BRAZIL 2010: Pantanal – Piuval (Part 2)
While our mornings focused on the birds of the savannah and forest, the hot afternoons at Pousada Piuval were reserved for exploring the wetlands. Over the course of our stay, we took two afternoon boat rides along the hyacinth-lined Piuval Lake, a vast expanse of water, even during this dry season. We soon learned that boat rides are an excellent way to explore the Pantanal; cool breezes, crystal clear water spray and plenty of birds crossing overhead make for a delightful experience. Wellington, our boat captain, expertly guided us across the shallow waters to a marshy area where thousands of birds, including a pair of turkey-sized Southern Screamers (above), congregated to feed and roost in this rich habitat.
We disembarked into a small wooded section which contrasted with the surrounding wetlands. A Ringed Kingfisher on the dock allowed us to get within 2 feet before taking off! The trees hosted a troop of noisy Black Howlers, along with Orange-backed Troupial (above), Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Thrush-like Wrens, and an Azara’s Agouti scurrying into the underbrush. Spiky Bromeliads sprouted up from the ground, not from the trees, as one might expect of this flora.
At the shrubby edges, we found Plain Tyrannulet, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Ashy-headed Greenlet, White-lored Spinetail, Greater Thornbird, Grayish Saltator and family groups of Black-capped Donacobius (above).
We were thrilled to watch a pair of Jabirus (above) in courtship display, with the male tossing hyacinth plants into the air, in attempts to impress the nearby female. Bare-faced Ibis and Rufescent Tiger-Herons prodded in the mud. We walked across a long boardwalk to reach an Observation tower overlooking a gorgeous panorama from the Pantanal wetlands. A brilliant sunset formed the backdrop for breath-taking views of thousands of birds feeding, preening and roosting. Red-billed Scythebill, Solitary Black Casique, Little Woodpecker, Gray-necked Wood Rail, Gray-crested Cacholote, Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Large-billed Terns, Black Skimmers, Green Ibis, Plumbeous Ibis, and Coqui Herons, all captured our attention, to mention just a few.
As the sun descended around 5:30 pm, a group of Nacunda Nighthawks (above) took off from their daytime ground roosts to hawk insects. We realized there were over 50 roosting motionless on the dry mud, perfectly camouflaged and prompting us to wonder how they withstand these hot temperatures out in the open all day?
We spent time owling each evening, pleased to hear multiple pairs of Black Banded and Mottled Owls – one which showed well in our spotlight. Tropical Screech Owl and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl were heard calling, along with Paraque, Band-tailed Nighthawk, and Great Potoo. We got a spine-chilling surprise to hear a Jaguar roaring low from the darkness. I think it was farther away than we thought, but that didn’t stop us from scouring the terrain with our light, hoping for a glimpse! Returning to the lodge, we spotlighted a Red-brocket Deer, as well as a Crab-eating Fox sniffing around the grounds.
Our stay at Pousada Piuval ended with a ‘gallinaceous morning.’ The dawn chorus included the usual loud cacklings of Chaco Chachalacas. We enjoyed great looks at a group of 6 Chestnut-bellied Guans (above), a Brazilian endemic and Piuval specialty, followed by a pair of beautiful Bare-faced Curassow. We were lucky to see one round-bodied Undulated Tinamou walking along a forest trail – these elusive birds were commonly heard, but rarely seen. We ventured to another tower, this one located in the forest, giving tree-top views of Red-throated Piping-Guan, and Blue-throated Piping-Guan. The tower also afforded us views of Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Black-tailed Tityra, Orange-winged and Blue-fronted Parrots, Tropical Parula, Pale-vented Pigeon, Glittering-throated Emerald, and Chestnut-eared Aracari.
We could hear the deep booming of a group of Greater Rhea’s (above) wandering the plains. Brown Capuchins tousled the palm fronds below us, and a group of distant Howler monkeys made their presence known with their eery sounds. A nice Crane Hawk was seen just before we walked to the tower. The morning ended with great, close views of a Red-legged Seriema, a species not seen further south in the Pantanal.
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