Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

The Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) is a species of ibis in the bird family Threskiornithidae. It inhabits tropical South America and islands of the Caribbean. In form it resembles most of the other twenty-seven extant species of ibis, but its remarkably brilliant scarlet coloration makes it unmistakable. It is 1 of 2 national birds of Trinidad and Tobago.

In this series of photos I took at Caroni Bird Sanctuary, we see them flying in formation, arriving at the roost area and settling in for the night.  The bright scarlet colour is amazing, especially when you have 1000’s of these birds all together!

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The Scarlet Ibis has a huge range over Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Trinidad and several Caribbean islands.  You are virtually guaranteed to see them in the thousands at Caroni Bird Sanctuary in Trinidad.





Neotropical Birds


There is no shortage of videos of this spectacular bird online, many of which were filmed in Caroni so you get the idea of my experience.  Not to be missed!

Blue-naped Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia cyanea)

The Blue-naped Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia cyanea) is a colourful South American species of bird in the family Fringillidae; it was formerly placed in the Thraupidae.

I just fell in love with them at El Dorado where one bird was building a nest just opposite the front door of our room.  These little birds are seriously cute!  They seem to like banana feeders.

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They have a huge range throughout Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia.   El Dorado seems to be an easy place, I have been all over Brazil and didn’t see them there.





Neotropical Birds

The Guardian


This is how you eat a banana.

And this is how you share some bananas with 20 of your best friends!



Field Guide – Birds Of Brazil

It’s nice to see more and more field guides being made available in both paperback and Kindle versions.  I used to want a paper book with me in the field but as I get older and less willing to carry around excess weight, I am leaning towards Kindle versions.  If my recent series on Brazil has piqued your interest, maybe one of these guides would suit you.


Eco-lite Mini-trip: Bird Land/Hot Park, Goiania, Brazil


Hot Park is mostly a family theme park sort of like Busch Gardens in Florida but they do have one fun attraction that appeals to bird lovers – Bird Land.  Bird Land is a large walk-in aviary that you pay extra to enter.  There are lots of different Brazilian parrots flying freely and they will land on you.  You aren’t allowed to take your own camera inside, you have to pay for their photographer to take a photo of you with the birds.  I couldn’t resist a shot with a friendly Golden Conure.


Goiania is a few hours drive from Brasilia or you can fly in on Gol or Tam.  Once in Goiania, you need to rent a car to get to the Hot Park.



  • Online – – – R$ 110,00
  • Ticket Office – – – – – – R$ 140,00


Allow around 1 hour for the aviary so you can get a good look at some very nice parrots up close.  You will probably also want to relax in the hot pools and walk around the rest of the park having come this far.


No affiliations that I can see.  It’s a nice place to take kids as there is lots for them to do and getting close to the parrots can foster an interest in seeing them in the wild.


No points hotels.  Hot Park has a resort attached to it.  We ended up staying at a hotel of dubious reputation as it was almost midnight and I was so tired from driving and we didn’t have anywhere booked.  We just stopped at the first place we saw that had a safe car park.  Looking back, the “safety” is probably intended more to conceal the cars from passers-by than to protect the cars from thieves!

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We stopped here for breakfast, it’s near the Hot Park.0Z-4


The entrance to the park.  While waiting in line, we saw some Peach-fronted Parakeets flying overhead and in the trees near the ticket office.

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There are maps and information boards all over the park – you won’t get lost!

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I’m not sure what this bus is for.3HP-08

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It was a very pleasant day and I really enjoyed seeing the birds up close as I usually see them darting rapidly overhead!


Dusky-billed Parrotlet (Forpus modestus)

The Dusky-billed Parrotlet (Forpus modestus), also known as the Sclater’s Parrotlet, is a small species of parrot in the Psittacidae family. It is found in the Amazon Rainforest in South America, where it is locally fairly common.

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They have a large range in South America which is split between central Brazil and Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.  They are very common in Cristalino and quite entertaining to watch!

DB Plet



World Parrot Trust



What a cute cluster!

Ground foraging

Foraging in a tree in a university campus.


Cristalino Excursion #2 – The Island

Our 2nd excursion at Cristalino was in the afternoon of the 1st full day we were there (sadly we could only afford 2 nights).  We went in a small boat down river to an island called Ilha Ariosto in the middle of the river that had some amazing birdlife!  I wasn’t able to get photos of most of them as the sightings were mostly fly-bys.  I barely caught a glimpse of a Severe Macaw (Chestnut-fronted Macaw) as he zoomed overhead.  The Dusky-billed Parrotlets were a bit more co-operative with one posing on a branch.  There were quite a few other birds that I didn’t write down and it was especially nice to see hummingbirds out in the bush with no plastic feeders in sight.  We had been hoping for Umbrellabirds but coudn’t find any.

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Blue-headed Parrot (Pionus menstruus)

The Blue-headed Parrot, also known as the Blue-headed Pionus (Pionus menstruus) is a medium large parrot.

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They have a huge range throughout Central and South America but there are 3 different sub-species which are have their own geographic ranges:

P.m. menstruus: Trinidad, Guianas, and Venezuela to E Colombia, E Ecuador, and E Peru south to C Bolivia, and Amazonian Brazil.
P.m. reichenowi: E Brazil.
P.m. rubrigularis: S Costa Rica and Panama to W Colombia and W Ecuador.

They are easily seen in Cristalino, the Pantanal, Tambopata and Soberania NP.

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World Parrot Trust


Neotropical Birds


I think this one is a food critic!



Lodge Review: Cristalino Jungle Lodge

Cristalino Jungle Lodge is one of the holy grails for birders and if you plan to go birding in Brazil you should definitely plan to stay here.  The location is spectacular and the bird list is amazing!

You arrive there after about an hour boat ride down the Cristalino River.  They have several levels of accommodation ranging from standard rooms to special bungalows and since we were on a budget, we got one of the cheaper rooms which was still really nice!


There is a map of the grounds and walking trails but most people stick with their guide.  If you aren’t in an organized group, they make a small group with around 6-8 people and assign you a guide.  Every day you have a different place to visit, one in the morning and one after lunch and they try to keep groups separated so each place doesn’t get swamped with people.

Even the budget rooms are spacious and attractively furnished.  No tv or wifi, you are here to commune with nature!

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This is the restaurant where you are served breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Drinking water is free.D11

They have a lounge with maps, guide books and other educational materials where people can relax in the evening and compare notes.  Try the excellent Mojitos!D12 D13

At the time of our visit, a Blue-headed Parrot (Pionus) had been found injured and rescued by one of the staff.  My pics came out blurry, but it looked like he had a broken wing so he was very lucky someone found him who wasn’t planning to eat him!  D06 D08 D07 D10

You are probably best booking Cristalino Jungle Lodge with them direct as I haven’t seen it pop up on any hotel booking engines.  They have a secure credit card payment system which I used back in 2012 to pay for our booking.

Getting To Cristalino From The Pantanal (Cuiaba)

Once you’ve seen the avian wonders of the Pantanal and Chapada dos Guimaraes, what better way to put the icing on the cake than a stay at the wonderful Cristalino Lodge which has to be one of the top ten birding lodges in the world!

You need to get from Cuiaba to the town of Alta Floresta where the Cristalino packages commence.  They have a sister lodge called Floresta Amazonica in town where you can spend a day or two before and after your stay at Cristalino Lodge.  We stayed at both places back in Sept 2012 so I will be doing more detailed photo reviews but for now, let’s just get to Alta Floresta.


Only one airline is currently serving the Cuiaba – Alta Floresta route – Azul Airlines.  You can use you United miles to redeem flights or book them with Visa or Mastercard on the Azul website.  Depending on the price (which varies widely on Azul website) you may be better off redeeming the miles or paying with money so do the math!



If you are really on a budget, you can travel by overnight bus from Cuiaba to Alta Floresta.  It’s not one of the luxe business class buses you see on the Sao Paulo routes but it’s a reasonably comfortable bus and when we did it, it wasn’t full so we could spread out and claim a 2 seat bank each.  The good news is that foreigners can now book and pay online.  This wasn’t available back in 2012 so we had to waste time going to the bus station and pre-booking the seats.

I recommend the bus that arrives around 6:15am as it gives you time to grab breakfast and walk around the Floresta Amazonica property which is very birdy!

  1.  Start at Busca Onibus to check times and fares.  Choose the one you want, click on Info and then click on the link to the bus company’s website.

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2.  Once at the Verde Transportes website, put in the route as below and your date, click on the orange Pequisar button.

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3.  In my opinion, the 16:00 departure is best as it gives you more birding time but the 19:00 or 22:00 would get you there in time for the transfer to the Cristalino boat.  Click continuar, and put in your name and passport details then choose a seat.

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4.  After choosing a seat, check that your details are correct and click on Prosseguir button.Cuiaba bus4

5.  Click on the USA flag to get a screen in English.  They have a chat line if you need help but you probably won’t.  There is an option for foreigners, then just fill out the rest of the form, accept the conditions and Captcha, then Complete Your Order and you’re done!

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Bus fare is roughly one third the cost of an airline ticket and it does maximize birding time.  We spent the morning at Chapada, drove back to Cuiaba, had lunch, returned the car and got a taxi to the bus station in time for the 16:00 bus, then had the morning to walk around Floresta Amazonica before lunch and the transfer to Cristalino which leaves after the Azul flight arrives and all guests are present and ready to go.

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Adventures In A Car Park – Chapada Dos Guimaraes

We were up bright and early to drive the short distance from town to the gates of the Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park.  I had heard that birding groups can get in early, usually with pre-arrangement.  I had been unsuccessful trying to find a guide but was hoping to find one at the park entrance.  No such luck, all that was there was a ticket booth and a guard that wouldn’t let us in even at the normal time!


There was a sign that said something about the park being closed om 14, 15, 16 Sept but we were there on the 17th so I wasn’t too concerned even if we had to wait for the official opening hours.V02

I had been told that the “Veu de noiva” was the best place to see Blue-winged (Illigers) Macaws and to get there as early as possible.  But all we could do was stand behind the boom gate and hope the birds would come to us.

And they did!  They flew in a small flock and perched in a tree in the car park!  I tentatively went closer and closer taking photos with each step.V03 V04 V05 V08 V09

Meanwhile, back at the gate, the dodgy guard taped up a new sign.  He wasn’t going to let us in, even after we showed our Australian passports pleading at how far we’d come.V06 V13 V14

But the birds of the park were more sympathetic and came to the car park since we couldn’t go to them.  V16 V17 V19 V20 V21 V22

The Blue-winged Macaws hung around for quite a while eating those nuts.V24 V26 V27 V29 V31 V34 V36

Some Peach-fronted Parakeets also showed up for breakfast!V39 V40 V41 V43 V44 V45

After enjoying our feathered friends in the car park, we headed back to Cuiaba and returned the rental car.  I was a bit worried that Hertz would call us out on the car being dirty, but there were no problems.  Then we got a taxi to the bus station to get the bus to Alta Floresta.