On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
When we pressed pause on After Dark a few weeks ago, I suggested that we might do a special Springtime in Paris series in After Dark if there was interest. Only 5 Paris submissions have come in so far, and I’m wondering whether that indicates lack of interest or if it’s just that you haven’t sent yours in yet. Let me know in the comments?
On the Road: Week of March 29 (5 am)
Albatrossity – Brazil 2011
p.a. – Chichen Itza addendum
?BillinGlendaleCA – Joshua Tree Sunrise
UncleEbeneezer – SE Asia Valentines (Part 3): Notre Dame/Saigon Post Office
Tom V – Death Valley: Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes at Dawn
? And now, another treat with Albatrossity taking us back to Brazil!
My second trip to Brazil, in 2011, was also with a Study Abroad class, and this time the class included my youngest daughter. No worries about conflicts of interest, though; I am not an instructor for these classes, so I didn’t have to assign her a grade.
As was the case in 2010, we went to Manaus and the Ariaú Amazon Towers lodge. Since you have already seen the sights of Manaus in last week’s post, this week will be all birds! Next week the saga continues, as we headed to the mouth of the Amazon (Belem and the island of Marajó), and that one won’t be all birds. But maybe there will be a few…
South America, and the Amazon in particular, is a great place to see woodpeckers, ranging in size from birds the size of our Pileated Woodpecker to the diminutive piculets, one of which, the Bar-breasted Piculet, is the smallest known woodpecker, weighing in at 7 grams, or only about twice as much as a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. They are a challenge to photograph, since they like to spend their time on the other side of the tree. Here’s one of the big ones, a female Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus, or Pica-pau-de-banda-branca).
Another gorgeous woodpecker, a male Chestnut Woodpecker (Celeus elegans, or Pica-pau-chocolate). Personally I think the Brazilian name is more apt; this thing is very chocolate-colored!
The third woodpecker in this random series, a male Cream-colored Woodpecker (Celeus flavus, or Pica-pau-amarelo).
The woodcreepers are another large family of South American birds, and the Amazon rainforest is loaded with those as well. Some have stout bills, some have longer curved bills, and a few, like this Red-billed Scythebill (Campylorhamphus trochilorostris, or Arapaçu-beija-flor) have ridiculously long bills.
Parrots are also abundant in the Amazon, and one of the most abundant around Manaus is the Tui Parakeet (Brotogeris sanctithomae, or Periquito testinha). Flocks of these birds were a common sight, but this pair was snuggling above our balcony, courting and even copulating.
Flycatchers (family Tyrannidae) are well-represented in the South American avifauna, and this bird was formerly classified in that family. Recent research revealed that it is actually a member of the family Tityridae, along with some other handsome flycatcher-like birds such as the Royal Flycatchers. It’s a male White-winged Becard (Pachyramphus polychopterus, or Caneleiro-preto), which was building a nest with its mate just above a humongous paper wasp nest.
Another large family of tropical birds is the family Bucconidae, or the puffbirds. This is a Black-fronted Nunbird (Monasa nigrifrons, or Chora-chuva-preto), which was very commonly sighted in the flooded forests around Ariaú.
A bird that is relatively common but very easy to overlook, this female American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea, or Martim-pescador-pequeno) flew out of the forest and landed on this low perch above the flooded forest. It is just a bit larger than an American Goldfinch, if you need a size comparison with a North American bird.
Another flooded forest specialist, but one that is much more obvious than the pygmy kingfisher, is the Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin, or Cigana). We had seen a few in this spot in 2010, but in 2011 they seemed to be much more abundant. My personal favorite name for these is Dinosaur-chicken.
My favorite sighting for this part of the trip was this guy, a Slender-billed Kite (Helicolestes hamatus, or Gavião-do-igapó). Igapó is the blackwater flooded forest habitat, and this species is perfect for that habitat. It was a rainy morning, as you can see from the rain-dappled water behind the bird, and it sat calmly, looking for snails, fish, or any other unlucky small critter that happened to fall within the gaze of those killer orange eyes.
Great shot of that kite!
The Scythebill is pretty awesome.
That kite is amazing! I appreciate On the Road so much these days — thanks to everyone who makes it possible.
Loving all the birds in Brazil, but I found myself smiling back at the Pygmy Kingfisher.
What an amazing collection, each one of the birds special in its own way.
The orange beak on that puffbird is spectacular! Your photos are always amazing. Love the birbs.
Beautiful and fun birds again. Hard to choose among them, but I’m tickled by that little splash of bright blue on the Hoatzin’s head.
As to WaterGirl’s question: being the night person that I am, I miss After Dark a lot. But I’ve never been to Paris, so if it has to be Paris, I got nuthin’.
On the other hand, I could put together a couple of London sets from a trip I took two years ago, and maybe some Brussels and Amsterdam. We had wonderful pictures last fall with topics that weren’t specific places. And I’m remembering a series the Daily Dish ran many years ago (yes, that Daily Dish; I feel like he wasn’t so godawful years ago) : The View from your Window. It was haunting, like that Window Swap site that popped up early in the pandemic. We could do bye-bye-pandemic views…although small sets might make it more of a nuisance for WaterGirl.
Just brainstorming. If After Dark were to pop up again, I’d do my best to help keep it supplied. :-)
Mike S (Now with a Democratic Congressperson!)
All awesome pics! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait until we can travel to South America again. Although unfortunately Brazil will be the last country for us to feel safe in.
@Mike S (Now with a Democratic Congressperson!): Yeah, for sure. They are definitely going in the wrong direction in terms of dealing with the pandemic… We were supposed to be in the Pantanal, looking at birds and jaguars, last July. That trip was postponed until the upcoming July, and apparently will still be happening. But without us.
Hope to get there next summer. It is a lovely country with a lousy president. Been there, done that.
Holy cats, these photos are amazing – and the birds themselves are even more amazing! Thanks, Albatrossity!
Re Paris in the Springtime – WG, I’ve got a million pix of Paris but I don’t know that they’re all that different from what we’ve already seen. Would you be open to “Road trips we took elsewhere in France from Paris, some of them in the springtime”?
@Comrade Colette: I was figuring that the “springtime” part of Springtime in Paris is that we would be viewing the OTR submissions in the springtime.
So we’ve got that part covered. :-)
And yes, it could be expanded to France, I think, not just Paris