Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cristalino Departure – Loads of Lapwings and a Warm Pantanal Welcome

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August 9, 2015

Alas, our day has come to depart my beloved Cristalino Jungle Lodge, much too soon. We did have some nice morning birding hours before our scheduled 10:00 a.m. departure. The most exiting few minutes was an enthusiastic mobbing response to my Amazonian Pygmy-Owl whistle and recording, which included this Amethyst Woodstar male.
Amethyst Woodstar

Our only Yellow-bellied Dacnis of the tour joined the mob.
Yellow-bellied Dacnis

And before we left, someone spotted this huge buprestid beetle high in one of the trees. My guess was that it was about 3 to 3.5 cm long (just over 2 inches).

On the wet sand by the boat were two eighty-eights in the same genus for good comparison: Diaethria candrena
Diaethria candrena

and Diaethria clymena.
Diaethria clymena

Here we are in the boat ready for departure.

Birding was largely over for the day, but we had to make a stop for this huge group of 78 Southern Lapwings in the ranchland on the way back to Alta Floresta. Apparently they will nest colonially in certain situations.

Later in the day, we flew to Cuiabá, greeted our driver José, and boarded the bus for the 3-hour drive to Pouso Alegre in the northern Pantanal. With a planned arrival right at dark, I decided we would not make any stops, despite the huge numbers of photogenic water birds and caiman along the roadside. Our timing was perfect: as José slowed down to make the turn into our lodge’s gate, a Giant Anteater crossed the Transpantaneira Highway right in front of the bus. What a nice welcome!

Cristalino Day 5 – The Serra and Lots of Moths

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August 8, 2015

This morning we did the steep climb up to the overlook on the Serra, a dome of granite rock that rises above the rainforest. We were lucky to be there when a small fig was in fruit right next to the overlook – several tanagers including Opal-rumped and Bay-headed gave us extended views. The view of the forest below is also stunnning, and we had a hard time tearing ourselves away from it.

The local guides discovered this Common Potoo along the trail, apparently on a nest, as it has been here for several days.
Common Potoo

We finally departed for the cooler rainforest trails when we began to see the first soaring raptors, such as this Hook-billed Kite.
Hook-billed Kite

Before we got back on the boats to return to the lodge, I decided to try to show my group what a larval antlion looks like. Everyone knows the little sand pit traps they make, but few have actually seen the creature. You have to scoop up all the sand and let it sift between your fingers while looking for the one thing that isn’t a grain of sand.
ant lion larva

Right over the common area of the lodge right after lunch was this brilliant King Vulture.
King Vulture

And shortly thereafter by the guides’ dorm was this juvenile Gray-lined Hawk.
Gray-lined Hawk

My daily check of the wet sand by the boats was productive.

Emesis mandana, a metalmark.
Emesis mandana

Marpesia orsilochus, one of the commoner daggerwings here
Marpesia orsilochus

Historis odius, Orion Cecropion. The caterpillars of this butterfly feed on cecropia leaves.
Historis odius

This tiny wasp was guarding her small paper nest built atop a leaf on a small tree (a Moluccan Roseapple) by the dorm. She kept turning to face the camera, ready to sting at a moment’s notice, so I had to take a lot of photos and maneuver slowly to get this profile. Only after I took the photo did I realize that eggs and pupae were visible in open cells.

We took an afternoon boat ride down the Cristalino River to the Manakin Trail, here the group gathering in the shade before loading into the boat.

And right below them was a pair of foraging Capybaras.

Bird highlights on the short Manakin Trail were Bronzy Jacamar and Amazonian Streaked-Antwren, and we then boarded our boat for our last return to the lodge.

This evening after dinner, there were only a few insects on the moth sheet a short ways down the trail, lit by a weak fluorescent bulb.

A grasshopper in the genus Copiocera.
Copiocera sp.

A skipper, Dubiella sp.
Dubiella sp.

And several geometrid moths (inch worms). This is probably a Chloropteryx sp.
Chloropteryx sp.

This geometer may be Iridopsis or a closely related genus.

And two whose genera I have no idea:

But the most diversity was at the lights along the boardwalk and steps down to the floating deck.

What looks exactly like a dead leaf is actually a praying mantis.

Colla sp., a Bombycid silk moth
Colla sp.

Sosxetra grata, Walker’s Moth, an erebid
Sosxetra grata, Walker’s Moth

Perigramma famulata, a geometrid
Perigramma famulata

Cresera sp., an arctiine erebid
Cresera sp.

Possibly an Hapigia sp., a prominent (family Notodontidae)
Hapigia sp.,

Possibly a noctuid

Yet another pyraloid (see my blog from two days ago)

A tiny artciine

My guess is family Lasiocampidae on this one.

This one has the shape of many geometers but is quite possibly in the family Erebidae.

And many more typical geometers. The latter two are also probably Iridopsis, the first one a more clearly marked individual of the same species on the sheet above.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cristalino Day 4 – Ariosto Umbrellabirds and a Seven-mammal Night Walk

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August 7, 2015

We started at dawn this morning with a boat ride down to the mouth of the Cristalino River then downstream on the Teles Pires River to Ariosto Island. We got out at a random-looking steep beach, quietly clambered up into the short forest, walked about 20 seconds and stood there. Within about 15 minutes we were looking up at an Amazonian Umbrellabird with its crest fully extended over its bill. Another 3 or 4 were in the branches in other directions, some only briefly visible. It was great to see such an amazing bird at close range.

We then visited the nearby sandy islets where Ladder-tailed Nightjar nests, and we flushed one off her two eggs. Large-billed Terns were also nesting there, and Black-collared Swallow was found with little difficulty over the rocky rapids just across the channel.
Ladder-tailed Nightjar

Ladder-tailed Nightjar

We then walked a very quiet forest trail through igapó forest, a seasonally flooded forest on poor soils. We did get glimpses of a Zimmer’s Tody-Tyrant (a specialist of this habitat) and great views of a pair of White-flanked Antwrens. It was getting hot in the canopy, and this is when the fancy hairstreaks come to the forest floor. This big one is a Theritas sp., perhaps not identifiable with certainty.
Theritas hairstreak

It was surprising to see a frog active in mid-day. This Osteocephalus sp. tree frog bounded right through the middle of our group and tried to blend in on this tree trunk.
Osteocephalus sp.

At the boat ramp before heading back to the lodge, I took photos of the skippers coming to the wet sand. This is Carrhenes santes, I think a new record for the lodge.
Carrhenes santes

This is Ebrietas anacreon, the Common Bentwing.
Ebrietas anacreon

Every late morning a dozen or more Dusky-billed Parrotlets gather on the bank of the Cristalino River right by the lodge, and this morning we stopped for a photo op.
Dusky-billed Parrotlet

While most of my group took naps for the afternoon, I did my usual round of mid-day butterfly puddle party checks, as try to re-find a pair of Crested Owls that had been found on a day roost down one of the trails a couple days earlier.

This Callicore pygas, Pygas Eighty-eight was by the boat ramp.
Callicore pygas

This Neographium thyastes, Orange Kite-Swallowtail, is one of the scarcer members of the family.
Neographium thyastes

On the trail to where I did not see the owls I stopped for this Colobura dirce, Dirce Beauty.
Colobura dirce

This metalmark is a Detritivora sp., probably not identifiable to species with just a photo.
Detritivora sp.

This hairstreak is apparently Michaelus joseph, probably a new one for the lodge.
Michaelus joseph

This planthopper in the family Derbidae was on a tree trunk.

I flushed this moth from the same tree, and it appears to be a Crambid.

I found this butterfly chrysalis next to the trail, but I guess I’ll never know what kind of butterfly it will become.

The group’s late afternoon outing was to Tower II, which typically quiet, but we managed to see a few things, such as this Black-bellied Cuckoo.
Black-bellied Cuckoo

Today was Carolyn’s 46th birthday, and the lodge kitchen baked this cake for her. The food here has been astoundingly great.

For the group I offered a night walk, first starting on the floating deck, then moving to the rocky shore to look at fish, and then a short walk down a forest trail.

This moth is probably Eulepidotis viridissimus, found coming to the lights on the wooden boardwalk to the boat dock.
Eulepidotis viridissimus

The closest matching photo for this moth is Rosema maximepuncta, a member of the family Notodontidae.
Rosema maximepuncta

In the same area, attracted to the boardwalk lights, was this male Hamadryas laodamia, Starry Night Cracker.
Hamadryas laodamia

This rather short-winged moth with oddly-shaped antenna might be in the obscure family Mimallonidae.

I then set out to check the moth sheet that is a short distance into the forest, first seeing this tree frog, Scinax ruber, on the deck by the restaurant.
Scinax ruber

There wasn’t much at the sheet, but I did take a photo of this cicada.

This moth on the ground nearby appears to be in the genus Gorgone.

There were some cool things down the trail to make it interesting enough, such as this Odontomachus sp., a trapjaw ant.
Odontomachus sp.,

I spotted this Pyraloid moth on the tower.

With the help of my ultraviolet flashlight, I spotted this Tityus sp. scorpion
Tityus sp.

It looks very different with my LED headlamp.

Tityus sp.

One fungus I spotted in amongst the leaves was this Xylaria sp., which appears to have a second fungus, a mold, growing around the base of it.
Xylaria sp.

But this evening biggest excitement came from the mammals – I had six or seven species, though not all identified, and only two photographed. It’s a good night to see just one mammal in this forest. It started with the Azara’s Night Monkeys right after dinner by the restaurant. Then with the small part of my group interested in a short night walk, we spotted a spiny rat (not a true rat but more closely related to porcupines), followed some unidentifiable tiny mouse by the river bank. The group headed to bed while I continued on the trail and found two Nine-banded Armadillos.
Nine-banded Armadillo

A bit farther down the trail, I spotted the eye shine of a Kinkajou high in a tree. Then something walking in the forest, crunching leaf litter got closer and closer, and I could eventually see it was a South American Tapir! It proceeded to approach the trail and cross it not 5 yards in front of me, the closest I've ever been to one. Another tapir was right behind it, but it never did come out so boldly.

I then glimpsed yet another unknown species of mouse bounding away on the ground, saw another Kinkajou high overhead, and then heard the telltale falling rain of debris from above indicating a foraging Southern Tamandua. I managed a grainy picture of at least this critter. What a night!
Southern Tamandua

I was back in my room at 11:50 p.m., but only that early because I knew I had to get up early the next day. Who knows what I would have seen if I had continued into the morning hours.