Thursday, August 23, 2018

Brazil Day 10 - Barranco Alto

The bed in the Red Room was the most comfortable of the trip and I got a decent night's sleep.  But, I was woken up multiple times by a Common Paraque that called outside our room constantly.  I named him Lionel because he sang "All Night Long".

The breakfasts at BA are traditional Brazilian with ham and cheese, breads, jam, juice, and cake.  Hey as long as there is cake, I am happy.  But, BA does serve breakfast at 5:45AM which is darn early.  You do beat the heat that way for your morning activity if there was heat.  It was pretty mild for our entire stay and downright cold the first few days.

Our activity was a boat ride on the Rio Negro which was quite nice and very peaceful.  We had some good wildlife encounters as well.

It wasn't James Bond, but we saw our own "Golden Eye":
Golden Eye

Not long after starting the boat ride we encountered a pair of Giant Otters. They came closer to check us out and that enabled me to get a few shots:

Giant Otters

Giant Otter

Kingfishers are very common on the river.  The challenge is getting them to sit still for pictures.  We were only able to accomplish that a few times:

Ringed Kingfisher

Here is a look at an Otter Den on the riverbank.  You can tell it has been recently used due to the tracks in the sand:
Otter Den

As we floated downriver we encountered a small group of Capybara enjoying the morning sun:

Large-billed Tern:
Large-billed Tern

We also saw the other otter species. It's a Neotropical Otter:
Neotropical River Otter Spotting Us

River Otter Investigating The Strange Objects in the Boat

As we were watching this Cormorant try to enjoy a recent catch...
Cormorant with Lunch

The Otter came out of the water and tried to grab the fish:
River Otter Trying for Easy Meal

But, it gave up pretty quickly when the Cormorant didn't drop the fish right away:
Not Easy Enough...

Right after this happened we heard the Capybara bolt into the water and start barking alarm calls:
Capybara Taking Refuge in the River

We sat and waiting and scanned the bank hoping that some large feline predator would emerge but we saw nothing and eventually the Capybara swam back to shore.


Striated Heron:
Striated Heron

Black Skimmer:
Black Skimmer

Pied Plovers:
Pied Plovers

Then we encountered the same Giant Otter pair again:
Giant Otter Pair

We spooked a Cocoi Heron that squawked at us in disapproval as it flew away:
Disturbing a Cocoi Heron

Heron Squawking at Us

Rufous-tailed Jacamar:
Rufous-tailed Jacamar

As we approached a small sand island, we noticed a kneeling Jabiru on it:
Kneeling Jabiru

I guess it was just chillin' waiting for its buddy to show up.  That didn't take long:
Jabiru Preparing to Land

Jabiru Landing

Once the 2nd one landed, they stood side by side:
Jabiru Pair

Then they turned and started strutting in unison up the beach.  They look pretty gangling as they walk:
Strutting Jabiru

After lunch, which was tough beef again, I walked around the grounds a bit.

Scaled Dove:
Scaled Dove

This guy was obviously waiting for the Caiman dentist:
Caiman Yawn

"Yes sir, open wider please.  It appears you have a bit of fish stuck back here.  There, I got it"

"Thanks Doc.  Much better now"

Yacare Caiman

If you have been paying attention you will have noticed that I have a few pictures of Cattle Tyrants.  These are the birds that always seem to be riding something.  Capybara, Pigs, you name it.  Well, I found one that thought it was the King of Poop:
Cattle Tyrant - King of Poop

Darn it, now I have MJ songs stuck in my head for the 2nd trip report in a row!

"Ani are you OK.  Are you OK Smooth-billed Ani"
Smooth-billed Ani

Don't worry, that's it this time.  Can't recycle old stuff.  Must develop new material...

One of my favorite Pantanal birds is the Guira Cuckoo and we saw a lot of them. They are cool looking, have a great call, and hang out together strutting around the grounds like velociraptors.  What's not to like?

Guira Cuckoo

Yacare Caiman Closeup:
Yacare Caiman Closeup

Chaco Chachalaca:
Chaco Chachalaca

Black and White Tegu:
Black and White Tegu

If you couldn't tell, grounds around the lodge at Barranco Alto are teeming with wildlife.

At 3:30 we headed out for a game drive with Stefan and Lydia.  The drive started out nice enough with a few birds.

White-faced Ibis:
White-faced Ibis

Yellow-chevroned Parakeets:
Yellow-chevroned Parakeets

As we drove away from the lake, I spotted a dark space up ahead at about 11 o'clock.   "Giant Anteater!"  I exclaimed.  But, something looked a bit different with this one.  "It has a baby!"

That's right, we spotted another Giant Anteater (my goal for the trip as you know) and this time it had a baby.  That's the dream encounter!  Who better to guide us through this encounter than Lydia.  She knew this animal well and had named it Clawdia.  It was apparently very tolerant of people.  So, Lydia led us downwind where we photographed Clawdia a bit.  But, she was back lit so the pictures were not very good.  Slowly, Lydia and Stefan moved us around as Clawdia foraged towards the lake and went under one of the fences.  I don't know how the baby managed to hold on as the wire brushed over it:

Squeezing Under the Wire

We slowly followed Clawdia and climbed through the fence as well.  It was from there that the photo shoot really started.  As I have said before, if you don't like Giant Anteaters...look away now.

Giant Anteater

Giant Anteater with Baby

The baby had its eyes closed most of the time but once in a while it opened them and once it actually tested its tongue.  Boy, it's a long one...

Giant Anteater Baby Testing its Tongue

Here is a great view of the front foot and claws:
Giant Anteater

It's only when you have long intimate encounters with wildlife that you can really see some cool behavior and this was no exception. Clawdia would find an ant nest and dig into it a bit moving her tongue around and lapping up all the ants that she could.  But, ants like to fight back and they would start to swarm on her nose.  You can see the red ants on her nose in these pictures:
Nice Claws

Giant Anteater with Red Ants

But, that wouldn't drive her away immediately.  She had a trick to get them off of her.  She would take her claw and wipe it down her nose to knock the ants off. She would do this with one foot and then usually with the other.  It looked something like this:

Claw Used to Get Rid of Stinging Ants

Giant Anteater

But, eventually the ants would be too much and she would move on.  So, that meant more pictures!

Yup, Another Giant Anteater with Pup Photo

Giant Anteaters

I will finish up one of the best wildlife encounters of our lives with a shot of the adorable little pup:
Giant Anteater Pup

To say we were excited is an understatement.   All most of us could muster to say during the encounter was "Wow!" over and over again.  It was truly special.

But, the afternoon was still young and there was more wildlife to see.  So, we left Clawdia alone and got back in the truck to see what else we could find.

A bit later we drove up to check out a Jabiru Nest.  It was in good light and the adults were home but not actually on the nest.  Lydia stopped the truck and we took in the sights.


In a tree right next door was a pair of Hyacinth Macaws looking very regal in the nice light:

Hyacinth Macaw Pair

But then they must have heard some Bad Company playing.  "Feel Like Macawing Love"

Mating Hyacinth Macaws

Beyond these trees was a Cocoi Heron:
Hyacinth Macaw Pair

And, in yet another tree next door, was this Red and Green Macaw:
Red and Green Macaw

There were beautiful photos to take in all directions.  You have GOT to love Barranco Alto!

As we were driving around the lake towards our sundowner spot, we passed a tree of Neotropic Cormorants.  They looked cool roosting together in the tree but I couldn't help feeling a sense of dread like something was in my future...

We stopped for a quick sundowner on the shores of the lake to enjoy the last light of the day and it looks like we were beaten to it:

White-backed Stilt

I ended up taken a few sunset pictures but with few clouds they really weren't anything special.  But, when I got home I zoomed in closely at one of them and was surprised to see that Clawdia photo bombed my sunset picture.
Giant Anteater at Dusk

Once it got dark, Stefan turned on the spot light and we got back in the truck for a night drive.  We saw 4 Crab-eating Foxes including this one:
Crab-eating Fox

At one point we stopped in the small clearing because we heard something crashing in the trees.  Stefan turned off the light a few times hoping that it would show itself.  As we waited we could hear 3 different species of owls calling.  There was an FPO calling in one direction, a Tropical Screech owl in another, and a 3rd owl calling that, for the life of me, I can't remember.  Oh well.

There was also a huge full moon and fire flies.  It was pretty surreal.  Unfortunately, whatever was crashing around in the trees didn't come out so we will never know what it was.

When we arrived back at the lodge, Stefan took our drink order again and wasn't surprised to hear our response. Caipirinhas all around!

Dinner was once again beef which was disappointing.  But, dessert was a Chocolate Ice Cream cake that was fan-freaking-tastic!  That was the perfect topper to an epic day in the Pantanal.  Despite finding a few more ticks on me, I fell asleep with a big grin on my face.

No comments: