The botanical gardens are located on the other side of the reservoir from where we live in Brasilia, so the site is definitely inconvenient for me to visit without having a car. On the other hand, the reserve protects almost twenty square miles of cerrado habitat, much of which is classifiable as cerradao, or dry forest, and therefore holds terrific potential for birding within the city limits. There is a paved access road that winds through the park, as well as several trails that pass through woodland and more open fields. The entrance fee is nominal (2 reais), but the taxi fare from the city to Lago Sul is unpleasantly high (30-40 reais).
Aimee and I visited the gardens on a quiet Friday afternoon but didn’t see much besides a few colorful tanagers and allies. Perhaps the most interesting observation was of the Red-Pilleated Finch, and we had a nice moment where both of us were focused on a male that suddenly fanned its scarlet crest in our direction. We also encountered a few troops of confiding Black-Tufted Marmosets whose high-pitched calls had me irrationally hoping to find a puffbird instead of a primate. Anyway, the park opens early in the morning for people on foot and should eventually yield some excellent cerrado species.
Notable birds seen: Plumbeous Kite, Scaled Dove, Squirrel Cuckoo, Ashy-Tailed Swift, Swallow-Tailed Hummingbird, Tropical Pewee, Streaked Flycatcher, Buff-Breasted Wren, Masked Gnatcatcher, Guira Tanager, Bananaquit, Blue Dacnis, Red-Legged Honeycreeper, Burnished-Buff Tanager, Palm Tanager, Blue-Black Grassquit, Red Pileated Finch, Rufous-Collared Sparrow.