Birding Rio

Trip Start Nov 07, 2013
Trip End Dec 11, 2013

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Monday, December 9, 2013

About two weeks into the second leg of the cruise, Andrea got the bright idea to check our birding tours in Rio.  She found a private guide, with excellent credentials (he found a bird in Brazil that was thought to be extinct) and emailed him.  He was available and the tour was booked.

Ken and Andrea dragged themselves out of bed very early in the morning to meet the guide (Ricardo Parrini) at 7 a.m.  He had a driver with him and off we went, he was not on Brazilian time.  We drove about 45 minutes, after stopping at a drugstore to get some allergy meds for Ken, with the help of Ricardo.. During this stop, Andrea stayed in the car and watched marmosets (little monkeys) running around the roof of the buildings very cute.  Off we went to Tijuca National Park.  This is the Atlantic Forest and is all within the city limits.  It is huge and pretty wild.  There is ot charge for visiting Tijuca.,  Atlantic Rain Forests contain many bromeliads.  These are plants that live in trees and get their nutrients from the air and the humidity in the air.  Pineapples are a kind of bromeliad.  Believe me, it is humid here.  We began our walk in the forest very slowly as Ricardo listened for bird calls.  You would not be able to spot these birds if you didn't know there calls, the forest is so dense.  He would listen for the calls and sometimes he would see the bird right away.  At other times, he recorded the call and played it back.  The birds would usually come in when they heard the call.  (I know that using recordings to find birds is controversial and perhaps not ethical, but it did work and he was careful about how may times he played the recording)

We walked uphill for three hours,listening stopping and watching.  Unfortunately, Andrea
s camera's limits and her total lack of talent in photography, along with the darkness of the forest, made pictures pretty much impossible.  Many of the birds were extremely small.  It was hard to see their bright colors as much observing was done looking up into the bright sky. but we heard them and these little birds have very loud voices,  The first thing Andrea is going to do when she gets home, is download a south american bird guide and get to know these birds a little better,  This was truly fascinating.  Andrea even saw a rare bird called a Leaf Tosser.  It wandered the forest floor looking for insects.  It was dark brown and Ricardo found it by it's call.  Ken was an truly good sport during all of this.  It was hot and he couldn't see, due to his bad eye but he continued on with us.  He did say all he wanted to see was a Toucan.  While in the forest we did hear Toucans, but did not see them.  In all we saw 22 different birds in the forest.  Andrea's neck really hurt by the time she left the forest, from looking up.  Other things noted in the forest were the beautiful bromeliads.  Ricardo told us that they do not have these to this extent in the Amazon rain forest.  We also saw other flowers and Ken came upon some Army ants that were pretty impressive.

We then drove back through the mountains to a place called the Chinese Viewpoint.  It was indeed beautiful.  The road we were on had been built by the Chinese who had attempted to grow tea on these mountains.  Apparently that didn't work out too well for them,  No tea plants were seen.  However we did see a short tailed hawk.  That was cool.  

 Then on to a lunch stop.  Afer parking the car, we walked down the street.  Andrea saw some birds in cages outside.  Ricardo told her that there is nothing prohibiting the capture of wild birds in Brazil.  One of the birds we saw he said was extinct in the wild.  He seemed pretty disgusted about it.  He told me that they had competition with their birds to see which has the best song.

Lunch was in a sandwich shop, where Andrea had the wierdest hamburger she had ever had.  She didn't particularly like it, but this was a shop where the locals ate and the menu was pretty indecipherable at first and Ricardo's English is fine for birding, but has some limits when talking about day to day things.  After ordering Andrea took a closer look at the menu and was able to figure out some of the Portuguese, relying on her very limited knowledge of Spanish and French.  The seem to like egg sandwiches here and put eggs on hamburgers and in club sandwiches.  We had fresh orange juice that was delicious.

Then we moved on to the Botanical Gardens for more birding and, as it turns out, monkeying,  The Botanical Gardens in Rio are famous and on the list for tourists.  they were very extensive and beautiful. There were also tons of birds that were easier to see than they were in the rain forest.  Andrea say 18 different birds here and Ken saw his Toucan.  It was a Channel Billed Toucan and there is a picture, amazingly enough.  We also saw many marmosets, playing in the trees.  Ricardo said he had never seen them this active at this time of days.  It was a real treat, they are adorable and there is a picture of them also.

So we returned to our hotel exhausted.  Andrea and Ken sat by the pool for a while, and three cute little masked water-tyrants (what a wierd name for these cute little birds) sat right next to them, as if to acknowledge that now Andrea finally knew something about tropical birds.

We then talked to the concierge and got a restaurant reservation a few minutes from the hotel,  It was a seafood Italian restaurant.  It only had 8 tables and it was wonderful.  The server spoke excellent English and made us feel very comfortable and relaxed.  It was a great evening and A & K returned to the hotel exhausted.

Tomorrow we bid farewell to Brazil and this wonderful adventure.  Andrea will try to pull together some final thoughts while waiting in the airport tomorrow evening.  All flights to North America and Europe appear to leave late at night.  Our flight is 10 hours to Atlanta and another couple to Minnesota.  It leaves at 10:45 pm.  Thank God for reasonably priced business class upgrades through Regent and lie flat seats!

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Bonnie on

You just beautifully described how we spend most vacation days. I loved this day and your entire trip.

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