Leif Rydell

Travel, birding and taking photos as the main purpose.

Brazil, Chapada dos Guimaraes and Jardim da Amazonia

Continuing from the Atlantic coast (see that blog) we arrived to the million city of Cuiaba. As fast as possible we were on our way in the rental car towards the small town with the same name as the national park, Chapada dos Guimaraes. This is an arid country with stunning cliffs and superb birds. To make this trip possible financially we had not booked a guide through a company so we were only related to our own skill, pre-resarch on e-bird and other trip reports but also the help of a local guide at the Jardim da Amazonia.The lodge booking/ local guide and boatmen in Pantanal was made by Southwild Pantanal to a very good and competitive price.
Our first stop was at the famous waterfall, Veu de Noiva. The first bird to be spotted was this handsome White-eared Puffbird. At the viewing point we had and absolute awesome sight with this group of Red and Green Macaws and a few of the common Black Vulture.

There are a few fancy lodges around but you can easily stay in a cheaper place in town, like the Hotel Turismo. Here we had some nice views in the evening while having a well deserved beer at the veranda. Pale-breasted Thrush and Red-bellied Thrush having an evening bath.

One of the best place to bird in this area is along the very dirty and dry MT-020 also called Agua Fria Road. Hardly an awesome nature experince with dust flying around when cars come in high speed. However, birding is great and you will put in new bird for every new km you proceed. Some highlights were this Burrowing Owl and Red-pileated Finch. We also saw this Cinnamon Tanager which is not supposed to be here according to the field guide. Last, the quite common Chalk-browed Mockingbird.

Not only arid country, we visited some more grenish places like Vale da Bencao where we had Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-rumped Cacique. Hardly a good photo but The Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper is not a very easy bird to see and probably the reason why I get so excited about these ground dwelling, skulking juvels. We managed to spot this bird at the bottom of a dark creek.

We were recommended to visit Mirante Morro dos Ventos for nice vistas and good food, which we followed. Here we had som nice and close perched birds as these Crested Black Tyrant and Cliff Flycatcher.

After 2 and a half day we had to continue on our trip. After spending time in more dry and open areas we were now looking forward to experience the Amazonas.

Welcome to "Garden of Eden"
Saved by a true nature lover, named Almor,  Jardim da Amazonia is truly an Amazonian Garden paradise in the middle of logged and farming country. Along this part of a sub-river to the Amazonian complex you will find so many rainforest specialties and still not travel too far north and to a much cheaper cost.
Except for all the wildlife the lodge is unique with all its fish ponds and natural swimming pool. The big fish (over 2 meters) is a Arapayma and the others are Catfish.

On our way in towards the reserve we found this Burrowing Owl. By the look of it, I'm not sure it wanted us around.

In the first evening Almor took us to some lakes just on the outskirt of the property. This paradise has been made by himself to protect the Blue and Yellow Macaws (among other Macaws and Parrots) which use the lake and the cut palms as roosting places each night. Exceptional experince to see all these birds fly in in the evening light "screaming" and calling for each other.

Nick, Jim, me and Almor.

Next to this lake we also had two gorgeous flycatchers, The Vermilion FC and the White-headed Marsh-Tyrant.

The first morning Almor and (South Wild) had helped us to arrange with a local guide. He´s been taken care of by Almor since he was a child and is now educating himself as a professional guide. Already a good birder and of all necessary help to find most of our birds. On your bucket list there's always been to make a boat trip in the Amazonas. Even if Jardim is not in the deepest part of the jungle, the boat trip was still amazing. In first day light we took off in good speed. Our first goal was to look for the rarest of our birds on the trip, the Cone-billed Tanager. This place is maybe the only reliable place in Brazil to see this bird. In a small oxbow lake we found 2 of them together with a beautiful American Pygmy Kingfisher.

At resort area there was a family of Capybaras present every day. Not shy and very proud and integrity looking animals which became a favorite during the trip. Lots of butterflies as well seeking for minerals. This 2 cm Bullet-ant is on of the most fearful animals in this region, known to be the giving the strongest of pains "the pain of a bullet". Not poisonous but with a sting that makes the local people be very careful where they know they can be.

The reserve is of course mostly forestred but there are some open spaces as well, especially where all the different fishponds are. Here we had good and easy observations of Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Straited Heron, Smooth-billed Ani and Southern Lapwing.

There are several trails to walk as well with thick forest/ bush and therefor quite difficult for photos but at the edges of forest (as always) you will find some good stuff. Here a Black-fronted Nunbird, Spotted Puffbird, Blackish Nightjar and a Blue-headed Parrot at nest.

Some of the more memorable birds from this gorgeous place are the Brown Jacamar and the Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant. The first with its, compared to the body, huge bill and the latter because it's the worlds smallest passerine.

Everywhere, being a difficult bird to see, Jardim is a reliable spot to see the almost mythical Amazonian Umbrellabird. Again we took off on the river, this time in the afternoon. We headed towards a spot where it sometimes is seen. We fastened the boat to a branch and waited. And waited and waited. The guide blew in a bottle as the sound is just the same as the one you get from a empty bottle. Finally, when it was close to dark, 3 birds appeared in to the big tree on the other side of the river. Even at quite a big distance and in bad light, this was a great event. Here you can also see two very happy twitchers after seeing it.

We also picked up some good woodpeckers, here the handsome Yellow-tufted Woodpecker and also the Ringed Woodpecker.

One of the most funny and spectacular species I saw, was this Monk Sake Monkey in a family of four. Very curiously looking one with its fur a big eyes.

We spent 3 fantastic days here and I really must recommend this oasis of green vegation and great wildlife. From here we drove the long way down to tha Pantanal, the biggest wetland area in the world. Renowned to be the absolute best spot to see  Jaguar and the world largest parrot, The Hyacint Macaw. See this blog.

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