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Brazil September 2013


michael-ibk
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You´re right, I´m not very creative with titles. :P

Calm waters, moist lush green meadows, fish fighting for air and being feasted upon by myriads of birds, jaguars silently prowling the riverbanks, always on the search for a careless capybara or a caiman – it was a TV nature documentary with these images that made me interested in the Pantanal, the great wetlands of Brazil. At first I didn´t even think that one could see jaguars there. A secretive cat, mostly staying deep in the undergrowth and avoiding humans who had always been its deadly enemy – and therefore mostly invisible, that´s how I pictured the chances. When researching a bit more I was delighted to learn that there are places where the chances of seeing this magnificent cat, surpassed only by tiger and lion in size, are surprisingly good. Reading reports here by the likes of @@Atravelynn or @@kittykat23uk further proved that apparently one doesn´t have to be all that lucky to see jaguars but has to be rather unlucky missing them if you go to the right places. With that in mind, and the prospect to see as interesting animals as capybaras, giant otters, anteaters, tapirs and their likes, and my newfound (thanks to India) interest in birds, the decision to travel to the Pantanal was made.

We finally booked with the agency
http://www.pantanal-pocone.net/en/index.php . Based in Poconé, the entry gate to Brazil, run by a German, Mr. Stysch, who answered to all our questions quickly and competently, lots of very positive clients feedback on the guestbook , a German-speaking guide (not a necessity but a nice plus) and a very informative and extensive homepage convinced us. A good choice, we had a wonderful time, everything was perfectly organized, communications ran fast, information accurate. We will definitely go with them in the future.

As with India, we decided to include some of Brazil´s most famous sights into the trip and so came finally up with the following itinerary. (I included travel times and our activities.)

Sept 20 Departure in Austria at 09.00
Sept 21 Arrival in Cuiaba at 14.00, overnight there at hotel Gran Odara.
Sept 22 Drive to Fazenda Sao Sebastiao (~ 6 hours), afternoon walks and (evening) game drives
Sept 23 Fazenda Sao Sebastiao, boat trip, walks and (evening) game drives
Sept 24 Fazenda Sao Sebastiao, boat trip, walks and (evening) game drives
Sept 25 Fazenda Sao Sebastiao, boat trip to Isla Tamaia, (evening) game drive
Sept 26 Drive to Poconé (~ 5 hours), lunch at Pousada Ueso, proceed on the Transpanteira with many stops and some walks (~ 6 hours), arrive in Porto Jofre at about 20.00
Sept 27 Porto Jofre, all-day boat trip
Sept 29 Porto Jofre, all-day boat trip
Sept 30 Porto Jofre, all-day boat trip, night game drive (00.00 – 03.00)
Sept 31 Breakfast at Porto Jofre, walk, depart at 09.00, drive on the Transpantaneira to Rio Claro with many stops (~ 4 hours), lunch there, afternoon boat trip, evening game drive
Oct 1 Rio Claro, Walk through the gallery forest, afternoon boat trip, night game drive (23.00 – 02.00)

Oct 2 Breakfast at Rio Claro, drive at 08.00 on the Transpantaneira to Pousada Piuval with a stop at Pousada Curicara, lunch at Piuval, afternoon walk in the gallery forests, view tower, evening game drive

Oct 3 Pousada Piuval, morning game drive and walk, at 08.00 drive to Poconè and one-hour scenic flight from there, afternoon horse ride, game drive and walk
Oct 4 Depart at 02.30, flight from Cuiaba (05.55) to Brasilia (about 80 minutes flight time), city tour, overnight there
Oct 5 Flight to Iguacu via Sao Paolo (Departure 08.00, arrival 13.40), visit to the bird park in Iguacu, overnight in Hotel St. Martin
Oct 6 Iguacu Falls (Brasilian side) with helicopter flight, visit to the Itaipu dam in the afternoon
Oct 7 Iguacu Falls (Argentinan side) with boat tour
Oct 8 Visit the bird park, flight to Rio de Janeiro (depart at 14.00, arrival 15.30), Copacabana Beach, overnight Hotel Copacabana Mar
Oct 9 Corcovado, Sugarloaf Mountain, Tijuca Forest
Oct 10 Old Town, City, Copacabana
Oct 11 Copacabana, depart at 13.00 for airport
Oct 12 Arrival back home at 22.00

We flew with TAM airlines since they offer an international and domestic flight package for a reasonable price. All flights were dead on time, and baggage always arrived safely. Meals were alright, and the entertainment programme would have been wonderful if their headphones would be compatible with the seat-plugins. Unfortunately they aren´t, and so you have to decide – do you want to have sound on your left or your right ear. *grumble*

Getting there from Austria was a long travel, we left for the local airport at 09.00 a.m. and finally arrived in Cuiaba at 14.00. The stopover in Sao Paolo particularly wouldn´t pass. But we could see palms from the airport, the different vegetation, and some Black Vultures were around, so the excitement of being in a foreign country again outbalanced our fatigue.

In Cuiaba the sudden heat outside after so many hours in climatized rooms was a bit of a shock. We met our guide Ariberto. First impressions were very positive, a likeable gentleman, and his charming accent when speaking German would often made me smile. After check-in we went for a little walk in the city but our impressions from our drive to the hotel and what Ariberto had said only confirmed: Cuiaba is totally unnoteworthy, and presently half the city seems to be under construction in preparation for next year´s soccer mania. So we soon returned to the hotel. (Gran Odara,
http://en.hotelgranodara.com.br/ To be recommended, nice rooms and the best breakfast buffet we had during our trip.)

When trying to get down to dinner we waited nearly 20 minutes for elevators because apparently every single guest tried to do the same thing at exactly the same time. From the way everyone dressed there was a wedding party going on (or Brazilians seriously overdress for dinner). Quite unnerved and pretty fatigued we just gave up on the elevators, decided to ditch dinner altogether and crashed. Not the worst decision, we slept through till next morning and so jetlag was defeated.

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Cuiaba


We left Cuiaba at 07.00. The drive to Cáceres was quite nice, a straight smooth tarmac road, traffic wasn´t to bad and way first leads through a beautiful Cerrado area, the wooded savanna that once dominated much of Brazil but is quickly diminishing because of the demands of agriculture.

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The Road to Cáceres

Later on we reached the foothills of the
Chapada dos Guimarães, the local table mountains, a particularly interesting landscape with a mixture of rolling hills and steep rugged rock. Seemed very fitting for Pumas, and against better knowledge I always half-expected to see one. (I didn´t, of course.)

After a fuel stop in Cáceres the Pantanal – and with it the trip – started properly. The first little ponds materialized, we crossed Rio Paraguai, our grand companion for the next four days. Soon we left the main road behind and proceeded on a small sandy and very bumpy driveway, leading to Fazenda Sao Sebastiao. You really need a good car here.

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Our Car was fine.

Greater Rheas were our first sighting, almost immediately after we had left the main road. A sight quite common in the common day, though they are not particularly approachable. Soon after we had our first classic Pantanal image. A Savanna Hawk perching on a fence post, and a small drying-out water pool with all sort of birds. Here we saw Brazilian Teal, Snowy Egret, Bare-Faced and Plumbeous Ibis and Yellowlegs. As we were already leaving the hawk decided we deserved a closer look and flew on to the very fence post closest to the car!

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Savanna Hawk

We soon left this open terrain, surroundings got more thickly vegetated, and drier and drier as we proceeded. (Open windows were not a good idea, way too much sand!)

We saw Rheas again, two Red-Legged Seriemas and one Six-Banded Armadillo shuffling across the road and quickly disappearing in the shrubbery.

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Greater Rhea

Then our first caiman sighting – but not exactly like we had imagined it:

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Very dead Yacaré Caiman and Black Vultures

Caimans can survive for a long time without food, and when their pools dry out they are capable of migrating considerable distances to the next water. These ones weren´t, for whatever reason, and the Black Vultures were having a field day.

We took some time to watch Black-Backed Stilts, Sandpipers and Gray-Necked Wood Rails, but then the wind turned. Wow, dead caiman can stink! Definitely time to move on.

After more Rheas we got our first sighting of Toco Toucans. Magnificently beautiful birds, and their enormous beak has been the topic of much debate in science. A cooling system to better regulate body temperature seems to be the prevailing opinion. Ariberto thinks differently, and what he said made the Toucans immediately appear a little less friendly: The like to eat little chicks, and their long beaks come in handy for getting into the sometimes intricate nests of species like Rufous Hornero or Caciques.

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Toco Toucan

Just in time for our arrival at the Facenda we had the pleasure of also seeing the Pantanal´s heraldic bird, the Jabiru. The first of many, many sightings, I was delighted what an almost ever-present sight this wonderful bird is.

We settled into our accommodations at Fazenda Sao Sebastiao (http://www.pantanal-pocone.net/en/pantanal/lodges/faz_sao_sebastao.php).

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Entrance Gate

Rooms a bit rustic, but the surroundings were fantastically beautiful. (I will write a bit more on the Fazenda in coming chapters.)

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Fazenda Sao Sebastiao

After a simple but very good lunch the first mammal highlight of the trip materialized. In fact, next to the kitchen! So unexpected, and so extraordinary, I could barely believe my eyes when I saw her – Ninha! Who´s Ninha?

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That´s Ninha!

A young female tapir, her mother taken by a jaguar about 1 ½ years ago when she was just a few months old. The farm workers saved her from starving in the wild and brought her up. She has mostly returned to her natural habitat and wanders around the gallery forests but about every 2 weeks or so she returns “home” to the Fazenda. And promptly tries to get into the kitchen where she can always expect to be fed with a few delicacies.

What an unexpected delight, and what a gentle and beautiful animal. We could feed her with fruit (she would share with a few hens), even pet her, and she would patiently permit it and bear our overbearing enthusiasm for her. She even seemed to quite enjoy it. Only after half an hour or so she had enough and after taking a quick look through the kitchen again to make sure she hadn´t missed anything she wandered off again.

Ariberto smiled. He hadn´t told us of her because no one could know if Ninha would show up for our stay. We were really lucky she did. I wasn´t even sure we would see a tapir at all, and now we had even touched one. Great start!

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Thanks Ninha, for a great surprise!

 

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Great start and beautiful photos @@michael-ibk , considering the length of this trip we're expecting a long report with hundreds of photos! Those caimans would make amazing halloween masks - did you find out the reason for their demise? The Ninha experience must have been great but I'm a bit worried about the man in the blue and white striped shirt that was sitting where Ninha is positioned in the last photo? Looking forward to more...

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@@africapurohit

 

I can assure you that Ninha is totally innocent, a gentle soul like her would never do such a thing. The guy on the left, so focused on trying to look inconspicous, seems a more likely culprit to me. :D

 

Ariberto said the caimans had died of dehydration. But of course we didn´t inspect closely.

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@@michael-ibk

Great start to what looks like a really good trip

Perfect timing for us as we are seriously thinking of going to the Pantanal after reading other trip report on Safaritalk

I am really looking forward to the next chapters (and all practical details welcome!)

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@@TonyQ

 

Thank you. Stop thinking - just go there! :)

 

And any questions you have, I´ll be happy to help.

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Sounds like you had a great time @@michael-ibk

Wonderful photos and love all the details.

Bringing Brazil closer to home for me :)

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I´ll be following this TR although I confess I´m a little jealous, I didn´t get to see a tapir, let alone in the kitchen :D .

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What a great start! Looking forward to hearing more of your travels as you have a comprehensive Brazil itinerary.

 

Sao Sebastian looks interesting and I hadn't heard that they had a people-friendly tapir there. We met Ari a few times along the Transpantaneira this year, and your description of him as a gentleman is a good description of him.

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I wonder if Ninha will continue to return to childhood. It would be really interesting if some day she brought along her own offspring. Funny you mention the nature documentary that brought you to Brazil. That's exactly why the couple I shared a vehicle with came to the Pantanal. Looking forward to all the rest.

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Thank you all. Will take a while before I can continue, work has this nasty habit of consuming too much of my time. And I need to figure out how to create youtube-compatible videos. :huh:

 

@@Treepol

 

Well, we met your Julinho too, at Porto Jofre. He´s well respected by the other guides. Who seem to have a nice community spirit going on, everyone knows everyone and they are all constantly joking with each other. The only thing Ariberto was not so keen on: sharing a bed room with five other guides, some of them constantly joking when he wanted to sleep.

 

@@Atravelynn

 

Now you´ve given me another good return reason. (Not that I needed one.) Let´s see, Ninha was said to be about two years old now, exactly the age where tapirs reach sexual maturity. Allow her a litte time to get acquainted to guys (she is a shy one and a bit chaste I´m afraid), factor in a gestation period of 13 months, and so autumn 2015 should be a good time to check out litte tapir babies. Or rather baby, they rarely have more than one.

 

Really looking forward to your puma-experiences, btw (and all the rest of course). A shame they are almost impossible to see in the Northern Pantanal.

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Love the tapir. I enjoy the Pantanal reports, such interesting animals.

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And you've given me a reason to return and try out Fazenda Sao Sebastiao.

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After lunch with Ninha Ariberto suggested some short siesta time to get a little rest after the long drive. We agreed, but mainly for his sake, driving the car to the Fazenda hadn´t been easy, but we were much too eager to explore our new surroundings, so having a nap never truly crossed our mind. So we left the main area and went to the road where we had arrived, just to see if we could spot anything. Anything?. The problem was rather where to look. To the black-backed stilts and southern lapwings in the small puddles? To the savanna hawk gulping down his prey? To the yacaré caimans hiding from the sun in the small water canal next to the road? The parakeet flocks in the trees? Rufous Horneros? Guira Cuckoos? Plumbeous Ibis? …

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The Fazenda´s surroundings.


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Identifying birds in the Pantanal is not always easy, especially with the tyrant family. I think this is a White-Throated Kingbird, but Tropical Kingbird or Sulphury Flycatcher look practically identical so I´m not sure at all.

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Plumbeous Ibis. This is a juvenile bird which had the misfortune to fall out of its nest. We saw it at pretty much the same spot for two days, then it was gone. No doubt taken by some predator.

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I like to call it Punk bird, but it´s a Guira Cuckoo.

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Peach-Fronted Parakeet.

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A Vermillion Flycatcher, a tiny but striking sight. (Our only one.)

We didn´t walk more than 500 m, but were totally overwhelmed with the abundance of birdlife around the farm building. No wonder we returned a little late, and meeting Ninha again on our way back was of course a further hold-up.

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Ninha welcoming us again.



For the afternoon a little walk through the gallery forest was scheduled. The short driving distance there still took quite some time because we had to stop any 50 m for looking at something.

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Yacaré caimans are said to be harmless, and allegedely pose no threat for humans. (Though females can behave aggressively when defending their nests which can contain more than 50 eggs.) Still, their teeth look dangerous enough.

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You rarely see a single jabiru, the Pantanal´s heraldic bird. They always range in pairs, usually staying with each other all their lives. (Purportedly when one dies the partner follows soon after.)

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Pampas Deer, one of four deer species to be found in the Pantanal, and the second-largest. Their white eye rings and the smaller antlers easily discern them from the bigger marsh deer who have black legs. Pampas Deer were quite a regular sight during our stay at Fazenda Sao Sebastiao (but none to be seen later on). Once they were abundant in South America, and huge herds wandered the open grass plains. Not anymore, they were massively hunted in the 19th century. Just for example, between 1860 and 1870 two millions deer pelts were sent to Europe. The species never recovered, and their habitat is shrinking every year because of expanding agriculture

When we finally reached the woods the first sight after exiting the car was a big tapir disappearing into the shrubbery. On our walk it soon became pretty dusky and the forest was so dense that we never had good clear sights of animals.

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The Gallery forest


Still, we spotted some howler monkeys, tinamous, chaco chacalacas, crested oropendola, and a squirrel. (This one excited Ariberto much more than us, as they are apparently a very rare sight in the Pantanal whereas they are common and quite easy to see back home. And just wanted to mention, I don´t take notes, so I probably already forgot half of what we saw.) A (red?) brocket deer was staring back at us inquisitively for minutes as we were watching it with binocs, but didn´t allow a closer approach. We also found big cat tracks, but as the path was very sandy it was impossible to say if we were dealing with puma or jaguar. But exciting either way, and the thought that one of these predators would maybe even watch us, invisibly hidden in the thick underwood, made us feel a bit adventurous.

Night fell (very quickly) as we finally returned to the car after an hour or two, and Ariberto set up a strong searchlight on the car´s roof, linked to the battery. On our way back to the fazenda we saw crab-eating foxes, a crab-eating racoon, several pampas deer and another tapir at a little pond, quickly retreating to the trees as we approached. The lights also revealed the incredible number of yacaré caimans gathering in even the smallest water body – a fascinating sight as dozens of yellow-orange shimmering eyes were staring back at us. I just couldn´t fathom how so many of these big reptiles could find enough food in the tiny puddles they had made their home.

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Sunset at Fazenda Sao Sebastiao


We returned to our dinner at about 08.00 pm, and went to sleep soon after pretty tired from a long day full of unforgettable impressions. More than happy with our first day, especially considering we hadn´t even been to the river, our main goal here. I was convinced nothing would be able to wake me up till next morning. Wrong, as my normally pacifist soul was turned into that of a brutal killer who would have enjoyed nothing more than getting his hands around the neck of his victim and joyfully strangle it to death.

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Identifying birds in the Pantanal is not always easy, especially with the tyrant family. I think this is a White-Throated Kingbird, but Tropical Kingbird or Sulphury Flycatcher look practically identical so I´m not sure at all.

 

 

I could be wrong but looking at my own Brazil photos I think this might be a cattle tyrant, the books I've looked at suggest that a kingbird would have a slightly heavier bill but all these birds do look very similar so it's hard to say for sure.

 

I'm looking forward to reading more of this

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What an action packed first day! Sao Sebastian certainly has prolific wildlife and a good tapir population judging by your first day's sightings.

 

 

 

Looking forward to more, and to discovering what has upset your pacifist soul so much!

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Great bird sightings! I am looking forward to the next chapter) and did you kill anyone/thing?)

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@@inyathi

I had thought of Cattle Tyrant but these have a red iris which is quite visible in other pics I took. And I think the legs shoud be even longer. But who knows...

Day 2 at Fazenda Sao Sebastiao

Most Northern Pantanal visitors spend their trips in the many accommodations along the Transpantaneira. Fazenda Sao Sebastiao, however, is situated about 200 km more to the west, not too far from the Bolivian border. A huge farm, with 20000 cattle and more than 60,000 hectare. It´s absolutely “untouristy”, on our first evening one other guest was there, and we had it to our own for the following three days. The main reason why it was probably our favourite part of the trip even if animals (especially jaguars) are more habituated and approachable in the “classic” Pantanal areas. For the next year or so the Fazenda doesn´t even have the capacity for more than 2 guests at a time for they only have one (small) boat. There are plans to build a small lodge but so far just plans. So it feels more like being a private guest on a farm rather than a proper lodge. You get your drinks yourself from the fridge, share your meals with the dogs, cats and chicken always scurrying around your feet and begging for scraps. Which I liked. On the downside, they don´t tidy up your rooms and fresh towels have to be requested. And absolutely nobody speaks one word of English, so I was glad I had studied a few bits and pieces of Portuguese which proved to be quite helpful. (Which is very much the norm all around the Pantanal btw, as are the different … how to put this …. toilet paper disposal procedures.)

All in all, however, it´s a very intimate experience here which I absolutely enjoyed. Although you have to get used to the pananeiros´ (the local cowboys) bemused facial expressions around the farm building when they uncomprehendingly watch you running after some bird or caiman. After all, how weird do you have to be for getting all excited over some stupid animals who are to be seen everywhere in masses? They permanently give you a thumbs-up, though. At first I thought they were making fun of us but I soon learned it´s just the local way of saying “Hi”.

So how could this beautiful place drive me to the intent of murder? As I said, lots of animals are running around everywhere, cattle, horses, cats, pigs, turkeys, tapirs, chicken and … cocks! The loudest and meanest cocks in the world Who start with their unbearable cock-a-doodle-doo at bloody 3 o´clock in the morning. Without one moment of pause. I´m quite sure they hopped on my outer window ledge and directed their unbearable croaking straight at me. Deliberately, to torture me. All hundred of them.

So after a few hours of sleepless despair I gave up and got up at 5 o´clock. Went outside, dark circles around my bloodshot eyes, and stared at the culprits with rancorousness. After deciding that I wouldn´t be able to catch and strangle one for revenge in my overtired state I started to explore the surroundings again. (My relationship with the cocks improved substantially the following night when I discovered I had brought earplugs. So the cocks were lucky and remained unstrangled - little did the feathered squallers know how narrowly they had escaped death.)

My first “sighting” did not do much to lighten me up – absurdly huge cockroachy-thingies:

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But after that I soon found something much more delightful – a tree full of hyacinth macaws just next to the airstrip (which is there for medical emergencies).Beautiful, always-active birds, and my mood lit up immediately. After a rich breakfast (orange juice, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, ham, cheese, cake and fresh fruit) we met Pedrinho, our boatsman and local guide. Originally a full-day boat trip to Isla Taiama had been planned but the weather god was not on our side. A cold streak had crept in over night, and it was too windy and risky for a full day on the river, especially if weather conditions would deteriorate. So only a half-day trip on the river was on. (“Cold Streak” is very relative, btw – Ariberto and the people on the fazenda thought it was really cold and wore jackets, to us it felt quite pleasant, the temperature was still well over 20 ° Celsius.) Bit of a downer since the chance of spotting jaguars had gone to practically zero – they like to come to the river when it´s hot but are almost never seen on days like this.

It´s about 12 km to Rio Paraguai from the Fazenda but our drive (in a rack body pick-up with a wooden bench as seats) lasted almost 45 minutes. The terrain is difficult, very sandy, and often cattle form living road blocks. But the first part, leading through open meadows, is very nice, lots of trumpet trees, some of them still yellow, and always some rheas, pampas deer or jabiru to look at. Later the way goes through thick shrubbery where we always had to watch out for thorny branches growing far into and over the path from both sides.

Finally we reached the river, and examined our new way of transportations – a very small motor boat. Looked very small to us. We felt not all that secure getting in and it :took some time to work out how to position camera, binocs and monopod, especially since we had to wear a very clunky life vest. And the wind and the waves made sure that we got a bit wet, too. I found taking photos very difficult, too. The current is quite strong so the boat can never hold position, and it´s of course never steady.

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But all unease was soon gone, everything on the river felt tranquil and peaceful, and we enjoyed the many, many sightings the river had to offer. Cocoi Herons were everywhere, nearly every 100 m one would sit on a branch on some river sections, with the odd Rufescent Tiger Heron inbetween. Great Egrets, Anhingas, Cormorants, Southern Screamers, pairs of Jabiru were regular sightings, too. (Quite shy, though, most of the bigger birds flew off when we came closer.) I especially enjoyed the kingfishers, of which we saw three different species.

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This is a Ringed Kingfisher, the largest one.

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A female Green Kingfisher, very similar to the slightly larger Amazon Kingfisher.

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Juvenile Savanna Hawk. Fun to watch as he was quite clumsy and didn´t quite know how to land properly.

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Black-Backed Water Tyrant. Why these tiny birds are unbefittingly called “tyrants” is quite puzzling but the family name of “tyrant” flycatchers apparently reflects the aggressive nature of some species, which drive away much larger birds that venture too near their nests.

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Yellow-Billed Cardinal

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Toco Toucan.

And of course there are Capybaras. Lots of. After a while you start to ignore them as they are very common, probably the only mammal in the Pantanal where sightings can be a 100 % guaranteed. But the first ones are special, and they are very approachable, they totally ignore humans even when you get as close as a few metres:

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Nursing Capybara, a lovely sight. Dad´s sitting next to Mum, you can distinguish the males by the black patch on their muzzle.

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The Riverside in bloom.

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Wattled Jacana.

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Yacaré Caimans were surprisingly rare. They prefer calmer, shallower water, and more importantly sandbanks which are few and inbetween – the banks are steep and more than 2 metres high here.

After about two hours we had our first big trip highlight – some curious heads were sticking out of the water plants:

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Giant Otters, a family of about 9!

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Great, great fun to watch, they are hyperactive animals, always diving up and down, nosing at this or that, munching some fish, playing with each other.

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Their fur markings are as unique as a human fingerprint.

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For more than 20 minutes they were swimming up and down the river, always allowing us to follow. Ariberto was quite amazed about their behaviour. Giant otters here in Rio Paraguai are not as used to tourist boats as in other Pantanal areas, and should normally be much more shy. Luckily they didn´t know that. Maybe it was the cold weather, or – as I prefer to think – they just liked us.

They even were relaxed enough to go ashore:

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Absolutely adorable animals, and we loved every minute they allowed us to spend with them.

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But after more than an hour they finally had enough of us, and off they were. A wonderful, unexpected sighting which made sure we didn´t even think of jaguars. And we had only seen one other (fishing) boat during our time on the river.

Here´s a little video I took with my camera. I apologize for the bad quality, it´s decent enough in the original file but suffers badly after uploading to youtube. So better don´t change to full screen. Any advice appreciated, no clue what I´m doing wrong.

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@@michael-ibk

You may have missed the jaguar but these otter photos are superb - amongst the best I have seen!

Keep it coming

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@@michael-ibk you're right the cattle tyrant does have a red iris so maybe it's not a cattle tyrant, this is why I prefer birding in Africa having fewer birds to choose from makes it so much easier.

 

Great views of giant otters it's nice to see them out of the water.

 

Unfortunately your video is set on private so we can't view it, I can't help with uploading videos to YouTube but I'm sure someone else here can.

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Fantastic Giant Otter photos - what a great sighting of them.

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Great shots of the ariranhas, (great otters), they are absolutely adorable, we weren´t lucky enough to see them out of the water but we had great sightings of them, I think my wife even prefer them to the jaguars.

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Thank you all.

 

Well, I agree they are probably more fun to watch as they are always active. But still, seeing a jaguar in the wild is thrilling in another way (that is IF I saw one... ;) )

 

We would see otters again several times (surprisingly and pleasantly often) but this first one was probably our "best" sighting, especially since we had the rare luck of seeing them out of the water. or at least one of the best, another sighting at Rio Piquiri was very special, too.

 

I changed the video settings at Youtube, does it work now?

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On our drive back to the Fazenda we first scared several Rheas who had strayed deep into the shrubs area. Not their normal terrain, and they only go in here on the road. Problem is when a car (us) comes they don´t flee to the left or right because they never ever enter densely-vegetated places. So they ran in front of us for a good 2 kilometres and Pedrinhos had to drive slowly not to over-exhaust them.

 

Out in the open we took some time to admire the yellow trumpet trees. We had missed the high point of their bloom by a few weeks but what was left was still beautiful enough:

 

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The Pampas Deer agreed:

 

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Back at the farm we didn´t rest long after lunch but checked what the Hyacinth Macaws were up to. We also saw a Toco Toucan in the orchard, some Buff-Necked Ibis and a Southern Crested Caracara enjoying its lunch:

 

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At about 15.00 we left with the pickup to search for Giant Anteaters in the southern area of the farm. Took us about one hour to get there. And turned out a bit frustrating because there was not that much to see, especially no anteater. The terrain didn´t even seem very suitable for them since termite mounds were scarce to non-existent. Even Ariberto doubted Pedrinho´s assurances that he had seen them here quite regularly. (Much of the Fazenda was new to Ariberto, too, they have only started with the tourist business about one year ago, and it was his third visit here – still lots of unchartered areas)

 

We did see the usual birds, of course (but not as many as around the farm itself) and a crab-eating fox, a three-banded armadillo (which again disappeared too fast for pics), some Rusty-Margined Guans and Chaco Chacalacas, and a Lineated Woodpecker. None of which photo material. All in all we were disappointed with this afternoon.

 

Ariberto managed to cheer us up very efficiently. We waited at a small waterhole for dawn, and were richly rewarded. Shortly after it had gotten dark two tapirs appeared to drink, and we watched them for about 20 minutes.

 

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Yes, we had seen Ninha, but this was different, here we were dealing with “properly wild” tapirs, and it was a wonderful sighting. So we had forgotten the not-too-thrilling afternoon and returned to the Fazenda (with many foxes and deer on the way) very content again. And today my earplugs made sure I had a peaceful uninterrupted cock-a-doodle-doo-free sleep.

 

Day 3 at Fazenda Sao Sebastiao:

 

We got up early again (05:00) and visited the Hyacinth Macaw tree. No less than eight of them were there, a nice sight, as we found out during our trip it´s not that usual to see them in numbers.

 

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A Red-Legged-Seriema was striding along the airstrip, and even Ninha showed herself shortly again.

 

Unfortunately the weather was still quite bad, even colder than the day before, and therefore an all-day-boat-trip was again out of the question. So we settled for a walk and an afternoon-boat-trip. We drove to some outposts of the farm which again showed us how huge the Fazenda is. Little houses are scattered around the area, inhabited by a few pantaneiros who take care of the cattle in their section.

 

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We stopped at a nice waterhole, surrounded by pink and yellow trees, to do some walking.

 

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Of course caimans were there, as were Whistling Herons, Black-Backed Stilts, Yellow-Billed Cardinals and a Rufous-Bellied Thrush:

 

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This quite inconspicuous bird is Brazil´s national bird thanks to a presidential decree in 2002. It was probably chosen because of a famous 19th century chauvinist poem by Gonçalves Dias, Canção do Exílio (The Exile Song), that says: “Minha terra tem palmeiras/Onde canta o sabiá/As aves que aqui gorgeiam/Não gorgeiam como lá” (My homeland has palm trees/ Where the thrush sings/ The birds that sing in here/ Do not sing as they do there).

 

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Burrowing Owl.

 

When walking across the meadows we watched a huge flock of Monk Parakeet:

 

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And shortly after found their nest. The Monk Parakeet is the only parrot that builds a stick nest in a tree or on a man-made structure, rather than using a hole in a tree. Sometimes they even use jabiru nests.

 

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When returning to the car we watched the pantaneiros doing their work.

 

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On this morning we found three different hyacinth macaw trees. They are considered to be endangered, no more than 6,500 birds are thought to remain in Brazil, eastern Bolivia and northern Paraguay. Here, however, they are abundant.

 

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Again the number of camains in every tiny pond or puddle puzzled us. Wouldn´t they eat up any fish in a matter of days, even hours? Well, apparently not, they all looked quite healthy.

 

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This one showed character. When we approached the pond six or seven caimans were dozing in the sun. But when we had gotten as close as 10 metres all of them fled into the water. All but Mr. “Wanna make something of it?” here. Even when we got still closer he stood his ground and snarlingly and unmistakably told us to better back off. We did.

 

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The cows seemed to respect him, too.

 

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