Birding and wildlife observation here at Cristalino Jungle Lodge has been fastastic during my first week here. We’re nearing the end of the dry season, which means days are sunny and hot (but mornings refreshingly cool) and surface water is becoming a scarce resource.
Usually we travel the Rio Cristalino to get to more distant birding destinations, such as the Serra, Limão, Haffer Trail, or the Brazil Nut Tree Trail. But this tims of year, birding the river banks from the boat can be a destination in itself.
Slowly scanning the shores is how many people have seen Jaguar here, but Razor-billed Curassow (above), a huge turkey-like bird, is a more frequent sighting. Much less common than the curassow here is the widespread Gray-necked Wood-Rail.
Another mammal that I’ve seen three times this past week is Neotropical River Otter, this one just finished crunching on some fish.
A small inlet penetrating the forest during the wet season has become an isolated pond some 50 yards in from the river bank, and it’s been found to be the best birding around. Sitting here quietly from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., birders have been rewarded with some 25-30 species of birds coming to drink and bathe, while another 20 or so sing from the surrounding forest.
A Black-tailed Leaftosser and Ruddy Quail-Doves are some of the stars, but the regionally endemic Bare-eyed Antbird has been amazingly reliable and easy to see here. Many birding groups miss this species, as it’s found almost exclusively at ant swarms.
Finally, it’s the arrival of this Long-tailed Potoo that signals the time to pack up and head back to the lodge. This species was added to the regional list only five years ago, and sightings have increased. Still, this must be one of the most reliable members of this species anywhere.
Photo at top: Razor-billed Curassow coming to drink on the Cristalino River shore.