About Us

Contact Us

Our Complete Schedule

or click on the drop down
menus below

or click on the drop down
menus below

Photography Courses

Personal Instruction and One-on-One sessions

Hunt's Photo and Video

Complete List and Schedule Digital Photography Schedule Domestic Tours and Workshop Schedule Worldwide Safaris and Tours Flash Photography Instruction Personal Instruction in Photography or Photoshop Stock Photography and Sales Seminars, Assemblies, Fund Raisers







Pantanal, Brazil August-September 2018

All Three Trips - scroll down for each!

Phil Hafley
Phil Haffley made this shot on our third tour -- a true dream shot!
The Jaguar captured a young Capybara, part of a family we photographed on all of the trips.
In our third trip report I'll explain why Mary and I missed even seeing this - but everyone
else in our group witnessed this incredible scene. We'll just have to go back -- and we will
in September 2019 and three trips in 2020! Join us!

Ivan Rothman
Ivan Rothman captured this shot just a few seconds later as the
Jaguar carried its prey back into the forest.

This year we did three trips to this incredible region, with two in the North, where our primary, but not only, focus was on Jaguars, and between those two trips we did our bi-annual visit to the Southern Pantanal, where we focused on the two Anteater species most commonly found here. On all three we were wildly, hugely successful, perhaps the best trips we've ever had -- and that is saying a lot!

There were so many highlights. On our third trip our group had great positioning for the kill that opens this trip report. On our first trip we had the perfect position for an incredible Jaguar mating sequence, on our last morning, a viewing that lasted for hours. On our trip to the Southern Pantanal we had multiple Giant Anteater and Lesser Anteater (Southern Tamandua) photo opportunities -- sometimes so close that the lens we should have been using would have been a wide-angle!

The trip was far more than just Jaguars and Anteaters. We had incredible shooting opportunities with Giant Otters, Kingfishers, Hawks, Tapirs, and Ocelots. Although we only kept track of the birds on the third trip, on that one we had over 140 species of birds, and over 100 on the Southern Pantanal.

Participants of our Photo Tour get a free copy of our latest ebook -
A Photographic Guide to the Birds of the Pantanal


Each trip was different, diverse, and productive. Participants of one trip might envy what those of another shot, as each trip offered its own very special gifts. It's why Mary and I never get tired of visiting here, and regret the day when we finally must return home. As most participants say, they had no idea how productive and rewarding this area is, and some felt it was more rewarding than their trips to Africa.

Read our Brochure - it is 2018's but the basic data applies.
Exact dates and Prices will be available soon.

The following is our Trip Report for the three tours, and I'm really excited to share this with you. I hope you'll join us to this incredible wildlife location.
Unless otherwise noted, all Photos are by Mary Ann or Joe McDonald.

Trip One - Northern Pantanal and Jaguarland

Day 1 Sao Paulo to Cuiaba to Pueso Allegre, Pantanal

Our flight went uneventfully, although at check-in we found that our tickets did not include luggage – don’t ask me why. At any rate, most of us had flier status that gave us free luggage anyway, and the cost was only $25 per checked bag, probably cheaper than what anyone would have paid in advance in the states.
After lunch we headed to our first lodge, arriving in late afternoon but still with enough time to do a 4:20PM game drive. We headed to the tapir pond, but the area was slow, and only a Collared Forest Falcon, that had killed and was eating a Chestnut-eared Aracari, was of interest … and it was far off. Greater Rheas were one of that drive’s highlights.
With some light left we headed to the main track to look for Tapirs, and found two, both requiring our spotlights by this time. We also had several Crab-eating Foxes, some quite close and trotting by us, but thick brush and dust in the air prevented any shots. Our final sighting was a rare Crab-eating Raccoon, that we had a very good view of for a few minutes.

Day 2 Pueso Allegre to Santa Theresa Lodge

We spent the morning at P.A., starting with the best Brown Capuchin Monkey shooting we’ve had in the Pantanal. Last evening, Mary sat out the game drive to give her back (70 days after double-surgery) a rest, and towards late afternoon a troop of Monkeys visited trees close to our room. They stayed, and settled there for the night, and so, instead of a pre-dawn game drive for anteaters, we went to the trees and had the monkeys. As it turned out, they eventually moved to the bird feeders, and then to the trees in front of the dining area where they dropped nuts onto the parked cars.

After breakfast we set out to look for anteaters, but we were unsuccessful on that quest. However, we had a Great Potoo, with good shooting angles, a long shooting encounter with the rare Capped Heron, and several other birds, rounding out a good morning.
After lunch we headed to our next lodge – changing our itinerary where we’d been scheduled to stay at PA all day and do a night game drive to ST. Hoping to have a chance at ST’s Ocelot we left early, and in route had a spectacular shoot – finding a Giant Anteater along the road that walked, unhurried, across a pasture dotted with incredible termite mounds, making the perfect ‘animal in habitat’ shots that told the story of this odd-looking animal.

Later, we spent some time at a roadside Jabiru Stork nest, quitting right before one of the adults joined the other, flying into the nest. We did get shots as the new arrival fed the small chicks. On the same tree, at a lower fork, a Plumbeous Ibis nested, with three chicks popping their heads above the nest. Marcos spotted a very rare Caiman Lizard, who gets its name for the caiman-like scales on its back. This one was hunting snails, and would submerge itself and swim a distance – never really giving us any shooting opportunities. We had a few chances at Marsh Deer, too, with one being very cooperative.
After arrival at ST Marcos and I headed into the forest for him to set up a couple of game cameras, and for me to check out the new shooting arrangement for the Ocelot. At 5:30 the group headed into the forest for the cat, which had not been seen for the preceding three days. We got lucky, and a shy female came in, but because we held off on shooting she came into the station and remained as we started photographing. The new setup is perfect, with bright lights illuminating the scene and making the use of flash unnecessary. The cat stayed about 30 minutes when Capybaras began giving alarm calls, perhaps signaling the presence of a Jaguar, and with that fear the Ocelot headed back to cover. That marked the end to a very complete day.o

Day 3. Santa Theresa Lodge

We started around 6AM, with photographers scattered around the grounds, photographing Toco Toucans, the Jabiru Stork nest, Bare-faced Currasows, and many other birds. Beside the parking lot I found a tree in flower, with Yellow-chevroned Parakeets plucking the flowers for the sip of nectar each petal’s base held. Turquoise-fronted Parrots were also in the tree, talking loudly, and in the nearby pond Green Kingfishers, Wattled Jacanas, Black-backed Marsh Tyrants, and Plumbeous Ibis were in the reeds or along the shoreline.
After a 7AM breakfast we headed upriver for a very successful shoot, with numerous passes with Ringed Kingfishers, a few Amazon Kingfishers, three passes with Black-collared Hawks, and multiple chances with Great Black Hawks. Towards the end of the morning we had an incredible session with an Agami Heron, probably the most beautiful of the world’s herons. We didn’t return until 11AM, ready for a break as it was now very, very hot.
PM. At 3:30 we headed downriver to look for perching river birds, finding the rare American Pigmy Kingfisher, Green and Rufous Kingfisher, another Agami Heron, and Boat-billed Herons. We returned at 5 to be ready for another round with the Ocelot.
At 5:30 we headed to the Ocelot blind, and while there was still light a male Ocelot – a very tolerant cat – appeared. After feeding for a few minutes he darted off, afraid, and within seconds Lynn and Diane and two of the guides saw the silhouette of a Jaguar pass by! One of the guides was terrified and jumped up to the seating area, not bothering to tell me or Tom who were shooting on the ground. The cat must have left, and our Ocelot returned, coming and going about five times over an hour’s shoot.

Day 4. Santa Theresa to Flotel

Everyone was up and shooting by 6. I showed several the tree where the Parakeets had been feeding, but the Toco Toucans were at the feeders and compelling. Bruce and I spent time in the Jabiru Stork scaffold, waiting for an adult to fly in, and finally, as we neared the magic hour for getting to breakfast, a bird returned to the nest, carrying a huge wad of vegetation in its bill.
We left at 7:45 for our drive to Porto Joffre, arriving around 11. At 2:30 we headed out, and within fifteen minutes we had a radio call that a Jaguar was at the Black Lagoon. It was hidden in vegetation, and as we waited, we had another call that another cat had been spotted. We raced there, finding a female walking the river bank, pausing at the end of a sand spit for a great ‘animal in habitat’ shot before she entered the water and swam into some hyacinths. She soon departed, and disappeared.


Mary’s boat explored the Black Lagoon, and mine went up the Charles river, but we received another call that our first Jaguar was moving. When we arrived, it was lying out on a large tree overhanging the river, with a  family of Giant Otters below, chattering and teasing the Jaguar. The shooting was spectacular. Eventually the cat got up and stalked, on the tree, a Caiman below, but the branches sagged and the Caiman escaped. The Jaguar turned around and returned to its original position on the bank, where it was barely visible
We left the cat and explored the Lagoon, without anything of note, and returned by 6PM.


Day 5. Flotel Jaguarland

We left at 6, shot a sunrise, and proceeded slowly until a radio call had a race to a male Jaguar lying in an opening above the main channel. After sitting up and yawning, the cat disappeared. Another radio call in the Black Lagoon resulted in no sighting, but a following call had us racing to the two young males that stay together. We had them both, but never in a definitive shot, as the cats would just pass one another, and one spent more time in the forest. When we arrived, however, the two were out in the open, but separated. Hoping that the two would eventually unite, we stayed with one who obliged with wonderful vertical portraits. Other boats headed off to a pair of Jaguars at least 20 minutes away, and we passed on that, and did not head downriver from the brothers for another cat Marcos spotted. Had we, we may have had 7 cats in total, with a lot of motoring, and with the potential of getting nothing for that effort.
We ended the morning at the Black Lagoon with a family of Giant Otters that were catching fish, and responded loudly when Mary gave her otter call. For many, the Otters were the highlight. Mary’s boat also had a Cattle Egret catch a frog, then hop onto the back of a Water Buffalo to eat it.
PM. We left at 2:30 and Diane spotted our first Jaguar of the afternoon. It was on a sandbar, and had we been just a few minutes earlier we’d have had it walking the entire length of the bar. Instead, we had only seconds, before it disappeared into willows and moved upstream. Unexpectedly, however, it decided to swim across the river, where we had a few brief views amongst 15 or more boats that appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Expecting little more from the cat, my boat headed out to avoid the crowds.
We soon came upon the two young males, with one in fairly clear view and the butt-end of the other. They eventually got up and walked upstream, but never presented a better view.
We continued, and after just commenting upon the fact that we had not seen any baby Capybaras we found two very little ones, and a teen-ager. We dropped anchor, figuring that these sleeping pups would eventually wake up and play, and they did. We got shots of the pups nuzzling the teenager and adults, nursing, climbing onto the head of one, and running along the shoreline.

On our way back to the Flotel we had another radio call, and found Jeff, a badly scarred male, feeding on a kill in the water. It was pulling at skin or flesh, and we couldn’t figure out what he was eating. When he finally dragged the kill into the woods – now little more than a hide – we got shots that allowed us to identify the kill – a young Marsh Deer.


Day 6. Flotel and Jaguarland

We left at 6AM and by 6:30 had the two young male Jaguars, but they were in thick brush overlooking the river and offered no views. We moved on, but later in the day the two swam across the river and Mary’s boat (ahead of mine by 3 minutes or so) caught the tail end of the swim and some walking on the beach. I arrived in time for the beach view, but the two cats turned inland and we had no shots.
My boat headed up into the Black Lagoon where we had several Yacare Caiman doing their territorial bubble dance. We missed most of the displays, with the Caiman finishing before we could get into position, and I missed focus on two of the best ones! A Jaguar radio call ended that shoot.
We sped down river and found McJaguar, the weird-eyed male that we did not see last year. We were told that he had been pushed out of his old territory, but later in the morning we found him again, in the Charles Creek, where he swam across the stream and the Three Brothers river, putting on a great show.
We had two other Jaguars, both females – one on the Three Brothers upriver from the Charles, and the other on the Cuiaba, where we were alone as a cat hunted the marsh grasses, but did not spook anything out.
That cat finished our morning, but prior to that all of us were at the mouth of the Black Lagoon where we had a great Giant Otter show, with otters catching fish and grooming and playing only a few yards away.

PM. We left the Flotel at 2:15 under very hot conditions. My boat soon encountered the female I’d seen at the end of the morning, but it disappeared quickly and without  any shots. On the Cuiaba we had one of the young males, but he was somewhat distant. He resembled a Leopard in silhouette – he was thin.
We headed up the Black Lagoon but didn’t get far before we had another radio call, but this Jaguar was just lying in a clearing, sleeping, and with thick brush around, there was no chance for any action shots. We left her without shooting a frame, and headed upriver where, beyond the San Pedro, we found another Jaguar, but this one was shy and backed up, into cover, and disappeared.

We heard of two Jaguars down river – quite far, and we raced there. Mary’s boat was already there (they had been shooting Giant Otters), and we barely set up when the female of a mating pair raced onto the beach, followed by the male. They mated immediately, but it was so fast that I don’t think it was a real copulation, and afterwards the male went into the river and swam upstream, turned around, and swam downstream before joining the female. He then headed downriver and she followed, and we hauled anchor and followed, getting into what turned out to be a prime position. The female was soliciting but the male was uninterested, and his only strutting was when he’d walk or sky down a sandy bank, scent mark, and bound back up hill. Meanwhile, the female crouched, presenting herself, or flipped to her back and waved a paw enticingly, as cats do when they  want to play, but the male was oblivious. Despite no further mating, the repeated walks to the water, scent marking, drinking, and incredible reflections made it a spectacular shoot. We stayed until 5:45 hoping that there’d be further action, although it was then quite dark, but the cats remained in position. We still arrived back at the boat by 6.

Day 7. Flotel and Jaguarland

We left at 6 and headed to the Black Lagoon, expecting to get more Caiman displaying. None were active. We did have a Black-crowned Night Heron that had captured a large armored Catfish, which appeared to be dead as it did not move at all. The pectoral fins were splayed out, and I suspect the heron would not be able to swallow the fish, and I’m wondering if this ‘death stance’ is analogous to warning coloration in butterflies or snakes, where an individual might be killed, but a lesson is learned in the doing, thus protecting any other butterflies or snakes that predator might find. Perhaps, in a spiny death pose, a heron may learn that there’s no point in capturing a fish it cannot swallow. Perhaps this was just a coincidence, too!
We had a radio call that one of the male brothers was spotted on a sand bar, and we filmed this increasingly thin cat – who now resembles a leopard in shape – as it walked the beach and crossed a lagoon. Soon after, we had another call that two cats were spotted. These were the mating pair from last night – the female already has a 6 month old cub, and the male is young, and perhaps this is his first mating, and he is inept! When we arrived, the female appeared to have lost patience with him, and she would repeatedly snarl when he came close – which all happened in the river. Eventually the two climbed up a bank and disappeared.
We had a brief view of McJaguar before he disappeared in the forest, but later in the morning we had him again, in his old hunting grounds. He was hunting, and progressed UPSTREAM by either wading or effortlessly swimming. There were a lot of boats but the behavior was good, and the shooting worked out fine. Finally, after probably a kilometer of travel upstream, McJaguar swerved towards shore in a quick rush, and captured a three-foot Caiman. I only had a brief glimpse of the kill, and no one had shots, and the Jaguar disappeared into the forest.
Heading towards home we had the other male Jaguar brother hunting the reeds at the mouth of the Black Lagoon. The shooting was poor and it was hot, and the prospects of any clear shooting was nil, and so we left him, arriving back at the Flotel at 11:45.

PM. We left at 2 with clouds in the south, and by dusk the approaching cold front was definitely in the air. We had no jaguars this afternoon, although my boat passed by a spot where boats were anchored, waiting for one or both of the two brothers to show themselves. We arrived after at least one disappeared, and instead of waiting we worked on other subjects, as did Mary.
Mary headed far upriver to the island channel, and did a variety of birds, and the Capybara family I had two days ago. I spent a lot of time in the Black Lagoon and the Charles River, where we filmed Green and Amazon Kingfishers, White-headed Marsh Tyrants, great shots of Wattled Jacanas, and Roadside Hawks. For both of our boats it was a very relaxing and productive afternoon, and as dusk approached the wind began and a chill was definitely in the air.

Day 8. Flotel and Jaguarland

The South Polar front arrived, with the skies brooding and the air cold. We headed into the Black Lagoon, photographing a few birds, and by mid-morning had a radio call that McJaguar was spotted walking a river bank. We arrived and soon the Jaguar entered the water and once again swam nearly a mile upstream, hunting the vegetation. We had some spectacular views, including several front-on passes closeby.

After the jaguar left the river we headed back downstream, stopping at the same family of Capybara that I filmed three days ago. Mary’s boat had just left them, waiting without success for the pups to wake up and do something, but they remained inert. Within minutes of our arrival the pups woke up and began playing, climbing onto the teenager’s back and wrestling with its muzzle – close and still -spectacular shooting.
Mary’s boat had a great Crane Hawk encounter and several birds for an equally rewarding morning.

PM. We headed upriver towards the Fish Camp for Hyacinth Macaws. En route we found two Neotropical Otters – either a mom and half-grown pup (Mary and Marcos’s interpretation) or a courting pair playing (my take). We had great shooting, with the two playing on the river bank, chasing one another, climbing a log, and at the end, catching fish and feeding in clear view.
At the Fish Camp we had good macaws, and Chestnut-bellied Guans, Palm Tanagers, Giant Cowbirds, and Troupials. As we headed to home it began to rain, and in the COLD and the rain it was a pretty miserable trip. We reached the Flotel at 5:05.

Day 9. Flotel to Santa Theresa

Today was departure day, with only a morning Jaguarland. But it was spectacular. The day dawned clear, with yesterday’s rain gone but leaving the cold, and the river smoked with mist in the early light. On the Cuiaba, after spending a bit of time with a pair of Southern Screamers and a chick, we had a radio call for a Jaguar walking along the bank. The cat was against the bright eastern sky and we tried to get silhouettes, but high grasses cut off the cat’s legs and belly. Soon after, the Jaguar moved into the water, but on the bank it was framed with golden mist – a really ethereal scene. We followed the cat downriver where it surprised Capybaras, that either slithered into the water or dove in – unexpectedly for us, and without warning, but eventually the Jaguar moved back on shore and headed into the grass.
We continued, planning on doing Caiman in the black lagoon, where we found the same mating pair of Jaguars – Hunter and Marley – that were such unsuccessful matings earlier in the week. Perhaps the female wasn’t yet in heat to explain his earlier disinterest, for now in the course of three hours or less they mated 6 or 7 times. Multiple boats were there, but the order was exceptional, and the shooting was great. With that, we headed back to the Flotel for our trip out.
On the way we spotted another Jaguar on the river bank, and from Mary’s shots we believe it was a different cat than the first one we had this morning. The ride to ST went uneventfully, with nearly everyone sleeping.

PM. At ST we decided not to do the Ocelot, opting instead for a chance at Tapirs on the river. We were not successful, but had great birds and a very rewarding boat cruise. One of the highlights was the young Great Potoo, perched in the open, and a bit curious. Normally, adults point their heads at the sky and keep their eyes squeezed shut. This youngster followed our movements.
At 6:30 we met to do a star/night sky shot with the Jabiru Stork, following the rule of 500, and everyone did  well. For many this was the afternoon’s highlight.

Day 10. Santa Theresa

The group shot around the lodge before breakfast, and at 7:45 we headed to the river for more Kingfishers and Hawks. We had only one pass of a Black-collared Hawk, but several of the Great Black Hawk, and multiple passes with Ringed Kingfishers. I was doing video and screwed up more often than I got it right, hitting the ‘off’ button for video recording when I meant to hit back-button focus, or simply watching the live view image while thinking I was recording. It was not my best day. The group, however, did fairly well, although we were challenged because the wind made spotting the fish difficult.
At 3PM I discovered a mother Caiman with babies, and I did some video of the family, but the babies never climbed onto the mother’s head. They did bite at her eyes and face, especially when she blinked.

. At 3:30 we headed down river, for a final try for a Tapir. We were successful, and after scaring one out of the water we waited, and discovered that it stayed nearby, browsing, and then slowly moving back to the river, where it drank.  I was filming, but I DID NOT DOWNLOAD my cards from the morning, and at the very best moment, when the Tapir turned and walked towards us, I ran out of card! By the time I dug one out of my pocket the Tapir was gone. Lesson: DOWNLOAD after EVERY SESSION!
We also did well with Boat-billed Herons and what I think was an immature Great Potoo, in a great position. This bird looked around as we walked below it – something adults generally do not do,
At 5:30 we were back, wrapping up our shoot for the most successful I think we’ve ever had!

Trip 2 Southern Pantanal

Although we've photographed both species of Anteater, the Giant and the Less, aka the Southern Tamandua, the South has an abundance of these species. We visited two primary locations, and had success with both species at each. Additionally, we saw over 100 species of birds, and photographed two species of Armadillo, as well as Pampas Deer, Caiman, and more.

Day 1. Campo Grande to Jardim and Bonito Springs

After an overnight in Sao Paulo we made our connections without any problems, meeting our guide in Campo Grande and taking a three hour drive to Jardim. In route we had a good view of a Giant Anteater --  a very good omen.
After checking in at our hotel we drove to Bonito Springs, doing a bit of a bird orientation where we photographed Red and Green Macaws, Purple-fronted Parrots, and several other birds. As we left the springs we found a young Giant Anteater, which we photographed, a Yellow Armadillo, and later, on the way out, a Lesser Anteater or Tamandua, and right at sunset a large adult Giant Anteater that was walking down the road, giving great views, before moving off into a field. We saw Seriemas, Pampas Deer, Burrowing Owls, Monitas, and other birds for a very complete afternoon, a great start for the trip!


Day 2, Jardim to the Macaw Sinkhole and the River Float

We left at 6:30 for the 45 minute drive to the Macaw Sinkhole, arriving just as light was reaching over the trees. Shooting was tough, catching focus and following birds, but we stayed until nearly 11AM before heading to the Bonito Springs area for our float trip.
We arrived in time for lunch, but our float departure wasn’t scheduled until 2:30PM – our guide thought we would want to rest! I didn’t know, and still don’t, whether we had an option for an earlier departure since it was Brazil’s Independence Day and the area was crowded. I suspect we had no choice.
At any rate, we did our float while we still had light striking the river, but by the end of the float, nearly 3 hours later, the sun was close to setting and the spring and the river were dark and gloomy. Still, while we had light we had a spectacular float, with plenty of colorful fish, beautiful underwater scenery, and humbling fast-moving water. Watching Jaguars swim UP CURRENT in water far faster than this truly illustrates their power – we were virtually incapable of swimming upstream for any distance.

The water was crystal clear and revealed the wealth of fish found in these rivers. Normally, in the silt-laden rivers, visibility is zero, and one must wonder how Giant Otters catch fish so easily. Perhaps the abundance of fish is the answer.

As we left the river we had several Giant Anteaters, but no cameras, and the four who remained at the headquarters didn’t see any, but had some good birds in the time the 6 of us did the float.

Day 3. Macaw Sinkhole and Puesada Aguape

We returned to the Sinkhole where everyone did much better, learning from yesterday’s mistakes. Two good birds appeared (Yesterday, we had a Blue-crowned Mot-Mot and Ferruginous Pigmy Owls, and Collared Forest Falcons), including the Streaked ? Puffbird and Masked Titras – CHECK THESE!
We left at 11, eating along the way at a roadside restaurant before hitting the long, washboard dirt road that led to the lodge. We had at least 4 Giant Anteaters along the way, but we passed on those as our gear was packed.
When we reached the lodge I went scouting for a tree for a Star Shoot that evening, and while doing so found a pretty cooperative Tamandua or Lesser Anteater. Hyacinth Macaws, Blue and Yellow Macaws, Mockingbirds, Cardinals, and Jays were about the feeders.

This Tamandua is scratching, taking a break from searching for
the ants and termites it feeds upon.

At 6 we headed to my tree, where we shot the Milky Way. Our guide had a truck arranged for us to see the Ocelot, but everyone passed on doing so this evening. I told all that we probably would do better in the North, all the way around, but that there was no guarantee, so if folks wanted an Ocelot this could be their only chance. Tomorrow, or the following day, if the cat appears, I suspect people will get their insurance shots.

Day 4. Aguape

We shot around the lodge’s feeders until 7:30AM, getting Plush-crested and Purple Jays, Shiny and Giant Cowbirds, Oropendolas, Chachalacas, Black-hooded Parakeets, Monk Parakeets, Seriemas, Doves, and more
After breakfast we headed out by truck for a game drive, finding an Aplomado Falcon, a family of Pampas Deer with a fawn, and multiple birds. It was a bit frustrating for some, as I had told our participants repeatedly that we would be looking for subjects they would not get up North, and to not worry about other subjects. Still, the excitement of seeing new things for the first time was too compelling, and we spent half of the game drive shooting subjects that will be deleted later. Instilling the trust and confidence in our judgement to folks seeing wildlife for the first time can be a challenge, and understandable. At lunch, our friend Tom (who just completed the first tour, and has done many with us to both areas) prepared a portfolio of subjects from the North that we hope will drive the point home, as he showed water-level shots, close, of subjects we were shooting from high up on a truck, at a long distance. We’ll see.
(Note - Postscript: By the end of Trip 3, everyone was relaxed and had re-shot all of the subjects referred to above. As the days went on, it was obvious that the first encounters would not be their last, or their best.)

PM. Either our luck or our lunchtime discussion did the trick, as we had a great, productive PM game drive. We stopped for excellent shots of Seriemas, and had two Giant Anteaters. I rated the first one as a ten – it almost walked between all of us and in good light, but the second one was even better – probably a 15 minute shoot in late light, as the Anteater dug, fed, and repeatedly walked in our direction.
We planned on doing the Ocelot, and just as we finished dinner we got the call that the Ocelot had appeared. !5 minutes later we were at the Fish Camp where the resident was offering tiny bits of fish to keep it about, and then, with us present, the Ocelot climbed a tree and came quite close to us on the ground. The only BIG negative was one of our participants’ flash wasn’t working. Earlier in the day, at lunch, I had reviewed the settings with those who needed it, and the flash was working perfectly then. Mary wasn’t shooting, so she was trying to trouble-shoot the problem, but could not, nor could Tom or I later. The flash worked on another Nikon camera, but not on the one that mattered.

Day 5. Aguape

Prior to breakfast some folks  went for the Burrowing Owl that has a mound within two hundred yards of the lodge, while the rest of us photographed the birds around the feeder. The Seriema came in, as well as the Jays, and the other birds.
We were scheduled for a game drive but our truck broke down! Instead, we did a boat ride – the  first time I’ve done so on the river, and we had several birds I’ve never seen before, or only rarely. They included a Streaked Flycatcher, Blue-crowned Trogon, Helmeted Manakin, Flame-winged Parakeet, White-fronted and White Woodpeckers, and Crane Hawk. At the beginning of the ride we had a Neotropical Otter, and at the Fish Camp we had a cooperative Yellow Armadillo. We returned by 11AM, very hot.


Some of the Giant Anteaters we had walked almost to us, with two getting within ten feet -- one came within five feet. Seeing this oddly shaped animal up-close, and unfazed by our presence, was a real treat.

PM. We left at 3:30, first rubbing our mascot Tamandua and Giant Anteater for good luck. We were barely out of the gate when we photographed a family of Coatimundi, and minutes later had a Giant Anteater cross the road in front of us. It moved into higher grass so we passed on shooting, and within another two minutes had a second Giant Anteater in the same field. We passed on it, too.
Continuing, we had a Collared Peccary cross the game track, and stopped for a Nine-banded Armadillo, which we filmed. A large Giant Anteater in an open, low-grass field gave us some views, but it sensed us and continually moved away. We didn’t stay with it long.
Our driver/guide spotted a Tamandua quite far off, and we drove closer, going the last 200 yards on foot. It proved very cooperative, and when we finally left it the Tamandua had just walked right to me, and passed within two feet of where I was kneeling, filming. We saw two others which were too far away, or too dark, for shots, and had some shots of a Pampas deer.

Day 6. Aguape

I checked out the Burrowing Owls at sunrise, but a pair of Southern Lapwings were around the nest site, and apparently drove them off. They did the same with me, as a nest must have been nearby. Barb looked for the Nacunda Nighthawks, unsuccessfully, but did have a great sunrise session with Hyacinth Macaws.
After breakfast we headed out for our game drive, shooting a variety of mammals, Jabiru Storks feeding, and, at the Caiman pond, ground-level or water level Caimans feeding on fish. We had a very cooperative Tamandua, that paused at a small pool to drink, and walked quite close to us before climbing up and disappearing into a palm.

PM. We had one last chance to get Anteaters with babies. We failed.
However, we had a very cooperative Giant Anteater that, at one point, walked to within 5 feet of people, and only shuffled away after catching their scent. At the end of the day we had another great Tamandua, that walked across a low-grass field, finally settling at a small rise where a lone yellow-flowering tree stood. The Tamandua fed on ants along the trunk, then climbed into the tree, providing great shots and, for many, the absolute highlight of the trip.
At dinner we reviewed the trip and the favorite shots and highlights, which were as diverse as the trip itself. Some loved the Sinkhole and the Macaws, others the Fish Float, and others the variety of Anteaters. In all, it was a very successful Southern Pantanal Trip!

Northern Pantanal Trip 3

It is always exciting to return to this area. Having visited the area just 10 days earlier, we were fairly confident that we'd be able to maximize everyone's shooting opportunities. Still, the second trip was so different and the shooting opportunities so diverse, the previous trip's experience didn't really matter -- perhaps with the exception of knowing the best spot for Giant Otters.

It is also very, very exciting to be sharing this wonderful location with photographers who have never been here before, and most of our participants were new to the area. They were treated to an extremely successful and exciting trip.

Here's that report.

Day 1. Sao Paulo to Cuiaba to Pueso Allegre, Pantanal.

After meeting everyone yesterday evening for dinner, we left the hotel at 7AM to beat the rush at check-in. Our flight was on time, we arrived in Cuiaba, met our guide, had lunch, and headed to the Pantanal.
After passing through the archway marking the official entrance to the Pantanal, we stopped at the three bridges area for birds. Shooting here is completely dependent upon water levels. Too much water and the birds are scattered, and too little, the remaining pools are fished out and empty. On our last trip we didn’t have an opportunity to shoot here, nor would it have mattered. This time, the water level was perfect, and we had scores of Jabiru Storks, along with Common Egrets, Limpkins, Caracaras, and scores of Large-billed Terns. We shot here until almost 5, then headed towards our lodge, reaching the road into the park just before dusk.
We hoped to see some wildlife on the way end, and had just commented upon the possibility of seeing Tapir when our guide spotted one, in a roadside pool. The next few minutes were pretty chaotic as everyone tried shooting from narrow window openings, and after we had some insurance shots we cautiously left the bus, hoping for better shots. The Tapir didn’t care, and continued drinking, giving everyone great opportunities. Finally, it headed back into the woods, but continued, crossing the road in front of us, unhurried. What a fantastic start!

Day 2. Pueso Allegre to Flotel and Jaguarland

We planned on leaving right after a 7AM breakfast, giving everyone nearly an hour to photograph on the grounds of the lodge. Several Chestnut-cheeked Aracaris were at the feeder, and, nearby, two Crab-eating Foxes scavenged scraps behind the kitchen. We missed good foxes in the South, so this was an unexpected bonus.
We headed towards Porto Joffre, getting a good look at a Laughing Falcon and a very long, literally, look at a very long Tiger Rat Snake. It was easily over six feet long, and stretched across the road. My guide and I encouraged it to quickly cross the road before it was smashed, much to the panicky distress of our bus driver.
The latter part of our 3.5 hour drive was hair-raising. It had rained hard in the morning in this section of the road, and the road was like ice. Several times our forward progress was sideways, and more than once it looked like we would slide right off the road, or crash into a tree. Our bus driver did a great job, and we arrived safely, met our boatmen, and headed to the Flotel.

PM. We left at 2:30, heading up the Three Brothers where we received a radio call that a Jaguar had been spotted far upriver. When we arrived the female Jaguar was hunting the river bank, flanked by over 20 boats at times, including a BBC crew with their obnoxious boom that often blocks views. Both of our boats had great shots, and once we were in prime position when we thought the Jaguar would leap towards us at hidden prey in the river vegetation. It did not. All of us had several opportunities for front-on approach shots, and at one point Mary’s boat saw two other Jaguars just on the opposite side.
Light was failing so we left the crowds to look for other subjects, finding a pair of Giant Otters that were digging a new den, and sliding down the river bank periodically. Later, in the Black Lagoon, we had a family of five, swimming, wrestling, and carrying a catfish. By 5:20 the light was nearly gone and we headed towards home, stopping for a fire-ball sunset along the way.

Day 3. Flotel and Jaguarland

With the expectation of rain, we didn’t leave the Flotel until 6:20, under clear skies which continued throughout the morning safari. We were still on the Piquiri River when we had our first Jaguar, walking the sand bank but retreating into high grasses, and disappearing, before anyone could shoot. On the Cuiaba we had our second Jaguar, again on a distant sand bar that required us to circle, and the cat had vanished. Our third was in the open, but asleep, and except for record shots was merely a sighting.

However, it was a great day to smell the roses. Mary’s boat did well with Skimmer Chicks and Large-billed Tern chicks, and some observations where the adult, and the half-grown chicks, would scrape depressions into the sand, presumably to reach cooler sand to rest. They also had a great Pigmy Kingfisher.
My boat went up the Black Lagoon and had the family of Giant Otters. One caught a large Eel, and in slow motion video I got a sequence where the squirming eel rocketed straight up out of the water, escaping the grip of the Otter. Unfortunately, it went higher than my frame, and none of the still shooters fired at that moment. Later, when the eel was nearly finished, an Otter stole the remains from the original Otter, and Ivan got a great shot of an Otter’s bulging eyes at the moment the two pulled at the eel. I did the same in video.

An instant later this eel was nearly straight, sticking high out of the frame, as it slipped from the Otter's grasp. Within seconds, though, the Giant Otter recaptured its prey.
Unexpectedly, a young Giant Otter grabbed the remaining bits of the eel.
The adult allowed it to do so.

We had two Black Vultures riding the carcasses of Caiman, one floating downriver and one in the Charles River in reeds. Mary’s boat had the Capybara family (from our last trip, with all members still alive), but they were doing nothing. When my boat arrived, within ten minutes the pups were nursing, then climbing atop the heads and bodies of the adults, and scampering about. Luck of the draw.

PM. We left at 2:30, stopping in route for a Southern Screamer and a Snail Kite, feeding on a crab, but the current was fast and the shooting was bouncy. We headed up the Black Lagoon, shooting another round with the Giant Otters with a fish and a very cooperative Donocobius. Mary’s boat met up with us there, and I discovered that her boat’s engine was bad, and only went in very low gear – about 10mph. We switched boats, putting all of the participants in to my boat, and our guide, while I transferred to Mary’s boat.
Our guide’s boat headed up the Three Brothers where THEY HAD A KILL! The family of Capybaras we filmed earlier today were sunning on a bank, with a Jaguar flattened against the sandbar. For the longest time our guide and our shooters couldn’t even see the cat, but once located, they were instructed to keep their eyes on the cat. Their boat was behind several others, requiring everyone  to stand to see the action, and our boatman told our guide to drop anchor. As he walked to the front of the boat to do so, the Jaguar charged. At that point, unfortunately, he was in front of the first shooter in the boat, and blocked the view, and, in passing, had momentarily disrupted another shooter, who didn’t have time to re-acquire, and missed the shot, too.
Phil Haffley's shot -- deserves to be seen again!

That was tragic, but the other five shooters all got shots, and Phil (of Phil and Jan) got a stunner, with the Jaguar in mid leap and a visible Capybara splashing to escape. He was shooting a 7D, which isn’t fast, but captured the peak moment. Others got good shots, too, including carrying the prey out of the water.

Ivan Rothman captured these four images, showing the entire story. There was fifteen or twenty yards between the Capybaras and the Jaguar, which was practically invisible at first, hunkered as it was against the sand bank. In a flash -- literally a second or so of glancing away -- the Jaguar splashed into the river, and captured the young Capybara. Afterwards, as Jaguars almost always do, the cat carried its prey into the forest to feed. Well done, Ivan!

Meanwhile, Mary and I puttered slowly up the Black Lagoon. Slowly! We were almost at the end of the lagoon when Mary commented that she had never had a Jaguar here, and I have had several. Less than five minutes later Mary spotted a Jaguar! Our guide spotted another, for two - and no other boat in sight.
The cats were, I believe, a pre-mating couple. The female has a bad limp, and the male is old, and cranky. He walked down to join the female on the open bank, where they settled. We radioed – cryptically saying our boat was broken and that we needed help. Later, when we radioed again – with no one arriving, we learned they were on the hunt. Only two other boats arrived, and one, directly behind us, had a guy stand up. The male Jaguar beaded in on him and charged! The cat rushed about 15 feet, Mary and I caught it, and the guy dove to the deck in his boat. I was so tempted to call him a chicken!

These three shots show the two seconds of the charge -- the final shot as the male skidded to a stop. Just then, we heard a big thump, as the guy in the next boat dove for cover! Standing up, he had upset this male that had calmly accepted Mary and my presence.

Eventually the female limped off and the male followed, and that show was over. We met our crew on the main river, transferred to the other boat with the rest of our participants, and left our boatman to putter home in the disabled boat.

Day 4. Jaguarland

We left at 6AM and headed directly to the Black Lagoon, where a Jaguar was reported. Mary and our guide had a brief glimpse of spots before the cat disappeared, and we arrived a few minutes later. We continued up the Lagoon, shooting some birds, then met Mary’s boat where she pointed out the Long-nosed River Bats I’ve been looking for – always at the wrong tree. They were the best I’ve ever had, and easily missed just as a blob of lumpy bark.
Mary headed up the Lagoon, and while there we had a radio call for a Jaguar. We arrived as it was hunting the bank, and followed it, off and on, until it finally settled at the river’s edge. Meanwhile, three other Jaguars were reported, the two brothers, and Jeff, back in the lagoon, hunting. Mary’s boat headed upriver for the brothers, while my boat remained with the female at the river bank. A Caiman was swimming about, and we were in the perfect position should she hunt, as we were anchored and only one other boat was there, and behind us.
Fifteen minutes or so later we received a radio call that the brothers were now on a bank, and we pulled anchor and raced upriver. Meanwhile, a family of Otters swam by the Jaguars, spotted the cats, and began screaming and displaying. The Jaguars lunged once, and the Otters went flying, and Mary and others got some great shots of the cats snarling at the Otters. All the disturbance, however, drove the cats away from the river and by the time we arrived the cats were gone. The entire encounter, confirmed with Mary’s metadata, was three minutes from the time the Jaguar brothers showed up, until they disappeared.
We waited a few minutes to see if they’d return, and then my boat headed back to the Jaguar we had just left. In the meantime, and probably only a few minutes earlier (based on one observer present), the Jaguar swam across the river. Hearing that, one of the photographers with me said ‘I’m glad we left the cat,’ or words to that effect. What can you say? Had the Otters not appeared, the brothers would likely remained on the riverbank. Had our Jaguar decided to swim while we were waiting … As it was, our cat had moved to a less enticing position on the bank, and could have remained there all morning, while the brothers basked along the river’s edge.
I felt bad for my shooters, but had I had to make the decision again I’d have done the same, we simply could not have afforded the chance of missing the brothers. Had we remained with our sleeping cat, and the brothers performed … I can’t imagine that grief. Still, I felt very bad and my spirits were dampened, something I hate as one loses the ‘edge’ so necessary for sharp spotting. On the positive side, we had a tremendous shooting opportunity on the Jaguar long before Mary’s boat arrived … if folks can put good fortune and bad in perspective.

PM. A Jaguar-free afternoon. I don’t believe anyone had a cat, as we saw all of the regular boats cruising far and wide, as did we. Highlights were few, although we did have a great sequence with a Jabiru Stork that had just bathed, and now flapped its wings and spread them wide, repeatedly, until it was dry enough to fly off. On the way home we had two extremely cooperative Capped Herons, normally a shy bird, but we had great shots of a pair perched on a bare limb above the river. We returned back to the boat around 5:40, with clouds in the West.

Day 5. Jaguarland


We made up for the absence of Jaguars yesterday, with SIX this morning. Ivan was hoping – his dream shots – to get a Jaguar swimming, and at 6:30 this morning my boat encountered Jeffrey, the male, swimming across the Three Brothers. Within a minute or so two other boats arrived, and soon after Mary’s boat, and about five others. We followed the cat until it climbed a bank and disappeared.
Anticipating it went to the Cuiaba River, Mary’s boat circled the sand bar and found the cat again. It was walking down the bank towards Capybara, but the BBC boom boat and several others paralleled the cat and, eventually, it turned around, and ended up on a high point above the river. When it finally left, we were called to another Jaguar – three in the Lagoon!
When we arrived, our old Jaguar male, Hopkins, was accompanying the female from two days ago, and a younger male who was sitting close to her. Hopkins snarled and growled, and as he approached the other male moved off, followed by the female, who snarled at Hopkins. She had obviously made her choice. They returned to their spot, and we thought there’d be a confrontation, but the males kept their distance before the male, followed by the female, moved into woods. A few minutes later Hopkins walked upstream, and the female, and the other male, followed. They then disappeared.
We then had another call, and had a male Jaguar on a sand bank in the distance. We motored closer, and learned that it was sighting in on a dead Caiman in the bay, out of sight of the cat. All we could see of the Jaguar was his head, but after learning that another Jaguar had appropriated a rancid dead caiman yesterday, I figured he’d do the same.j
I filmed this Jaguar in slow-motion video - these are two frames from two different sequences. In the first, the Jaguar is running towards the Caiman that he would eventually drag into the woods. In the second, he's chasing away Black Vultures that had been scavenging the Caiman.

He did, and as we watched the climbed up the bank and started walking, then bounding across the sand towards the shore.  I had a great sequence in Slow Motion Video. Wishing to be more stable I stopping following the cat to rearrange my monopod, and missed it as the Jaguar jumped into the river. The cat swam to the Caiman, then dragged it upstream, attempting to carry it through the thick river vegetation but, finding that impossible, returned to the sand bank, carrying the Caiman, taking it ashore and dragging it to the forest on the opposite bank, where Mary’s boat was. I videoed most of this – stopping at one  point to shoot stills – and Mary got the sequence in photos.
Our guide spotted a Yellow Anaconda next, and afterwards, nearing 11AM, and after another check of the Lagoon, we headed to home, finding our Sixth Jaguar on our river, not far from other Flotel boats,
Besides Jaguars, we all had a great encounter with the Giant Otter family, stretched out like Leopards on a big log. My boat arrived late and didn’t do much, as the Caiman-Jaguar radio call had us rushing away, That rush was worth it!

PM. Mary headed up to the island separation and I checked out the Black Lagoon.
There we once again had the Giant Otters on the log – this time grooming and not lounging. Heading up the Three Brothers we initially headed for another Jaguar, then heard of the mother Jaguar and cub --- we raced there.
So did everyone else. There were 24 boats there, as the cats were still hidden. When they finally moved, they were trying to cross the river, but boats inhibited their progress. Meanwhile, we were trying to get shots between heads, boats, and boat antennas, and as the light began to fail, I decided we had enough – let the Cats have some peace! We left, but 17 boats were still about when the cats finally crossed the river. A friend showed me his shots, and although the cub and adult were in the same shot, I did not lust after the images. Both Mary and I, and I hope the group, agree it was not worth harassing the cats or being part of the mob that was.

Day 6. Jaguarland and Flotel to Santa Teresa Lodge

Our last morning of Jaguar searching. Mary went up the Island channel, and had great Caiman Bubble Dances. My boat went up the Black Lagoon, and found Caiman eating, but not a sign of any bubble dancing behavior. We started up the Charles River when we received a call that a Jaguar was at the island, and rushed there.
We arrived late, and Mary’s boat must have been the second boat to the cat, as she had the absolute prime position. By the time we arrived 15 other boats were there, and we watched the Jaguar from behind four other boats, with three of those standing. I was ready to quit when I noticed the dead Caiman in the water directly below it, which changed the entire dynamics!
However, we were blocked. One participant asked if we could get out – we were moored to solid ground, and I said only if other folks did so first. It’s not allowed.
At any rate, the female (Annie) got up and walked down the bank, to grab the Caiman’s leg. The people in front of us got out, and we followed. They were in front of us but cooperated nicely, once asked, to stay low and not block our view, and the Jaguar tugged and pulled and slipped on the muddy bank, trying to get the Caiman – which must have weighed nearly or as much as her – onto high ground. Eventually she slipped in, and chose to drag the carcass upstream to a more favorable incline. Tree branches blocked our view, but Mary’s boat – directly across from the cat—had a great view. She pulled it ashore, and carried it twenty yards into brush, where it was once again hung up on vegetation. It appeared that she would eat it there.

This sequence shows the female Jaguar as she looks down at the dead Caiman that was floating in the river. Climbing down, she grabbed it by the leg and attempted to carry it up the steep river bank. The slope was too steep, and eventually she moved the carcass a few yards upstream where she successfully carried the Caiman into the forest.

We had another call, but never saw the Jaguar, and with 20 minutes left to our morning we headed downstream, checking out favorite spots without luck, and arriving at the Flotel at 10:45.

PM. After an early lunch we headed to Porto Joffre and our bus, and in only 2.5 hours reached Santa Teresa. Nothing was planned for the afternoon, and at 5:15 we headed to the Ocelot blind. At dusk, Capybaras started barking alarm calls – a bad omen, meaning a Jaguar is on the prowl, and later, in front of us, one gave a moaning call. The Ocelot, prudently, stayed hidden, and we gave up at 7PM.

Day 7. Santa Teresa

Everyone was up and out by 6, with Barb, Phil, and Mary Ann up in the tower for the Stork. A bird returned to the nest and regurgitated a mass of fish, then flew off. The chicks fed.
I spent some time along the river’s edge, filming Capybara eating water hyacinths. A pair of Plumbeous Ibis foraged close, grabbing and fighting over a crab. After breakfast we did our boat run, for Black Hawks, one good pass with a Black-collared Hawk, and multiple chances with Ringed Kingfishers and Amazon Kingfishers.
After lunch my guide and I headed into the forest, he to set up a trail camera, and I did a Range IR, 3 flash setup – hoping to get a Tapir. I wrapped everything fairly well, which I hope was adequate, since it is raining as I write this.
I sat a nearby waterhole and spent the afternoon there, filming Muscovy Duck, Snowy Egret, Jacana, Solitary Sandpiper, and Capybara. A Red Brocket Deer came in, but I had only about 20 seconds of video before it walked to one side of my blind where I couldn’t shoot. It soon wandered off.

PM. Mary and our guide went down river with the group, having great luck with a Solitary Casique buildinga nest, as well as two good shoots of Gray-necked Wood Rail, Boat-billed Herons, Great Potoo, and Kingfishers. At 5:30 everyone headed to the Ocelot blind, and once again it did not show up.
After dinner I stalked the grounds for a short time, finding the equivalent of a Narrow-mouthed Toad, two ‘normal’ Toad species, and the Leopard-Grass Frog. Leaf-cutter Ants, not seen during the day, were busy traveling from a small shrub to the cement floor of the lodge, where they disappeared.

Day 8. Santa Teresa

It rained through much of the night, heavy at times, with lightning, and I had a bit of concern for my equipment set on the game trail. Although the front of the 24-105mm was splotchy with water droplets, mud, and leaves from the pounding rain, the lens didn’t leak – WHY DIDN’T I THINK TO BRING AN EWA BAG! The flashes survived as well. That’s the good news. There were no hits – the apples and bananas we had placed as possible Tapir bait went untouched.
After breakfast we did the river route again, having better luck with Kingfishers as many turned towards us after diving in for their fish. Oddly, no Great Black Hawks, but we did have two or three passes with Black-collared Hawks. By 11AM we were back – the heat had returned.

PM. Mary and our guide did another river run down stream, finally getting a Pigmy Kingfisher. They also had the best Sunbitterns we’ve had this year, a heat-dispersing Cocoi Heron, and the hungry Wood-Rails.

I planned to sit at the waterhole by 2, but when I arrived at the waterhole, in the blazing heat of the day, the Marsh Deer was already in the pond. Over the next 45 minutes I slowly worked my way to the shade of the shoreline brush, literally baking in the sun as I did so, but afraid that any sudden movement would send the deer off. Finally, I got into the shade.
The Marsh Deer remained. At one point she wandered onto the shoreline, but eventually turned around, giving me a chance to film her as she walked into the water. Her flank was mud-stained, from lying down, and twice it appeared as if she’d do so, but did not. What I was most struck with was, after taking a few steps, she would pause and remain alert for five to ten minutes, barely moving, usually no more than her ears. I was of no concern – her attention was to the opposite shoreline. Jaguars are here, and I guess frequent enough that an old doe knows to stay alert. She stayed in the pond for nearly two hours, finally wandering into the brush.
I headed to the room for more water, and to charge a battery, and returned a few minutes later. As I left, the deer still had its attention directed elsewhere – she ignored me. After resettling at the pond, a Jabiru Stork flew in and fished, catching a surprising number in the rapidly drying up pool. Almost every time she caught a fish the Stork would then snap at flies, and rub its head/neck against its back feathers – I’m assuming to dislodge the biting flies that swarmed around her constantly. I've been bitten by those flies, and I can't imagine the annoyance these flies give Storks and Otters and others on a continuous basis.
The group returned at 5:10 and we headed for the Ocelot, but once again it did not show. Our guide has NEVER had the cat not appear three days in a row, and I’d have lost a fortune had I bet on that happening. After dinner, I did a bit of video of leaf-cutter ants until the mosquito swarm finally beat me into retreating.

Day 9. Santa Teresa to Pouso Allegre

We awoke to ominous skies, with lightning flashing in the south, towards Jaguarland. Rain looked threatening, and with potential low light  we decided to not do another Kingfisher/Hawk boat ride. Shutter speeds would be compromised, and we’d be doing negative shooting.
Instead, we shot around the grounds both before and after breakfast. Rich found a Narrow-billed Wood-Creeper nest near to the car park, with the birds squeezing into a vertical crack in bark in the most unlikely nesting spot. Some headed back to the Jabiru Stork tower, and others worked the Toucans at the feeding station.
I headed upriver a short distance and worked on Capybara, getting a nice angle shooting up at these huge rodents sitting or grazing on the bank above me.

Cattle Tyrants foraged around the Capybaras, hopping on their backs and using this as their launching pad as they spotted insects. A Plumbeous Ibis probed for crustaceans and wandered close. In our last minutes at this lodge we photographed the mother Caiman and her babies that I'd seen at the end of our last trip, prior to heading to the Southern Pantanal.
Baby Caimans, periodically visiting their mother, would bite at her eye. I suspect the shiny eye triggered the response, but the mom always closed her eye in time and avoided any injury.

At 9:30 we headed to our next lodge, using the Safari Vehicle and having the bus follow behind to allow us to photograph along the way. We had 11 Marsh Deer, with several bucks with large, velvet-free antlers, a few with velvet, and several females. We had a good Snail Kite, and spotted some other birds. We arrived at the lodge at noon.

PM. I headed out early with my guide to check out some ponds that we thought we might be able to use for our future set ups. We finished at ‘the pond’ where we had a Tapir in the pool, quite close to the blind. It spooked immediately, and after a short wait we headed to another pond but did not stay until sunset – probably the wrong move. The trip there and to the main road was unproductive and brushy, and our afternoon highlights were either the Sunset – we had a good one, seeing Tinamous finally, or catching a glimpse of the Tapir.
A family of Coatimundis.

Day 10. We planned on the group shooting around the lodge all morning, but by breakfast it was clear that we’d be hurting for subjects. Instead, the group left at 7:30 for a game drive where we hoped to find anteaters.
We barely left the lodge when we encountered the male Rhea with at least 16 chicks, only a few days old, that I’d seen yesterday afternoon on the way back from building the blind. They were in the open, and moved to a large waterhole where we had frame-filling shots of the adults and the chicks as they drank, offered reflections, and as the chicks followed Dad. Rhea females, unlike Ostriches, play no role in parenting – the males incubate and tend to their precocial young.

Rhea chicks at the waterhole.
Look carefully and you'll see the butterfly that the Sunbittern is about to snatch.

Prior to breakfast we had an extremely cooperative Marsh Deer, and at the bird feeders, great shots of Chachalacas, Kiskadees, Palm Tanagers, and Aracaris. I went checking for the woodpecker nests, unsuccessfully, but ran into a family of somewhat shy Coatimundis where I managed some shots.
On the game drive the group got nice shots of a Common Tody-Flycatcher, Monk Parakeets, and other birds. Meanwhile, I sat at the edge of the waterhole. Another family of Coatimundi passed by, with the adults sitting on their haunches and scratching. An Agouti briefly visited, and a Great Black Hawk and a Sunbittern drank or hunted in the open water just twenty feet away.

Tapirs are distantly related to Rhinos, although with their trunk-like nose
an elephant may first come to mind.

This half-grown Tapir still has the faint stripes and spots of a young Tapir.
This Agouti, a diurnal but shy rodent that reminds me of a small antelope or a rabbit,
pulled these water plants out of the ground and carried them off into the forest.

PM. I left early to sit near a waterhole close to the lodge while Mary and our guide headed out for a last chance at Anteaters. They had a variety of birds, and Mary spotted a Giant Anteater nearly a half mile away. At the waterhole, although I sweltered in nearly 100 degree temps, I had activity nearly every 15 minutes, from Agoutis and Brocket Deer to Coatimundis, Guans and Currasows, and a cooperative Sunbittern. The group was able to get close and get good shots of the Giant Anteater, and then all of us headed to a waterhole for a last chance at Tapir. We were successful, having a mother Tapir and half-grown baby at the very end of the day.

With that, our trip came to a close.

Day 11. Pueso Allegre to Cuiaba and Sao Paulo to Home

We left at 6AM for the three and a half hour drive to Cuiabe to make our flights. Our great guide helped with the check-in, and everything went smoothly. At Sao Paulo we separated, as folks had different connections, but several of us had a few final, wonderful hours together in the business class lounge for our flight to Atlanta and home. We were tired, but all were exhilarated by a truly incredible trip.

We still have openings for our September 2019 trip, and we're planning on doing several tours in 2020. I hope you'll join us.

Read our other Pantanal Trip Reports
from previous years for even more information.

Join Our Email List

Try Constant Contact FREE for 60 days!

Join us on Facebook at: Follow Hoot Hollow

Office Phone: (717) 543-6423
Or FAX us at: (717) 543-5342

Mary and Joe are proud to endorse the Photo Retailer that has
done the absolute most in supporting nature photography in all
its facets --
Hunts Photo

Check out the Monthly Specials from Hunt's

Our Complete Schedule Immediate Openings Trip and Scouting Reports 2009 onward  

Question of the Month
Tamron 150-600mm lens

Tip of the Month
Wimberley Stake and RRS Focusing Rails

Trip and Scouting Reports pre-2009  
Books, ebooks, Videos Visiting Author Programs Photography Seminar Bookings  
Equipment Reviews Book Reviews and Recommendations CAMERA-LENS SALES