The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest-Dry Season. Return to the lodge..my home. Part one

The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest-Dry Season. Return to the Lodge..My home…Part One.

This is what I was always faced with on my return to the lodge in late September, early October, taken from my diaries.

I took a fast boat back to the lodge from the town of Manacapuru. The journey took an hour and a half. The boat usually stopped close to the harbour, but because the water was so low at this time of year, the dry season, the boat had to beach far away on the opposite shore.

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I walked along the pale sandy banks towards the logs that had been placed across the river, the only way to reach the now isolated lodge, passing as I did the pale shrunken, fetid, carcass of a caiman on the way.

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Tall skeletal trees close to the river bank held well fed vultures. This time of year being a food fest for the scavengers, who picked at the swollen or shrivelled bodies of dolphins and caiman, stranded on the sandy soil.

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The previous inhabitants of the forest had built a makeshift bridge across the river. The tree trunks were thick and with a helping hand I was able to keep my balance until two-thirds of the way across. My feet were bare because dips and slips into the water were frequent, so as wearing shoes was pointless, I had taken them off. Most of the logs were smooth, but some were rough and eroded, with needle sharp and brittle bark, making the walk over them very painful.
The walkway closer to the harbour consisted of nothing more than thin trunks or wide branches, a human foot width wide, or crooked planks of bleached, warped wood. Balancing on these and keeping out of the waiting mud was a challenge. The weight of each footstep caused the branches and planks to sink into the mud, which oozed between my toes making my feet and the wood slippery, but eventually with the help of long balancing poles and a helping hand from a friend I made it and with a big sigh of relief reached solid home shore.

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My feet were cut and bleeding and the next day the soles of my feet were covered in blisters, but I had got home safely. I almost knelt and kissed the ground. Almost…..instead we celebrated my arrival home with a cup of black coffee and manioc cake.
The boat driver returned the way we had come just as night fell. I heard his boat engine start in the distance and then fade away. I was alone in the Amazon Rainforest….again.

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Herons and Egrets of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.

Great Egrets ..White Herons (Ardea alba) Brazilian name; garça-branca-grande.
Striated Heron (Butorides striata).
Cocoi Heron ( Ardea cocoi aka White-necked Heron) Brazilian name: garça-moura
Capped Heron ( Pilherodius pileatus)

Fish and other aquatic life were easy pickings in the small, shallow pools left behind by the receding river during the dry season. To take advantage of this large flocks of herons would gather along the banks and beds of the river.

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Great Egrets and Snowy Herons were in abundance. The Great Egrets or Great White Heron can stand 1m tall. They have long, sharp, yellow bills which they use for stabbing prey of fish, frogs, insects and small mammals.
Occasionally a Great or Snowy Heron would stand quite motionless for ages on the warped planks of my river walkway and then suddenly stab into the water for a fish. If I sat very quietly it would do this very close to me and was quite a sight.
Striated and Tiger Herons and Cocoi Herons too walked the shores. Occasionally a beautiful Capped Heron, with its startling sky-blue face and legs, joined the throng.

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Capped Heron, a name that doesn’t do justice to this beautiful bird.

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The elegant Cocoi Heron

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A Tiger Heron, a very noisy heron. This one had attitude and protected his area with aggression.
Another Heron who didn’t mind my company was the Striated Heron. They were much smaller then the stately Great Egrets, with grey and white streaked plumage. They were every day visitors, settling on branches close to my harbour decking and fishing along with the kingfishers.

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When gathered together in great numbers the flocks of herons made a noise like a low snoring, grating or murmuring. It could be heard for miles and reached the lodge, which was up a low hill and in the forest.

Dry Season in the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil.

Dry Season in the Amazon Rain Forest.

There are two seasons in Amazonia, the wet or rainy season and the dry season.
The wet season begins late November to December and continues until early June. The dry season begins June or July and continues until early November. The rains in the dry season lighten and are mere showers compared to the heavy rains of the wet season.
As the dry season progresses the area close to Eden lodge, Manacapuru Lago, undergoes an extraordinary transformation. The fast flowing river recedes, leaving behind small isolated pools of water or narrow meandering streams, the banks are left exposed and they widen. The area around the lodge and as far as the river mouth, appears as richly green as an English meadow, thick with soft, waving grasses and small delicate flowers over which clouds of butterflies float and flocks of small birds fly.
The photos show the same view in the wet season and in the dry season.

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This idyllic vista, however, is deceptive. Underneath what looks like a lush field of grass is thick, grey, cloying mud. It is impossible to walk on. Feet sink in and are sucked down, so that within seconds mud has reached up to the knees in a quite frightening way.
The trip to and from the lodge, usually done by canoe, has to be taken on foot across river beds or makeshift tree trunk bridges, because there is no other option. Gritted teeth and determination are needed.

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There are benefits to the dry season though. It is easier to see many birds.
Kingfishers and Birds of Prey sit on fishing poles to pick off the few fish that haven’t made their way to the deep river and Vultures feed on carcasses of Caiman and Dolphin beached on the sandy river banks.

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The White and Blue herons and Snowy Egrets pick in tiny rivulets of water at the far edges of the river mouth, looking for any hapless fish left behind. When gathered together in great numbers as they do in this season, they make a snoring, murmuring noise. A sound that makes its way up the hill to the lodge.

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However, when the first heavy rains fall the forest and its people sigh a breath of relief. Fresh water and fish return in abundance and travelling becomes easier for water reliant canoes and boats. Plus the coolness of the air that a good downpour brings, if only temporary, is a welcome feature of the wet season.