|Rufous Hornero nest|
Birds identified included ones familiar from home (Osprey, Great Egret, House Sparrow, etc.) to those that I knew of from their rare appearances in the ABA area (Jabiru and Roadside Hawk) to those with incredibly exotic sounding names that remind you that home is very far away (Toco Toucan, Greater Rhea, Southern Screamer, Amazon Kingfisher, Helmeted Manakin).
In the Pantanal birds were literally everywhere. Photograph capybaras wading neck-deep into the water: Cattle Tyrant hops from one head to another. Stop the boat for a bathroom break under a shady tree: Great Antshrike and Masked Gnatcatcher bounce from limb to limb. Turn your head to the left to keep the bright sun out of your eyes: Maguari Stork flying parallel to the boat. Stop to look at black howler monkeys: Squirrel Cuckoo takes the spotlight.
And it is stories like these that are behind the numbers on the list that make a trip so memorable. Memories like rounding a bend on the Paraguay River and flushing 50 jet-black Neotropical Cormorants from the trees and an equal number of pure white Snowy Egrets from the sand bar only to watch them commingle into a flock of nuns stampeding through the air. Or standing stock still one evening in the town square as twenty Ladder-tailed Nightjars catch insects above the illuminated 230-year-old church that is the centerpiece of this small town. Or my last species, a Red-winged Tinamou, running across the road as we headed to the airport, and home...
But mine is a visual blog, so I present here my top ten photographed avian encounters of the trip:
10. Great Rhea: At five feet, this is the tallest bird in South America and one of my target species. After seeing Emu in Australia and both Ostrich species in Africa, I wanted to add their New World cousin to my life list.
|Snail Kite, Pantanal|
7. Hyacinth Macaw: A signature species of this habitat, the Hyacinth Macaw is a bird that was on the brink of extinction and is now making a slow but steady comeback through some interesting conservation measures. The Pantanal is almost entirely privately owned so buy-in from the ranch owners is essential. to the survival of this ecosystem. Artificial nestboxes and redistribution of eggs to foster parents are two techniques that are being employed to increase the numbers of these raucous birds.