Today we were returning to the Transpantaneria Highway in the hope of finding the one target species that had eluded us, the Giant Anteater. The morning was off to a good start as before breakfast a Crab Eating Fox paid a visit to the lodge to scavenge for scraps from the kitchen. As it’s name implies the main diet for the fox is crustaceans, but this is largely in the wet season. In the dry season they will eat small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. They also eat fruit, seeds and other plant materials. The fox has a short muzzle, a truncated tail and a distinctive stripe along its back.

Crab-eating Fox photo by Roger Labbett

Crab-eating Fox photo by Roger Labbett

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crab-eating Fox photo by Roger Labbett

Back along the Transpantaneira Highway

We climbed on board the safari truck and headed down the track onto the Transpantaneria Highway. Along the route we had good views of a large Marsh Deer grazing in the ditches. Also sheltering in the shaded forest area were the much smaller Brown Brocket Deer

Marsh Deer on the Transpantaneira highway


Marsh Deer on the Transpantaneira highway

Along the highway as we crossed a wooden bridge there were thirteen Yacare Caiman on one side and seven on the other side lying motionless in very green water.

Birds seen along the route

Two Hyacinth Macaws landed in a tree in front of the truck and gave us good views of this spectacular bird. Flocks of parakeets flew across and rested high in a tree. In the distance were a group of Rhea. Egrets, Ibis, Limpkins and Herons stood amongst the vegetation on the pond edges.  Grey Necked Wood Rail hunted stealthily in the muddy water and Wattled Jacana scurried through  the water hyacinths. Kingfishers sat patiently on branches watching the water. A Crimson Crested Woodpecker drummed on a nearby tree. Campo Flickers and Green barred Woodpeckers were also seen.

Limpkin along the Transpantaneira highway


Limpkin

We returned to the lodge for lunch and some free time before we were going out at 4.00 for a boat trip.

Lodge Grounds

The lodge grounds were very good for spotting wildlife. The antics of the Capybara were interesting to observe as they clambered out of the river and sort shade under the trees.  In the stump of a tree near the front of the lodge a Campo Flicker had built a nest and was busy going in and out of the hole.

Campo Flicker


Campo Flicker

Narrow-billed Woodcreeper


Narrow-billed Woodcreeper

As we sat and watched a Greater Kiskadee caught and ate a moth. In front of our room a Narrow-billed Wood Creeper worked his way around a tree. Outside the dining room was a very large Common Tegu Lizard.

Common Tegu Lizard


Common Tegu Lizard

Caiman Lizard.

Unfortunately at about 3.30 the sky darkened, thunder boomed and the rain started. During a pause in the rain we decided to head for the boats. On our way to the dock Nuan had discovered a large Caiman lizard near the river bank.  These large monitor sized lizards are very powerful. They are called Caiman Lizards due to the spiny protrusions along its back and tail. Like the Tegu they have powerful legs and tails, with sharp claws for digging. They scent the air with their forked tongue.

Caiman Lizard


Caiman Lizard

We decided although it was still raining a little that we would go out on the river. Hoping that the rain would stop we headed out. It was to be only a short trip as the route was blocked with water hyacinth. We tried to drive our way through only to be met with a brief respite of clear water before more water hyacinths. As it was now raining heavily again we decided to head back to the lodge.

Bare Faced Curassow

As we climbed out of the boats up the muddy bank a pair of Bare faced Curassow  walked past heading for the shelter of some trees. It’s amazing how different the male and female are, they almost look like two different species.   The males black plumage and curly crest provides excellent camouflage in the forest shade. Whereas the female is easier to see with her tiger striped head curls.

Male Great Curassow

Female Great Curassow

 

Male Bare-faced Curassow


Male Bare-faced Curassow 

Female Bare-faced Curassow


Female Bare-faced Curassow

Before dinner we were to go again to the ocelot hide. Once again we walked along the muddy track and sat in silence in the hide. Unfortunately the ocelot did not make an appearance and by torchlight we walked back to the lodge for dinner.

Last day in the Pantanal

Today after our last boat trip we were leaving the Pantanal and heading back to the UK. After an early breakfast at 6.30 we were on the river at 7.00 a.m.

It was a lovely morning for our last trip on the river. We headed towards the Mato Grosso Hotel. The scenery on the the river is beautiful and there were just our two boats. Once again we found our way blocked by water hyacinths, and resting amongst them were Caiman. Wattled Jacana looked as if they were walking on the water as they went from leaf to leaf. Along the edge of the bank Water Rail stirred up the shallow water hunting for food. 

Grey-necked Wood Rail


Grey-necked Wood Rail

On the high branches Roadside and Collared hawks perched looking down on the river. A large male Capybara walked out of the water on to the shore beside a tree where Lesser Kiskadees perched. Green Rufous Kingfishers flew across the river in front of the boat. We had excellent views of a Pygmy Kingfisher sitting on a low branch above the water. On a shady river bank a Pale Legged Hornero strutted along beneath its oven domed nest.

American Pygmy Kingfisher


American Pygmy Kingfisher

Green and rufous Kingfisher


Green and rufous Kingfisher

Zigzag Heron 

On the look out for an Agami heron the boat pulled in close to the shore. The  dense vegetation made it difficult to see what the guide was showing us. Sitting on a branch was a very small brown heron. This was the Zigzag Heron, which is primarily nocturnal. It is predominantly an Amazonian species but has recently been found around this area of the Mato Grosso. Nearby a Striated Heron crouched rail like hunting for fish. Unfortunately the shy Agami Heron was more elusive and we did not get a good view of it. 

Zigzag Heron


Zigzag Heron

Zigzag Heron


Zigzag Heron

Returning to the Lodge

The boat turned around and headed back towards the lodge. A lot of noise in the canopy of a large tree alerted us to the presence  of a family of Black Howler Monkeys. We were lucky to see a Cocoi Heron successfully catch a fish and eat it. Nearby a Southern Crested Caracara watched and waited for any left overs.

Black Howler Monkey


Black Howler Monkey

On the muddy shore in front of the lodge a Jabiru caught a fish. We watched as it manoeuvred it around in its bill. As we climbed out of the boat and said goodbye to our driver the pair of Bare Faced Curassow walked in front of us in the mud.

On Our Way Home

It was time to leave Southwild Lodge. We packed our luggage and  it was then loaded into an air conditioned mini bus. We retraced our route along the Transpantaneira  Highway back to the airport at Cuiaba. After the flight to Sao Paulo we boarded the plane for London Heathrow and home.

This had been a fantastic holiday. Our lodge accommodation was very different, clean and a little basic on occasions, but we were there for the wildlife. Whilst the Flotel situated on the river was a special place as well as being close to the Jaguar action. All of the wildlife was superb, it was certainly a trip that will live long in our memories.

Total Species Count

Mammals = 17, Reptiles & Amphibians = 10, Birds = 171.

8 Jaguars (14 Sightings)

More images from around Southwild Lodge

Day Nine / Ten :- Checklist

Mammals
Crab-eating Fox Black Howler Monkey Capybara Marsh Deer
Brown Brocket Deer      
Reptiles & Amphibians
Yacare Caiman Common Tegu Lizard Caiman Lizard   
Birds
Greater Rhea Neotropic Cormorant Anhinga Whistling Heron
Cocoi Heron Great Egret Striated Heron Rufescent Tiger-Heron
Capped Heron ZigZag Heron Plumbeous Ibis Buff-necked Ibis
Jabiru Black Vulture Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture Great Black Hawk
Savanna Hawk Black-collared Hawk Roadside Hawk Crane Hawk
Southern Caracara Chaco Chachalaca Blue–throated Piping Guan Grey-necked Wood Rail
Limpkin Pied Lapwing Southern Lapwing Wattled Jacana
Scaled Dove Ruddy Ground-Dove Long-tailed Dove White-tipped Dove
Hyacinth Macaw Peach-fronted Parakeet Monk Parakeet Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
Scaly-headed Parrot Greater Ani Smooth-billed Ani Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher Green Kingfisher American Pygmy Kingfisher Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Chestnut-eared Aracari Toco Toucan Campo Flicker Green-barred Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker Narrow-billed Woodcreeper Rufous Hornero Chotoy Spinetail
Red-billed Scythebill Pale-legged Hornero Mato Grosso Antbird White-headed Marsh Tyrant
 Cattle Tyrant  Tropical Kingbird Lesser Kiskadee Greater Kiskadee
White-winged Swallow Brown-chested Martin Grey-chested Martin Purplish Jay
Black-capped Donacobius Rufous-bellied Thrush Silver-beaked Tanager Greyish Saltator
Greyish Saltator Red-crested Cardinal Yellow-billed Cardinal Saffron Finch
Rusty-collared Seedeater Bay-winged Cowbird Giant Cowbird Shiny Cowbird
Yellow-rumped Cacique Orange-backed Troupial Crested Oropendola Unicolored Blackbird
Bare-faced Curassow