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Brazil - the Pantanal and a bit of Atlantic rain forest

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Old Wednesday 13th January 2016, 18:02   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dacol View Post
The awesome blackbirds in post #19 are Scarlet-headed Blackbirds not Chestnut-headed.
So they are! I shouldn't post after a long day working. At least I got the name right in the text. I've edited the post to fix the mistake.

Thanks,

Andrea
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Old Wednesday 13th January 2016, 18:54   #27
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Amazing colors, Jaguar, Toucan! Thanks for this nice report!
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Old Wednesday 13th January 2016, 20:27   #28
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Some of us get up extra early since Octavio suggested that there might be some lingering atmospheric mist around sun rise, allowing for interesting photographs of Capybaras on a pond near the lodge (if nothing else). But there's no mist, and the Capybara are a long way away, so we eventually capitulate and go for breakfast.

We go for another drive, this time with Claudia, one of the couple who owns this place. It's a slow morning. We see some White-lipped Peccaris, not for the first time but the light is a bit better for pictures. A Grey Brocket deer appears a good while later, but we reach our target in the form of a known spot where a Great Potoo likes to roost, and the bird is indeed found as expected. We are grateful there's something willing to be seen and photographed!

At one of the ponds we find some waterfowl, and Least Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Purple and Common Gallinule all join the trip list, but are a long way away. A Red-and-green Macaw is found perched, rather than in flight, but it too is a fairly long way off. The second highlight of the morning is a Neotropical Otter that crosses the edge of a pond as we stand there wondering whether it's worth trying to take record shots of the grebes.

It's already hot although we return a little earlier than the previous day. We sit under the big mango tree, where a lovely Red-legged Seriema comes by to pose for a few pictures.


White-lipped Peccaris
Red-and-green Macaw
Great Potoo
American Kestrel
Rusty-collared Seedeater female

Andrea
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Old Wednesday 13th January 2016, 20:35   #29
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I include a record shot of the Neotropical Otter.

Sometimes the birds come to you, at least if you're in right part of the world. This Red-legged Seriema walked in as we were having our post-morning outing fruit juice. A lovely bird that's clearly used to snap-happy tourists! I have no idea why it suddenly fluffed out its feathers in the one shot.

Andrea
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Old Wednesday 13th January 2016, 20:51   #30
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In the afternoon we went for another boat ride, in the same constellation as on the previous day, Again it's lovely to be on the river and move slowly, without the engine whenever we come close to something. Not all subjects are willing to be photographed, and unfortunately the light doesn't last all that long before the sun goes down again. The heat certainly isn't helping us.

Apart from swallows and kingfishers we get a reasonably close Black Skimmer on a sandbank, and a nearby Large-billed Tern which certainly does justice to its name.A Bare-faced Ibis is in the open, and as it is becoming gloomier and gloomier with the fading light we find a Boat-billed Heron hidden under a bush.

Another day comes to a close, and we only have one full day left at this location. The lodge is lovely, the rooms large (although I don't need that) and tiled, with air conditioning and also wire in front of the window to keep out insects, allowing the inhabitant to decide whether to allow the cooler air of the night or to count on the air conditioning.

This place is much smaller than Pousada Aguape where we stayed before. Meals in both places are taken buffet-style, but here we are indoors, all around one long table, joined by at least one of the owning family for breakfast and lunch. Everything is included here, with a fridge making various beverages available, and fresh-pressed fruit juices and water with all meals. We even get complimentary caipirinhas after each afternoon excursion! At the other places were we stayed all beverages had to be paid for, but meals were inclusive.

This is still a working cattle farm, but the owners have done much to try to make it as wildlife friendly as they can. They have planted a great number of the palm trees whose fruit are the favourite food of the hyacinth macaws, and they have made a name for themselves with wildlife tourists. Some of the pools of water are sweet and some salt water, and that gives a greater range of birds. But the tourist season doesn't last year round since when the rains come, much of the Pantanal is under water.

Yacare Caiman
Capybara
Black Skimmer
Large-billed Tern
Sunset on the River

Andrea
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Old Thursday 14th January 2016, 16:48   #31
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Wow is all I can say. Great photos, fun report! Looks like you saw tons of great species.
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Old Thursday 14th January 2016, 21:47   #32
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The next morning we tried to get away even earlier in an effort to make the most out of the relatively cool morning hours. We were ready for breakfast at 5.45, when the kitchen staff were still putting everything together.

This morning we are going for a board ride rather than a drive. On the way to the river I see Capybara, and Hyacinth Macaws at their morning gymnastics, but the light is still very poor because the sun is only starting to come up, so the photographs only show silhouettes.

Octavio comes with me and one of the photographers, splitting up the couple. It is a lovely morning, the light beautiful as the sun comes up above the horizon, and the river is so calm that it's hard to believe this isn't standing water. We get some lovely reflections as well.

We see the usual herons and kingfishers, Neotropic Cormorants, Wattled Jacanas and Grey-necked Wood Rails. An Anhinga spreading its wings is new for our list - it doesn't look wet at all, so maybe just taking the sun. Photography is fun too!

We also get good views at a Variable Oriole, and a Rusty-margined Flycatcher is close enough to be sure we can see the rusty margins for which it is named. For these sightings I tend to look before taking photos, and I haven't got a lot of shots of birds we only saw briefly, and no more than a couple of times.

For the first time we also find a Rufous-tailed Jacamar, a species that is more common further north, and a Black-backed Water Tyrant also falls into the `easy to identify' category. Short-crested Flycatcher is the only Myarchus species we see on this trip, and the first one of those also appears today.

As the sun rises it gets warmer, and it is quite hot before too long. We get back by mid-morning or so. Octavio suggests having a go at photographing caimans from the shore, and proceeds to get some bait, but I find myself not all that interested and instead make the rounds of the property. I don't find any new birds, nor was I expecting any, but I enjoy seeing what's there and looking for photographic opportunities.

Green Kingfisher
Striated Heron
Wattled Jacana
Grey-necked Wood Rail
Amazon Kingfisher

Abdrea
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Old Thursday 14th January 2016, 21:53   #33
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After lunch there's the usual siesta and then we go out again for a drive. We get a few new birds, and some of them are particularly noteworthy: A rather distant Chestnut-eared Aracari, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Green-barred Woodpecker while we are looking for another species that sometimes is known to nest in a particular area. I didn't take a note of which woodpecker that was and embarrassingly I can't remember now. A pair of Blue-crowned Trogons are a highlight, and at least I do manage a record shot.

A new mammal species to note is White-collared Peccari, but it's a fairly quiet afternoon, all in all.

We try and find a spot which is good for sunset photography, and spend some time with that. Then Octavio tries to call in a Tropical Screech Owl, which he does manage, and which I just about manage to see. Good thing it is calling. The mosquitoes are out in some force and the non-birders are happy when the lengthy owl episode is over and we can get moving again. By now it is fully dark, and we spotlight our way back to the lodge. Pauraques and cattle are the only vertebrates to be caught in our light.

Anhinga
Pied Plover
Scaled Dove
Red-billed Cardinal
Blue-crowned Trogon (really bad record shot)

Andrea
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Old Friday 15th January 2016, 03:29   #34
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Fantastic. Brazil and the Pantanal have been on my "to-do" list for quite some time, and your report certainly makes me want to go there even more. Lovely photography as well!
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Old Friday 15th January 2016, 22:00   #35
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Thanks to everybody for their very kind words. It really does make a difference to hear that people are reading (and hopefully enjoying) this.

This was our last morning at Barranco Alto, and I for my part was sorry to leave. Again most of us meet for breakfast at 5.45 and leave for one last drive as soon as possible thereafter. One couple decided they didn't think there'd be anything new to seen (or at least not anything that would give them the kinds of pictures they were looking for).

We spend some time watching morning jamboree of a group of Hyacinth Macaws, and one can't help but smile as one watches these birds interacting with each other and clearly enjoying themselves.

That would have been enough to make the early morning worthwhile, but we next found a pair of Chaco Puffbirds, and they did condescend to have record shots taken of them as they were sitting at the top of a bare tree. Octavio hears a White-lored Spinetail, and while we get to see the bird chasing after it to get photographs does not bear fruit, nor do I manage to capture the Rusty-backed Antwren also in the vicinity.

Red-pileated Finch, Little Woodpecker and Golden-collared Macaw are further new species we manage to see. A Limpkin is seen in the distance, and one of the ubiquitous Chaco Chachalacas poses in a tree, eating its yellow flowers. We also get truly horrible record shots of a Purple Gallinule that refuses to come out of the reeds.

And then we can hear our planes approaching and we hurry back to finish packing, leave some tips, and get ready to move on. Just as I leave our accommodation I see Octavio pointing at a raptor that's rapidly vanishing into the distance, flying low. `That's a Bat Falcon,' he says. Well, on those views it can't go on my list.

Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Chaco Puffbirds
Chaco Chachalaca eating flowers
Hyacinth Macaws fooling around
White-collared Peccaris from the previous day

Andrea
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Old Friday 15th January 2016, 22:03   #36
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We fly north, and change state from Mato Grosso du Sul to Mato Grosso. Whereas on the first plight there was much open country, with curiously circular pools, and rivers, this time it is mostly forest. A forest that is yellow with flowering trees.

When we get to Porto Joffre it's already hot. We've moved closer to the Amazon, and it is expected to be warmer here. But this also means new birds! Already there are Brown-chested and Grey-breasted Martins on the wires outside of our bungalow.

It takes a bit of time to get us checked in and to our rooms, and then lunch is on the agenda. At 3.00 Octavio and I go birding, and the others declare us to be crazy to want to walk about in the heat. They have decided to stick to the pond with the giant water lily leaves.

But our excursion is certainly worthwhile. I notice Tropical Kingbirds for the first time on the trip - have I missed them so far? More excitingly, as we go into a patch of forest we find a highly localized Fawn-breasted wren which we study very carefully, until it calls and removes all doubt. We'd heard one earlier at Barranco Alto, but it's nice to see one. We also find some of the much more common Thrush-like Wrens with their noisy call.

A Greater Thornbird, a Black-Fronted Nunbird, and a Fork-tailed Flycatcher are all encountered in this quite small corner of forest despite the heat, and we also manage to see a Capuchin Monkey.

We are really hot as we get back to the hotel, but the day isn't over yet. There's a colony of Yellow-rumped Caciques in the grounds of the hotel which are with watching (and taking pictures of), and as the sun is going down and it gets gloomy an Orange-backed Troupial appears. Couldn't it have come when the sun was still up? It vanished into a nest-like structure to roost, and we finally call it a day because it becomes too dark.

Striated Heron
Giant water lily leaves
Black-fronted Nunbird
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Orange-backed Troupial

Andrea
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Old Saturday 16th January 2016, 21:38   #37
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Our next three days would be spent in the same way (and I don't think there was a lot of variation in what the other guests at the Porto Jofre Hotel were doing, just with variations on when one went out and when one returned. People come here to travel the river system by boat because it's the best place in the world to see Jaguars.

We were in a special position here, in that the pressure was off, as far as I was concerned, thanks to us having seen the magnificent male at Barranco Alto. I told Octavio that I didn't want to spend all my time looking for Jaguars, and that I was happy to give up some time in prime Jaguar habitat for time finding new birds or mammals.

Since there were three boats for our small group (one of the perks of being on a photography trip, where space is taken very seriously: People who are more serious about their photography than I won't stand for the kinds of conditions where they might get into each other's way.

Our aim is to be on the water by 5.45, and so the alarm was set for even earlier than on the previous days. At least breakfast is served really early, so there was no problem with that.

A few words about the hotel: The complex doesn't have much char, the rooms are tiled, long and comparatively narrow (for some bizarre reason the standard setup is for three beds per room, it seems). The food wasn't particularly good (apart from the couple of nights when they were had roast dishes served by a chef), and they seemed to be running out of stuff towards the end of our stay.

Their ideas of a salad buffet were interesting (somebody must have got a really good deal on beetroot), and other vegetables were in short supply. They went from having four varieties of fresh fruit juice to just one. My biggest bug bear was that they served still mineral water in .2l containers (ie a not particularly large glass), and they ran out of the larger (.35l) sparking mineral water too.

I was a bit surprised that staff who work in the tourist industry with a lot of overseas visitors have problems dealing with drink orders (and we did try to order in Portuguese, but apparently our pronunciation was too eccentric), given that they do this several times every day. But they certainly have the unbeatable location that probably means service doesn't matter all that much. The alternative is to stay at one of the houseboats, but that does mean being cooped up (one isn't allowed to go on land from those), and I've heard the rooms are small.

But we were keen to get going that morning, and off we went, just about when the light changed from totally dark to the point where one can make out things that aren't too far away.

Before 6.00 we have found our first Jaguar. Once the sighting is over I begin to think that this whole Jaguar watching lark is much easier than I'd thought, but my experience was a bit unusual.

This time we have a young female, and she looks gorgeous as she patrols the river edge, looking down onto the shore from an edge. As the sun is starting to rise the light is getting better, and we thoroughly enjoy the time we get with her. Octavio thinks she's looking for caimans, but it's too early for them to be laid up on the shore.

I hadn't realized that the Jaguars in the Pantanal specialise in hunting caimans - I had thought they live mostly on Capybaras. After a while the shore becomes more overgrown, and all one gets is very brief glimpses of the cat, and so after over half an hour of watching her we decide to move on. There were a number of boats, but the river is broad here and it was still early, so it wasn't a big deal. We see the BBC Natural History unit with two boats, one carrying a camera on a large boom. We meet them a few more times, always at Jaguar sightings.

We go off to explore some of the smaller rivers away from the National Park to see what we can find, and by 7.00 we have found a group of Giant Otters who have caught some fish, and are pausing to have breakfast. What a whirlwind start to the day! We watch them for a few minutes and then, as suddenly as they appeared, they're gone. They have a habit of diving for long stretches, and it's really hard to follow them when they're moving like that. This was my one and only encounter with them, but my fellow travellers saw others. I did later see a few otter dens, and I don't really know how successful a stake-out at one of those is likely to be.

Early morning Jaguar
Camouflage Jaguar
Looking for breakfast
Giant Otter

Andrea
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Old Saturday 16th January 2016, 22:11   #38
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We go off to explore some of the smaller rivers away from the National Park to see what we can find, and by 7.00 we have found a group of Giant Otters who have caught some fish, and are pausing to have breakfast. What a whirlwind start to the day! We watch them for a few minutes and then, as suddenly as they appeared, they're gone. They have a habit of diving for long stretches, and it's really hard to follow them when they're moving like that. This was my one and only encounter with them, but my fellow travellers saw others. I did later see a few otter dens, and I don't really know how successful a stake-out at one of those is likely to be.

After all this excitements things settle down a bit, and we watch birds, mostly ones we've seen a few times before such as the various herons, kingfishers, cuckoos, vultures, Roadside Hawks, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, but also new ones, such as its Red-throated relative. There are more, larger ones like Wood Stork and an unexpected Long-winged Harrier and a Laughing Falcon and small ones such as Pale-Legged Hornero, Black-capped Donacobius, Rusty-backed Spinetail and White-wedged Piculet,

We go on shore at an open swampy bit, and I just hope that Octavio knows what he's doing. Apart from the usual swamp-loving birds we find lots of migrating White-browed Blackbirds as well as, Spectacled Tyrant, Tawny-bellied Seedeater, Blue-Black Grassquit and a bird that particularly excites Octavio, since it's not been recorded here before: A Subtropical Doradito.

We stalk the bird a bit but we can't get close enough for me to get pictures, and Octavio doesn't have his camera with him. We returned to this spot a couple of days later, and Octavio got the footage he was looking for to submit the bird. He thinks it's a case of the winter range of the bird just not being known well enough, rather than b bird that is a true vagrant here.

Travelling on the river is really enjoyable, in particular when we are moving slowly, or just drifting. A nice way to look for birds! We get back for lunch half an hour or so before noon.

Ringed Kingfisher
Blue-throated Piping Guan record shot
Black-capped Donacobius
Laughing Falcon record shot
Giant Otter

Andrea
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Old Saturday 16th January 2016, 22:15   #39
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It's still hot and we go out again in the afternoon at 15.00, assuming that not too much stirs in the heat of the day. The afternoon is slower, but new birds still keep coming. It's a good day for raptors, since apart from the two new ones in the morning we also see our first Great Black Hawk (two, perched), a White-tailed Hawk (in flight) and an unseasonal Osprey. A Capped Heron poses for a photograph before it flies off.

Common Tody-Flycatcher, Great Antshrike and Little Cuckoo are other new birds we enjoy that afternoon. A Chestnut-bellied Guan is seen in a thicket and gives me the worst record shot I took on this trip, but fortunately a later sighting gives me a slightly better (but still horrible) record shot.

We don't make our way back to the hotel until it's almost dark, and I get the impression that this is mostly to allow me to see one more natural spectacle today: There are hundreds of bats over the water hunting for insects, and given the speed we move at I marvel at the fact that they seem to be able to just get out of the way instead of having us run into them. Band-tailed Nightjars join them - the food supply must be good here.

When we get back there's a bat in my room, flying around in a circle in the narrow space, and presumably a bit disconcerted, but fortunately it flies out after I've opened the door and stepped out of the way on Octavio's advice.


Cocoi Heron
Capped Heron
Great Black Hawk
Black-crowned Night Heron
Yacare Caiman

Andrea
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Old Sunday 17th January 2016, 10:31   #40
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Absolutely stunning images of jaguar and otters. The light on the jaguar is superb and makes for a wonderful set of images. Thank you for showing.

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Old Sunday 17th January 2016, 15:21   #41
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Great report and love the Jaguar
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Old Sunday 17th January 2016, 16:07   #42
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The next morning we leave again just as the sky turns from black go grey. This time we travel up the Cuaiaba river,a nd then go up a smaller tributary once again. It's amazing how many of the larger water-dependent birds, mostly herons and storks, there are hear. The eating must be good!

We get our first decent look at Black Howler Monkeys, one near the top of a tree, and another that's reasonably well visible. The birds are starting to wake up, the egrets fly from their roosts - presumably the Cattle Egrets are looking for some open grassland to feed on, while the others will stay on the river.

Octavio tries playback occasionally to get a bird to show itself rather than remain in the undergrowth, but today that does not seem to work at all. The only new bird of the morning is a Forest Eleania, and we do get a Roseate Spoonbill posing for us.

But then it all gets a bit slow, with not much being sighted, but still - you never know what might be around the next bend. Then Belo, our boat driver, spots a jaguar. It's quite deep into the forest, and I can't see it, although it's clear that both Belo and Octavio can make it out. In fact, there are three of them!

We play hide and seek with them for a few minutes, and frustratingly I still can't see any of them. And then they vanish, and we move on. Not long after we hear that they're back and we return, and I manage to catch glimpses of two of them this time. Then they vanish again.

Early morning on the river
Black Howler Monkey
Roseate Spoonbill
Typical river shore
Peekabo!

Andrea
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Old Sunday 17th January 2016, 16:12   #43
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The other two boats in our little group decide to chase a sighting on the Cuiaba, whereas we continue upstream to go bird watching. For a third time we return to the vicinity of the sighting, and this time we do see all three jaguars reasonably well.

The river is narrow, and fortunately there aren't too many boats here. They all hug the opposite side of the river, but there certainly is a good amount of floating into another boats' sightline, and while our guide is poling the boat along to avoid using the engine, one of his colleagues is rather noisy with his.

Photographically speaking this is a tough assignment, with very brightly lit vegetation in the front, and jaguars in the shade at the back, but who can complain about that when they get to see three jaguars at once?

We have a female with two almost grown young, they're estimated to be around two years old. Then the cubs lying down while the mother moves off. Octavio thinks she's going hunting - having to feed three practically fully grown Jaguars requires a lot of food. Then the two young vanish, but we get to watch their mother patrol the river shore for a while before she becomes invisible.

Youngster
Greeting
There really were three
Waiting
Looking for lunch

Andrea
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Old Sunday 17th January 2016, 16:22   #44
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We tear ourselves loose having spent some time hoping they might return and return to camp where we arrive just before noon. More excitement: There's a porcupine in camp, up a tree! One can glimpse it, but given the leaves it's not a particularly good view. It's really hot - I've just checked the historical weather data for Porto Jofre that day, and the top temperature was 39C. Humidity was very low though.

The afternoon is quiet too, maybe not too surprising. We go downstream again, and have another short sighting of a Jaguar, which leaves almost as soon as we arrive. For some reason jumping fish end up in our boat a few times this afternoon - what's that all about? As the sun is moving towards the horizon we see a feral water buffalo having a dip.

Snail Kites, Neotropic Cormorants, and various egrets are assembling in their communal roosts, and as we head back to the hotel the Band-tailed Nighthawks and lots of bats are hunting low over the river again.

Still looking for lunch
And still looking
Brown-Chested Martin
Afternoon Jaguar ready to leave
An unexpected encounter

Andrea
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Old Monday 18th January 2016, 21:16   #45
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Our final full day at Porto Jofre. I have noticed that we've all become rather taciturn over breakfast- the early mornings are maybe taking a toll.

Octavio and I are again travelling together.For some reason the birds are responding to playback today, and we see a Straight-billed Woodcreeper, and we manage to see a Barred Antshrike. Other than that we see birds we've been seeing frequently on the river, and looking back I took almost no pictures that morning.

The highlight comes when Octavio decides to try the shore again. We're outside the National Park, where this isn't allowed. We land where there's a bit of a clearing in the forest and have a look around.

It's lovely this early, not yet so hot, and bird activity picks up as we walk along the shore a bit. We enter the forest, which to my surprise is much opener than I'd expected. I also note that the trees don't have dense foliage, and that certainly makes bird watching in the canopy a lot easier. It's a bit like a deciduous forest in Europe (but not a managed one), with a greater variety of species.

And then we start to pick up new birds. An Ashy-headed Greenlet makes the start, and then we find a Yellow-olive Flatbill, which Octavio is convinced should be split from the one we saw on Ilhabela. A Masked Gnatcatcher is seen. There's a Rufous-browed Peppershrike, but I just can't get onto that.

We find a path, Octavio suspects one made by cattle (either domestic or feral like the water buffalo we saw yesterday), and it allows easy access into the forest. We decide to explore a bit further. We hear a sound, which Octavio says is Belo, the boat driver, trying to scare us by imitating a Jaguar. I assume that Octavio knows what he's doing.

We go a bit further, and find more new birds. Hooded Tanager, Plain-breasted Ground-dove and Green-backed Becard are found. We come too close to the hive of some thankfully stingless bees and they take umbrage. They strategy seems to be to fly into one's hair and requiring extraction. Once that is taken care of, Octavio suggests we go a bit further, and so we do.

A beautiful Crimson-crested Woodpecker is the reward, so we go a bit further. A Fuscous Flycatcher - nice! Eventually Octavio decides we really should get back to the boat, and we get a few more rewards on the way back. Stand-out bird for me is a Red-billed Scythebill on a tree trunk.

Octavio promised we'd give the bees a wide berth on the way back but he's misremembered the location of the hive and we are attacked again. As we near the boat we find one more new bird, a Chestnut-vented Conebill.

Wow! What a walk. It makes you want to do this more often, although I suspect that even outside the National Park we would be frowned upon. this was strictly a bird watching walk, and I only took a handful of photos, all of a Grey-crested flycatcher - the otehrs were moving around too much, or were too distant to try.

Guira Cuckoos warming up
Grey-crested Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Yellow-rumped Cacique in the hotel grounds
ditto

Andrea
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Old Monday 18th January 2016, 21:20   #46
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When we're back on the boat Belo and Octavio have a conversation in Portuguese, and Belo admits having tried to frighten us.

We make our way back to Porto Jofre, where I walk around to take some more pictures of the birds on the property, since we're a bit early. The others are late for lunch. It turns out that they had two Jaguars, one of them killing an anaconda, but the location was unfortunately such that they could only see some of the action above the vegetation, and they don't have pictures to tell the tale for them.

In the afternoon we return to the spot where we saw the Subtropical Doradito a couple of days before. We find the bird again and Octavio gets some photographic evidence of his find. Quite tellingly it does respond to playback. I get another new bird in the form of Golden-crowned Warbler of the subspecies that used to be known as White-bellied before it was lumped.

Another encounter with a Black Howler Monkey, and a Plumbeous Kite, are the other highlights of the afternoon, and as the sun goes down we return to the hotel.

Pics 1 and 2: Can you tell I rather enjoyed the caciques? They move very fast, but there were always some present...
Black Howler Monkey
Sunset over the Cuaiaba river
ditto

Andrea
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Old Friday 22nd January 2016, 20:22   #47
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Sorry for the delay in completing the story. I've been busy.

We had one more morning of patrolling the river system, trying again for the spot where we had the three jaguars. But there's nothing happening here. I ask whether we can try to find Giant Otters once more, but we don't manage that either.

We meet one of the other boats from our groups and they had a jaguar briefly, but a subsequent search turns up nothing. In the course of the morning we find two new birds, Greyish Saltator and Sungrebe. The latter in particular had been much anticipated by me, but we only got a short encounter before the bird vanished, and I didn't;t manage any photos.

An iguana is something else of note, and a spponbill that seemed to be displaying was nice to see. We get back to the hotel relatively early so that we can pack before lunch.

Then we're off by mini-van to our last Pantanal lodge, Araras. We finally get to see the famous Transpantaneira road, with its improvised bridges (the disadvantage of flying in).

We stop a couple of times, once at a known roosting spot for an owl which isn't in residence, but we finally find a Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, which even consents to being photographed. There's a support cast consisting of Common Tody-Flycatcher and White-Wedged Piculet, also allowing photo opportunities.

Iguana
Roseat Spoonbill, trying to tell us something?
White-wedged Piculet
ditto
Common Tody-flycatcher

Andrea
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Old Friday 22nd January 2016, 20:25   #48
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The next stop is an abandoned building that has a Bat Falcon on a tree a bit into the forest. Only record shots, but at least it goes on the list after I missed the one at Barranco Alto.

The final stop is to watch countless herons starting to assemble to roost, and some of the trees are white with Wood Storks, Great and Snow Egrets. It's really impressive to see just how many birds have made their home in the Pantanal!

By the time we arrive at Araras it's dark, and we'll have to leave it until tomorrow before we can explore our surroundings. It's been another early day, and as usual we don't linger after dinner. Our final full day in the Pantanal awaits!

Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher
Bat Falcon record shot
Snail Kite
Roosting tree
They look as if they're not talking!


Andrea
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Old Saturday 23rd January 2016, 20:55   #49
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We have another early breakfast at 5.45 and then head out on a boardwalk to the canopy tower on the property. But before we even leave the lodge grounds there's a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl sitting in a bare tree for us to marvel at.

At the moment it is dry enough that a boardwalk isn't needed. We clamber up the tower and are afforded views over the forest that we've only ween from the river side these last few days.

There are a number of trees in flower, The tower is on the edge of the forest, and on the other side there is open country, that looks more suitable for the ubiquitous cattle ranching.

We watch egrets and various species of parrots flying over the forest as the world wakes up, and the sun begins to rise. One new bird we get on the tower is Black-crowned Tityra, both a male, and a female, visiting us one after the other. But overall it is a bit more quiet than Octavio had hoped, and there aren't a lot of photographic opportunities.

Black-fronted Nunbirds
Black-crowned Tityra female
Black-crowned Tityra male
Squirrel Cuckoo
View over the forest
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Old Saturday 23rd January 2016, 21:03   #50
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After a while we make our way back down, and take a different path back. There's a patch of forest Octavio wants to check out, and we are richly rewarded with a Helmeted Manakin giving views straight up, and a rather fleeting encounter with an Amazonian Motmot, a species I'd hoped to see better, although I had realized that the Pantanal isn't the ideal place to look for those. A White-eyed Attila is more inclined to have its picture taken.

We are now walking through tall grass, and for the next couple of days I am busy removing the tiny ticks that attached themselves to me, surely on this occasion. When we've reached the boardwalk again the others head for the lodge, but Octavio and I want to see whether we can find a few more birds, ideally new ones.

And can we ever! Ochre--lored Spinetail, Pearly-vented Tody-flycatcher, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Mato Grosso Antbird, Large-billed Antwren all appear. And then Octavio gets really excited as he spies a Buff-bellied Hermit at some distance. I try to take some pictures but it's far away and the background is confusing, but there are record shots of sorts. This is a lifer for Octavio, the second of the trip - and he didn't have his camera with him.

White-eyed Attila
Helmeted Manikin
Butterfly
Buff-bellied Hermit
Water Hyacinth


Andrea
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