Category: Brazil, 2014

A plethora of parrots and other colorful birds

May 5

Up early. Very good breakfast at 6:30 with Eduardo. The first place we stayed had probably twenty or so people. Here there are fewer. Two, actually. Us.

Set off walking around right near the breakfast place and there is an absolutely incredible array of birds, toucans, parrots, macaws, cuckoos. One could spend the day here watching and photographing. We tear ourselves away and begin walking, seeing many more birds. Eduardo is excellent at finding, identifying and pointing out birds to us. We weather the rush hour traffic, Eduardo’s cousin driving an American and Canadian around. They’ve lived for three years in Salvador, working for Ford, and will be moving out soon; from their body language, happily.

By 8:30, we’ve been out for an hour and a half, and it’s hot already. We get back to the lodge and have a welcome cold drink and a short sit. We take off in the truck for another hour and a quarter, spotting more birds, the return to the lodge, where we have another cool drink and we return to our room, where Carol goes outside for more birding, and I download photos. Several of them are quite presentable, sharp, but many of them are off slightly in focus due to difficulty caused by distance, handholding a long lens and faulty technique. Here’s some from the morning take, including one of Carol and Eduardo, and one of two Pantanal horses, who wade in water and eat grass in the water (I think you’ll be able to identify which are which).

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On our way to lunch, we notice a group of perhaps ten or twelve photographers, loaded with tripods and very fancy (and heavy) photo gear taking photos where we were taking them early this morning. Apparently, our lodge is such a fabulous birding site that guides take groups her (and pay Eduardo for the privilege). While I’m sure the equipment allows them to take fabulous bird photos, I too lazy to ever think about doing that. It’s just not where I’m at with my photography.

Okay, so let’s place our heroes for you. When we flew to Cuiaba (pronounced Kwee-ahba) from Rio, we flew South and West. Our drive to the Araras Lodge from Cuiaba was 50 km West and 75 km South. The Jaguar is another 85 km South. This afternoon, after another good lunch, we drove 36 more km South, as usual, stopping to identify birds, to Porto Jofre. All of this driving is along the Transpantaneta Highway, a dirt road well pock-marked and containing short wooden bridges over water approximately every kilometer. The building of the highway had a dramatic affect, transforming what was a big cattle raising area in which everyone worked together to fenced lots. The ecology was also changed because of the division of rivers.

Anyway, in Porto Jofre, about the southernmost part of Brazil’s Pantanal, after Eduardo negotiated bathroom permission for Carol on a large fishing vessel, we set out for a delightful 3-hour trip in an aluminum motor boat piloted expertly by Eduardo on two adjoining rivers, the Cuiaba River and the Piguiri Riverh. The river was cool and scenic, the bird life plentiful and the highlight was spotting and viewing a family of giant river otters as they made their way home, shortly before a lovely sunset.

Short aside: as Africa has it’s “Big Five,” so does the Pantanal. The Pantanal Five consist of the a Hyacinth Macaw, the Giant River Otter, the Giant anteater, the anaconda snake and the jaguar. We’ve seen the first three, and have one day left to complete the five.

The ride back to our lodge offered more sightings in the spotlight waved back and forth across the road by Eduardo as he swerved from side to side and lined up the many wooden bridges we had to cross. Probably the best sightings were several great-horned owls and a couple foxes. Managed to get a poor picture of the back of one of the owls, which I’m going to spare you seeing.

Arrived home with 5 minutes to wash before our 7 PM dinner, which again was remarkably good. We’re turning in early, because we’re to set out on a drive at 4:30 AM tomorrow. Well, hell, it’s our last chance to see an anaconda and a jaguar.

Here’s the afternoon’s take.

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A plethora of parrots and other colorful birds

  • The birds and creatures are nice but its Carol I love.

  • lauri pollack

    WOW!!!!!!!!!

  • Rick Trenkmann

    Hi guys,

    Love your bird shots. Forwarded them to my older son Chris who a “birder”
    down in central Florida.
    You are right about those telephoto lenses. It seems they cost more than a car
    and are longer than you are tall.

  • Barbara Sandler

    Hey big bro,
    I’m just a hack photographer, but I really like both sets of these photos. Especially like the colorful bird, who looks like he’s got a toothpick in his mouth. Carol is quite a cute birdy, too.

    Enjoyed joining you on this trip. Have a great last day, take good pictures, and have a safe trip home.

    Love from your little sister

  • Nkem

    These are amazing pictures! My mom loves birds and would really appreciate these.

  • Zoe-Bug

    OMG! What are those animals in the afternoon #3? Dogs or Guinea Pigs?

    See you in two days!
    Zoe-Bug

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