Right next to Unicamp (University of Campinas), there is a very nice urban park that has attracted bird watchers from all over the region. The Prof. Hermógenes F. Leitão Filho Ecological Park was created in 1987 and bears the name of its idealizer. Hermogenes used to teach Botany and he was also pro dean of Unicamp. He died in 1996.
Last year I visited the park for the first time with one goal: to spot the Osprey. I had already seen this beautiful bird of prey elsewhere, but always too far for a good observation. Since I live near Campinas, it was not difficult to plan a visit. And it was worth it! I had to wait a long time and I was already hopeless when the Osprey appeared at last.
This year I was even more lucky. I barely made it to the park and there was the bird, flying with a big fish in the claws. The photo above (cover of the post) is by Victor Skrabe. Notice the way the Osprey carries the fish: it keeps its prey in a position so that it does not disrupt the flight’s aerodynamics. This behavior is not observed in other kinds of birds of prey.
But the Osprey is not the only attraction there. One of the park’s most illustrious resident is the Great Egret that lives near the entrance. I saw a lot of people taking selfies with her!
The lake attracts a wide variety of birds that enjoy the aquatic environment. In addition to the Great Egrets, you can also spot four other species of herons there: the Snowy Egret, the Cattle Egret, the Striated Heron and the Cocoi Heron.
Neotropic Cormorants, Anhingas and kingfishers are also among the group of birds that enjoy fishing there.
Of course, not all birds that live near the water feed on fish. The Snail Kite, for example, has a taste for… snails! I saw two of them on my last visit to the park in January, one young and one adult. They were too far away to photograph, unfortunately.
At the lake you can also spot Brazilian Teals, Common Gallinules, Wattled Jacanas, White-backed Stilts, Green Ibises… The Gray-necked Wood-Rail, which is very discreet, is easier to hear than to see.
Around the lake there is a jogging track of 1.7 km. In the morning a lot of people enjoy the shade of the trees to walk or to run. At that time of the day the birds are high in the trees, but even without binoculars you can see many of them: Squirrel Cuckoo (have you noticed that everyone loves Squirrel Cuckoos?), Great Kiskadee, Burnished-buff Tanager, Pale-breasted Thrush (very common there), Sayaca Tanager, White-eyed Parakeet, Silver-beaked Tanager…
… and tegus, so many tegus!
This is only a small sample of the different kinds of birds that can be found in the Hermógenes Leitão Filho Park. To have an idea, the guidebook Aves do Campus da Unicamp e Arredores (which covers the area of the park and surroundings) features 169 species. There are some interesting registers in the area, though not frequent ones, as Comb Duck, Roseate Spoonbill, Black-backed Water-Tyrant, Eastern Slaty Thrush… A good excuse to go back!