As we got ready for breakfast we glanced out of the windows and saw at least three Giant Otters swim past. A great start to the morning. We were all on the boat by 6.30 and ready to go. Just a little way down the river we stopped and watched the Giant Otters catching and eating fish. There were at least 5 of them. Further along the river we saw one of the Jaguar brothers trying to sleep under the vegetation on the river bank. His brother was probably hiding.
Black Capped Capuchin Monkeys
A group of Black Capped Capuchin monkeys swung noisily, crashing from branch to branch in a tree beside the river. Some of them had young, carrying them along the branches. In the dense foliage they were not easy to photograph
They were feeding on fruit and seeds. Although they will also search leaf litter to eat invertebrates. They got their name from the order of Catholic Friars who wore a dark hooded robe covering their heads. In Northern Brazil they were observed using tools, cracking nuts on a stone anvil. The first non-ape primate to do this. However, this behaviour has not yet been observed in the Pantanal. We pulled the boat in close to floating water hyacinth and had a good view of a male Diastatops Pullata Dragonfly. The male is very striking with a scarlet abdomen and wing bases. They were a common sight along the river, but difficult to photograph.
Further along the river bank we saw the second of the Jaguar brothers. Once again he was hiding in thick vegetation trying to sleep. As we watched the other Jaguar brother appeared walking along the bank and lay down beside him. Kim and Tore were back together again.
Although Capybara are a very common sight on the river, it is always interesting to observe their behaviour. A family of Capybara positioned themselves so that the mother and father were facing towards us. The youngster was in the middle and turned so he was facing the river bank. It looked as if he was being protected.
As we travelled along we had a good view of a large Green or Common Iguana on a fallen branch on the river shore. The beautiful lime green/grey colouration provides excellent camouflage amongst the folliage. Its spiny crest running the length of it’s back was visible. Although they look quite fearsome they are a vegetarian. If disturbed they quickly disappear or swim to safety. Iguanas became an increasingly common sight along the river banks.
Black Howler Monkeys
As we headed further along the river channel a noisy disturbance in a tree along the bank drew our attention to the presence of Howler Monkeys. The family group was high in the branches, eating leaves. A common sound of the Pantanal is the male Black Howler’s dawn roar which can carry up to 3km. The Black Howler is the largest of the areas monkeys but when silent it can be invisible amongst the folliage. Considerably bigger in size than the female the male doesn’t get his black colouring until he is about four years old.
The proximity of the ranches to the river was apparent when we observed a domestic water buffalo on a sand bank entering the water for a drink as a family of 5 Capybara stood in the water nearby.
Nearby a large Yacare Caiman lay almost hidden in floating vegetation. Although this species of caiman is one of the smallest they can still grow to 2 to 3 metres. This caiman had his jaws open, cooling down, giving us an excellent view of his razor sharp teeth. They typically eat Capybara, fish and herons.
Lying motionless in the water the usual view is of their eyes and nostrils which are above their body line. This enables them to see and breathe whilst the rest of their body is concealed by the water or vegetation. When they submerge for the final attack they have special flaps over its throat, nostrils and ears to prevent water entering. They protect their eyes with transparent eyelids. If their ponds and ditches start to dry out they gather in huge numbers to avoid drying out and to take advantage of accumulation of fish. Along the Transpantaneira Highway we saw small gatherings of Yacare Caiman. We also saw dead Caiman floating belly up in ponds. The guide suggested they might have been shot by hunters. Although the Yacare Caiman are now abundant this is due to conservation effort and the enforcement of 1990 laws to stop poaching. The Pantanal Caiman numbers reached catastrophic levels before this because of the demand for crocodile leather.
As you travel along the river you are constantly seeing and hearing birds. Some like Anhinga, Neotropic Cormorants, Kingfishers, Herons and Hawks are a regular sight. The Skimmers and Yellowbilled Terns seem to occupy the same sandbank which they share with Collared Plovers. Toucans and Monk Parakeets fly overhead but not in a good position to photograph. Highlights of the morning boat safari were a good views of a Greater Ani and the Rufous Tailed Jacamar. As we headed back to the Flotel for a 12.00 lunch the Mississipi Kite was still circling high in the sky.
Afternoon Boat Ride
After a leisurely lunch we headed out at 2.00 p.m. for our afternoon boat ride. There was thunder in the background and the sky was darkening. A storm was definitely headed our way. Not far along the river we encountered the Jaguar brothers, Kim and Tore resting in deep shade.
Sungrebe and Hawks
Suddenly we swung in close to the bank where overhanging branches touched the water. Nuan told us that there was a Sungrebe near the bank. It took some time to locate the Sungrebe, hidden in the shade amongst the vegetation. This wary bird resembled a flattened duck. It was furtively hiding, before fleeing on long wings and drooping tail. Crane Hawks, White tailed and Black Hawks sat on tree branches along the river, watching and waiting patiently. Anhingas and Cormorants sat with their wings outstretched.
We had excellent views of an Orange-backed Troupial. This attractive eye-catching bird has a tendency to take over other birds nests and use them as its own. The nuts of the buriti palm are one of their favourite foods.
Unfortunately the threatened storm materialised and monsoon rain and thunder caused the boat trip to be curtailed. We returned through a curtain of rain with very poor visibility and arrived back at the Flotel at 3.30 p.m. very wet.
Journey Back in the Rain Storm
After drying off we discussed the rest of the day over coffee and decided to have the evening talk on Tapir before dinner at 6.00 p.m. We all decided on an early night after dinner and were reminded to put the clocks forward by one hour.
More images from day three at the Flotel
Day Five :- Checklist
|Giant River Otter x 3||Black Howler Monkey||Black-capped Capuchin Monkey||Capybara|
|Jaguar x 3|
|Reptiles & Amphibians|
|Yacare Caiman||Common Green Iguana|
|Neotropic Cormorant||Anhinga||Snowy Egret||Cocoi Heron|
|Great Egret||Striated Heron||Rufescent Tiger-Heron||Capped Heron|
|Wood Stork||Jabiru||Black Vulture||Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture|
|Great Black Hawk||Black-collared Hawk||Roadside Hawk||Crane Hawk|
|White-tailed Hawk||Southern Caracara||Osprey||Chaco Chachalaca|
|Chestnut-bellied Guan||Blue Throated Piping Guan||Sungrebe||Pied Lapwing|
|Southern Lapwing||Wattled Jacana||Collared Plover||Black Skimmer|
|Yellow -billed Tern||Large -billed Tern||Pale-vented Pigeon||White-tipped Dove|
|Monk Parakeet||Squirrel Cuckoo||Greater Ani||Smooth-billed Ani|
|Ringed Kingfisher||Amazon Kingfisher||Green Kingfisher||Rufous-tailed Jacamar|
|Black-fronted Nunbird||Toco Toucan||Pale-legged Hornero||Grey-creasted Cachalote|
|Common Tody-Flycatcher||Short-crested Flycatcher||Rusty -margined Flycatcher||Piratic Flycatcher|
|Tropical Kingbird||Lesser Kiskadee||Great Kiskadee||White-winged Swallow|
|Brown-chested Martin||Southern Rough-winged Swallow||Black-capped Donacobius||Buff-breasted Wren|
|Grey-headed Tanager||Grey Saltator||Yellow-billed Cardinal||Yellow-rumped Cacique|
|Solitary Black Cacique||Orange-backed Troupial||Unicoloured Blackbird||Grey-headed Kite|
|Cream coloured Woodpecker||Yellow-chinned Spinetail|