Rio, Jardim Botânico
In spite of getting to bed early last night, I got up around 7. After breakfast, I caught a cab to the Jardim Botânico. I noticed the unmistakeable silhouette of a Boat-billed Heron at the edge of Lagoa Rodrigo de Frietas. It looked like there might have been coots or gallinules on the water, but I couldn't tell.
The Jardim Botânico is a lovely botanical garden, and on another visit I might pay more attention to the vegetation and landscaping. Today however, I was trying to find some birds.
I heard birds singing as I got out of the car (including Bananaquits). After paying my R$5 entrance fee, I walked into the garden away from the road noise. Pretty soon I was looking at a Gray-headed Tody-Flycatcher, my first of several today. A robin-like bird on the ground turned out to be a Rufous-bellied Thrush. Good numbers of these were present in the garden. A little further along three birds walking like chickens were Slaty-breasted Wood-Rails. I saw several more of them on my visit.
|Japanese Garden||Slaty-breasted Wood-Rails|
I noticed a bird perched in some bare branches at the top of a tree. It was a Channel-billed Toucan. The local variety has an orange breast and may be split as Ariel Toucan. Some smaller birds in the grass then caught my attention. They were Common Waxbills, an introduced species. The Green-headed Tanager in the tree above them is a native, and is one of the more colorful tanagers. I saw several of these during my visit, including one that was too close for binoculars (I find that when birding alone, birds are much more likely to come up right next to me).
Some Brotogeris parakeets went screaming overhead. The only local Brotogeris is the Plain Parakeet (I caught up with them in a tree later on). I still hadn't moved much from where I saw the toucan when a Wing-banded Hornero appeared in the path. There were also more birds in the grass including Saffron Finch and Rufous-collared Sparrow. A flycatcher was giving me problems when it called. Somehow I knew it was a Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet. I located a bird singing in a nearby bush—Double-collared Seedeater. A hummingbird showed up as I was about to move on. Hummingbirds can be a problem. Fortunately, it perched while I studied it (and it's long forked tail). A look at the book (I was doing a lot of that!) revealed it as a Violet-capped Woodnymph
That burst of activity provided most of the birds I saw in the garden. Later on, I found a tanager with an orange head that appeared to be an Orange-headed Tanager (sometimes the names fit). A (Western) Great Egret was in a small canal in the park. I was trying to get on a small warbler-like bird when I realized I'd been here parula-song for a bit. Yes, it was a Tropical Parula.
At the far end of the garden, near the bromeliad house, I found a euphonia. Euphonias can also be tricky, so I took my time noticing the color of the throat, extent of yellow-orange on the head, and even the tail pattern. When I checked the book, this added up to Violaceous Euphonia. A few minutes later, when I was trying to get a decent look at some parakeets in a tree, a Turkey Vulture landed in a nearby palm. Unlike our Turkey Vultures, the ones here have white on the back of the neck.
|Palm Promenade||Ossanha Statue|
I stopped to get something to eat. The trees there had more parakeets in them. These not only included the Plain Parakeets, but also Maroon-bellied Parakeets. A pair of Social Flycatchers were building a nest. At first, I was a bit confused as some Great Kiskadees were calling, but I soon got that sorted out.
|Lago Frei Leandro||Victoria Lillies|
|Cypress Knees||Vine-covered Structure||Woman, Statue, and Lake|
Those were my last new birds in the garden, although I spent another half-hour or so there. Finally, I hailed a cab and headed back to the hotel.
I enjoyed birding in the garden, but found it frustrating. I did manage to get reacquainted with a number of neotropical birds, as well as encountering others for the first time. However, it was taking me a long time to make ID's, between gathering enough fieldmarks, and then looking through the book. During this time, other birds got away. Others, including a few swallows and a hawk, were too far away or too poorly seen to ID, given that they were unfamiliar. In similar conditions in south Florida, I'd make the call without even thinking about it. In many cases, it wouldn't be an issue anywhere in the US. Here, it is. Finally, there were the birds that were heard, but not seen—calls I could not recognize. Tomorrow, I'll have a experienced guide who knows the birds, their calls, and can tell me what I've seen so I can look it up in the book after the excitement dies down. This is why it's worth paying the extra for a guide.
After a short break, I went out for a long walk west through the shopping district over to Jardim de Alah, which contains the outlet from Lagoa Rodrigo de Frietas. I then walked down to the shore, and continued west across from the beach. Finally, I crossed over and headed back east toward the hotel. I didn't get any new birds, but it was pleasant walk along the beach.
|Ipanema Sidewalk||West End of Ipanema|
My original plan had been to go to Corcovado this afternoon and take the funicular to the famous Cristo Redentor statue, symbol of Rio. However, it's been shrouded by clouds all the time I've been here, so there didn't seem any point to going up there. Indeed, it's raining as I write this. Guess that will have to wait until some other visit.
My trip total is now 38 bird species including 15 life birds. The serious birding begins tomorrow.
Golden Tulip Ipanema Plaza Hotel, Rio de Janeiro