Trip report: Brazil, the Pantanal and Amazon (July 2013) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Athanas.

This classic central Brazil circuit is always tons of fun with the amazing concentration of birds and other wildlife, as well as a series of superb and unique lodges, great Brazilian hospitality, terrific local cuisine, not to mention the famous caipirinhas. Even though this is primarily a birding tour, I think the highlight for most of the group (myself included!) was once again the Jaguars, the most magnificent of all South American mammals – we had two great sightings, including one male that we watched for two hours. Judging from the number of photos taken, including the one above, the Hyacinth Macaw may well have been a close runner-up. After that it gets hard to pick from all the great sightings. We did see a Harpy Eagle, but it was hard to truly appreciate this spectacular bird of prey at the tremendous distance that our local guide in Cristalino found it. Just a sampling of some of the other memorable birds includes Collared Crescentchest, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Razor-billed Curassow, Pompadour Cotinga, Rufous-necked Puffbird, Red-legged Seriema, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Golden-collared Macaw, and Pale-crested Woodpecker. July is the middle of winter in this part of Brazil, and we experienced one of the strongest cold fronts in recent memory while in the Pantanal, with a 35ºC(95ºF) high one day plunging to a low of 6ºC(43ºF) a few mornings later! Wildlife activity can suffer a bit in the cold, and mammals were a bit scarcer than normal, but we persisted and still had a great time despite the extra layers and occasional gloves. Truly, in this part of the world, it’s possible to spend a day in the field and NOT see amazing things. We had a fun, amiable, and diverse group from all over the world, which always helps for having a great trip.

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