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REGUA is located in Atlantic Forest of south-east Brazil in the Serra dos Órgãos mountains, part of the wider Serra do Mar range that runs parallel to the Atlantic coastline. The forest here ranges in altitudinal from sea level to over 2,200 m a.s.l and includes a variety of forest types including the Atlantic Rain Forest found in the lowlands and on the seaward slopes – a tropical moist broadleaf forest, dry Atlantic Semi-deciduous forest of the interior slope, mangroves and sand-loving restinga along the coast.

The Serra dos Órgãos retains a relatively large amount of forest cover, and this, together with other habitats such as salt lagoons, wetlands, low intensity farmland and coasts make this an extremely bird-rich area. In addition, the Atlantic Forest has long been isolated from other forests, which has led to extremely high levels of endemism.

Our suggested birding itinerary covers most of the Atlantic Forest habitats found in the Serra dos Órgãos in just a few days and is not uncommon to see over 300 species. It is also possible to include a visit to the Atlantic Forest as part of longer trip taking in the Pantanal and the Amazon Rainforest.

Day 1: Arrive Rio de Janeiro and transfer to REGUA

Most flights arrive in the afternoon or evening therefore arrival at the lodge is usually very late evening (sandwiches and juice are prepared for late arrivals).

Day 2: Wetland and replanted lowland forest

The wetland is one of REGUA’s resounding conservation success stories. Once a native swampy Tabebuia forest with large tree ferns and epiphytic plants including philodendrons, bromeliads and orchids, this area was drained and cleared in the 1980s for agriculture. In 2005, after purchasing the site, REGUA created a new wetland habitat here, converting the fields to a mosaic of lakes, channels, reedbeds, wet grass, Tabebuia cassinoides stands and lowland forest. Over 220 bird species have been recorded and this is an excellent place to familiarise yourself with South American bird families.

There are two trails, each 3 km long and colour-marked every 50 m. The trails can be walked with or without a guide (self-guide birding leaflets are available). 

Brown Trail

This trail passes through the surrounding replanted forest with access to an observation tower. This trail is best early morning.

Target species include Shrike-like Cotinga, Southern Antpipit, Unicoloured Antwren, White-flanked Antwren, Green-backed Becard, Blue Ground-Dove, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike, Scaled Antbird, Grey-hooded Attila, Long-billed Wren, Black Hawk-Eagle, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Tropical Screech-Owl, Yellow-throated Woodpecker and Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant.

Yellow Trail

This trail follows the edge of the wetland with access to two hides. This trail is best early morning or from mid-afternoon to dusk.

Target species include Black-legged Dacnis, Boat-billed Heron, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Limpkin, Masked Duck, Sungrebe, Anhinga, Capped Heron, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Rufous-sided Crake, Blackish Rail, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, White-chinned Sapphire, Common Potoo, Ringed Kingfisher, Amazon Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Greater Ani, Wing-banded Hornero, Channel-billed Toucan, Lemon-chested Greenlet, Black-capped Donacobius, Chestnut-capped Blackbird and Yellow-backed Tanager. The wetland is also good for raptors overhead including Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle.

Day 3: Lowland rain forest and evening spotlighting for Giant Snipe
Green Trail

A day birding this excellent 2.5 km trail, colour-marked every 50 m, through well-established secondary lowland forest to an elevation of # m a.s.l. where there is a beautiful secluded waterfall that makes a great lunch stop. This trail gives access to older forest than the Brown Trail and many of REGUA’s specialities are present here. You can bird the trail with or without a guide, although hiring a guide is strongly recommended.

Target species include White-necked Hawk, Saw-billed Hermit, Rufous-capped Motmot, Buff-bellied Puffbird, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Spot-billed Toucanet, Spot-backed Antshrike, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Scaled Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Variegated Antpitta, Slaty Bristlefront, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Bare-throated Bellbird, Pin-tailed Manakin, Shrike-like Cotinga, Russet-winged Spadebill, Blue-bellied Parrot, Eared Pygmy-Tyrant, Turquoise (White-bellied) Tanager, White-thighed Swallow and Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper.

Spotlighting for Giant Snipe

In the evening, join our guided spotlighting excursion to look for Giant Snipe, with a chance of also seeing Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Short-tailed Nighthawk, Spot-tailed Nightjar, Common Potoo, American Barn Owl and Ash-throated Crake

Day 4: Montane forest at Pico da Caledônia

A full day off-reserve birding high altitude forest at one of the highest peaks of the Serra dos Órgãos mountains, reaching 2,219 m a.s.l. A morning visit to the peak is followed by lunch further down the mountain and then an afternoon birding a scenic trail in search of high altitude endemics.

Target species include Grey-winged Cotinga, Itatiaia Thistletail, Green-crowned Plovercrest, Large-tailed Antshrike, Rufous-tailed Antbird, Dusky-tailed Antbird, Rufous Gnateater, Mouse-coloured Tapaculo, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Black-and-gold Cotinga, Diademed Tanager, Bay-chested Warbling-Finch and Red-legged Seriema.

Day 5: Restinga and coastal lagoons at Cabo Frio

Another full day excursion off-reserve, this time visiting the restinga – coastal forest growing on sandy soils, mangroves and salt lagoons near the coastal city of Cabo Frio, in search of bird species restricted to these special habitats. This excursion provides a break from forest birding to look for waders, terns, gulls, other water birds, and during the winter months sometimes even Magellanic Penguin!

Target species include Restinga Antwren, White-cheeked Pintail, Magellanic Penguin (seasonal), Pinnated Bittern, Roseate Spoonbill, Hook-billed Kite, Snail Kite, Mangrove Rail, American Oystercatcher, White-backed Stilt, Grey-hooded Gull, Cabot’s (Cayenne) Tern, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, Minute Hermit, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Rusty-backed Antwren, Wren-like Rushbird, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet, Crested Doradito, Unicolored Blackbird, Black-backed Tanager, Bicoloured Conebill, Rusty-collared Seedeater and Copper Seedeater.

Day 6: Rain forest at Waldenoor and evening spotlighting for owls, potoos and nightjars

The area of land dubbed ‘Waldenoor’ after a previous landowner, was purchased in 2007 to protect two large forest fragments either side that were already part of REGUA. The forest here is remote and has never been clear felled with only selected hardwoods removed, making for some excellent birding in fantastic scenery, with towering ridges of rainforest over 1,000 m high all around. This area is also one of the best areas for raptors at REGUA. The short trail starts at 260 m a.s.l. and climbs to 360 m a.s.l. but has not yet been developed for tourism and therefore a guide is essential.

Target species include Mantled Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Frilled Coquette, Saw-billed Hermit, White-eared Puffbird, (Greater) Crescent-chested Puffbird, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Plain Parakeet, Tufted Antshrike, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Variegated Antpitta, Slaty Bristlefront, Scaled Woodcreeper, Swallow-tailed (Blue) Manakin, Sharpbill, Green-backed Becard, Cliff Flycatcher, Rough-legged Tyrannulet, (Southern) Tropical Pewee, Red-cowled Cardinal and Yellow-green Grosbeak.

Spotlighting for owls, potoos and nightjars

In the evening, join our guided spotlighting excursion to look for nocturnal birds including Black-banded Owl, Tawny-browed Owl, Mottled Owl, Black-capped Screech-Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Long-tailed Potoo and Common Potoo.

Day 7: Atlantic Semi-deciduous forest at Sumidouro

The final off-reserve excursion visiting the Atlantic Semi-deciduous forest, a seasonally dry forest type on the interior slope of the Serra dos Órgãos near the towns of Sumidouro and Carmo. Very little of the Atlantic Semi-deciduous forest remains and sadly today the landscape is one of open pasture with only tiny scattered remnants of forest. These forest patches are the haunt of the Vulnerable Three-toed Jacamar, our main target species today, but there are plenty of stops to look for species more common on the interior slope as well as open country species uncommon or absent at REGUA.

Target species include Three-toed Jacamar, Blue-winged Macaw, Campo Troupial, Serra Antwren, Rio de Janeiro Antbird, Black-necked Aracari, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Tawny-headed Swallow, Crested Black-Tyrant, Firewood-gatherer, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Grey Monjita, Grey-eyed Greenlet, Curl-crested Jay, Planalto Hermit, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, White-tailed Hawk, White-eared Puffbird, Toco Toucan, Red-legged Seriema, American Kestrel, White-eyed Parakeet, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, White-rumped Monjita, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, Swainson’s Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Pileated Finch, Magpie Tanager, Gilt-edged Tanager, Crested Oropendola, Yellow-rumped Marshbird and Hooded Siskin.

Day 8: Wetland and departure

Some relaxation time before departure, with another opportunity to walk the Yellow or Brown Trails, visit the hides, or perhaps spend some time watching the bird feeders in the lodge garden or relax at the lodge observation tower.

We can suggest birdwatching itineraries for longer or shorter stays at REGUA. If you have any questions regarding your own itinerary then please contact us.

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