The early (very early) morning gathering to watch Lear's Macaws leaving their roost near Canudos in North-east Brazil, November 2009.
Some birds really are worth that extra bit of effort. Lear's Macaw Anodorhynchus leari is one of them. I'd seen them before several years ago feeding on Lucuri Palms but when Fred (our local guide) suggested we hike out into the canyons with rangers monitoring the macaws to see them leave the roost I had little doubt that it would be an experience of a lifetime.
Walking along the sandy trails of the Brazilian Caatinga as the sun began to rise was a wonderful, if little taxing experience. As we began our hike up to the plateau we could hear the Lear's Macaws calling as they left their cliff ledge roosts to perch on trees and the odd cactus before deserting the canyon to feed further afield. The total population of Lear's Macaws has recently been estimated at little more than around 250 birds. We may well have seen 50% of the world population on that incredible morning!
Making our way back to the bus we encountered plenty of birds including small groups of these smart Cactus Parakeets (above) and plenty of Blue-crowned Parakeets (below). Caatinga Black-Tyrant, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Blue-fronted Parrots and Lesser Wagtail-Tyrants made the return walk quite easy before heading back to the hotel for a well earned rest with lashings of Brazilain coffee and cake!
It wasn't all parrots though. The capistratus subspecies of Barred Antshrike occurs in North-east Brazil and this male showed very well indeed. This race has orange eyes and the crown is less barred and more black. Maybe the bill is heavier and the bars more crescent-like too?
We left Canudos last weekend and headed to the state of Alagoas and onto Sergipe where I'm writing from at the moment.
More from North-east Brazil soon ........