Monday, September 19, 2016

Pantanal Day 9 - Barranco Alto

The daily schedule at Barranco Alto is relatively fixed.  Breakfast is served between 5:30AM and 6:30AM to get some energy for the morning activity which starts around 7AM.  Typically, we were back at the lodge around 11AM for a Noonish lunch and then headed out again between 3PM and 4PM for the afternoon/evening activity.

Because Stefan was our private guide, we had a bit more flexibility but pretty much stuck to those times.  Since we had spent a lot of time recently on a boat, we elected to do a morning jeep drive coupled with a walk.  So, after a filling breakfast that, of course, included cake and also included a distant "drive by" of 3 Crab-eating Fox, we jumped into the jeep.

The morning was very pleasant when we set out thanks to some high clouds which tempered the heat a lot.  We didn't have to wait long to see wildlife since many animals spend time quite close to the lodge.

Male Bare-face Curassow:
Male Bare-faced Curassow

There were a couple Burrowing Owls that lived quite close to the lodge as well and every morning one would be on this branch keeping a lookout:
Burrowing Owl

Hyacinth Macaws:
Hyacinth Macaw Flyby

Stefan drove us to a location where a Great-horned Owl had been seen previously.  Sure enough, it was still there:
Great Horned Owl

Gray-brocket Deer:
Gray Brocket Deer

After about an hour of driving, we parked the jeep to take a walk.  The first thing we saw was this Cream-backed Woodpecker:
Cream-backed Woodpecker

Then a couple trees over were these Red and Green Macaws:
Red and Green Macaws

Red and Green Macaw

Later on the walk a very cooperative Plumbeous Kite landed nearby:
Plumbeous Kite

We also had a large Rhea strut past us:
Rhea on the Beach

And, not too much farther we spotted this Golden-collared Macaw:
Golden-collared Macaw

Do you get the idea that Barranco Alto has a lot of wildlife?  I mean this place was loaded with all creatures great and small.  Although their vet was not from Yorkshire based on what I heard.

We found another nesting pair of Hyacinth Macaws:
Hyacinth Hole

Hyacinth Macaws Bonding

Our walk took us past a lake that had a large family of Capybara.  They were on the other side though so the picture isn't great.  But, these Capybaras are notable because they were blond.  As it turns out, the folks at Barranco Alto have noticed that Capybaras that live in the salt water lakes turn blonde as they age due to the salt.  They are born darker and then get lighter with age.  Interesting...

However, I don't think the old adage is true that they have more fun than other Capybaras since we pretty much just saw them doing the same thing as other Capybaras...sitting and eating.  Also, just to prove that I do have my bad joke limits, you will see no blonde Capybara jokes in this report.  Not that I didn't try to think up some...

This cute Little Woodpecker was the last highlight of the morning:
Little Woodpecker

It was great to get out and stretch our legs.  Plus, we also saw a lot more than I have included above including shore birds, Tapir and Puma tracks and more.

Back at the lodge we enjoyed our cold drinks under the mango tree and then I went exploring a little.  The White-lipped Peccaries were once again in about the same location behind the lodge.  Lydia actually told us last night that they respond positively to deep sounds.  So, I made deep gulping sounds around them and there was no hair raising or teeth snapping like yesterday.  So, I think her method works and I managed to get a good beat going too:
White-lipped Peccaries

After another delicious lunch, we rested a bit until our 3:15PM meeting time with Stefan.  The lodge had just opened up a new trail and he wanted to show it to us.  So, for the next hour or so we walked through some great varied habitats and saw various birds and more White-lipped Peccaries.

You know, its funny because we have seen many Peccaries in our time and we always heard that they smelled, yet we had never smelled them before.  However, on this particular walk, the wind must have been right or maybe these peccaries were particularly ripe because it didn't take long for our nostrils to flare from their musky odor.  It was a cool experience but not one I would strive to repeat often in the future.

The only good picture of a critter that I got on the walk was of this beautiful Whistling Heron.  We even heard it "whistle" as it flew away later:
Whistling Heron

Back at the lodge we boarded the jeep for another drive.  Once again we hoped to find a Giant Anteater but once again we struck out.  But, the drive was still great.

Pampas Deer:
Male Pampas Deer

Besides the Pampas Deer we also saw Gray Brocket Deer, Snail Kites, Brazilian Teal, multiple mass Ibis flyovers at dusk, plus we were serenaded by the the lovely call of the Tinamou.

As we journeyed back to the lodge in the dark, an endless stream of cattle crossed the road.  Instead of trying to work through them, Stefan just turned off the jeep and we sat there in the dark enjoying the stars as hundreds of cattle walked slowly by.  Between the white shadows of the cattle and the dozens of fire flies that fluttered about it was a bit of a surreal experience and one we enjoyed immensely.  Boy the stars were impressive.

After the cattle passed, we saw quite a few Night Jars and bats as well as a Potoo and a feral pig on the way back.  So, there wasn't a ton of excitement on the drive but we enjoyed it none the less.

The excitement happened after our Caipirinhas and another fine dinner.  We found a rather large and intimidating spider in our bathroom.  Typically, I try to catch and release critters we find in our room. But, we had just seen a show that talked a bit about the Brazilian Wandering Spider (Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan which is a very enjoyable nature program) and this spider bore a distinct resemblance to that spider.  So, not wanting to take chances I disposed of it from a far.  I wish I had taken a picture so Stefan could positively ID it or better yet got someone on the staff to try to relocate it.  But, hindsight is 20-20 as they say.

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