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Adventures of the White-Rumped Monjita


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*****Tuesday 30 June*****


5:30 -10:00 am Breakfast at the Lake near the Stables

Daiani generously and enthusiastically agreed to some earlier starts as part of the Bill Gates Tour, so we were off at 5:30 am that morning, spotlighting on the way. We saw a lesser anteater end its night shift by ambling to the tree it called home, climbing up, and disappearing into a cavity. That was great fun and an example of what departing before daybreak can produce.


Next, it was Daiaini’s turn for a “Lifer” sighting—the Aplomado Falcon. This is one sharp dressed bird.



Most of the morning was spent walking around the small lake surrounded by caiman and looking at birds. We saw the first of three pairs of Brazilian Teals, which should only be present in the dry season. Odd. Some recently hatched caiman eggs were an exciting find. We discovered a baby Great Black Hawk on the ground with its mother anxiously hopping around. We were hopeful that we had come upon one of the chick’s first flying lessons and that it was not injured. We’ll never know.



Oblivious to us and the wildlife around us, were grazing horses, some of whom may have carried us on the trail ride. The gorgeous scene made a nice backdrop for photos of the truck, in which we had breakfast on a handy folding table.




On the drive back to Cordilheira we stopped at the roadside pond with the baby caiman. This time I was allowed to get out and approach the pond for a better look at those cute little lumps peeking through the water. Some were even huddled together, probably just for warmth, but it gave the appearance of reptilian bonding.


3:30- 6:45 Walk & Drive & Anteater in a Stampede

Daiani found a juvenile howler in a tree and tapir tracks on the ground. We heard the xylophone sounds from the beating wings of the Crested Oropendula’s mating dance. But not much else was happening so we decided to end the walk and start the drive.



We found good views of three Lineated Woodpeckers, of which I could get two in a picture. A pair of Jabiru Storks followed. We ended up at Main Lodge about sunset, when the Hyacinth Macaws congregate. To get a picture of one of them in the sunset, required crawling under the fence.



Next, we tried to find a giant anteater and were successful. We had just started to enjoy this creature when I looked up to see a stampede of cattle running toward us and the anteater. “Oh my God! The cows are attacking the anteater!” I thought. “We have to save it!” About that time the cattle’s attention was diverted to our large vehicle and they began to surround us. “Forget the anteater, we need to save ourselves,” I silently panicked. Daiani could read my expression and offered some assurances that the cows were merely curious and were running to meet up with another herd that was fenced next door. There was no mal intent on the cows’ part toward the anteater or us; it was just the cows wanting to be social, as herd animals will do.




We had a perfect spotlit view of an ocelot, very relaxed, walking along the fence. Daiani kept the light on it for beautiful views. I was glad I had two eyeballs to watch it because that was not the case later in the evening.


Get out of My Eyeball and Stay Out

I was sitting in the vehicle on the night drive when something huge flew into my eye. It knocked me down so that I was doubled up on the seat, holding my right eye. It took me several minutes to recover and I could tell I had something in my eye. Eventually I rubbed the debris out of my eye. I felt there was still some lingering injury but the vision was not impaired whatsoever.


What could the missile have been? Maybe a bat? Or maybe a wasp transporting a tarantula? I’m not joking about the wasp and tarantula. There is a large species of wasp that will seize a tarantula and fly it back to the wasp nest, not to eat but to lay wasp eggs inside the tarantula body, so that the hatching wasp larvae receive nourishment by feeding on the spider. My guide in 2007 had even seen a couple of “flying tarantulas.” I hope I have not scared off any Arachnophobics from ever setting foot in Brazil.


Since I did not detect any furry spiders scurrying around on my zipoffs after the impact, I figured it was probably not the wasp and tarantula duo that hit me, which would be highly unlikely, but makes for a harrowing tale. I had about 36 hours of self diagnosed corneal abrasion (the third case in my life). It was quite irritating and uncomfortable and I kept the right eye closed as much as possible.


Turning white as the rump of a White-Rumped Monjita

On my first day at Caiman, several staff members had presented a formal and informal overview of what to expect. Somehow the topic of ghosts and spirits that inhabit the premises came up. I was told that several field guides had heard their names called out in the night; very often alarm clocks would sound at the wrong hour, despite having been set correctly; mysterious human figures would appear and disappear; and other strange happenings were common.


I am not superstitious and am clearly grounded in the tangible, verifiable, science-based laws of nature, though I have an open minded. A haunted refuge seemed to me to be just an intriguing story.


My alarm went off in the night, not repeatedly just a few notes. I sat up and looked at the clock—2:15 am. What the heck? It was still set properly for 4:45 am. Now why would it go off? Still groggy, the ghost stories I had heard the first night were the furthest thing from my mind.


Next, my attention shifted to my eye and I noted it still was watering and felt scratched. But I couldn’t expect it to be healed in only a few hours. I decided to use the bathroom since I was up and awake. After I had finished my task I heard singing through the open, screened window that was located near the high ceiling of the bathroom. The window led to the hallway, not to outside. The voice belonged to a young male and sounded as if he were recounting a tale in melodic form, but not in English. The accent sounded like Portuguese to me (but who knows?) and I could not recognize any words. The singing was soft and muffled, as if there were a barrier between the singer and me. “The chef must be up early,” I thought to myself, “and singing as he gets the meals for the day underway. ”


The serenade lasted about 20 seconds. As I made my way back to bed and started to assess what had occurred, I froze and turned as white as the rump of the Monjita. The alarm going off, then the muffled singing--it had to be the ghost. None of this encounter was frightening or upsetting, so I just went back to bed with the intent of finding out if the staff had been singing in the night, which would mean there had been no ghostly goings on.


Now, my subconscious may have been responsible for choosing to hum the Rifleman theme song when alerting the fer-de-lances and other poisonous snakes lurking in the grasses that I was coming through. But I was fully conscious and aware when I heard the signing by someone else. No dreaming or sleepwalking.


The next day I explained what had happened and asked Daiani to inquire if there had been any singing staff members the previous night. I emphasized to her that I was not mad at being awakened because I was already up. I didn’t want anyone denying their actions for fear of rebuke for waking up a guest.


The answer was that while Daiani, a woman, shared accommodations in the same facility, the rest of the staff all were housed in the next building, where they could not be heard by us. The only music playing the night before had been through the headphones of the chef’s ipod at 11:00 pm before he retired in the staff facility. And I had heard voice only, not musical instruments.


So the ghost had paid me a visit. Lucky me! There was speculation as to who/what the ghost/spirit was. One of the theories involved the Paraguay War, as it is called in Brazil, or the Triple Alliance War, which lasted from 1864 to 1870. It was one of the bloodiest battles in Latin American History. Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil were pitted against Paraguay. In addition to massive deaths due to war, there were epidemics such as cholera. About half the population of Paraguay perished. Perhaps this was a lost soul who had died in battle or from disease. But the gentle song I had heard gave no indication of distress or anguish.


I hope I have not scared away both Arachnaphobics and Phasmophobics, those afraid of ghosts.

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Not only do they have sexier eyes, they are friendlier as swimming buddies. I did not swim with any caimans, but the local people will without hesitation. This applies to these Spectacled Caiman, as well as the rarer Smooth Fronted Caiman. The Black Caiman found more toward the Amazon will attack people so no swimming with them.


At Ilha, people regularly swam in the river next to the lodge, including the resident dog. A family was there with kids and they were in the water constantly.

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*****Wednesday July 1*****




5:00 – 8:00 am Spotlight drive to Parrot Trees

We saw our second crab eating raccoon enroute to the trees where the parrots sleep. We had to arrive before sunrise to see them depart en masse. It was a noisy scene when the parrots all awoke. Some of the parrots hung around and shared a “wake up and take off tree” with several Hyacinth Macaws, Caracaras, and Toucans. With the Rheas leaping from the ground for low hanging fruits, it was a bird paradise and a lovely spot for breakfast on the collapsible table.






8:00- 10:50 Lasso Competition

After the birds had all taken to the skies we headed to the corral near the Main Lodge and watched the cowboys in action, separating the friskiest calves from the general herd. This was in preparation for the Lasso Competition that would take place the next week (first week in July each year) at Caiman. It was a very big deal that brought in the best cowboys from the area. All of the calves that would be lassoed in the competition had to be “trained” so they knew where to run when released and they were familiar with being pursued by a rope twirling Pantaneiro.




The first step was driving the cattle across the big bridge, so Daiane got me positioned in a good spot to photograph the approaching cattle and watch them cross the bridge. Then the cattle were herded to the big corral, surrounded by spectator stands, where the competition would take place. Fabio was on his week off so he was there to watch the lassoing, along with several other staff members.


First small groups of calves were driven by strategically placed cowboys along the length of the corral to a gate on the far end. After several runs to teach the calves the procedure, the cowboys (which included some women and even young girls) would ride after the calves and loosely throw a lasso over their heads that would then slip off the running calf. The idea was to accustom the cows to the lasso. The rope-and-tie part would happen in the competition. One calf after the next was released, all part of the training process, and it was quite exciting to see the skill of the cowboys and cowgirls with their lassos.






By midmorning the spectators were ready for a traditional drink. Tea leaves were mashed with water in a hollowed out cow horn, which served as a cup. The drink was sipped through metal straw.


I felt lucky to be able to witness this important cultural event. Especially appealing was that I saw the fascinating preparation prior to the actual crowd drawing event. If incorporating such a cultural experience into a Pantanal visit was of interest, you could plan your trip about the same time as I did (last days of June) for the lasso practice, or a week later for the actual competition.


The community center next to the corral where the competition took place was decorated in colorful streamers for the upcoming 16th Festa do Hoça. Food for the festivities was also being prepared and when scraps were tossed into the open field, flocks of Caracaras descended to grab a morsel.




Our drive back to Cordilheira produced two collared peccaries, an agouti, and the same feral pig in his mud bath. With the cowboys focused on the Lasso Competition, the pig’s ears, tail, and privates were all still intact.

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The weak and the wounded

Unlike most days when I watched for coatis and other wildlife around the lodge during siesta time, I spent midday in my room with a patch over my scratched eyeball (I had brought gauze and tape) as a reminder to keep it closed. At one point through my good eye I could see a Yellow Headed Vulture circling above my hammock. “Oh no,” I worried, “my eyeball injury may be far worse than I thought.”


Later in the afternoon I saw one of the crab eating foxes limping and hoped the vulture was not after it, either.


3:00 – 6:45 pm Back to Baiazinha


On the drive there, by chance we saw the last woodpecker species that I had not yet found in the Pantanal—the White Woodpecker. We also saw a red footed tortoise, a couple of white collared peccaries, and some coatis. Along with a few snacks, we enjoyed the beautiful views from the deck of Baiazinha and strolled around the property. A brilliant rainbow was made visible by cooling showers in the distance.


About the time that the giant anteaters would be coming out, we drove to where it would be likely to see them and where we had seen the 10 on my first night. The changing weather changed the habits of the giant anteaters and we found none.


So we headed out with the spotlight and noticed a definite lack of activity, indicating it was not just the giant anteaters that changed their habits . But before we arrived at the lodge, we managed to spotlight three giant anteaters where they normally would not be found.


I had planned on ordering a farewell Brazilian Caipirinha, a drink made from limes, sugar, and Cachaca liquor. In fact Cordilheira whipped up their own passion fruit version of this libation that looked quite refreshing. But if the ghost decided to visit again that night, I wanted to be completely sober so nothing could be attributed to alcohol.


Well, my crooning spirit stood me up, so I should have had the drink. Maybe I should have had several and the mysterious spirit would have done more than sing to me, we could have danced the tango on my balcony.

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*****Thurs July 2*****

5:20-8:00 am Last Caiman Outing



We encountered a crab eating raccoon again on our way to watch the birds wake up. This time the “wake up and take off tree” had more Toucan action and less Macaw. I also noticed three Campo Flickers that I had missed the day before. One pair of Blue Fronted Parrots were clasping claws and forming a circle with their two arced bodies. Entwined in their claws were pink blossoms from a nearby Piuvia Tree. It looked like some kind of parrot matrimony ritual.




On our return to the lodge a pair of Red Legged Seriemas caught my eye near the main gate facility. We stopped so I could get some portraits of their classic good looks and then a fox came trotting through the flowering shrubs, which caught the eye of each Red Legged Seriemas. I was just about ready to wrap it up when a six banded armadillo strolled onto the scene. Lots of action at the main gate.










Proceeding on, we had our best views yet of the Capped Heron (new favorite Pantanal bird) with its delicate blue face. A male Bare-faced Curassow was momentarily visible along the road, a pair of Jabiru Storks were strutting around, a few collared peccaries nervously ran for shelter, and an entire herd of white lipped peccaries grazed in the open. Discreetly distancing themselves from the bulk of the herd was a pair of mating peccaries. White lipped peccaries are the favorite food of the jaguar, so replenishing the herd was a necessity. (Jaguars have a taste for beef too and kill about 400 head of cattle at Caiman each year. This loss is accepted because the jaguars also bring in visitors.)





Final Stroll and Caiman Goodbyes

I took a last stroll down the pampas deer road to the Cordilheira Gate and bid farewell to the Rheas that were present. Walking the quarter mile to the gate was fine, but posted signs warned against venturing beyond without notifying the staff.


I finished packing, had lunch, and sadly said Adeus to Daiani. And Olá to Fernanda. Within moments of meeting Fernanda, I could tell I would thoroughly enjoy our next four days together.


We had just started our journey under threatening skies that released a few angled beams of light, when a pair of toucans landed on bare branches. A nice photo op. The results looked like a Henri Rousseau painting when all I did was point and shoot.



Arriving at Refúgio da Ilha (translated to Island Refuge) was like entering a magical retreat on the Salobra River. My comment in the guest book was, “a refuge for wildlife and the nature lover.” The location, the landscape architecture, and the interior design all contributed to the insulated, immersed in nature effect.



The food was great, including the daily picnic breakfast that we enjoyed in the vehicle or boat. They definitely do vegetarian because a family that ran a vegetarian yoga retreat was visiting during my stay so I sampled a large variety of their fine veggie cuisine.


Amigo, the friendly—but not too friendly—resident black lab-type dog added to the hospitable atmosphere. The lodge has 7 lovely rooms.


3:30-6:45 pm Not more Anteaters!

Fernanda brought her scope and secured us good seats in the approximately 8-passenger open safari vehicle that contained 6 passengers plus driver up front, and resident guide, Edson, hanging on the back.


A mother anteater with a very young, almost hairless baby was quite a distance away, but in the scope I could reach out and hug that hairless little bugger. We also came upon an adult anteater taking a bath in a waterhole. Through the scope, I was right there in the bathtub with it. It was really rolling around and splashing, having a good old time. Its tail was still wet and dripping in the after-bath photos. Yet another anteater was approachable on foot at about 50 meters as the light was getting low. One anteater might have provided us with some good viewing but it was being crowded by a Rhea so it moved off.


Our destination that night was a parrot tree where hundreds of parrot couples slept for the night. In the low light, but through the scope, we had great views of the flocks flying to the tree and settling in. With the naked eye we enjoyed a pink cloud sunset.




When the light had expired, we could see two forms moving toward us beyond the fence. It was a mother and baby giant anteater. She must have caught wind of us because she made shrill calls to her baby to hop in her back. Together they moved off into the darkness. Now that was a fantastic audio-visual sighting!


We found another couple of giant anteaters at night on our return to Ilha. The spotlight required the vehicle be left running so we enjoyed viewing rather than photography.

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A very timely report Lynn. I'll have to read it all in detail when I get the chance. Just under 3 weeks to go before we head out to Cuiaba. I absolutely cannot wait!!! ;) Did you see many toucans and macaws in the north?


All the best



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If you are flying to Cuiaba, then this would be a better report to look at because it is in the North Pantanal. The first parts of the report deal with other locations in Brazil, but the Pantanal part is labeled.



Funny you should mention toucans, I was just thinking that I had not linked many toucan pictures to this report yet. I did see toucans in the north. I saw more jabiru storks in the north too, some on nests with chicks.


Wildlife viewing should be good due to the dryness of the area. The wet season never materialized. But the sporadic weather did result in a few light rains during what should be the dry season. After the rains the mosquitoes multiplied. Just keep that in mind.


You'll have a terrific trip. Then you can add to the Brazil reports that are showing up on this Africa forum.

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****Fri July 3*****


6:15-11:45 The Refúgio da Ilha Special—time on the river—upstream boat ride

Fernanda requested an earlier than normal departure which was agreeable to Resident Guide Edson and the photographer nephew of the owners.


The Giant River Otters that frequent the Salobra (and that Ilha is known for) had been elusive prior to my arrival and our only brief sighting of two of them was this morning. A high water level in the river was responsible for their scarcity. Lower water levels increase the sightings because the otters spend more time in the river and less in the lakes formed by the river. Although there had been little rain locally, there had been flooding further north. The Rio Negro flows from the north to feed into the Salobra and therefore water levels were very high during my stay.


But it was mating season for the less common Neotropic Otters and we saw a dating couple along with two individuals. We also saw one capybara scurry up the banks; a couple of marsh deer, one in the presence of a Jabiru Stork; two blue morpho butterflies, some acrobatic brown capuchins; a few drops of rain and a rainbow; an array of kingfishers; and a showstopper—the Anaconda. It was coiled and sunning itself on the bank and remained undisturbed throughout our stop. Wow!






There were other wow moments, though. We had numerous great views of the infrequently seen Gray-headed Kite and we saw a rare, more primitive form of Caiman. There was a single smooth fronted caiman hiding in the reeds. It had obvious differences from the common spectacled caiman found throughout the Pantanal. It was a first for Fernanda, and of course for me.


Even without any wow moments, the scenery along the narrow winding waterways is so gorgeous that merely being out on the river is a privilege.


4:00-10:00 pm Spotlighting at San Francisco

Fernanda and I departed Ilha and drove for an hour to the neighboring lodge, 2/3 on firm dirt roads through fields that held another giant anteater and 1/3 on paved highway. San Francisco is noted for raptors and predators, even maned wolves. The irrigated rice fields attract the wildlife.


We had a nice daylight view of a Burrowing Owl when we arrived and watched a Rhea bed down for the night. I found the Maguari Stork, and Fernanda told me what I had found. It was the first Maguari Stork this trip.



There was a group from Dragoman Tours along with us on the night drive. They were guests at the lodge, which can house about 75. Some of the Dragoman participants appeared to be German and I was thinking we might see a giant anteater so I was all set with the German word Fernanda had taught me: Ameisenbär.


We scoped out the sizeable open truck and agreed upon what we thought was the best seat—second row from the back of the five rows. Fernanda had me put some gear in that spot to reserve it while we all got the orientation talk and the safety glasses.


About 6:00 pm we set off. Almost immediately we found a large ocelot, relaxed in a tree, barely able to keep its eyes open. The high quality of the spotlight, and the fact that the vehicle was turned off, made photos possible even at night. It was a beautiful animal and a spectacular sighting. We left the ocelot as relaxed as we found it, in search of other species.




The light was shone on one of the ponds and the caiman eyes lit up by the hundreds. The caiman at San Francisco will have not suffer the consequences of the drought that caiman in other parts of the Pantanal will. The heavy irrigation of the rice fields will insure adequate water, regardless of what falls (or does not fall) from the sky.


We found two separate Barn Owls (rarely seen elsewhere in the Pantanal) and two separate Striped Owls (not found other places in the Pantanal), a couple of crab eating fox, and a few marsh deer. There were no other predators in our approximately 2-hour outing, but the spotting award of the night went to a guide (for clients in the back row) who was sitting next to us—we were 3 across and 5 could easily fit across the seat. He looked at Fernanda’s camera around her neck and mine held on my lap and exclaimed, “You two have the same camera.” That was news to us, as we had never noticed, even though Fernanda had taken a few shots of me. But I had it set up through the viewfinder on mine and she used her screen. “Well spotted,” we congratulated him on his Sony DSC H9 sighting. “I’m paid to be observant,” was his response.


One unexpected little pleasure of the night drive was seeing the pairs of parrots bedded down for the night together in the various parrot trees. The spotlight did not linger on the parrots, as seeing them was not our goal and we did not wish to disturb them. But for that momentary glimpse into their world they looked so cute huddled close for a night of togetherness.


Well, there were no German guests and we saw no anteaters so now I’ll have to find some other occasion to impress people with the word “Ameisenbär.”


A tasty outdoor barbecue followed the spotlighting and had we stayed longer, live music would have followed the barbecue. On the dark roads for the drive back home, we found one very animated little 6-banded armadillo. I can see why they are often roadkill; we waited about five minutes for him to leave the road and he had no sense of urgency.


I liked the variety in my itinerary of including a night drive at San Francisco. You could also spend the night and do a vehicle safari in the rice fields the next day, or you could arrive midday for a daytime safari, in addition to their signature night drive.

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*****Sat July 4*****

6:15-10:30 am Walk in the Woods

Fernanda, Edson, and I drove to a nearby forest and began our bird walk. Through binocs and the scope we found the Barred Antshrike, Saffron-billed Sparrow, and the beautiful Blue-crowned Trogan. Mosquitoes forced us out of the forest and into the marsh where we were greeted by rain drops. Still, we saw marsh deer, one hanging out with a Rhea; brown capuchins in the trees; pink snail eggs; a Scarlet-headed Blackbird; and a Rufescent Tiger Heron who seemed to accompany us. At the conclusion of our walk Fernanda and I walked back to the lodge, while Edson gave some other guests a lift in the vehicle.




In addition to the normal excitement of midday birdwatching on the grounds, we had a great view of a caiman lizard, compliments of Edson’s sharp eye. It was funny what a stir a big old ugly lizard could cause, but that’s the kind of guests Ilha attracts.



Having paid attention to Fernanda’s lesson on the Maguari the previous night, I both found and identified one of my own.


3:00 – 6:00 pm The Refúgio da Ilha Special—time on the river—downstream canoeing

Again, I had only to sit in the middle of the 3-person canoe as Edson and Fernanda manned the oars for our downstream paddle. The silence of canoe travel is a wonderfully peaceful way to enjoy the beauty of the Salobra. We saw a stingray through the clear water, some more Neotropic Otters, and the Blue-crowned Mot Mot that had eluded me at Caiman. To stretch our legs we took a 15- minute walk along the shore in the middle of our trip. As if on cue, the Chestnut-eared Aracari appeared in the treetops—actually two of them. A motor boat came for us at the end of our trip and took us back upstream, canoe in tow.









8:30-9:00 pm Spontaneous After Dark Walkabout

We had the opportunity for a short night walk around the premises. Fernanda emphasized not to expect much beyond seeing some caiman eyes. What a surprise was in store for us! We saw the caiman eyes, but also a 2-day old baby capybara. Then we heard it whistle for its mom. That kind of freaked out Amigo the dog, who had accompanied us on the night walk, but had exhibited impeccable behavior.


Then the spotlight shone on some capybaras in the water. And they were mating! I had read that they mate only in water and here they were in front of us in the spotlight! Seeing this behavior was an exciting first for Fernanda as well. Around that time I got to thinking that my fellow countrymen/women back home were most likely watching Fourth of July fireworks about now. Here I was celebrating the holiday with mating capybaras. An unconventional way to demonstrate one’s patriotism, for sure. But, all kidding aside, isn’t that what liberty and pursuit of happiness is all about? Let freedom ring!

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*****Sunday July 5*****


6:15-11:30 The Refúgio da Ilha Special—time on the river—downstream boat ride

Had I left Campo Grande midday to fly home, which was my original thought, I would have missed this delightful final river activity. I was appreciative of being able to do one last outing at Ilha, no extra charge, compliments of International Expeditions.


Fernanda made sure we had seats at the bow of the motorboat since there were four guests going for the ride.




After ten days of honing my spotting skills, I put them to work and found two of our four otters, all Neotropic. One gave us a great audio-only performance by noisily devouring a fish in the dense reeds. The Chestnut-eared Aracari made a second appearance, we saw some well concealed capybaras on the river bank, and spent a good deal of time enjoying several active brown capuchins.




During lunch, some more active brown capuchins decided to stop by and bid me farewell. I left my lunch and watched them from the bridge. Good thing I was packed because my best monkey viewing in The Pantanal was taking place during the final moments of my visit and I wouldn’t want to miss it.




The monkeys moved on and it was time for the White-Rumped Monjita to take flight as well.

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Final Memories


I was at the airport departure gate in Campo Grande thinking what a great time Refúgio da Ilha had been and what a wonderful guide Fernanda was. I could see her standing before me in my mind’s eye…and suddenly…there she was. What an imagination !. No, it was Fernanda in the flesh, toting my jacket. It had gotten mixed up with her gear in the back seat of her car and she made her way back to the airport and somehow talked her way through security to deliver my jacket to me. Another chance for thank you’s and goodbye hugs and it confirmed exactly what I had been thinking: what a great guide!




I landed in São Paulo and proceeded through the chaos that is Guarulhos International Airport with my thoughts still back in the Pantanal—the guides, the birds, the animals. But as I was herded with the crowd through endless roped off lines, my mind shifted to the cattle I had seen herded into the corral and across the bridge. Step by step, I was becoming one with Brazilian beef cattle! Considering they end up as barbecue, that was not good. Suddenly I was yanked back to reality like a calf in a lasso by an agent shouting, “Nova York.” That was my cue to follow the agent to a new line, and eventually to a departing plane.




Whenever I land in O’Hare, returning from some faraway adventure, I know it is back to my daily reality. Not so fast this time. As I trudged to the bus that would take me home, instinctively my spotting skills kicked in to detect a baby rabbit tucked away beneath the cool shelter of a lily bed. I had almost an hour before the bus departed so I dropped down on all fours for a better look. Accustomed to passersby, the bunny paid no attention to me and eventually hopped out from under its cover for a few mouthfuls of grass. While snapping a photos, I thought of the Brazilian rabbit—about the same size as this bunny—that I had watched fall prey to the ocelot. And I pondered the fate of this little guy munching in front of me.


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Refúgio Ecológico Caiman –stay of 1 week - 125 photos

If taken on a drive, boat, or walk, that is stated

If taken while on the property of one of the lodges: Baiazinha, Cordilheira, Main; or at Sao Domingo, the corral, or community center, that is stated

Caiman photos



Refúgio da Ilha—stay of 3 nights – 75 photos

If taken on a drive, boat, or walk, that is stated

If taken on the Ilha property, it just says refugio

If taken at Fazenda San Francisco, where I went one evening for a night drive, it says San Francisco

Refugio Photos


The number of photo ops presented without ever leaving the accommodations is impressive. If I had skipped an activity and hung out at the lodges during the prime animal activity hours of early morn and late afternoon, there’d probably be even more photos at right the lodge/ranch.



Vehicle used and all Accommodations – 32 photos

All are labeled, but are in no particular order

vehicles & lodging

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I ditched my bird book, Aves Brasileiras by Johan Dalgas Frisch, in the library at Ilha because it was too heavy and not that great. If you visit and find the book, I wrote a brief inscription inside the cover. A better book is Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica by Martin R. de la Pena (Author), Maurice Rumboll (Author), Gustavo Carrizo (Illustrator), Aldo A. Chiappe (Illustrator), Jorge R. Mata (Illustrator)


Here is my bird list of 161 species, in mostly alphabetical order


Amazon Kingfisher

American Kestral


Aplomado Falcon

Bare-faced Curassow

Brazilian Teal

Barn Owl

Barred Antshrike

Bat Falcon

Bay-winged Cowbird

Black and White Hawk Eagle

Black Vulture

Black-backed Water Tyrant

Black-capped Donacobius

Black-collared Hawk

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-hooded Parakeet

Black-throated Saltater

Black-winged Stilt

Blaze-winged Parakeet

Blue and Yellow Macaw (Campo Grande, not Pantanal)

Blue-black Grassquit

Blue-crowned Mot Mot

Blue-crowned Parakeet

Blue-crowned Trogan

Blue-fronted Parrot

Blue-throated Piping Guan

Boatbilled Heron

Buff-necked Ibis

Burrowing Owl

Campo Flicker

Capped Heron (new favorite)

Cattle Egret

Cattle Tyrant

Chaco Chachalaca

Chalk-browed Mockingbird

Chopi Blackbird

Cocoi Heron (White-necked)

Crane Hawk

Crested Caracara (Southern)

Crested Oropendola

Crimson-crested Woodpecker

Eared Dove

Epaulet Oriole

Giant Cowbird

Gilded Sapphire

Golden-green Woodpecker

Golden-winged Cacique

Gray-hooded Saltater

Gray Kite

Gray-necked Wood Rail

Great Antshrike

Great Black Hawk

Great Egret

Great Horned Owl

Great Kilkadee

Great Potoo

Great rufous Woodcreeper

Greater Rhea

Green and Rufous Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher

Green-barred Woodpecker

Grey Monjita

Grey-breasted Martin

Grey-headed Kite

Guira Cuckoo

Hyacinth Macaw

Jabiru Stork

Lesser Kiskadee

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture


Lineated Woodpecker

Lined Tanager

Little Cuckoo

Little Night Jar

Little Woodpecker

Long-winged Harrier (light and dark forms)

Maguari Stork

Monk Parakeet

Muxcovy Duck

Nacunda Nighthawk

Narrow-billed Woodcreeper

Neotropic Cormorant

Orange-winged Parrot

Pale-crested Woodpecker

Palel Vented Pigeon

Pale-legged Hornero

Palm Tanager

Panalto Slaty Antshrike


Peach-fronted Parakeet

Picazuro Pigeon

Picui Ground Dove

Pied Lapwing

Planalto Woodcreeper

Plumbeous Ibis

Plush-crested jay

Purplish Jay

Pygmy Kingfisher

Red-billed Scythebill

Red-crested Cardinal

Red-legged Serieman

Red-rumped Cacique

Ringed Kingfisher

Roadside Hawk

Roseate spoonbill

Ruddy Gournd Dove

Rufescent Tiger Heron

Rufous Hornero

Rufous-bellied Thrush (Bird of Brazil)

Rusty Marginated Flycatcher

Rusty-backed Antwren

Safron-billed Sparrow

Savanna Hawk

Scaled Dove

Scaly-headed parakeet

Scarlet-headed Blackbird

Scissor-tailed Night jar

Screaming Cowbird

Shiny Cowbird

Shisting Heron

Silver-beaked Tanager

Smooth-billed Ani

Snail Kite

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Solitary Cacique

Southern Lapwing

Southern Sandpiper

Southern Screamer

Spectacled Owl

Squirrel Cuckoo

Streaming Tailed Flycatcher

Striated Heron

Striped Owl

Suiriri Flycatcher


Swallow-tailed Hummingbird

Thrushlike Wren

Toco Toucan

Troupial (Campo Oriole)

Turkey Vulture

Undulated Tinamou

Unicollared Blackbird

Vermilion Flycatcher

Wattled Jacana

Whispering Ibis (Barefaced)

White Woodpecker

White-bellied Warbler

White-browed Blackbird

Whited-lored Spinetail

White-headed marsh-tyrant

White-tailed Hawk

White-tipped Dove

White-wedged Piculet

Wood Stork

Yellow-chevroned Parakeet

Yellow-billed Cardinal

Yellow-rumped Cacique

White Monjita

And of course the White-Rumped Monjita!

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That was one GREAT trip report!


I think the Pantanal has moved up into my top 5 places to go within the next few years.



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What an amazing trip and such a comprehensive report. I must admit that I have only read parts of it due to time constraints so I will go back and read it all. Loved the photos, especially some of the birds. I wonderful guide certainly can make a safari whether in Brazil or Africa.

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Game Warden

A colourful trip and subsequent report: thanks for taking the time to post it. Now, where are you off to next?

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Thank you for the comments.


Twaffle, you are under no obligation to read everything. You don't need more looming tasks. Feel free to browse the pictures. I've used enough MBs with them all to blow a circuit. I believe that is the wrong term, technologically speaking.


I leave shortly for Rwanda and Uganda. Oh, to set off on an adventure every 3 weeks! There is a lag of 11 months between this upcoming trip and the next one.


But don't worry, the extra time between outings will not translate into that many more MBs.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I’ve now read this before the Rwanda/Uganda report! What a pity that I’m not going to Pantanal with all your excellent information! But on the other hand, I’m definitely a phasmophobic and against cruelty to pigs.

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