Leaving the Amazon and back on the bus we headed south to the Pantanal for the remaining days. The pavement ended quickly and it was 100 miles of dusty abraded dirt road to the lodges and the Cuiaba River
The speed bumps were replaced with bridges that humped over the numerous sloughs and water areas that made up these vast wetlands. These were filled with a variety of bird species and caimans, thus the slowing down provided much desirable viewing.
In the more elevated areas that are not prone to annual flooding, large termite mounds rose from the surface of the ground. Most of these were abandoned as the colonies grew in numbers requiring more and more sustenance and then, when energetics required more energy to acquire the food than to maintain the colony, it collapsed and the remaining animals sought new areas where food was plentiful. Maybe we, as humans, should take heed to the termites’ plight.
Our first lodge was Pousada Pival on a 7,000 acre cattle ranch.
There were good numbers of birds on the open cerrado, flooded wetlands, and in patches of tropical forest.
Rufescent Tiger Heron
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
A highlight was a trip on a tractor-pulled wagon through the wetlands to a major roosting area for many species of birds.
Caimans were everywhere where there was water
…as were Capybaras, the world’s largest rodent. I wrongly visualized these critters to be the size of beavers but found that the adults weigh upwards of 150 pounds.
Heron/Black Vulture Hotel
Snail Kites were the most common raptorial species in the wetlands…
…the Savannah hawks frequented drier sites…
…and the Roadside Hawks took advantage of both.
Crab-eating Foxes were regularly seen in the area…
and Yellow-billed Cardinals were everywhere!
After two days at Piuval we were back on the road to Pantanal Norte and the Ciuba River.
Here we found so many birds right on the lodge grounds and it was the jumping off spot for the boat rides up the river looking for jaguars, otters and lots of birds.
Southern Crested Caracara
But it took a boat to look for the critters along the river; jaguars, otters, etc.
The critters we found was a group of Giant Otters who swam along the banks catching the numerous fish in the river.
Then coming around the bend we encountered an armada of boats…
A Jaguar had been found!
He as pretty bored with all the too-doo…
And finally decided to leave.
Back at the lodge the bird-life was incredible.
Our last day was at the Mato Grosso Lodge where raptors, kingfishers and jaribou stocks waited along the river for the guides to toss out fish.
Great Black Hawk
Local patches of forest had several additional bird species.
But. like all good trips, it was time to leave the Pantanal and go home.