Travel Day

We packed up and left Ecolodge Itororó around 6 o’clock on Sunday morning, July 8, and it wasn’t until late Monday afternoon that we were holding cameras in our hands again and photographing wildlife. It was only 36 hours or so, but it felt like forever.

The first part of our trip was clustered around the pins near the Atlantic coast; the second part, nearly 1,000 miles inland. (Click to enlarge.)

The Glenn Bartley workshop is somewhat distinctive among Brazil photo workshops, in that it offers four days of shooting in the Atlantic Forest followed by six days in the Pantanal. That was part of what appealed to me about the trip; many other trips focus entirely on the Pantanal. But Brazil is a big country, and getting from the Atlantic Forest to the Pantanal makes a travel day inevitable. You can see from the Google Map I created for myself for the trip that there’s a big gap between the two regions—they’re about 1,000 miles apart.

So a van picked us up at Itororó and drove us to the domestic airport in Rio de Janeiro, about two hours away. There, we took a GOL Airlines flight to Brasilia, and, after a layover, another GOL flight from Brasilia to Cuiabá—a city of nearly 600,000 people that is essentially the gateway to the Pantanal region.

Andy Foster, Glenn’s co-leader, was invaluable in many ways throughout the trip, and especially so as Read more

Sooooo Many Tanagers

Rufous-headed tanager, Ecolodge Itororó.

One of the things I was really looking forward to in Brazil was the wide variety of tanagers. In the Eastern U.S. we have scarlet tanagers and summer tanagers, and that’s pretty much it. The Western states get western tanagers. But there actually are more than 240 species of tanagers, many of them amazingly colorful, and more than half of them live in South America.

We saw a few tanagers at REGUA lodge—palm tanagers, sayaca tanagers (or “sciatica tanagers,” as Elizabeth liked to call them), black-goggled tanagers, and burnished-buff tanagers, among others. Then we drove to Itororó ecolodge for the next four nights, and the first afternoon there brought a bonanza of tanagers and other birds. We arrived at Itororó at lunchtime, met the other workshop participants and the two leaders—Glenn Bartley and Andy Foster, ate lunch as a group, quickly put our bags in our rooms, and immediately set up our tripods to take photos at the lodge’s fruit feeders.

In North America, people attract birds to their backyards by putting out feeders with sunflower seeds, thistle seed, maybe some nuts, sometimes suet or peanut butter, and so on. In the tropics, birds are more attracted to fruit, so a lodge will typically put out a tray of bananas, papaya, and whatever other fruit is available. The birds at the Itororó fruit feeders that first afternoon were among the most memorable of the trip for me, with Read more