Sunday 25 May 2014

Parque Ecologico do Tiete, Sao Paulo, May2014

If you travel from the airport into Sao Paulo, you may well pass the Parque Ecologico do Tiete. From the road it appears to be an unremarkable wasteland from which oozes the stinking Rio Tiete, like a seeping wound. On a hot day, the river is apparent as soon as one steps from the train and the air carries its essence for the duration of a visit. On a cooler day such as this one during May, the river is no less rancid at close quarters, but does not force its unwelcome presence on passers-by. There are poor neighbourhoods close to the park and personal security does prey on my mind during a visit to PE Tiete. I would like to take a scope, but would feel a little indiscreet, carrying big optics and a tripod.

Having painted a less than perfect picture of the reserve, I must acknowledge its status as one of Sao Paulo’s prime bird-watching sites. The birding is easy and varied and the site is relatively secure with security presence on the gate and regular patrols. After 3 visits, I have not had, nor witnessed or heard tell of, any unpleasantness. Indeed, most of the Paulistas that crossed my path smiled and wished me a jolly “Bom dia”.
The first birds seen this morning were the Southern Caracaras in the children’s playground to the left of the gate. They have been noted in the playground during each of my previous visits. This time three adults were tending to an immature bird. Do Caracaras indulge in cooperative family behaviour?

I continued on to the picnic area on the lakeside which usually proves to be a hotspot for mammals as well as birds. The Coatis were there and a Capybara was seen on the far bank. The forest edge here is usually very productive, but there was not much to see today.

Rufous-bellied Thrushes were joined by Pale-breasted Thrushes and Masked Water-tyrants chased insects on the short grass. By the water’s edge I flushed an Amazon Kingfisher, but a Striated Heron stayed absolutely still, hoping that I had'nt seen it.

From here, I returned to the road and started an anticlockwise walk around the reserve. I make this mistake each time. In order not to walk back on myself, I continue on, forgetting that I am about to turn back into the sun. By returning to the gate and making a clockwise journey, I will have a better position in relation to the sun for more of the day.

The marsh areas along the river were quite busy, but the species count was fairly low. White-cheeked Pintail, Brazilian Teal, Limpkin and Wattled Jacana appeared in good numbers, but the birds which are usually easy to find were less common. Rufous Hornero and Bananaquit for example eluded me until after midday.

Yellow-chinned Spinetails called with a descending rattle through the day all along the path and a Spix’s Spinetail sat up for my best look at this species. I was particularly pleased to hear it call and see the full cap and the dark mark on its neck to help confirm this identification which has always felt a bit stringy up ‘til now.

I followed a Capybara track down to the river and found a Solitary Sandpiper there. As usual there were plenty of Common Gallinules, but not much else apart from a few Greater Kiskadees flying over.
A few flycatchers were sent to tease me. 

One I am taking as a Southern Beardless Tyrannulet and another satisfied the criteria for Bran-colored Flycatcher. A third shall, forevermore, remain nameless.

The last stretch back to the gate brought an identification challenge that shouldn’t have taxed me so. A warbler-like bird flicked through the trees and I was able to get a record shot for reference. It did not appear in my field guide however and I felt aggrieved to have missed a warbler when I was supposed to be in New York this week soaking up the passing migration. After much flicking through books on my return, I found it to be the female Chestnut-vented Conebill. I should have considered this, having just seen the male on the other side of the path and remarking on his warbler-like look and behaviour.

The final section also brought Orange-headed Tanager, Sapphire-spangled Emerald and plenty of Bananaquits in the banks of Hibiscus.

Bird list for Parque Ecologico do Tiete; 56

White-faced Whistling Duck 4, Brazilian Teal 30, White-cheeked Pintail 30, Pied-billed Grebe 8, Neotropic Cormorant 30, Anhinga 2, Cocoi Heron1, Great Egret 6, Snowy Egret 14, Striated Heron 2, Black-crowned Night-Heron 2, Black Vulture 150, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Roadside Hawk 1, Southern Caracara 8, Common Gallinule 60, Limpkin 7, Southern Lapwing 20, Wattled Jacana 8, Solitary Sandpiper 1, Picazuro Pigeon 1, Ruddy Ground-dove 22, Blue-winged Parrotlet 1, Plain Parakeet 2, Squirrel Cuckoo 1, Guira Cuckoo 6, Smooth-billed Ani 15, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird 5, Sapphire-spangled Emerald 1, Amazon Kingfisher 4, Campo Flicker 3, Rufous Hornero 3, Spix’s Spinetail 2, Yellow-chinned Spinetail 12, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1, Bran-colored Flycatcher 1, Vermillion Flycatcher 2, Masked Water-tyrant 15, White-headed Marsh Tyrant 1, Great Kiskadee 6, Social Flycatcher 2, Blue-and-white Swallow 150, Pale-breasted Thrush 4, Rufous-breasted Thrush 8, Masked Yellowthroat 1, White-browed Warbler 1, Bananaquit 15, Orange-headed Tanager 3, Chestnut-vented Conebill 2, Sayaca Tanager 8, Palm Tanager 3, Fawn-breasted Tanager 3, Red-crested Cardinal 5, Rufous-collared Sparrow 5, House Sparrow 12, Common Waxbill 8.

Please be aware of the poverty that exists close to this site. Violent robbery is not uncommon in Sao Paulo and it would be wise to make personal security a prime consideration when visiting Parque Ecologico Do Tiete and at any time on public transport. A taxi would be safer, but there is no taxi rank close to the parque. A pick up for return must be arranged in advance.
It is possible to get back to the city by train from Eng Goulart station nearby. This is for information only in case of emergency only or taxi failing to show.

From the security gate at the parque, pass through the tunnel under the main road and turn right. Turn left after 400m. After 100m pass through the tunnel under the tracks. Turn left and the station, Eng Goulart, is 300m. There is not a taxi rank here. The line runs into the city and terminates at Bras Metro Station.

For previous posts from PE Tiete, follow the links below;

Visit the dedicated Central and South America Page for more posts from Sao Paulo, including; Jardim Botanico, Cantereira and Ibirapuera Park.
Birding, Birdwatching, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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