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Critters and Caipirinhas in Brazil


Atdahl
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It seems we have unknowingly created a trend of traveling to countries whose names are 6 letters long and start with a "B".  It started with trips to Belize in 2008 and 2010.  But, recently the trend has gotten a bit out of control. In 2016 we went to Brazil and then in 2017 AND 2018 we went to Borneo.

 

All of these trips were really good even the one with an over abundance of mosquitoes (I'm talking to you Belize 2010!).  So, instead of bucking the trend we decided to keep riding our luck and plan a trip to Brazil again.  While the last Brazil trip was fantastic (lots of Jaguars and Tapirs), I just wasn't satisfied with our one distant look at a Giant Anteater.  So, my goal for this trip was to have at least one great encounter with this incredible animal.

 

Originally, the plan was to visit the Atlantic forests outside Sao Paulo to look for some rare monkeys and then visit two lodges in the Southern Pantanal to maximize our Giant Anteater opportunities.

 

But, before my planning got too detailed, I discovered that our Borneo traveling buddies Bill and Peggy wanted to share in all the fun (and Caipirinhas!).  Well, that was great since we could share the cost of transfers and private guides and, more importantly, share all the fun with some great friends.  Plus, thanks to Peggy's suggestion, we added a weekend in Rio to the itinerary to finish up the trip.

 

So, the final plan looked like this:

  • Fly USA to Sao Paulo
  • 3 nights Fazenda Bacury (private bird guide)
  • 1 night Campo Grande
  • 4 nights Fazenda Baia das Pedras (private guide)
  • 4 nights Barranco Alto (private guide)
  • 1 night Campo Grande
  • 2 nights Rio de Janeiro (private bird guide)
  • Fly Rio to USA
  • Drink many Caipirinhas along the way

 

I must say that we executed that plan very well.  Especially that last bullet. 

 

So, on a sunny morning in Tucson at 8AM we took off for the airport bound for Sao Paulo.  Once again we sprang for business class seats since I'm too tall for coach.  However, since United sucks, our first leg to Houston was in Economy. But, it was only 2.5 hours which wasn't too bad.  

 

Once in Houston we had almost 6 hours to kill and we spent it in the new United polaris lounge which was fantastic.  It had comfortable seats, was uncrowded, and had good food.  Plus, we grabbed seats by the window overlooking the airport terminals so we could see all the planes coming and going. It was fascinating to watch everything that goes on just for one plane's arrival.

 

Since the United polaris lounge was so nice, I was hoping for an equally nice polaris business class flight to Sao Paulo.  Boy, was I mistaken.  I don't know who designed their hard product but it's horrible for something that is brand new.  Instead of United "Polaris" it should be called United "No-roomis".  The food was pretty lousy as well.  I could spend a whole post outlining all the poor things about United "No-roomis" but the bottom line is that we got to Sao Paulo on time and all our luggage was waiting for us.  

 

Also waiting for us was Carlos Henrique who we hired to be our bird guide for our time around Sao Paulo.  Carlos was not only an outstanding guide but a great guy to hang out with.  He is also a herpetologist and knows his mammals pretty good as well.  He is highly recommended for anyone looking for a guide in the Sao Paulo area and can be reached via his website: www.carduelis.bio.br/

 

We loaded all our luggage into Carlos' small rental Fiat SUV (it all barely fit) and we headed out of Sao Paulo towards Fazenda Bacury.  The trip took almost 5 hours but we did stop for a sit down lunch.

 

Fazenda Bacury is a working cattle ranch like most Fazendas in Brazil.  However, the owners Carlos Leoncio and his wife have protected huge portions of Atlantic forest on their property.  The reason I wanted to visit Bacury was because it's the best (and maybe only) place to see the largest spider monkey in the world which is called the Southern Muriqui.  It is also home to some other rare mammals like the Buffy-tufted Marmoset, Black-horned Capuchin, and Hoary Fox.  But, seeing any of these species would be unlikely especially the primates.  And, of course, there would be lots of new bird species to see.

 

Here is an aerial view that shows the location of the Fazenda and the Atlantic Forest that they have protected (Reserva Florestal):

Fazenda%2BBacury.jpg

 

 

The Fazenda itself is very nice.

 

Fazenda Bacury

 

It has at least 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining area, a living room, and a huge enclosed patio.  We had the whole place to ourselves since Carlos Leoncio only books it out to one group at a time.

 

Dining Area with Breakfast Spread

 

Living Room

 

Our room had two twin beds which were, of course, too short for me.  But, I am used to thrusting my legs out to loosen sheets so they can dangle off the end.

 

Our Room at Bacury

 

The grounds of the Fazenda are very nice and alive with birds.  But, in the harsh afternoon light only this shot of a Saffron Finch was decent:

 

Saffron Finch

 

At around 4PM we headed off to the forest which is about a 10 minute drive away from the Fazenda.  Along the way we passed by cattle pastures where Burrowing Owls peeked out at us. It reminded me a lot of Point Reyes in Northern California with the pastures, Burrowing Owls, rolling hills and fragments of forest.  There is only one narrow dirt road through the main section of forest and it's only accessible through some private gates so we had the whole place to ourselves as we slowly drove down that one road. 

 

About 10 minutes after entering the forest Karen yells out "Marmoset!".  Carlos Henrique stopped the car and looked out and agreed something was out there so we all got out and looked for movement in the thick trees.  A minute or two later Carlos confirmed that the Buffy-tufted Marmosets were around. We spent the next 15 minutes or so trying to get a clear look at one but all we saw were flashes of black or a bit of tail.  Finally, one of them crossed the road and I managed to get a shot of most of it:

 

Buffy-tufted Marmoset

 

It's not the best looking Marmoset but it's EXTREMELY rare.  Carlos Henrique has been coming to Bacury a handful of times a year for over 10 years and only saw them once before.  So, Karen gets a gold star for spotting one from the slow moving car.

 

We didn't have much time left before dusk but we did manage to see some new bird species before returning to the Fazenda for dinner.

 

The food at Bacury was outstanding.  Tonight's dinner was a pasta dish with beef and broccoli and some cheese empanadas that were delicious.  Once we were done with dinner Carlos Henrique pushed a little button sitting on the table and a bell rang in the kitchen.  All of a sudden, the cooks came out, took our dinner plates away, and delivered dessert.  At that moment I fell in love with that button.  A dessert bell! What an awesome invention.   I have to get me one of those.

 

The dessert was lime cheesecake which was a great way to end our first day.  After the long travel and excitement of seeing the Marmosets, none of us had any problem falling asleep.

 

Lots more to come...
 
Alan
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The next day, we were up at 5:45AM for breakfast after a decent night's sleep.   Breakfasts were pretty typical Brazilian style with ham and cheese, breads, yogurt, and of course cake.  Cake for breakfast is a wonderful Brazilian tradition and who was I to pass it up on a daily basis.

 

Once the sun came up, the grounds came alive with bird life.

 

Narrow-billed Woodcreeper:

Narrow-billed Woodcreeper

 

White-wedged Piculet:

White-wedged Piculet

 

Little Woodpecker:

Little Woodpecker

 

Rufous-headed Tanager:

Rufous-headed Tanager

 

We also encountered a frisky dog that continually jumped up on Karen and she complained about getting kissed by it.  "As if Alan wasn't bad enough" was Bill's tongue in cheek reply...

 

At about 8:30AM we headed back to the forest where we spent a few hours driving and walking around.  We saw no mammals but lots of birds including this wonderful endemic Crescent-chested Puffbird who had just caught a bee:

 

Cresent-chested Puffbird with Bee

 

We hung out at the Fazenda mid-day and walked the grounds a bit.  I was lucky enough to spot this Rufous-capped Motmot, which is a rare sighting on the ground apparently:

Rufous-capped Motmot

 

The Swallow-tailed Hummingbird was not a rare sighting since it spent all day guarding the feeder:

Swallowtail Hummingbird

 

At around 2:30, Carlos Henrique took us to a marshy area near the Piracicaba River which is more of a lake since it had been dammed. We saw lots of cool birds but nothing else.  These Streamer-tailed Tyrants were my favorite birds of the day:

 

Streamer-tailed Tyrant

 

Unfortunately, other flying creatures (mosquitoes) were out in huge numbers and forced us back to the car.  So, we ended the day going back to the forest where we got a better look at the cool Crescent-chested Puffbird:

 

Cresent-chested Puffbird

 

Today, we waited in the forest until after dark to try to see some of the nocturnal creatures.  We did have good luck when Carlos heard and then called in this Tawny-browed Owl:

Tawny-browed Owl

 

Back at the Fazenda, we went searching for nocturnal creatures again and found another owl.  This is a Tropical Screech Owl:

Tropical Screech Owl

 

We also had some nesting Barn Owls and a Common Paraque on the grounds but no mammals.

 

Dinner included a chicken dish, rice and beans, and a vegetable dish that I can't remember.  You will have to excuse my memory because towards the end of dinner I couldn't help but fixate on the dessert button.  Carlos saw me looking at it and when the time came, he slid it over to me and gave me the honors. "Ding Dong"....The kitchen doors opened and out came dessert.  I will never get tired of that.

 

Dessert was a fantastic peach pie and chocolate ice cream which I devoured wholeheartedly.  I certainly wouldn't be losing ANY weight on this trip.

 

Alan

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Lovely bird photos (and I know nothing about birds, but you did an amazing job capturing them!)  I'm following along with interest!

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Second that, really looking forward to this report.

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As a Brazilian, it is always good to see someone post about something that is close to us and I will follow with much interest. I am no expert, but the birds are a spectacle apart, the diversity is enormous. There is a good chance of seeing the biggest monkey in the Americas (muriqui). You're right, food and caipirinhas make up this gorgeous landscape very well ... it's just the beginning of an excellent sensory experience.

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Those 6-letters B countries are becoming more tempting with each of your trip reports! Specially when such great birds are included.

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I'm really enjoying this report so far - brilliant photos and I'm loving the animal names, especially Buffy-tufted Marmoset, Hoary Fox & Tawny-browed Owl.

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kittykat23uk

Reading your report whist waiting for my final connection on the way back from brazil. I love your hummingbird photo.

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18 minutes ago, kittykat23uk said:

Reading your report whist waiting for my final connection on the way back from brazil

 

And Jo, I've saved up a whole load of moderator jobs for you to do upon your return :) But your trip report can come first...

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kittykat23uk

Haha!

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Thanks everyone. 

 

I better get this report done before @kittykat23uk gets back and starts hers.  If a few of her FB photos are any indication she had a great trip too.

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Today we woke up before the alarm a little after 5AM.  I just wasn't tired enough to ignore the hard short bed I was sleeping in. We aren't used to firm beds but they are the norm in Brazil.  There was a Common Paraque outside our room calling as we were getting ready which is a nice way to ease into the day.  But, the coffee I had right after that was even a better way.

 

I have failed to mention the weather so far.  In a word, it was perfect.  The nights and mornings were cool and a bit windy. But, the days were clear and in the 70's.  It was hard to complain about that.

 

Today, we had a boat trip planned.  So, at 8:45AM we left for Tanqua which was a nearby town where we would jump on the boat.

 

On the way, one of the many resident Burrowing Owls was out:

Burrowing Owl

 

The boat trip can be summed up in two words..."birds" and "cows" because we saw lots of both. 

 

Here are a few of the birds and cows that we saw:

Curious Cows

 

Cocoi Heron:

Cocoi Heron

 

White-backed Stilt:

White-backed Stilt

 

Fulvous Whistling Ducks:

Fulvous Whistling Ducks

 

It was interesting to see how high the water gets in the wet season.  Here you can see the shoreline and the dead debris from the last wet season:

 

River Bank

 

 

Bare-faced Ibis:

Bare-faced Ibis

 

One of these ducks doesn't belong:

One of These Doesn't Belong

 

Savanna Hawk:

Savanna hawk

 

All in all, it was a really nice boat trip and it was cool to see some water birds that we wouldn't have otherwise gotten a chance to see.

 

Once again, I took a mid-day stroll around the grounds of the Fazenda to see what was out.

 

Curl-crested Jay:

Curl-Crested Jay

 

We spent the whole afternoon in the forest and driving around some of the local roads. One of the cowboys (Luis) came with us to increase the number of eyes looking.  The goal was to find the Southern Muriqui and maybe even a Hoary Fox.  Interestingly enough, Luis has worked at the Fazenda for years and has only seen the Buffy-tufted Marmosets twice.  So, our sighting a few days back was truly a very lucky one.

 

Here is a look at the narrow road through the forest:

Bacury Atlantic Forest

 

 

Unfortunately, we struck out on the Southern Muriqui but did get brief looks at the Black-horned Capuchin.  So, we ended up seeing two really rare primates at Bacury and didn't see the one that is "common".  I guess that's a decent trade off.

 

As we drove around some of the roads, our guide heard a Helmeted Manakin so we got out and finally lured it into photo range:

Helmeted Manakin

 

Not far from this spot, Karen found a Puma track but there were no signs of the creature that left it.  There was a small pond nearby and Carlos was trying to call out a rail or crake of some kind.  But, the call was quite humurous to me with a low rumbling and then high pitched squeaks.   I commented that I thought it sounded like a flatulent dolphin.  I figured that would be an easy thing to spot...just search the water for a stream of bubbles...

 

Right at dusk, as we were approaching the Fazenda, Luis spotted some eye shine in one of the fields.  We stopped to take a look and it turned out to be a Hoary Fox.  We all got good looks but my only decent photo was taken at ISO 25,600 and is a really noisy.  But, my wife insists that I post it so she won't forget about the experience:

 

DSC_2578_edited-1.jpg

 

 

Dinner consisted of chicken tetrazzini and rice which was very good.  But, no one paid any attention to dinner because sitting in the middle of the table was...the dessert button.  Tonight, I believe it was Bill that had the honors and like clockwork the doors opened and out came some Apple Pie for dessert. It was going to be REALLY hard to leave Bacury.

 

Looking back, there are so many things to like about Fazenda Bacury.   The food was varied and every dish was superb.  Carlos Leoncio and his wife were delightful to talk with and were excellent hosts.  The grounds were large and filled with bird life.  And, of course, the Atlantic Forest was fantastic to hike and drive in.  We were a bit disappointed to not see the Southern Muriqui but seeing the Capuchin and Marmosets made up for that.

 

Regarding bugs, there were a few mosquitoes around dusk in the forest and lots around the marshes at mid-day.  We also did have a few tiny ticks on us (mostly me) so the normal bug prevention methods are recommended.

 

Overall, we had a great time at Bacury and would return in a minute if we ever go back to Brazil.  It would be worth it not only to try to see the Southern Muriqui but to also enjoy the fantastic food and to ring that dessert button one more time.

 

Alan

 

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Well, Alan, you’re at it again — making me look bad or, to be more accurate, making me realize how bad I am. I’m still processing photos from our trip — and I haven’t even started my report from our trip to Kenya in February. Yikes!  I’m way behind. These things called “work”, “family”, and “life in general” keep interfering with my best-laid plans, but still......

 

I’m really looking forward to this report. You were at Barranco Alto, what, just a few weeks before us?  We were there September 3-8 (was supposed to be the 2nd, but that’s a story I’ll save for my slowly developing report — but all good). We had Stefan as our guide, as you did as well, evidently. (He mentioned guiding a “great” couple from Arizona, and I correctly guessed it was you. He sends his best regards). Here’s hoping the giant anteaters cooperated for you. 

 

Meanwhile, I think the Atlantic Rainforest is an unheralded jewel — although mainly for birds and plants at this point.  Not much ecotourism infrastructure there — especially for foreigners (and forget my French and smattering of Spanish — I find Portuguese baffling), so I’m glad to have another resource in that region and eagerly await more of your impressions. 

 

I’m anxious to hear how Jo, Jane, et al.’s trip went as well, and if I can get on the bandwagon here, we can deliver some serious Brazil content to Safaritalk this fall. 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Atdahl said:

We stopped to take a look and it turned out to be a Hoary Fox.  We all got good looks but my only decent photo was taken at ISO 25,600 and is a really noisy.  But, my wife insists that I post it so she won't forget about the experience:

 

But better than the alternative — no photo at all. 

 

Love the Hemeted Mannakin. That one is still on my list. 

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So funny @Alexander33 that we all were on a similar itinerary right after one another! @kittykat23uk and I had Stefan as our guide at Barranco Alto too!  And we were at Baia das Pedras as well! Love your shots so far, @Atdahl and I hope you were lucky with the Giant Anteaters! Look forward to more!

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Really enjoying the start of this report @Atdahl, and it seems like there are going to be several others coming.  I'm going to read them all with interest, as I'm tentatively thinking of going to the Pantanal in 2020.  One question for you, or anyone else - how far ahead is it recommended to book?  It seems like places like Barranco Alto might book up fairly early.  

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@Alexander33,  yes we were at Barranco Alto just a few weeks before you.  So, it will be really interesting to compare against your sightings and that of @kittykat23uk and @SafariChick.  Of course, there is no rush getting a TR done.  Life does get in the way of that from time to time.  I wouldn't mind seeing that Feb Kenya report especially if you went to the Porini camps since that is what we are doing in Feb 2019 ;).

 

@SafariChick, I had no idea you joined Jo for the trip.  Our Southern Pantanal itineraries appear to match up exactly so feel free to race @Alexander33 to see who's TR gets done first :).

 

@Zubbie15, Thanks.  I just looked at my planning emails and I contacted the lodges in Nov 2017 for an Aug 2018 trip.  I would say over half their nights were still available.  So, I wouldn't wait much longer than 9 months in advance unless your dates are really flexible.  We had to align dates at both Baia das Pedras and Barranco Alto for 4 people so that was tricky.

 

Alan

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off to an awesome start, I'm envious of that Helmeted Manakin shot, and the Curl-crested Jay! I confess I peaked over at your website and there's lots more great stuff coming. Also...its well worth clicking on your photos because the larger images look even better :)

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@janzin, thanks so much.  Yes, there is some good stuff coming.  As you will soon see, my Giant Anteater dreams were realized.

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After another nice breakfast, at around 8AM we said our goodbyes to the folks at Fazenda Bacury and Carlos Henrique drove us back to Sao Paulo for our flight to Campo Grande.

 

As I mentioned before, Carlos is a great guide and we highly recommend him to anyone coming to the Sao Paulo area for birds, herps or even mammals.

 

The notorious traffic in Sao Paulo wasn't bad at all until we got to within viewing distance of the domestic airport.  It took a little over 3 hours to get there from Bacury but another 45 minutes to go a matter of a few blocks.  It was ridiculous but we had plenty of time before our flight so there was no stressing.

 

After an uneventful GOL flight and 30 minute taxi ride, we arrived at the Hotel Prime Deville in Campo Grande.  It was now 2 PM (since we gained an hour from Sao Paulo) and we were pretty hungry.  So, we ordered some sandwiches from room service which were very good.

 

At around 4PM, we met Peggy and Bill and walked a few blocks to a nearby park.  Our future Pantanal guide, Stefan, who lives in Campo Grande recommended a visit to this park which is officially called Parque das Nações Indígenas.  It's huge with lots of walking paths and we saw a surprising amount of wildlife including Capybara, Coati, Azare Agouti, Burrowing Owls, and quite a few other birds.

 

Where's a Capybara crossing sign when you need one:

Capybara in the Park

 

Capybara Sunset:

Capybara Sunset

 

We had drinks and dinner at the hotel.  Both were good when they finally arrived but the service was excruciatingly slow.  It took over half an hour to get our drinks and the bar wasn't even crowded.  But, since we had no where else to go, we just chatted and waited.  Once dinner was over we retired early for the evening to catch up on sleep and prepare for our long journey to the Pantanal tomorrow.

 

The next morning we were up early since we had arranged to meet Stefan at the hotel at 7AM.  One of the reasons for going back to the Pantanal was to see Stefan who was our guide at Barranco Alto on our previous trip to Brazil.   We really hit it off last time and wouldn't think of anyone else guiding us on this trip.  This time, we booked him to guide us at Baia das Pedras AND Barranco Alto.  He would have to use all his patience to put up with us for 9 days!

 

Of course, Stefan was right on time as was the transfer vehicle Baia das Pedras had booked for us. After introductions, warm greetings, and hugs we watched as our driver Jefferson tried to load all our luggage into and onto the truck.  He eventually did it, but it was a really tight fit and poor Bill volunteered to take one for the team and sit in the far back chair.  Luckily, it was only supposed to be a 6 to 7 hour drive!

 

In actuality, the drive was less than 6 hours because we arrived at Baia das Pedras (which I will call BdP from now on) at 1:30PM and didn't leave Campo Grande until about 7:30AM.  That included a few GREAT stops along the way and I don't mean just the pee breaks which were GREAT in their own relief inducing way...

 

There are really 3 sections of road you drive on.  About 2.5 hours on paved roads, 2 more on graded dirt roads and 1.5 on dirt tracks that would be a stretch to call a "road".  The scenery driving into the Pantanal is very nice but the reason we decided to drive in was to maximize our chance to see wildlife. So, even on the paved sections of road our senses were on alert for wildlife. 

 

After around two hours, and still on the paved part of the road, we spotted a Giant Anteater.  So, there was lots of yelling to stop.  But, Jefferson explained through Stefan that he couldn't stop on the paved road at all.  It was too dangerous.  But, that he could stop once we got beyond the paved road and onto the dirt roads.  Once we heard this, a collective groan went up (OK, maybe only I groaned).  But, we understood and hoped that wouldn't be the only Giant Anteater we would see.

 

Well, we didn't have to worry about that because not long after starting on the dirt road we spotted another one.  This time Jefferson stopped and we all got out to get closer looks.

 

Giant Anteater in the Grass

 

It was on the other side of a fence, mostly back lit, and in some tall grass so getting good pictures was challenging.  Interestingly, if you didn't see it from the side, you might not even know what it was if you were driving by quickly.

 

Giant Anteater Head On

 

This encounter made us quickly forgot about the one we didn't stop for but I was still secretly hoping for an even better encounter.  After all, that's why I came back.

 

Not long afterwards I got my wish and my whole trip was made.  We spotted another Giant Anteater and this one was on the good side of the light.

 

Distant Giant Anteater

 

So, we hopped out of the car where Stefan gauged the wind.  After deciding we were downwind he asked if we wanted to get closer.  A more hearty collective "YES!" you will never hear.  So, we climbed through a fence and got to within maybe 50 yards of it.  It paid no attention to us and just started wandering closer.

 

Giant Anteater Moving Closer

 

And closer...

 

Getting Really Close...

 

It got so close that I could no longer get the entire animal in the frame at 200mm.  So, I went for some closeup shots like this one which really show its claws.

 

Look at that Claw

 

Next, the Giant Anteater just kept lumbering towards me and once it got less than 10 yards away I backed off.  Shortly after that it turned and wandered in a different direction so we left it in peace. What a fantastic encounter!  That was the reason I came back!  And, unlike the F#$@$ Tarsier (Yes, that is a real species of Tarsier) in Borneo, the pressure to see this animal was gone before it even had a chance to build.

 

The rest of the drive was great since we saw many South American Coati, Collared Peccaries, White-lipped Peccaries, a few Pampas Deer, and lots of birds.  But, Jefferson was on a schedule since he wanted to get us to BdP for lunch so he didn't stop for anything after this despite all the "Oh...oh...oh" cries from us (especially from Peggy) upon seeing something new.  But, I think we ended up having good views of all of these animals later in the trip so we didn't need to feel any angst after all.

 

At one point, we saw our first Greater Rhea walking on a nearby hill, but as we zoomed past the Greater Rhea disappeared over the hill and Bill had the line of the drive "It's a Gone-a-Rhea"...

 

Baia das Pedras (BdP) is a 13,000 hectare working cattle ranch like almost all other Fazendas in the Pantanal.  It is owned by Rita and Carlos who have lived there most of there lives.  In fact, Rita's siblings own surrounding farms so her family must protect 30K+ hectares of the Pantanal, which is amazing.

 

Fazenda Baia das Pedras

 

Here is the main house where we stayed and ate all our meals.  Yes, those are Buff-throated Ibis on the roof:

 

Baia das Pedras Main House

 

Our room was very comfortable and we ended up sharing it with some frogs that spent the daytime behind the mirror or in the shower and then came out when the sun went down.  Rita said that there is no way to keep them out but we didn't mind them at all.

 

Our Room at Baia das Pedras

 

Our room was right next to the kitchen and dining room so there was some noise early in the AM but we were always wide awake by then due to the natural "avian" alarm clocks that went off at dawn each day.

 

After a very good lunch, I wandered around the grounds a little bit and was amazed at all the bird life found in the trees.  Parrots, Parakeets, Macaws, Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Woodcreepers, the list goes on and on.  The mid-day light was a bit harsh but I did manage to take some photos.

 

Hyacinth Macaws:

Hyacinth Macaws

 

Bee Hive:

Bee Hive

 

 

Yellow-chevroned Parakeet:

Yellow-chevroned Parakeet

 

Here is a pair of teenage Yellow-chevroned Parakeets that went up to "The Point" to make out.  I guess they didn't count on the paparazzi being there...

 

Parakeet Makeout Session

 

At 3:30, Stefan took us on a walk outside the Fazenda to see what was out and about.  There were certainly a lot of sheep around.  But, if you look carefully, you will see that there was something else out in the pasture as well...

 

Not Just Sheep Grazing

 

Yup, another Giant Anteater and just like the last one it didn't pay any attention to us allowing us to get close for some more pictures.

 

Giant Anteater Digging

 

I like this shot because it shows what a little mouth it has:

Giant Anteater

 

If you hadn't realized it already.  There are going to be LOTS of Giant Anteater pictures in this trip report.

 

Here's one where you can actually see the tongue:

Giant Anteater Tongue

 

What a magnificent tail:

Giant Anteater

 

 

Of course, there was more to see on the walk besides this Giant Anteater.

 

Like this Jabiru nest close to the Fazenda that had 3 chicks in it:

 

Jabiru Nest

 

 

And these Campo Flickers:

Campo Flickers

 

 

Here is a Yacare Caiman taking advantage of the dwindling sunlight:

Yacare Caiman

 

Blue and Yellow Macaws:

Blue and Yellow Macaw

 

Next we saw a lifer Six-banded Armadillo scampering along the ground.   It moved out of sight before we could get too many pictures however.  Good thing we saw a few more later on.

 

Six-banded Armadillo

 

Towards the end of the walk, there was a group of horses in the trees and out in front of them staring us down was a white mule.  It didn't look very happy and was really paying close attention to us.  It was time to turn around anyway but I was secretly glad we didn't venture closer to this ornery looking mule.

 

It also got pretty cold at the end of the walk so we decided to skip a night drive since Rita didn't think the animals would be out in the cold.

 

Back at the Fazenda, we were asked if we would like a drink before dinner.  Boy, they didn't know us very well did they?  Needless to say we responded to that question with a chorus of "Hell yeah".  So, Rita made up a batch of Caipirinhas for us.  The Caiprinha is Brazil's national cocktail and is made with a sugarcane spirit called Cachaca, sugar, crushed lime and ice.  They are GREAT and Rita makes some really good ones.

 

As our delicious Caipirinhas were beginning to take effect, Stefan asked if anyone was interested in going horseback riding during our stay.  So, thinking back to our mule encounter earlier, I turned to Karen and asked "Do you want to ride the ornery mule?".  Without missing a beat, Bill looks at me and says "So, that's what you call it?".  It took a second or two for that line to sink in.  But, when it did we completely lost it. 

 

I was eventually able to compose myself for dinner which consisted of catfish, a cheesy cauliflower dish, and rice and beans.  It was all excellent.  If lunch and dinner was any indication we wouldn't be going hungry at BdP.  I did secretly miss the dessert button though...

 

 

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So happy you got your giant anteaters in this time around. At the rate you’re going, it looks like it will be a bonanza as well. Can’t wait for more.  

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@Atdahl you are stealing all our thunder! :lol::P I think safaritalk.net may be inundated with anteaters when we all get round to writing up our trip reports! 

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Thanks guys.

 

@kittykat23uk, I know some of what you saw so I don't think I will be stealing much of your thunder :).  Plus, you can NEVER have too many Giant Anteater pictures...right ?

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As I mentioned previously, there is no need to set an alarm in the Pantanal.  Between the Buff-throated Ibis and Chaco Chachalas, the cacophony of bird calls starts early.  So, we were up before we needed to be and I enjoyed some coffee before our 6:30AM breakfast.

 

As a nice change of pace, BdP served eggs for breakfast.  We knew there wouldn't be any at Barranco Alto so we enjoyed them while we could.  And, of course, I was forced to have some cake for breakfast as well.  Have I mentioned how great cake is for breakfast?

 

The morning activity was going to be a game drive.  So, at around 7:30AM we loaded into the BdP open topped Range Rover, which Rita drove, and headed out.  The conditions were cold and a bit drizzly but we hoped they would clear up.  Who ever heard of rain in the Pantanal in August anyway?

 

The first critter to pose for us was this pretty Whistling Heron:

Whistling Heron

 

Right after that, the rain started and we got wet and colder...but we kept going.

 

Even this pair of Blue-crowned Parakeets were huddling together due to the cold and rain:

Blue-crowned Parakeets Huddling in the Rain

 

After less than an hour, Karen took the initiative to ask if people wanted to continue or not.  Slowly there were some negative grumbles and then we made the decision to turn back.  Cold wasn't that bad but cold and wet was no fun and with no cover we would only get colder and wetter.

 

So, Rita turned the truck around and made a bee-line back to the Fazenda.  All of a sudden I saw something black and white out in the grass.  As we passed by it, I was just able to get a better look and realized that it was a Southern Tamandua.  "Tamandua...tamandua!" I yelled, which caused Rita to slow to a stop.  She backed up and we were able to get pretty good looks at another lifer mammal:

 

Southern Tamandua

 

Just as we were talking about getting out of the truck for closer looks, the Tamandua reared up on its hind legs to smell the air.  It must have smelled us because the next thing it did was turn around and run into the bushes.  But, I was able to get one shot of it smelling the air before he bolted:

 

Southern Tamandua Smells Us

 

What an awesome little critter!  That sighting made me quickly forget about the rain and cold.  Until we started moving again of course.

 

When we got back to the Fazenda, there was a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl sitting on a small tree right by the front door.  So, Bill and I proceeded to have a little photo shoot of this adorable owl.

 

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

 

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

 

Notice the fake eyes on the back of its head to confuse predators:

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl Fake Eyes

 

Another fantastic encounter.  As it turns out, that owl was on the same tree almost every morning of our stay.

 

BdP has coffee and tea out almost all day and boy did some hot tea feel good once we got inside.  I didn't realize how low my core temperature had gotten until the warm liquid filled my innards.

 

Before lunch time, the weather cleared and warmed a little.  So, right after lunch I walked around the grounds of the lodge.  The grounds at BdP are different.  They are pretty much all sand and have chickens, pigs, sheep, and horses all hanging around.  So, while you need to look out and up to see all the wildlife you also need to look down so that you can tip toe through the poop minefield.

 

Speaking of pigs.  Here is the local Uber driver:

Feral Pig Uber Driver

 

There are quite a few palm trees on the grounds which attract all sorts of birds.  The Blue-crowned Parakeets were constantly on the ground rummaging around for the ripest palm fruit.

 

Blue-crowned Parakeet

 

Blue-crowned Parakeet with Palm Nut

 

Blue-crowned Parakeet

 

I even got a glimpse of the Yellow-faced Parrots which were typically very shy:

Yellow-faced Parrot

 

Since the temperatures were still cool, we left for our afternoon drive at 2:30PM and didn't return until 6PM.  It turned out to be a pretty good game drive.

 

We started with a stop at the Jabiru Nest and we timed it just as one parent came back to the nest with some fortifications.

 

After One Jabiru Lands...

 

I was hoping for a picture of the whole family but as one Jabiru landed, the other one took off.  No time to talk about their day I guess...it was back to work:

 

The Other Takes Off

 

We also got our first good look at a Red-legged Seriema:

Red-legged Seriema

 

Maguari Stork:

Maguari Stork

 

We saw quite a few Capybara including this one that was keeping watch with a friend:

Capybara and Friend Keeping Watch

 

During the rest of the drive we saw another Giant Anteater but it disappeared quickly into the bush, more birds and multiple White-lipped Peccary groups.

 

As we were returning to the lodge at dusk, our first Crab-eating fox posed nicely as it watched us:

Crab-eating Fox

 

At that point, we were all pretty cold again because we did not pack for this type of weather.  All I had on was a short sleeved T-shirt, long sleeve shirt and a rain shell.  But, that wasn't enough so I needed something to increase my core temperature.  Hmm....tea?  No....  What about caipirinhas?  Hell yeah!

 

For tonight, Rita made a batch of passion fruit caipirinhas and then a batch of regular ones.  The passion fruit ones were really strong and I didn't even get a chance to have a regular one before dinner.

 

Dinner was excellent again and consisted of some really tasty meat balls, pasta, broccoli, and of course Brazilian rice and beans.  We then topped that off with a very good peach dessert.

 

Once again, we opted to forgo the optional night drive since it was so cold out.  But, looking back, it was a really good day despite the cold and rain.  Both the Southern Tamandua and the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (henceforth referred to as the FPO) were trip highlights so far.

 

Alan

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Wow.  Your anteater pics are something!  I had no idea they had claws like that, so yes, I'd have backed away too!!  Love the parrots too. I'm really enjoying your TR, so keep it up!

 

I also had an unexpectedly rainy and cold trip to Peru's Tambopata region in June.  Makes me wonder more about climate change!

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