Chapada dos Veadeiros, Goiás: June 16, 2013

I never regret making a day trip to Chapada dos Veadeiros from Brasília, even though it’s a bit of a blowout. When I lived in Ecuador, I used to take trips like this all the time, rising way before dawn and returning well after dark after birding all day in the cloudforests of the Andean slopes. Even after a long week of work, I was exuberant and never felt fatigued in the field. Perhaps it’s the bone-dry weather and blindingly sunny skies of Central Brazil that sap my strength, or maybe with age I’m finally starting to slow down. At any rate, with only a few weeks left in Brazil, I forced myself out of bed early one recent Sunday morning  and set out yet again in search of new birding sites and sights in the region.

I’ve been hoping to find a Brazilian Merganser here, one of the few remaining sites where the endangered diving duck is occasionally recorded. Along the southern edge of the national park, Cataratas do Rio dos Couros is probably the most promising location, offering a long stretch of rocky waterfalls and crystalline pools. I pulled up in the parking lot area around 7am surprised that several cars were already there, but the other visitors were still fast asleep in their camping tents, and I had the entire river to myself. A few hours of exploration yielded nary a bird, much less the Brazilian Merganser, but I did enjoy the spectacular view of the river at the end of the trail as it plummeted deep into a misty gorge.

After returning to a nearby patch of recently burned campo sujo, where I again found Coal-Crested Finch, Chapada Suiriri, and Horned Sungem, I drove on to the town of Alto Paraíso to visit a new private reserve, Fazenda Loquinhas. Protecting a few streams with appetizing swimming holes, the reserve looks promising for deciduous forest birds although as it was already midday I didn’t record much more than Pearly-Vented Tody-Tyrant along the trails. A modest bird feeder by the entrance attracted the attractive Saffron-Billed Sparrow, and I’ve seen photos of Cinereous Warbling-Finch taken here as well. Further along the GO-118 highway, which transects the national park, I stopped at a swamp to tick Point-Tailed Palmcreeper, enticing a curious pair into some roadside buriti, or moriche, palms.

Notable birds seen: Greater Rhea, Red-Legged Seriema, White-Tailed Kite, Barn Owl, Yellow-Faced Parrot, Turqouise-Fronted Parrot, Peach-Fronted Parakeet, White-Vented Violetear, Horned Sungem, Campo Flicker, Green-Barred Woodpecker, Pale-Breasted Spinetail, Point-Tailed Palmcreeper, Pearly-Vented Tody-Tyrant, Chapada Suiriri, White-Crested Tyrannulet, Black-Tailed Flycatcher, Streamer-Tailed Tyrant, Black-Throated Saltator, Shrike-Like Tanager, Coal-Crested Finch, Saffron-Billed Finch, Plumbeous Seedeater, Red Pileated Finch, Wedge-Tailed Grass-Finch, Grassland Sparrow.

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