LUTMAN'S 2016 BRAZIL BIRDING TRIP

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.

Report 14. Monday 19, 2016. Jaguars!

 

We have moved to Pantanal Hotel Norte

A family of giant otters is noisy and incredibly smelly. They like fish, but not bones, as you can see. Kevin likes to imitate them, to get them going. But wait, who's getting whom going? Hmmm.

 

At right is a Black Skimmer. They feed by skimming just above the surface, with their extended lower bill an inch or so into the water. Then when a minnow or other morsel strikes their jaw, they snap it up. They look like they are blindfolded.

 

Here is our gateway to the boats. Actually we're down AT the boats, looking back up at the hotel grounds.

 

As we take off, it is raining pretty good. Kevin asks the driver to put the canvas "top" up and he does (it's already up in these pics). Somehow there is a neat stream of water dripping out of the top, right onto my lap. This is me trying to keep the camera dry. {We came prepared for the rain, and the good news is that the terrible heat we experienced ended with this storm and never returned. Relief!!}

 

Others are on the river. A Cocoi Heron has caught himself a meal.

 

We're tooling along, checking out birds when there is a crackle in the air. It's the boat driver's radio. He listens, clicks it off, gives it full throttle at the same time as giving it a full clockwise steering wheel. The boat digs into the water and makes a sharp 180 degree turn, revealing a boat that HAD been behind us who did the same thing (because he has a radio too), and now we're both racing at top speed toward a report of a jaguar! We go about 5-10 minutes, and we come upon the scene below left. Pretty spectacular. There are about 8-9 boats here, all doing the same thing. It is common enough now that it doesn't bother the jaguars in the least. Sit back, relax and enjoy Jaguar #1. Many thanks to guide Kevin for loaning me his big lens. Some of these are my photos and some his, speaking of who is actually pressing the button. We pass the camera back and forth. {You can see the edge of the river bank in the first picture. It seems that the jaguars like to walk along the top of the river bank so we get great looks. the boats don't seem to bother them. They will go back into the forest, then the guide will say, "He'll be back, watch that patch there" and lo and behold, out walks the jaguar again. So we get very good looks at this beautiful, wild animal in his natural home.}

 

 

A Capybara mom (I assume) and baby don't want nothin' to do with no jaguar. This iguana loves the dirt.

 

There are other birds about. First is stop-action on a Southern Crested Caracara, then a pair of Guira Cuckoos. Ain't they beautiful?

 

Even the Caimans come in two flavors: dead and alive. Though the one on the left may be playing possum to lure dinner near ...

 

This beautiful Blue Metalmark butterfly perched on my shirt, leading to our introduction to Jaguar #2.

 

 

How about a nice jaguar yawn?

 

This sequence is about his left ear. He flips it down, then back up. Hmmm.

 

The up-close pictures are misleading as to the distance between the camera and the cat. The photo below shows the distance of the dirt bank above the water, and what the jaguar looks like to the naked eye.

 

Then, what's up here? He seems to be stalking something. What, we wonder?!

 

He's right at the edge of the water, and then POW, he jumps in onto something. What? WHAT????

 

Sharon is taking a video, and it shows an in-the-river "argument" between the jaguar and a CAIMAN!!! At one point the Caiman is in the grasp of the Jaguar and we can see his snout, from the underside, kind of rise up out of the leaves, then sink back down again, then the cat's head would come up out of the water. After 5-10 seconds of furious activity it gets quiet, the Jaguar swims out of the leaves into the river, over to where a path goes down to the river. He climbs out of the water, back up to the top of the riverbank, and lies down, just like our cat when he does something embarassing. It just lies down like nothing happened. {Kevin says it looks like he is embarrssed that we saw him fail. But the truth is that it was a dangerous encounter for him too, had he gotten bitten badly by the caiman.}

{Now do some detective work. Doesn't this look like the same jaguar in both sightings? I didn't think it at the time, but in looking at these pictures, the marking on his chest look identical. I know jaguars will have very similar markings, but these look identical. We saw this cat on two different times on the same morning and didn't consider that it might be the same cat. He sure gave us good looks both times and the great stalking, diving encounter was amazing.}

{I just gotta say, that was a spectacular idea and follow-through that Sharon had. Her brain saying, "Wow, those jaguars really look similar." And then to carry the thought through. What she showed me was amazing. There is a set of earphones (imagine) around the jaguar's upper neck, with three black spots making a triangle exactly between the 'earphones". In BOTH JAGUARS - early morning and late morning. Kudos, Sharon!!!}

 

So we finally get enough Jaguar, and continue on, doing 100% boating and birding. Here is a Southern Screamer. Interestingly, we never heard one scream.

 

Guide Kevin uses Sharon's iPhone to take a picture of the driver. And here is that picture. {Named Allen and very good at spotting birds along with Kevin. He also had the "inside" scoop on the jaguar. In fact, at the second sighting, a boat driver in a fishing boat called him, Allen drove us to the jaguar and let us get looks all by ourselves before he radiod on to other boats that then joined us. Thanks, Allen}

 

We are totally jazzed with visions of Jaguars dancing in our heads. This calls for a selfie.

 

Me, with the camera at the ready as we amble along the river.

 

Time to go back to the hotel. Kevin puts his jacket on backwards to shield his face from the wind. At right, he makes an interesting face. He has got to learn to come out of his shell.

 

Almost back to the motel, we are confounded by a profusion of Jabirus. It's like a convention, with more flying in all the time. I guess they're in a twitter circle.

 

Back on ground, Sharon finds a little cat to pet. And while we aren't looking, a little frog enters our room in the tiny space between the door and the floor, and makes his way up the wall.

What a powerful day! It's great to be here.

 

Life Birds Today (* - indicates a spectacular bird or sighting):

Yellow-billed Tern, Fork-tailed Woodnymph (hummer), Crimson-crested Woodpecker*, Band-tailed Antbird, Straight-billed Woodcreeper.

Upgrades Today:

None

New Non-bird Lifeforms Today:

Jaguar***, Black-and-Gold Howler Monkey.

Life Birds Today: 5
Life Birds on Trip: 299
Trip Birds Seen Today: 14
Trip BirdsThis Trip: 443

Note: A Trip Bird is any species seen for the first time this trip. A Life Bird is a bird we have never encountered before. All Life Birds found are also Trip Birds.

Hope you had an excellent day,
Bob


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