9th September - around Southwild lodge and Pixiam river
We were up and out at 6 a.m. this morning to watch the birds at the feeders outside the lodge rooms. This gave great photo opportunities with hoards of Saffron Finches, Greyish Baywings [formerly known as Bay-winged Cowbirds], Yellow-billed Cardinals, Ruddy Ground-dove, and Scaled Doves representing the small birds, with the biggies comprising magnificent Toco Toucans, a Bare-faced Curassow, Chaco Chachalaca and Picazuro Pigeons. We breakfasted at 6:30 then did last night's bird list. We then set out to walk some trails during what became a pretty hot morning. We walked through the dry forest and then through the canopy forest, eventually looping back though the Ocelot viewing area. As we set out the first bird to give good views was a Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, hotly followed by a group about 8 diminutive Long-tailed Ground-doves. Nearby we found a Rusty-margined Flycatcher, which belongs to that group of flycatchers which all look superficially like a Great Kiskadee. This one is smaller and has subtle rusty edgings to the flight feathers, hence the name. A Chestnut-eared Aracari amused us as it sat in a tree eating its pale pink flowers. We passed a tree with Fire Ants coursing up and down its trunk, so walked by at a reasonable distance - you wouldn't want to get bitten by a Fire Ant! During our wanderings we ticked off Short-crested Flycatcher, a Little Woodpecker, and a Blue-crowned Trogon which was a good find. Other gems of this walk were a striking male Helmeted Manakin, Fuscous Flycatcher, Forest Elaenia, Large-billed Antwren, Mato Grosso Antbird, Rufous-fronted Thornbird and Chestnut-vented Conebill. Most of these were too small and skulky to permit decent photos within the forest. We got back to the lodge in time to chill for a while as it had got pretty hot, then had lunch. Post lunch was siesta time or time for a wander in the vicinity of the lodge.
In the afternoon at 2:30 we left on the boats to cruise along the Pixiam in the opposite direction to yesterday. We hadn't gone very far when Kike called for us to stop, and there on the bank staring at us through the small branches, was our very own Jaguar, so we watched him/her for quite a while - our own private viewing. As we cruised on we saw plenty of by now familiar waterside birds, and at one point, by using fish as bait, we had an Amazon Kingfisher sitting right next to us on the gunwale of the boat! After negotiating some densely packed floating vegetation, which required much revving of the outboard, we drifted up to a 'special place' where we were promised a 'special bird'. It comprised a muddy beach overhung by trees. Fish were thrown and eventually there was a movement from within the forest, and gradually and very tentatively there came into view .... an Agami Heron! What a bird! As big as a Grey Heron, maybe a little bigger, with subtle steel blue/grey upper parts, brick red belly and thighs, and beautiful thin white wiry feathers decorating the side of its neck. We sat very quietly as it slowly walked forwards and picked up and ate the fish that had been thrown. It didn't seem to be spooked by the clicking camera shutters and ate a few fish before walking off into the undergrowth as slowly as it had appeared. We felt very privileged to have had incredible views of this normally hard-to-get heron. We made our way back to the lodge where it was a quick disembark and get ready with insect repellent for another 'go' for the Ocelot. Sadly we failed again. Third time lucky tomorrow eve?? After a quick shower, and dinner we headed out again for a night drive in the truck and managed to find Tapir and Brocket Deer.