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Adventures of the White-Rumped Monjita in Pantanal South at Caiman and Ilha

Adventures of the White-Rumped Monjita in Pantanal South at Caiman and Ilha

Old Jul 21st, 2009, 05:02 PM
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Thank goodness it was not per anteater.
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 05:17 PM
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<b>****Fri July 3*****</b>
<u>3:30-6:45 pm Not more Anteaters!</u>
Fernanda brought her scope and secured us good seats in the approximately 8-passenger open safari vehicle that contained 6 passengers plus driver up front, and resident guide, Edson, hanging on the back.

A mother anteater with a very young, almost hairless baby was quite a distance away, but in the scope I could reach out and hug that hairless little bugger. We also came upon an adult anteater taking a bath in a waterhole. Through the scope, I was right there in the bathtub with it. It was really rolling around and splashing, having a good old time. Its tail was still wet and dripping in the after-bath photos. Yet another anteater was approachable on foot at about 50 meters as the light was getting low. One anteater might have provided us with some good viewing but it was being crowded by a Rhea so it moved off.

Our destination that night was a parrot tree where hundreds of parrot couples slept for the night. In the low light, but through the scope, we had great views of the flocks flying to the tree and settling in. With the naked eye we enjoyed a pink cloud sunset.

When the light had expired, we could see two forms moving toward us beyond the fence. It was a mother and baby giant anteater. She must have caught wind of us because she made shrill calls to her baby to hop in her back. Together they moved off into the darkness. Now that was a fantastic audio-visual sighting!

We found another couple of giant anteaters at night on our return to Ilha. The spotlight required the vehicle be left running so we enjoyed viewing rather than photography.
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 05:30 PM
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The above is still on
<b>****Friday July 2****</b>
It was the eve of our arrival at Ilha.

<b>****Fri July 3***** for real</B>
<u>6:15-11:45 am The Refúgio da Ilha Special—<b>time on the river</b>—upstream boat ride</u>
Fernanda requested an earlier than normal departure which was agreeable to Resident Guide Edson and the photographer nephew of the owners.

The Giant River Otters that frequent the Salobra (and that Ilha is known for) had been elusive prior to my arrival and our only brief sighting of two of them was this morning. A high water level in the river was responsible for their scarcity. Lower water levels increase the sightings because the otters spend more time in the river and less in the lakes formed by the river. Although there had been little rain locally, there had been flooding further north. The Rio Negro flows from the north to feed into the Salobra and therefore water levels were very high during my stay.

But it was mating season for the less common Neotropic Otters and we saw a dating couple along with two individuals. We also saw one capybara scurry up the banks; a couple of marsh deer, one in the presence of a Jabiru Stork; some acrobatic brown capuchins; a few drops of rain and a rainbow; an array of kingfishers; and a showstopper—the Anaconda. It was coiled and sunning itself on the bank and remained undisturbed throughout our stop. Wow!

There were other wow moments, though. We had numerous great views of the infrequently seen Gray-headed Kite and we saw a rare, more primitive form of Caiman. There was a single smooth fronted caiman hiding in the reeds. It had obvious differences from the common spectacled caiman found throughout the Pantanal. It was a first for Fernanda, and of course for me.

Even without any wow moments, the scenery along the narrow winding waterways is so gorgeous that merely being out on the river is a privilege.

<u>4:00-10:00 pm Spotlighting at San Francisco</u>
Fernanda and I departed Ilha and drove for an hour to the neighboring lodge, 2/3 on firm dirt roads through fields that held another giant anteater and 1/3 on paved highway. San Francisco is noted for raptors and predators, even maned wolves. The irrigated rice fields attract the wildlife.

We had a nice daylight view of a Burrowing Owl when we arrived and watched a Rhea bed down for the night. I found the Maguari Stork, and Fernanda told me what I had found. It was the first Maguari Stork this trip.

There was a group from Dragoman Tours along with us on the night drive. They were guests at the lodge, which can house about 75. Some of the Dragoman participants appeared to be German and I was thinking we might see a giant anteater so I was all set with the German word Fernanda had taught me: Ameisenbär.

We scoped out the sizeable open truck and agreed upon what we thought was the best seat—second row from the back of the five rows. Fernanda had me put some gear in that spot to reserve it while we all got the orientation talk and the safety glasses.

About 6:00 pm we set off. Almost immediately we found a large ocelot, relaxed in a tree, barely able to keep its eyes open. The high quality of the spotlight, and the fact that the vehicle was turned off, made photos possible even at night. It was a beautiful animal and a spectacular sighting. We left the ocelot as relaxed as we found it, in search of other species.

The light was shone on one of the ponds and the caiman eyes lit up by the hundreds. The caiman at San Francisco will have not suffer the consequences of the drought that caiman in other parts of the Pantanal will. The heavy irrigation of the rice fields will insure adequate water, regardless of what falls (or does not fall) from the sky.

We found two separate Barn Owls (rarely seen elsewhere in the Pantanal) and two separate Striped Owls (not found other places in the Pantanal), a couple of crab eating fox, and a few marsh deer. There were no other predators in our approximately 2-hour outing, but the spotting award of the night went to a guide (for clients in the back row) who was sitting next to us—we were 3 across and 5 could easily fit across the seat. He looked at Fernanda’s camera around her neck and mine held on my lap and exclaimed, “You two have the same camera.” That was news to us, as we had never noticed, even though Fernanda had taken a few shots of me. But I had it set up through the viewfinder on mine and she used her screen. “Well spotted,” we congratulated him on his Sony DSC H9 sighting. “I’m paid to be observant,” was his response.

One unexpected little pleasure of the night drive was seeing the pairs of parrots bedded down for the night together in the various parrot trees. The spotlight did not linger on the parrots, as seeing them was not our goal and we did not wish to disturb them. But for that momentary glimpse into their world they looked so cute huddled close for a night of togetherness.

Well, there were no German guests and we saw no anteaters so now I’ll have to find some other occasion to impress people with the word “Ameisenbär.”

A tasty outdoor barbecue followed the spotlighting and had we stayed longer, live music would have followed the barbecue. On the dark roads for the drive back home, we found one very animated little 6-banded armadillo. I can see why they are often roadkill; we waited about five minutes for him to leave the road and he had no sense of urgency.

I liked the variety in my itinerary of including a night drive at San Francisco. You could also spend the night and do a vehicle safari in the rice fields the next day, or you could arrive midday for a daytime safari, in addition to their signature night drive.
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 05:42 PM
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<b>*****Sat July 4*****</b>

<u>6:15-10:30 am Walk in the Woods</u>
Fernanda, Edson, and I drove to a nearby forest and began our bird walk. Through binocs and the scope we found the Barred Antshrike, Saffron-billed Sparrow, and the beautiful Blue-crowned Trogan. Mosquitoes forced us out of the forest and into the marsh where we were greeted by rain drops. Still, we saw marsh deer, one hanging out with a Rhea; brown capuchins in the trees; pink snail eggs; a Scarlet-headed Blackbird; and a Rufescent Tiger Heron who seemed to accompany us. At the conclusion of our walk Fernanda and I walked back to the lodge, while Edson gave some other guests a lift in the vehicle.

In addition to the normal excitement of midday birdwatching on the grounds, we had a great view of a caiman lizard, compliments of Edson’s sharp eye. It was funny what a stir a big old ugly lizard could cause, but that’s the kind of guests Ilha attracts.

Having paid attention to Fernanda’s lesson on the Maguari the previous night, I both found and identified one of my own.

<u>3:00 – 6:00 pm The Refúgio da Ilha Special—<b>time on the river</b>—downstream canoeing</u>
Again, I had only to sit in the middle of the 3-person canoe as Edson and Fernanda manned the oars for our downstream paddle. The silence of canoe travel is a wonderfully peaceful way to enjoy the beauty of the Salobra. We saw a stingray through the clear water, some more Neotropic Otters, and the Blue-crowned Mot Mot that had eluded me at Caiman. To stretch our legs we took a 15- minute walk along the shore in the middle of our trip. As if on cue, the Chestnut-eared Aracari appeared in the treetops—actually two of them. A motor boat came for us at the end of our trip and took us back upstream, canoe in tow.

<u>8:30-9:00 pm Spontaneous After Dark Walkabout</u>
We had the opportunity for a short night walk around the premises. Fernanda emphasized not to expect much beyond seeing some caiman eyes. What a surprise was in store for us! We saw the caiman eyes, but also a 2-day old baby capybara. Then we heard it whistle for its mom. That kind of freaked out Amigo the dog, who had accompanied us on the night walk, but had exhibited impeccable behavior.

Then the spotlight shone on some capybaras in the water. And they were mating! I had read that they mate only in water and here they were in front of us in the spotlight! Seeing this behavior was an exciting first for Fernanda as well. Around that time I got to thinking that my fellow countrymen/women back home were most likely watching Fourth of July fireworks about now. Here I was celebrating the holiday with mating capybaras. An unconventional way to demonstrate one’s patriotism, for sure. But, all kidding aside, isn’t that what liberty and pursuit of happiness is all about? <red>Let</red> <blue>freedom</blue> <red>ring!</red>
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 05:46 PM
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<b>*****Sunday July 5*****</b>

<u>6:15-11:30 am The Refúgio da Ilha Special—<b>time on the river</b>—downstream boat ride</u>
Had I left Campo Grande midday to fly home, which was my original thought, I would have missed this delightful final river activity. I was appreciative of being able to do one last outing at Ilha, no extra charge, compliments of International Expeditions.

Fernanda made sure we had seats at the bow of the motorboat since there were four guests going for the ride.

After ten days of honing my spotting skills, I put them to work and found two of our four otters, all Neotropic. One gave us a great audio-only performance by noisily devouring a fish in the dense reeds. The Chestnut-eared Aracari made a second appearance, we saw some well concealed capybaras on the river bank, and spent a good deal of time enjoying several active brown capuchins.

During lunch, some more active brown capuchins decided to stop by and bid me farewell. I left my lunch and watched them from the bridge. Good thing I was packed because my best monkey viewing in The Pantanal was taking place during the final moments of my visit and I wouldn’t want to miss it.

The monkeys moved on and it was time for the White-Rumped Monjita to take flight as well.
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 05:52 PM
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<b>Final Memories</b>
I was at the airport departure gate in Campo Grande thinking what a great time Refúgio da Ilha had been and what a wonderful guide Fernanda was. I could see her standing before me in my mind’s eye…and suddenly…there she was. What an imagination! No, it was Fernanda in the flesh, toting my jacket. It had gotten mixed up with her gear in the back seat of her car and she made her way back to the airport and somehow talked her way through security to deliver my jacket to me. Another chance for thank you’s and goodbye hugs and it confirmed exactly what I had been thinking: what a great guide!

I landed in São Paulo and proceeded through the chaos that is Guarulhos International Airport with my thoughts still back in the Pantanal—the guides, the birds, the animals. But as I was herded with the crowd through endless roped off lines, my mind shifted to the cattle I had seen herded into the corral and across the bridge. Step by step, I was becoming one with Brazilian beef cattle! Considering they end up as barbecue, that was not good. Suddenly I was yanked back to reality like a calf in a lasso by an agent shouting, “Nova York.” That was my cue to follow the agent to a new line, and eventually to a departing plane.

Whenever I land in O’Hare, returning from some faraway adventure, I know it is back to my daily reality. Not so fast this time. As I trudged to the bus that would take me home, instinctively my spotting skills kicked in to detect a baby rabbit tucked away beneath the cool shelter of a lily bed. I had almost an hour before the bus departed so I dropped down on all fours for a better look. Accustomed to passersby, the bunny paid no attention to me and eventually hopped out from under its cover for a few mouthfuls of grass. While snapping a photos, I thought of the Brazilian rabbit—about the same size as this bunny—that I had watched fall prey to the ocelot. And I pondered the fate of this little guy munching in front of me.
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 06:07 PM
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I ditched my bird book, <u>Aves Brasileiras</u> by Johan Dalgas Frisch, in the library at Ilha because it was too heavy and not that great. If you visit and find the book, I wrote a brief inscription inside the cover. A better book is <u>Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica</u> by Martin R. de la Pena (Author), Maurice Rumboll (Author), Gustavo Carrizo (Illustrator), Aldo A. Chiappe (Illustrator), Jorge R. Mata (Illustrator)

Here is my bird list of 161 species, in mostly alphabetical order

Amazon Kingfisher
American Kestral
Aplomado Falcon
Bare-faced Curassow
Brazilian Teal
Barn Owl
Barred Antshrike
Bat Falcon
Bay-winged Cowbird
Black and White Hawk Eagle
Black Vulture
Black-backed Water Tyrant
Black-capped Donacobius
Black-collared Hawk
Black-crowned Night Heron
Black-hooded Parakeet
Black-throated Saltater
Black-winged Stilt
Blaze-winged Parakeet
Blue and Yellow Macaw (Campo Grande, not Pantanal)
Blue-black Grassquit
Blue-crowned Mot Mot
Blue-crowned Parakeet
Blue-crowned Trogan
Blue-fronted Parrot
Blue-throated Piping Guan
Boatbilled Heron
Buff-necked Ibis
Burrowing Owl
Campo Flicker
Capped Heron (new favorite)
Cattle Egret
Cattle Tyrant
Chaco Chachalaca
Chalk-browed Mockingbird
Chopi Blackbird
Cocoi Heron (White-necked)
Crane Hawk
Crested Caracara (Southern)
Crested Oropendola
Crimson-crested Woodpecker
Eared Dove
Epaulet Oriole
Giant Cowbird
Gilded Sapphire
Golden-green Woodpecker
Golden-winged Cacique
Gray-hooded Saltater
Gray Kite
Gray-necked Wood Rail
Great Antshrike
Great Black Hawk
Great Egret
Great Horned Owl
Great Kilkadee
Great Potoo
Great rufous Woodcreeper
Greater Rhea
Green and Rufous Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Green-barred Woodpecker
Grey Monjita
Grey-breasted Martin
Grey-headed Kite
Guira Cuckoo
Hyacinth Macaw
Jabiru Stork
Lesser Kiskadee
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Lineated Woodpecker
Lined Tanager
Little Cuckoo
Little Night Jar
Little Woodpecker
Long-winged Harrier (light and dark forms)
Maguari Stork
Monk Parakeet
Muxcovy Duck
Nacunda Nighthawk
Narrow-billed Woodcreeper
Neotropic Cormorant
Orange-winged Parrot
Pale-crested Woodpecker
Palel Vented Pigeon
Pale-legged Hornero
Palm Tanager
Panalto Slaty Antshrike
Peach-fronted Parakeet
Picazuro Pigeon
Picui Ground Dove
Pied Lapwing
Planalto Woodcreeper
Plumbeous Ibis
Plush-crested jay
Purplish Jay
Pygmy Kingfisher
Red-billed Scythebill
Red-crested Cardinal
Red-legged Serieman
Red-rumped Cacique
Ringed Kingfisher
Roadside Hawk
Roseate spoonbill
Ruddy Gournd Dove
Rufescent Tiger Heron
Rufous Hornero
Rufous-bellied Thrush (Bird of Brazil)
Rusty Marginated Flycatcher
Rusty-backed Antwren
Safron-billed Sparrow
Savanna Hawk
Scaled Dove
Scaly-headed parakeet
Scarlet-headed Blackbird
Scissor-tailed Night jar
Screaming Cowbird
Shiny Cowbird
Shisting Heron
Silver-beaked Tanager
Smooth-billed Ani
Snail Kite
Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret
Solitary Cacique
Southern Lapwing
Southern Sandpiper
Southern Screamer
Spectacled Owl
Squirrel Cuckoo
Streaming Tailed Flycatcher
Striated Heron
Striped Owl
Suiriri Flycatcher
Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
Thrushlike Wren
Toco Toucan
Troupial (Campo Oriole)
Turkey Vulture
Undulated Tinamou
Unicollared Blackbird
Vermilion Flycatcher
Wattled Jacana
Whispering Ibis (Barefaced)
White Woodpecker
White-bellied Warbler
White-browed Blackbird
Whited-lored Spinetail
White-headed marsh-tyrant
White-tailed Hawk
White-tipped Dove
White-wedged Piculet
Wood Stork
Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
Yellow-billed Cardinal
Yellow-rumped Cacique
White Monjita
And of course, <b>the White-Rumped Monjita!</b>
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 06:05 AM
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What a delightful and informative read for someone (or two) heading out to the Pantanal. I can't imagine that we'll see as much as you did since our spotting skills have yet to peak. I am very confident that we will drink many more Caipirinhas...

Have a great trip to see the gorillas. That should be some report! Again, thanks so much.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 07:45 AM
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Please have a Caipirinha or several for me. As long as your guide can spot, you can just enjoy the ride. Eventually, I hope to see your report.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 05:40 PM
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Only you would spot a bunny at O'Hare (hey, is that why it's called O Hare???). Thanks for the magnificent report. That's some bird list!

Have a great ape time on your next Africa trip. Please hurry with your report upon return--this is a 100% selfish request. I am contemplating being impulsive and going solo next year.

Again, wonderful photos even without a smiling and waving anteater.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 07:03 PM
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Great pun, Leely. How exciting you are considering a trip to the gorillas.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 11:01 AM
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Thanks for another informative and thoroughly entertaining report, Lynn! Have a great trip back to Africa!

Hope you and Bruce have a great trip too and I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on Embiara!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 12:15 PM
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Thanks, Patty. Be on the lookout for "Bruce and Marija go to Brazil."
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Old Sep 5th, 2009, 09:46 AM
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I am late to the party Lynn, but I have spent the last hour reading your great report and viewing you pictures. Such great details and funny commentary to boot (who doesn't like butt humor?). Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip with us.
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Old Jan 16th, 2010, 06:47 AM
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Only got as far as the Refúgio Ecológico Caiman photos. I'm enjoying your wonderful report and your photos.
You mentioned canoeing at one point - would this be a good kayak/canoe destination?

I look forward to reading more.
Thanks for posting.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 08:13 PM
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Thanks Atdahl and I'm glad you like butt humor, juvenile as it may be.

Cybor, you could probably set it up to focus more on canoeing/kayaking, but that would need to be communicated up front. I did 2 canoe trips this last trip and could have done 3. Very enjoyable, easy paddles with lovely scenery. THE place for canoeing and other boating activities is Refugio da Ilha.
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