Category Archives: Jaguars of Pantanal Tour

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Success with Peccaries and Giant Anteaters…

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour:  Success with Peccaries and Giant Anteaters

We left Jardim today for the drive to our final stop on this safari – at Bonito.

3 Group Sinkhole Arlene 3-1

But first we went in search of White-lipped Peccaries that live in the forests around Jardim. These pig-like animals roam around and we were lucky to see quite a number of them running back and forth, including a sow with her litter of adorable little piglets.

3 Panning Peccaries IMG_0907

The morning was overcast with a very dull light, so we practiced different lighting techniques. The most successful were our panning shots with rear-curtain full flash. These worked really well in those conditions.

3 Peccary Ben BOC 1-1

We arrived at Bonito for a delicious lunch at a local eatery, and then checked into our hotel. We set out in the late afternoon in search of Giant Anteaters – and were thrilled to spot no fewer than four of them in total. We were able to get really close to two of them to capture some amazing shots!

3 Gianr Anteater and Mike Ben BOC 2-1

We are back at the hotel now, and after another very full and successful day we are ready for bed …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Floating in a Magical World …

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Floating in a Magical World

We were ready for a completely different adventure as we set out immediately after breakfast.

We floated – yes … that is correct – we floated because you are not allowed to swim and disturb the water, the fish and the underwater vegetation! So we floated down this fast-flowing stream for 1 1/2 kilometers.

The water is crystal clear and visibility underwater is as totally unclouded. There are so many fish it is like being in a well-stocked aquarium, with underwater vegetation so lush and green that it all almost defies words. Actually it is another world – peaceful, pristine, indescribably beautiful, and the kind of experience we should all enjoy …

To add to the feeling of isolation from the world, the riverine forest overhangs the rivulet on both sides – and the the sunlight creates ever-changing dappled effects in the already enchanting environment.

Our slow passage down the river, literally relishing every moment, took the whole morning, and by the time we emerged from the water we realized that we had built up quite an appetite.

After lunch we headed back to our ‘afternoon spot’ at the sinkhole where we spent the rest of the afternoon – well, not quite, as you will see in a moment.

This time we were especially lucky! In addition to the Red-and green Macaws that were busier than ever, we had a wonderful visit from a Blue-crowned Motmot. Not only that, he came and sat very close to us, and ventured so near that we were able to capture head shots as he gazed at us with some curiosity. They really are beautiful birds, up to about 18 inches long, and are found in riverine forests.

4 Motmot Mike Beder BOC2-1

We were about to turn our attention back to the Macaws when we noticed a massive thunderstorm moving in rapidly. This ended our photography for the day quite abruptly, but we were not sorry as we were a little weary after our extra early start and that long swim. So, after dinner we plan to fall into bed immediately …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Macaws Everywhere!

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Macaws Everywhere!

There seemed to be hundreds of Red-and-green Macaws flying busily in all directions when we arrived at the sinkhole early in the morning.

The birds looked marvelous as the sun highlighted their vivid plumage and with the black of the deep shadows in the sinkhole as a backdrop. The contrast was quite breathtaking!

4 Macaw Ben BOC-1

We positioned ourselves on one side of the sinkhole in the morning to make the most of the sun’s angle and to capture the best possible images, and after lunch we set up our camera equipment on the opposite side do the large hole to capitalize on the afternoon sun.

There is Macaw action all day long! The photography is tricky because the birds are very fast and dart around in all directions, close one moment, then far away in a split second. They also dive bomb one another, and although the photography is a challenge, it is great fun, and when one nails a great shot, the feeling of accomplishment is truly joyous.

Our afternoon positions had an added advantage. The site that we photograph from is close to a drinking area – a natural trough positioned among some trees. The birds gather in the trees and as they fly into and exit the trees we have countless added photographic opportunities.

4 Macaw Video Ben IMG_0902

At dusk we tried a different technique to capture the birds, using a slow shutter speed with a rear-curtain flash. This gave us some stupendous results and we ended our day totally delighted with our day’s work.

In the morning we have another fabulous – and very different adventure in store …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Life Along the River …

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Life Along the River …

As we continue from the previous blog …

We spent the night at Santa Teresa, and in the morning took a boat ride up the Pixaim river in search of interesting subjects to see and to photograph … and there was plenty! There were plenty of capybara everywhere, –

Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris. Mato Grosso, Pantanal, Brazil. Juveniles stand together at the water's edge. August 2011.

Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris. Mato Grosso, Pantanal, Brazil. Juveniles stand together at the water’s edge

– and Giant Otters were as busy as ever.

Otters IMG_0876

In addition, the prolific bird life kept us busy – Jabiru Storks, different heron species, and varieties of kingfishers were hard at work catching fish.

We relocated to the Matto Grosso Hotel in time for a delicious lunch, followed by a fantastic cruise on the river. We enjoyed seeing numerous Giant River Otters, Storks, Herons, Egrets and had interesting encounters with Black- collared Hawks.

At dusk we stopped at a heronry to watch the birds as they settled for the night, and waited as hundreds of Great White Egrets arrived to roost at their place on the river bank. They looked unbelievably beautiful with their ultra white plumage against the dark foliage all around. It was stupendous!

Before we had to leave the Matto Grosso hotel in the morning, there was time to visit a feeding spot where some the most beautiful birds could be seen. Chestnut-eared Aracari are among the loveliest birds I have ever seen and it was wonderful to see them there … And as we were able to capture a series flight shots we were all thrilled!

5 Chestnut-eared Aracari Ben BOC2-1

A Black-collared Hawk arrived to check out the activity, giving us more opportunities for more excellent shots.

5 Black-collared Hawk Ben BOC1-1

Now we are in a town named Jardim, which we reached after a flight from Campo Grande. Tomorrow we would like to visit the famed nearby sinkhole to photograph the Red-and-green Macaws …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Our Jaguar Count Increases …

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Our Jaguar Count Increases …

We woke up to a dull, foggy morning, perfect for a totally different photographic approach.

We headed up a quiet estuary or backwater where the mist hung heavily over the dark water, and we were almost surrounded by dense riverine forest that encroached right up to the river.

The whole backwater was teeming with an unbelievable number of birds. Herons, Neotropic Cormorants, and Great White Egrets were everywhere. A variety of kingfishers hung suspended before diving through the mist into the water – with a surprising amount of success.

It was all breathtakingly beautiful.

Then we received a call about a jaguar and quickly headed in that direction. We found Andre, another large, handsome male jaguar very intently stalking both capybara and caymans.

6 Andre Jaguar Ben BOC 2-1

Although he didn’t catch anything during the time we spent with him, we managed to photograph him several times in those wonderful, classical cat hunting postures.

6 Andre Jaguar Ben BOC 1-1

This encounter brought our total number of sightings to 9 of different cats … and we saw both Patricia and Hunter as well as Jorge and Fernanda more than once. A fabulous success! (- and the photographs!)

We had to return to the Flotel for lunch and our journey to Porto Jofre where our transport waited to take us along the Transpantaneira  Highway back to the lodge at Santa Teresa.

We were in time to photograph Hyacinth Macaws and Buff-necked Ibis as they flew around the area.

But soon the dusk mosquito invasion started and we quickly returned to the lodge for a shower and dinner.

Tomorrow we would like to see the macaws in the early morning light …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Seven Jaguars …

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Ben’s News from The Jaguar: Seven Jaguars …

First, apologies for not posting a blog yesterday … we had no wifi or Internet access for 36 hours … so here we go with two fabulous days to report –

We have seen no fewer than 7 – yes 7 – different Jaguars during this time and some of the cats we saw more than once.

It started two days back when we set out on the river and quickly found a handsome male jaguar. This was Luis Claudio who had kept a very low profile and has not been spotted for more than 3 years. It was wonderful to see him walking along the riverbank, and although the sightings as he periodically emerged from the undergrowth were brief, it was a thrill to see him.

We heard that two Jaguars had been spotted together, and we arrived to find a mating pair. The male, Jorge, and his partner, Ferdinanda, we behaving like all big cats when honeymooning, and we witnessed them mating several times in the next few hours.

7 Mating Jaguars Ben BOC 1-1

Actually, we didn’t leave the couple until sunset and it was absolutely necessary to return to the Flotel. So, we spent the whole day with the pair as they mated, then disappeared into the forest, and emerged again as they strolled along before stopping again.

It was fantastic, and we were quite convinced that there could not possibly be another day like that! But the next day equalled our fabulous experiences.

We left the Flotel early to find the mating couple again, and we’re on our way when we spotted a huge jaguar. This was Adriano – all of 150kg! We had seen him on our safari here last year and it was wonderful to follow up again. We had a stupendous sighting as he ambled along the riverbank, giving us plenty of time to capture really superb images.

When he disappeared we continued on to Jorge and Ferdinanda. It was about 0800 when we found them – and again we spent the entire day with them. During this time we captured images of them together, individually, mating, walking, batting each other, portrait shots – you name it!

7 2 Jaguars Ben BOC 2-1

7 2 Jaguars Ben BOC 3-1

 

Then just as we were preparing to leave at the end of the day another male jaguar arrived on the opposite bank from the couple. He had picked up Ferdinanda’s scent, and detecting that she was in oestrus, he followed her. This was Jas-t, who was quite shy and retiring, but we managed quite a few decent shots before he melted away into the forest.

Then on the way home, when the light was really perfect and we hoped for something good to photograph in that golden glow, we found Patricia and Hunter, the mother and daughter Jaguars we had seen before. They were sitting serenely on the edge of the river, watching the water as the sun set, and surrounded by the beautiful riverine forest. It was magical!

So we returned to the Flotel with our cameras filled with a variety of the most wonderful  jaguar images, showing all types of different behaviours.

Who could wish for more?

And tomorrow waits for us …

Join us on one of our exciting safaris to exciting destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/ISJvK

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Sitting Among Caymans …

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Sitting Among Caymans …
We started the morning at a backwater to photograph the very active Giant Otters we found there. The otters were swimming and hunting and we followed … they swim very fast and are difficult to keep up with, but we had tremendous fun and there was much hilarity as we chased after them along the river, waiting all the time for those ideal photographic moments.
Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). Mato Grosso, Pantanal, Brazil. Swimming, crossing a river. August 2011.

Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis).Pantanal, Brazil. Swimming, crossing a rive

We photographed a variety of birds and then found a sandbank on a quiet corner of the Cuiaba River, with three caymans lying on it. We started to photograph them with our long lenses, but as the current caused us to drift closer, we changed to 70/200mm and then out came the 24/70s. Then our skiff nudged against the sandbank. There was no reaction from the relaxed caymans, and after a while we decided to venture out of the skip to stand in the river for some eye-level close-up shots of the reptiles.
Gradually we were able to creep nearer to them until we could photograph each cayman in full frame at eye level. What a thrilling experience!!!
8 With Caymans
(Photo: by Arlene Beder)
Although we didn’t see any Jaguars, we did find some really fresh prints in another sandbank before it was time to return to the Flotel.
8 Mike Beder and Jaguar Tracks
This afternoon we had a lot of fun again as we concentrated on birds … and quite a number of capybaras.
We spotted a Guira Cuckoo doing something strange, so we went a little closer and find that he was repeatedly dive-bombing a Great Black Hawk. The hawk was foraging for something in the undergrowth but it was too dense to see what was there. All the time the cuckoo dived and hit the back of the hawk again and again with some force. It wasn’t clear why the cuckoo was attacking with such determination … there wasn’t a nest being raided, but clearly the bird was very upset about something the hawk was doing.
Soon after we found some Striated Herons – well, It would be more accurate to say that they found us, as they exploded out of the vegetation immediately adjacent to the skiff. We practiced getting shots of them in the air before they dropped back out of sight.
Just before it was time to return to the Flotel for dinner we spotted a juvenile Great Black Hawk sitting photogenically and serenely next to the river.
Tomorrow we would like to concentrate on Jaguars again …
Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Action Along the Cuiaba River

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Action Along the Cuiaba River

We could hardly wait to climb into our skiff this morning to start our excursion up the river.

95 Skiff Group 1

We really wanted to see a jaguar again, but that was not to be this morning – but there was plenty of other action along the river.

First we spent some some with a large Coqui Heron. It caught a huge fish as we photographed it on the bank of the river. Then suddenly it took off – with the fish – and flew in a large circle. First it started out across the river, then flew downstream for about a hundred meters before veering around to return and land exactly where it had originally caught the fish.

As soon as it landed the heron was mobbed by a Great Black Hawk, intent on steeling that huge fish! But the heron got such a fright that it dropped the fish back into the river – and the spoils were lost to both birds. Oh, well, there were no winners!

This afternoon we were back on the river – and this time we were much luckier. We found Patricia, the female jaguar we saw yesterday with her cub, Hunter. She was busily hunting along the banks of the river and we managed some great images as she stalked, and occasionally disappeared into the riverine vegetation, and then reappeared – all the time in full hunting mode. Crouched down low, ears flattened, she crept along watchfully with that typical feline hunting posture.

95 Jaguar Patricia 2-1

We remained with Patricia until she disappeared into the thick undergrowth again, and did not emerge. As it was getting towards sunset, we turned towards the Flotel – but there was one more fascinating bit of action along the way.

We found two Black Skimmers engaged a a really tough duel! We simply had to stop the photograph the pair as they chased each other in an aerial battle of note, looking fabulous against the evening clouds. Again and again they chased each other up into the air, then back to just above the water, only to soar together up into the sky again. It was riveting to watch!

We remained until it was too dark for photography and only then we packed up to return to the Flotel for dinner.

We are excited to see what the river has for us again tomorrow …

Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK

 

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: 3 Generations of Jaguars!!

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour:  3 Generations of Jaguars!!
What an exciting day ..
It started early this morning when we climbed into our private skiff to venture up river, hoping to see a jaguar …
It wasn’t long before we received a call that a female jaguar had been spotted nearby. Hearts pounding with excitement we went to the described area, scanning the sides of the river eagerly.
Suddenly there she was! Walking calmly along, clearly hunting.
96 Jaguar 1-1
The Jaguars here are all identified by their spots and facial markings, and a careful log is kept of each and every one.
This was Ruth. She was spotted for the first time in 2008, and has been seen from time to time since then. We followed as she walked along a sandy stretch next to the river and then jumped onto a mound to look around. She was hunting a cayman, which provides more than 80% of the jaguar diet in these areas.
Now and then Ruth disappeared into the undergrowth, and then emerged again as she searched for suitable prey. Then she spotted a cayman …
The jaguar went into full hunting mode, and it was a matter of moments before she attacked. What? We could not believe that the capybara had escaped. Ruth continued to hunt along the rivers edge until she disappeared completely – and just then we received another call …
We arrived to find another jaguar, also a female … and she was accompanied by her 7-month old cub.
96 2 Jaguars-2
This was Ruth’s daughter, Patricia, and granddaughter Hunter. They were perfect for photography! And seeing the two together was beyond special … made even more so as we had now seen three generations of the same jaguar family in one morning.
We just had time to photograph some of the herons, cormorants and kingfishers before it was time for lunch back at the Flotel.
This afternoon we were lucky enough to find a family of Giant Otters doing what they do best – catching and eating fish. Because of their large size – more than 5 foot long – they consume a lot of fish daily, about 4Kg each.
In addition to watching the fishing and family interactions, we were able to follow them to their designated toilet area. These otters have special areas along the riverbanks that they use as toilets, then smear the muck thoroughly into the area to keep other otters away. We watched as they slithered around in the muck, smeared it around, made sure that their presence was well documented!
We remained with the otters until it was time to return to the Flotel for our delicious dinner – and bed – and hoping for another jaguar sighting tomorrow …
Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK
 

Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Cayman and Capybara

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Ben’s News from The Jaguars of Pantanal Tour: Capybara and Cayman
Knowing that we needed to leave Santa Teresa quite early for our trip to the end of the Transpantaneira Highway to Porto Jofre, we were up extra early for a final opportunity to photograph the feeding birds.
To our delight the Toco Toucans were there again, as were the Chaco Chachalacas and the pigeons and doves. A male with two female Bare-faced Curassows arrived as well. About the size of a turkey, they strutted around the ground, occasionally lifting their amazing crests.
Another attraction were the Vermillion Flycatchers. Their Crimson and black feathers always look so attractive as they flit around, catching insects in midair.
After breakfast we climbed aboard our open transport vehicle (ideal for photography) for our journey to our next stop.
97 Pantanal Breakdown-1
Along the way we had plenty to see and photograph so I will mention only the highlights. We saw Snail Kites taking off and landing repeatedly. Several Wood Storks flew past in small groups. And we stopped to see some Great Horned Owls which were fabulous to spot, but a bit high in the tree for really satisfactory photos.
We arrived at Porto Jofre where we boarded the small boat for our trip to the floating hotel or Flotel … our base for the next few nights.
We climbed on board and after a welcome lunch we found the little flat-bottomed skiff wait our exclusive and very knowledgable skipper ready to take us out on the Cuiaba River.
Being our first afternoon, we thought that a general look around would be great.
Our skipper pointed out some Neotropic Cormorants and shortly after, some Rufescent Tiger Herons. A mother with her two chicks were busy along the edge of the river bank and we watched the interactions between the three.
Then we spotted some iconic inhabitants of the area – a couple of capybara, and they were wandering around among a group of cayman lying next to the river. We watched, fascinated, but there seemed to be no interaction between the two species. They did not even seem to see each other!
97 Capy and Cay-1
Evening approached and to avoid the millions of insects and mosquitoes that accompany this time of day, we returned to the Flotel to relax and enjoy our dinner.
Tomorrow we would like to look out for a jaguar … maybe? …
Join us on one of our exciting Safaris to spectacular destinations. For more info click this link to visit our web page – http://goo.gl/lSJvzK