Latest News

Here is the latest news from REGUA and Guapi Assu Bird Lodge. For older news see the news archive page.

19 April 2014

New bird for Adilei - part 2: A RJ threatened bird species seen at the Desengano State Park

A short visit to the Desengano State Park led us to stay at Santa Maria Madalena, a three hour drive from REGUA, to show our guide Adilei a few new birds not found or difficult to see at REGUA. This occurred at last February in the delightful company of birder Sue Healey. The Desengano Park, its manager João Rafael met us at our small lodge and he soon identified a species that Adilei hadn't seen before, the Minute Hermit.

Hummingbirds are always a pleasure to see. Characteristic to the New World, these smallest of warm blooded vertebrates are found in abundance in south-east Brazil and their humming of the wings when in flight is compensated by loud chirps defending their territory when perched. Feeding mostly on nectar they also feed on insects, with a penchant for small spiders. At REGUA they come to sugary liquid filled feeders and their extremely aggressive nature provide for displays as they ward off others prying on their food sources. The natural iridescence of their plumage led to much collecting since earliest of times in Brazil, mainly to supply adornments for women's clothing and it was only in 1967 that this stopped with a blanket ban on wild animal collecting.

Hummers have been known from the Pleistocene era and the earliest fossil was found in Germany indicating they covered Laurasia in this geological time. Some event happened around 25 million years ago causing them to settle only in the Americas. In traditional taxonomy, hummers are in the order of Apodiformes (together with swifts) a word derived from the Greek "footless", and split into two subfamilies, the Trochilinae (normal hummers) with 280-300 species and Phaethornithinae (hermits) with 34 species. The review by taxonomists has since created more subfamilies.

The bird species we wanted to see was Minute Hermit Phaethornis idaliae has a very limited distribution from Cabo Frio to Southern Bahia. Thought to be probably "threatened" in the Rio state but known to occur on the Desengano lowlands we had no difficulty in hearing its loud chirping and we were very happy to see this gorgeous hermit. As Adilei said smiling to us "A new bird for Adilei"!

Minute Hermit <i>Phaethornis idaliae</i>, Desengano State Park, March 2014 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Minute Hermit Phaethornis idaliae, Desengano State Park, March 2014 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)

Posted by Nicholas Locke

16 April 2014

New bird for Adilei - part 1: The Red-headed Manakin at the Desengano State Park

"New bird for Adilei", he tells me as we see this bird for the first time. Our REGUA bird guide, Adilei, is always so incredibly helpful in finding birds for our guests that we felt that we had to find him some new species in return. This is a series of articles of our trip to the lowlands of the Desengano State Park in March, chaperoned by the experienced birder João Rafael de Marins, sub chief of the Park to look for new birds. João did well to find us a total of 5 birds.

We visited the lowlands close to the Desengano State Park, more precisely, the Sao Julião Farm where there is some superb remaining Atlantic Rainforest, to look for the extraordinary Red-headed Manakin Pipra rubrocapilla.

Like most Manakins, this species is popularly called "CabeƧa encarnada" or "Redhead", is relatively small. Manakins are sub-canopy species and like to dart around their territory issuing a small burp like call, and their colours defy belief.

Manakins have some of the most complex courtship displays seen in the Americas. In this case the male is known to perch close to the female, tap dance a little showing its red spot of its thigh feathers, simultaneously stretching a leg and bouncing its tail. If two males are courting the same female, one will intimidate the other by showing a white spot in his spread wings. Then one of the males will fly up and zoom back to the female to try and mate (if she doesn't take off). Helmut Sick writes this following his close studies and we are left only to contemplate almost in disbelief these rituals.

You can see for yourself why birders find the Manakins the most extraordinary bird species!

Red-headed Manakin <i>Pipra rubrocapilla</i>, Desengano State Park, 12 March 2014 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Red-headed Manakin Pipra rubrocapilla, Desengano State Park, 12 March 2014 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Red-headed Manakin <i>Pipra rubrocapilla</i>, Desengano State Park, 12 March 2014 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Red-headed Manakin Pipra rubrocapilla, Desengano State Park, 12 March 2014 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)

Posted by Nicholas Locke

14 April 2014

White-crested Elaenia - a new bird for REGUA!

On the 19 March 2014, our bird guide Leonardo saw two groups of unfamiliar elaenias near the old house on the area of REGUA known as Waldenoor, named after the man who once lived here. Leonardo takes up the story - "Initially the birds did not respond to playback, but after 30 minutes I saw two more birds and this time they did respond, revealing their identity - White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps and came closer allowing me to take this photo (below). I think there was around six birds in total".

There are six subspecies White-crested Elaenia. Four of these, including the nominate E. albiceps are resident, distributed throughout the Andes from south-west Columbia south to north-west Bolivia. The remaining two are migratory, and one of these, E. chilensis, is a long distance migrant - arriving in September on their breeding along the Andes from southern Bolivia through Argentina and Chile to Tierra del Fuego at the continent's southern tip, and departing north and eastwards in March and April to winter as far as north-west Brazil. This is the first record of White-crested Elaenia for REGUA, and brings the total number of bird species recorded here to 465!

White-crested Elaenia <i>Elaenia albiceps</i>, Waldenoor, 19 March 2014 (Photo by Leonardo Pimentel)
White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps, Waldenoor, 19 March 2014 (Photo by Leonardo Pimentel)

Posted by Leonardo Pimentel

07 April 2014

For the love of REGUA

Writing for our supporters Puro Coffee, our good friend and volunteer Sue Healey describes how a trip to REGUA in May 2006 changed her life and sparked a passion to help reserve Brazil's Atlantic Forest. To read Sue's excellent blog post click here.

Posted by Lee Dingain

01 April 2014

The Great Potoo spotted in the Desengano State Park

Everyone wants to see the potoos in South America for in Portuguese they are affectionately known as "Mae da Lua", or "Mother of the Moon".

The Great Potoo Nyctibeus grandis is the largest potoo found in the Americas. It is the size of a large owl, and this extraordinary bird makes a call that you would think reaching to the other side of life itself. Spanning most of South America, it is common to lowland edges of clearings where it perches on tree boughs quite high off the ground, very well camouflaged, waiting to catch its prey. It is considered a rare bird species.

This species has not been seen at REGUA, and we came across our first example in the 22,500 hectare Desengano State park, located by the Sao JuliĆ£o near Campos in the RJ state, through the kind efforts of the substitute head of the park, Joao Rafael Marins. Driving at night we found the spot and played the call. The bird immediately responded by flying in and fluttering its pale grey wings above us in a warning display to land on a branch of a tree some 30 feet above us. The female also came in following him but she just landed in a tree close by whilst we looked through our binoculars and took these photos. We were all mesmerized by its calm attitude and left it to get on with its modest lifestyle.

Great Potoo <i>Nyctibeus grandis</i>, Desengano State Park (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Great Potoo Nyctibeus grandis, Desengano State Park (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Great Potoo <i>Nyctibeus grandis</i>, Desengano State Park (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Great Potoo Nyctibeus grandis, Desengano State Park (Photo by Nicholas Locke)

The fine grey plumage matches the grey branch showing how it is so very well camouflaged. Thank you Joao for showing us this extraordinary bird!

Posted by Nicholas Locke

17 February 2014

Milkweed butterflies at REGUA

Milkweed butterflies from the genus Danaus are an emblematic group due to their incredible migration routes, colouration, multi-trophic interactions and so many other interesting aspects of their life histories. The Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus has been extensively studied in North America, and just recently the Southern Monarch Danaus erippus has been considered as a separate species from Danaus plexippus. Last week, Pedro Ferreira (an undergraduate student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro( UFRJ) and Daniela Rdrigues (Monarch project main researcher) have found eggs of both the southern monarch D. erippus and the Queen Butterfly D. gilippus at REGUA.

Both species use milkweed Asclepias curassavica as a host plant. Thanks to Jorge Bizarro and Sidenei, who have indicated nice spots with milkweeds and butterflies, as well as the planting of some milkweed in tha last winter, they were able to find both the Southern Monarch and the queen in the wetland area. We are interested in conducting some experiments on larval behaviour and adult cognition of both Danaus species. For the moment, the Southern Monarch seems to be commonly seen all over the year, and the Queen Butterfly is fairly easy to see at higher altitudes, like in Salinas where this photo was taken.

Queen Butterfly <i>Danaus gilippus</i>, REGUA (Photo by Tom Kompier)
Queen Butterfly Danaus gilippus, REGUA (Photo by Jorge Bizarro)

Posted by Jorge Bizarro

13 February 2014

GuapiaƧu Grande Vida - a new project with the Petrobras Environmental Program

GuapiaƧu Grande VidaHere at REGUA, our new project - GuapiaƧu Grande Vida - sponsored by the Petrobras Environmental Program, is now well underway. The project aims to strengthen the ecosystem of the upper GuapiaƧu river basin through reforestation and community outreach. Our aim is to plant 100 hectares of previously deforested lowland with native tree species, from saplings grown from seeds collected mostly from the forest on the reserve and germinated in our nursery. This work is generating employment and income for the local community. Moreover, we are working on environmental education with local schools, children and students, providing talks, displays and training courses, as well as workshops for teachers.

Follow our activities and keep up with news on this exciting project Portugues on our dedicated website, and through our dedicated Facebook page: Projeto GuapiaƧu Grande Vida.

Posted by Nathalie Horta and Lee Dingain

12 February 2014

South America's rarest primate sighted at REGUA

On 27 December 2013 Dutch dragonfly enthusiast Tom Kompier decided to hike up the arduous Salinas trail to look for forest damselflies. It had been raining for weeks, but now the weather had cleared and the sun was out. For those that know the trail, about halfway, just before it starts getting really slippery and steep, there is an area with huge boulders and a smallish pond. An area where wood-quails often hang out and a good place for dragonflies too. Getting close to it Tom was getting all psyched up for the dragons and therefore when he heard some crashing noises from the top of the trees, he did not immediately realise what that meant. There, a large light-coloured mammal jumping from one tree to the next, sloth! But a little bit frisky for a sloth, really. Then it dawned on him. Muruquis! The rare Woolly Spider Monkey Brachyteles arachnoides, only occasionally encountered. There were at least four of them, but they did not linger long and also were not keen on having their pictures taken, so only a few record shots were obtained.

Woolly Spider Monkey <i>Brachyteles arachnoides</i>, REGUA, 27 December 2013 (Photo by Tom Kompier)
Woolly Spider Monkey Brachyteles arachnoides, REGUA, 27 December 2013 (Photo by Tom Kompier)

Posted by Tom Kompier

04 January 2014

A rare Orange Kite-swallowtail butterfly shows its wings at REGUA

Some of our spring days can be very hot and it's not surprising that many animals can be seen drinking water. On 9 December, as I looked for the evidence of the Red-billed Curassow chicks that were seen a couple of months ago by a local farmer, I crossed the path with a couple of remarkable swallowtail butterflies. They appeared to be drinking water from a little trickle that crossed the rocky road base from which they drank inbetween hastily fluttering up and down the short section of the road. Often the two butterflies met and with the appearance of being entwined spiralled up into the sky for some 20 feet to then fall apart and resume their road surface drinking.

These are Orange Kite-swallowtails Protographium thyastes and only seen at this time of the year. The caterpillars can be are found on Annonaceae, or the extraordinary custard apple trees as well as Lauraceaetrees. These butterflies are fairly rare and they are characteristic of the low altitude vegetation of the Atlantic Rainforest. Mimicry is common in this species to confuse their predators. It's great that the butterflies indicate the good state of the habitat at REGUA.

Considering their beauty, we certainly hope these butterflies can be seen more regularly at REGUA.

Orange Kite-swallowtail <i>Protographium thyastes</i>, 9 December 2013 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Orange Kite-swallowtail Protographium thyastes, 9 December 2013 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Orange Kite-swallowtail <i>Protographium thyastes</i>, 9 December 2013 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)
Orange Kite-swallowtail Protographium thyastes, 9 December 2013 (Photo by Nicholas Locke)

Posted by Nicholas Locke and Jorge Bizarro

02 January 2014

Brazil Hawkmoths website updated

REGUA supporter Alan Martin has updated the information on the Brazil Hawkmoths website, and also completely redesigned the site. Check it out at www.brazilhawkmoths.com. The website provides a wide range of information about the region's Sphingidae, and includes a very useful identification key and flight times for REGUA. The website compliments Alan's excellent book A Guide to the Hawkmoths of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil, which can be bought from Alan by emailing him at alanjmart@gmail.com.

Posted by Lee Dingain

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