The Pantanal

The Pantanal

Greetings from the Pantanal of Brazil!!

The Pantanal is one of the world’s largest seasonally flooded wetlands considerably bigger than Florida’s everglades. This is the dry season in this part of the Pantanal so the landscape is very dry and dusty and ragged looking. Scrubby fields and thick tangled woods are the main features here in the very flat land.

So why would a photographer come down to this not so pretty sounding landscape? Well, for this trip I am mostly birding with my brother so how pretty the landscape is doesn’t really matter to us. But I have forgotten to tell you the most important aspect of the Pantanal landscape now- where there is water there are loads and loads of birds!

When the water recedes the fish are concentrated in ever tighter groups. Now is about the low water mark so we have seen magnificent, even mind boggling gatherings of birds. In one large pool we saw 10 different kinds of ibis, egrets and herons, storks, limpkins, stilts, jacanas, terns, three kinds of hawks, ducks, roseate spoonbills, rheas (South America’s ostrich-like bird) on the shore and macaws, parrots and parakeets flying overhead! Plus there are a gazillion caimen here- they too get concentrated when the water is low.


hyacinth macaw

hyacinth macaw

We have also seen a giant anteater, crab-eating foxes, brocket deer (the size of a Labrador retriever!), Brazilian cavi (a rabbit) and lots of bats! No anaconda yet but we will be looking for them this afternoon! Oh, and the most beautiful, and the world’s largest, parrot I have ever seen and I have seen lots and lots of wild parrots- the hyacinth macaw. I have included a picture I took with my little Nikon.

I have also seen some unfortunate things and some same old things. The giant anteater was being harassed by a group of foreign tourists and their guides- stressing it to get closer and better pictures and clueless to the negative impact they were having. We arrived in time to get pictures of their illegal and immoral behavior- I hope those guides are fined and suspended. It is never right to push an animal, to force it to do something it doesn’t want to do, to change it’s behavior dramatically. Doesn’t matter what a guide may say, it is wrong.






We have come across a few photography groups down here as well and lots of individual photographers. Photography is very hard here- approaching a subject is often impossible and nice light lasts for about one hour on either end of the day. That doesn’t stop people with big lenses from going out in the mid day sun to photograph a bird that is too far away or standing up on a boardwalk and shooting down on a little bird in the marsh below. Aerial bird photography!

Why is it that these mid day, long lens really not much of a clue what’s going on photographers are almost always older men? I am figuring that they don’t really have a clue no matter what they do no matter where they are doing it so their wives are very happy to send them off to far away parts of the world with the sincere hope that they some how forget how to get home. Just a thought but I am guessing I’m on to something here.

Okay, off to lunch and then off to our anaconda and giant otter boat trip. Care to join me?