I do not even know where to begin with. As soon as I arrived I got a tourist map and it was sad to think that I would not be able to visit all the parks and trekkings that were indicated there. There are so many places to go birding at Florianópolis! A days later I met some guys who also like birdwatching and who live there. They gave me lots of tips and then I was able to decide which places to prioritize. Also, I discovered a lot of places I had no idea that existed.
I’ll talk a little about the best places I’ve visited. It’s just a summary, because each one of this places deserved a separate post. All of them are very close to the center of Florianopólis. By car you can arrive to most of these locations in about half an hour, if there is no traffic jam (which can be a problem at certain times).
Morro da Cruz City Park
I will start with this park because this is where I first officially birdwatched in Florianópolis, during one of the tours organized monthly by AFOA – Florianopólis Association of Birdwatchers. The Morro da Cruz Park was inaugurated in November 2013. That is why it does not appear on most maps and many locals believe that this park is still closed.
There you find a small remnant of forest, with short trails. The trail Pedra dos Gaviões leads to a belvedere where you can see the most urban part of the city: the center town, the Hercílio Luz bridge and the mainland.
The Manakin’s trail is my favorite, for obvious reasons: it’s easy to find this little bird on this trail. Notice that I wrote “find” and not “observe”. The White-bearded Manakin is very agile and fast. Its portuguese name (“rendeira’”) means “lacemaker”, because of the sound it emits, that resembles the noise of the tools used to make lace. This species can be found in the Amazon Rainflorest and Atlantic Rainforest, but observing this bird in Florianópolis seems to have a special meaning, because of the Azorean culture and its traditional lace manufacture, that remains until today in this capital city. Those who are curious can find lacemakers working at Ponta Grossa Fortress and also at the Municipal Market.
Hiking trail: from Solidão Beach to Saquinho Beach
It is difficult to say which is the most beautiful hiking trail in Florianopolis. Some prefer the Lagoinha do Leste trail, others say it is the Naufragados trail. I particularly enjoyed this path that starts at Solidão Beach and ends at Saquinho Beach. This hiking trail is not very long, you are able to see the shore for most of the path and it was the place where I was luckier with the birds.
A narrow concrete path connects the Solidão Beach to a small community that lives near the Saquinho Beach. On the way I observed Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Rufous-winged Antwren, Black-goggled Tanager… and Azure Jays, so many Azure Jays! The hibiscus plants in the gardens of the tiny houses attract hummingbirds and tanagers. And a marvelous Channel-billed Toucan was waiting for us there!
Hiking trail: Morro do Assopro
I hiked this trail for the first time with the guys from the Desterro Natural History Society. The group was created by college students but is open to anyone interested in natural history and scientific communication. The inspiration comes from the traditional natural history societies (many of which still exist today) and the name is a reference to how Florianópolis city was formerly named: Nossa Senhora do Desterro.
Morro do Assopro may be crossed by several paths. On this occasion we went to an old ramp for hang gliding and then we followed up to a stone where we had a wonderful view to the Lagoa da Conceição.
The trail runs through Atlantic Forest patches, where we saw Scaled Chachalaca, Azure Jay, Channel-billed Toucan, Red-necked Tanager, Plain Antvireo, Sepia-capped Flycatcher… There I saw for the first time the Squamate Antbird, but I’m sorry there is no picture, the bird didn’t collaborate with the photographer. There we also saw a bunch of capuchin monkeys, the only native primates on the island.
Córrego Grande City Park
Located next to the UFSC University, the park has a circular path widely used by locals for walking and jogging. When I remember this park I think immediately of rails, because there are many rails there!
It was there that I finally got a reasonable photo of a Bare-faced Ibis, which is a very common bird in Florianopólis. The curious thing is that this species was recorded for the first time in the state of Santa Catarina very recently, in 2003! Since then there has been a rapid expansion of its distribution area.
A must see place, great to watch birds that live near to water, such as rails, teals, snipes, jacanas… We were there in the great company of photographer Daniel Pohl. Not only the diversity, but the quantity of birds is mazing, topped of with dozens of Brown-and-yellow Marshbird. Even a Scarlet-headed Blackbird stumbled over there, before the sunset.
Beira Mar Norte
Yes, even next to this large and busy highway it is possible to birdwatch! The sidewalk is heavily used by locals for walking and jogging. At the shore, among the rocks, you can find many herons, ibises and Great-Kiskadees fishing in the shallow waters. Depending on the timetable, terns appear. They fish by means of quick dives. Seagulls, Gannets, Cormorants and Black Skimmers can be seen flying over the sea. Meanwhile there are always some Frigatebird flying overhead. When walking near the mangrove, look for the Rails, with luck you can see a Mangrove Rail.
Hiking trail: Naufragados Beach
A beautiful trail in the middle of the Atlantic Forest, which leads to the Naufragados Beach, where you can see an old lighthouse and some war cannons. Officially this region is part of the Serra do Tabuleiro State Park. We went there with a big group and started to walk late, so I did not see many birds that day. But the Channel-billed Toucans were there, as well as many Jays, Tanagers, Gray-hooded Attila, White-tipped Dove… On the beach we found many Terns and a bunch of White-backed Stilt.
Hiking trail: Lagoinha do Leste
This is another trail in the middle of the Atlantic Forest that ends in a beautiful beach. It’s the favorite hiking trail of most of the people I’ve talked to, mostly because of the incredible view from up above Morro da Coroa. We went there on a weekend and found a lot of campers near the little pond that names the trail. On this day it was difficult to see the birds because the forest is dense, but I was able to hear several species. On the beach, we saw a couple of American Oystercatcher looking for food in the sand. We also found a dead Magellanic Penguin; at this time of the year it is common to find penguins that arrive very debilitated to Santa Catarina coast. They live on the coasts of Argentina and Chile, where they nest.
Morro das Aranhas Private Reserve
This natural reserve is run by a resort. There are ancient paintings on the rocky coast and some paths inside the forest, one of which leads to the top of the Morro das Aranhas. We made this trail quickly because it was late afternoon and we did not want to return in the dark. I remember to see some Ruby-crowned Tanagers, a female White-bearded Manakin, a Glittering-throated Emerald. The view from above is very interesting, allowing you to understand the geography of the beaches and the dunes. In the sky, many Turkey Vultures were flying.
Before that day, we had walked on the Santinho beach, where we found Seagulls, Terns, Oystercatchers, White-backed Stilts… In the dunes near the beach there were Chalk-browed Mockingbirds, Masked Yellowthroats, Chimango Caracaras and Brown-and-yellow Marshbirds.
Lagoa do Peri City Park
I was there during an activity of the 5th Brazilian Meeting of Scientific Illustration. It was an interesting experience because most people there were more interested in plants. They noticed tiny flowers that would have gone completely unnoticed by me. Meanwhile I was more concerned with figuring out the ID of the raptor was flying so high up in the sky. It was a Short-tailed Hawk.
I walked only some of the trails, always staying close to the visitor center. I found Ochre-collared Piculet, Scaled Chachalaca, Tropical Parula, Blue Dacnis and several Saffron Finches. Meanwhile, near the parking lot, Azure Jays scoured the dumpsters in search of delicacies…
Tabuleiro State Park – Visitor Center
This park is not placed in Florianopólis, but it is very close and worth the visit. The visitor center is located at Baixada do Maciambu, in Palhoça. The region is covered by restinga vegetation and the interpretative trail of the park, although short, is one of the most beautiful and well maintained that I have visited.
It was a windy day and the birds were, for sure, hidden. But I was lucky: among the few species that showed up, I could see the Restinga Tyrannulet, an endemic and threatened bird. Lifer!
I finish my post with this park because it was the last one I visited. It is located in São José, at the Greater Florianópolis (mainland). It was a good surprise because although it is difficult to find information about this park, it is bigger than I expected and is well prepared for visitors.
A paved trail crosses the florest, which is still preserved. There are a multitude of birds, but it is not easy to observe them. Most prefer to stay in the canopy of the trees, which is quite high. The Golden-crowned Warbleris an exception, it enjoys the understory and seems to have fun running away from the cameras. Here and there we heard the beating of a woodpecker’s beak. We also witnessed several disputes between hummingbirds. But what will remain in the memory are the several Black-cheeked Gnateater couples we encounter. The male is colorfull, the female is brownest. They do not even seem to belong to the same species!
As I mentioned in the beginning, there are many good places to go birding in Florianópolis that I was not able to visit. For example, we did not have time to visit Carijós Ecological Station, which requires prior scheduling. But the birdwatching experience in Florianopólis was fantastic and I can only imagine how it should be there during spring. Could it be even better???
Most of all, I want to thank all the people who have welcomed us so well in this beautiful city. Birding is always nice, but in good company is even better. We already miss you!