

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7 years 1 month ago #31840 by Johan van Rensburg
Johan van Rensburg replied the topic: Re: Rio in October
Hi, Robbie... Funny finding you here!

The promised atlassing is something I am looking forward too as much as you. We'll do it before the end of October.

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7 years 3 weeks ago #33440 by Johan van Rensburg
Johan van Rensburg replied the topic: Re: Rio in October
So, a brilliant experience has come and gone... So many highlights are woven into the memories that constitute the Rio de Janeiro trip and not all of it has to do with the beautiful and brightly coloured South American birds... Rio is astoundingly pretty. The Portuguese must have been blown away when their ships first sailed up to this stunning panorama of beaches, jungle and bays. Everywhere you look you find beaches with tropical hills and huge oddly shaped bare rocks, rising and falling out of nowhere as backdrop.

When you look closer at these hills, the reality of modern day Rio de Janeiro hits hard as you see clusters of wobbly concrete housing, accessible only by narrow, endless staircases. These are the favelas, the slums that the poor have built on the hillsides. Some of them are situated only a gunshot away from the wealthy neighbourhoods, reversing the natural rule that the rich get the views and the sea breeze. I'll have to watch myself not to get carried away about stuff other than the birdlife and I will try not to show you too much as, after all, this is a birding forum!

We arrived at the Copacabana Palace hotel just before midnight on Friday. Early the next morning I got the concierge to arrange a taxi to take me to my first excursion – the Rio de Janeiro botanical gardens. The weather did not play with. The rain pelted down, periodically abating to a drizzle before another downpour would bring home why this area used to be a rain forest.

Used to be… Tragically more than 90% of Brazil’s rain forests have been cleared away to make space for coffee and sugar plantations and cattle farming. The Amazon rain forest makes up the greatest portion of what is left. Mountain rainforest are restricted to small patches in protected areas. That is the reason why I decided to later on extend my business trip to include the preserved rain forest around Serra dos Tucanos Lodge.

Any case, to get back to the botanical gardens…

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7 years 3 weeks ago #33531 by Johan van Rensburg
Johan van Rensburg replied the topic: Re: Rio in October
South Africans in the Jardim Botanico?! I couldn't believe my eyes and carefully lined some of the birds up for a shot... I had to have proof of this!

Located in the “South Zone” of Rio de Janeiro, the Jardim Botanico or Botanical Garden opened to the public in 1822. Originally founded by the Prince Regent of the United Kingdom of Brazil and Portugal, Dom João VI, in 1808, the gardens were off limits to the general public for almost 14 years. Dom João founded the garden to acclimate spices such as cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg that were imported from the West Indies. From this humble beginning the garden evolved as one of the greatest tropical botanical gardens in the world. Nestled directly under the right arm of the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the Garden is supposed to provide one of the most amazing views of the statue in all of Rio de Janeiro. Not on this day... sometimes it was difficult to see one's own nose in the downpour...



Any case... back to the waxbills: I was not sure about my ID, in spite of knowing common waxbills very well, so five days later I couldn't wait to ask Andy Foster, owner of Serra dos Tucanos Lodge about them. Andy confirmed that our waxbill had indeed become Brazilian! Apparently they were translocated to Brazil by the Portuguese as cage birds. As often happens, about a century ago, some were let go or escaped and in the wonderful Brazilian climate they prospered.

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7 years 3 weeks ago #33553 by Johan van Rensburg
Johan van Rensburg replied the topic: Re: Rio in October


Omnipresent in the rainforests of South America, this great egret was another inhabitant of the Rio de Janeiro botanical garden that was completely at ease in my presence. You'll ask: So, when do we see stuff we don't know here in South Africa?!?

Just teasing a bit... <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

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7 years 3 weeks ago #33655 by Johan van Rensburg
Johan van Rensburg replied the topic: Re: Rio in October
So I slowly got into my birding stride. I imagine what must be the equivalent of our Cape sparrow, a rufous-collared sparrow sat patiently while I moved about trying to get a decent angle on the bird.



At a pond for a moment I thought I saw a giant kingfisher. But the moment the bird took off, I knew that couldn't be as this ringed kingfisher was significantly larger and heavier in flight than our gaint kingfishers. The Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata is commonly found along the lower Rio Grande River valley in Texas in the United States all the way through South America. They feed on fish, crustaceans, frogs, insects, small mammals, lizards and berries. They have also been observed catching swallow-tailed hummingbirds. They incubate their eggs on a layer of fish bones and scales.



I saw a house wren sneaking around the undergrowth and, try as I may, I couldn't get a shot of the skulking bird.

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