The Cerrado

The Cerrado of Brazil is a biome that is found northeast of the city of Cuiabá and it is distinguished for its open plains, low vegetation and its spare trees. It is home to endemics that would make world bird listers salivate to think of adding to their life lists. It is also home to more plant species diversity than any other savanna in the world. There are about 10,000 species of plants in the Cerrado with more plant families represented than the Amazon!

The star of the show is the often elusive collared crescentchest (Melonopareia torquata). This was our main targets bird and we were going for it on our first full day of birding. This bird can be impossible to detect if it isn’t calling because it’s a first rate sulker in the low bushes of the Cerrado.

We began our hunt on a dirt road that began off of the main two lane highway.

We drove half a mile in and got out and birded the roadside. It’s wasn’t long before our guide, Andrés, heard the call of the crescentchest in the bushes to the right of the road. We trekked in on foot down a dusty culvert. We weren’t far in before we found the source of the call. We spotted not one but two of these highly desirable Brazilian specialties.


This shot of one of the collared crescentchests might have come out okay if it hadn’t been for that pesky piece of vegetation!

Tours like this can seem like simply ticking off birds on your life list without getting quality views. But in this case we a wonderful five minutes with these two Cerrado gems.

Reflecting back, sometimes with high numbers of new birds seen in a biodiverse rich county as Brazil, I am reminded that what lasts in the memory are the quality and not the quantity of sightings that really matters. To see a bird and to see it well in it’s prime habitat, just doing what it does for a living is the best birding experience.

IMG_2416The southern lapwing is a very common bird in South America but getting quality views of this common plover against the rich earth tones of the Cerrado in good, morning light, really shows the beauty of this bird.

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