Friday, August 24, 2018

Brazil Day 9 - Barranco Alto

Today we woke up to mostly clear skies.  It was a bit cool in the morning but I figured it would warm up soon so I only put on a T-shirt.

After our final excellent meal at Baia das Pedras, we headed outside for our transfer to Barranco Alto.   In order to fit all our luggage, Carlos and one of the Cowboys had hooked a small trailer to the back of the truck we used for game drives.  All of our luggage was loaded inside the trailer and tied down with a tarp to protect it from rain (not likely) or dust (most definitively).

It was about this time that I realized it might have been a mistake to only wear a T-shirt.  The truck was open on the sides and top, but the sun should keep me warm I thought.  Yeah, that was poor judgement.  As soon as we started moving, the a cold wind shot through the truck and right to my bones.

Luckily, the almost 5 hour drive to Barranco Alto (BA from now on) was scenic and full of great wildlife encounters which helped me forget about the cold.  It did eventually warm up too.

Maguari Stork:
Maguari Stork

South American Coati:
Coati in the Flowers

At one point we almost drove over this Southern Lapwing.  It wouldn't budge and we didn't know why until we got right next to it and saw the eggs:
Southern Lapwing on Nest

Collared Plover:
Collared Plover

Burrowing Owl:
Burrowing Owl

Blue and Yellow Macaw:
Blue and Yellow Macaw

We turned a bend and right in the middle of the "road" (I use that term loosely in the Pantanal) was a Pampas Deer fawn.  There was no sign of the mother.  I quickly snapped a picture through the windshield which came out OK:

Pampas Deer Fawn in the

Immediately after that, it ran off the "road" and through a fence but gave us one last glance.  Hopefully, mamma was near by.
Pampas Deer Fawn

While we saw lots of Capybara during this Brazil trip, we didn't see many with babies.  That changed during this drive.  They were adorable:

Cabybara with Babies

Baby Capybara

Following Mama

We even saw another Giant Anteater during the transfer.  But, as soon as we got out of the car and attempted to get closer this one took off.
Distant Giant Anteater

We saw 4 Six-banded Armadillos during the drive (That's 24 bands!). You would have to see 3 Nine-banded Armadillos in the States or 8 Three-banded Armadillos in Northern Brazil to get that many bands.  There was an amazing amount of Armadillo holes everywhere so I had to get a picture of that too.

Just a Couple Armadillo Holes

Six-banded Armadillo

The Armadillo is such a cool animal.  It is omnivorous and is basically an armored eating machine.  In Portuguese it's called a Tatu.  That's easier to say and spell.

Armored Killer

We also saw multiple Greater Rheas on this drive (I told you it was a great drive).  One actually stuck around for some photos:
Greater Rhea

Greater Rhea Closeup

We finally reached the outskirts of Barranco Alto's property around Noon.  Right after that we saw our first BA Giant Anteater.  This one allowed us to get close but the light was really harsh so I processed some of the pictures in Black and White to see if they looked any better.  Eh...I'm not sure.

Black and White Giant Anteater

Here is that same Giant Anteater "flipping a turd"
Giant Anteater Flipping Turds

And now, some interesting facts about the Giant Anteater courtesy of Lydia at BA who is one of the world's leading experts on them:
  • They have unique markings on their front legs which help ID an animal
  • They have no teeth so there is really no way to tell their age when researchers catch them
  • They have to look at the claws and any scars to tell if it's an adult vs a full grown sub adult
  • Traps don't work to capture them unlike a Tapir.  They have to lasso it.
  • It can rear up and get very aggressive with its claws when threatened so lassoing them is dangerous
  • No one has ever seen them mate, give birth, or nurse in the wild.  This has only been witnessed in zoos.
  • Babies are born with little hair but they crawl up on their mother's back immediately
  • In zoos, the mother tends to cover the baby with her tail when nursing
  • Lydia has successfully radio collared two Giant Anteaters at Barranco Alto and is analyzing reams of data from those collars
Oh, and here's a fact from me.  The Giant Anteater walks on its front knuckles to keep its claws out of the way.  I tried multiple times to get a good picture showing this and here is the best one:

Walking on It's Knuckles

We arrived at Barranco Alto in time for a delicious lunch.  Once lunch was over we settled into our rooms.  This time (we also stayed at BA two years ago) we were put in the Red Room which was very nice and had a better view than the Yellow Room we were in previously (which was very nice as well).

Barranco Alto Red Room

Before our afternoon activity I wandered around the grounds a little bit.

White-lipped Peccary:
White-lipped Peccary

Plush-crested Jay:
Plush-crested Jay

We decided to take a walk for our afternoon activity since we had been sitting in a truck all morning. It felt great to stretch our legs and we had some good sightings on the walk.

Southern Lapwing Bathing:
Southern Lapwing Bathing

We found a Tatu that seemed to be scavenging a dead carcass:
Six-banded Armadillo Scavenging

We also had a large group of Blue-throated Piping Guans fly past us:
Blue-throated Piping Guan Flyby

Gray-brocket Deer:
Gray Brocket Deer

We returned to the lodge at dusk where we ordered a round of, what else, Caipirinhas.  Unfortunately, Rita spoiled us with hers and these were pretty weak and not as good.

We had beef for dinner and it was the first so-so meal of the trip.  The beef was pretty tough but they served it with Manioc Root which I enjoyed.  We actually had Manioc a lot on the trip. It's very versatile just like potato. I liked all forms of it but especially the Manioc fries.  I even came up with a little song.

"I'm a Manioc...manioc at the buf-fet.  And I acted like I never ate before"

Hmm...maybe those drinks weren't that weak after all.

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