Given the high level of bird activity during my previous two visits to this site earlier this month, I was eager to return and determine whether it is characteristic or just a fluke. Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive until close to 9am, and most of the birds had stopped calling by then, except for Small-Billed Tinamou, Stripe-Tailed Yellowfinch, and the ubiquitous Blue-Black Grassquit. Despite the sun already blazing high in the sky, I walked the exposed 2 kilometers to the famed poço azul, or blue pool, passing through good campo limpo, or grassland, habitat. A female Horned Sungem surprised me by feeding briefly in the tops of several trees, as I’ve only observed them close to the ground and perching on low shrubs (the sungem is almost certainly the star hummingbird of the Cerrado, but it’s only sporadically found). The find of the morning was a pair of Crested Black Tyrants, a slim and dapper flycatcher of the Cerrado, where it occurs uncommonly in well-dispersed pairs, according to the Ridgley and Tudor’s regional field guide.
Unlike most afternoons during the rainy season, the sky didn’t swell with thunderheads, and the sun continued to bake the earth and the back of my neck. The territorial Collared Crescentchests kept calling though, and I decided to try out the high definition video feature on my new camera, a Nikon D5100. The results are a little shaky, but I’ll get the hang of it and hopefully start posting better quality video of some of the more interesting birds of Central Brazil. To close out the day, I stalked a spectacular male Horned Sungem, almost getting a great photograph of the unique hummingbird in flight; indeed, it will take me some time to get used to the new camera after five years on my trusty D80. Considering activity was so poor (the Blue Finches appear to have moved on and didn’t respond to playback), I probably won’t come back here for quite a while. Should you visit, make a point of speaking with the caretaker and letting him know you’re there just to observe nature and not swim recklessly and throw trash around. He’ll be so pleased that he’ll probably let you in for free.
Notable birds seen: Horned Sungem, White-Vented Violetear, Swallow-Tailed Hummingbird, Amethyst Woodstar, White-Eared Puffbird, Collared Crescentchest, Crested Black Tyrant, Curl-Crested Jay, Black-Throated Saltator, Plumbeous Seedeater, Grassland Sparrow, Stripe-Tailed Yellowfinch.