Jardim Botânico, Brasília: December 10, 2011

I returned to the Jardim Botanico in Brasilia early on Saturday morning, with the goal of focusing my birding efforts on the campo sujo, or shrubby grassland, of the expansive reserve. Taking the first left from the paved entrance road inside the principal gate, I raced through the dense woodland, ignoring the calls of the White-Bellied Warbler and Black-Capped Antwren, and arrived at my desired habitat shortly after sunrise. Unfortunately, the skies were grey this morning, and I had to scramble several times to the Mirante, or observation tower, to take shelter from the rain. Despite the weather, the birds were active, and I had a productive morning building on my modest knowledge of the cerrado of Central Brazil and its unique avifauna.

There is a small trail starting from below the Mirante that winds through campo sujo that has recently been burned. This could be a sign of good management of the reserve, as fires play an important ecological role in maintaining savannas, or perhaps it was simply an accident, such as a lightening strike or a poorly disposed cigarette. At any rate, the sparse trees and bushes along the trail were charred black, with the new grasses spurned by the advent of the rainy season a rich, contrasting green. There were tons of birds concealed within these grasses, including large groups of social Shrike-Like Tanagers, Red-Pileated Finches, and various seedeaters and sparrows. Also active in the shrubbery were the Swainson’s Flycathcer, White-Eared Puffbird, Rufous-Browed Peppershrike, and Green-Barred Woodpecker. I even noted a few predators perched confidently in the open, including Savanna Hawk and Aplomado Falcon.

Thinking this was good territory for the Coal-Crested Finch, I trolled a bit using my iPod and speaker without success (supposedly it sporadically frequents recently burned grasslands). I was also hoping to use the equipment to identify a few more tyrant flycatchers that I’ve been seeing regularly, but aside for the Campo Suiriri they weren’t vocalizing appropriately, at least from my point of view. A surprise this morning included a pair of Peach-Fronted Parakeets feeding in a fruiting tree that let me approach relatively near (parrots in general are notoriously skittish and usually take off in a confusing burst of noise and color at the first sight of a person). This common but striking cerrado specialty had eluded me thus far. Despite being somewhat stuck in Braslia thus far, I’m still happy to be making progress with my birding with over one hundred species seen within the city limits.

Notable birds seen: Rusty-Margined Guan, Roadside Hawk, Yellow-Headed Caracara, Savanna Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Peach-Fronted Parakeet, Squirrel Cuckoo, White-Vented Violetear, Swallow-Tailed Hummingbird, White-Eared Puffbird, Toco Toucan, Green-Barred Woodpecker, Rufous-Winged Antshrike, Collared Crescentchest, Campo Suiriri, Swainson’s Flycatcher, Fork-Tailed Flycatcher, Masked Gnatcatcher, Rufous-Browed Peppershrike, White-Bellied Warbler, Shrike-Like Tanager, Buff-Throated Saltator, Black-Throated Saltator, Plumbeous Seedeater, Red-Pileated Finch, Grassland Sparrow, Wedge-Tailed Grassfinch.

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