January 25, 2015, Trilha dos Tucanos, Brazil -- Guto and I walked into the forest by headlamp this morning to catch the dawn chorus. At first, everything was dark and quiet, condensed humidity dripping everywhere. About a half hour before dawn, birds started calling: First a couple of Rufous-capped Motmots, then a Ruddy Quail-Dove, followed by a Collared Forest-Falcon...pretty soon the forest was echoing with sounds. It was a cool way to wake up, even if I only had four hours' sleep.
We spent the entire day birding around a relatively new bird lodge called Trilha dos Tucanos, which is tucked in the Atlantic Forest about 180 kilometers southwest of Sao Paulo. The lodge is run by a very nice couple, Marcus and Patricia, who have set the place up specifically to spoil birders. After this morning's dawn chorus, Guto and I sat down to a spread of fresh-squeezed orange juice, fried yucca from the yard, papaya, and local cheese with guava (apparently a standard Brazilian dessert), while we watched Green-headed Tanagers enjoying their own papaya breakfast just outside. By day's end, we'd seen 93 species of birds on a well-maintained trail network, about a third of which were new for my big year. We missed a good sighting though: A pair of photographers we ran into said they had just encountered a puma!
Guto tells me that, ten years ago, such a place would not have been economically feasible, but that there are now enough birders to support small lodges in Brazil like Trilha dos Tucanos. This is good all around: Fun for us, and the property conserves a patch of critical Atlantic Forest habitat. It's nice to see how visiting birders can have such a direct and positive impact.
New birds today: 33
Year list: 568