Trip report: Brazil: The Pantanal and Amazon (July 2014) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Athanas. This was a set departure tour.

Brazil, July 2014… most visitors came for the World Cup, and while that certainly provided an interesting backdrop to our tour, we had our sights set on the spectacular bounty of birds, mammals, and other wildlife that inhabit this amazing part of the planet. I’ve been coming here at least once a year for almost ten years now, but still always look forward to it, and this one was every bit as fun as all the others. Every day offered something new, and highlights were many. At our last dinner, over a rather astonishing number of caipirinhas, I did an informal survey of some the more memorable moments of the trip, and in no particular order, here they are: 1) Macaws! Astonishing numbers of them, from flocks of 25 Blue-and-yellows at Cristalino, far larger than normal numbers of Scarlets, screeching Red-and-greens at close range, and the poignant courtship behavior of the Hyacinths at Piuval and Porto Jofre; 2) Struggling to see a Razor-billed Curassow and risking a chigger disaster only to have it slip away, then finally having unprecedented views of one the next day; 3) anchoring the boat one afternoon on the Rio Piquiri and watching a family of Giant Otters frolicking, playing, and grooming each other for about 20 minutes; 4) The first morning on the canopy tower of Cristalino, arriving to see sunrise over the rainforest and then being inundated with awesome birds for the next three hours; 5) That gorgeous pair of Scarlet-headed Blackbirds absolutely glowing in the early morning sun along the Transpantaneira; and 6) my personal highlight, when a flash of movement out of the corner of an eye drew my attention, turning and staring into the eyes of a Jaguar that was hauling a huge caiman out of the river – absolutely electrifying! That just scratches the surface of a truly memorable trip. For once we had no cold fronts come through; all those sweaters, jackets, and gloves stayed stowed away in our suitcases as we had hot and sunny weather just about every day except the last, where we got a bit of a surprise…

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