3rd & 4th September - Pouso Alegre
The images above and below show part of the Pouso Alegre lodge, a former cattle ranch, where we stayed for three nights, having arrived on the 2nd. Fortunately the cold conditions of yesterday had gone and we were greeted with warm sunshine first thing in the morning. These two days were spent exploring the dry Cerrado areas around the lodge and in the surrounding countryside, each day involving an early start [6 a.m.] before it got too hot, lunch and a siesta and then an afternoon drive, and on both days, a night drive too. The 3rd started with an early walk from 6 to 7 a.m. around the immediate vicinity of the lodge, followed by breakfast at 7 then a further walk at 8. Lunch was at 12:30 followed by a siesta until 3:30 p.m. We then drove various tracks in the vehicle and eventually had sundowners in the field before returning for dinner. On the 4th we watched birds at the feeders before breakfast at 7, and then visited a further area of the grounds in the truck. After lunch and siesta we then birded along the Transpantaneira using the truck. The first notable bird on the 3rd was an Undulated Tinamou which I think was just heard, as is often the case with Tinamous. The wake up bird each morning was the Chaco Chachalaca, uttering its loud chattering call. Around the lodge, Chestnut-bellied Guans were pretty common, and high up in the trees we ticked off Blue-throated Piping-guan. Related to these were Bare-faced Curassows of which we saw 4. On the wildfowl front a Muscovy Duck was tickable as a wild bird, unlike the ones we sometimes encounter at home in the UK. Huge Jabiru Storks were soon to be daily birds, often standing on their huge nests in tall trees, as were colourful Rufescent Tiger-herons with their stunning brick red necks [daily that is rather than in tall trees!]. I might as well mention the other 'herons' which we saw nearly every day in the Pantanal - Black-crowned Night-heron [now abbreviated in the latest taxonomic lists as simply Night-heron], Little Blue Heron, Western Cattle Egret, Great [White] Egret, Capped Heron, and Snowy Egret, were all seen both days. Two raptors which were every day birds were Turkey Vulture and Black Vulture, but the star of the raptors on 3rd was Collared Forest-falcon, although we did also find Plumbeous Kite, Black-collared Hawk and Savannah Hawk. A most-wanted bird which I had expected to be 'difficult' was Sunbittern. We had a brief one en route yesterday but on 3rd we saw 3 at close quarters, and by the end of the Pantanal sojourn I reckon we had seen getting on for ten individuals! Two other water birds which became very familiar were Grey-necked Wood-rail and Wattled Jacana with its impossibly long toes. Limpkin and Southern Lapwing were also added to the water bird list. Parrots soon featured in the shape of Monk Parakeet, Turquoise-fronted Amazon, and Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, and then we had our first owl on 3rd in the shape of a Great Horned Owl sitting in a trackside tree and at the other end of the scale, during our walk[s] we saw 3 superb Ferruginous Pygmy-owls. The night drive on 3rd produced a Common Pauraque. The local hummingbird was the Glittering-throated Emerald which we noted on 3rd, together with a Little Woodpecker. On the 4th we added Golden-green and Green-barred Woodpeckers to the list. Other star birds of 3rd were a couple of Rufous-tailed Jacamars, our first Black-fronted Nunbird, the diminutive Southern Beardless Tyrranulet, Streaked Flycatcher, Boat-billed Flycatcher, a pair of Great Antshrikes, Rusty-backed Spinetail, a Sharp-shinned Hawk and Red-throated Piping-guan. The 4th also produced our first Boat-billed Heron, and a superb Laughing Falcon which afforded excellent photographs, and whilst on raptors, as we passed a marshy area in the vehicle I picked out a grey looking raptor on the ground with very long red legs. I eventually got Kike on to it and it was a Crane Hawk. I took some record shots but it was pretty distant and amongst vegetation. Other good finds on 4th were a Solitary Sandpiper, a migratory boreal species, a fly-over Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, and a Blue-crowned Parakeet. We also came upon a Great Potoo roosting in the open in a tree during a walk on 4th, which presented a great photo opportunity. A Greater Thornbird on 4th, was also a good find. On the land animal front during these two days we were lucky to see a total of about 12 Brazilian Tapirs, mainly during the night drives but also a couple during the day, one with a young animal in tow. On both days we saw a total of 6 Crab-eating Foxes [2 on 3rd and 4 on 4th], 2 Marsh Deers on 3rd, South American Coati and Crab-eating Racoon on 4th, and also Red- and Brown Brocket Deers, Azara's Agouti and Black-tailed Marmoset. There were many other birds which became very familiar and which will probably get a mention at some stage. What an introduction to this fabulous area!