August 17, 2015
I had just two nights in Cuiabá after my tour, not nearly enough time to catch up on emails, process photos, and do post-tour materials. But I did find a place to get my hair and beard cut a 15-minute walk from the hotel, and paid daily visits to the ATM to stock up on reais for the upcoming tour. All the participants arrived on time, as did Fabrice Schmitt, my co-leader for this group of 11 participants for the next two weeks.
Here’s Fabrice Schmitt, my friend and co-leader, and one of South America’s most adventuresome and accomplished birders.
We’ve had a great start in the Chapada dos Guimarães, just like the last tour had, but distinctly different. Last time we had a super cooperative Collared Crescentchest and had to practically beat the Chapada Flycatchers away with our tripods. This time the same crescentchest wasn’t so cooperative, and we couldn’t buy a Chapada Flycatcher. In fact, yesterday afternoon we found the more widespread Suiriri Flycatchers (Campo Suiriri), a very close relative, and my first one here.
But White-banded Tanagers were even more cooperative this time, such as this one on a fence.
This Campo Flicker was one of a pair that greeted us yesterday morning on our pre-breakfast outing to the short scrub that harbors so many specialties.
We also had Curl-crested Jays here (no sign of them on the last tour), as well as Spot-breasted Puffbird. Every outing is different, one reason we all continue to watch birds.
Because of the timing of flights, we had a bit more time on our hotel grounds at Pousada do Parque, and we had this silent Planalto Slaty-Antshrike on the first afternoon’s walk.
A pair of Tropical Screech-Owls are nesting in a cavity below eye-level in a tree in the garden, and we could peer in and see the female with at least one large chick. But after dinner last night, this one was by the restaurant, presumably hunting rodents coming to the papaya remnants left by birds below the tree. It allowed us to approach within a couple feet.
But this Tropical Screech-Owl was a quarter mile away this morning, undoubtedly a different territory. I had used a recording I made two years ago in the Pantanal to try to stir up a mob, as there were a few flycatchers and a calling Band-tailed Manakin we hadn’t seen yet. But before long, this larger bird flew in abruptly but silently at eye-level and perched next to the road, just within a few feet of the group. We were flabbergasted.
On another walk we had this Philaethria dido, Southern Green Longwing.
And this Amethyst Woodstar perched up during a session of Ferruginous Pymgy-Owl imitations (which also brought in a Ferruginous Pymgy-Owl).
Oddly, the Crab-eating Foxes which were so easy on the last tour were very elusive this time, but I did at least get a photo of the Cavia aperea, Brazilian Guinea Pigs, that forage on the grass by the pool.
And we found out about this Coendou prehensilis, a Brazilian Porcupine, that frequents the coconut palm by the pool but appears only after 10:00 each evening.
I was excited to come across this Passiflora mansoi in bloom, the first time I’ve seen one since my first visit here in 2006. It’s a very strange passionflower in being a slender, scraggly woody shrub with weak stems, nothing like the tendril-clad, climbing vines of so many other species. I suspect it’s very common here but blooms only with recent rains which become common only later in the year.
On our full day here yesterday we stayed until sunset on the Cavernas de Aroe Jari road, where Greater Rheas and Red-legged Seriemas continued to be reliable.
On our way to the airport this morning – we’re headed to Cristalino Jungle Lodge – we made one last stop in the Chapada where one of our group spotted this Tropidurus torquatus, an Amazon Lava Lizard.