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inyathi

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Sangeeta

Wow!

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1. Getting off to a good start   Our first morning began with breakfast at 04:45, followed by a fairly short boat ride to the start of a trail over on the other side of the river, that leads

I don’t know about that, but I can certainly promise it will be well illustrated   I’m guessing that to most non birders the average birding trip report can seem like just one great long lis

Our boatman didn't say and I didn’t think to ask maybe I was just too busy taking photos.     We still had another two and a half days to fill at Porto Joffre and it was hard to imagine

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inyathi

Before setting off down the Transpantanal Highway, I thought I’d add just a bit more info on Cristalino mostly about mammals.

 

The best time to visit Cristalino is from May to September, we were there in early October, just outside this time, but only because we couldn’t go any earlier. Aside from missing the harpy eagle in Alta Floresta, I’m not sure what effect this had on the birding and what if any other birds we might have missed.

 

I do though think that going just a little bit later in the year, may have had an effect on what mammals we saw. One mammal that is very commonly seen at Cristalino is the lowland or Brazilian tapir, nearly all of the trip reports I’ve read while writing this, record great views of not just one but often two or three, Whereas we didn’t see any and although this could be due to simple bad luck, I suspect it was more likely the time of year. All the reports I’ve read with good tapir sightings are from trips in late July/August or September, the admittedly only one report I’ve read for an October trip like us, drew a blank for tapirs. So I suspect this may be the reason, after all I don’t think that any of the tours that saw tapirs were actively looking for them (which you can do). Mostly they’re seen in or beside the rivers and it may be that after about mid to late September they come to the rivers much less often. They do have a tree house/hide out in the forest from which you can see tapirs and other mammals, whether we would have seen on had we gone there I don’t know.

 

Another species often seen, that I was disappointed to miss is the curiously named white-nosed bearded saki, these monkeys endemic to Brazil actually have red noses. Again I’m not sure if it was bad luck or timing, that we didn’t see any, but if we weren’t lucky with these monkeys, it seems we may have been quite lucky to have seen the dusky titis, as I think they’re heard much more often than seen. Also, while I was surprised not see the red-handed howlers, it seems these monkeys are frequently only heard.

 

South American river otters and sometimes also giant otters, are seen while boating up and down, but I wasn’t too worried not to have seen either of these as we were heading for the Pantanal.

 

There are of course plenty of other mammals at Cristalino, but a lot of them are either nocturnal or just very elusive. If we’d spent a lot more time out at night either in the boat or walking from the lodge, then we might then have got to see the entirely nocturnal feline (Azara’s) night monkey or maybe even one of the cats. Flicking through the lodge sightings book, jaguars amongst other cats are sometimes seen and often black ones, their website says that jaguars are seen about twice a year, so I guess it’s not too surprising we didn’t see one. Giant anteaters are also occasionally seen, but like jaguars they’re much more easily seen in the Pantanal.

 

I would say to anyone interested in mammals, that as long as you’re aware that seeing rainforest mammals is always a challenge and you don’t go expecting to see much more than a handful of species on the Cristalino list, then you won’t be disappointed. Sure we missed a few species, but I think that our final score of 7 while not a lot, was probably about average and 6 of them we only saw at Alta Floresta/Cristalino. If you’re a real mammal enthusiast then going to Cristalino, gives you the chance to see local species you can’t see in the Pantanal or indeed elsewhere. Possibly if you go specifically to look for mammals rather than birds, then with the right guide from the lodge you might well see a few more species. Though the best way to see some of the more unusual species, provided you can spare the time (and there’s a vacancy) would be to become a volunteer guide, a young South African couple were there doing this during my stay.

 

I really enjoyed Cristalino, every day was a bit of an adventure, and I thought the lodge is really nice; the food was very good, the birding was just amazing and the other wildlife not bad. So, if you’re going to Brazil and you’re looking for a real rainforest experience, then even if you’re not a serious birder, I would definitely recommend visiting Cristalino if you can fit it in.

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Atravelynn

I have not yet joined you in the Amazon. I can already tell this will serve as a Brazil birding refresher for me. Probably for others too. Chocolate cake for breakfast is a beaut! Tha Amazonian motmot was a good find along with the trogan. Nice to see them, but you got pictures! I can see from here that a pecary awaits me when I get to the Amazon.


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inyathi

The Pantanal

 

For the journey into the Pantanal, we had a minibus and a driver, the bus unfortunately had darkened windows, which couldn’t be opened, so it was only possible to see out of the windscreen, judging by some of the other buses we saw, dark windows seemed to be the norm. Our first port of call was Pousada Puival, this is the first lodge on the Transpantaniera (Trans Pantanal Highway) and is quite a nice place, though I imagine it can get pretty crowded at times, but with a variety of different habitats, open pasture, woodland, marsh and lake it is a great place for birds and very popular with birders.

 

The moment we arrived, I was amazed to see a couple of seemingly very tame crab-eating foxes, this seemed to be a good sign.

 

Crab-eating Fox

Crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous)

 

We spent the next day and a half exploring Piuval and found some great birds

 

A small selection from the first morning

 

Peach-fronted Parakeet

Peach-fronted parakeet (Aratinga Aurea)

 

Yellow-billed Cardinal

Yellow-billed cardinal (Paroaria capitata)

 

Campo Flicker

Campo flicker (Colpates campestris)

 

Sunbittern

Sunbittern (Europygya helias)

 

Whistling Heron

Whistling heron (Syrigma sibilatrix)

 

Greater Rhea

Greater rhea (Rhea American)

 

Bra0356.jpg.425f074ef427fb921db38784e4121055.jpg

Ringed kingfisher (megaceryle torquata)

 

Black-capped Donacobius

Black-capped donacobius (Donacobius atricapilla)

 

White-headed Water Tyrant

White-headed marsh tyrant (Arundinicola leucocephala)

 

White-lored Spinetail

White-lored spinetail (Synallaxis albilora)

 

Red-legged Seriema

Red-legged seriema (Cariama cristata)

 

Southern Lapwing

Southern lapwing (vanellus chilensis)

 

We did also manage to find one nice mammal. At the end of our first morning, walking back to the lodge through the open grassland, alongside the road we came across this single marmoset, calling from a dead tree in the edge of a nearby patch of forest, surprisingly it allowed me to get quite close, enough to get plenty of decent photos with my 100-400mm, although the following photo is cropped a little bit.

 

Black-tailed marmoset

Black-tailed marmoset (Callithrix melanura)

 

Brahma Cattle

Brahma Cattle, Pousada Piuval is still a working cattle ranch

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michael-ibk

@inyathi:

 

Love the sunbittern! How long did you have to wait for that shot?

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inyathi

@michael-ibk not very long

 

These beautiful birds proved to be pretty common we saw several in the Amazon and some everywhere we went in the Pantanal but always from a boat except at Piuval. Next to the main track not too far from the lodge were two small ponds and there were always a couple of sunbitterns there. I didn’t have to get too close to get a bird to fly and it would only go a short distance before landing, so it was quite easy I just had to check my camera settings, walk a little way towards the bird until it flew and then fire away hoping I’d get the shot. The first time the bird was out of focus but thankfully not the second time so it only took two attempts and then we left them in peace after that,the birds clearly weren’t too bothered by this as they were always there when we went past this spot, so they must be pretty used to people.

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inyathi

Some birds in the lodge garden

 

 

 

Rufous Hornero or Ovenbird

Rufous hornero (Furnarius rufous) also known as ovenbirds for the mud nests they build

 

 

 

Monk Parakeet

Monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)

 

 

In the lawn in front of the lodge was a fruiting mango tree which attracted all kinds of birds like this

 

 

Crested Oropendola

Crested oropendola (Psaroclius decumanus)

 

 

Great Kiskadee

Great kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) eating a frog

 

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inyathi

Afternoon

 

Horse Riding at Pousada Piuval

Not everyone at Piuval Is birder another group of guests head out for an afternoon ride

 

Great Horned Owl

Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)

 

Black Vulture

Black vulture (Coragyps atratus)

 

Great Antshrike

Great antshrike (Taraba major)

 

We finished our afternoon’s birding by a pool where there a good number of capybaras and few spectacled caiman lying on the bank these crocodilians don’t get too big and were quite approachable.

 

Spectacled Caiman

 

 

Spectacled Caiman

Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus)

 

After dinner we headed out in one of the lodge vehicles for a night drive, going back to the same pool we saw plenty of capybaras again

 

Capybaras

 

In the afternoon we’d seen only a few caiman but swinging the lamp over the pool revealed that it was in fact stuffed full of them there were so many shining eyes it looked almost like a city at night unfortunately I wasn’t able to photograph this extraordinary sight. Otherwise we found a few nightjars our only Maguari stork of the trip and not far from the lodge a crab-eating racoon aside from the capybaras this was the only mammal we found. Not the most exciting of night drives however the stork was a good find and the racoon was also very nice to see as we never saw another.

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Treepol

I'm enjoying your report immensely, and look forward to more sightings along the Transpantaneiira.

 

Which company did you book this through - was it Tropical Birding?

 

Thanks for the tip about the Sunbittern at Piuval, I'll be there in July and a photo of these beautifully marked birds is high on my wishlist.

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Pennyanne

Enjoying this report @@inyathi The Amazon is on our list of future trips so we're finding your report very informative. Great photos too.

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kittykat23uk

Bringing back lots of good memories! We really must get back to the Pantanal! I will have to work on Ian... :D

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inyathi

Which company did you book this through - was it Tropical Birding?

 

Yes

 

@@Treepol I hope you have luck with the sunbitterns when you go

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inyathi

The next morning (12th Oct)

 

We decided to start off the day by heading out on to the highway in search of the gorgeous scarlet headed blackbird which can often be found amongst the reeds beside the road. While the blackbird didn’t show we found plenty of other nice birds to look at.

 

White-rumped Tanager

White-rumped tanager (Cypsnagra hirundinacea)

 

Grassland Sparrow

Grassland sparrow (Ammodramus humeralis)

 

Brazilian Teal

Brazilian teal (Amazonetta braziliensis)

 

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture

Lesser yellow-headed vulture (Cathartes burrovianus)

 

Red-crested Cardinal

Red-crested cardinal (Paroaria coronata)

 

Curiously for a lodge that’s so popular with birders they don’t put out feeders to attract hummingbirds, in Ecuador almost every lodge had a bunch of sugar water dispensers that would in some cases bring in literarily swarms of hummers. Here you have to go out and find them for yourselves and while we saw a fair few, getting a good look at any of them was a real challenge because they’re always moving too fast and never stay in one spot for long. This one though did sit still long enough for me to get a few ok shots it’s just a shame the sun wasn’t shining.

 

Swallow-tailed Hummingbird

Swallow-tailed hummingbird (Eupetomena macroura)

 

Then it was back to the Pousada for a little bit more birding before lunch

 

Despite not being able to see out too well through the darkened windows of our minibus we spotted a nice group of coatis heading back to the woodland from solitary a tree out in the pasture.

 

South American Coatis

South American Coati (Nasua nasua)

 

Going back in to the woodland ourselves we found an agouti and then a whole troop of black-tailed marmosets though they were moving fast and didn’t provide as good a view as the single one we’d seen the day before.

 

During our time at Piuval we should have taken a boat trip out on the lake but the water level was too low.

 

Water Hyacinth

Water Hyacinth

 

Iin Africa and many other parts of the tropics and subtropics this plant is a seriously invasive species but in Brazil it’s a beautiful native plant

 

Red-legged Seriema

Red-legged Seriema

 

Reminiscent of secretary birds seriemas were common at Piuval and we saw plenty of them while we were there, they were easy to spot in the open pasture. Back in the Chapada we found some tracks and heard a bird calling but the thick bush/woodland made finding it impossible.

 

The birds in the preceding photos are just a handful of the species that we actually saw at Piuval, in addition to those shown we saw our first southern screamers, jabiru storks and the Pantanal’s most iconic bird hyacinth macaws.

 

Cowboy

Peões or Cowboy

 

After a nice lunch we loaded our bus and set off for our next stop

 

Birding at Piuval was much less challenging than in the Amazon and with so many species to be found the place is a bit of a birder’s paradise, though you need plenty of insect repellent the mosquitoes while walking through the woodlands were just terrible. However it’s maybe not such a great place for mammals at least there are much better places further into the Pantanal, having said that if you’re lucky you can see giant anteaters and there are black & gold howler monkeys, unfortunately we didn't see either. On the one hand I’d say I was a little disappointed by the number of mammals we’d seen but then on the other hand what we did see we saw really pretty well and we didn’t see either the marmosets or the racoon again. So on balance I'd say Pousada Piuval was a great place.

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inyathi

Just on beyond Piuval on the way down the Transpantaniera to our next lodge we stopped to look at a couple of birds and a few caiman

 

Capped Heron

Capped heron (Pilherodius pileatus)

 

Bronze-winged Jacana

Wattled jacana (Jacana jacana)

 

Spectacled Caiman

 

 

Spectacled caimans

 

 

Spectacled Caiman

 

 

Spectacled Caiman

Spectacled Caiman

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africapurohit

Catching up and continuing to enjoy this report. Of all the birds, I love the Tiger heron image.

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africapurohit

"Few caiman" is an understatement - that looks heavenly for reptile lovers!! That egret seems suicidal or very brave.

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kittykat23uk

The Pantanal is a real birders paradise, not for endemics, but for the sheer number of spectacular-looking species! :)

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Jochen

Finally caught up. Great report. And a serious "flashback" for me, due to all those pics.

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inyathi

While more than satisfied with the number of birds I’d seen so far, I was to be honest not so satisfied with the number of mammals, certainly the night drive at Piuval had been just a bit disappointing, so I hoped very much, that our next destination the Pantanal Wildlife Centre would be more productive. Formerly a ranch called Fazenda Santa Tereza, the Pantanal Wildlife Centre or PWC is actually now called Southwild Pantanal but at the time of my visit, I knew it as the PWC, so that’s what I’ll call it.

 

Not long after leaving all those caimans, we found an Azara’s agouti right next to the road, not for the first time after taking a bunch of photos I discovered too late that I’d accidentally turned the command dial to Manual, so all my shots were very overexposed, by the time I noticed the agouti had moved away very annoying. However thanks to Photoshop I’ve managed to turn one photo in to a passable image.

 

Azara's Agouti

Azara’s agouti (Dasyprocta azarae)

 

We spotted some more coatis and then on our way into the PWC we found a magnificent marsh deer stag, beside the road a much bigger animal than I’d imagined, not being able to open a window in order to take photos I had to open the door, thankfully to my surprise he didn’t seem at all bothered, this was the first of quite few marsh deer we saw at PWC.

 

Marsh Deer

Marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus)

 

Soon after we checked in, we were informed by the management that no one was to go off for a walk on their own, because they’d been seeing a jaguar regularly in the vicinity of the lodge, well that was just the kind of news I wanted to hear, maybe things were looking up on the mammal front.

 

A few birds & beasts from just in front of the lodge

 

Giant Cowbird

Giant cowbird (Molothrus oryzivorus)

 

Scaled Dove

Scaled dove (Columbina squammata)

 

Capybara & Cattle Tyrant

Cattle Tyrant ridng on a Capybara

 

Cattle Tyrant on a Capybara

Cattle tyrant (Machetornis rixosa)

 

Capybara

 

Big Cat Country

 

Around four o clock we walked back up the main dirt track that comes into the Fazenda/farm, looking for whatever birds we could find in the open savannah like landscape, that provides grazing for herds of cattle and horses. As we walked, I had one eye out for birds and the other checking the ground, looking for any suitable patches of mud on the road and any of the trails that we took heading back. We saw quite a few nice birds

 

Bay-winged Cowbird

Bay-winged cowbird (Agelaioides badius badius)

 

Plumbeous Ibis

Plumbeous ibis (Ceristicus caerulescens)

 

Long-Tailed Ground Dove

Long-tailed ground dove (Uropelia campestris)

 

Green-barred Woodpecker

Green-barred woodpecker (Colaptes melanochloros)

 

And also a pair of marsh deer, then following a trail through the grass close to the Pixaim river, I found just what I was looking for perfect cat pugmarks this was definitely a good sign. Even better the next morning, I found plenty more pugmarks in the same area, though they weren’t absolutely fresh, we were clearly in big cat country.

 

Pugmarks 'Big Cat Country'

 

The track on the left was over the top of a capybara track, this is why it appears to have an extra toe, these certainly looked to me big enough to be jaguar tracks or maybe they were puma, I wasn’t sure how to tell the difference, but looking at my mammals book later and considering there was known to be a jaguar in the area, jaguar seemed more likely. Despite all the spoor we’d found, I didn’t think it was likely that we would see one, unless we got lucky on a night drive, but it sure made walking at the PWC, just that bit more exciting.

 

We finished up back at the lodge with a Jabiru and a rather muddy capybara

 

Jabiru Stork

Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)

 

Muddy Capybara
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kittykat23uk

I'm waiting with bated breath to see if you saw your jaguar!

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inyathi

A nice morning in the Pantanal

 

PWC is marketed as a great place to view the Pantanal’s wildlife, but they don’t like to make it too easy, the restaurant doesn’t open for breakfast until 06:30, whereas dawn was at 05:30 and if you want to see stuff, that’s when you need to be out and about. Not wanting to miss either the birds/wildlife or breakfast, we compromised and opted to go out for an hour at sunrise, then return for breakfast before heading out again.

 

Sunrise Pantanal Wildlife Centre

 

 

Sunrise Pantanal Wildlife Centre

It was worth going out at 05:30 just to see the sunrise

 

The lodge sits on the bank of the Rio Pixaim, the river is not particularly wide and the stretch immediately in front of the lodge was entirely green, completely clogged with water hyacinth but at least here it’s a native plant. We set off following a path along the river bank to where the lodge boats are moored, at a point where the hyacinth starts to clear, just before the river turns a right angle bend and the trail goes straight on into forest. Suddenly there was a splash from the other side of the river, we looked around surprised to see a single giant otter swimming around in this pool of open water, unusually it was entirely on its own, giant otters normally live in groups of 5-9, we watched it for a while, before deciding to continue into the riverine forest to look for antbirds and anything else we might find. After returning to the lodge for a quick breakfast at 06:30, we headed back out along the same trail through the forest, finding plenty of birds and a very tame troop of black-striped capuchins.

 

Band-tailed Antbird

Band-tailed antbird (Hyposnemoides maculicauda)

 

Black-striped Capuchin

 

 

Black-striped Capuchin

Black-striped Capuchin (Cebus libidinosus)

 

Orange-backed Troupial

Orange-backed troupial (Icterus croconotus)

 

By mid morning, it was starting to get pretty hot, in fact walking back through the more open outer edge of the forest, it was roasting when not in the shade and we were really quite glad to be going back for lunch, unlike for breakfast we wouldn’t be missing much by returning to the lodge.

 

Water Hyacinth Rio Pixaim

Rio Pixaim looking back towards the lodge

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inyathi

If you want to catch a fish you have to keep your fly in the water

 

However painful it may be sometimes, if you really want to see wildlife you have to be out and about at the crack of dawn. That’s when animals are most active and then as the day heats up activity slows down, almost ceasing during the hottest part of the day, before resuming again in late afternoon, once it’s cooled down. It’s easy to assume in the tropics that this is always the case, therefore you can be forgiven for thinking, that there’s really no point in going out in the middle of the day, you won’t see anything, so much better to spend the time enjoying a nice siesta in your room or tent, but sometimes you’d be wrong to think this. It is true that on an African safari at the end of your morning game drive, if it’s very hot most of the animals will be sheltering in the shade, not really doing anything, so there’s not much point in staying out, but this isn’t true everywhere. I’ve learnt from past experience that in the right circumstances, in the right place, animals remain active and you can see amazing things even during the middle of the day, but obviously not if you’re asleep your room. Which is why always like to spend my siesta time outside, besides I’ve never seen much point in flying half way around the world, to look at the inside of a hotel room.

 

So after lunch, I took my reading book and cameras and walked back along to the bend in the river, where we’d seen the otter earlier in the off chance that it might still be there. Although we’d been warned not to walk around alone and I was walking over jaguar spoor, I reasoned that any cats would be unlikely to come this close to the lodge during the daytime and besides I wasn’t going any real distance. Finding a nice patch of sand, I sat down in the shade with my back against the bank and after getting comfortable, started to read my book, however the Mongols would have to halt their advance on Moscow at least for a while. For not long after I sat down, I noticed a movement in the river, I put down my book and picked up my camera, just as I’d hoped the otter was still in residence. Giant otters are immensely curious animals and this one was no exception, looking very like a rather slimline seal, it swam from over the other side to come and check me out, stopping perhaps no more than 10ft away. Raising its head out of the water to get a better look, before swimming off and then perhaps unsure of what to make of me, it came back for another look. These two photos taken at 400mm are not cropped.

 

Ariranha - Giant Otter

 

Ariranha - Giant Otter

Ariranha - Giant Otter (Ptenonura brasiliensis)

 

After a full 10 minutes the otter finally disappeared, having provided me with another incredible animal encounter, to add to the list and this all happened at just after one o clock, a time when most people wouldn’t think of being out. Soon afterwards I realised that my shade had all but vanished, so I went back up the bank and climbed a small observation tower and resumed reading, the Russians wouldn’t be spared their fate after all.

 

Large-billed Tern

Large-billed tern (Phaetusa simplex)

 

After an hour or so I concluded that the otter probably wasn’t going to come back, so I headed back to the lodge and sat on the veranda, watching the birds coming to a feeder attached to a nearby tree, until it was time to set off for the afternoon boat trip.

 

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inyathi

The Rio Pixaim

 

Chaco Chachalaca

Chaco chachalaca (Ortalis canicollis)

 

When we set off around three o clock the otter was nowhere to be seen and we didn’t find any more on the Rio Pixaim, which made my earlier encounter all the more special. Before actually heading off, the boatmen produced some fish, which he threw into the river to attract a great black hawk, as is often done with fish eagles elsewhere in the world, but as on previous occasions with fish/sea eagles, I failed to get any really good shots, I guess I just haven’t quite got the hang of it.

 

Great Black Hawk

 

 

Great Black Hawk

Great black hawk (Buteogallus urubitinga)

 

The boat trip was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon, but wasn’t too productive the only mammals were lots of capybaras, which are very common at the PWC and some bats and while we saw a good few birds, we didn’t score many new ones. We did also see a few caiman and some common iguanas.

 

Cocoi Heron

Cocoi heron (Ardea cocoi)

 

 

Limpkin

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna)

 

 

Black-backed water tyrant

Black-backed water tyrant (Fluvicola albiventer)

 

 

Proboscis Bats

Proboscis Bats (Rhynchonycteris naso)

 

 

Iguana

Common Iguana (Iguana iguana)

 

 

Crane Hawk

Crane hawk (Geranospiza caerulescens)

 

 

Osprey

Osprey (Pandion halieatus)

 

 

Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed kingfisher (megaceryle torquata)

 

 

Capybara

Capybara Swimming

 

 

Black Skimmer

Black skimmer (Rynchops niger)

 

 

Grey-necked Wood-rail

Grey-necked wood-rail (Aramides cajanea)

 

 

Sunbittern

Sunbittern (Europygya helias)

 

 

After dinner back at the lodge we set out on a night drive through the Fazenda and out on to the highway, but all we managed to score was a pair of crab-eating foxes, a boat-billed heron and some nightjars. Apart from my lucky encounter with the giant otter PWC had been just a little disappointing, as far as mammals were concerned, as the giant anteaters and some of the small cats and other carnivores had failed to materialise and although I’d heard plenty of black & gold howler monkeys, like their red-handed cousins in the Amazon they remained hidden. Still the following day we would be moving on to Porto Joffre, hopefully while there, we would see at least one or more jaguars, which would certainly make up for some of what we’d missed.

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kittykat23uk

I got the impression that jaguars are rarely seen along the route to Porto Joffre. But from that lodge onwards that is where the good chances are.

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inyathi

The early bird catches the worm

 

If some of the mammals hadn’t performed at least the birds had and we’d ticked off just about all of our target species, so it was decided that in the morning we would have breakfast at 06:30 and then leave soon after. A pre-breakfast early morning bird walk was optional, well as I said earlier I hadn’t come to Brazil look at the inside of a hotel room and so as not waste daylight, I was already packed, but rather than go birding, I decided to go back to the river and have one last look for my friend the otter. After all it’s not every day that you can step out of your door and walk for just a couple of minutes to find a Giant Otter.

 

After taking a few not so good shots of the sunrise, I got to the river at about 05:30. It seemed at first that the otter wasn’t there this time, but when I stood right on the bend, not more than perhaps 300 metres from the lodge and scanned all the way down the river, I spotted its familiar head sticking up and watched as it enjoyed a nice fish breakfast. I was glad to see that it was still around even, if it was a long way away, then as I watched I noticed something else, there was an animal swimming across the river. Having seen a few capybaras swimming and also grazing on the bank the day before, I just dismissed it as just another of these large rodents albeit a rather pale one. A few moments later my eye was drawn to a movement on the far side of the Pixaim, my swimming animal had reached the bank and was just emerging from the water hyacinth. That’s not a capybara I said to myself or rather to be honest, I said something a bit like that, but with a few choice words of Anglo-Saxon origin added, that I won’t repeat here.

 

I couldn’t believe what I was looking at, but my binoculars confirmed that my eyes were really not deceiving me, I lowered my bins hastily raised my camera and desperately tried to steady myself, as I’d actually started to shake. I held my breath and started to shoot when I lowered my camera having taken 25 shots, I was still shaking due I guess to the combination of excitement and adrenalin. I had to take a good few deep breaths to try and calm myself. Returning to the lodge, I bumped into an American woman, she asked me if I’d been photographing the toucan “no” I said, “I’ve just been photographing something much more interesting” and then showed her the back of my camera.

Edited by inyathi
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