Back from Brazil

A little more than a month since my last update, it’s certainly time for a new one. My apologies upfront – this is going to be a long one. Repeating a trip I’d made five years ago, most of that time was spent off on a another fabulous trip to the State of Mato Grosso, Brazil with Mark Pretti Nature Tours, and then all last week taken up going through the more than 2200 pictures that made it home with me this time. The total’s down to about 450 now that are now on my website at http://sandianet.com/matogrosso/index.htm, but thought I’d share some of them in this post. Along with Mark, our group included two friends from Albuquerque, Liz and Larry, my friend Terri from Illinois who’s gone on several other trips with me, and five others we met down there for the trip. Four of us met up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida a couple days early to catch our late night flight on Azul Airlines to Cuiaba via Sao Paolo’s Viracopos airport, and then had nearly two days in Cuiaba before meeting up with Mark and the rest of the group. Highlights of our time in Fort Lauderdale included watching a waterspout (thanks to Terri for the waterspout photo) develop out on the ocean for about half an hour before it finally dissapated,

Waterspout

Waterspout

doing a little birding around town the day of our flight when we met up with a Park Ranger and volunteer who took us to a turtle nesting site where they showed us a couple of baby leatherbacks on their way to the ocean,

Leatherback Turtle Nest

Leatherback Turtle Nest

and at an old cemetery that was overrun with huge iguanas, lots of White Ibis, and a Blue Jay nest with little ones about ready to fledge.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

 The first day in Cuiaba we made it over to the zoo at the Federal University of Mato Grosso; a fairly small zoo that specializes in Brazilian Pantanal species, some of which we’d be seeing in the wild over the course of the next two weeks. The following day we spent a few hours in the marvelous Parque Mae Bonifacia in the center of Cuiaba, where we saw several Silvery Marmosets in the trees and spotted a few good birds including both male and female Barred Antshrike.

Barred Antshrike

Barred Antshrike

 After meeting the rest of the group that night, early the next morning it was off to the Transpantaneira Road to our first lodge, the Fazenda Santa Tereza deep in the Pantanal. After a couple of days there, we’d head back up the road to Pousada Piuval with a bit different habitats for the next couple of days. Then nearly a week into the trip, it was back to Cuiaba for a flight to Alta Floresta in the Amazon region and five full days at the marvelous Cristalino Lodge. Flying back to Cuiaba, we boarded a bus to head to the completely different environment of Chapada dos Guimaraes, staying at Pousada do Parque for the last couple of days of the trip.

The focus of the trip was primarily birding and we’d see more than 360 species of birds, thanks mostly to Mark’s skill but aided by a couple of our local guides and the sharp eyes of several others on the tour. I had my eye on some of the butterflies, too, and ended up with close to 100 species. What made the trip really special, however, was ending up with a total of 24 mammal species, a number of which I’d never seen before and apparently a record for Mark’s many trips down there. Among them was a Maned Wolf, Crab-eating Fox, an Ocelot, two kinds of anteater (Southern Tamandua and Great Anteater), Giant Otter, Brazilian Tapir, four species of monkey, and five of bats.

Transpantaneira Road was swarming with caiman

Caiman

Caiman

and all kinds of waterfowl such as herons, egrets, ibis, limpkins, sunbittern, five species of kingfisher, most of them in ridiculous numbers,

Green-and-rufous Kingfisher

Green-and-rufous Kingfisher

Roseate Spoonbills,

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Jabiru, several hawks,

Savannah Hawk

Savannah Hawk

and plenty of other birds.

Bare-faced Currasows wandered the grounds of  Fazenda Santa Tereza like chickens

Bare-faced Currasow

Bare-faced Currasow

along with several family groups of the rather sizable Capybara.

Capybara

Capybara

This also was where we’d see a Crab-eating Fox

Crab-eating Fox

Crab-eating Fox

and Marsh Deer on the edges of the property. At the lodge itself we’d see lots of different birds,

Peach-fronted Parakeet

Peach-fronted Parakeet

including the first of four species of Aracari

Chestnut-eared Aracari

Chestnut-eared Aracari

and five species of Jacamar,

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

got to spy on the little ones in a Jabiru nest from a short tower close to the nest, 

Jabiru

Jabiru

and each day would head out on the Rio Pixaim to spot even more bird species, Caiman, Giant River Otters

Giant River Otter

Giant River Otter

and a few bats. On one outing, we hopped out of the boats to go look for the Great Potoo, posing nicely in its camouflage.

Great Potoo

Great Potoo

 The second evening there we made the short hike to a blind to wait for an Ocelot who has been habituated to sometimes drop by for a free chicken dinner. Luck was with us that night as it indeed showed up after a short wait; it hadn’t shown up for anybody the night before.

Ocelot

Ocelot

Our home for the next couple of nights was at Pousada Piuval back along the Transpantaneira, where we’d take several hikes through its different habitats and spend some time along a huge lagoon seeing a different variety of bird

Snail Kite

Snail Kite w/Snail

and other species. Heading back from an outing the first afternoon there, we were thrilled to spot a Southern Tamandua,

Southern Tamandua

Southern Tamandua

an anteater that doesn’t seem to mind people at close distance.  The next day brought several even more interesting experiences. Commotion in a large tree caught our attention as two Brown Capuchin Monkeys snuck up on a large Southern Caracara nest to successfully snatch one of their eggs. While we watched, one grabbed an egg and proceeded to eat it from a perch just below the nest while the second monkey tried again. That brought in the other adult Caracara wildly thrashing its wings to run the critter off.

Brown Capuchins Rob a Southern Caracara Nest

Brown Capuchins Rob a Southern Caracara Nest

Finally, the monkeys took the hint and leaped away. Trying to top that, it wasn’t but later that afternoon we’d spot our second anteater species, the Giant Anteater in the same area as the little guy the day before; this one was a lot quicker on its feet and a lot less comfortable around people, but most unusual to see. We’d see plenty of Brown Capuchin Monkeys and a couple of Silvery Marmosets during our stay there, and one day took a boat further up the lagoon to view a huge rookery for various herons and wood storks.

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

I’d forgotten from my previous trip that this spot was also home to a family of Black Howler Monkeys.

Immature Black Howler Monkey

Immature Black Howler Monkey

It also had a Ringed Kingfisher posing proudly with its latest snack.

Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher

 After that incredible experience, it was time to head back to Cuiaba for the flight to Alta Floresta for one night at the Floresta Amazonica Hotel before meeting the boat to Cristalino Lodge in the Amazonian rainforest. Despite the short time we had in Alta Floresta, we’d still have time for a few interesting sightings including a couple of Red-and-green Macaws fooling around, 

Red-and-green Macaw

Red-and-green Macaw

a group of four Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers lined up along a vertical tree with a Squirrel Cuckoo hanging out nearby,

Yellow-tufted Woodpecker (l) and Squirrel Cuckoo (r)

Yellow-tufted Woodpecker (l) and Squirrel Cuckoo (r)

and a comical number of Chestnut-eared Aracari’s entering a tree cavity one after another. We’d see our first Gray Cracker and Marysas Hairstreak butterflies here as well.

Marysas Hairstreak (Pseudolycaena marysas)

Marysas Hairstreak (Pseudolycaena marysas)

 Cristalino Lodge was our home for the next five days and an excellent time exploring the rainforest and rivers of this amazing place. Since my last visit in 2011, they’d built a large new structure with a restaurant, bar, and meeting rooms, but it was otherwise much the same with a high quality of service and a very eco-friendly operation. The food at the restaurant was terrific with huge amounts of organic produce from their gardens, but I did miss their no longer spending 15 minutes preparing the national drink, capirinha. Mammal-wise, we’d add Brazilian Tapir and more Giant River Otters to our list, along with more Brown Capuchin Monkeys (and two new monkey species),

Brown Capuchin Monkey

Brown Capuchin Monkey

and a couple of new bat species.

Chestnut Sac-winged Bat

Chestnut Sac-winged Bat

The habitats were of course completely different from the Pantanal, and we’d add plenty of new birds to the list such as the Capped Heron,

Capped Heron

Capped Heron

Santarem Parakeet,

Santarem Parakeet

Santarem Parakeet

Pied Lapwing,

Pied Lapwing

Pied Lapwing

and Red-headed Manakin.

Red-headed Manakin

Red-headed Manakin

On two afternoons just as it was turning dark in the woods we watched quietly as a variety of secretive birds came in for a last bath or drink at a bamboo structure maintained by the guides. Similar to the “Magic Pond” we visited on my earlier trip, this new structure is more dependable and less reliant on natural water levels of the pond. Really a little too dark for pictures (the birds would be spooked by a flash and of course none of us had a tripod), one of the highlights there was our second potoo species, Long-tailed Potoo, which showed up right at the end.

Long-tailed Potoo

Long-tailed Potoo

Cristalino was also quite good for butterflies, which we’d occasionally spot while out looking mostly for birds. I’m still trying to identify a number of them, but some of the more interesting ones included several Metalmarks, such as Caria castalia,

Caria castalia

Caria castalia

Amarynthis menaria,

Amarynthis menaria

Amarynthis menaria

and Semomesia croesus.

Mesosemia croesus

Croesus Eyemark (Semomesia croesus)

Most of the Brushfoots we’d see just about everywhere were Eunica Purplewing (Eunica pusilla), but among the others we’d see even perched on the walls of our rooms included Baeotus japetus,

Narrow-lined Beauty (Baeotus japetus)

Narrow-lined Beauty (Baeotus japetus)

Historis odius,

Orion Cecropian (Historis odius)

Orion Cecropian (Historis odius)

and Archeoprepona demophon.

One-spotted Prepona (Archaeoprepona demophon)

One-spotted Prepona (Archaeoprepona demophon)

Just as we were boarding the boat to head back to Alta Floresta at the end of our stay, a gorgeous hairstreak, Chalybs janias,

Janias Greenstreak (Chalybs janias)

Janias Greenstreak (Chalybs janias)

posed nicely for us occasionally showing off a brilliant blue when it flew.

After almost a week at Cristalino, we flew back to Cuiaba for the hour and a half drive to Posuada do Parque in the Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park. Once again, the habitats were completely different from other places we visited on the trip in this area of a high cliff escarpment in the middle of the arid cerrado savanna. A most unusual sighting there one morning was the rarely seen Maned Wolf that wandered into the yard to steal a coconut and then returned to make its way across the field.

Maned Wolf

Maned Wolf

 A good place for owls, a short walk from the Pousada regularly turned up a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, a pair of Burrowing Owls hanging out just across the road, and a pair of Tropical Screech-Owls who spent their time either hiding in the eaves of the roof or in a nearby tree.

Tropical Screech-Owl

Tropical Screech-Owl

In other trees nearby we had several Red-shouldered Macaws,

Red-shouldered Macaw

Red-shouldered Macaw

a Rufous Hornero busy building its adobe nest,

Rufous Hornero

Rufous Hornero

and had great looks at a couple of Brown Jacamars.

Brown Jacamar

Brown Jacamar

A sunset visit to the edge of the escarpment turned up a pair of Channel-billed Toucans loudly calling in the distance.

Channel-billed Toucan

Channel-billed Toucan

An afternoon walk one day a short drive away turned up a Swallow Tanager who couldn’t have gotten much closer.

Swallow Tanager

Swallow Tanager

Along the way, sap was running from one tree that drew in a remarkable variety of butterflies. That one tree had at least three species of Hamadryas (Cracker) butterflies,

Cracker Party

Cracker Party

two species of Catonephele (Catone),

Stoplight Catone (Catonephele numilia)

Stoplight Catone (Catonephele numilia)

and several others.

Long trip home, but a fabulous trip to three uniquely different areas of the State of Mato Grosso with a great group of friends. Hope you enjoyed looking at some of the pictures.

 

 

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About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
This entry was posted in Birding, Bugs, Butterfly, Critters, Dragonflies, Flowers, Photographs, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Back from Brazil

  1. 1nmbirder says:

    Wow!!!!! I didn’t know you were on a trip. I was about to email you to see if everything was OK as you hadn’t written your blog for awhile. Sounds like a fabulous trip!!! So many of those butterflies were absolutely stunning! And the variety of birds was amazing. I especially love that Swallow Tanager. Beautiful bird! So glad you had a great trip. Welcome home!!

  2. Rebecca Gracey says:

    Your butterfly pictures are so beautiful!

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