Dawn on Sunday found me back on the road in Goiás, this time headed west towards the town of Cocalzinho, near which is located Tabapuã dos Pireneus, a small farm and reserve that is popular with birders and photographers from Brasília. My general expectations for the excursion were modest, as I simply wanted access to some decent gallery forest and to not be overwhelmed by crowds, but I had also heard of some unusual bird sightings there, including those of several Atlantic Forest endemics. It’s not difficult to imagine now isolated pockets of forest once being connected to the extensive coastal forest via various waterways, offering the opportunity for more common Atlantic Forest species, such as the Black Jacobin and Pin-Tailed Manakin, to make their way into the interior. Maybe I would add such another oddity to the reserve list.
Tabapuã dos Pireneus borders a state park of the same name, and the region contains a nice variety of Cerrado habitat, including campo limpo, gallery forest, and campo rupestre, or rocky fields, as well as areas that have been converted to agriculture and cattle ranching. The reserve has several well-maintained trails that pass through both swampy and deciduous forest, complete with boardwalks, steps, and handrails where appropriate. While these pass by various waterfalls and swimming holes that no doubt can fill up with people occasionally on the weekends, I was lucky enough to have the forest to myself for the day, spending the majority of it on the Trilha Tirolesa (this trail also provides access to a tremendously long zip line, along which users can reach speeds near 50 kilometers per hour).
I hadn’t taken more than a few steps along the trail before I was aware of tons of birds around me calling, feeding, and building nests. Black-Capped Antwren, Planalto Antshrike, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, and a variety of tanagers and allies were all highly active while a pair of Sharp-Tailed Streamcreepers appeared to be collecting nesting material. I then detected the unique clucking call of a Chestnut-Capped Foliage-Gleaner and was soon stalking two of them as they probed about the forest floor, deftly flicking dead leaves left and right with their strong beaks. Meanwhile a pair of Saffron-Billed Sparrows worked their way past me, addressing the forest floor in a completely different manner and guise. A cooperative Moustached Wren was the last bird to make an appearance before I finally moved on, immensely pleased by the day’s opening act.
Patches of grass in the understory were full of birds, as the grass was long and full of seeds and presumably insects. Here various seedeater species joined both Ochre-Cheeked and Sooty-Fronted Spinetails in the feeding frenzy, and the commotion no doubt attracted other bird such as White-Bellied and Flavescent Warblers, Black-Goggled Tanager, and Plain Antvireo. I also noted a small bicolored tanager that I first assumed was an Orange-Headed Tanager and passed over it. After seeing it several times more, I realized that this bird boasted a much richer colored cap as well as a small black mask. Does the Chestnut-Headed Tanager occur here, I wondered, not having seen it in the field myself, only remembering it from the Birds of Brazil field guide? I only managed a few horrendous record shots of both sexes but was later able to confirm this on Wiki Aves as only the second recording of the species in the state of Goiás.
Stepping out of the gallery forest onto the open grassy hillside for a moment, I flushed a chunky Red-Winged Tinamou that sailed downhill right in front of me, offering ideal looks at its characteristically colored wings. With that nemesis bird finally under my belt, I was content with the excursion and happy to note only what came across my path during the rest of the day. Towards the end of the trail I heard a calling Pin-Tailed Manakin and spotted a male Black Jacobin feeding in the canopy of a flowering tree, two Atlantic Forest endemics offering more credence to my Chestnut-Headed Tanager sighting. Before returning to Brasília, I made a half-hearted attempt to chase down a noisy flock of White-Naped Jays but decided to leave this tick for another day, hopefully at the very same reserve where I hope to return soon.
Notable birds seen: Red-Winged Tinamou, Brazilian Teal, Buff-Necked Ibis, Green Ibis, White-Tailed Hawk, Savanna Hawk, Black-Chested Buzzard-Eagle, Aplomado Falcon, Black Jacobin, Glittering-Bellied Emerald, Rufous-Capped Motmot, Channel-Billed Toucan, Little Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Lesser Woodcreeper, Sooty-Fronted Spinetail, Ochre-Cheeked Spinetail, Chestnut-Capped Foliage-Gleaner, Sharp-Tailed Streamcreeper, Planalto Antshrike, Variable Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Black-Capped Antwren, Sepia-Capped Flycatcher, Yellow-Olive Flatbill, Tropical Pewee, Helmeted Manakin, Pin-Tailed Manakin, Moustached Wren, White-Necked Thrush, Red-Eyed Vireo, Flavescent Warbler, Guira Tanager, Swallow Tanager, Gray-Headed Tanager, Black-Goggled Tanager, White-Lined Tanager, Chestnut-Headed Tanager, Green-Winged Saltator, Saffron-Billed Sparrow.