We had a full day scheduled to search for Jaguars and were fairly confident we were in for a good time as sightings had been numerous. I don’t think anybody had quite anticipated just how good it would be though. We found our first Jaguar within half an hour or so and by the time we headed back for lunch had something like six encounters, mostly with different animals. One of the first was high up on the river embankment stalking a Capybara some distance below on the water’s edge. It had been immobile for an age, waiting for the right time to pounce and eventually decided to do so just as I adjusted the settings on my camera. I missed the ‘flight shot’ as it sprang off the bank and it missed the Capybara, slinking back up the bank and vanishing in the forest edge shortly after. Other animals were closer, simply lazing around in the shade or coming down the water’s edge to drink. Although boats often cluster around animals in a fashion reminiscent of busses in game parks it is easy to blot them out when watching a Jaguar at close range through binoculars and when you find one you have it all to yourselves for as long as it takes the word to go round.
Capybaraas also nice to see some Giant River Otters behaving more naturally than those we had previously seen when we found a group hauled out on a beach.
Giant River Otter
Among the birds seen were Collared Plover, Black Skimmer, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, typical inhabitants of wide rivers flowing through tropical forest across much of South America.
A more unusual sighting for the Pantanal was of a Long-winged Harrier drifting over the river.
Back at the hotel the ‘garden birding’ included the bird most associated with the Pantanal, the spectacular Hyacinth Macaw and the equally spectacular Toco Toucan, a bill with a bird attached to it.
Thanks to a tip off from some friends of mine who were staying at the hotel we also managed to see a Brazilian Porcupine. It was sleeping on a tree bough so the views were not the best but it was my first Porcupine of any species and I was really pleased to see it at all (which was not easy as the photograph below demonstrates).
Everyone agreed that we had done about as well as we could with the Jaguars so we spent the afternoon searching a black water tributary where we found groups of White-lipped Peccary and Black Howler Monkey along with some nice birds including this showy Boat-billed Heron.
As we made our way back along the Rio Cuiaba at dusk the air was alive with Fishing Bats and Band-tailed Nighthawks but all too soon it would be time to start moving back along the Transpantaniera.