The wide open birdiness of the Pantanal was a welcome shock to the senses after our time in the Amazonian rain forests of northern Mato Grosso. Hyacinth Macaws in the garden of our lodge Pouso Alegre, where we stayed the first two nights, were an unmitigated favorite.
The birds at the boardwalk over a shallow marsh near the main lodge buildings were a great pre-breakfast treat, and the low churring sounds of rare Spotted Rails below, however unseen, were an unexpected bonus. The gigantic Jabirus and Greater Rhea along the entrance road during our first morning’s walk weren’t so easy to overlook.
We also enjoyed a sighting of the colorful and distinctive Chotoy Spinetail, as well as these noisy Plumbeous Ibises singing in the trees.
This Gray-cowled Wood-Rail (formerly Gray-necked Wood-Rail, now split), walked right out in the open for us.
In the quieter afternoon we still scored a nice pair of Sunbitterns and had a great experience with a particularly territorial Undulated Tinamou that ran directly towards us in the open forest understory. The deer were uncommonly tame here. We had one Gray Brocket walk right by us.
And we saw two Marsh Deer walk out in the open as well.
A Green-barred Woodpecker perched up near the horse corral was a highlight for some, but I especially enjoyed the amazingly confiding pair of Great Rufous Woodcreepers that came in to eat insects that had been attracted overnight by the lamp along the walkway to our rooms.
This Red-crested Cardinal fed on the ground just outside our rooms as well.
I recognized this skipper as being related to our Tropical Checkered-Skipper, but was smaller and darker than those; it is Pyrgus orcynoides.
We took a night drive after dinner, seeing more deer, Crab-eating Fox, and yet another tapir, but the highlight was this Bothrops matogrossensis, Mato Grosso Lancehead. The paired blotches along the sides are distinctive in this species.
We spent the last morning along the entrance road marshes again, where we were surprised by a pair of Cream-colored Woodpeckers in an isolated tree in the middle of the open pasture and marsh. Two pairs of Monk Parakeet bickered at each other for ages in this nest they and a pair of Greater Thornbirds had built right over the road in the same tree.
Rusty-collared Seedeaters were very confiding in the grassier marsh vegetation as we walked the road back towards breakfast.
In the late morning we bid farewell to the yard Hyacinth Macaws and worked our way south on the Transpantaneira Highway.