Today, 31st October, is our only full day at Pouso Alegre and was packed full of activities. We congregated outside the dining room in the half light at 5.15 a.m. and set off along the track from the lodge. In the muddy water holes along the track Limpkin and Plumbeous Ibis walked on the bank. Whilst White Necked (Cocoi) Herons, Green and Amazon kingfishers watched the water for fish. Yacare Caiman lay in the water beneath the wooden bridges where Capybara sat in the reeds.
A group of Rhea sheltered underneath some trees pecking at the ground. Two Toucans flew overhead and were silhouetted against the sky. The safari truck met us along the track and took us back for the 7.00 a.m. breakfast. As we drove back to the lodge a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl was sitting in the low branches of a tree near the lodge.
Breakfast was limited but very adequate. The scrambled eggs were freshly made and very tasty. We also appreciated the long awaited coffee. We were meeting at 8.00 a.m. for a drive in the safari truck and a short bush walk.
Morning Safari Drive
As we climbed into the safari truck a large Common Tegu lizard, the equivalent of Old World’s monitor lizard, fled through the undergrowth. Along the track a family of Capybara with 3 young munched on the grassy reeds as Cattle Tyrants pecked insects from their fur. A large caiman lay close by apparently asleep.
Potoo and Rheas
At one point along the track we stopped got out and walked through the mud. A greater Potoo and it’s chick had been seen in a nearby tree. Eventually we spotted a fluffy round shape close to what appeared to be a dead branch. The Potoo was roosting in the day, erect on the tree stump, mimicking a broken off branch. It’s camouflaged plumage was excellent making it very difficult to spot. They have a two incisions in their upper eyelids, which allows them to keep watch even with their eyes closed. The bird lays a single egg on the tree branch. When the chick hatches it stays close to it’s parent. At night the Potoo uses it’s wide mouth and whiskers to hunt for moths and other insects.
In an open area of grass a male Rhea and his 10 offspring walked in a single line. The male builds the nest and various females lay their eggs in it, leaving the male to incubate them and bring up the young. These eggs weigh about 600g – the equivalent of about 12 chicken eggs. The flightless Rhea is the tallest bird in the Americas.
Back in the vehicle we travelled slowly along the track, halting at various wildlife sightings. It was incredible how Nuan and Antonio our driver saw some of the birds from the truck. In a shallow pond in the forest below the track a Pygmy kingfisher sat on a branch. This is the Pantanal’s smallest and rarest kingfisher. We saw an Amazon Kingfisher catch a fish, which it turned and twisted in it’s beak.
A Brocket Deer sheltered under some trees before quickly disappearing into the shade. Overhead a Black Hawk flew and landed in the branches of a tall tree. The truck came to a halt as in front of us a Red Footed Land Tortoise slowly crossed the track before vanishing into the undergrowth. This is an endangered species as its habitat is being destroyed by fire.
Back to the Lodge
As we approached the gate back onto the Transpantaneira highway a group of white cattle stood grazing with two Cattle Egrets at their feet. The vehicle turned around and as we started to head back towards the lodge Blue Gold Macaws flew past. We halted as Nuan had heard the call of Silvery Marmoset near the track. Although we could hear them we couldn’t see them in the dense foliage.
Beside the track a large Jabiru nest nestled in the branches of a tree. Blue Fronted Parrots noisily flew in and out of their nests in the bottom of the nest. Two Jabiru stalked up and down on the ground beneath the tree. Hyacinth Macaws flew overhead giving us a flash of colour. So far we had only seen them flying and had not had the opportunity to view them more closely.
Approaching the lodge the pygmy owl was still on its perch on the tree and a black hawk was hunting in a grassy area. We arrived back at the lodge at 11.20 a.m. There was just time for a quick shower before lunch at 12.30 p.m. Then there was an afternoon game drive at 3.00 p.m.
More images from Pouso Alegre Lodge