July 31, 2013: First (very) full day in Rio

Yesterday was a travel day, and we were pretty wiped out by the time we got to Rio. So we went to a microbrewery pub and had beer and burgers, and then sat out on the patio behind our hotel and watched the stars and the ocean. We’re staying at the Arpoador Inn, which is a major coup on Robin’s part — very reasonably priced, and right on the beach; strictly speaking Arpoador beach, but it’s really part of Ipanema. Our room has a gorgeous ocean view, and the beach view isn’t bad either.
Tangara cyanocephala - Red-necked Tanager
Red-necked Tanager: photo by Arthur Grosset

This morning we resolved to do some birding, and we’d planned to meet at the hotel restaurant at 8. I woke up early, and decided to watch the sun rise from the Garota de Ipanema, i.e. the big rock just to the east of our hotel. I looked out the window and the first thing I saw was a life bird, the kelp gull. I then proceeded down to the beach and to the Garota, where I watched the sun come up and also saw a South American Tern.

After breakfast, we walked to the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a saltwater lagoon just inland from the beach. There were Magnificent Frigatebirds and common gallinules, a pied-billed grebe to make us think of home, and then we saw a raptor with white bands in its wings fly into a palm tree. We spent a good bit of time studying the bird. First problem was that there was another raptor in the same tree, which turned out to be a Southern Caracara. We argued a good bit about the first bird, and the appearance of another of the same species didn’t really help much. Finally, we tentatively settled on Yellow-Headed Caracara, though the colors in my book didn’t look right. That’s often the case, and later I checked on the web and we clearly had the right bird.

Our next goal was the Jardim Botanico do Rio Janeiro; Google Maps has it in the wrong place, which didn’t help, but we eventually got there. It’s a beautiful park, with lots of streams and little waterfalls. The orchidarium and the bromeliad house were both closed for renovation, and the hummingbird garden was out of season. Nevertheless, we found some very cool birds, including the Rusty-margined Guan and the Red-Necked Tanager. I’ve included a photo of the tanager (again, not mine — I didn’t bring fancy lenses). It should be called the holy shit tanager, I think, based on what I kept saying while looking at it.

After about 3 hours in the Jardim, we were toast, and we still had to walk back. Thought I was gonna die. We had to stop and have a beer on the beach about a mile from our hotel. I counted up our birds for the day and realized I had 14 lifers total. This, of course, warranted a chicken dance.

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