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WINGS Birding Tours – Photo Gallery

Brazil: Marvelous Mato Grosso

The Pantanal, Chapada dos Guimarães, and Cristalino Jungle Lodge

We begin in the Chapada dos Guimarães, an area of spectacular scenery and intriguing bird life. Our lodge is in an ideal location, with great habitat and wildlife right outside our rooms. Among the many birds we hope to see in this area include the Blue-winged Macaw… …and the astonishing Swallow-tailed Hummingbird. (SS) White-eared Puffbird usually sits out in the open for great views… …while the secretive Collared Crescentchest is a bit trickier to see. We’ll begin the second stage of the tour with an 80-minute flight to Alta Floresta in the southeastern Amazon Basin… …continuing by road, with stops for anything interesting… …to a river dock and our short boat ride to Cristalino Jungle Lodge. On the way, we’ll scan the trees and shoreline for birds and animals,  Razor-billed Curassow being one of the possibilities… …and if we flush a Sunbittern, the “wingburst” never fails to elicit “oohs and aahs.” Arriving at Cristalino Jungle Lodge, we’ll be treated like the most welcome of guests. The lodge is a marvel of comfort in an immense wilderness… …with spacious rooms… (LG) …and delicious meals… The two 50-meter tall towers are a wonderful feature, and we’ll spend several mornings… …perched on the top, where a whole new world opens up before us… …no more neck-straining to see the likes of Curl-crested Aracari… …or Black-bellied Cuckoo, both at home only in the canopy. Every morning is different, and some days we’ll be treated to close fly-bys of several species of parrots, here Scarlet Macaw. We’ll walk several trails where mixed flocks could include Long-winged Antwren… …or eye-popping Rose-breasted Chat. The hard-to-see (but easy to hear) Snow-capped Manakin is one of eight manakins we might see. One day we’ll hike to the top of a rocky dome for a change in habitat and wildlife… …and an escarpment that provides uplift for soaring raptors such as Gray-headed Kite. The unusual habitat on this hill is home to many strange creatures such as this robber fly mimicking a wasp… …and this spectacular new species of poison-dart frog, known only from this one hill! The key to Cristalino’s megadiversity is the variety of habitats, including rocky islets in the Teles Pires river… …where species such as Ladder-tailed Nightjar are a specialty. Quiet boat rides on the Cristalino River are a favorite activity, allowing close approach of species such as Capped Heron. Our local guides are expert at spotting wildlife, increasing our chances of seeing Red-throated Piping Guan…. …or a Black Caracara de-ticking a Capybara. Dusky-billed Parrotlet is most easily seen right on the grounds of the lodge… …and this female Festive Coquette was just outside the dining hall one day. Our tour may focus on birds but Cristalino will be a complete natural history experience. A bug sheet attracted this amazing treehopper <i>Cathedra serrata</i>… …and while the area is famous for its diversity of beautiful butterflies (this the Lampeto Metalmark)… …it’s the spectacle of the puddle party that captures one’s imagination. Cristalino is in the best region in Brazil for seeing a variety of approachable monkeys; here White-cheeked Spider Monkey, one of seven species. The Pantanal  is the third and vastly different portion of our tour; a dirt road through open marshes with a family of Capabaras collecting the toll… …Black-capped Donacobius singing from the marshes, showing its grouse-like inflatable neck sacs… …and Scarlet-headed Blackbirds is a possibility in roadside marshes. We’ll take a couple boat rides on the Rio Cuiabá… …where we’ll mainly search for this elusive cat, the Jaguar. …where we’ll mainly search for this elusive cat, the Jaguar. There are lots of birds to be seen as well, here a Jabiru seems to be waiting for a handout… …and the secretive Green-and-rufous Kingfisher,  the most attractive of the four that occur, lurks in the shadows. We’ll end our tour at a guest ranch in slightly drier country… …with trees like the pink <i>Tabebuia</i> that bloom in the dry season… …and fascinating mammals and birds such as the iconic Toco Toucan… …and unforgettable Hyacinth Macaws, perhaps right outside our rooms. Even the Pantanal is a total natural history experience; a roadside stop might produce a showy Royal Firetip… …or we might get lucky on our last evening’s drive and spot a South American Tapir.