Thursday 12 October 2023

Brazil with Bird's Wildlife & Nature - 8th June 2023

The Hyacinth Macaws left their roost in the Porto Jofree palms noisily and groups of Shiny and Giant Cowbirds dispersed up river while hundreds of Egrets of all shapes and sizes headed the same way.  There was just enough time to have a quick look at a dozing Great Horned Owl in the gardens before our boat out onto the river.  Five Black Skimmers (I may have whooped!) languidly bounded by and the Pied Lapwings were on the beach again.

Black Skimmers

And so the water bourn search for the Jaguars began.  The boats were all in touch with each other but we sort of did our own thing and cruised up and down the channels watching the various Herons including our first Boat-billed, Anhingas, Large Billed and Yellow Billed Terns and Neotropic Cormorants.  A Green and Rufous Kingfisher was briefly seen and Blue-throated Piping Guans moved back and forth along with gaudy Orange Backed Troupials and various Parrots and Raptors. 

Snowy Egret


Great White Egret


Cocoi Heron - they can can look quite Great Blue-ish at times

Cocoi Heron

The imposing Large Billed Tern

Large Billed Tern

Eventually the shout went up and off we went at speed! It was exhilarating and at the end of it we had two immense male Jaguars lounging in the shade of a riverside tree while the numerous small boats politely and quietly took turns to move in for a good look.  Both were sleepy but the bigger of the two watched us for a while before laying back down again.  Smiles all round. 


The second male

I do not think that any of us were prepared for just how large these cats were with huge heads and massive paws. Every now and then you would remember that you were bobbing around in a little boat just 20 meters away looking like a floating smorgasbord of snack sized offerings. 

With zzzz on the mind we left them to it and made out way back for lunch feeling fortunate to have been so close to such magnificent wild cats.  The Yacare Caiman were exceptionally large on this stretch of river and we saw our first Black and Gold Howlers in a riverside tree. The females have the more appealing orange gold fur. 

Black and Gold Howlers

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture

Yacare Caiman

Yacare Caiman

One of several Black-collared Hawks

Black-collared Hawk

Bare-faced Curassow on the riverbank

Lunch and down time allowed better views of the Great Horned Owl which had moved into a better position and Toco Toucans were watched at eye level as they ate some Papaya. Clouds of Sulphur butterflies were coming down to the waters edge along with the most glammed up Skipper I have ever clapped eyes on.

Great Horned Owl

Toco Toucans

Mysoria barastus

Mysoria barastus  - outrageous

Jabirus and Wood Storks walked amongst us and a White Woodpeckers were still around the palm trees while Grey Crested Cachalotes bathed by the quay for the boats!  Wherever you looked there were birds…

Vermillion Flycatcher

Vermillion Flycatcher

Vermillion Flycatcher

Huge Bee nest

And above it the most extensive spider web I have ever seen...

Grey Crested Cachalotes

Wood Storks

Wood Storks

Snowy Egret

Great White Egret

Cocoi Heron

Our second evening boat trip turned out to be all the more special and with no news we headed off further down river and we got incredibly lucky with a female Jaguar swimming all the way across in front of our drifting boat before casually hauling herself out of the water and disappearing into the herbage.  The sight of her getting bigger in the viewfinder as we got closer was a little unnerving but having her all to ourselves was a very special experience.


With our luck holding we opted to try another major tributary and as we came around a corner a sandbar appeared and with it a cloud of Black Skimmers and we spent some time in the golden hour with over 100 of these fascinating birds squabbling and hunting around our boat with both Tern species for company. 

Black Skimmers with Large Billed Terns

Skimmers were very high on my most wanted list since I have been interested in birds and I can remember marvelling at them on the television in natural history programmes and even on Miami Vice with Laughing Gulls along the silver beaches!  They were everything I could have hoped for and were, for me, one of the undoubted highlights of the whole adventure.

Large Billed Tern

Yellow Billed Terns - like chunky Little Terns

At this point a Giant River Otter crossed in front and we followed it around the bend to discover a family party of seven of these sinuous mega Otters hunting and playing in the lee of the bank, flashing those sharp teeth and mottled underparts and chirrping all the time before a signal sent the whole troop up under the bank into their den. 

Giant River Otters


Surely it could not get any better?  We headed back with the sunset illuminating the sky and with it came hunting Bat Falcons, Lesser Bulldog Bats, Band-tailed and Nacunda Nighthawks, raucous synchronised Hyacinth Macaws and a sky quite literally full of many thousands of Snail Kites pouring in from all directions.

Bat Falcon

Snail Kites

Essence of Hyacinth Macaws - it was very dark!

That night there was an immense emergence of Crickets across the grounds and it was a struggle to keep them out of the rooms but I was sensible early on and stuck a spare towel and a duvet across the bottom to minimise orthopteran intrusions!  The noise was astonishing and little sleep was had but the Caracaras chose not to go to sleep and opted for an all-night buffet.

Not for the faint of hearing!

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