Pope cardinal ….Amazon Rainforest Bird…Cardinalidae

Pope cardinal…Amazon Rainforest bird

Pope Cardinals were regular visitors to the lodge in the Amazon Rainforest, but a flash of blood red in the shrubs was usually all I got to see of this bird…the bad photo shows the difficulty I found with photographing this vibrantly coloured bird in the forest.

20150523-082109.jpg
Cardinal birds were named after the scarlet robes of the Catholic Cardinals.
They have a mostly black back, their black/grey wings are edged in white as are their tails. They have pure white chests and collars and the bright red head and red narrow bib that has given them their name.

20150523-082257.jpg

20150523-082333.jpg

20150523-082346.jpg
These birds have strong bills and are seed eaters but also eat fruit.

Advertisements

Indifference to the rain-forest plight will kill us all.

The TV programme here in England called #’I bought a rainforest’ showed last night. The show was about Charlie who had bought an area of rainforest in Peru in an effort to conserve it and protect it from deforestation.
His story is similar to my own and his desperation as his dream is shattered is equal to my own.

20140609-153020.jpg
It’s easy to sit on the stones of a clear, cool forest stream as the water runs through your toes, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the rainforest, and think life is perfect.
But then your daydreams are crashed into by the sound of tree saws and you’re faced with the reality as you hear and feel the thump of the tree hitting the ground.
People, often those living in towns, often well off, come into the forest or send others to cut down the best trees…the hardwood trees that have taken hundred of years to grow, to sell abroad or to clear the forest for food, soya, production.

20140609-153204.jpg
There are two kinds of locals in the rainforest. There are those that don’t want change, who want the forest they love left alone. People who live and work within the forest.
And there are the other kind. The ones who see the rainforest as a thing to be used and abused and flattened if it provides money, however temporary.
The soil of the rainforest is thin it won’t provide decades of farming. I’ve seen fields after a few years…… now useless …stark, dry and treeless, abandoned by the farmers.
I’ve seen streams and rivers polluted and made unusable by mining. I’ve seen thick forest burnt to the ground and with it thousands of animals and birds and insects, some not yet seen by man as new discoveries are being made all the time.

20140609-153451.jpg
The forest has evolved over millions of years. The animals, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians…the trees, shrubs, plants have evolved to work together. The Brazil-nut tree for instance needs a particular orchid, a specialist bee and a sharp toothed rodent to reproduce.
Take away one item from the forest and the effect on everything around it is dramatic.
The rainforest is not only beautiful with extraordinary wildlife, it provides a third of the oxygen we breath. Cut down the forest and human life on earth ends.

20140609-153642.jpg
When are governments around the world going to take this seriously and help the countries with rainforests to protect them or must we just accept the inevitable. Are Charlie and I banging our heads against a wall of indifference.

20140609-153837.jpg

Yellow-headed Caracara…Milvago chimachima.

Yellow-headed Caracara…Milvago chimachima.

20140118-101358.jpg
Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

On my way down to the river with a washing up bowl one morning a loud, scream-like, call drew my attention to a tall tree, where a raptor perched surveying the forest. It was a Yellow-headed Caracara.

The bird had a buff coloured head with a striking black eye streak. The raptors underbody was buff, the wings brown with pale patches on the flight feathers. The longish tail was a barred brown and cream.

20140118-101531.jpga
Although a member of the falcon family the Caracara is not swift in flight but quite sluggish as I saw when it launched itself of the branch and flew at a leisurely pace over the forest canopy.

The Caracara eats amphibians, reptiles, small animals and carrion. The young will eat fruit.

The female lays 5/7 eggs in a stick nest in a tree.

20140118-101638.jpg
I never ceased to be amazed by the forest. I saw in just a few months more varieties of raptors, kingfishers, herons and finches than I had seen in my whole life before, not to mention parrots, toucans and hummingbirds. Every single day served up a surprise, a reason to stop and stare.

The Amazon Rainforest is a treasure of nature, a wonder to behold.

Agami Heron…Chestnut-bellied Heron…Agamia Agami

Agami Heron…Chestnut-bellied Heron…..Agamia Agami

The Agami Herons were regular visitors to the waterfall area. Being shy they kept hidden in the undergrowth most of the time, but occasionally I would catch sight of them on a branch or moving slowly along the river bank.

20131116-083618.jpg
The Agami is a long billed, long necked, short legged, medium size heron. It has a chestnut neck and chest and with a creamy white stripe down the middle of the fore-chest. The wings are dark green in mature herons, brown in immature birds.

20131116-084015.jpg
Agami gather together to nest in large colonies and usually have two blue eggs. A quiet, shy bird, when gathered together they make a low snoring sound. They eat fish, frogs, snails and small reptiles.

Despite their reputation for shyness the Agami did not fly off as we passed by in our canoe, but carried on picking amongst the reeds for fish, frogs and small reptiles.

20131116-084134.jpg

Black-collared Hawk …Busarellus nigricollis

Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis)

The Black-collared Hawk is a handsome looking bird of prey. It has a rufous coloured body with a black collar below the neck. It’s head is white streaked with black and its tail feathers are black with a rufous edging. Wings are edged with black. The Hawks bill is black, its feet are white and its eyes are brown.

I often saw the Hawk near water, either perched on one of the poles placed in the river from which fishing nets were hung or in trees at the waters edge. From its perch it mainly took fish which it snatched from the water with its talons, but also snails, rodents and lizards. It kept its distance, hence the unclear photos, but was not concerned enough to fly off when it saw me.

20131019-184331.jpg
Raptors had to move upstream in the dry season, because the water was too shallow to hold fish that would satisfy their appetites, but the hawk still came to rest on a fishing post close to the harbour daily. It was a fine sight and kept me mesmerised.

20131019-184451.jpg
The Black-collared Hawk often nests high up near the water from which it gets its food, laying three or five eggs in a nest lined with green leaves.

20131019-184554.jpg

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.

20130813-103758.jpg
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.

20130813-104026.jpg
Capped Heron, a name that doesn’t do justice to this beautiful bird.

20130813-104418.jpg
The elegant Cocoi Heron

20130813-104619.jpg
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.

20130813-104845.jpg
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.

20130802-140008.jpg

20130802-140026.jpg
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.

20130802-140316.jpg
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.

20130802-140506.jpg

20130802-140527.jpg
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.

20130802-141033.jpg
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.