Away from the river …

After two nights on the Pixaim river we headed to the very lovely Araras Lodge, an absolute jewel in the Pantanal.

There are several lagoons adjacent to the lodge and a boardwalk that takes you through some fine forest to a tower. From the top of the tower you have a view of the surrounding plains as well as the nearby forest canopy. The wildlife abounds.

There is also a bar just a short and pleasant walk from the lodge. A good place to haunt during the hottest part of the day … if you can drag yourself away from the pool.

The forest yielded Olivaceous, Great Rufous, Straight-billed and Planalto Woodcreepers, Cream-coloured Woodpecker, Blue-crowned Motmot, White-wedged Piculet and many more. Plus Capuchins, Marmosets and Azara’s Agouti. Around the lodge it was necessary to keep the birds off your plate!

Some of the stars (click on the photos for a better view) …

Chestnut eared Aracari.

Hyacinth Macaw.

And next … to the bar at breakfast time. The best excuse ever!

Pantanal at night …

When darkness falls there is a changing of the shifts. The same habitats are exploited by a different suite of animals, sometimes in a different way.

Over a few nights of spotlighting we compiled quite a list of night birds and mammals.

Birds included the Pauraque, Spot-tailed Nightjar, Nacunda and Band-tailed Nighthawks, Great and Common Potoos, Boat-billed Heron and Great Horned Owl.

Mammals included Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Racoon, White-lipped Peccary, Red Brocket and Marsh Deer, Tapir and Fishing bats.

Of particular note was the Brazilian Rabbit. How do you tell a Brazilian Rabbit from a common rabbit? By careful inspection of its pubic region, of course.

The most spectacular find was on our last evening when we had excellent views of an Ocelot.

Unfortunately, I have no photos taken at night to share but I did come across a Great Horned Owl at its day time roost …

Creatures of the Pixaim River …

A couple of days of river cruising turned up Marmosets, Capuchin and Howler Monkeys. Capybara were common, Marsh and Red Brocket Deer were seen occasionally. The Giant Otter chose to spend a little time watching us each day …

Yacare Caiman and Green Iguana represented the reptiles, and so did the Common Tegu. At first glance this appears to be a Varanid, a family that is well represented in Australia, in fact it’s not that closely related … another case of convergent evolution.

Snakes were mainly absent. Where was my Anaconda? This one let us have a good look, I’d be delighted if anyone can identify it for me …

Birds are plentiful along the river, they included Black-capped Donacobius, Undulated Tinamou, Bare-faced Curassow, Blue-throated and Red-throated Piping-Guan, Hyacinth and Yellow-collared Macaw and Sungrebe.

Star of the show … Sunbittern.

Oh, and there goes another Piranha, this time in the talons of a Great Black-Hawk …

The Pixaim River …

We spent two nights at the Pantanal Mato Grosso Hotel, right on the riverbank. A sizeable Caiman had found its way onto the verandah in front of one of the rooms. The polished concrete was too slippery for it to gain a purchase with its feet. Before the lucky guest could access their room the caiman had to be carefully assisted back onto the grass.

The days were spent on the river, after dark we went spotlighting in the back of a truck.

After a while the boatman dropped in a line. Within seconds he had a Yellow Piranha.

What with them and the caimans the life jackets may not have been a lot of use.

The poor fish was banged on the head and then thrown out. Well educated birds were waiting. First in was a Black-collared Hawk.

Subsequent fish were claimed by Great Black-Hawks and by Cormorants.

Jabiru …

In the north of Australia we are lucky to have the beautiful Black-necked Stork …

Many Australians call this the Jabiru, indeed just outside Kakadu National Park there is a town named after this popular mistake. Kakadu, of course, is Crocodile Dundee country. Mick Dundee might well have said, “Call that a Jabiru? This is a Jabiru.”

The South American claim on the word is undeniable, Jabiru is from Tupí–Guaraní for swollen neck. Other Tupí–Guaraní words that are likely to be familiar are jaguar, tapioca, jacaranda and anhinga. Jabirus are found through a broad swathe of Central and South America east of the Andes. They are at their most abundant in the Pantanal. They look fairly gruesome on foot but are the picture of grace once airborne.