Birds to the West of Rio de Janeiro

Birds to the West of Rio de Janeiro


Mendacity close to the western border of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro lies the small coastal metropolis of Paraty. It’s surrounded to the north by forest and rugged cliffs, and to the south by the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. I went to this charming metropolis as a part of a journey to see some chicken species I had not seen earlier than, and hopefully get photograph or two. Hopefully.

The Quest

Sure, it’s one other one in every of my quests for birds! This time, I’ve a quantity in thoughts: 700. For weeks, my “life listing” of various chicken species that I’ve photographed has sat at 699. Only one extra new species, and I’ll attain fortunate quantity 700.

Who cares a couple of quantity? Properly, I suppose I do some. However what actually issues is being on the market, being subsequent to a ravishing chicken, and urgent the shutter. Click on, my thoughts goes clean, and I stop to exist.

Bird699_CobaltRumped_Jason_Polak
Hen #699 is the Cobalt-Rumped Parrotlet / Tuim. Nikon Z6 + 500PF @ ISO 640, 1/1000, f/5.6

However this time, I’m nervous. Can I get to 700 species on my journey to Paraty? I feel so. Can I get any good pictures? Now, that’s the query. For one week, I’ll be deep at the hours of darkness rainforest looking for birds, with out utilizing any bird-feeding or call-playback. Each time attainable, I favor to {photograph} birds with a minimal of interference.

For an instantaneous, my thoughts wanders two years again to my journey to Arizona. Immersed within the cacti and the ocotillo with clear views for miles, nice pictures of birds felt assured. However that is the humid rainforest of Brazil, the place a chicken may be proper subsequent to you and also you would possibly by no means understand it – and even in case you see it, the sunshine could also be too low.

Hen Species #700

It’s Sunday, and my spouse and I are on the highway to Paraty. There’s no time for any pondering, besides on the subject of how to not make a incorrect flip and get misplaced within the depths of Brazil, by no means to be discovered once more. And I higher take note of the winding highway that leads down the coast. It’s steeper and extra twisted than something I’ve seen, and it’s received free highway service for the damaged down vehicles that seem each few hundred meters. I higher keep in mind to double-clutch to second on the way in which again.

Paraty_CoastSeaB_Jason_Polak
This time, the vacation spot is the coastal metropolis of Paraty. Nikon Z6 + Nikon 50mm f/1.8G @ 50mm, ISO 100, 1/400, f/10.0

Lastly, we arrive on the first seaside car parking zone. Earlier than I may even take one chunk of a melting protein bar, one thing flies into the tree immediately overhead… the Inexperienced-Backed Trogon! A reasonably pair perches within the tree for a couple of minutes. The background is a bit busy, but it surely’s a worthy #700.

Trogon
Hen #700, the Inexperienced-Backed Trogon. NIKON D500 @ 500mm, ISO 640, 1/50, f/5.6

Then, on the seaside, the sand is crisp and the ocean is gorgeous. Although it’s winter in Brazil, it’s as sizzling as any summer time’s day. I get the sensation of journey, understanding that there are fascinating species able to be discovered.

Of Sand and Forests

The middle of Paraty has a mangrove and a mudflat. Throughout low tide, folks stroll out for tons of of meters into the salty bay. Mix that with free parking earlier than 8 AM and mushy morning mild, and it appears like circumstances are proper for birding.

I’m pondering, certainly there will probably be a couple of shorebirds? However I’m stunned to see Black Vultures proper within the heart of the mudflat. They appear peaceable, they usually’re staring out into the ocean, understanding that they’ll obtain a assured meal from the native trash cans.

The hilly islands within the distance are blue with haze, however I’m loving this haze because it creates the softest, powdery background. I exploit my digicam’s flip-out rear display screen for low pictures. I actually benefit from the look of the Vulture.

Paraty_BlackVulture_Jason_Polak
Black Vulture / urubu-preto. NIKON Z6 + 500PF @ ISO 1600, 1/320, f/5.6

Not far off, I see a couple of shorebirds: Semipalmated Plovers and a pair of Ruddy Turnstones. A lone Magnificent Frigatebird hovers above whereas Kelp Gulls glide throughout the sky and Snowy Egrets are shifting of their frantic manner. These Snowys by no means cease shifting, in contrast to the extra solemn Nice Egret I see that stands in watch, backlit towards the golden waves. No element, no downside!

Paraty_Great_Egret_Jason_Polak
Nice Egret / garça-branca-grande. Nikon Z6 + 500PF @ ISO 100, 1/8000, f/5.6

In comparison with the upcoming rainforest, the sunshine right here is plentiful and easy. I stand on the mudflat, and I’m hit by the solar rising within the distance, so I strive some spur-of-the-moment panorama images.

In contrast to many mountains I’ve seen, I’m intrigued by how briskly the fog and clouds transfer all through the peaks and forests right here. Generally, the scene modifications drastically in a pair seconds, giving infinite variations of shade. I’ve restricted my gear on this journey, so I solely shoot with two focal lengths: 50mm and 500mm on the Z6 and D500. These should do. Lengthy landscapes it’s.

Paraty_Mountains_Jason_Polak
NIKON D500 @ 500mm, ISO 100, 1/640, f/5.6

Later, we drive to the Fazenda Bananal, a neighborhood farm that grows all of the produce used at its restaurant. I made a mistake: It opens at ten, however we’re right here at 9. Regardless of, there’s a abandoned highway that leads into the forest. May there be birds there?

Sure, it’s nice for birds, but it surely’s the darkest forest I’ve ever seen, and I can barely get a shot. As a result of the birds come near the trail, I’m wishing I had a 300mm f/2.8 as a substitute of my 500mm f/5.6! The bananas rising overhead are too excessive to achieve as effectively. Ah, I’m getting hungry. At the very least now it’s time for the Bananal.

Paraty_Robust_Woodpecker_Jason_Polak
The one hope to get a bit extra mild is to attend for a chicken to land a bit greater up. Sturdy Woodpecker / pica-pau-rei. Nikon D500 + 500PF @ ISO 1600, 1/500, f/5.6

After lunch, a boardwalk path leads into the darkish forest. It’s solely barely higher than the highway, with my ISOs climbing to 12,800 despite the fact that the solar is excessive within the sky! But, the birds are daring, coming to the forest edges and even consuming proper subsequent to the trail. I strive some longer shutter speeds to maintain the noise beneath management.

Generally, the forest goes silent, after which in a slight clearing, there’s an explosion of colourful tanagers. Brazil has about twenty species of Tanagers, and most of them are fairly colourful. My thoughts feels saturated and crammed with the calls darting overhead, and my neck is strained. I can’t at all times get them, as they transfer so quick. However even when I miss them, I really like watching them transfer round.

Paraty_GreenHeadedTanager_Jason_Polak
Inexperienced-headed Tanager / saíra-sete-cores, Nikon D500 + 500PF @ ISO 7200, 1/800, f/5.6

Winding Down

The times are passing rapidly, and it’s nearly time to return dwelling. It’s the final time on the path and I’m unsure I received a single good shot immediately, at the least of birds. However now there’s motion to the fitting: it’s a troop of Widespread Marmosets! They’re consuming bananas, and there are one or two carrying a child. The newborn marmoset clings so tight that it’s not at all times straightforward to see.

Paraty_Marmoset_Baby_Jason_Polak
Widespread Marmoset and child / sagui-de-tufo-branco. Nikon D500 + 500PF @ ISO 1400, 1/80, f/5.6

That evening, I look ahead to dinner. Hen images does make me very hungry. As I begin making it, I hear my spouse shout, “seize your digicam!” I don’t hesitate as a result of my spouse has “the attention,” which suggests she has a expertise for recognizing uncommon birds, and this time she’s discovered a Tiger Heron.

It’s Rufescent Tiger Heron, proper? However the place’s the rufous? No, I confirm within the e-book later that it’s a a lot rarer species, the Fasciated Tiger Heron, not seen on this location in over a yr! I’m not pondering of identification, although, as I run down as quietly as I can to {photograph} it perched on a rock. It flies away… however simply to a different rock not far-off! Sure, that’s not unhealthy in any respect.

Paraty_FasciatedHeron_Jason_Polak
Fasciated Tiger-Heron / socó-jararaca. Nikon D500 + 500PF @ ISO 1250, 1/320, f/5.6

The subsequent day, on our manner again, it’s time for one final go to to the seaside – parked on the identical spot the place I noticed the well-known “chicken #700” on my life listing. I lookup on the identical tree to see if one other Trogon is there, however the timber are devoid of birds this time. But I spot one thing on the fringe of the waves, skittering over the sand. It’s the Semipalmated Plover!

I get nearer. It’s laborious to imagine, however the little Plover goes proper as much as the sting of the ocean, working as quick as it could possibly each time the waves are available. Its little legs appear simply sufficient to maintain it solely inches forward of the wave. After the waves recede, it goes proper again and begins the sport once more, working simply forward of the wave. Sure, it is perhaps a technique for in search of meals, but it surely seems so much prefer it’s having a enjoyable, too! What a pleasant strategy to say goodbye.

Paraty_SemipalmatedPlover_Jason_Polak
Semipalmated Plover / batuíra-de-bando. Nikon D500 + 500PF @ ISO 100, 1/4000, f/5.6

Trying Again

Once I get dwelling, it’s lastly time to undergo the images – some from the Z6 and a few from my even older D500, which in all probability will probably be changed fairly quickly, however which has labored flawlessly as typical.

Trying again as I delete most of them, I’m struck by one factor: how surprisingly tough chicken images has been right here. With one of many thickest forests I’ve seen in my life, there have been so many obstacles: branches in the way in which, hardly sufficient mild, mild too harsh, chicken too excessive, chicken too low, and even chicken too shut. But, after some work, I just like the outcomes. I instructed myself earlier than the journey that I’d be pleased with a pair first rate pictures for the week, and I wasn’t dissatisfied.

Once I’m going by means of my outdated pictures, I generally assume chicken images isn’t so laborious. It solely takes one journey out within the area to deliver me again to the actual world. Even so, I can’t anticipate the subsequent one.

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