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Into the Heart of the Amazon Wildlife & Natural History Cruise on the Rio Negro in Brazil May 1-14, 2006 PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Into the Heart of the Amazon Wildlife & Natural History Cruise on the Rio Negro in Brazil May 1-14, 2006 Orvis Travel & The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

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Into the Heart of the Amazon Wildlife & Natural History Cruise on the Rio Negro in Brazil May 1-14, 2006

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Into the Heart of the Amazon

Wildlife & Natural History Cruise on the Rio Negro in Brazil

May 1-14, 2006

Orvis Travel & The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

Participants: Donald Heyneman, Amy Heyneman, Lucy Arnold, Phil Rasori, Don and Terry Glasco, Souza, our local guide, plus a crew of 6 on the riverboat Tucano

The riverboat Tucano

View from the pool at the Hotel Tropical on the banks of the Rio Negro, Manaus

Sisters ready for adventure

Lucy & Papa


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May 2, 2006

Hotel Tropical, Manaus

The Hotel Tropical is really a gorgeous old hotel – at least inside. Landscaping, pool, and zoo are great, but the whole structure is rather a monstrosity on the outside, especially the new Business Tower that just opened next to the original building. The view from the terrace and pool is spectacular, though.

The tropical zoo includes:

Blue & yellow macaws

Scarlet macaws

Curassow

Black-bellied whistling duck

Chacalaca

Spider Monkeys

Wooly Monkeys

Jaguar

Collared peccary

Paca

Capybara

Capuchin monkeys

South American coati

Collared peccary

Scarlet macaw

I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore when a bat flew by me at knee level in the hotel.

Blue & yellow macaw

As soon as we approached the jaguar’s cage, he lifted tail and sprayed in a corner. Very effective. We couldn’t go anywhere near his area of the zoo after that.


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May 3, 2006

On the Tucano

We boarded the riverboat Tucano on a typically rainy Amazon morning. Because there were only 6 passengers, we were assigned individual cabins. I can’t imagine a more wonderful way to explore the Rio Negro than on this boat. It is perfectly maintained, very comfortable, and beautifully decorated with lots of polished dark wood and framed prints of tropical plants and scenes on the walls. Vases of orchids welcomed us into our cabins.

There are 2 levels with cabins, kitchen, and dining room plus a covered observation deck above. From here we could relax and watch the jungle go by, snooze, talk, or just appreciate the amazing daily cloud shows. The cook brought hot appetizers up there for us each night at sunset.

Our local guide, Souza, was a great asset. He seemed to know every bird and could even reproduce many of their calls. He planned all of our outings by canoe and created trails for us to follow in the jungle. His English is great – he taught himself by book – and he could tell us about local customs and history as well as help us find and identify wildlife. There were also 6 crewmen, so we were very well taken care of. We especially appreciated the hard-working and talented cook.


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May 3, 2006

Tour of Museum Serengal Vila Paraiso

Our first outing is a visit to a reproduction rubber plantation that was built for the filming of a movie. We toured the main house, chapel, shop, and a tiny shed where the workers poured liquid latex onto a dowel to harden over a smoking fire.

Ocelot skin in main house

Anaconda skin on shop wall.

Main house

Latex was collected in small tin cups. All equipment had to be purchased in the shop by the workers.

Candle hats were worn by workers, who were required to collect latex in the jungle before sunrise.

Workers’ living quarters

Scale used to weigh the smoked balls of rubber. The owner regularly cheated his employees, who were treated more like slaves.

Arboreal ant nest. The folic acid of nest can be used as an insect repellant.

Chapel


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May 3, 2006

Afternoon & Evening onboard the Tucano

We had some time to relax and get to know one another on the top deck while the boat headed back up the Rio Negro.

Instead of more outings today, we motored back toward Manaus to pick up Phil, who arrived 1 day late.

Souza provided the evening’s entertainment with a tropical fruit show-and-tell.

This distant rainstorm was just one of many great sky shows.


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May 4, 2006

Morning Canoe Outing

We are up at 5:30 to start each day with a canoe trip. Great time for bird-watching. Today we navigated through very narrow channels in the flooded canopy, with jungle vegetation mirrored perfectly all around.

We wandered through a peaceful and dreamy environment.

Blue-headed Parrot

We were delighted to get a good, long look at a gorgeous Spangled Cotinga.

Large-billed Tern

A Channel-Billed Toucan and about ten Blue and Yellow Macaws flew screaming overhead.

Pink River Dolphins huffed loudly when surfacing to breathe.

Red-capped Cardinal

Squirrel Cuckoo

Festive Parrot


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May 4, 2006

Morning Canoe Outing

Complete list of wildlife seen on this outing:

New Birds:

Black-crested Antshrike

Blue &Yellow Macaw – 10

Blue-headed Parrot – 50

Cattle Egret – 15

Channel-billed Toucan – 6

Crane Hawk

Festive Parrot – 12

Great White Egret – 3

Greater Ani

Green Ibis – 2

Hoatzin – 2-4

Hummingbird – 2

Large-billed Tern

Muscovy Duck

Olive Oropendola – 6

Orange-cheeked Parrot (call)

Red-capped Cardinal

Ruddy Pigeon

Short-tailed Swift – 75

Silver-billed Tanager

Spangled Cotinga

Squirrel Cuckoo

Streaked Flycatcher

Yellow-rumped Cacique – 2

Repeat Birds:

Amazon Kingfisher

Red-capped Cardinal

Roadside Hawk – 3

Other:

Azteca Ants in Cecropia tree

Blue Morpho Butterfly

Curare Vine (small yellow fruit is one ingredient used for dart poison)

Epiphytes, including Clusia, Rhyssalis (cactus), Philodendron (Elephant Ear)

Pink River Dolphins

Huge furry bumblebees

Amazon Kingfisher

Olive Oropendola


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May 4, 2006

Visit to Bacaba Village

We waited out a heavy rainstorm before taking the canoe to the Bacaba Village. 32 families live here, including many beautiful, healthy-looking children. They grow manioc and fruit and catch fish in the river. Manioc, a staple in the Amazon, is eaten at every meal. Each little village has a covered platform for public dancing and fiestas. Bacaba also has 3 different churches to serve its small population.

Passion vine

Young siblings

One of the numerous steps necessary to prepare manioc flour.

The children serenade us.


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May 4, 2006

Jungle Walk

Greater Yellow-headed Vulture

Club moss is a common ground cover.

Aerial palm roots

This jungle hitch-hiker found on Terry’s jeans.

Huge snail found on tree trunk. Escargot, anyone?

Tropical Kingbird

Bullet ant nest at base of tree

Leaving terra firma


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May 4, 2006

Jungle Walk

Complete list of wildlife seen on this outing:

Amazon Kingfisher

Armadillo Burrows

Black Nunbird (call: series of descending whistles)

Bullet Ants (nest at base of small tree)

False Caimen Lizard (swimming near shore)

Greater Yellow-headed Vulture

Katydid (large brown leaf type)

Morpho Butterflies – 3

Peacock Bass (splash)

Red Howler Monkeys – 2

Screaming Pihas (call)

Short-tailed Swifts

Snail (huge, on tree)

Squirrel Monkeys

Tropical Kingbird

Yellow-billed Tern

Screaming Piha – often heard but never seen.

Red Howler Monkey

Squirrel Monkey


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May 4, 2006

Afternoon on board the Tucano

From the top deck we spotted a lovely black and white butterfly – about the size of a swallowtail, 2 Scarlet Macaws and 2 Black Vultures flying overhead.

May 4, 2006

Evening Canoe Trip

Souza holds a strong portable light to search for eyeshine among the trees at the river’s edge. Various frog calls are heard during each night outing.

We also saw:

1 Caiman

2 Ladder-backed Nightjars

a pair of Hyla Vericeps Frogs

2 iguanas

a silvery fish with a long, forked tail.

Long-nosed bats swooped by our canoe.

This Great Potoo was the real highlight of this outing.

Huge Iguanas lounge far out on branches over the river and fall in with a huge splash when threatened.

A Spectacled Caiman’s eyes shine red in our night light.


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May 5, 2006

Morning Canoe Trip

We floated among and over the treetops. Very odd sensation. I’m becoming more comfortable using binoculars now, and it’s a thrill to spot anything moving.

Lucy adapts to birding.

Bare-necked Fruit Crow

Don enjoys the Amazon morning.

Muscovy Duck

Blue-headed Parrot

White-winged Swallow

A sumptuous breakfast awaits us after a hard morning of bird-watching.

Pale-vented Pigeon

Osprey


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May 5, 2006

Morning Canoe Trip

Complete list of wildlife seen on this outing:

New Birds:

Anhinga  

Orange-winged Parrot

Ani – 50

Bananaquit

Bare-necked Fruit Crow – 4

Cinnamon Attila (call)

Greater Manakin – 3

Lesser Kiskadee Flycatcher – 8

Lineated Woodpecker

Muscovy Duck

Neotropical Cormorant – 6

Orange-winged Parrot – 3

Osprey

Pale-vented Pigeon – 10

Rough-winged Swallow – 3

Ruddy Pigeon – 2

Scarlet Macaw

Sungrebe (call)

Tropical Gnat Catcher – 2

Tropical Kingbird – 8

Yellow-headed Vulture  

White-winged Swallow

Repeat Birds:

Amazon Kingfisher

Blue-headed Parrot – 2

Crane Hawk

Festive Parrot – 6

Greater Ani – 75

Muscovy Duck

Olive Oropendola – 2

Ringed Kingfisher – 3

Roadside Hawk

White-winged Swallow - 2

Yellow-headed Caracara

Yellow-rumped Cacique

Ringed Kingfisher

Roadside Hawk

Grey River Dolphin

Other Creatures:

Grey River Dolphin

Iguana (saw 2 & heard another fall in river)

Long-nosed Bat (roosting in tree in water)

Yellow-rumped Cacique


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May 5, 2006

Jungle Walk

We caught glimpses of many squirrel monkeys and a few capuchins traipsing through the jungle treetops right in front of our canoe on the way to terra firma.

Red Passion Vine blossom

A female, juvenile 3-toed Sloth was well-camouflaged among the mossy branches. She spotted us and ran away in slooooow motion.

We tasted the white sap of the Chicle (Sapote) tree, from which chewing gum was originally made.

We spotted many different butterflies, including Heliconid and Morpho, but most were unidentified.

A family of Greater Long-nosed Armadillos crashed through the undergrowth back to the safety of their burrow right in front of us.

A particularly large arboreal Azteca Ant nest.

Miniature fungus garden

Our jungle walk was cut short by a real Amazon downpour, which left several inches of water in Amy’s boots. We were all soaked through to our underwear, even with ponchos on. Before the rain reached us, it sounded like a distant waterfall. Unfortunately, no photos could be taken of the incredibly colorful fungus gardens in the small slash-and-burn farm we slogged through on our way back to the canoe.


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May 5, 2006

Jungle Walk

Complete list of wildlife etc.seen on this outing:

Brown-fronted Capuchins – 4

Butterflies: (large Morpho, large yellow with black marks, white with dark marks, black with light spot on each wing, orange from Heliconid family, others)

Chicle (Sapote) Tree

Fungus (Colorful; all over plantation debris)

Greater Long-nosed Armadillo – 3

Howler Monkey (call)

Monkey Brush Flowers

Pleasing Fungus Beetle

Peccary wallow

Red-billed Toucan (call)

Red Passion Flowers

Scarlet Macaw – 2

Slash and burn plantation (small, at canoe landing site)

Spider (large but slender body in center of web)

Squirrel Monkeys – 30

Three-toed Sloth (juvenile female)

Monkey Brush

Pleasing Fungus Beetle

Typical twisting vine, although some do twist the opposite direction.

Red-billed Toucan

Fairy parasols?


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May 5, 2006

Jungle Walk to Giant Kapok Tree

A fungus the size of a coffee table grew behind one buttress.

Don in one arching root.

View up into huge Kapok crown reveals enough room for a city of very small people – or more likely, Elves.

This giant Kapok is the most remarkable tree we’ve ever seen. It takes 36 men with outstretched arms to encircle it.

Buttress roots give the tree an enormous girth.

We all explored a bat cave of White-lined, Sac-winged Bats inside the Kapok tree.


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May 5, 2006

Jungle Walk to Giant Kapok Tree

Complete list of wildlife seen on this outing:

Black-fronted Nunbird

Bullet Ants & nest

Leaf-cutter Ants (going up tree buttresses to nest near top of tree)

Long-billed Woodcreeper

Pale-breasted Spinetail

Ringed Woodpecker

White-lined Sac-winged Bats inside Kapok tree

We passed heliconids (pictured) as well as ginger flowers on the way to the Kapok.

Stilt roots of a smaller jungle tree.

This shelf fungus is growing its own moss garden.

The crown of the Kapok can be seen towering over the rest of the jungle canopy.

Don and Lucy, delighted to have been inside the Kapok bat cave.

One of many jungle epiphytic plants


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May 5, 2006

Night Canoe trip on Jauperi River

This afternoon we motored up into the Jauperi River – a tributary of the Rio Negro. Our evening excursion is in this slightly different environment. An incredible chorus of frogs provide constant background music, punctuated by the deep calls of Amazon Bamboo Rats and Caiman. Souza imitated the rats to attract caiman.

An Amazon Tree Boa was the only snake seen on the entire trip.

Sunset from the Tucano

In addition to the creatures pictured, we encountered another 3-toed Sloth, Pink River Dolphins, a Grey-necked Wood Rail, Band-tailed Nighthawks, and 2 snoozing Festive Parrots.

A White-necked Heron perched on a branch directly over our heads.

Souza managed to grab this baby Caiman. Lucy wanted to hold everything that wasn’t poisonous.

This beautiful Tarantula specimen was spread out on a tree trunk right in front of our canoe.

Ghost Bats (shown), Fishing Bats, and Long-nosed Bats flew by us.

A Porcupine lounged about 20 feet up in a tree.


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May 6, 2006

Morning Canoe Trip on Jauperi River

Using a machete, Souza cleared a path for the canoe to gain entrance to a very magical area – a secret lake only accessible by boat from the river during flood season.

Water Hyacinths covered parts of the lake. No locals fish here, though, as secret lakes are thought to be home to huge anacondas.

A perfectly symmetrical Wasp nest is decorated with its tenants.

Cecropia Trees, very commonly seen, house ants for protection.

Aerial roots from epiphytes in the canopy try to reach the ground for nourishment.

Plumbeous Kite


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May 6, 2006

Morning Canoe Trip on Jauperi River

Complete list of wildlife seen on this outing:

New Birds:

Black Caracara

Green Kingfisher – 5

Long-tailed Woodcreeper

Orange-fronted Yellow Finch

Plumbeous Kite – 3

Red-billed Toucan

Swallow-winged Puffbird – 3

Wattled Jacana

The Orange-fronted Yellow Finch is a beautiful small bird with a very long, perfectly descriptive name.

Repeat Birds:

Black Vulture – 3

Blue & Yellow Macaw – 3

Swallow-tailed Kite

Blue-gray Tanager

Blue-headed Parrot –20

Cattle Egret – 12

Festive Parrot – 50

Forked-tailed Flycatcher (female)

Greater Ani

Great Kiskadee –3

Green Ibis – 4

Hummingbird – 3

Orange-winged Parrot –2

Red-capped Cardinal –3

Roadside Hawk

Silver-beaked Tanager –3

Tropical Kingbird –12

White-winged Swallow – 4

Yellow-rumped Cacique

Forked-tailed Flycatcher

Groups of Greater Ani create a distinctive chattering sound called “boiling rice”.

Black Caracara

Green Ibis


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May 6, 2006

Jungle Walk

The highlight of today’s jungle walk was an immense nest of Leaf-cutter Ants. It was 30-60 feet in diameter, and much larger underground. The top is stripped bare of all vegetation to allow the sun’s warmth through. Larger ants guard the entrances and protect the workers. The leaves are used as mulch in the subterranean fungus garden that provides the ant colony with its food.

Tiny ants ride the leaves and rid the larger workers of parasites.

Elegant pattern left by leaf mining insect.

Leafcutter Ants march along a fallen log.

Mud tower ~ 2 feet tall, constructed by Cicadas.

Souza motioned for quiet on the jungle trail. He then used bird calls to lure a Bird-eating Tarantula out of its nest at the base of a tree.

Many jungle plants employ physical defenses.

Galliandra Orchid


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May 6, 2006

Jungle Walk

Complete list of wildlife seen on this outing:

Souza produced a very musical birdcall, which was soon returned by the real thing: a Musician Wren. Supposedly, one has good luck for life after hearing its song.

Bar-winged Wren

Bird-eating Tarantula

Blue-crowned Motmot

Butterfly (large, swallowtail type)

Cattle Egret

Dragonfly (red & black;

showy as a butterfly)

Blue-crowned Motmot

Grey-winged Trumpeter

Leaf-cutter Ants and nest

Musician Wren (call)

Pumbeous Kite –3

Rough-winged Swallow

Screaming Piha (call)

Swallow-tailed Kite

White-winged Swallow – 25

Yellow-headed Vulture

“Hot Lips”, labios ardientes, in Spanish. Genus Psychotria, in the Rubiaceae (coffee) family.

We found two tail feathers of the gorgeous Blue-crowned Motmot by the trail.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Cattle Egret

We heard but didn’t see the Grey-winged Trumpeter.


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May 6, 2006

River Swim/ Evening Stories

Not everyone was keen to go swimming in the Rio Negro, but a few of us were game. I eagerly put on my swim goggles and ducked under the surface to see – nothing at all. It was like trying to see in black coffee. So, no matter what creatures were sharing the warm water with us, we didn’t see them. I swam over to pick a few berries from the top of a tree.

After a brief swim, we scrambled up the sandy bank to find a small cemetery with several old wooden crosses topped with partially melted white candles. An old dead tree seemed to stand guard, and right in a crack in the trunk was a very large tarantula on her nest.

In the afternoon, heavy rain kept us on board, so we skipped a village visit and started back up the Rio Negro. Instead of a night canoe trip, Souza told us of local beliefs, superstitions, and history.

We were quite surprised to hear that the local people fear the Pink Dolphin. It seems there is a widely-held belief that the Pink Dolphin can become a man with the power of seduction. Often, a young woman who doesn’t want to reveal the name of her lover will say the Dolphin is her child’s father. The child, whether boy or girl, is considered special and often becomes a Shaman. The Dolphins are left alone out of both fear and respect.


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