Guyana: The Lost World Tour Report, February 2023

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21 JANUARY – 03 FEBRUARY 2023

By Eduardo Ormaeche

Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo was a mega sighting during this Guyana birding tour (photo Anne Koke).

Overview

Our 2023 Guyana birding tour took us to explore the heart of the neotropics in search of a special and unique set of birds known as the Guianan shield specials, found only in pristine Guianan rainforest. Over the course of 14 days, we birded the remote Guianan forests, from the magnificent Kaeiteur waterfalls to the canopy walkways of Atta Lodge, and the Esquibbo and Rupuni Rivers, finding many great birds along the way. Standout species from this Guyana birding trip included: Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Guianan Red Cotinga, Guianan Trogon, Guianan Puffbird, Guianan Warbling Antbird, Guianan Streaked Antwren, Guianan Toucanet, Red-winged Ground Cuckoo, Red-fan Parrot, Little Chachalaca, Crestless and Black Curassows, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Black Nunbird, Green-tailed Jacamar, Pompadour and Spangled Cotingas, Dusky Purpletuft, Black-headed, Dusky and Caica Parrots, Red-and-green, Blue-and-yellow, Red-bellied, and Red-shouldered Macaws, Spotted Antpitta, Spot-tailed Antwren, White-plumed, and Rufous-throated Antbirds and Crimson Fruitcrow.

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock was seen well.

We went on special expeditions in the Rupuni savannahs of southern Guyana to find two of the holy grails of South American birding: the Endangered Sun Parakeet and Red Siskin,both of which we saw very well. We also saw other great birds such as Bearded Tachuri and Crested Doradito.

This comprehensive birding tour was designed to cover the main birding hotpots in this amazing and seldom-visited country. Guyana is a must-visit South American birding destination, and this tour was custom-made for avid and adventurous birders, willing to travel in remote forests.

Detailed Report

Day 1, 21st January 2023. Arrival in Georgetown and transfer to Cara Lodge

Some of the tour participants arrived in Georgetown a day early, and others arrived late in the evening of the first day. All participants were met by our crew at the airport and transferred to Cara Lodge to get ready for the following morning’s birding activities.

Day 2, 22nd January 2023. Coastal birding and Georgetown botanical gardens

After breakfast we left Cara Lodge and drove towards the coast and Georgetown Waterfront and Kingston Seawall, our first birding stop, and were excited to find the place full of aquatic and coastal bird species. We scanned the mudflats, where we found species such as Grey and Semipalmated Plovers, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Limpkin, and Cocoi, Tricoloured, Striated, and Little Blue Herons. The coast was covered with Neotropical Cormorants, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Laughing Gulls, and a few Common Terns. We were very excited when we saw a flock of Scarlet Ibis flying in front of us and landing on the mudflat which then posed for photos. We also saw Osprey, Turkey and Black Vultures, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Great and Snowy Egrets and Carib Grackle.We then left this site to check some nearby mangrove habitats where we tried for Mangrove Rail, which gave us excellent views. Here, we also saw Snail Kite, and more Scarlet Ibis flying by.

Scarlet Ibises along the coast at Georgetown (photo Sherry Rhodes).

We continued exploring the coast at Georgetown and at BV Seawall where we found our second big target of the morning, the localized Rufous Crab Hawk, and enjoyed excellent scope views. While birding nearby we got great views of Long-winged Harrier and Zone-tailed Hawk. We also had views of Spotted Sandpiper, Southern Lapwing, and other birds, including Brown-throated Parakeet, Grey-breasted Martin, and Yellow Oriole.From here, we continued our adventure in the form of a boat trip on the Mahaica River where one of the targets was the widespread Hoatzin (Guyana’s national bird), which we saw quite well. Additionally, we managed to see Pale-vented Pigeon, Amazon, Green, and Ringed Kingfishers, and the diminutive and most-wanted American Pygmy Kingfisher.

We saw this American Pygmy Kingfisher along the Mahaica River (photo Vernon Campos).

Raptors seen included Laughing Falcon, Great Black Hawk, Snail Kite, Savanna Hawk, Yellow-headed Caracara, Turkey Vulture, and our first Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture of the trip. These were followed by our first Green-tailed Jacamar, the skulking Silvered Antbird, and the handsome Black-capped Donacobius. Other exciting birds seen here included: Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Great and Lesser Kiskadees, Orange-winged Amazon, Red-shouldered Macaw, Brown-throated Parakeet, our first of many Fork-tailed Flycatchers, White-winged Swallow, Blue-black Grassquit, Blue-grey and Palm Tanagers, Yellow Oriole, Carib Grackle, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, as well as a few Wood Storks.We arrived at a local house, where we enjoyed lunch – a tasty and interesting Guyanese cuisine which is more influenced by Indian-Asian food than the rest of Latin America. From the veranda we saw Long-winged Harrier, Little Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, and Fork-tailed Palm Swift (which, until recently, was known as Neotropical Palm Swift by several authorities).

We left the Mahaica River and set off towards the Georgetown Botanical Gardens and on the way we saw Red-breasted Blackbird. The botanical gardens were fairly crowded with locals relaxing over the weekend, but the birding was nevertheless good. We saw Toco Toucan, Red-shouldered Macaw, Cayenne Jay, Violaceous Euphonia, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Southern Mealy, Orange-winged and Yellow-crowned Amazons, Lineated Woodpecker, Silver-beaked Tanager, Wing-barred Seedeater, Tropical Mockingbird, and Grey Kingbird. The water ponds provided Yellow-chinned Spinetail, walking on the floating vegetation, and the cute Pied Water Tyrant.We also had brilliant views of our two major targets here, White-bellied Piculet and Blood-colored Woodpecker.

After an intense day we returned to the lodge, ate supper, and had a good night’s sleep, in anticipation of our next day’s adventure.

Day 3, 23rd January 2023. Flight to Kaieteur Falls Park and then to Surama Lodge

After breakfast we transferred to the domestic airport to catch our scheduled charter flight to the Kaieteur Falls. Sadly, take-off from the airport was delayed for hours by bad weather at the falls. It felt like an eternity had passed and I was thinking that we would not be able to fly to the falls at all, but would have to fly straight to Surama Lodge. However, at the last moment they called us to board the small aircraft (with room for six people) and we took off. It was a bumpy flight but we made it safely to the falls. These underrated falls are a true jewel and a definite wonder of nature, being surrounded by pristine rainforest. The weather was perfect but our time was extremely limited, due to our flight delay. After our arrival in the park we went straight to the falls to see the spectacular views and, of course, to look for Orange-breasted Falcon – which sadly we did not find, no matter how hard we tried. We did however find Golden Rocket Frog,a tinyyellow tree frog which lives within the giant bromeliads. This species is Endangered and endemic to only the Kaieteur plateau and the inaccessible highlands of Guyana.

After some time here, we then focused on our main target, the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, and were able to find several males displaying at the usual lek site. Additionally, we had good views of Cliff Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Tropical Kingbird and Burnished-buff Tanager.

With our time at Kaieteur Falls running out, we boarded our plane and flew towards Surama Lodge. This flight went much more smoothly than before and we arrived without any delays or inconvenience. We were met at the airfield by the lodge staff, and transferred to Surama Lodge. This is a basic lodge located on the lands of the Surama Amerindian community, and famous for offering chances of seeing the legendary Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo, and often-active Harpy Eagle nests. We were scheduled to spend two full days here to see as much as we could.

Day 4, 24th January 2023. Surama Lodge birding

We had a predawn start with breakfast and explored the grasslands and forest edge around the lodge and then explored the lodge area itself. We got the usual and expected birds, such as Yellow-rumped Cacique, Piratic Flycatcher, Vermilion and Short-crested Flycatchers, Epaulet Oriole, Great Kiskadee, and Blue-grey and Palm Tanagers. We had Black and Greater Yellow-headed Vultures soaring above the clearing, and enjoyed scope views of Scaled Pigeon and Black-tailed Tityra. We heard the calls of Little Tinamou in the distance but unfortunately, we were not able to obtain any visuals.

We approached the forest edge and got good views of the skulking White-bellied Antbird, and had awesome views of Cream-colored Woodpecker, in response to tape. On the forest trails we saw magic bird after magic bird including Green-backed Trogon, Guianan Puffbird, White-throated Toucan, Red-necked and Ringed Woodpeckers, Black-crested Antshrike, Rufous-bellied, White-flanked and Long-winged Antwrens, Plain-brown, Cinnamon-throated and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, Helmeted Pygmy Tyrant, White-crowned and Golden-headed Manakins, Ochre-lored Flatbill, Spix’s Guan, Little Chachalaca (also called Variable Chachalaca by other authorities), Red-and-green Macaw, and had flyby views of Caica Parrots which sadly did not perch for us. The name Caica comes from the Carib (Haitian) Indian word “caica”, which means “parrot”. In the forest we spotted a Double-toothed Kite, and one of the specials of Guyana, Black-faced Hawk, was seen well.

Black-faced Hawk was amazing to see.

The absolute highlight of the day came near the end of the trail. Even though there were no army-ant swarms, we tried for the elusive and seldom-seen Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo – and before long, we heard the characteristic bill snapping, approaching us from the bush. We held our breaths, motionless, and suddenly, not one, but two, Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoos crossed the trail in front of us twice, giving us all kinds of views (unreal, awesome, amazing, “oh my gosh”, breathtaking, heart-stopping, out of this world views). We could not have been more satisfied and content. On the way back to the lodge for lunch and a short break, we found two Blackish Nightjars at their daytime roosts.

In the afternoon we birded the clearing and the road, where we saw Blue-black Grassquit, Wing-barred and Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Finsch’s Euphonia, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Swallow-winged Puffbird, Savanna Hawk, Green-tailed Goldenthroat, White-collared and Band-rumped Swifts, and White-tipped Dove. We tried for Ash-throated Crake and went to look for a daytime roosting Great Potoo. Before dusk we saw Lesser Nighthawk, and after dusk we looked for Tawny-bellied Screech Owl, which came in and gave us good views. Back at the lodge we got excellent views of Pauraque, White-tailed Nightjar and Short-tailed Nighthawk. Crested Owl was heard but only distantly.

Day 5, 25th January 2023. Transfer to Iwokrama Lodge

Today we left Surama Lodge and drove along the Atta Road to Iwokrama Lodge, where we were scheduled to stay for two nights. The morning started with great sightings in the fruiting trees along the road of Blue-throated Piping Guan. IOC has recently split this species into two species, with Blue-throated Piping Guan (Pipile cumanensis) occurring from eastern Colombia to the Guianas, western Brazil and Peru, and White-throated Piping Guan(Pipile grayi), a new species, occurring from southwestern Brazil, southeastern Peru, eastern Bolivia, and northeastern Paraguay. The split is based on differences in plumage, the color and shape of the wattle, and limited hybridization in zones of contact in south-eastern Peru. In the same tree, we had Little Chachalaca and Spix’s Guan, followed by Green-backed Trogon and White-throated Toucan. We further scored with some specials in the form of Black Nunbird, Black-spotted Barbet, Green Aracari, Guianan Toucanet, and Green-tailed Jacamar.Another fruiting treegave us brilliant scope views of Pompadour Cotinga (male), together with Spangled Cotinga (male), both in the same frame. As if that was not enough, the cotingas flew away and the tree received a visit from a Black-necked Aracari and Channel-billed Toucan.Suddenly, our attention was captured by a couple of the most-wanted Red-fan Parrots, which showed well in the scope. Then Red-throated Caracara showed up and perched on a dead tree, making their typical cacophony – one of our tour participants was particularly happy to see this forest caracara! We added the usual suspects, such as Blue-grey, Silver-beaked and Palm Tanagers, Crested Oropendola, and a Black-crowned Tityra.

Next, we continued our drive and found a Bat Falcon and then spotted a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle flying above the forest. Other raptors seen during the heat of the day included the attractive Pearl Kite, Roadside Hawk, Great Black Hawk, and the always-nice-to-see Swallow-tailed Kite. While we were watching these raptors, our driver called us from a distance, where he was with the parked vehicle, but we were too late to see the only Marail Guan of the trip.

We continued driving and then the vehicle broke down which had something to do with the oil filter, so we were forced to wait while the driver fixed the problem. It took some time during the heat of the day, but fortunately we got nice views of King Vulture flying on the thermals, while we waited. After fixing the problem, we continued to Iwokrama Lodge. Our driver then dropped us there and drove back to Georgetown to take proper care of the vehicle. He would come back for us two days later, which was fine because we had planned to explore the tropical lowlands of Iwokrama by foot and boat during the next two days.

In the afternoon we checked the lodge surroundings and took a boat to explore the Essequibo River. We found species like Chestnut-bellied Seedeater, Pied Plover, Neotropic Cormorant, Snail Kite, Amazon and Ringed Kingfishers, White-winged Swallow, Red-capped Cardinal, Muscovy Duck, Large-billed Tern, and Cocoi and Capped Herons. Two good new species were Ladder-tailed Nightjar and Black-collared Swallow.

Day 6, 26th January 2023. Iwokrama Lodge birding

Today we planned to leave the lodge after breakfast to explore the lower and mid sections of the Turtle Mountain, hoping for the localized Red-and-black Grosbeakand other special birds found in the Guianan rainforest. We took two boats to the base of the trail, and during the river trip over we saw some of the species seen the previous days, such as Black-collared Swallow, Osprey, Pale-vented Pigeon, Large-billed Tern, and Wood Stork. One of our boats managed a glimpse of Brazilian Tapir coming out of the water and disappearing into the bush. We started our birding with good views of the secretive Spotted Antpitta. After this sighting we walked up the trail, getting birds like Black Nunbird, Black-necked Aracari, White-throated and Channel-billed Toucans, Purple-throated Fruiteater, White-throated Manakin, and Yellow-billed Jacamar. The calls of Screaming Pihas were loud, and we managed to get scope views of one individual, followed by views of Long-tailed, Plain-brown, Wedge-billed, and Buff-throated Woodcreepers. Then, after some hard work, we managed good views of the secretive Rufous-capped Antthrush which initially played hide-and-seek with us before finally giving itself up. We also had enjoyable encounters with Mouse-colored Antshrike, and Long-winged, Grey, and White-flanked Antwrens. There was no sign of the Red-and-black Grosbeak, and we did not venture higher up even though the trail was not very demanding. Before heading down we got a nice Great Jacamar and found a small army-ant swarm which provided Common Scale-backed Antbird, the stunning White-plumed Antbird,and the special Rufous-throated Antbird.

In the afternoon we crossed the river and explored a road which harbored some white-sand forest specials. We managed good views of Cinnamon Attila, Turquoise Tanager, Red-fan Parrot, Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Black Caracara, and a Paradise Jacamar. We tried for Black Manakin, which we heard, but it did not show for us. We then had Blue Dacnis, Red-rumped Cacique, Lineated Woodpecker, and a lovely Bronzy Jacamar. Before the end of the afternoon we saw a flock of the most-wanted Lilac-tailed Parrotlet. This attractive parrot flew in front of us and then perched in a tree top against the sun, where we could not find any angle for a better view. Unfortunately, we could not see any features, and had to settle with just the right shape and call, and silhouettes of them flying.

Day 7, 27th January 2023. Capuchinbird and transfer to Atta Lodge

Our last morning at Iwokrama Lodge came and we went to look for the most-wanted Capuchinbird. We were in a hurry and thus did not stop along the trail to look for other birds, since this was the major target, and the most reliable place to see it. We had a glimpse of Great Tinamou crossing the trail in front of us, and we heard the calls of Cinereous Tinamou. We noticed Black-necked Aracari on our way to our target bird’s territory. It took time and some effort, but the entire group was eventually very satisfied with the good scope views of Capuchinbird in the subcanopy at Iwokrama.

We returned to the lodge, had breakfast, and found our driver, who had come back with a fully fixed vehicle. We said goodbye to Iwokrama and the amazing two days spent here. We wanted to stay longer but there were new hunting grounds ahead of us – the famous and exciting forest at Atta Lodge.

The most-wanted Capuchinbird, seen on our Guyana birding tour.

We arrived at Atta Lodge in the mid-morning when activity was slow, and after our welcome, we checked into our rooms and then met in the lodge clearing. The first bird we noticed was Grey-breasted Sabrewing coming to the lodge feeder. Hummingbird feeders in the Guianan and Amazon rainforest are less active, with less species diversity, compared to the busy feeders made famous in other parts of the neotropics. Our driver called us when he got a tip from another driver about a large Green Anaconda laying in the marshy grasses on the side of the road. We of course jumped into the vehicle and soon found the fine specimen of this mythical animal and a lifer for all tour participants.

We then birded the whole afternoon, finding birds like Black-faced Hawk, near the lodge clearing, as well as Black-spotted Barbet, Black Nunbird, Green and Black-necked Aracaris, Guianan Toucanet, White-throated and Channel-billed Toucanets, Golden-collared Woodpecker, Blue-cheeked Parrot, Spangled Cotinga, Green Oropendola, and Little Chachalaca. Further along the road we found Bronzy Jacamar, Black Manakin, Bat Falcon, Blue-headed Parrot, and Cinnamon-throated and Buff-throated Woodcreepers. We waited until dusk and called White-winged Potoo,which came in and showed nicely for us. This isone of the hardest potoos to findand Atta is always a good place to see it. We also tried for Black-banded Owl,which showed up well. It kept relatively high up in the trees and not as close as the photographers would have liked, but the sighting was great. We happily went to bed in anticipation of another busy and full day to come.

  The huge Green Anaconda seen along the Atta Road.

Day 8, 28th January 2023. Birding the canopy walkway and Atta Lodge

Our mission for the morning was to bird from the canopy walkway, trying to get the best views possible of the many forest canopy dwellers. We walked the trail up to the base of the tower and started looking for birds. The first new bird for the trip, and a big site target, was the Guianan Trogon. We also saw Red-and-green Macaw, the localized Spot-tailed Antwren, a second Pompadour Cotinga,andanother Spangled Cotinga. These were followed by Black-crowned Tityra, Blue Dacnis, Purple Honeycreeper, White-shouldered Tanager, Swallow-tailed and Plumbeous Kites, and Red-necked Woodpecker. The activity slowed as it got hot, so we walked down the canopy walkway back to the lodge. Then we explored the trails and forest clearings for the remainder of the morning, adding species like Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Helmeted Pygmy Tyrant, Guianan Warbling Antbird, Black-chinned, Common Scale-backed, Rufous-throated, and White-plumed Antbirds, and the splendid Guianan Red Cotinga. Of course, the star of the understory species today was the Ferruginous-backed Antbird which gave us a terrific show on the forest floor. Together with the antbirds, we had Brown-bellied Stipplethroat, Dusky-throated and Cinereous Antshrikes, and White-flanked and Long-winged Antwrens.

Later we managed to feast our eyes on Grey-winged Trumpeter,one of the most-wanted neotropical families. It was good not only to see this bird but also to be able to witness some of its behaviour. We had a couple of encounters with this species during our days at Atta Lodge, which seems to be the best place in the world to find this bird. It is one of only three trumpeters worldwide and therefore of particular importance for bird family collectors.

After lunch we found a diminutive and splendid Dusky Purpletuft around the lodge clearing and enjoyed prolonged views. The afternoon brought some great species, as we birded around the clearing and along the main road. We started with good views of Amazonian Pygmy Owl around the lodge clearing, followed by Spotted Puffbird off from the main road. Others birds included species such as Crane Hawk, King Vulture, Black-headed Parrot, White Hawk, Saffron-crested Tyrant-Manakin, Yellow-throated Flycatcher, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Dusky Parrot, Waved Woodpecker, Painted Parakeet, Bay-headed Tanager, and Black Curassow. We were informed during our stay at Atta that unfortunately the Rufous Potoo perch had not been found again after the previous tree fell during a storm and that new sites had not yet been discovered by the local guides. During our two days at Atta we took every opportunity to look for the Crimson Topaz on the black water streams by the river, but no matter how hard we tried, we could not find it. The lodge clearing gave us the only Crimson Fruitcrow of the whole trip, but sadly not everyone saw it, although some of the group managed exquisite scope views of this most-wanted and range-restricted species.

Day 9, 29th January 2023. Transfer to Rock View

We continued birding and had our last attempts at Crimson Topaz, without success, although we did see our first Red-rumped Agouti of the trip around Atta Lodge. We left the lodge after getting the usual species and headed towards our next port of call, a family place called Rock View, strategically located as a base from which to explore the Rupuni River and nearby savannas. We wondered how much the birding in this amazing forest would improve once the roadworks near Atta are finished. After arriving at Rock View and being cordially welcomed by the family host, we birded the grasslands near the lodge. It was obvious that we were in a different ecosystem, out of the lush forest and into the hot and dry savannas, with the smells of recent fires in the lodge vicinity hanging in the air.

The birding in the afternoon provided Ruddy Ground Dove, Buff-necked Ibis, Pale-breasted Thrush, Grassland Yellow Finch, and Glittering-throated Emerald. Crested Bobwhite were only flushed but we had good enough views to include on our list, and we had great views of Aplomado Falcon.

Day 10, 30th January 2023. Rupununi River and Rock View

This exciting day started with a second boat trip to explore the famous Rupununi River, where we saw some classic aquatic species, already seen on the trip. Some of the highlights of the cruise included Anhinga, Large-billed Tern, Muscovy Duck, Wood Stork, Limpkin, Jabiru, Boat-billed Heron, and Osprey. We also saw Pale-vented Pigeon, American Yellow Warbler, Ringed, Amazon and Green Kingfishers, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, and Southern Rough-winged Swallow. Of course, our most important target, and the reason we were here, was the scarce and shy Crestless Curassow which we managed super views ofon the river banks. Sadly, we did not see Giant (River) Otters this time. We took a short walk along a trail near the river and found Black-crested Antshrike, Green-backed Trogon, and Amazonian Black Tyrant, which is a rare bird in Guyana and was a lifer for our local guide, who has been birding in the country for years.

In the afternoon we birded some grassland and wetlands near Rock View, where we added Azure Gallinule, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Wattled Jacana, White-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Brown-throated Parakeet, and Red-and-green Macaw. Scanning the palm trees, we were able to find the smaller Red-bellied Macaw, which completed our set of all the possible macaw species on this trip. In addition, we saw Yellow-chinned Spinetail, White-naped Xenopsaris, Bicolored Wren, Red-breasted Blackbird, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Tropical Kingbird, and Northern Mouse-colored Tyrannulet (Nesotriccus incomtus), a new split from Southern Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, before returning to Rock View for a good night’s rest.

One of the main targets for the trip was Sun Parakeet.

Day 11, 31st January 2023. Sun Parakeet and transfer to Manari Ranch

We left Rock View before dawn to drive to Karasabai, near the border with Brazil, to search for one of the most-wanted psittacids in the neotropics, Sun Parakeet. This species is Endangered and numbers are declining due to many years of habitat loss and the pet trade – it is a sad fact that there are now more individuals living in cages around the world than in their natural habitat. It is only found in southern Guyana, the adjacent state of Roraima, in northern Brazil, and small portions of Suriname and French Guyana. We went directly to their feeding site in Guyana before they cross the river into Brazil to roost. We arrived and, with the help of local contacts, we searched the area until we saw our first Sun Parakeet. Bingo! I made sure everyone had seen the bird well, before trying to approach for better views and to take photos.

With one of the two main targets for the second part of the trip successfully ticked, we were a lot more relaxed. While birding the area, we also saw species such as White-tailed Hawk, Buff-necked Ibis, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Crested Caracara, Crested Bobwhite, Glittering-throated Hummingbird, Southern White-fringed Antwren, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant, Plumbeous Seedeater, and Long-billed Starthroat.

After a successful morning, we started driving to Manari Ranch, which was to be our base for the next couple of days. On the way to Manari Ranch we made stops to look for some special grassland species, and we were lucky to find all our targets, including Double-striped Thick-knee, Pinnated Bittern, Crested Doradito and the most-wanted Bearded Tachuri. We all had great views of these species before we arrived at our lodge and settled down for a good rest.

Day 12, 1st February 2023. Red Siskin

Another predawn start, but this time we split the group into two 4×4 vehicles to deal with the bad roads on the way to the Red Siskin habitat. The search for this special bird required a full morning, including a long drive with not many new birds to be seen. This bird has great ornithological importance. It is native to northern Colombia, northern Venezuela, and Guyana, and considered an Endangered species (Critically Endangered in Venezuela). It is extinct in Trinidad and there are no recent records of a small population in the extreme northeast of Colombia, with the population in Guyana discovered in the early 2000s. The world population is believed to range between 600-2,500 pairs. The main reasons for its decline, like the Sun Parakeet, is the pet trade and habitat loss. Fortunately, the population in southern Guyana seems to be doing well and is benefitting from research by enthusiastic volunteers from local communities. They are also playing a role in the conservation of the species by developing ecotourism in the area. With the help of Leeroy, the best-known of the Red Siskin trackers and head of his community conservation program, we explored the dry foothills in search of this avian gem.

Red Siskin was a success on our Guyana birding tour (photo John Christian).

It took longer than usual but we managed to get a view of a single Red Siskin – not the best view but certainly enough to count. Leeroy went to check a further area while we waited, hoping that the bird we saw would come back to its usual roosting tree or drink from a small freshwater spring. Finally Leeroy called us and we had good views of a much closer bird. We had done it! We stopped in Leeroy’s village for lunch at his house and then continued the trip towards Manari Ranch.

Day 13, 2nd February 2023. Ireng River forest and flight back to Georgetown

We made a final predawn start to explore some gallery forest adjacent to the Ireng River in southern Guyana. This place is good for two Critically Endangered species, Rio Branco Antbird (named after the southwest Brazilian state of Rio Branco) and the Hoary-throated Spinetail, both found only in Guyana and Brazil. We were drivingacross nice unbroken savanna habitat at dawn when suddenly one of our vehicles stopped to point out a Giant Anteater on its early morning walk in the grasslands. We normally see this amazing animal on our Brazil and Paraguay birding tours, and sometimes in Colombia as well, but it was nice to see it for the first time in Guyana.

We arrived at our target species’ habitat and quickly found Rio Branco Antbird.Unfortunately, the spinetailwas not responding, and no matter how hard and how many times we tried, using different strategies, it always got away from us. We all heard it, and only I and a local guide, venturing through the tangled branches and vines and getting down on the floor, managed to get a full view of a single Hoary-throated Spinetail. It was busy with its own agenda and did not care about us. One of the participants caught a glimpse, but nobody else managed to see the whole bird. During our search, we added some additional new species, such as Buff-breasted Wren, Pale-legged Hornero, Orange-backed Troupial, Short-tailed Pygmy Tyrant (one of the smallest passerines in the world), Chestnut-vented Conebill and Chivi Vireo.

On the way back to Manari Lodge, we managed to find Burrowing Owl, Yellowish Pipit, Grassland Sparrow and a Maguari Stork, amongst the other usual suspects. We transferred to Letham airport, where we said goodbye to our marvellous land crew, and then waited for our flight which was, once again, delayed.

We arrived in Georgetown and took the hour-long drive back to Cara Lodge, where we said our farewells. We each got our own supper, because everyone had different international flights scheduled for that day or very early the next day.

Although there were no large cats nor Harpy Eagle seen this time, this trip stands out as one of our greatest South American adventures. The experience of the Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo will surely remain in our memories for a very long time.

Day 14, 3rd February 2023. Transfer to the airport and international flight home

The participants who had not left the previous night transferred to the airport early this morning to catch their international flights home which ended a fabulous 14 days in Guyana.

Common NameScientific Name
Tinamous (Tinamidae)
Great TinamouTinamus major
Cinereous Tinamou (H)Crypturellus cinereus
Little Tinamou (H)Crypturellus soui
  
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
Muscovy DuckCairina moschata
  
Chachalacas, Curassows, Guans (Cracidae)
Little ChachalacaOrtalis motmot
Spix’s GuanPenelope jacquacu
Blue-throated Piping GuanPipile cumanensis
Crestless CurassowMitu tomentosum
Black Curassow – VUCrax alector
  
New World Quail (Odontophoridae)
Crested BobwhiteColinus cristatus
  
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Least NighthawkChordeiles pusillus
Lesser NighthawkChordeiles acutipennis
Short-tailed NighthawkLurocalis semitorquatus
Blackish NightjarNyctipolus nigrescens
PauraqueNyctidromus albicollis
White-tailed NightjarHydropsalis cayennensis
Ladder-tailed NightjarHydropsalis climacocerca
  
Potoos (Nyctibiidae)
Great PotooNyctibius grandis
White-winged PotooNyctibius leucopterus
  
Swifts (Apodidae)
White-collared SwiftStreptoprocne zonaris
Band-rumped SwiftChaetura spinicaudus
Neotropical Palm SwiftTachornis squamata
  
Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)
White-necked JacobinFlorisuga mellivora
Reddish HermitPhaethornis ruber
Black-eared FairyHeliothryx auritus
Green-tailed GoldenthroatPolytmus theresiae
Long-billed StarthroatHeliomaster longirostris
Grey-breasted SabrewingCampylopterus largipennis
Glittering-throated EmeraldChionomesa fimbriata
  
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Greater AniCrotophaga major
Smooth-billed AniCrotophaga ani
Rufous-winged Ground CuckooNeomorphus rufipennis
Little CuckooCoccycua minuta
  
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Dove (Introduced)Columba livia
Scaled PigeonPatagioenas speciosa
Pale-vented PigeonPatagioenas cayennensis
Ruddy Pigeon – VUPatagioenas subvinacea
Common Ground DoveColumbina passerina
Plain-breasted Ground DoveColumbina minuta
Ruddy Ground DoveColumbina talpacoti
White-tipped DoveLeptotila verreauxi
Eared DoveZenaida auriculata
  
Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
Ash-throated CrakeMustelirallus albicollis
Mangrove RailRallus longirostris
Azure GallinulePorphyrio flavirostris
Grey-breasted Crake (H)Laterallus exilis
  
Trumpeters (Psophiidae)
Grey-winged TrumpeterPsophia crepitans
  
Limpkin (Aramidae)
LimpkinAramus guarauna
  
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)
Double-striped Thick-kneeBurhinus bistriatus
  
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Southern LapwingVanellus chilensis
Grey PloverPluvialis squatarola
Semipalmated PloverCharadrius semipalmatus
Pied PloverHoploxypterus cayanus
  
Jacanas (Jacanidae)
Wattled JacanaJacana jacana
  
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Hudsonian WhimbrelNumenius hudsonicus
Semipalmated SandpiperCalidris pusilla
Spotted SandpiperActitis macularius
Solitary SandpiperTringa solitaria
Greater YellowlegsTringa melanoleuca
  
Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
Laughing GullLeucophaeus atricilla
Common TernSterna hirundo
Large-billed TernPhaetusa simplex
  
Storks (Ciconiidae)
Wood StorkMycteria americana
Maguari StorkCiconia maguari
JabiruJabiru mycteria
  
Frigatebirds (Fregatidae)
Magnificent FrigatebirdFregata magnificens
  
Anhingas, Darters (Anhingidae)
AnhingaAnhinga anhinga
  
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Neotropic CormorantNannopterum brasilianum
  
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)
Buff-necked IbisTheristicus caudatus
Green IbisMesembrinibis cayennensis
Scarlet IbisEudocimus ruber
Roseate SpoonbillPlatalea ajaja
  
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Boat-billed HeronCochlearius cochlearius
Pinnated BitternBotaurus pinnatus
Yellow-crowned Night HeronNyctanassa violacea
Striated HeronButorides striata
Western Cattle EgretBubulcus ibis
Cocoi HeronArdea cocoi
Great EgretArdea alba
Tricolored HeronEgretta tricolor
Little Blue HeronEgretta caerulea
Snowy EgretEgretta thula
  
Hoatzin (Opisthocomidae)
HoatzinOpisthocomus hoazin
  
New World Vultures (Cathartidae)
King VultureSarcoramphus papa
Black VultureCoragyps atratus
Turkey VultureCathartes aura
Lesser Yellow-headed VultureCathartes burrovianus
Greater Yellow-headed VultureCathartes melambrotus
  
Ospreys (Pandionidae)
Western OspreyPandion haliaetus
  
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Pearl KiteGampsonyx swainsonii
Swallow-tailed KiteElanoides forficatus
Black-and-white Hawk-EagleSpizaetus melanoleucus
Double-toothed KiteHarpagus bidentatus
Long-winged HarrierCircus buffoni
Plumbeous KiteIctinia plumbea
Black-collared HawkBusarellus nigricollis
Snail KiteRostrhamus sociabilis
Crane HawkGeranospiza caerulescens
Rufous Crab HawkButeogallus aequinoctialis
Savanna HawkButeogallus meridionalis
Great Black HawkButeogallus urubitinga
Roadside HawkRupornis magnirostris
White-tailed HawkGeranoaetus albicaudatus
White HawkPseudastur albicollis
Black-faced HawkLeucopternis melanops
Grey-lined HawkButeo nitidus
Zone-tailed HawkButeo albonotatus
  
Owls (Strigidae)
Burrowing OwlAthene cunicularia
Amazonian Pygmy OwlGlaucidium hardyi
Ferruginous Pygmy OwlGlaucidium brasilianum
Tropical Screech OwlMegascops choliba
Tawny-bellied Screech OwlMegascops watsonii
Crested OwlLophostrix cristata
Black-banded OwlStrix huhula
  
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Green-backed TrogonTrogon viridis
Guianan TrogonTrogon violaceus
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Amazon KingfisherChloroceryle amazona
American Pygmy KingfisherChloroceryle aenea
Green KingfisherChloroceryle americana
Ringed KingfisherMegaceryle torquata
  
Jacamars (Galbulidae)
Yellow-billed JacamarGalbula albirostris
Rufous-tailed JacamarGalbula ruficauda
Green-tailed JacamarGalbula galbula
Bronzy JacamarGalbula leucogastra
Paradise JacamarGalbula dea
Great JacamarJacamerops aureus
  
Puffbirds (Bucconidae)
Guianan PuffbirdNotharchus macrorhynchos
Spotted PuffbirdBucco tamatia
Black NunbirdMonasa atra
Swallow-winged PuffbirdChelidoptera tenebrosa
  
New World Barbets (Capitonidae)
Black-spotted BarbetCapito niger
  
Toucans (Ramphastidae)
Green AracariPteroglossus viridis
Black-necked AracariPteroglossus aracari
Guianan ToucanetSelenidera piperivora
Channel-billed Toucan – VURamphastos vitellinus
Toco ToucanRamphastos toco
White-throated ToucanRamphastos tucanus
  
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
White-bellied Piculet – VUPicumnus spilogaster
Yellow-tufted WoodpeckerMelanerpes cruentatus
Blood-colored WoodpeckerVeniliornis sanguineus
Golden-collared WoodpeckerVeniliornis cassini
Waved WoodpeckerCeleus undatus
Cream-colored WoodpeckerCeleus flavus
Ringed WoodpeckerCeleus torquatus
Lineated WoodpeckerDryocopus lineatus
Red-necked WoodpeckerCampephilus rubricollis
Crimson-crested WoodpeckerCampephilus melanoleucos
  
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Black CaracaraDaptrius ater
Red-throated CaracaraIbycter americanus
Crested CaracaraCaracara plancus
Yellow-headed CaracaraMilvago chimachima
Laughing FalconHerpetotheres cachinnans
Barred Forest Falcon (H)Micrastur ruficollis
Lined Forest Falcon (H)Micrastur gilvicollis
Aplomado FalconFalco femoralis
Bat FalconFalco rufigularis
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus
  
African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)
Lilac-tailed ParrotletTouit batavicus
Caica ParrotPyrilia caica
Dusky ParrotPionus fuscus
Blue-headed ParrotPionus menstruus
Blue-cheeked AmazonAmazona dufresniana
Southern Mealy AmazonAmazona farinosa
Orange-winged AmazonAmazona amazonica
Green-rumped ParrotletForpus passerinus
Black-headed ParrotPionites melanocephalus
Red-fan ParrotDeroptyus accipitrinus
Painted ParakeetPyrrhura picta
Brown-throated ParakeetEupsittula pertinax
Sun Parakeet – ENAratinga solstitialis
Red-bellied MacawOrthopsittaca manilatus
Blue-and-yellow MacawAra ararauna
Red-and-green MacawAra chloropterus
Red-shouldered MacawDiopsittaca nobilis
  
Ovenbirds (Furnariidae)
Long-tailed WoodcreeperDeconychura longicauda
Plain-brown WoodcreeperDendrocincla fuliginosa
Wedge-billed WoodcreeperGlyphorynchus spirurus
Cinnamon-throated WoodcreeperDendrexetastes rufigula
Buff-throated WoodcreeperXiphorhynchus guttatus
Straight-billed WoodcreeperDendroplex picus
Plain XenopsXenops minutus
Pale-legged HorneroFurnarius leucopus
Yellow-chinned SpinetailCerthiaxis cinnamomeus
Hoary-throated Spinetail – CRSynallaxis kollari
  
Antbirds (Thamnophilidae)
Brown-bellied StipplethroatEpinecrophylla gutturalis
Guianan Streaked AntwrenMyrmotherula surinamensis
White-flanked AntwrenMyrmotherula axillaris
Long-winged AntwrenMyrmotherula longipennis
Grey AntwrenMyrmotherula menetriesii
Southern White-fringed AntwrenFormicivora grisea
Rufous-bellied AntwrenIsleria guttata
Dusky-throated Antshrike (H)Thamnomanes ardesiacus
Cinereous AntshrikeThamnomanes caesius
Spot-tailed AntwrenHerpsilochmus sticturus
Northern Mouse-colored AntshrikeThamnophilus incomtus
Northern Slaty AntshrikeThamnophilus punctatus
Black-crested AntshrikeSakesphorus canadensis
White-plumed AntbirdPithys albifrons
Rufous-throated AntbirdGymnopithys rufigula
Common Scale-backed AntbirdWillisornis poecilinotus
Guianan Warbling AntbirdHypocnemis cantator
Rio Branco Antbird – CRCercomacra carbonaria
Ferruginous-backed AntbirdMyrmoderus ferrugineus
Black-chinned AntbirdHypocnemoides melanopogon
Silvered AntbirdSclateria naevia
White-bellied AntbirdMyrmeciza longipes
  
Antthrushes (Formicariidae)
Rufous-capped AntthrushFormicarius colma
  
Antpittas (Grallariidae)
Spotted AntpittaHylopezus macularius
  
Tyrant Flycatchers, Calyptura (Tyrannidae)
Yellow-bellied ElaeniaElaenia flavogaster
Plain-crested ElaeniaElaenia cristata
Lesser ElaeniaElaenia chiriquensis
Rufous-crowned ElaeniaElaenia ruficeps
Mouse-colored TyrannuletPhaeomyias murina
Bearded TachuriPolystictus pectoralis
Crested DoraditoPseudocolopteryx sclateri
Short-tailed Pygmy TyrantMyiornis ecaudatus
Helmeted Pygmy TyrantLophotriccus galeatus
Pale-eyed Pygmy TyrantAtalotriccus pilaris
Ochre-lored FlatbillTolmomyias flaviventris
Cliff FlycatcherHirundinea ferruginea
Vermilion FlycatcherPyrocephalus obscurus
Amazonian Black TyrantKnipolegus poecilocercus
Pied Water TyrantFluvicola pica
White-headed Marsh TyrantArundinicola leucocephala
Piratic FlycatcherLegatus leucophaius
Rusty-margined FlycatcherMyiozetetes cayanensis
Great KiskadeePitangus sulphuratus
Lesser KiskadeePhilohydor lictor
Yellow-throated FlycatcherConopias parvus
Streaked FlycatcherMyiodynastes maculatus
Tropical KingbirdTyrannus melancholicus
Fork-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus savana
Grey KingbirdTyrannus dominicensis
Short-crested FlycatcherMyiarchus ferox
Cinnamon AttilaAttila cinnamomeus
  
Cotingas (Cotingidae)
Guianan Cock-of-the-rockRupicola rupicola
Guianan Red CotingaPhoenicircus carnifex
Crimson FruitcrowHaematoderus militaris
Purple-throated FruitcrowQuerula purpurata
CapuchinbirdPerissocephalus tricolor
Screaming PihaLipaugus vociferans
Spangled CotingaCotinga cayana
Pompadour CotingaXipholena punicea
  
Manakins (Pipridae)
Saffron-crested Tyrant-ManakinNeopelma chrysocephalum
White-throated ManakinCorapipo gutturalis
Black ManakinXenopipo atronitens
White-crowned ManakinPseudopipra pipra
Golden-headed ManakinCeratopipra erythrocephala
  
Tityras, Becards, Sharpbill (Tityridae)
Ruddy-tailed FlycatcherTerenotriccus erythrurus
Black-crowned TityraTityra inquisitor
Black-tailed TityraTityra cayana
Dusky PurpletuftIodopleura fusca
White-naped XenopsarisXenopsaris albinucha
  
Vireos, Greenlets, Shrike-babblers (Vireonidae)
Rufous-browed PeppershrikeCyclarhis gujanensis
Chivi VireoVireo chivi
  
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Cayenne JayCyanocorax cayanus
  
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
White-winged SwallowTachycineta albiventer
White-banded SwallowAtticora fasciata
Black-collared SwallowPygochelidon melanoleuca
Southern Rough-winged SwallowStelgidopteryx ruficollis
Grey-breasted MartinProgne chalybea
Barn SwallowHirundo rustica
  
Black-capped Donacobius (Donacobiidae)
Black-capped DonacobiusDonacobius atricapilla
  
Wrens (Troglodytidae)
Bicolored WrenCampylorhynchus griseus
Buff-breasted WrenCantorchilus leucotis
House WrenTroglodytes aedon
  
Gnatcatchers (Polioptilidae)
Tropical GnatcatcherPolioptila plumbea
  
Mockingbirds, Thrashers (Mimidae)
Tropical MockingbirdMimus gilvus
  
Thrushes (Turdidae)
Pale-breasted ThrushTurdus leucomelas
  
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Yellowish PipitAnthus chii
  
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
Red Siskin – ENSpinus cucullatus
Finsch’s EuphoniaEuphonia finschi
Violaceous EuphoniaEuphonia violacea
  
New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)
Grassland SparrowAmmodramus humeralis
  
Oropendolas, Orioles, Blackbirds (Icteridae)
Eastern MeadowlarkSturnella magna
Red-breasted BlackbirdLeistes militaris
Crested OropendolaPsarocolius decumanus
Green OropendolaPsarocolius viridis
Yellow-rumped CaciqueCacicus cela
Red-rumped CaciqueCacicus haemorrhous
Yellow OrioleIcterus nigrogularis
Orange-backed TroupialIcterus croconotus
Epaulet OrioleIcterus cayanensis
Giant CowbirdMolothrus oryzivorus
Shiny CowbirdMolothrus bonariensis
Carib GrackleQuiscalus lugubris
Yellow-hooded BlackbirdChrysomus icterocephalus
  
New World Warblers (Parulidae)
American Yellow WarblerSetophaga aestiva
  
Cardinals & Allies (Cardinalidae)
Amazonian GrosbeakCyanoloxia rothschildii
  
Tanagers & Allies (Thraupidae)
Purple HoneycreeperCyanerpes caeruleus
Blue DacnisDacnis cayana
Blue-black GrassquitVolatinia jacarina
White-shouldered TanagerLoriotus luctuosus
Silver-beaked TanagerRamphocelus carbo
Wing-barred SeedeaterSporophila americana
Yellow-bellied SeedeaterSporophila nigricollis
Plumbeous SeedeaterSporophila plumbea
Chestnut-bellied SeedeaterSporophila castaneiventris
Ruddy-breasted SeedeaterSporophila minuta
Chestnut-vented ConebillConirostrum speciosum
Grassland Yellow FinchSicalis luteola
Red-capped CardinalParoaria gularis
Spotted TanagerIxothraupis punctata
Blue-grey TanagerThraupis episcopus
Palm TanagerThraupis palmarum
Burnished-buff TanagerStilpnia cayana
Bay-headed TanagerTangara gyrola
Turquoise TanagerTangara Mexicana
Species Seen301
Total heard only6
Total recorded307

Mammal List

Common NameScientific Name
Anteaters (Myrmecophagidae)
Giant Anteater – VUMyrmecophaga tridactyla
  
Two-toed Sloths (Megalonychidae)
Hoffmann’s Two-toed SlothCholoepus hoffmanni
  
Agoutis and Acouchis (Dasyproctidae)
Red-rumped AgoutiDasyprocta leporina
  
Howler and Prehensile-tailed Monkeys (Atelidae)
Guianan Red Howler MonkeyAlouatta macconnelli
Guianan Spider Monkey – VUAteles paniscus
  
Bulldog Bats (Noctilionidae)
Lesser Bulldog BatNoctilio albiventris
Greater Bulldog BatNoctilio leporinus
  
Free-tailed Bats (Molossidae)
Brazilian Free-tailed BatTadarida brasiliensis
  
Tapirs (Tapiridae)
Lowland Tapir – VUTapirus terrestris
  
Deer (Cervidae)
Red Brocket – DDMazama americana
Species Seen10

Reptile List

Common NameScientific Name
Alligators and Caimans (Alligatoridae)
Common CaimanCaiman crocodilus
Black CaimanMelanosuchus niger
  
Boas (Boidae)
Garden Tree BoaCorallus hortulana
Green AnacondaEunectes murinus
  
Whiptails and Tegus (Teiidae)
Amazon RacerunnerAmeiva ameiva
Gold TeguTupinambis teguixin
  
Tortoises (Testudinidae)
Brazilian Giant Tortoise – VUChelonoidis denticulatus
Species Seen7

Amphibian list

Common NameScientific Name
Cryptic forest frogs (Aromobatidae)
Golden Rocket Frog – ENAnomaloglossus beebei

Species Seen1

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