February 1, 2015, Chapada dos Guimaraes, Brazil — Time is short, and I only stayed a day and a half in the Pantanal. Giuliano, Bianca and I spent last night at another lodge, a bit farther down the Transpantaneira Road, called Curicaca. It was closed for the off season and deserted except for a gregarious caretaker named Mario (he told us he’d only left once in the past year!) who seemed happy to have some company. Giuliano had pulled a favor for us to spend the night there, and Mario cooked us a roast chicken for dinner and a huge breakfast spread this morning. We birded the area for a couple hours, paid effusive thanks to Mario, then left the Pantanal behind.
Our objective for the next two days is to bird in a very different environment called the Cerrado—a relatively dry, wooded savannah in central Brazil. Even though the area occupies about a quarter of the whole country, it is relatively unknown compared to the Pantanal, the Atlantic Forest, or the Amazon. This afternoon we relocated to Guiliano’s dad’s property, an 80-acre parcel north of Cuiaba, which will be a good base for two nights. We arrived in the heat of the day and Giuliano suggested a swim in the waterfall out back, a welcome reprieve from two days of sweat and mosquitos!
In late afternoon I saw my first Cerrado birds. Among the low trees and grasslands we found some good stuff: Red-legged Seriema, Horned Sungem, Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch, Least Nighthawk. Maybe the coolest sighting, though, was a Giant Anteater, a very strange animal, which Bianca spotted as it meandered across a field. Today’s sunset, with heat lightning flickering on the horizon over the savannah, was beautiful.
New birds today: 26
Year list: 744